Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

"Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it."
- Goodreads

  • Publisher: Poppy/ Little, Brown & Co.
  • Release date: Jan. 2, 2012
  • Page count: 236
  • Would appeal to: Fans of an amazing love story, Sarah Dessen fans, Sarah Ockler fans
Favorite Quotes:
"She felt a tiny seed of resentment take root inside of her. It was like the pit of a peach, something small and hard and mean, a bitterness she was certain would never dissolve."

"She wishes they could turn around and fly back in the other direction, circling the globe backward, chasing the night they left behind."

"'Those are cumulus clouds. Did you know that?...They're the best ones.' 'How come?' 'Because they look the way clouds are supposed to look, the way you draw them when you're a kid. Which is nice, you know? I mean, the sun never looks the way you drew it.' 'Like a wheel with spokes?'"

"...Hadley wonders if they'll be able to stop at all. But they do, of course they do, and everything goes quite again; after traveling nearly five hundred miles per hour for almost seven hours, they now commence crawling to the gate with all the unhurried speed of an apple cart."

"Even when she was old enough to read herself, they still tackled the classics together, moving from Anna Karenina to Pride and Prejudice to The Grapes of Wrath as if traveling across the globe itself, leaving holes in the bookshelves like missing teeth."

I'm still left squealing from how cute and perfect this book is!

First of all, this is a quick read. Cuddly but somewhat bumpy love story, multi-dimensional family relationships, funny dialogue, and believable characters.

What girl doesn't imagine falling in love at an airport or with a guy next to her? The great thing about this story is we've all been there-- getting into a conversation with another passenger and never even exchanging names. Learning all about someone's family history and goals and job, and it doesn't even matter because we don't plan on seeing that person again. You might be the other type who never says a word, but it's such close quarters. I remember when my husband said the lady next to him clutched his hand on takeoff because she was so scared. Close proximity provides a level of comfort.

Though I'm a huge fan of the love story element, the backstories of the characters were entirely believable and allowed me to forget I was reading fiction. Some of the flashbacks from Hadley's life delivered such an emotional punch and were perfectly placed. She can't seem to accept that her dad has moved on and is getting married. He's made several mistakes in the route he took, sure, but she is determined to hate her new stepmother because she's a reason their family is broken. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Hadley and her dad go from awkward to a lesser version of the term. It was very realistic in its development.

The story is told in 3rd person present tense, which threw me at first. After I gave it a chapter two, I couldn't imagine it being told another way.

Oliver, the cute British guy who helps Hadley with her bags, is so funny. He is doing a summer research study at Yale, though it could be about a number of things because he likes to make jokes. Also, on the plane, Hadley and Oliver talk about the most interesting topics. In some ways, they avoid what's important, in other ways, they cover everything that's important. The seven hour flight becomes much too short. Hadley and Oliver might never see each other again. Except for the fact that both revealed tiny details about where they were going. Or big ones, as in Hadley's case.

Great twist in the story that it took me a while to see coming. Seriously, go get this one! It's a combination of heavy and light, fun and sad. Love, love, love the romance!!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday (#13)

Want to join a really awesome meme that helps you meet other book bloggers? Feature & Follow Friday, hosted by Parajunkee's View & Alison Can Read, should be your new thing!

Q: Fight! Fight! If you could have two fictional characters battle it out (preferably from books), who would they be and who do you think would win?

I think I'd have to say Noah from Michelle Hodkin's The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer vs. Adam from Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me. Two guy characters I felt were melt-your-heart sweet and fierce when protecting their women. I'd root for Adam (if I was being forced to root for someone), but then I'd beg them both to stop so their beautiful faces wouldn't get messed up.

And...I hate to say that even though Adam is in the army, I think Noah would win. He just has that beastly, brooding quality that would push him over the edge. The real Noah probably has more muscles than Ben Barnes down there:) Adam has more goodness in him.

Possibly what these two could look like:
Noah                                                         Adam

Any questions? :)

Who would you want to see battle it out (still feel rather violent asking that)?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: Shatter Me

"Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel."

- Goodreads

  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Release date: November 15, 2011
  • Page count: 352
  • Would appeal to: Dystopian lovers, aspiring authors (for amazing writing)
  • Unique elements: Utilizes the strike through throughout, uses numbers instead of spelling them out

Favorite Quotes:
"The tilt of his head cracks gravity in half. I'm suspended in the moment. I blink and bottle my breaths."

"I turn on his shower at the same time I turn on my own and his complaints drown under the broken bullets of the barely functioning spigots."

"His eyes are the perfect shade of cobalt, blue like a blossoming bruise, clear and deep and decided."

"My eyes are 2 professional pick-pockets, stealing everything to store away in my mind. I lose track of the minutes we trample over."

"My heart is a field of lilies blooming under a pane of glass, pitter-pattering to life like a rush of raindrops."

"It's the only reason I have asylum from the preying eyes of hundreds of lonely men. It's the only reason Adam is staying with me-- because Warner thinks Adam is a cardboard cutout of vanilla regurgitations."

Juliette-- a main character for whom my heart wept. Her touch could kill a person. So no one came near her. Not her parents. Not the kids on the playground who threw rocks at her. She was always a monster. Until she was finally locked up in a cell for an accidental crime, her parents more than willing to see her go.

For three years she's been away from her home. For 264 days she hasn't touched a soul. Then a boy is thrown in with her. Is he crazy? She doesn't know. Is he gorgeous? She finds it hard to look away. She recognizes those blue eyes. But he must not remember her.

