Thursday, March 29, 2012

Justine's Thoughts: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium (Delirium #1)
By Lauren Oliver
Source: Won from Stephanie at Stephanie Reads 
Book Description:
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 governments 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.

A quote:
Hearts are fragile things. That’s why you have to be so careful.

Expectations: I had extremely high expectations due to the hype and praise in the blogosphere and Lauren Oliver’s previous success from her debut novel, Before I Fall. I fell in love with her stunning writing then and thus made me eager for more. Ecstatic that I finally have Delirium in my possession, I was certain it would live up to my expectations, and little did I know it would rise above them.

About Setting: The United States of America is surrounded by walls for “protection”. The main story takes place in Portland, where there is described to be beautiful scenery. There are places called Back Cove, The Wilds, Roaring Brook Farms (and much more) where I imagined looking so beautiful, especially during sunsets and at night where the stars are in the sky. Lauren Oliver truly knows when to tell her story right because those are my favourite moments in a day.

About Characters: Wonderful is all I can really say. I adore Lena despite the aching amount of sadness and longing in her. I wanted the best for her and when that certain someone came, it was as if she has woken up from what seemed like a dream all along. Together, Lena and Alex are complete wholes. He is exactly who she needs and their relationship is something so entirely genuine that it makes me want to cry. Alex is a one of a kind guy, those rare ones that seem almost impossible to find. What’s heartbreaking is that their love is forbidden yet so strong. Hana, Lena’s best friend who she goes running with, gets the chance to develop and shine in the novel. I love her to pieces as well. Other minor characters such as the ones Lena lives with provide us with never a dull moment.

About Plot: When I first heard of the summary, I thought of how someone was creative and brave and genius enough to come up with such an original plot. I was ever so happy that that person is Lauren Oliver, whom I have come to adore oh so much! The idea of love being a craze, a sickness, a forbidden thing that is looked down upon in society is something that would definitely appeal to a curious person like me. Not only that, but the message of life and love that is in plain sight is life-changing and incredibly inspiring. Especially with Lauren Oliver’s astonishing flow of writing, she can even sincerely move a person who has no conscience at all. I fell in love with her words all over again and was struck with a sense of inspiration. Seriously, right after I finished this novel, I was immediately talking with newfound poetic words and had the sudden urge to write, write, write. If you’re looking for motivation, this book would be perfect. Actually, it already is perfect in all accounts.

Oh and the ending? It was aced. Beyond perfect. It’s different than most happy or unhappy endings. And that is the right originality I look for because it has a certain, strange effect on me. Which I happen to love.

Overall Rating: Y Y Y Y Y
My review didn’t even do justice to how much goodness this book has. All you must know is that you should totally consider reading this.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Justine's Thoughts: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1)
By Cassandra Clare
Source: Borrowed from Sarah
Book Description:
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still. 
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

A quote:
When you find a man you wish to marry, Tessa, remember this: You will know what kind of man he is not by the things he says, but by the things he does.

Expectations: Totally, majorly high! This is Cassandra Clare we’re talking about as well as a spinoff series from (the cool uber fantastic) The Mortal Instruments! There’s not a single doubt in my mind that I thought it was going to go bad. Sure it may be historical, which usually doesn’t suit my preferences, but somehow, I don’t know how, Cassandra Clare made it work. Again! Hurrah!

About Setting: Perfect setting ever for a series that takes place in the late 1800s. London, England equals the ever sexy English accent. Seriously, what more could you want? Everything too was vividly described in the usual Cassandra Clare fashion, which I missed incredibly. I am more than satisfied with the entire setting in London, with its ancient streets and bridges. It was so imaginatively fun.

About Characters: There were some similarities connections to The Mortal Instruments series, of course, but it’s important to keep in mind the differences as well. Tessa is not a mundane but a Downworlder who isn’t aware of her full potential yet. Will and Jem are best friends who live with other ‘orphans’ at the Enclave (the church-like home in London).  Three of them form a complicated love triangle, and although I really love Jem and am saddened about the certain situation he is in, I love Will because I have a thing for tortured souls with a good heart. I’m hoping to see more of these relationships in Clockwork Prince and I was ever so glad to see Magnus Bane again!

About Plot: Tessa is in search of her older brother Nathan who had gone to live in London, which is why she ends up travelling there. The plot as a whole is adventurous and unexpected. Anything can happen in this world of Cassandra Clare’s. Just like The Mortal Instruments, it feels like diving into a pool of heart-racing fun.

