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Reviewer: Rebekah

Title:  The Book Thief
Author:  Markus Zusak
Source: Library
Pages: 550 Pages
Genre: YA Fiction/ Historical Fiction/ Experimental
Publication Date: March 14, 2006
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5/5

 It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .
Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.
This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

This might just be one of my new favorite books, ever.

It took me a while to finish it. I think most people (or at least the people who are on Goodreads) couldn’t finish it quickly either because it’s not a quick read. It’s heavy.

The main character, Liesel, isn’t your average girl. She’s poor and alone, but she’s also tougher than she looks. It’s hard not to feel what she feels. Her misfit friends and family are some of the best characters I’ve read in a while. Who couldn’t love the boy with lemon hair? Or the gentle, accordion-playing Papa?

Her love and fear of words and books drives the story. You see power and destruction, love and hate, death and life. All by words.

I should also talk about the narrator, huh? I don’t want to give anything away, but if you pick up this book and start to read…it’s probably not going to be what you expect at first. But keep reading, because the narrator keeps an open perspective. You learn about Life through Death.

Like I said, it’s a heavy book. But it is also beautiful. You can’t go into a book set during Holocaust time during Germany expecting happy endings all around. But you’ll gain much more, I think.

Reviewer: Taylor

 Title: Grave Mercy
 Author: Robin LaFevers
 Source: Bought
 Pages: 549 Pages
 Genre: YA Historical/Action Adventure
 Publication Date: April 3, 2012
 Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
 Rating: 5/5

 Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Main Idea: AHHHHHH! That is the only way I can think to put my excitement into words as I sit down to try to write a quick review.

First of all, freaking historical fiction for the win! I think we as an entire YA community do not read enough/have enough historical fiction. I absolutely loved being transported into a completely different time and place- one that was very real at one time in history!

Our main character, Ismae (love that name), has dealt with some MEAN, rugged men in her life, namely her father and her “betrothed.” So, when she mysteriously gets swooped away to a convent involved with the dealings of death one night, she is not opposed. In fact, Ismae learns that her dance with death in her mother’s womb (her mother drank poison when she was pregnant with Ismae to try to “expel her from her womb.” yuck.) was not just a coincidence. Apparently, death would not allow her to die and “sired” her in order to do his work. It is revealed to her that she has special abilities in order to help her deal death more efficiently. Example: she is immune to all poison.

Towards the beginning of the book, Ismae literally JUMPS at any chance to do st. mortain’s work by killing one he has marqued. However, quickly after her first kills, Ismae is assigned a job that will change her life forever.

The romance is amazing. The love she gains for unexpected people is touching. And the mystery, action, and excitement is amazing. Even the longer parts in the middle did not bore me. I was glued to the book the entire time I was reading it and just LOVED it.

Go read it. Now.


Reviewer: Taylor
Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Source: Bought
Pages: 290 Pages
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Rating: 3.5/5

 According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar   Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie–she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

 

Main Idea: Anna and Frankie have to deal with their loss out loud instead of ignoring the truth, and the way Sarah Ockler writes the girls through their heartbreak and confusion is beautiful.

I certainly was expecting a LOT from this book as I went into it. I have been hearing so many good things about it. How it is heartbreaking but still so good. Well, I agree! (for the most part).

One year after the heartbreak of the loss of Frankie’s brother and Anna’s secret love, the girls head to California for a fresh start with Anna’s parents. After her brother’s death, Frankie has become completely self obsessed and tries to win the affection of any boy that turns her way. Anna is still dealing with the heartbreak of losing the one she loved and keeping it a secret from Frankie. They go with a mission to meet and flirt with twenty boys while hopefully losing Anna’s “albatross” (virginity) along the way

Frankie’s character really frustrated me as she was self obsessed and boy crazy. But apparently this is the “new frankie” and not how she used to be before Matt died. Anna was a pretty good character and acted as I think I would if I lost someone that special that suddenly. I just don’t get going on a mission to seduce boys and lose your “albatross,” but then again, I am very different from our main characters!

Overall I really enjoyed this book. The plot moves along quickly with plenty of heart-pounding late night sneak-outs, make out sessions, and boys. But the book goes deeper than that. Anna and Frankie have to deal with their loss out loud instead of ignoring the truth, and the way Sarah Ockler writes the girls through their heartbreak and confusion is beautiful.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Reviewer: Rebekah
Series: yes
Rating: 4.5/5

Just finished this a few hours ago.

Wow.

Where do I start?

I’ve been hearing about this fantastic book for a while now, so I bought the paperback very cheap at a used book store. It’s been on my TBR list for a while.

Before I explain how freakin’ awesome this book is, I will say that it was not perfect. It was hard to get into, and a little difficult to get used to the financial journalist and big-shot business lingo (it also was hard to transition from “sweet” YA novels….I just finished Lola and the Boy Next Door).

I’ve heard a few complaints from bloggers and reviewers on the web who did’t like the writing style. It wasn’t my favorite either, but I think it worked for this type of novel. In a way the no-nonsense, straightforwardness reflected the personality of Lisbeth (the tattooed anti-heroine). It’s a crime novel, guys. If the writing was any more descriptive, I wouldn’t have been able to get through the really disturbing parts. And there were quite a few. It wasn’t an easy novel to read (but I couldn’t stop reading).

