The End of YA?

I think Harry Potter and Twilight popularized the YA genre, one which is coveted by many. Readers adamantly defend YA’s depth, maturity, and optimism, themes which many YA proponents claim are not reflected in general fiction. Due to this, many readers opt to read a YA novel over fiction. I was once such a reader, but I have found myself changing.

It started when I came home from college on Fall Break. The prospect of being reunited with my bookshelf was too much to handle. On top of that, I had five whole days with no responsibilities which equated to five interrupted days of reading. Upon getting home, I sat in front of my bookcase for twenty-five minutes attempting to find a book which suited my interests. To my surprise, I picked a regular fiction novel. And then, another fiction novel. And again, another fiction novel. Surprised, I assumed that by Thanksgiving break I would be back in some YA. I wasn’t it. This pattern has seemed to repeat itself with each novel I pick up.

Is this the end of YA for me? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I picked up The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong just recently, a YA novel featuring paranormal elements, and I found the book to be loathsome. To be honest, I am curious. Is this the end of YA for me? Or are my book tastes diversifying? Or am I maturing? To be honest, I don’t know.

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Book Review: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave. –Goodreads summary

Publication Date: October 2, 2012.

Favorite Quote from the Book:

“After that, the book will fade, the way all books fade in your mind. But I hope you will remember this:
A man walking fast down a dark lonely street. Quick steps and hard breathing, all wonder and need. A bell above a door and the tinkle it makes. A clerk and a ladder and warm golden light, and then: the right book exactly, at exactly the right time.”

My Thoughts:

As someone who identifies herself as a bibliophile, this book resonates deeply with me.  Mainly, the book reveals a deep dedication, admiration, and respect for books.  Many characters throughout the novel have some affiliation with books which plays an integral role in their past, present, and future.  This is largely seen in the protagonist, Clay Jannon.  Searching for a job, Jannon finds himself becoming a clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (by the way, why does a 24-hour bookstore not exist?).  Quickly, he finds himself succumbing to the power of books as he examines a strange group of frequent customers.  Unexpectedly, Jannon finds himself intermingling with a mystery involving books, secret groups, and potential immortality.  Wait, books can do that?  Yes, Jannon discovers they can!

Besides the look for books, I appreciated the way this story unraveled.  While I went into this book with no expectations, I had some preconceived notions with how this plot would ensue (basically, just accounts of owning a bookstore).  Essentially, this plot twists and turns in ways that one could never imagine.  Indeed, this is a sign that Sloan, the author, is aware of his audience and knows how to keep them anticipatory for the subsequent actions.  As the plot developed, the mysteries and characters developed; you just had to keep reading in order to get to the root of this chaos.  Admittedly, I got frustrated; I wanted to know what happened and did not possess the patience at times.  However, I am glad that Sloan wrote this book in this manner as it gave the novel interest.

Additionally, this book presents very interesting themes, themes which many books have not attempted to discuss.  For example, the theme of technology and its advancement is strongly emphasized in the book.  Sloan presents different arguments of how technology advances and hinders the human race.  This theme and others are thought-provoking and require the audience to engage in their own analyses.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, to say the least.  Everything about this book is enjoyable.  Even though I was excited for the book to end so I could figure out the “grand mystery,” I was sad to flip to the last page.  I had genuinely grown attached to the characters and plot that I wanted it to continue!  Sadly, it is over.  However, I am hopeful that Sloan may possibly write more in the future (or maybe he has published other books) because he is truly a talented author!

My Rating:

★★★★★ 5/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this for my fellow bibliophiles!

Myth Busters: The “Reading Slump”

All over the internet, my fellow bibliophiles succumb to this virus known as the reading slump.  Before I continue, let’s broadly describe a reading slump as a period of lacking the desire(s) to read.  Anyway, many people use this term, reading slump, to blame their lower completed book counts.  At times, I find myself admitting that I’m in a reading slump.  Lately, though, this term has started to irk me.

A bibliophile is one who loves reading.  As a football players loves to play football, a bibliophile loves to read.  For us, reading offers temporary moments of escape from our chaotic lives.  Therefore, reading becomes a hobby and passion which means our moments to read should be enjoyable moments for us.  

