Monday, May 25, 2015

Review: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow

The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Hardcover, 304 pages, Simon Pulse
Genres: YA, Contemporary

A poignant and unexpectedly funny novel about Francis - one of the best and bravest teenage boy narrators since Adrian Mole. This is an emotionally honest story about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad things can be.

Francis Wootton's first memory is of Kurt Cobain's death, and there have been other hardships closer to home since then. At fifteen years old he already knows all about loss and rejection - and to top it all off he has a permanently broke big brother, a grandma with selective memory (and very selective social graces) and a mum who's at best an acquired taste. Would-be poet, possible intellectual and definitely wasted in Tyne and Wear, Francis has grown used to figuring life out on his own. Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time, the start of an endless horizon towards whatever-comes-next. But when he is diagnosed with leukemia that wide-open future suddenly narrows, and a whole new world of worry presents itself. There's the horror of being held back a year at school, the threat of imminent baldness, having to locate his best shirt in case a visiting princess or pop-star fancies him for a photo-op . . . But he hadn't reckoned on meeting Amber - fierce, tough, one-of-a-kind Amber - and finding a reason to tackle it all - the good, the bad and everything in between - head on. In Bloom is a bright, funny, painful and refreshing novel about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad it can be. It is a novel about how to live.

My Review

Francis Wootton is a normal kid. Well, as normal as a 15-year-old English boy with few friends, a love of literature, and a dastardly case of leukemia can be. He’s supposed to be strong and stoic in the face of potential death, but how can he be when his mother is seemingly going off the deep end and his big brother keeps stealing their food? In pops Amber, another teenager stuck in the chemo ward. And once Francis sees her, it’s kind of… err… not really, love at first sight. But there is chemistry.

Francis is an eclectic character. His mannerisms, jokes, views on life, and everything else about him will make you smile from ear to ear. And his interactions with his family, while sometimes sad and depressing (but that’s bound to happen with any story about sick children), are the stuff of every YA readers dreams. For once there is a family depicted in young adult literature that is so imperfect that it’s beautiful and wonderful. Instead of this book focusing on the dynamic between two love-struck teenagers, it focuses on the overall relationships a young, sick boy would have with those around him. You get to know his overbearing-ish mother, his broke brother, and his crazy grandmother all without detracting from the storyline.

While Amber is somewhat of an acquired taste, her romance with Francis is incredibly realistic. And unlike the somewhat romanticized version of love that’s in popular “sick lit” today, the characters are not only emotionally flawed, but physically flawed as well. There are facial blemishes; disappearances of hair…everywhere; and most importantly, but unfortunately for the characters, there is an abundance of sickness.

While The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise is a fantastic depiction of real people, both the sickly and the not so, remember that this book is written from the perspective of a boy in England, so the first few pages might be a little hard to get into, but once you get used to the dialog, the story will be well worth your time. Just don’t forget to keep a couple of tissues handy.

*Note: I borrowed a copy of this book to review for Book Review Board of Missouri. This in no way altered my opinion/review.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Which Team Are You? : The Avengers Edition

I basically just post a book series every week and have people vote on what team they are. I know the YA Sisterhood does the YA Crush Tournament, but I just want to find out how much you guys like one love interest over another, in one series.

Last week's poll was over Team Sherlock or Team John from BBC’s TV show Sherlock. Team Sherlock won!

So for this edition of “Which Team Are You?” I’m going to ask you who your pick of hunky man-flesh is from something that isn’t book-related, again. And that is… The Avengers
You can choose from: 

1)  Iron Man

or 2) Captain America 

OR 3) Thor

I’m Team Thor! And then I’m Team Captain America! Iron Man is just too conceited for me. If you had to choose one, who would it be, and why? If you haven’t seen the movies/read the comics/watched the cartoons (How is that even possible!?), who do you think sounds more appealing from The Avengers summary below:

Nick Fury is director of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency. The agency is a who's who of Marvel Super Heroes, with Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When global security is threatened by Loki and his cohorts, Nick Fury and his team will need all their powers to save the world from disaster.

  • Team Iron Man
  • Team Captain America
  • Team Thor
More polls: Online polls
**Note: None of these images are mine. They were found online.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: The J.A. Redmerski Edition

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme that is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

I decided to reward myself for making it through another semester of college, so I went to my local used bookstore and found some books.

