Monthly Archives: June 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a cool meme created by the people over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far in 2013.

Books are listed in the order that I read them, not necessarily the order that I liked them. Links take you to my reviews of these books. GoodReads links can be found on the review page (if you click on the picture of the book).

1. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
This book is adorable. If you already love contemporary YA, or if you’ve been wanting to try contemporary YA, I would definitely recommend reading this one! I hate the idea of love at first sight, and I still loved this book.

2. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Not technically listed as New Adult, but I would count it as such anyway. Bria’s just graduated high school and doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life, so she goes on a trip to Central America by herself. The characters were interesting, and I loved watching her slowly figure out what she wanted.

3. The Designated Ugly Fat Friend (DUFF) by Kody Keplinger
Girl with issues meets boy who can’t commit. The story isn’t the most original, but the characters are awesome. This was a great book to read, and it has some great messages mixed in, as well. If you like snarky main characters and contemporary YA, you should definitely give this book a try!

4. Butter by Erin Jade Lange
Butter, weighing in at over 400 pounds, has a plan – he’s going to eat himself to death on the internet. It starts out as a joke, but he ends up gaining a lot of popularity, and now he doesn’t really know what to do. This book brings up some interesting questions and shows that things aren’t always black and white.

5. Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
I expected to dislike this book, but I was definitely proven wrong. I should have trusted Keplinger. I definitely will from now on. This modern-day retelling of Lysistrata is definitely fun to read. It’s a bit heavy-handed at times, but I agree with the message, so I didn’t care as much. Really, all of Keplinger’s books belong on this list.

6. The Treasure Map of Boys (Ruby Oliver #3) by E. Lockhart
I wish I had found this series when I was in high school. It’s fantastic, and it’s one of the few series I’ve read that actually gets better with each book. The first two could have easily fit on this list. She’s funny and insecure and loves making lists – I mean, what more could I ask for in a protagonist?

7. Real Live Boyfriends (Ruby Oliver #4) by E. Lockhart
I told you I love this series. You don’t usually get to see what happens after the “happy ever after” moment, but you do with this book. High school relationships aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, and this book showed a realistic view of the drama that goes along with relationships in general. If you haven’t read this series yet, you should definitely get on that!

8. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
This graphic novel tells the true story of a girl living in Iran during the cultural revolution of 1979. It’s funny and depressing at the same time. I highly recommend this graphic novel to anyone who wants to learn more about another culture – or anyone who just loves a good story!

9. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Marissa Meyer is definitely one of my favorite authors. Scarlet is the second in her Lunar Chronicles series. It’s my favorite sequel ever, and it’s part of the best fairy tale retelling I’ve ever read. She keeps just enough of the fairy tale to let you recognize the elements, but she adds so many new elements that you don’t feel like you’re just reading the same old story. She’s a great writer, and she started out as a NaNo overachiever. If you haven’t given this series a shot, you totally should!

10. Losing It by Cora Carmack
This is my favorite New Adult book to date. The main character is a bit neurotic at times, but she’s neurotic in a hilarious way. I was laughing hysterically through most of this book. Carmack definitely writes awkward well. I loved reading this book. Yes, there’s the sex that NA is known for, but there’s also likeable characters who are trying to figure out what they want out of life, which made me really enjoy it. I definitely recommend you give this one a chance.

Well, those are the top 10 books I’ve read this year. This was sort of a hard list, as I’ve read so many great books! What books would be on your list? If you’ve written your own Top Ten list, leave a link in the comments and I’ll come check it out! 🙂

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Book Review: Losing It by Cora Carmack

Title: Losing It (GoodReads)
Author: Cora Carmack
Page Count: 204
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: New Adult Romance

Rating: 10/10

Goodreads Summary:
Virginity.

Bliss Edwards is about to graduate from college and still has hers. Sick of being the only virgin among her friends, she decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose it as quickly and simply as possible– a one-night stand. But her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she freaks out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed with an excuse that no one with half-a-brain would ever believe. And as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, she recognizes her new theatre professor. She’d left him naked in her bed about 8 hours earlier.

Opinion:
This is the New Adult book I’ve been waiting for!

The Good
Bliss – I just love her so much. She’s neurotic and insecure, but she’s still funny and stands up for herself. I loved watching her freak out about everything. I found it completely relatable. I spent half of this book laughing out loud over the thoughts that ran through Bliss’s head. I highlighted so many different paragraphs so I could go back to them later and reread. Bliss is, hands down, my favorite NA narrator.