Now, whenever I hear people use the term “reading slump” to describe their inability to currently read, I cringe.  To me, the use of this term subliminally alludes to reading being more a chore and less of a hobby and passion.  Unfortunately, I think many of us get caught up in the numerical book challenges and lose reading’s true intentions which is to provide pleasure.  Therefore, I think using the excuse, “Oh, I’m in a reading slump,” is a way for us find a scapegoat for our lack of reading to our fellow bibliophile peers.  This leads me to believe that reading slumps are not a “thing,” and I believe it is time we embrace the fact that we are human beings who have very busy lives.  Our hobbies and passions are not limited to one activity (reading).  Rather, we should embrace these different activities to become more well-rounded individuals.  So, what??  You haven’t read in two days but decided to watch the first whole season of Sherlock?  Good for you!  I hope you enjoyed your time!

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many books you completed and how many pages you read in a month, what truly matters is the content that you read.  Perhaps you read a novel this month that filled you with an immense feeling of evangelical zeal that you cannot fathom picking up a new novel for the next few weeks for fear of disappointment.  Don’t worry about it!  Honestly, we read for the content, not the numbers.  So, fellow bibliophiles, happy reading!

The “Reading Slump”: BUSTED!!  

Book Review: Projection

It’s time for a book review!  Tuesday Book Reviews are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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When 13-year-old Gretchen Harris’s mother is murdered at Gretchen’s 8th Grade graduation party, everyone in the town of Delphi, California, suspects a power struggle within the Oculus Society: Delphi’s version of the Junior League.  Gretchen’s best friend, Jessica Shaw, might even hold the key to finding the culprit with The Plotinus Ability: the Oculus Society’s jealously guarded secret power to trade souls, which hinges on a kiss. Gretchen’s hope at finding the murderer ends in tragedy when Ariel Miller—the class outcast—stalks Gretchen and Jessica and surreptitiously films them exchanging a kiss to test if the Plotinus Ability is real, not knowing their motives. The ensuing YouTube video (“Popular Girls = Secret Lovers”) goes viral, Gretchen’s and Jessica’s lives are further shattered, and they vanish from Delphi.

Flash forward two years later: Ariel is suddenly the most popular junior in town, but wracked with guilt over what she did to Gretchen and Jessica.  When both girls reappear after their mysterious absence, Ariel finds herself pawn, suspect, and key player in their scheme to bring the murderer to justice.-Goodreads summary

Expected Publication Date: September 3, 2013.

Preorder your copy here: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | BookDepository

Favorite Quote from the Book:

‘Our trust and our faith shall bring justice…This is the promise we solemnly keep.’

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:

While I think the girl and overall design is beautiful, the book’s cover holds no relevance to the story.  In fact I believe that it is just a typical pretty YA cover designed with the intention to sell more books when it’s published.  It’s okay but not one of the best.

Things that Made Me Happy:

I absolutely loved how this book was told through dual plots: the ancient Romans’ invention and use of projection and the modern society’s continuation of projection.  Creatively, Green conceived this magical act of projection, the power to trade souls with another person, in the early Roman Empire.  While women were suppressed in this society, this power gave them a sense of sovereignty against the men’s oppressive authority.  Since then, women had secretly passed this power among generations, where it was found in the modern times of this book.  Still, women honored this power and found it was fundamental to their lives.  Both the ancient women and current women created a strong sense of female empowerment that made for a great read.

This book was full of many plot twists, which were unexpected by readers.  Combined with the tense mystery element, the plot’s zigzagged development constantly kept the audience on their toes in anticipation for what was to come. Nothing was predictable, which made for an overall entertaining read.

Wow, what a gripping ending.  Initially I was concerned within the last 50 pages because I felt that the novel would end unresolved; however, the novel quickly pieced together that created an intricate sub-plot story, which was entertaining and riveting. 

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

At times I felt that there were inconsistencies to the personalities of the characters, as if they were not fully developed.  While their development was not terrible, I believed that Green had the potential to create more three dimensional characters.  Considering this book was a mystery novel, implementing deeper well-developed characters would have further enhanced the mystery element and generated more suspicions.  Overall, their actions and mannerisms never fully created genuine characters, which was frustrating.

Lastly, Green overemphasized the true criminal.  Suddenly, all of his or her actions became suspicious, which aided in my belief that the people in this book sometimes acted out of character.  It was upsetting, as I was hoping for a more unsuspecting mystery.  While placing together the final pieces of the puzzle and capturing the criminal were fantastic, the suspect’s actions became increasingly annoying as they were too obvious and detracted from the mystery elements, which created more of a suspense novel.

My Rating:

★★★★ 4/5 stars!

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy simplistic young adult suspense and mystery novels.

*This book was sent to me via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!* 

Mention Monday: Red Riding Hood

Mention Monday is the day where I give a book recommendation.  Additionally, they are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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The blacksmith would marry her.
The woodcutter would run away with her.
The werewolf would turn her into one of its own.