The Edge of Never and The Edge of Always by J.A. Redmerski

They aren’t in the greatest of shape, but they were free. I traded for them. I’ve already read The Edge of Never and I enjoyed it. I’m not sure when I’ll get to The Edge of Always.

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dean Winchester Friday

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you watch the video.

This is the first time I’ve ever posted a video, but I realized that I’d never shown you guys the “Eye of the Tiger” video. That had to be remedied. So here it is. And once you’ve seen it, all of your dreams have come true.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: Death Marked by Leah Cypess

Death Marked
(Death Sworn #2)
Publication Date: May 3, 2015
Hardcover, 368 pages, HarperTeen
Genres: YA, Fantasy

A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny? The sequel to Death Sworn is just as full of magic and surprising revelations, and will thrill fans of Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers.

At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they'd battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn't want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.

Leah Cypess spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Ileni's story. In the end, it may not be the epic decisions that bring down an empire, but the small ones that pierce the heart.

My Review

Death Sworn was one of my favorite books of 2014. I loved its romance, its action, and all of its fantasy elements! So I was super-duper excited to read the sequel. Unfortunately, I forgot that Leah Cypess’s endings are not the best—they’re actually pretty bad.

I knew going into this book that Ileni wasn’t going to be hanging out with Sorin a lot, I’d just hoped they’d have time together eventually. But it didn’t happen. And I was sad. I really liked Sorin’s character. He was the type of assassin I imagine actual assassins are like. And Ileni wasn’t a strong bada$$ character, but she was growing into one. I was excited to see her growth. But once again, it never happened.

There’s also some new characters thrown into the mix. One of which is a potential love interest for Ileni. The other side characters are just kind of thrown into the story and aren’t explored as much as they could be.

I enjoyed the setting of the story, in the Academy. I thought that exploring the “enemy” through its magic techniques and the mountain was awesome. We were allowed to really question what was right and wrong, and really there was no black and white answer.

However, this exploration of the Academy left little room (as I mentioned earlier) for romance. And romance is something I cannot do without. Additionally, I cannot do without Sorin. And that brings me to the ending (this might be kind of SPOILERY considering my last comment, so you may want to leave now), I like how things weren’t all wrapped up like they normally are in action stories that revolve around fixing societies, but I just don’t like some of the choices the characters made to get to that ending.

All in all, I can’t decide how much I liked Death Marked. I definitely enjoyed it less than its predecessor, but I liked it a little bit. Would I recommend it? Not if you’re looking for a fantasy book filled with romance. If you just want some magic in your life (hee hee. See what I did there?), then I’d say go for it.

*Note: I purchased this book myself.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Winter by Marissa Meyer

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, what's really got my pages in a twist is...

(The Lunar Chronicles #4)
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Hardcover, 824 pages, Feiwel and Friends
Genres: YA, Sci-Fi

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

My Thoughts

Why yes, I am waiting for this book—much like everyone else and their mother is.

What book are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass

The Heir
(The Selection #4)
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Hardcover, 368 pages, HarperTeen
Genres: YA, Dystopian

Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.

My Review

This review will probably contain some SPOILERS, just because it’s about the fourth book in a long series. So don’t read this review if you don’t want to be SPOILED.

I had some mixed feelings going into this book. While I don’t like some of the characters in The Selection series, I do like some of the plotline, so I was excited to pick this up and see where America and Maxon went, but I was also hesitant because of the way Kiera Cass writes. And unfortunately, my hesitation won out in the end.

The idea of a princess being in line for the crown is cool. But Eadlyn is supposed to be dedicated to her work, with no time for romance. Yet, she doesn’t actually every seem to do a lot of work, she just does a lot of paperwork. And I feel like that’s not all a ruler should do. Even her father, the king, was doing paperwork. I mean, doesn’t he have advisors to do that work for him? And shouldn’t he be visiting with his people? And actually finding solutions to his country’s problems instead of forcing his daughter to marry? Basically, once again, Cass set up a world, but didn’t really put a lot of thought into how characters, events, etcetera, would actually pan out.