Needless to say, this book is not for the faint of heart.

The plot. Oh, the plot. A twist here, red herring there, and then BAM.
DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING, HUH? At one point, I actually jumped out of my comfy little futon.

STIEG LARSSON, YOU TOTALLY FOOLED ME! and just about everyone else, by the looks of it.

Anyway, can’t give anything away.

As for the leads Lisbeth Slander and Mikael Blomvkist: yes.

Mikael wasn’t my favorite at first. He definitely has his flaws, but he’s the perfect protagonist for this kind of novel. By the end, I loved him.

Lisbeth. Can’t understand her but I loved reading about her. She has her own code. She is who she is. She’s tiny, but she’s mean. She’s not all “there,” but she’s genius.

Am I going to read the second?

I’ve already got it in my backpack.

Reviewer: Taylor
Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
From: Bought
Series: YES
Rating:4/5

  
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.
 

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Ahhh! I FINALLY,  finally, finally read this. and truly enjoyed it. 


The book did start out a little slow for me. I feel like there were so many pages used just to set up the story. I understand we need a good set up to help us understand the story, but I just found myself not as motivated to read towards the beginning of this book.


However, that is really the only semi-bad thing I have to say about this book. The rest was so, so good. I can’t imagine living in a society where love is considered a disease. At the beginning of each chapter, Lauren Oliver would have some sort of quotation or traditional saying that referred to the harmfulness of the deliria. I loved them! They made the society seem that much more real.

Characters- I give an A+. I loved how Lena wasn’t a rule breaker at all in the beginning. Too often I think we begin the story with an already strongwilled, hard headed heroine. However, in this case, Lena was stubborn, but she was being stubborn about wanting and needing to follow the rules. She did not want to break the mold of society. And, I loved witnessing the realization and evolution that came with Lena’s character. Also, Alex. I loved Alex. Why? because he was NOT a jerk in any way, he treated Lena right, and he was handsome and brave. Ahhh.


but that ending. OH, that ending. Just wait and see if you haven’t read it. Basically, I NEED PANDEMONIUM NOW.


thanks so much for reading!


Taylor

Possession by Elana Johnson
402 Pages
2.5/5 Stars
 
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them…starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous–everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Summary taken from goodreads

My Expectations: pretty darn high. I thought this was going to be an action packed dystopian that would leave me craving the next installment. 

In Actuality: It let me down, guys. It wasn’t one of those books that was just torture to get through, not at all. But I just found myself SO confused most of the time. There would be some big, climatic moment and I would just be like, huh? I just don’t feel like some of the characters were set up in a way that made it easy for me to see the connections made throughout the story.

Vi, our main character, was not a strong heroine. At least, in my humble opinion. She was too busy figuring out which boy she wanted to be with forever.. yes, this means yet ANOTHER love triangle. And, quite frankly, I didn’t really like either of the boys. at all. 


My last complaint is that the writing was confusing. When there was an “action”scene I just could not set it up in my mind. The scenes were not written in a way where I could set them up in my mind.


ON THE OTHER HAND, I am not trying to bash this book. I did enjoy reading it (which seems kind of odd given the complaints I just made..), and it was a decent book. Just definitely not what I expected, and maybe not a book that catered to my reading style.

Hey all! Taylor here!



City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare


4 out of 5 stars!


In this sequel to City of Bones (S & S, 2007), the nonstop action continues. The Shadowhunters are battling a world of demons that few people can see. Guided by the laws of the Clave, these hunters balance fighting with the other more mundane aspects of life—love, betrayal, and confusion. Jace, the fiercest teenage Shadowhunter, seems determined to make everyone around him angry, and is looked upon with suspicion because his father, Valentine, is out to rule the world. Meanwhile, love triangles abound, vampires are reborn, and general teenage angst blossoms among a group of friends and siblings. Set in an alternative present-day Manhattan, the story comes complete with Britney Spears references and even, ironically, refers to the scientific CSI. Well written in both style and language, it compares favorably to others in this genre. The human characters are well developed and quite believable. The whole book is like watching a particularly good vampire/werewolf movie, and it leaves readers waiting for the next in the series. Watch this one fly off the shelves.


Synopsis found on Amazon by Jennifer-Lynn Draper, Children’s Literature Consultant, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada 

Taylor’s Review:
so, i just got finished listening to the second book in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. um. WOW.

First of all, i think it was one of the best audio books i have ever listened to. I love audiobooks, but sometimes it is hard for them to hold my interest, especially if there is not much going on. However, with “City of Ashes,” it was a TOTALLY different story. I would park my car and then just sit in it, listening some more.

This book, like the first, was packed with action. I found myself breathing hard along with the characters in the book. The tension between jace and clary is ridiculous. And jace was seriously getting on my nerves. I cannot stand arrogant boys. But in this book I got to see deeper into jace, his past, and why he is like he is.

I love Cassandra Clare’s writing. Like a lot. It’s so beautiful and makes me feel like i am right there with the characters.

All in all: i just can NOT wait to read (or listen to) City of Glass. City of Ashes left me feeling like i may have an idea of the next twist in the story.. ahh just typing about it makes me want to go read it right now!

thanks so much for reading!

Taylor