Tuesday 8 July 2014

Mini Review: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

When You Were Here
Author: Daisy Whitney
Pages: 264
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown

Filled with humor, raw emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch and resonating authenticity. 

Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.

This is the first novel I chose to read after my exams were done was and I must say I chose the right one. When You Were Here is an incredible novel with stunning writing and a solid protagonist. 

What I Liked: 

I absolutely loved Danny. Whitney writes him so unbelievably well that I couldn't stop reading. His thoughts and his feelings are quite intriguing and saddening at the same time. With the loss of his mother, Danny doesn't know what he wants anymore. His sister is in China and his father is dead. The only person who watches over him now is his mother's best friend, Kate. He's alone and now, Danny must figure out what he wants to do with his life. 

He goes to Japan, to the apartment where his mother lived. After discovering that his mother's medication was barely touched, he wants to see  the doctor his mother went to. Most of the novel is set in Japan and  I absolutely loved it. I've never been to Japan, but I love it when books take place in different continent. Don't get me wrong, I love North America, but I like reading new cultures and language. Not only it is refreshing to read, but it is fascinating. 

I also really liked Danny's dog, Sandy Koufax. I don't usually care for pets in books, but this one definitely took a hold on me. It was cute seeing how attached he was to his dog. When he leaves for Japan, he has his friend, sending him pictures of Sandy.  

Whitney's When You Were Here takes to you on a journey of boy who struggles with the death of his mother, and finding peace in the midst of it all. 

Monday 7 July 2014

Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Author: Lauren Oliver
Pages: 408
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

After reading the negative reviews of this book, I wasn't sure I wanted to read this. Last year, I chose Panic as one of Waiting on Wednesday picks and I was positive that I was going to pre-order it, but once the reviews came, I immediately changed my mind. Panic was actually a good book. And here's why:

Beautiful writing. Ever since I finished Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy, I knew I was hooked from the start. Her writing flows unbelievably well that I don't care what she writes. Basically, anything that marks her name on a book, I will read it. Even though she wrote it in  third person (my least favourite writing style) I still loved it. Her writing is descriptive, vivid and most of all, amazing! After reading Panic, I'm quite interested to read her middle grade novels, even though I don't normally read middle grade. But with Lauren Oliver, I will read anything by her.

The Challenges.  The characters Heather, Nat and Dodge all compete in Panic, hoping that they will win $67000. Panic has sort of sketchy background to it. It's not fully explained. A lot of questions seem to rise when reading this book. Although it isn't fully explained, I enjoyed reading the challenges that the characters faced. They were absolutely thrilling and exciting. Each scene that Oliver wrote never failed me to keep me on my toes. She did write some bizarre scenes, but they were impeccably well-written scenes. I don't care unbelievably crazy it was, Panic is an entertaining read.

Although I enjoyed most of it, there was one thing that I did not like.

The Ending. It was so conveniently wrapped up. Between the second last chapter and the last chapter, it was as if she forgot to write a chunk of it. The second last chapter was dated August 25 and the last chapter was dated October 8. I wasn't fully convinced of the ending. There were problems left unsolved and the idea of them winning such a high amount of money seemed pretty sketchy to me. I was just not convinced of the whole happy ending. Maybe if it was a bit more open ended, I would've enjoyed it.

Friday 4 July 2014

Review: Reality Boy by A.S. King

Author: A.S. King
Pages: 368
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

A.S. King is one of those authors that I've seen other bloggers that give high praise for. I was sort of debating whether I wanted to read  of her other books, Everybody Sees the Ants or Please Ignore Vera Dietz, but after seeing of the cover of Reality Boy last year, I really wanted to read this one first. Only because the cover was absolutely eye-catching. That burst of colour was seriously hard to resist. After finishing Reality Boy, I'm happy that it wasn't just a pretty cover, the content was absolutely gut-wrenching and completely raw with the voice of teen who suffered from fame. 

Usually I steer away from books that contained celebrities or the Hollywood life but with Reality Boy, it was a completely different story. Yes, we're given a story of a young celebrity star, but Gerald Faust was no ordinary celebrity.  When he was younger, his parents sent a letter to the producers, wanting the Network Nanny to come in and hopefully control Gerald. In the reality tv show, Gerald was famous for crapping everywhere. He would take #2 on his sister, Tasha's bed, on his mom's shoes, basically a lot of places in the house. Even though it wasn't quite pleasant to read that, he was only five years old. I mean, it's really common for children to do that, but with Gerald, he was being filmed while he was doing it. Ever since his life was shown to whole world, Gerald's life has been a wreck as he struggled with controlling his anger. 

