25 November 2016

The Rift: Uprising by Amy Foster

Published: 2016
# of Pages: 400
Source: Copy from Harper Voyager (Exchange for Honest Review)

An alternate reality that feels all-too-real, The Rift Uprising is the explosive start to a new trilogy that combines the fast paced action of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, the lyrical tone of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and the emotional stakes of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising from acclaimed lyricist and storyteller Amy S. Foster.

Normal seventeen-year-old girls go to high school, binge watch TV shows all weekend, and flirt with everyone on the face of the Earth. But Ryn Whitaker is trying to save it.

Ryn is a Citadel. A soldier. A liar. Ryn and her fellow Citadels were specially chosen and trained to guard a Rift—one of fourteen unpredictable tears in the fabric of the universe that serve as doorways to alternate Earths. Unbeknownst to her family, Ryn leaves for school each day and then reports for duty as an elite, cybernetically-altered soldier who can run faster, jump farther, and fight better than a Navy SEAL—which comes in handy when she’s not sure if axe-wielding Vikings or any number of other scared and often dangerous beings come through the Rift. A fine-tuned weapon, Ryn is a picture-perfect Citadel.

But that’s all about to change.

When a young man named Ezra is pulled through the Rift, Ryn finds herself immediately drawn to him, despite her training. What starts as a physical attraction quickly grows deeper, and Ezra’s curiosity throws Ryn off balance when he starts questioning the Rifts, the mysterious organization that oversees them, and the Citadels themselves—questions that lead Ryn to wonder if the lies she’s been telling her family are just the surface of a much bigger lie told to her. As Ryn and Ezra desperately try to get to that truth, they discover that each revelation blurs the line between the villains and the heroes even more. 

Let me start by saying that the premise for this book is ultimately amazing. The world is a version of earth set in the future; however, a "tear" in the universe allows creatures and "humans" from other worlds to come into this version of earth. As a result, children are implanted with devices to become defenders of the rift. All I can say is that is the most amazing concept that I have heard of in a long while. I'm not a huge science fiction fan, but for some reason the science aspects of this book were so easy to understand and I found myself getting totally absorbed in the world. Now lets move on to the parts of the book that I really really enjoyed.

In the beginning it was hard to relate to Ryn as a character; however, after reading through the text for a while she began to grow on me and I definitely appreciated the strength and courage she had in becoming a leader of her team. She became easy to relate to and I definitely could appreciate how difficult it was for her to continuously lead a double life: one that focused on protecting the rift and one with her family. Foster's writing also was a key point of enjoyment for me. She wrote science fiction in a way that was understandable and enjoyable. I've never found myself so engrossed in a world before. In addition, she wrote with such ease and fluidity that I couldn't help but finding myself moving through the story at a quick pace. And she definitely gained bonus points in my book for writing such an amazingly strong female character.

The only aspect of this book that I didn't enjoy was the romance. I've often noticed that a lot of YA novels seem to "need" to have some hint of romance to sell to readers; however, this book didn't need it. The characters were so well-developed and the action was so fast-paced that it seemed as though the romance was some what of a distraction. It felt too fast and too "insta-love" and I know that Ryn could have stood on her as a leading lady without the added romance.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book. If you're into science-fiction and alternate universes I would definitely recommend trying this book. It contains so many interesting elements that I haven't seen YA touch in a fairly long time.

17 November 2016

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Published: 2006
# of Pages: 221
Source: Library Audiobook

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.

Documented as John Green's first novel, Looking for Alaska explores the complex and intricacies related to teenage relationships and what it's like to finally let yourself be free from previous expectations and burdens. This novel, as with a lot of John Green novels, contains a great amount of teenage angst, boys chasing the girl "they can't have," etc; however, for some reason I found this book to be quite different. Maybe it was because of the content within the book or the information tackled by our main characters. Regardless, I found this book enjoyable. Today's review is going to be slightly different as I am going to bullet  point my likes and dislikes of this novel. Each bullet point will contain a small explanation! I hope you enjoy. 