Thus begins several nights where Juliette huddles in the corner. He asks so many questions. So does she. They hardly get answers. Juliette is let out by a leader in the army named Warner. The army that's taking over and enforcing the Reestablishment for the supposed good of a dying society living on a dying earth. He wants to use her "gift" for his own purposes. He's also busy leading an army. Killing soldiers who disobey. Trying to obtain the unattainable, namely, her.

Author Tahereh Mafi weaves words like nobody's business: descriptions to die for. The story is perfect from Juliette's view. The repetition of certain words three times really convey urgency, and the strike throughs are an interesting way to see what her subconscious is trying to supress or the words she's embarrassed to think. The story's pace was perfect; I certainly couldn't put it down. Action, creativity, fun dialogue, and especially juicy romancy-- this book's got it all. I wonder how long it took for Mafi to create such sigh-worthy love scenes. It's impossible not to root for the two young lovebirds.

Adam is the perfect guy-- his loyalty, dedication, and bravery are doubled when Juliette's safety is at stake. The minor character of Kenji was just the right amount of cocky to make me laugh. And Adam's younger brother James is so adorably fearless. Warner is gross and pathetic, but will there be electricity between him and Juliette in the next book? I'm sensing something developing...

I'm so eager to find out more about the world Mafi has created. The ending was good but still left me wanting more. My only bone with this-- the phrase "bleeding" was a little overused in the middle, and mostly it was the figurative kind of bleeding. Still, I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone, if not for the plot, for the writing alone.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Review: Nevermore

"Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares. His life depends on it."
- Goodreads

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Release date: August 31, 2010
  • Number of pages: 543
  • Would appeal to: Fans of Edgar Allan Poe, fantasy readers
Favorite Quotes:

"The idea that you could feel like you were being watched had always sort of struck Isobel as being corny in a Scooby-Doo kind of way. Now, though, as she turned and looked around at all the black trees with their skeletal arms tangled in a silent fight for space, she couldn't help the sudden feeling that, somewhere among them, something watched her, waited for her to move again."

"She'd shredded the paper again, again, and again, finally letting the flecks flutter to the floor like ash."

"'Do not be alarmed,' the man said, his voice dry, husky, and low, like the sound of a match striking."

"Isobel's gaze slipped dazedly to her window, where she watched the half-naked tree limbs quiver and sway, waving in and out of her view, like clawed hands snatching at the sun."

"A chill ran through her at the way he said her name, the way he gave each syllable its own moment, making it sound so regal, so proper...With her hand pressed between both of his, her whole body seemed to hum, and she began to feel fuzzy from the inside out, like a radio stuck between channels."

"Isobel felt a bobby pin scrape her scalp, then another. The Cadillac dipped down a hill, and her stomach lurched to high-five her heart."

So, in case you can't tell, I really dug the similes in this novel.

Nevermore was recommended to me by a student, and I'm absolutely glad I read it. Are you a Poe lover? I know the man was brilliant, and this book casts a light on several pieces of his work, especially "The Masque of the Red Death." It's fun to take this journey with Isobel as she loses herself in the stories that Varen already knows by heart. 

What starts as a simple English assignment turns into a major production. Cheerleader Isobel is paired with Gothic "freak" Varen Nethers. Her boyfriend, football player Brad, isn't happy about it when he finds out and actually takes his agression to the extreme. Varen, when they first get together as partners, actually has the nerve to write his number on Isobel's hand in purple ink. The author, Kelly Creagh, carries this project (as well as my favorite color, purple!) through the majority of the book. Such a normal high school task that turns into literally a nightmare for both Varen and Isobel as they both struggle to fight against evil forces, complete with spiky haired winged creatures called Nocs, in a world between dreams and reality.

Kudos to the author for creating great suspense. Her writing surprised me several times. In her debut novel, she had some sentences that made me go, "I'd never think of that or look at it that way." Beautiful writing. The descriptions of Brad and Mark's attacks on Varen definitely made me cringe because I can imagine that type of harrassment going on in real life. For such a long book (possibly a little too long, but nevertheless, enjoyable), I only saw a few words or phrases repeated to a noticeable degree: "threadbare rug," "tomes," and "crisp autumn air."

Creagh has quite the imagination with her descriptions. I enjoyed the mysterious character of Reynolds, the white scarfed, fedora-wearing cloaked figure who acts as a sort of "spirit guide" for Isobel in the in-between world. As far as characters that did a great job of representing real life, little brother Danny had some great lines. Isobel and Danny had a lot of on-and-off fighting, but both demonstrated at least once how much they really cared for the other. Also, Isobel's parents were very real figures and didn't just disappear and let her do whatever she wanted, as in some books. The protective and goofy father and the concerned and peace-making mother made the plot believable. And crazy, long-skirt wearing locker buddy Gwen-- well, you need to read about her to appreciate her uniqueness.

Love that Varen works in an ice cream shop and spends time in the attic of a creepy bookstore.

Also, this is a great reminder to "Say what you need to say," (thank you, John Mayer) before you lose your chance.

This book was hard to put down once I started. There is a good mix of the fantastical and typical high school drama, and the plot has some surprises near the end. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens in book two, Enshadowed, which comes out in August of this year.

Has anyone heard of the Poe Toaster? So interesting:) The author actually spotted him in 2009.