Overall Rating: Y Y Y Y Y
This is the perfect type of book with hyped action in an enthralling journey. If you pick this up, I assure you that you will not regret it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday's Finest

Friday's Finest is a new meme hosted by Steff & Justine from A Bookful of Thoughts.
~Post a quote that really stuck to you after reading it in a book.
~Make sure it isn't a spoiler!
~If you'd like, expand on what you think it means and why you chose it.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

The thing you don't see while you're still there on Earth is how easy it is to change your mind. When you're in it and you're mixed up with feelings, assumptions, influences, and misconceptions, things seem completely impossible to change. From here, you see that change is as easy as flicking a light switch in your brain.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Justine's Thoughts: Before I Die by Jenny Downham

Before I Die
By Jennifer Downham
Source: Won from Missie at The Unread Reader
Book Description:

Everyone has to die. We all know it.With only a few months of life left, sixteen-year-old Tessa knows it better than most.She’s made a list, though -- ten things she wants to do before she dies. Number one is sex. Starting tonight.But getting what you want isn’t easy. And getting what you want doesn’t always give you what you need. And sometimes the most unexpected things become important.Uplifting, life-affirming, joyous -- this extraordinary novel celebrates what it is to be alive by confronting what it’s really like to die.

A quote:
Every few years we disappear, Zoey. All our cells are replaced by others. Not a single bit of me is the same as when I was last in this room.

Expectations: Reading this title gives me an instant rush of emotions as well as several questions about life and death that pop up in my mind. I knew from the beginning that this novel would be extremely heartbreaking, with its serious topics about knowing how much life there is left and finding a way how to spend it. It’s what initially drew me to reading this novel.

About Setting: It takes place in Britain in Tessa’s house. Occasionally there would be moments where procedures are done at the hospital and only a brief description is given. At one point, a painting was focused on at the hospital, explaining its significance at that moment and mentioning it again later in the story. Tessa spends most times in bed due to her sickness that often causes her to feel weak or unwell. The backyard or garden of her house was always my favourite because I have a thing for outdoor settings. It was during those times when the description turned lovely and fresh.

About Characters: The first person point of view made this novel so much easier to feel. It was as if Tessa is a real genuine character who is living, breathing, and sharing her story. I understood her motives, I felt what she felt, I ached for what she ached, and I wanted to live for her. She sets herself to accomplish the things on her list, refusing to let anything get in her way but at the same time is appreciative of the people who are there for her. Her relationships with them couldn’t have been more real as well. I could have cried for her younger brother, mother, and father, who are suffering a lot for her and who deeply aches every single time. The two other characters that stand out are Zoey and Adam, the boy next door. They both develop so much throughout the novel and become very important people in Tessa’s life.

About Plot: The story seems entirely real, with truths exposed without hesitation. The things on Tessa’s list is what every normal girl would want when you ask her what she’d like to have done before she dies. Tessa’s first thing on the list is sex and I was surprised by how sudden it comes up and occurs in the book. With serious aspects and emotional themes, I believe that the major theme is life and to live it to the fullest, which Jenny Downham delivered greatly. The only reason why I gave one star less than a five is that the story didn’t stay with me after a while and I have no idea why since it’s a sincerely moving book. It just didn’t have the kind of effect I was looking for.

Overall Rating: Y Y Y Y
Before I Die is a novel that touches your heart and then plays and tugs on it all throughout. It will make you think about what you have and appreciate your life without taking it for granted.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Justine's Thoughts: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King (Iron Fey #1)
By Julie Kagawa
Source: Won at Burning Impossibly Bright
Book Description:

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny -- one she could never have imagined...
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school...or at home.When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.
But she should never have guessed the truth -- that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face...and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

A quote:
“Touch her, and I’ll freeze your testicles off and put them in a jar. Understand?”

Expectations: I was entirely aware of the excited hype around the blogosphere, whether it was on Twitter, Goodreads, or other blogs. Everything that was said was always positive, which of course made me super eager to start this series. So from the very beginning, I knew in my mind that I would end up loving it.

About Setting: Whoa. Crazy good, it’s almost impossible to describe in my simple words. *deep breath* The highlighted setting is Nevernever. Nevernever is the land of fey. It’s colourful and wonderful and all the pretty adjectives. There are courts within Nevernever and their surroundings depend on what type of court it is. For example, in The Summer Court, trees, vines, and fountains are found everywhere. It’s so beautiful and magnificent and I love how Julie Kagawa describes it all. She has created a universe so satisfyingly terrifying -- odd, I know -- which I love being in. It’s so perfect!

About Characters: Meghan is one amazing heroine. Her willingness to rescue her brother despite sacrifices and promises show true courage and love. I adore her. The cat that accompanies her on her journey is Grimalkin, and honestly, I adore that cat. He is so mysterious and incredibly funny and can come out of nowhere at any point in time. He’s my favourite. And now the thing about Puck and Ash: I seriously don’t know whose team I’m in yet. I mean, it’s so darn hard!! I love them both in their own way. Puck, for his aliveness, humour, and commitment. Ash, for his dark, brooding nature and that hidden softness in him. I was leaning more towards Ash, but I’m not for sure yet so I’ll see what’s in store for me in the next book.

About Plot: I know zilch about fey -- its myths, its history, and basically everything about it. I’ve never read Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I wish I did so I’d know a bit of the characters that were in it. In the introducing the world of fey, Julie Kagawa was outstanding. One by one, she explains the aspects of the fey (at first through Puck to Meghan). It was hard not to be hooked! During scenes where there’s action, I marvel at the writing. It was so well described. I read word by word and was compelled to keep going.

