Review: Beastly by Alex Flinn

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Synopsis: 

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster

.You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly … beastly

Date Finished: 7-31-15

Thoughts, and would I recommend?

Beastly is one of those books that I saw multiple times in multiple places before I actually bought it. I saw it on Goodreads and in thrift stores and Amazon, but I never thought enough about it to read it – until now. I got halfway through Beastly yesterday morning, and I just finished it now. That says something about the book, that it’s good enough to read in one or two long sittings.

I really enjoyed this. It’s a modern take on the classic Beauty and the Beast story, set in New York and featuring a cast of interesting characters. We’ve got Magda the maid, Will and Pilot, the blind tutor and his dog, and Lindy, our modern day Belle, who only comes to live with our beast, Adrian, due to her father breaking in to Adrian’s greenhouse. In addition to these characters, we also have Adrian’s other fairytale friends from an online chatroom dealing with magical transformations. These friends include characters from The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog, and Rose Red and Snow White. (Not that Snow White! ;))

Now, because it is based on the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast, you can kind of expect some of the plot, such as the obsession with roses and the fairytale kiss at the end. Of course, there are other twists though, that keep it fresh and unexpected. Fairytale and fantasy lovers will love this, but I feel like anyone could read and love this book. ^_^

Review: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

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Synopsis: Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she’s in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember.

At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined. 

Date Finished: 7-29-15

Thoughts, and would I recommend?

When I found this book, I was immediately drawn in by the synopsis and simplistic, yet sinister cover. Serial killers, carnivals, and memory loss? My kind of book! However, I feel like the actual book fell a bit short of the awesome description.

For one thing, there are some weird POV changes throughout the book. It starts out in 3rd person, sprinkled throughout with visions in 1st person. That was okay-ish, I guess. It wouldn’t be the first book to include a different POV for flashbacks/visions/dreams. The problem that I has was the major POV switch about halfway through the book, to first person. The shift is a bit abrupt, but the 1st person POV actually felt better for a book like this. From there, the POV changed a few more times. I understand that the POV changes were all for the plot, but…. nope. I wasn’t a big fan, and I actually wondered if the author had made a mistake.

POV aside, the plot was very captivating. There were twists that I didn’t expect, and I was very pleased with the ending. Some of the characters seemed a bit unrealistic, like the too-perfect Aidan, or Eve’s love interest, Zach, who spoke in a way that made me think of Augustus Water from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Hmm. I feel like the plot is enough to carry the characters and excuse the POV issues a bit.

I’d recommend this to people who love circus/carnival novels, or people who are into horror/dark fantasy themes. It’s an interesting novel, and while it has issues, it’s still worth a read!

Review: Recorder and Randsell Vol. 1 by Meme Higashiya

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Synopsis: Miyagawa Atsumi and her younger brother Atsushi are your typical siblings – she’s a high school sophomore dealing with exams, he’s a 5th grader who only wants to run off and play with his friends. School’s hard enough as it is, but things are even tougher for these two: Atsumi is so tiny she’s still mistaken for a little kid, while Atsushi is so tall people assume he’s a full-grown man!

Date Finished: 7-28-15

Thoughts, and would I recommend?

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy for review!

Oh, it’s been too long since I’ve read a manga, and especially a 4 panel manga! Recorder and Randsell is a perfect manga to read on a phone or tablet during a long commute, or to sit down and read when you need. It’s laugh out loud funny, with a 5th grade boy who looks like a fully grown adult man and his older sister who looks like she should be in grade school! The art style is very cute, and fits the genre of this manga. I picked this up expecting a full manga, but in this case, the 4-panel one shot comics are perfect! The humor is perfect, and honestly, I can relate with this book a little, as I’m a senior in high school, but I’m short with a baby face. Some of the comics, especially the one when Atsumi, the sister, opens the door to respond to a solicitor and is mistaken for a child. Happens all the time to me! I highly recommend this manga for anyone who needs a quick laugh!

Review: Supreme Blue Rose by Warren Ellis

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Synopsis: “You are not dreaming. We are trying to communicate with you. Local reality has been reinstalled. Things have gone wrong. The revision has corrupted. Finding Ethan Crane is your supreme priority. Do not trust Darius Dax. We are all going to die.” Supreme: Blue Rose re-introduces the central Image Comics character Supreme, in a multi-layered and often hallucinatory mystery presented by New York Times bestselling writer Warren Ellis and acclaimed new artist Tula Lotay in her astonishing graphic novel debut.

