April 28, 2011

Early Book Review: Divergent

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Length: 487 pages
On-Sale Date: May 3, 2011
Format: ARC paperback

Abnegation is for the selfless.
Dauntless is for the brave.
Candor is for the honest.
Amity is for the peaceful.
Erudite is for the intelligent.
Once you are sixteen you must choose a faction to live with and be a part of.  It will be your life.  Faction over blood.  To be factionless is to have no life and no purpose.
Beatrice (Tris) Prior chooses, and from that moment on everything changes.
Does it change because she stays in Abnegation?  Or does it change because she steps out of the faction she was born in?
Either way, nothing can prepare you ...

I am wowed.  I am stricken.  I'm in shock.

Divergent was overwhelming in the best way.
It was an emotional read.  (That is an understatement).
I was left wanting to tell anyone and everyone about this novel.  It was so good.  I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
Tris was a character that reinvented herself.  She was a heroine that never knew her own strength.  She was marvelously heroic and vulnerable.  She always had the ability to accomplish anything and overcome her fears, but her ability was buried in the nation’s conformity.  Abnegation was selfless, and Tris was Abnegation.  Abnegation was not brave or outspoken, yet Tris was.  Tris couldn’t be defined by one thing, and it made her a character to remember.
Tris was nasty and brutal, but she was also young and terrified, not to mention selfless and kind.  She seemed human, because she was all of those things.  Tris was everything a person could be.  She was so filled with emotion.
The choices that Tris had to make were beyond me.  I could not have done any better.  She made a remarkably small number of mistakes.  Her instinct guided her well.
Tris flourished, and handled herself by controlling her emotions.  She knew her weaknesses, and used them to her advantage.  Tris had a better understanding of the world than most other characters, even though she believed that she knew nothing.
This novel had a pulse.  You could feel its’ soul through the writing.
During the final 100 pages or so you could say I was emotional, but it was nothing compared to the end.  Once finished, I was hysterical.  The final pages were filled with such a fast paced plot, that I couldn’t read quickly enough.  I needed to know what happened, and I needed to know right then and there.
The ending put me into a state of shock.  The phrase "Oh my God" was bouncing non-stop through my mind.
There were no words to describe the feeling.
Divergent was interesting and captivating.  It was raw and pierced the reader to the bone.  This story seized my heart.
Throughout the novel I compared Tris to Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games heroine), but I enjoyed reading Tris more.  She wasn't comparable.
I suspect that many people are going to compare Divergent to The Hunger Games.  The stories and characters are relatible, but only to an extent.  Tris was not Katniss, because she had a choice, while Katniss never did, but both heroines were part of something bigger than themselves.
This book was not about romance, so it was surprising that I felt that mushy, sweet feeling in the pit of my stomach at certain times.  There was just enough cuteness thrown in with the war.
It had been some time since a book had made me feel this much.  I was furious towards the end.  I was disgusted.  I was joyful.  I am in shock.  I am in awe.
This novel was very, very powerful.
I am unbelievably glad that I read Divergent.  I have thought about it every day since, and cannot wait to own my own copy.

A friend lent this book to me, and I was told to read Divergent immediately.  Now, I'm telling you to read Divergent immediately.

Premise: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

Disclosure: I received an Advanced Reader's Copy from a coworker. She, in turn, received the ARC from HarperCollins Canada. Receiving this book early did not influence my review in any way.

According to "The Faction Quiz" I'm Candor (the honest). Tell me which faction you belong in!
You can take the quiz by CLICKING HERE.

Song of the day: Glee's cover of Somewhere Only We Know sung by Blaine

April 16, 2011

Book Review: Across the Universe

Author: Beth Revis
Across the Universe is the first of a series, but the series doesn't have a set title at the moment.
Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (an imprint of Penguin)
On-Sale Date: January 11th 2011
Format: Hardcover

We find the story hundreds of years in the future on a spaceship named Godspeed.  A journey was planned after discovering a planet with oxygen in its atmosphere.  Our characters are light years from Earth, and surrounded by metal.  There is an entire human workforce on the ship, and none of them truly have a clue what to expect when they reach their final destination.
After some time on Godspeed, the inhabitants created a hierarchy to sustain peace and order.  Eldest runs the ship, and he is not immortal.  If Eldest dies, the ship still needs to function without him, which is why Eldest always trains an Elder to take his place.
Unfortunately, it seems as if the current Eldest hasn’t been completely honest with his Elder.
Elder, like any curious 16 year-old, stumbles upon something.  It was something Eldest should have shown him.  It was something that would dictate his entire future.
Godspeed has existed for years, yet one girl can change everything.
It all starts with Amy ...