One of the things that I loved most about this book was Gerald Faust. A perfectly flawed character. I absolutely loved how A.S. King wrote about anger management. Seeing Gerald struggle and trying to control his anger was true character development. I love reading characters arguing with their thoughts and emotions. They know its bad, but they still feel the need to hurt them. There were times where Gerald walked away from fights and times where he let his fist fly to another person's jaw. Even though what Gerald did wasn't good, but the way with people treated him, it was completely understandable. 

Reality Boy was achingly real as A.S King writes a novel of a boy whose life has been destroyed by fame. A brilliant five stars, this will definitely not be my last A.S King book. 

Thursday 3 July 2014

Mini Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Pages: 419
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Even though Holly Black's writing is so descriptive and beautiful, the overall plot of the novel failed to keep my interest. I was close to not finishing it, but since it was just a standalone, I thought why not?  But the problem with The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was that the characters and slow pace seemed to bring a downside to the novel. The plot didn't interest me. Our main character, Tana was stupid and dumb. She made irrational decisions  and for most of the scenes, I could help but shake my head at her. Another character I hated was Aiden. He was an absolute jerk. He blackmailed Tana and used her so many times that he failed to win me over. He did redeem himself a bit in the end, but that still doesn't make up for the all the horrible things he had done to Tana.

Even though the character weren't that great, I would've liked it better if it didn't have such a slow pace. The beginning started off well, but once we hit the middle, everything began to die down and I was slowly losing interest as the novel was progressing. But the ending was good. I really liked how she ended how it off. But even though the ending was good, I can't seem to say that the rest were just as good as well. 

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Blog Tour: Unravel (Linked #2) by Imogen Howson Review & Giveaway

Welcome to my stop of Unravel by Imogen Howson! Thrilling and a fabulous theme of sisters, Unravel is stunning conclusion to the Linked duology. To check out the rest of the stops, click here!

Author: Imogen Howson
Pages: 480
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Untold dangers await telepathic twins in this sequel to the futuristic, romantic thriller called classic sci-fi, space-travel adventure at its best. After Elissa and Lin exposed the government's secret experiments inLinked, which Booklistcalled a roller-coaster ride into space that just about everyone should enjoy, their home planet Sekoia is thrown into chaos. Determined to do their part to help the planet they've hurt, they return to Sekoia only to discover that things are far worse that they imagined. Resources are suddenly scarce, people are scared, and there's a rising current of anger against the Spares. When Lissa and Lin find themselves among another group of Spares and twins, they feel like they've found their kindred spirits at last. But a threat none of them could have expected is lying in wait for Sekoia's Spares.

Two Reasons Why You Need to Read This

1) A Complex Relationship Between Sisters

In Unravel, Lin and Lissa go through obstacles after obstacles as they find themselves in horrible situations. Lin wants to avenge the people who want kill her, but Lissa is against the idea. Seeing these two argue and fight shows true relationships between siblings. I can't express how impressed I am with these two sisters. It's rare to ever come across such dynamic and complex sisters that I must say, that this duology is truly a sci-fi gem. Even through all the ugly times, Lin and Lissa still continue to love each other. 

2) Amazing Love Interest

You guys, I've found the one. Literally. Cadan is one of the best love interests I've ever come across. He's kind, smart and thoughtful. When he sees Elissa hugging another guy because he is in need for comfort, he doesn't get angry, but instead understands the situation. In young adult novels, it's extremely common for some love interests to throw a fit if they see another man touching their girl. In Unravel, Cadan isn't possessive. He gives her space. 

Cadan and Elissa aren't always together in the book, but when they are, it's literally fireworks erupting. They both have obligations and they do not let their relationship get in the way. That's another reason why I liked them so much. Howson wrote their relationship unbelievably well that I truly wish to have a relationship like theirs. Easy-going, but yet super swoony!

Unravel is a page-turner with non-stop action and heart-pounding tension between Lin and Lissa. Not only that, but this duology has one of the best love interests I've ever read. (Cadan is mine!) 

About the Author:

As a child, I loved reading so much that I not only read in bed, at the table and in the bath, but in the shower and – not so successfully – on my bicycle. I enjoyed books in a slightly unorthodox way, too – many of my childhood books have ragged edges where I tore paper from the margins in order to eat it. I wrote my first book at eight. It was entitled The Dragon in the Teapot and would probably have been a huge hit if I hadn’t lost the only copy on a family day out.

Some years later, armed with several different types of backups, I’m busy writing romantic science fiction and fantasy for young adults and adults. I live with my partner, our two teenage daughters, and three cats, near Sherwood Forest in England. I’m a Christian, a feminist, and a lover of cheese, chocolate, stationery shops and eighties pop music. I still read in most places, but I no longer eat paper. I’m a member of The Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the group blogs The Lucky 13s and Author Allsorts, and the online writers’ community Romance Divas. I’m represented by Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Literary Agency.

Purchase Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Book Depository | Kobo

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