Valerie’s sister was beautiful, kind, and sweet. Now she is dead. Henry, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.

After her sister’s violent death, Valerie’s world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the Wolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But now no one is safe. When an expert Wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them–it could be anyone in town.

It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of the creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the blood moon wanes…or everyone she loves will die.

Based on a screenplay written by David Leslie Johnson.-Goodreads summary

After reading this book I was extremely dumbfounded with how to rate and review it.  One one hand the book frustrated me.  The beginning was a tad slow.  The plot summary ruins a huge plot twist.  The book was a piece of advertisement for the then upcoming movie.  And, yes, it involves a stereotypical love triangle with paranormal elements to complicate matters.  

Beyond this I was hooked.  I adored all of the characters; since there was a huge mystery element in this book, I found myself questioning every character and his or her motive.  Since every character fell under suspicion, their life stories became imperative to solving the mystery.  Not only did this generate interest in the characters, it also gave the characters depth-something I believe is imperative in successful character development.

Additionally, I enjoyed how the overall mystery was completely unpredictable; it left me with my jaw dropped and the inability to read for a few days.

While not many people like the complete novel, I enjoyed these elements of the story.  For some reason these aspects enabled me to look beyond the “typical frustrations” and appreciate its good portions.  No it is not a groundbreaking YA novel, but it is an enjoyable read-one that I read in one sitting, and for these reasons I would recommend this book.

*What is a book that you would recommend?  Comment below!*

Book Review: Sweet

It’s Saturday, so that means that it is time for a book review!  Saturday Book Reviews are a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it, click here.

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Witnessing a brutal murder at work is only the beginning of Celia’s problems. The fact that the victim is a vampire only proves to complicate her life even more. The vampires of New England have always had an undetected existence among humans but with the unprovoked death of one of their own, the lust for revenge has begun. Celia’s concerns are magnified when a hunter from Dallas arrives in town. With Jay’s sexy smile and rugged ways, Celia finds herself wanting to spend time with him despite being mysteriously linked to the nest that is threatening to become extinct if Jay gets his way. When four bodies are found drained of blood; Jay teams up with a local bunch to take out all the undead which coincidentally, includes her boyfriend Victor. Celia won’t stand seeing anything happen to Victor but refuses to hurt Jay as well. Confusion, lust, rage and violence intertwine as worlds collide. Celia will soon discover that her neat little existence is not what it seems as her cryptic past and present start to unravel.-Goodreads summary

Favorite Quote from the Book:

‘Anything gets tough, you push it away.  Anything that threatens your little bubble, you lash out ’cause that’s the only way you know how to handle it.’

MY THOUGHTS:

Judge the Book by its Cover:

I’m not the biggest fan of this cover.  In addition to the plot summary, I find it to be misleading.

Things that Made Me Happy:

Wilkerson wrote in a way that was easy to comprehend; her writing reflected a conversational tone, which made it a quick and easy read. 

The last 30 pages of the novel were tense, and I wanted to read to the book’s conclusion.

Things that Made Me Unhappy:

Oh, I hate when I struggle to find pros for a book but can assert numerous cons…well, here we go.

As mentioned, the writing style of this book was extremely rudimentary.  While it made this an easy read, I found there to be a complete disregard for basic grammar and mechanics.  Had these errors been contained to just the dialogue, I would not have felt quite so perturbed, as the conversation would reflect typical slang formatting.  Rather, the writing style, primarily in the non-dialogue passages, was too lackadaisical and unprofessional.  In fact every page of this book had at least one error, which made me, an English major, cry.  I could not believe that the publishing company had such a disregard for all of these mistakes.

Additionally, I was not a fan of any of the characters-both the ones that readers were supposed to like and the ones that the readers were supposed to dislike.  First, I found the main character, Celia, to be too much of an annoyance and quite contradictory.  Frequently, she snapped at other characters and created havoc.  However, at one point in the book she stated, “‘Believe me, I do not like drama.'”  I could not even take that line seriously because up until that point she had started every fight with her boyfriend, Victor, and other love interest, Jay, for ridiculous reasons, and believe me, there were many arguments.  Additionally, she treated men terribly.  All she ever stated about Victor and Jay pertained to their looks and how desperately she wanted to sleep with them, which made all the romance elements of this book to be laugh-worthy.  Speaking of romance, let’s focus on her boyfriend, Victor, as a character.  He was probably the guy your parents don’t want to meet.  He was manipulative and had to be the person in control at all times.  If there ever was a moment where he felt inferior, he disappeared-just like Celia (reference above quote).  He was detestable.  Equally repulsive was the love interest Jay.  Surprise, surprise, there was a love triangle in the book.  Jay mirrored every quality of Victor, which made Celia’s rash decisions to run to Jay every time Victor upset her completely bogus.  No rational person would surround himself or herself with an individual who was identical to his or her enemy.  Regardless, these three made a stereotypical love-triangle, which made readers either be Team Victor, Team Jay, or Team You Should Probably be Single because You Seem Slightly Unstable, Celia.  Why does this sound eerily familiar?