I’ve loved the idea of new adult literature since I heard about it, but so far I’ve been incredibly disappointed with the books I’ve been reading that fall under that category. This book changed that. This is the sort of new adult book I was waiting for. Yes, there’s romance, and the romance is a huge part of it, but we also get to see her try to figure out what she wants to do with her life. It was really refreshing to read about a character who didn’t have her whole life figured out already.

I also really liked the romance in this book. There’s none of that insta-love that is so prevalent in books, and I really appreciated that. They might have immediately jumped into bed with each other (though they don’t actually do anything in that bed), but there are no immediate declarations of love. They get to know each other over the course of the semester, and we get to sort of fall in love with them. When they do talk about their feelings, it seems real. Of course, this also allowed for lots of freaking out on Bliss’s part. I think that’s why I hate insta-love so much. There’s none of those awkward “does he like me?” moments because the guy just blurts out his feelings right away. That doesn’t happen here. Bliss isn’t always sure where she stands with Garrick, which means that their relationship is so much more fun to read about.

I also liked the epilogue. It was nice watching Garrick freak out for a change.

The Not So Good
The first chapter didn’t immediately suck me in. That’s one of the reasons this book was on my TBR list for so long even though I had technically already started it. It just seemed a bit sudden, I guess. I mean, I know they’re at a bar and she’s an attractive girl, but it just seemed a bit quick. It obviously slowed down a lot, though, and that helped.

Garrick was a little bit too reckless for my liking. Of course, that was also sort of the point. Garrick helped Bliss stop worrying and over-thinking. So the recklessness was sort of necessary. I just didn’t like it.

Overall – there were a few tiny flaws with this book, but they weren’t enough to make me stop loving this book. I point them out only in an attempt to write a detailed review. This book is, hands down, my favorite NA novel. I was laughing through this entire book. It was just so awkward, but in a great way. I stayed up late two nights in a row to finish this, and I would have finished it much sooner had I not had so much homework to do between reading sessions. I can’t wait to read more from Cora Carmack!

Book Review: Mythology by Helen Boswell

Title: Mythology (GoodReads)
Author: Helen Boswell (@HelenBozz)
Page Count: 418
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: YA Paranormal

Rating: 7/10

Goodreads Summary:
Hope Gentry doesn’t believe in Fate. Born with an unusual power to see the dark memories of those around her, Hope just wants to be a normal teenager. But on the first day of her senior year of high school, she finds herself irresistibly drawn to a transfer student named Micah Condie. At first glance, Micah seems like a boy that most girls would dream about. But when Hope’s powers allow her to discover Micah’s darkest secret, she quickly becomes entangled in the lives of mythical entities she never dreamed existed. Was this her destiny all along? And will her powers help her survive the evil of the Demon Impiorum?

Mythology isn’t just for English class anymore.

Opinion:

I don’t normally read paranormal/supernatural stories. They don’t really interest me too much. I made an exception for this one because my friend Julie (who’s also an awesome writer whom you should check out here) recommended it. I’m glad she did.

The Good

The Beginning – I definitely loved the beginning of this book. It drew me in right away. There’s a shooting that I wanted to know more about. Hope has a brother who cares about her and friends that she seems to be close to. There’s a guy she likes and a teacher she likes (though not in the same way), and the teacher seems to hate the guy. This was a great start to the book, because both Micah and Dr. Halverson seemed like good guys, and I didn’t understand why they seemed to hate each other. I definitely had to keep reading to find out more!

The End – The last 50 pages made it impossible for me to put the book down. All of a sudden so many things start happening, and I couldn’t wait to see how it was going to end. There’s a lot of drama, but in a good way. I found myself suddenly caring about characters that I hadn’t really cared about before, which says a lot. Usually when there’s a character I don’t really care about, the action scenes at the end aren’t all that emotional because I don’t care what happens to them. I thought that would be true here with one of the characters, but I was pleasantly surprised to realize that wasn’t the case.

Jonathan – He’s not the love interest in this novel, but I really wish he were. He was, hands down, my favorite character in this novel. He’s a guardian who’s like 500 years old but looks like he’s still 19. He dresses in black all the time, drives super fast, and owns an art studio. He also hates texting and has a good sense of humor. My favorite parts of the book are the scenes that include him. He’s funny and smart and caring – I mean, what’s not to love? I also loved learning more about him near the end of the book. That definitely helped explain some of his character and made me like him even more.