  • Miles' Obsession with Famous Last Words. I have heard of the concept before where one documents the last sayings of famous individuals. It added a unique flare to the feel of the novel. 
  • Boarding School Setting. I don't know what it is but I love a novel that has a good boarding school setting. 
  • Plot Twist. There is a major plot twist (don't worry I won't spoil it) that I saw coming; however, I loved the way it actually affected the outcome of the story. 
  • The character Miles or Pudge has this amazing epiphany that overturned a lot of typical character tropes you find in John Green novels. 
  • The Theme of Redemption. It resonates so loudly in this book. It teaches the reader that one must forgive and be forgiven 
  • Alaska's Recklessness. A lot of the drama and issues that are outlined in this book are caused because Alaska has a tendency to think about no one but herself and I found that to be both annoying and frustrating. 
  • The Theme of Idolizing Someone. Miles idolized Alaska way too much. She clearly has flaws. Lots of them and it was extremely annoying to watch him continuously put someone on a pedestal that clearly didn't deserve it. 
  • Manipulation. I think a lot of the manipulation occurred in the book because of Alaska. I didn't like that element of the book, but it did make sense as to why it was there.
Overall, the book kept me engaged and I really enjoyed what John Green did with this book. I can genuinely say that after reading all of his works this book is not my favorite, but it definitely is a lot better content wise than what I have experienced with others. 

15 November 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Christmas Movies

It's Tuesday so you know that means another Top 10 Tuesday hosted by the girls over at the Broke and the Bookish. This weeks theme is movie related so that means you can pick any topic related to movies whether that's your favorite movies of all time, favorite actors/actresses, favorite Halloween, favorite drama....ok haha you get the point. With Christmas right around the corner I decided to go with Top 10 Favorite Christmas movies of all time! Yes, I know Thanksgiving hasn't passed yet, but I'm definitely ready for Christmas!! 

Christmas With the Kranks: If you haven't seen this movie it definitely is a must! Imagine how a neighborhood reacts when they find out one of their own is canceling Christmas. 

A Year Without A Santa: Okay I'm not going to lie. A part of me just likes watching this movie for the songs that Heat Miser and Snow Miser sing. I mean it's just classic. 

Home Alone Lost in New York: Okay so this is technically the second Home Alone, but I like it better than the first one because Kevin has to be really creative against the bandits in a house that doesn't belong to him. 

The Polar Express: The cinematography alone makes this movie a classic, but I also love the message behind it. 

The Nightmare Before Christmas: This movie always confused me because technically it can be used for both Halloween and Christmas. Nevertheless, it's a great film and definitely one of Tim Burton's classics. 

Love Actually: The host of British actresses and actors in this film just made me love it even more than the average person. It contains such a great story line that ties so many lives together. If you haven't watched it yet then you definitely need to check it out and soon. 

A Christmas Carol: There are so many versions of this movie and the story in itself is a classic, but this version really appealed to me because of the level of intricacy utilized in the cinematography. If you haven't had the chance to check it out I definitely recommend it.  

The Grinch: Need I say more about this movie? I think pretty much everyone can understand why it's on this list.

A Christmas Story: I mean this one gets played for 24 hours every year how could I not put it on the list.

Jingle All The Way: Hilarious! You will laugh the entire time! And it all centers around a toy. 

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies? Let me know in the comment box below. 

09 November 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #5: Roseblood by A.G. Howard

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. This is my first time participating in this meme, but I've seen it across so may different blogs I just had to participate. To participate all you have to do is spotlight upcoming publications you're eagerly anticipating. Keep reading to see what I have chosen for this week.

If you guys did not know I am a huge fan of The Phantom of the Opera. I absolutely love the story, the musical, the characters. I mean everything about it is amazing. So when I found out that this book is a Phantom of the Opera re-telling of sorts I definitely had to jump on the bandwagon. I hope it is as good as it seems. I know that A.G. Howard also wrote an Alice in Wonderland retelling and that seems to have pretty decent reviews so I'm hoping this will go in the same direction! 