Across the Universe was worth it.
I did not know how I was going to put my emotions and opinions into words, but I supposed Beth Revis could put ‘Across the Universe’ into words, that so I could do this.

Across the Universe was narrated by two characters who could not have been more different.  One male, and one female who were worlds apart … literally.
Beth Revis created characters you could connect with.
Elder was more than simply likable.  Elder had heart and he proved himself to be a hero.  In the beginning, he didn’t believe in his abilities, and even throughout the novel he was still unsure and continuously questioned himself.  Elder was battling with what he knew to be true, and what he wanted to believe to be true.  To put it lightly, it was an emotionally shocking time for Elder.  However, he handled the surprising turn of events as a true leader.  Plus, he had a killer instinct.
When Elder first saw Amy she was raw and naked.  From the beginning, Amy’s vulnerable side could be seen.  However, she proved that vulnerability didn’t equal weakness.  Amy made a strong character, because she worked past her fears and through her insecurities.  Her strength only built up, which made her an impressive character.  Amy always fought for her beliefs, and for answers.  Part of the reason she was so successful in her endeavours was because her curiosity could not be sated.  At times, you wanted to comfort Amy, as you were always on her side.  
As the story progressed Elder and Amy took on each other’s characteristics.  Elder became the leader he was meant to be while Amy exposed her heart.  However, this in no way meant that Amy was weak or that Elder found confidence easily.
It was easier to get to know Elder than it was to get to know Amy.  Elder was more open and believing (which really isn’t surprising, given the circumstances), while Amy was hesitant and questioning.  But there still was so much to each character.  By the end of the book both characters blew me away.

If Elder had a best friend you would say it was Harley.  I used to think Harley was innocent, and that he lived in ignorance.  I did not feel that way once the book ended.  Harley did not like living in the dark.  He sought answers.  He wanted truth.  Perhaps, more than Elder.
Beth Revis wrote characters you could be proud of.  I cheered for Elder and Amy and Harley.  I wanted the best for these characters, because I cared about them.
She also wrote characters that you hated, and ones that you thought you hated.  My mind changed, and at certain points I wasn’t sure who I believed.  My questioning mind found answers, just not ones I ever expected.
This was a book of secrets, and the imagination it took to plot this was out of this world.  Beth made a great storyteller.

Across the Universe was not a book I would have usually read.  The plot summary didn’t hook me in, but the writing in between the covers was captivating.  The storyline was nothing like I expected.  There were too many twists and turns to count, and I enjoyed every surprise.
This was a book where you could see the care that the author put into the story.
It was entertaining to see how the plot unfolded.

Across the Universe explored some seriously interesting concepts.  This was a story that really made the reader ask questions, and ponder some uncommon issues.  (For example, I never considered being frozen, and waking up hundreds of years in the future.  However, I can now say that I have thought about such a thing).  The story was so much larger than I originally thought, and I could not believe that all of it was contained in one book.
I enjoyed the impossible aspects of the story.
Across the Universe had one of my favourite endings.  This chapter came to a close, but the story beyond that was open-ended and left to interpretation.

The selling point for me with Across the Universe was that it was science fiction written for people who didn’t like science fiction.  That shouldn’t be the selling point for you.  Across the Universe is the perfect definition of sitting down with a good book.

Premise: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

I found out Across the Universe was first in a series after I wrote this review.

April 14, 2011

Love List (3)

Hello to all you wonderful people!

I am exhausted, and I love you all, but this will be a speed list.

My brother.
Glee, season 2 episode 16.
Klaine / Blurt.
Comment I found on a youtube video:  “It has to Raine before a Klainebow.”
@rogersRODO on twitter.
Watching Glee’s Original Song over and over on Rogers on Demand.
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer.
Victoria Schwab.
The fact that Near Witch and I have the same birthday.
3 hour conversations with authors.
#yalitchat on twitter.
Multiple tabs on Google Chrome.
Don’t You Want Me sung by Blaine and Rachel.
Bubble wrap.