Hope – I didn’t like her all the time, as I think she made some really stupid choices (one choice in particularly, which I won’t get into due to spoilers, just does not make any sense to me), but she was definitely a better paranormal protagonist than Bella was, and I enjoyed that. She made choices. Sure, I didn’t always like her choices, but she didn’t sit around waiting for the guys to do everything for her, and I liked that.

The Writing – Helen Boswell is definitely good at getting the words down paper. I may not have liked all of the plot (more on that later), but the way she put the words together was great. It’s a self-published book, but I didn’t see any glaring typos or anything, which was really nice. There were some good analogies in here, as well as some contemporary references that made me smile.

The Not So Good

Micah – I didn’t dislike his character as a person, but I disliked him as the love interest. I never really saw any reason for why he and Hope were so drawn to each other. This is something I come across a lot in books, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Everyone knows what insta-love is by this point. It’s just sort of annoying watching two characters say such gushy things to each other when they haven’t known each other that long. I mean, what guy would really talk like that all the time? There’s no real personality there. Of course, it also didn’t help that I thought Jonathan was so much better than Micah in like every way. If I were Hope, I totally would have gone for him instead. It seemed like Hope and Jonathan had a much better connection than she and Micah did.

Twilight similarities – This wasn’t a huge thing, but there were several parts that reminded me a lot of Twilight. She sees people’s “auras” and worst memories, but she can’t see his and doesn’t see any when he’s around. Sort of like how Edward can read people’s minds but can’t read Bella’s. There’s even a part where he takes her flying, which reminds me of Twilight even though I’m not honestly sure if that’s even in the book. Neither of these things is exclusively related to Twilight , of course, but it was enough to bother me a little, particularly because I mostly avoid this type of book because I hate being reminded of Twilight.

Side characters/story lines – One of the things I loved about the beginning of this book was that she had friends and family around her. I hoped we would get to see her interact more with them, but they just sort of fade into the background. There’s a reason her brother disappears for most of the novel, but I still wish he were there more. Her best friends show up only when necessary, and their story lines don’t really go anywhere. Part of this is because they’re minds are altered, but I still wish we got to see more emotion from them.

Middle – All of the above combined to equal one rather boring middle. The beginning and the end were great, but I found myself skimming parts in the middle, waiting to see when something interesting would happen. There’s a decent amount of stuff that happens, but nothing ever really comes of it, and that sort of bothered me. I was expecting more.

Her aunt – Her aunt really only appears in the prologue and epilogue, and I don’t really understand why she needed to be there at all. It doesn’t really add anything to the story. Maybe it will be more relevant in the sequel. I don’t know. I just think that was a really horrible way to end the novel.

Overall: I’m glad I went out of my comfort zone and read this book. It wasn’t perfect, but I find myself thinking fondly of it now I’ve finished it. The second book is coming out in September, and I will be picking up a copy when it does.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Summer TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a cool meme created by the people over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR List.

I have so many books on my TBR list it’s not even funny. These books are all ones that I’ve purchased but have yet to read. Some of them have been sitting on my shelf (or Nook) longer than others. All of them, though, are books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

1. The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy by Noreena Hertz  

This book has probably been on this list the longest. It’s also one of the few books on this list that I have in physical form. Considering how relevant this topic is to my novel, though, I should probably start reading this one soon.

 

 2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

I’ve had this book for a while, also. I found it on sale last year, I think. I’m about a third of the way through this one, but I haven’t actually gotten around to finishing it yet.

 

 

 

3. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer 

Here we have another book that I own in paperback. I’m actually about halfway through this one, also. I just keep getting distracted with fiction books.

 

 

4. Losing It by Cora Carmack

I’ve actually started this book, too. I really need to stop starting books before I’ve finished the last one.

 

 

 

 

5. One by LeighAnn Kopans 

This one it’s not my fault I haven’t read, as it only came out like a week ago. Still, I’ve been hearing about this one for several months now, and it sounds like a really interesting book. I can’t wait to read it.

 

6. Playing Nice by Rebekah Crane

I think this is the first book on this list that I’ve never started reading!

 

 

 

 

7. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

I’ve heard so many great things about this author, but I’ve yet to read any of her books. Part of the problem with this one is that I bought it from Amazon before I realized that my mobi-to-epub converter no longer worked, so I can’t get this on my Nook. I’ll make it work, though.

 

8. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

This is the second book on this list that I haven’t started reading yet. I’ve heard so many great things about it, though, that I know I have to start reading it soon.