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. 

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

04 November 2016

Friday #56, #19 Between The World & Me by Ta-nehisi Coates

The Friday #56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's VoiceJoin in every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you've been reading. Here are the rules:

  • Grab a book 
  • Turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader
  • Find any sentence (or a few, don't spoil it) 

**Be sure to post the links to your Friday #56 below!

Happy Reading!

Okay so this week I am keeping with the theme of non-fiction since I'm participating in non-fiction November. My first book of the month is this little gem that was both recommended to me at my job and also on goodreads. It really challenges and analyzes how America views race and in light of what's been going on it really proves to be a wonderful book. If you haven't read it yet I high recommend it and I'm not even finished with it which truly says a lot. 

"And I still knew we were something, that we were a tribe--on one hand, invented, and on the other, no less real. The reality was out there on the Yard, on the first warm day of spring when it seemed that every sector, borough, affiliation, county, and corner of the broad diaspora had sent a delegate to the great world party." 

In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir, the "Atlantic" writer explains that the tragic examples of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and those killed in South Carolina are the results of a systematically constructed and maintained assault to black people--a structure that includes slavery, mass incarceration, and police brutality as part of its foundation. From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens--those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color. 

02 November 2016

Blog Tour: Girl Unbroken by Regina Calcaterra and Rosie Maloney

Hey guys!! I'm back with another blog tour! Today, as a part of the TLC Book Tours, I will be giving a review of the memoir Girl Unbroken by Regina Calcaterra and Rosie Maloney. Keep reading for the review and information about where to purchase the book and information about the author.

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Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon Barnes & Noble

Etched in Sand, Regina Calcaterra pairs with her youngest sister Rosie to tell Rosie’s harrowing, yet ultimately triumphant, story of childhood abuse and survival.

They were five kids with five different fathers and an alcoholic mother who left them to fend for themselves for weeks at a time. Yet through it all they had each other. Rosie, the youngest, is fawned over and shielded by her older sister, Regina. Their mother, Cookie, blows in and out of their lives “like a hurricane, blind and uncaring to everything in her path.”

But when Regina discloses the truth about her abusive mother to her social worker, she is separated from her younger siblings Norman and Rosie. And as Rosie discovers after Cookie kidnaps her from foster care, the one thing worse than being abandoned by her mother is living in Cookie’s presence. Beaten physically, abused emotionally, and forced to labor at the farm where Cookie settles in Idaho, Rosie refuses to give in. Like her sister Regina, Rosie has an unfathomable strength in the face of unimaginable hardship—enough to propel her out of Idaho and out of a nightmare.

Filled with maturity and grace, Rosie’s memoir continues the compelling story begun in Etched in Sand—a shocking yet profoundly moving testament to sisterhood and indomitable courage.

Let me start by saying that although this book is categorized as a sequel, it is a book that can be read as a stand alone. It is a beautifully written though heart-breaking tale of these strong set of siblings that are determined to create their own destiny instead of following in the footsteps of their mother. 

What I loved most about this book was how real it was. I know that it is a memoir, but at the same time I appreciated the rawness of the material. It isn't easy to write a book about abuse in all facets and somehow Rosie was strong enough and brave enough to relive every single hardship that she and her siblings encountered. It was amazing to see so many horrific events in the form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and forced labor be woven into a story that becomes triumphant. It is easy to become a victim to our experiences and this family experienced so many horrific things; however, the children of this family take their past and become some of the most heart-felt and considerate individuals. 

The manner in which the reader is provided insight to feelings of the victim is tough, but rewarding. There are no questions about what was experienced and how it was experienced. I appreciated the fact there were no areas left for questioning. It is just screams of maturity and grace. 

If you are interested in a memoir that leaves no information out and is a bear all experience then this is the book for you. It really does illustrate the power of the human spirit and I can't recommend it enough.