The characters of the book, while they were entertaining at times, didn’t really fit with what I would expect. This may sound sexist and/or stereotypical, but the 35 guys in the story, and even Eadlyn’s family, didn’t really act like typical guys. Some of these boys were supposed to be working class young men, yet they were acting like the higher-caste girls from America’s time in the Selection. I know traits shouldn’t be seen as either masculine or feminine, but Cass needed to go about developing her characters in a realistic manner. Plus, I feel like a lot of young men, and even a lot of young women, don’t giggle as incessantly as her characters did. (FYI, I hate the word giggle and the act it stands for. Giggling should only be done by those who are younger than eight.)

I also felt like I didn’t really get to know Eadlyn. I got to know America really well in her books, I may not have liked her, but I knew her. Eadlyn’s character development was just lacking something.

Despite all of my grumblings, I did find the idea of this new Selection very entertaining. I also enjoyed seeing America’s new family and I will definitely be reading the next book to see what happens.

All in all, The Heir is a book that I encourage you to wait to read. Wait until the next (and last) book comes out so you don’t have to remain frustrated with the small, frustrating parts of the book.

*Note: I purchased this book myself.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sarah J. Maas Signing Experience

As most of you probably know by now, I went to the Sarah J. Maas signing event last week.

I went with my mom and I traveled three hours to get there. Ugh.

I ended up arriving like two hours before the actual event started. I picked up the copy of A Court of Thorns and Roses I had ordered along with my line bracelet and then I browsed. This resulted in me buying a copy of The Heir by Kiera Cass.

Eventually the event actually started and JessetheReader held a Q&A with Sarah. Sarah had had a major wipeout at her previous tour stop and had injured her knee, as evidenced by the huge icepack wrapped around it. 

Video wasn’t allowed during the Q&A, but JessetheReader did film a video with her before the signing began. 

Sarah was super funny and, I say this in the nicest way possible, an utter dork. I think I loved her so much more after meeting her and realizing she was just as crazy and fangirl-y as my friends and me. She even mentioned her and Susan Dennard writing fanfiction of their own stories! I remember she mentioned that Chaol would be in Hufflepuff, Dorian in Ravenclaw, Feyre in Slytherin, Celaena could be in any House (but probably in Gryffindor), and Tamlin would be Hagrid.

The line for the signing took forever and I was even in the first half of it. By that time, Jesse had left.

When I finally got my books signed, I was as unbelievably awkward as it was possible to be, but I met SJM and it was a cool experience.

And please ignore my tomato-red face, it was really hot in there. XD

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Which Team Are You? : The Sherlock Edition

 I basically just post a book series every week and have people vote on what team they are. I know the YA Sisterhood does the YA Crush Tournament, but I just want to find out how much you guys like one love interest over another, in one series.

Last week's poll was over Team Kyle or Team Jason from Kathleen Peacock’s Hemlock trilogy. Team Kyle won!

So for this edition of “Which Team Are You?” I’m going to ask you less of a team question and more of a who-do-you-like-more-question. 

You can choose from:

1) Sherlock

or 2) John

I think the answer to this question is pretty obvious, but I want to see if there are any John fans out there. If you had to choose one, who would it be, and why? If you haven’t watched the show (How is that even possible!?), who do you think sounds more appealing from the Sherlock summary below:

In this modernized version of the Conan Doyle characters, using his detective plots, Sherlock Holmes lives in early 21st century London and acts more cocky towards Scotland Yard's detective inspector Lestrade because he's actually less confident. Doctor Watson is now a fairly young veteran of the Afghan war, less adoring and more active.

  • Team Sherlock
  • Team John
More polls: Create

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Stacking the Shelves: The Signed Book by SJM Edition

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly haul meme that is hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It allows book buyers to share their accumulation of books with the online book-loving community.

I went to the Sarah J. Maas signing earlier this week. I’ll post my pics and stuff sometime next week so you can see how awesome Sarah is! XD

The Heir by Kiera Cass
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I wasn’t supposed to buy The Heir at B&N, but the inside had pretty pictures, just look!

What books have you bought/received lately?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dean Winchester Friday

Dean Winchester (or sometimes Jensen Ackles) Fridays make me a very happy fangirl. You'll see why when you look at the gif.

I love this episode.