 

 

 

9. The White Road by Lynn Flewelling 

I’ve owned this book for a really long time. I actually bought it right after it came out. It had just been a while since I read the previous books in the series, and I wanted to wait until I reread the other books first. Since there are four books before this one, and they’re all rather large (typical fantasy length), I never got around to it. I think I might skip the rereading when I finally start this one. Anything I’ve forgotten, I’ll figure out as I go.

 

10. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson

This is the only book on this list that I don’t technically own, although I did buy it. I bought it as a gift for my boyfriend’s father, and then he lent them to me to read. I’ve had this series on my shelf for over a year. I keep getting distracted with YA and NA novels, and this series sort of gets left behind. I should fix that, though, as I really enjoyed the first book of this series.

 

 

Well, those are my top 10 books that I want to read this summer. Have you read any of these? What books are on your TBR list?

Character Monday: Lucy Higgins (ALONE)

Character Monday is something I came up with one night when I was supposed to be editing. Each Monday, we share one of our characters with the world. This character can be from any of your stories – past, present future – as long as it’s an original character. You can share as much or as little about your character as you’d like!

I might have forgotten to do this last Monday (okay, fine – I really did forget), but I’m not going to forget this week! I figured I’d share with you all the main character from the dystopian trilogy I was talking about last time.

Name: Lucy Higgins

Novel: Alone (working title) trilogy

Age: 18

Appearance: Average height. Medium brown hair that comes down to her shoulders. Blue eyes. Chubby but undernourished.

Background: Lucy was raised by her grandmother for the first 10 years of her life. When her grandmother died, Lucy was fortunate enough to get a spot in one of the region’s orphanages. There, she befriends Heather, Max, and Max’s little sister Rosalie. Lucy’s the only one who experienced the love of an adult, and it’s that love and encouragement that gives her the will to keep fighting – though she doesn’t realize just how beneficial that was just yet.

Personality: Lucy’s not usually one to cause trouble. She’s too focused on doing well in school and earning a slot in the Exxmart Motors Lottery. If she can win that, she can get a spot at one of the colleges, which is the only way she has a chance at living a decent life. She’s also very caring and loving, though. She worries about her friends. She just can’t let that love and worry override her own will to live and succeed. If she can help everyone, great. If not, she has to find a way to save herself.

Why you should want to read her story: Lucy was born into a horrible world. Thousands of people die from heat stroke and disease each year. Women wear ID bracelets that light up the minute they become pregnant, after which point they’re not allowed to eat or do anything that might cause a miscarriage – because if they do have a miscarriage, they’re going to jail for involuntary manslaughter. The poor have two options: enter an apprenticeship program where you get a job and college but will be lucky to make ends meet for the rest of your life or join the military, which pays more money upfront but will quite possibly get you killed. And Lucy’s going to try to change all of that…eventually.

Goals for Book 1:
1. Earn a spot in the Lottery.
2. Win the Lottery and earn a spot at the prestigious Etherton Heights University.
3. Make sure Max, Heather, and Rosalie survive.
4. Don’t get kicked out of Etherton Heights, assuming she makes it that far.
5. Don’t get pregnant.

Playlist:
1. “We Are” by Ana Johnsson
See the devil on the doorstep now (my oh my)
Telling everybody oh just how to live their lives
Sliding down the information highway
Buying in just like a bunch of fools
Time is ticking and we can’t go back (my oh my)

2. “Let Them Eat War” by Bad Religion
From the force to the union shops
The war economy is making new jobs
But the people who benefit most
Are breaking bread with their benevolent hosts
Who never stole from the rich to give to the poor
All they ever gave to them was a war
And a foreign enemy to deplore

3. “Is It Any Wonder?” by Keane
Oh, these days
After all the misery you made
Is it any wonder that I feel afraid?
Is it any wonder that I feel betrayed?

4. “911 for Peace” by Anti-Flag
This is a plea for peace (world peace)
To the oppressors of the world and to
To the leaders of nations, corporate profit takers,
to the every day citizen
Greed, envy, fear, hate – the competition has to stop.

5. “God Thinks” by Voltaire
God thinks all people like you are evil
God thinks all people like you are an embarrassment to creation
Self-righteous, judgmental, first to throw the stone
And use His name for your own agenda

I’m still in the process of figuring out more about Lucy and the world she lives in, but I think this is a good representation of what I have so far.

Want to participate in Character Monday? Just write a post on your own blog and then click on the linky below and share the link to the post so the rest of us can learn about your awesome character!

Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles Book 2) (Goodreads)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Page Count: 452
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: YA Science Fiction

Rating: 9/10

Goodreads Summary:
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Opinion:
I actually ended up pre-ordering this book — something I’ve only done once before in my life — and then I put off reading this for a while because I was afraid that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations from the first book. Now that I’ve finished the book, I realize I had nothing to worry about.

This book is amazing.

I love these characters. I loved Cinder and Kai from the start. I was worried that the additions of Thorne and Scarlet would be hard to get used to, but it wasn’t. Thorne might actually be my new favorite character. He’s so full of himself but in a charming way. I loved watching him and Cinder get to know each other in a non-romantic way. Thorne was a great addition to the cast. I was also super happy to see the return of another beloved character from the first book, but I won’t mention that character by name just in case someone’s worried about spoilers.

I didn’t like the character of Scarlet as much as I loved Cinder, but I definitely enjoyed reading about her. It was fun to see how someone else reacted to the events of the first book. Not that this book goes back in time a lot. That’s actually something I think Meyer did really well – she summarized most of the information in such a way that it seemed more like the characters were reflecting on the past and less like she was summarizing the information for our sake.

Wolf was an odd character. I was never really sure what to make of him. I can’t really talk about his character without getting into spoilers, but I will say that he was part of what knocked this book down a star.

The other reason this book doesn’t have 10 stars is because I was able to put it down for a couple of months. At first, I stopped reading this book because a library book came in, and I wanted to read that one before I read the book that I owned. However, the mere fact that I was willing to stop reading this book and then didn’t go back to it right away says something about the beginning of this book. This is actually something that was true with CINDER, as well. It’s not that the beginning was boring (because it’s not at all), but it didn’t make me feel compelled to read. It’s sort of like an average slice of pizza – I’ll keep eating because it’s delicious and I love pizza, but it won’t win any awards for being the best pizza ever.

Okay, that’s a weird analogy, but whatever. That’s how I would describe the beginning of this book. I stopped around page 150 the first time. Once I picked it up again, though, I couldn’t put it down. Maybe I stopped reading at exactly the wrong moment. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right headspace the first time. I don’t know. All I know is that by the time I got to page 200, I didn’t want to stop reading. I had to keep reading to figure out how the two stories would intertwine, and then I had to read to see how they were going to get out of their respective problems.

Overall: Marissa Meyer is one of my favorite novelists that I discovered last year. She writes great characters, and she takes fairy tale retellings to a whole new level. There are two more books in the series, and I can’t wait to read them both. This is definitely one author that will be on my pre-order list for the rest of time. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she started as a NaNoWriMo Overachiever (even if I’m not sure if she embraced that title or not). 🙂

A “series” of problems

When I hear the word “dystopia,” my mind immediately jumps to the novels I loved in high school: Brave New World. 1984. Animal Farm. I think that’s part of the reason I’ve been so critical of the YA dystopias that are so popular today – I’m always comparing them to what I consider the classics, and they never stack up. I want novels that critique society, not stories about girls who are trying to decide which guy she most wants to date. That’s not to say that there can’t be romance also, but I don’t want that to be the main focus (at least not without a good reason).

I would consider my current WIP a New Adult dystopian series. It does have romance, but the romance is necessary for the plot to work. It’s definitely more social commentary than romance. I’m not saying it’s as good as the classics, as it’s definitely not, but those are the novels that I’m using for inspiration. And there’s where we start to run into a problem. The classic dystopian novels all ended in a particular way. They weren’t happy. They weren’t even hopeful. Yet they were appropriate for the novel.

When I first came up with the idea for ALONE, it was a short story, and it had a very unhappy ending, the sort of ending I was used to reading about in high school. This was actually the short story I wrote for my final project in college. It went through so many drafts before I finally settled one, and I still can’t quite remember if it had a happy, sad, or hopeful ending.

Now that I’m writing it as a novel, I’ve had to reconsider the entire plot. I made the main character younger, and I’m focusing a lot more on other aspects of the world, not just the way women are treated (which was what sparked the idea for this novel). Suddenly, I realized that this story would work best as a trilogy, as there was much more to the story than I originally though. My original ending was a cop-out so I didn’t have to worry about what would happen after a particular series of events transpired.

So now I’m trying to figure out what will happen next, and I’m running into a problem. The classic novels all had pretty realistic yet grim endings. The current novels all feature an eventual overthrow of the oppressive government. The latter idea is so much more fun, but it requires the characters to stand up and act in a way that I don’t think would ever really happen.