That’s right!  It sounds familiar because this plot has been executed many times: girl has guy; new guy comes into the equation; old guy and new guy are enemies; girl has feelings for new guy, while still leading on the old guy; girl chooses who we all know she will choose.  This book was just too much like every other post-Twilight and Twilight fanfiction that I have ever read.  I was disappointed because I appreciate an author’s boldness to step outside the boundaries and create a fantastical world, but that does not happen in Sweet.

My Rating:

★★ 2/5 stars!

Overall, this book was a disappointment.  I was anticipating a new vampire world only to be greeted by one that I have visited many times.

Recommendation:

I’d recommend this book to those who enjoy Twilight fanfiction.  I would not recommend this book to those who enjoy paranormal/vampire novels, as I feel this book would greatly aggravate you for its lack of originality.  

*Please note, I was provided this book from the author and publisher via Read it and Reap in exchange for an honest review.*

Friday Reads (7/26/13)

Happy Friday!  The weekend is finally here!  It’s time for Friday Reads, in which I share with you all what I plan on reading this weekend.  Friday Reads is a query that was started on Twitter and has been carried over to the book blogging/vlogging community.  It is also a part of my Daily Post; to learn more about it click here.

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Witnessing a brutal murder at work is only the beginning of Celia’s problems. The fact that the victim is a vampire only proves to complicate her life even more. The vampires of New England have always had an undetected existence among humans but with the unprovoked death of one of their own, the lust for revenge has begun. Celia’s concerns are magnified when a hunter from Dallas arrives in town. With Jay’s sexy smile and rugged ways, Celia finds herself wanting to spend time with him despite being mysteriously linked to the nest that is threatening to become extinct if Jay gets his way. When four bodies are found drained of blood; Jay teams up with a local bunch to take out all the undead which coincidentally, includes her boyfriend Victor. Celia won’t stand seeing anything happen to Victor but refuses to hurt Jay as well. Confusion, lust, rage and violence intertwine as worlds collide. Celia will soon discover that her neat little start to unravel.-Goodreads summary

I received Sweet from the author and publisher via Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.  Currently, I am 50% into it and find it to be a fairly easy read.  After completing The Book Thief, Wilkerson’s conversational writing style is easy to comprehend, which makes this book a fairly quick read.  Despite its writing style, I do have some issues with the book, which I’m sure will be detailed in my review.  I hope to be finished with it tonight, as I am trying to complete many of my ARCs and write my reviews!

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When 13-year-old Gretchen Harris’s mother is murdered at Gretchen’s 8th Grade graduation party, everyone in the town of Delphi, California, suspects a power struggle within the Oculus Society: Delphi’s version of the Junior League.  Gretchen’s best friend, Jessica Shaw, might even hold the key to finding the culprit withThe Plotinus Ability: the Oculus Society’s jealously guarded secret power to trade souls, which hinges on a kiss. Gretchen’s hope at finding the murderer ends in tragedy when Ariel Miller—the class outcast—stalks Gretchen and Jessica and surreptitiously films them exchanging a kiss to test if the Plotinus Ability is real, not knowing their motives. The ensuing YouTube video (“Popular Girls = Secret Lovers”) goes viral, Gretchen’s and Jessica’s lives are further shattered, and they vanish from Delphi.

Flash forward two years later: Ariel is suddenly the most popular junior in town, but wracked with guilt over what she did to Gretchen and Jessica.  When both girls reappear after their mysterious absence, Ariel finds herself pawn, suspect, and key player in their scheme to bring the murderer to justice.-Goodreads summary

I was provided Projection from the publishing company (Soho Teen) via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  I have approximately three weeks to get this book read and reviewed, so I definitely need to start this one!  I’m looking forward to the mystery elements in this story.  Of course, there will be a review published in the future!  Hopefully, I get this finished this weekend so I can check another ARC off my list!

*What are you reading this weekend?  Comment below!*