Tuesday, July 24, 2012

And Mercy Was Something The Darkling Would Never Understand

Alina has spent her life not expecting any sort of good to come. She grew up with her long time friend, Mal, in an Orphanage, so she is used to the bottom of the barrel life. Once her and Mal are drafted into the army of their homeland, all Alina can think about is the deadly mission ahead. Their unit is being sent into the Fold, a place full of darkness with horrible monsters who feed on humans. Once their convoy is attacked all seems hopeless, until she discovers she has powers that are unimaginable.
In a flash, Alina's life is turned upside down. She is torn away from Mal and everything she knows and sent head first into this new Grisha palace life. She meets the mysterious Darkling, who informs her she is the Sun Summoner and the only one who can help him destroy the Fold and bring peace. Each day brings despair and confusion, but slowly Alina begins to unravel secrets of the Grisha. She must take her stance, and determine if perhaps her heart can let go of her past.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo was a great dark fantasy. Bardugo created this world in such depth, and at times I had to remind myself this was created and not a reality. The world is a dark place, but hope is restored when the Darkling finds the Sun Summoner, Alina. It is a great way of showing how people will put their faith into whatever and whoever as long as someone in power is behind this idea.
The Grisha life is rich and beautiful, yet there are many things Alina does not know. She begins to slowly release her grip on her past as the months go by, and the Darkling continues to take an interest in her in all aspects. But I felt for Alina's pull toward her past and Mal. The fact that we as readers discover Alina is by no means the prettiest girl at the ball is another way for people to really see her character as strong willed and not simply a bratty teenager who is homesick.
I loved the idea of this book. The fantasy element worked perfectly and it weaved a fantastic story filled with despair, courage, resistance, and hope. I was skeptical when I began the book, but I forced myself to read the first chapter. I was hooked afterward. I figured out why she titled the novel Shadow and Bone after I was a little more than halfway through; such a cool concept. Definitely pick this one up if dark fantasy is your forte. Even if it's not, the novel is worth a read.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

You're Going To Kill Us? That's So Mean!

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought their only worries would be evening gowns and getting through their speech without stammering. When their plane crash lands on a deserted island, the remaining girls are left with little food, no water, and worse, no mascara! The group decides they must combine their resources to provide shelter, and hope they are rescued reasonably soon.
Days turn into weeks, and although they are losing hope, the girls begin to discover a few things about each other, and themselves. Sometimes it's not about how smart or pretty you are, sometimes it's just about being yourself and breaking the stereotype. You may not be able to be what everyone wants, but maybe it's better to just be you.
But, there is more to this island than meets the eye. Turns out, it's not so deserted and there are a few conspiracies no one could have imagined. Add in some sexy ship wrecked pirates, and you have yourself a big ball of crazy; complete with sequence and high heels.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray was absolutely hilarious! It takes the stereotype of the typical pageant girls and creates an amazing story of survival, both in a literal and a figurative sense. Some of these girls have been so programed to do these pageants that they haven't had an opportunity to really live. Others joined the pageant to make a statement, or to help a loved one believe in them. Each girl has a story, and eventually they all embrace each other as friends, and allies. When the girls fight back against the "bad guys" it is completely like an Austin Powers movie, but there's a slight sense of empowerment. They may be pretty, but that doesn't mean they can't kick butt.
The writing is very clever. Bray is a great author, so this is by no means a "trashy fluff" book. She uses her wit to create a book describing the valley girl trash that is our society. Bray creates t.v. shows, books, clothing, etc. that are so similar to our society and makes fun of it. You can see the connections, and it makes it even funnier to know there are people who actually partake in this garbage.
There were times when I felt as if I was watching a VH1 trash show and should be slightly embarrassed for myself. But this book is far from trash. It is funny and the perfect beach read. It's quick, it will get your interest, and you will find yourself laughing out loud. Just be careful where you read it, or people may believe you're insane.  Like, totally.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Best of Times

You can say Auden is socially unaware. Because she doesn't have a social life, she buries herself in school, reading, and any kind of activity that does not involve being around others. Plus, she's an insomniac ever since her parents' divorce. It seems all she's ever known are the countless cocktail hours her mom holds for her graduate students, which involve mindless chatter about the world, literature, and things of that nature.
After graduation, Auden sees an opportunity to spend the summer with her father and his new family at the beach. Although life by the beach seems carefree, this is far from Auden's mindset. Coming into a community where the girls discuss gossip, crushes, and their evening plans, Auden feels out of place and much happier in her room studying for the upcoming college semester.
Lost in paradise, she comes across Eli, also an insomniac, who has trouble in his own world as well. Together the two set forth on a quest to help rebuild the social life and childhood she seemed to miss out on. And it's at this unfamiliar location that Auden begins to come to terms with the decisions she's made, and she discovers that it doesn't matter how many times you fall, just that you get back up.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen is a very sweet, quick summer read. As I said in past reviews, I love Sarah Dessen books. They are the perfect cushy read for anyone. They are absolutely predictable, but isn't that sometimes the fun part?  Everyone is in search for something to read while tanning at the beach, and I feel Dessen has quite a knack for writing those types of books.

I felt the whole aspect of her parents' divorce and how she never quite dealt with it is a very real topic. Many teenagers go through it, however many teenagers don't have Auden's parents. Her parents are very demanding, pretentious, judgmental, or easy to quit while the going is tough. Plus her brother can do no wrong, and she is doomed to hear about it by her mother all the time. I can definitely relate to that, being the oldest with two younger brothers. So mix these realistic topics with the fact that there is a romance brewing, and you have yourself a great filler book to get through quickly. Everyone could use one of those...duh.