I guess I’m just a pessimist at heart. I think humankind in general (or at least in America) is pretty horrible. I think corporations are taking over the country, and I don’t think regular people will ever win, partly because they’re not powerful enough but largely because I just don’t think people care about anything, at least not enough to really do anything about it.

This is the same problem I had when I was trying to plan my “fantasy” (read: medieval-ish setting without magic or any other fantasy elements) series. The government was evil and needed to be stopped, but I couldn’t imagine a realistic scenario when that would actually happen.

Maybe I’m overthinking this. I do that a lot. Maybe I need to have more faith in my imaginary people. After all, if you push people far enough, they’ll eventually break and fight back. Right?

What about you? Ever had conflicting emotions about the believability of your work?

Book Review: Persepolis – The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Okay, I’m probably cheating a bit by including this in my 52 books contest. After all, this book is a graphic novel. I could have read this is in way less than a day if I hadn’t kept stopping to do other things. That said, it’s technically a novel that’s over 100 pages, and I did read it this year. Besides, I had so much other stuff to do this week that I don’t feel too bad including this.

Title: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Page Count: 160
F/NF: Nonfiction
Genre: Graphic Novel -Memoir

Rating: 10/10

Goodreads Summary:
Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

Opinion:
I’ve never read a graphic novel before. I had to read a graphic novel for class, and I chose this one because I’d heard good things about it and because I vaguely remembered liking the film when we watched it in college.

I’m so glad I chose this graphic novel to read! I interviewed a classmate of mine for a different class last semester who was from Iran, and everything she told me about growing up seems to fit with this book. Marjane is such an interesting character to read about. The book shows a great mix of history/politics and normal kid stuff. Marjane wants to keep up with everything that’s cool and hip, even though the country is being ravaged by war and taken over by fundamentalists. Some parts made me laugh out loud, and other parts made me cry.

The drawings in this book are great. They’re not the most realistic looking drawings, but Satrapi shows emotion so well. I’ve been known to get confused trying to read graphic novels before, but this one was really easy to read. I’m so glad my teacher made us read a graphic novel, as I don’t know if I ever would have gotten around to reading this one otherwise. I’m now kicking myself for not having ordered the second book at the same time.

If you’ve ever been curious about what it was like to grow up in Iran, this is a great book to get. You get a history lesson in a way that’s fun and emotional, not boring like textbooks usually are. You get to see the personal side of war. It touches on a lot of issues that are really important for people to talk about. The fact that this is a true story makes it all the more horrific and amazing. I will definitely be buying the sequel soon.

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire (New Adult Book #4)

This is going to be the longest review ever, assuming you continue reading through the spoilers. You have been warned.

Title: Beautiful Disaster 
Author: Jamie McGuire
Page Count: 285
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance

Goodreads Summary:
Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

Rating: 5/10

Opinion:
Question: What do you do when you’re writing a romance novel and the main characters are together and happy less than halfway through the book?

Answer: Come up with the most ridiculous plot twists ever to keep them apart, plot twists that are just as ridiculous as those used to get them together.

This book had a lot of potential. The writing is clear. The characters have the potential to be really interesting. The good girl/bad guy storyline has been done repeatedly, of course, but if done well it’s a clichĂ© that I like. I like reading about guys who find “the one” and eventually grow/mature and end up in a relationship with the girl. I like flawed main characters who don’t always do the right thing but are sympathetic anyway.

That wasn’t true with this book. Travis could have been that sympathetic MMC – he’s a fighter who’s covered in tattoos, he’s never been in a relationship, and he’s troubled by the fact that his mother died when he was a small child – but he’s just not. He’s creepy. I get what the author was trying to do, but I think she failed, at least in my opinion. Travis is extremely violent, especially when drunk. He’s a stalker. He’s controlling. We’re supposed to think he’s sweet, but really he’s terrifying.

And then there’s Abby, the FMC. She’s completely ridiculous. Her back story comes into play halfway through the novel, and it would have been nice to see some of it before she does something stupid. Maybe she would have been more sympathetic in the beginning had we known more about her. Of course, even after I learn about her background, I still don’t like her. She makes ridiculous choices on a regular basis. She’s selfish and stupid.

America and Shepley, the best friends/couple, aren’t much better. Actually, Shepley seems like a decent character, though we hardly ever get to see him. America’s just as ridiculous as Abby. Also, there’s this idea that the girls who sleep with Travis are all whores and sluts, but we’re supposed to like Travis. Obviously he’s supposed to “see the error of his ways,” but I still don’t like the double standard. Really, there are no female characters in this book that we’re supposed to like other than Abby and America. The rest of the girls were just “sluts and whores,” which I didn’t appreciate.