Date Finished: 7-28-15

Thoughts, and would I recommend? 

Thank you NetGalley and Diamond Book Distributors for provided me with a copy of this for review!!!

Hmmm…. I’m not exactly sure how I felt about this. As an artist, I’ll start by commending the artist behind this graphic novel for the superb visuals, all of which were inspiring to an amateur such as myself. The interesting colors and shapes really work to bring the graphic novel to life. As for the writing itself….I was honestly confused during the majority of the novel. The beginning was a dream, which is normally cringe-worthy for me, but in this case, I guess it worked. I just wish that the storyline didn’t jump around so much….but at the same time, I liked the jumping. It all came together in the confusing end……and the last page was strange, but I THINK I understand what happened, and it kind of explained everything else. It’s a very interesting novel. I read it all in one sitting, and I enjoyed it. I’d recommend it to people who are open to new, intriguing concepts and scientific thoughts.

It’s weird. It’s something that you simultaneously love and hate. It makes you think, and at the same time, it makes you want to forget. It’s deep, and yet it’s nothing.

Just go read Supreme: Blue Rose. Then you’ll understand.

Review: Dark Hope by Monica McGurk

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Synopsis: For years, Hope Carmichael, survivor of a shocking child abduction, has lived a sheltered existence under the protection of her fanatically religious father. Now, liberated by her mother, Hope prepares to start life over as a normal kid in an Atlanta, Georgia, high school.Normal, that is, until Hope meets Michael, a gorgeous emancipated teen with a mysterious past and a strong interest in Hope. And soon, Hope’s life is filled with questions. What’s behind the angry looks Hope gets from Lucas, leader of a gang of students? Who’s responsible for sending Hope a strange valentine inscribed with Bible quotations? How does this relate to the sinister business of human trafficking that operates on the periphery of Hope’s suburban world? And is Michael really a protector, or something more sinister—and just why does he seem so familiar?In an epic narrative that takes readers from the back streets of Atlanta to the height of Vegas penthouses and beyond, Dark Hope introduces readers to The Archangel Prophecies, a new young adult saga that blends the feeling of Twilight with a vast mythological scope and moral urgency, as well as to Hope Carmichael—a young woman instantly memorable for her endurance, heart, and determination—and Michael, Hope’s dangerous companion who’s fated either to save Hope—or to kill her.

Date Finished: 7-27-15

Review, and Would I recommend? 

Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an e-copy of this book for review!

When I first picked up Dark Hope, I was expecting something similar to other YA paranormal books, such as Hush Hush, Twilight, or Fallen.

I was kind of right.

Dark Hope by Monica McGurk has a very strong start, telling of young Hope’s rescue from a mysterious kidnapper. From there, we fast forward to the present, where Hope is leaving her overprotective father to live with her mother. And that’s where the trouble begins. There, she meets Michael and Lucas and Tabitha, and her life is forever changed.

The problem that I had with this book was how controlling and abusive Michael could be to hope. He’s an angel, yet he still yells and at one point accidentally burns her with his passionate touch. I honestly found it a bit off putting how controlling he could be, practically forcing Hope to go along with him to Vegas and putting the blame on Hope’s father to buy them some more time. What? I got through the book, mainly because I rarely ever abandon a book, but… it was a bit difficult. To be honest, I’d rather deal with Edward Cullen than Michael the moody Archangel again. Michael’s moody abusive periods are supposedly due to the pain he feels for disobeying God’s orders and beginning to fall, but that justification doesn’t exactly do it for me. He lashes out at Hope, but then tells her he loves her. To be honest, the declaration of love came out of nowhere, so much to the point that Hope didn’t even believe it. Ugh.

All in all, Dark Hope was an OKAY read. It had some good parts, but all of that was overshadowed by an abusive love interest and some weird POV choices. I wouldn’t exactly recommend this book, unless someone is a DIE-HARD ya  angel novel fan and has exhausted the list of every other book. If you’re looking for a good fallen angel novel, check out Hush Hushor Fallen.