Have I mentioned Glee yet?  Oh wait, I did …

Okay, so I’ve been SUPER distracted by TWITTER and MUNDIE MOMS tonight.



April 8, 2011

Book Review: City of Fallen Angels

Title: City of Fallen Angels
Length: 424 pages
Publisher: McElderry Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
On-Sale Date: April 5th 2011
Format: Hardcover

There will be SPOILERS for readers who have not read City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass.
Read at your own risk!

With Valentine dead and the war over, things are going well in the Shadowhunter world.  Luke has won Jocelyn.  Clary and Jace have each other.  Alec is committed to Magnus.  Simon has two girlfriends …
But now, the peace is over.  Shadowhunters are turning up dead.  Who is killing them?  And for what purpose?
Relationships will fall.
Deals will be made and broken.
You will never see what’s coming.

I was content with how City of Glass concluded and was afraid that City of Fallen Angels would ruin my blissful state, but I have to take my hat off to Cassandra Clare.
I was an idiot for not looking forward to City of Fallen Angels.

I found it amazing.  Cassandra Clare explored different parts of her world, and the focus wasn’t solely on Shadowhunters, but on Downworlders and the like as well.

Reading City of Fallen Angels was like visiting your best friend.  It was comfortable.  This was a world that you missed when you weren’t reading it.
Cassandra Clare has yet to disappoint.  City of Fallen Angels never kept you waiting for action or entertainment.  The story captured you right from the start.
There was amusement, even in the darkest of times.

This installment of The Mortal Instruments series was told through a number of characters, some of which we had not heard from before.  I really enjoyed hearing from the new points of view.   It would never be a letdown to know what was inside another character’s head.  I was able to hear the voices of characters who used to be secondary, and now my opinions have changed.
I loved Alec.  He wasn’t a major part of the plot and he definitely was seen more in the first three books, but that didn’t matter.  He played a key role in the number of scenes he was in.  Alec grew up during the first half of the series, and he was one of the characters that changed the most.  I believe he was under appreciated.  I never paid Alec Lightwood much attention, but that all changed in City of Fallen Angels.  Alec was worth paying attention to.  I found Alec to be a very valuable character.  I wanted more of him (and I hope to get more of him in the future).
I appreciated Alec’s amusing sarcasm.  It was definitely needed to lighten the mood.
I at least need to mention the High Warlock of Brooklyn, Magnus Bane.  Now that Magnus had cemented his importance in the Shadowhunter’s lives, by his choice of boyfriend, he was even better than before.  Alec and Magnus had already benefited from each other’s influence and you were given the opportunity to see what had changed.  I look forward to Alec and Magnus’ relationship being further explored.

A good portion of the book was written in Simon’s point of view, just as expected, and I really appreciated it.  In the first half of the series Simon was on the sidelines, and even when he was in the thick of it he wasn’t in the foreground (in my mind at least).  You couldn’t truly understand his character until this book.  In City of Fallen Angels you received an indepth look at all that was Simon Lewis.  I admit that I had pushed Simon aside when I read the other books, because I was completely focused on Clary and Jace. In the past, I thought Simon just caused problems, but this time I found myself wanting to solve all his problems.
I respected Simon so much more.   I’m happy Simon was thrown at me.
It was very interesting to be with Simon as he faced the idea of immortality for the first time.
Cassandra Clare gave us a glimpse of the past with The Infernal Devices references.  Readers were shown more background information on the characters and that only added to the story.

This was one twisted tale.
I assumed that some readers would not be completely pleased with this ending.  I, however, did not fit into that category.  I loved the unexpectedness of the ending.  The stage was prepared for Lost Souls.

By book four, in a series you are emotionally invested, and Cassandra Clare created characters that many people, including myself, really grew to care about.  We scream when something horrific happens.  We laugh at the jokes made.  We cry when a character dies.

City of Fallen Angels was the exact opposite of what I expected and I was so glad.

I feel as if I can’t say enough about City of Fallen Angels, but I’ll let you read the book to find out for yourselves.

Premise: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Writing:  5/5
Characters:  5/5
Overall: 5/5

Disclosure: I received a finished copy from the publisher. This did not influence my review in any way.

Song of the day: Don't You Want Me sung by Blaine and Rachel on Glee