And then, of course, we have the entire storyline, which is just as ridiculous as the characters. In order to fully explain how ridiculous this book is, though, I’m going to have to mention some spoilers. If you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now. If you don’t care about spoilers, please continue.

1) The Bet.
Travis makes money by fighting, and he says that guys only ever hit him when he lets them. Abby doesn’t believe him, so they make a bet. If the other guy hits Travis, he has to go a month without sex. If, however, Travis can fight without letting the other guy touch him, Abby has to stay in his apartment for a month. Of course Abby loses and has to stay with Travis. But that’s not all. She doesn’t just stay in the apartment. She stays in his room. In his bed. With him. You know, like all girls would do if put in that situation. And let’s not forget the fact that she starts dating another guy WHILE SHE IS SPENDING EVERY NIGHT IN TRAVIS’S BED. Um, really?

2) The Violence.
As I already mentioned, Travis is really violent and controlling. He doesn’t let Abby date other people before they’re dating, at least not really. He doesn’t let her dance with other guys after they’ve broken up. When Abby leaves him, he trashes his apartment, throwing a stereo across the room, punching a mirror, and knocking a door off its hinges. He gets drunk all the time, and gets extremely mad whenever another guy talks to Abby. He smashes his phone into pieces so that he won’t call Abby. He beats the crap out of guys for saying they want to have sex with Abby. He storms into her dorm room and pounds on her door in the middle of the night. He says he’d go to prison if he ever found out that she had sex with another guy (and they weren’t even dating at the time). I could have dealt with all of these things if this had been a story about abusive relationships. I might even have been able to deal with it if it had been acknowledged at all. BUT IT NEVER WAS. This was all considered perfectly normal behavior. Which it’s not.

3) The Confessions.
As soon as they have sex, Travis starts talking about how much he loves Abby and wants to be with her forever and how he wants to put a ring on her finger some day. I’m sorry, but what guy speaks like that? Let me clarify – what reformed womanizer would speak like that after having known a girl for a few months at the most? I could maybe see this happening at the end of the novel, after they’ve slowly fallen in love or something, but not so soon into the book. It’s just so unrealistic.

4) The Breakups (Abby and Travis)
They finally have sex, and Travis admits that he loves her. So, of course, Abby breaks up with him. This is where knowing about her father might have come in handy earlier. It’s stupid, as this whole time she’s been wanting to date him, but I could have dealt with it if this was the only thing. But this happens before page 140. There needs to be something else to keep them apart. So why do they break up next? Because he agrees to fight for a mobster in Vegas, and Abby doesn’t want him to. He doesn’t listen, so they break up. He turns down the mobster, fixing the problem, and they stay broken up. Then she spends Thanksgiving with Travis, wants to get back together, but doesn’t because Travis said he would stop pursuing her. She takes that to mean that he doesn’t want to be with her anymore, which is ridiculous because he freaking said that he just wanted her to be happy, that he was going to stop pursuing her because he thought that was what he wanted. I have the most oblivious boyfriend in the world, and even he could understand. I don’t for one second believe that Abby wouldn’t. McGuire just wanted another reason to keep them apart.

5) The Breakup (America and Shepley)
After Abby breaks up with Travis (for the second time), he goes back to sleeping with random women. Abby gets upset (even though it’s her fault). Shepley defends Travis, pointing out the logical fact that “They’re broken up; he’s just trying to move on,” and so America breaks up with him for several months. Maybe there are people this stupid out there, but if so they’re not worth reading about. I mean, really? Have I mentioned that Travis is Shepley’s cousin and Shepley warned Abby not to sleep with Travis because it would mess up his and America’s relationship? No one listened to him. But now he lost his girlfriend for several months. It was just stupid.

6) The Illogicalness (well, the others, at least)
a. She’s sleeping with Travis in his bed but is dating Parker – and Parker is okay with that. Then there’s a “date party” at the frat house, and she can’t go with Parker because she already promised to go with Travis. So she goes with the guy she’s sharing a bed with, not the guy she’s dating.

b. After she and Travis break up, she and her gay friend have to go to the date party together because America “can’t go alone,” even though she’s going with her boyfriend. It’s stupid.

c. She’s about to have sex with Travis, realizes they don’t have condoms, and does the math in her head to determine that it’s “safe” to have unprotected sex. Yes, because every 19 year old knows when she’s ovulating. Maybe other people know this information, but it just seemed ridiculous to me.