Review: Orchards by Holly Thompson

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Synopsis: After a classmate commits suicide, Kana Goldberg—a half-Japanese, half-Jewish American—wonders who is responsible. She and her cliquey friends said some thoughtless things to the girl. Hoping that Kana will reflect on her behavior, her parents pack her off to her mother’s ancestral home in Japan for the summer. There Kana spends hours under the hot sun tending to her family’s mikan orange groves.
Kana’s mixed heritage makes it hard to fit in at first, especially under the critical eye of her traditional grandmother, who has never accepted Kana’s father. But as the summer unfolds, Kana gets to know her relatives, Japan, and village culture, and she begins to process the pain and guilt she feels about the tragedy back home. Then news about a friend sends her world spinning out of orbit all over again.

Date Finished: 7-24-15

Review, and Would I recommend?

Orchards was a beautiful book. Told in a verse style, it reads like an Ellen Hopkins novel, with quick, easy to read pages which makes for a fast read (I finished it in just a few hours.) Orchards mainly focuses on Kana, the half-japanese, half-jewish protagonist who was involved in the bullying of Ruth, who committed suicide. Because of her involvement, Kana is sent to spend her summer away from home with her Japanese relatives. There, while working, she begins to reflect upon the events and wonder who was at fault, the girls for bullying and not noticing the signs, or Ruth for taking everything seriously. (It was definitely the girls :p) Throughout the course of the book, we get to see Kana’s guilt, as her thoughts constantly turn to Ruth while doing other tasks, such as working in the fields, spending time with relatives, or attending ceremonies or ancestors. We really get to see Kana’s changes throughout the course of the novel. I feel that her time in Japan matures her, which shows especially at the end when she comes up with a plan to honor the place where Ruth took her life. Through a few events that I won’t mention due to a MAJOR spoiler, Kana learns that everything has consequences, no matter how good the intention. And while the consequences hurt everyone, they also sometimes ultimately help a community to heal.

All in all, this was a great read, and I would recommend it to anyone, but especially to people who are fans of Ellen Hopkins’s novels, such as Crank, Impulse, or Burned. While Orchards isn’t as gritty of a read as those novels, it shares a fast-reading verse style and difficult subjects. This novel could be potentially triggering. Actually, I would recommend this for people who found Hopkins’s novels a bit too difficult to get through, as Orchards is more reflective, as opposed to Hopkins’s very immediate storytelling. Perhaps this would be a good read for a child or younger sibling that you feel isn’t ready for Ellen Hopkins’s subjects yet, but would still enjoy a verse style novel. It’s a fast read, and you could probably get through the entire thing in an afternoon. It’ll leave you thinking and reflecting for long after, though!

Review: Med Head by James Patterson and Hal Friedman

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Synopsis: How it FEELS to have a body that won’t stop moving, to be really different from everyone else, to be made fun of every day, to be totally reckless, to never relax, to be shut out of everything, to break FREE and TAKE CONTROL.

James Patterson’s Against Medical Advice riveted adults with the page-turning drama of one teenager’s courage, sacrifice, and triumph in confronting an agonizing medical condition. Now this deeply personal account of Cory Friedman’s intense struggles with Tourette’s Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder–as well as depression, anxiety, and alcohol addiction–is available for teen readers. 

Date Finished: 7-20-15

Thoughts, and Would I recommend? Yes.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who suffers with OCD or Tourette’s, as it features a heartwarming, yet also difficult uphill battle, which might inspire the reader. Also, anyone with an interest in mental illnesses or simply in touching stories with flawed, yet courageous heroes would most likely enjoy this book. Fans of Ellen Hopkin’s Crank or Impulse novels would likely enjoy this book very much.

The story is broken up into short chapters, which makes an excellent read for a long commute, or simply for a busy person who needs to read in small chunks. So chapters are only 2 pages long, with longer ones between 3 and 7. It’s easy to get through this book, and you’ll feel like you’re making a lot of progress as you flip pages. I really liked this book, as you see not only Cory’s good side and happy memories, but his low points as well. It’s quite inspiring, and the end of the book features interviews and family photos as extras, which is an added bonus, and really solidifies the fact that Med Head is a true story, and that Cory really did overcome many of his struggles. 🙂