The plot as a whole is a mix of danger, mystery, humour, and love. It’s exhilarating to be a part of it. It kind of reminds me of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series whereas this one has various types of fey creatures, Mortal Instruments has Shadowhunters, vampires, werewolves and many more. Thinking more about it, it seems like Iron Fey is similar to in Mortal Instruments in a way of thrilling journey, a love triangle that’s just so darn complicated, Jace & Ash!, the world that I mentioned above, and that’s about it I think. I pretty much love it.

Overall Rating: Y Y Y Y Y
As always, I’m excited for the next book in the series. There’s so much that could possibly happen. With a theme of science and technology becoming more common, Julie Kagawa brings up a clever and thoughtful message based on reality. It makes me wonder what will happen in the series as it truly reflects our world, our society.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Justine's Thoughts: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky Is Everywhere
By Jandy Nelson
Source: Won
Book Description:
Meet Lennie Walker -- sisterless, clarinet player, ustine maker, Heathcliff obsessed and hopelessly in love. . . .
Adrift after her sister Bailey’s sudden death, Lennie finds herself torn between quiet seductive Toby--Bailey’s boyfriend who shares her grief--and Joe, the new boy in town who bursts with life and musical genius. Each offers Lennie something she desperately needs. . .though she knows if the two of them collide her whole world will explode.Join Lennie on this heartbreaking and hilarious journey of profound sorrow and mad love, as she makes epic mistakes and epic discoveries, as she traipses through band rooms and forest bedrooms and ultimately right into your heart.
As much a celebration of love as a poignant portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often uproarious, and absolutely unforgettable.

A quote:
I wish my shadow would get up and walk beside me.

Expectations: There was wonderful talk about this novel, with bloggers sharing quotes and passages. It was the reason why it moved up my must-own list of books. So my total expectations were very high, but I was so satisfied that in the end, it definitely did not disappoint.

About Setting: I just wish I was in this novel, maybe living beside Lennie’s house or somewhere in this neighbourhood. The forest is nearby and there’s a trail that exists within (where some poems of Lennie are scattered about). The interesting thing is that there’s a bedroom in the middle of a forest! It’s so cool! It’s Lennie’s hiding spot and I’m wishing right now that I have one. But I don’t. The story as a whole takes place in a fictional city in California called Clover. Jandy Nelson talks about it in the end of the novel, naming elements in nature such as “roaring rivers, skscraping redwoods, thick old-growth forests”. It is meant to exist for the Walker family so Lennie can find a way to pull through and to truly find herself.

About Characters: It’s always difficult to relate to a person dealing with grief. With Lennie, I couldn’t understand why she was doing what she was doing. Why is she with Toby and fooling around when her heart belongs to someone else? Why does she think it’s reasonable to do that? I know it must be a way for Lennie to cope, as she herself explains her reasons, but to other characters it doesn’t seem fair or right. I tried putting myself in Lennie’s shoes and I found it so hard to choose between Toby and Joe (though I loved Joe a lot). Toby shares her grief and almost knows what she feels, while Joe is beyond awesome with his musical talent, a smile as bright as the sun, and a personality that brings a spark. The one thing I also picked up on is how Jandy Nelson depicted the love scenes, whether it was with Toby or Joe. It never seemed clich├ęd or cheesy to me. Maybe at one point when Lennie quoted Wuthering Heights, but that was funny and understanding beyond cheesy.

Other characters like Gram and Big and Sarah are sooo amazing. I seriously wish I know them in real life. Sarah is Lennie’s best friend who wears black, smokes cigarettes, and could maybe possibly be the best cheerleader...or maybe not.  Her personality is so fun, I love it. The characters -- all of them -- are simply the best.

About Plot: Jandy Nelson has an incredible, poetic prose! At first I had to adjust to it, of course like I do with almost every book. But when I was deep within the story, I fell in love with it. I loved the poems that Lennie wrote and the idea of them being scattered all around town is so brilliant. It’s what Jandy Nelson really wanted to include and I’m glad she did! It tied it all together in the end and made for a really good ending. Still, there were few missing pieces I was curious to know. I guess it was left on purpose for us to create our own endings.

Overall Rating: Y Y Y Y Y
Although I adore the cover of the paperback copy, I really really really wish I own the UK version! The poems aren’t in black and white (like the one in my paperback) but they’re in colour and they’re so authentic. I loved The Sky is Everywhere. It focuses on the sorrowful grief and aching love and follows the transformation for hope and renewal for life. It’s one of those books that you would want to read again and again.


Word on the street is... Selena Gomez will be playing Lennie in the movie. Wait, what? There's going to be a movie? Yeah, I didn't even know that either. Nor did I know that Selena Gomez will be playing Lennie. Not sure how I feel about that, to be quite honest!