d. Her ex runs a Vegas hotel, knows that she’s underage, and lets her stay until midnight only if she agrees to go to dinner with him the next day. Instead of going to a different casino, she agrees. She’s even thankful and understanding because “he did everything he could” by letting her stay until midnight. Um, no. He didn’t have to tell anyone that he knew she was underage. He could have let her stay until she had enough money to pay the mobster back.

e. And speaking of mobsters – she’s 5k short what her dad owes the guy, but she goes to the guy anyway even though a) she still has another day before the deadline and b) she knows this guy doesn’t take partial payments. The only reason that happened was so that the mob guy could see Travis fight and offer him the job that would destroy their relationship (again).

f. Ethan, the sexual predator, talked to her for like 10 minutes several months ago. So of course, when she runs into him again at a crowded fight, he would not only recognize her but remember the way that night ended. Because rapists are really sentimental like that.

g. Abby almost gets raped at the fight, so of course Travis insists that she still go with him to fights. He’s so controlling about everything else that his requiring her to go with him (albeit with male protection) is out of character.

h. Abby says that she has “literally gone through hell and back.” Um, no. Dante went through hell and back. Abby didn’t. Small point, but it was at the end of the already irritating book, and I had to mention it.

7) The Ending.
While they’re broken up, Travis throws her over his shoulder to keep her from dancing with another guy. She’s screaming that she doesn’t want to go with him, but the designated driver still takes her to Travis’s apartment because Travis threatened to hurt him if he didn’t. And, of course, he doesn’t call the cops or anything. He just takes them. And, of course, Abby’s reaction to this scene? Get mad at first and then kiss him and have sex with him and get back together. Oh, and then she asks him to marry her. And he just happens to have a ring. There might have been time in between the sex and the marriage, but still – it’s ridiculous.

Overall:  This was a horrible book. I ranked it as high as I did because it eventually got funny how bad it was, and I enjoyed reading it simply because I liked laughing at its ridiculousness. This novel could have been good. Jamie McGuire is good at putting words on the page; I just wish that the story the words formed was better. This novel reads like the outline was written by a 12 year old and an adult wrote the novel based on the outline. If you enjoy reading horrible books and laughing at them, you might enjoy this. If you enjoy books with violent/controlling male love interests, you’ll definitely like this book. If you only like quality books, though, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Cover Reveal: Dead Run by Vanessa Booke

I’ve never been part of a cover reveal before, but I’m excited to be a part of this one. Vanessa ( @V_Bogie) leads a critique group that I used to be a part of, and I knew I had to help get the word out about her new novel, Dead Run. If you’re a fan of zombie novels and/or New Adult novels (and even if you aren’t), you should definitely read on!

First, a bit of background on the novel:

Carly

Carly Rios was supposed to go to college, forget about her first love, and live a normal life. That was the plan until the whole world went to hell and the dead started becoming…not so dead.

Forced to live in the same quarantine as her abusive stepfather, Carly is hanging on to life by a thread, as she dreams of a normal world outside of the community. But when tragedy strikes home, Carly has no choice but to try and escape with her brother Michael. On the night that Carly plans to leave the community, chaos erupts, causing her plans to backfire, unleashing the undead inside.

Now, Carly must reach out to Joshua Tremell, a man from her past, and the one who left her heart in pieces. Trusting Joshua is one of the hardest things she’ll ever have to do, but without his help it’s only a matter of time until Carly loses her brother Michael to the undead.

Joshua

Two months after returning from fighting over seas and coming home to face a world overtaken by the undead, Joshua Tremell is accustomed to death and losing the ones he loves. But when fate brings him back to his childhood sweetheart Carly Rios, Joshua realizes there are some things still worth fighting for.

Carly is the last person Joshua thought he’d ever see again, let alone in the same quarantine. Facing off shufflers isn’t easy, but the thought of losing the only girl he’s ever loved again, is even worse.

With a second chance at redemption, Joshua would give anything to save Carly and help her get her little brother back, but Joshua has more secrets than he can tell, and his past mistakes are bound to collide with the future he’s dying to earn.

For Carly and Joshua, crossing the wasteland is just the beginning…

*Mature Content Warning: 17+ for language, intense violence against the undead and adult situations.

 

So what do you think? Sound like the sort of book you’d want to read?

 

If you’re still not convinced (although, really, you should be), here’s the book trailer.

Hopefully, this sounds like the sort of book you’d like to read. If so, you can add it to Goodreads here!

 

And, of course, here’s the promised cover: