Thursday, December 15, 2011

Review: Leftovers (and a bit of raging)

Okay okay, I know. I've been a flake this year. Apologies! This semester has been especially rough; as soon as I finish one thing, there seems to be ten other things that need to be done. Have you guys ever felt that way? As much as I love the college experience, my biggest discontentment with the schooling system is how little freedom students truly have to pick the classes they want to take. Now of course, this doesn't apply to every college student out there, but this has been an ongoing discussion between my classmates and me. Say, if you want a career in pre-med, you have all these prereqs that are ridiculously hard, and all your free time is spent building up your CV with hours of volunteering, research, lab work, extracurriculars, etc. Sometimes I feel so stressed I just want to scream, WHY. Us pre-med kids aren't the only ones who feel this way. Same goes for other paths, I'm sure. And I know that I really do have a choice, in that I could just choose not to be a doctor and instead pick something that won't steal my youthful years from me. After going this far though, it's too hard to see my cards holding anything else for me..

Anyways, I know public ranting is extremely annoying, but sometimes it helps to share a bit of what's peeving you, if only to infinitesimally relieve your burdens. Sorry guys! I'm on winter break now, which will last for over a month (yay!), so hopefully I'll get to simmer down and post some more reviews and such.

Onto the review!


Author: Laura Weiss
Publisher: MTV Books
Release Date: 1 January 2oo8
Pages: 256

A devastating novel of desperation and revenge from one of today's most compelling new voices in fiction. In this follow-up to her heartbreaking debut, Such a Pretty Girl, Laura Wiess once again spins a shattering tale of the tragedies that befall young women who are considered society's Leftovers.
Blair and Ardith are best friends who have committed an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. But in order to understand what could drive two young women to such extreme measures, first you'll have to understand why. You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by the adults around her as damaged goods. A girl who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see. You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.
Are you ready?

Luna's Take:

I love this author. She has a way with words, and I equate her writing abilities to those of Stiefvater, Clare, and Collins. I first got hooked after reading her book, How It Ends. You can read my review here. That being said though, I didn't like this one as much as How It Ends.
That sounds like a huge contradiction, right? How can I rave about this author and yet not fully love one of her novels? Essentially, I almost feel like I know this author. Her writing is so poignant and memorable, her own personally seeps out between the lines. If you've ever felt a deep connection with a book (the story itself, and not the characters), you know what I mean. If not, I'm pretty sure I must sound like a psych patient to you.. ;D

Ultimately, even though I didn't like this as much, I still want to read her other books. It's kind of like, oh there were a couple hiccups in this one, but who cares! The author is still amazing, and this stuff is better than the majority of other YA works out there!

The two main characters, Ardith and Blair, have some pretty effed up lives. Ardith lives in a fairly shabby house on the outskirts of town with middle-aged parents who can't seem to loosen their grasp on teenagedom and an older brother who leeches on any decent-looking girl within eyesight. You know how in high school, there was always that kid whose parents were gone for the weekend, so his house automatically became party central? That's how Ardith's house is, except for her it's 24/7, rain or shine. She lives in constant fear of being assaulted by hordes of drunken people right outside her room, so she padlocks her door every night and sleeps with a screwdriver under her pillow.

Ardith, instead of being noticed too often, is frequently ignored by her job-crazy mother and absent father. She lives in near isolation, in a posh house with two parents who can't even stand to look at each other without resentment. When her parents commit the ultimate act of betrayal against her, she begins to fall apart internally, losing her passion for life and passively conforming to their societal expectations.

The characters themselves were sketched out extremely vividly, which was my favorite part about this novel. Weiss has a way of allowing her readers an exclusive, raw look into the intricacies of her characters' lives. When I read the summary, I was so excited to find out what the girls did.. Upon discovering what it was though, I found myself rather disappointed. I thought the ending could have been elaborated upon, or at least dramaticized more. But I can't complain too much, because I still managed to breeze through the book in less than 24hrs :P Looking forward to reading more from this author!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Review: Sisterhood Everlasting

Gahh I know, I know, it's been about 3 years since my last post.. Sorry for being MIA, I just had a lot of stuff going on (typical cliché, yes). I've been doing some undergraduate research for a Fellow (who happens to not be a fellow) at the med school near my university, and all the grunt work can take quite a while. Other than that, I'm taking a couple summer classes at a local college and still holding a job to pay off some of my spending sprees. But I have been reading in the interim, and now the "stuff" in my life has died down a little, and I want to share this amazing book I recently read. So all excuses laid aside, here goes my first review since the Ice Age.

Sisterhood Everlasting
(The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants #5)

Author: Ann Brashares
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 14 June 2011
Pages: 349

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting.

Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness.

Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected.

As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one.

Luna's Take:

First off, I know this review will probably be a little exclusive, since I know not all of you have read this series. But I just HAD to review it (can you tell I'm a huge Sisterhood fan??). I actually finished reading this over a week ago. I purchased the book its opening day, and it didn't take me too long to breeze through it. Hopefully I can get some of you to convert into fans, too. :)

This book starts off about 10 years after the conclusion of the last one, so the girls have all just turned 29. Although I'm still about a decade younger than the Sisterhood in this book, I didn't feel that the age barrier prevented me from fully understanding and empathizing with how the characters felt during the story. This is a tribute to Brashares, because I feel she manages to keep the core of each girl intact, despite there being such a long gap in the storyline.

Not to give anything away, but I wasn't too surprised that the girls weren't as close at the onset of this book as they were when they were mere teenagers. Anyone can attest to it - life happens. You find yourself more connected to some people than others over time. It is partly because of this bridge that Tibby decides to bring the Sisterhood back together, and they all end up meeting in Santorini.

What did surprise me was the fact that Lena and Kostos still have not gotten together! Their relationship has been a tortuous and tumultuous one, but at the end of the last book, as Kostos whispers "Someday" to Lena in Greek, I truly believed that their intertwined fates were sealed. As my favorite character (and not just because our names are so similar), Lena shocks me at times. But there are plenty of other twists in store for those of you who read this; it's so hard not to give much away!

One of the only criticisms I have about the book is regarding its dimensions - it's HUGE! Brashares had this book published under a different company, and I think that affected the length and width of it.. So now, it looks just a tad awkward next to the other four in the series, which are all synchronized - not only in size, but also in cover design. But really, this is just a superficial detail. Overall, I LOVED the conclusion to this epic saga; I ended the book in tears of happiness! So if you haven't yet touched a Sisterhood book, it's not too late to start!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: Illusions

Illusions (Wings #3)

Author: Aprilynne Pike
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 3 May 2011
Pages: 375

Laurel hasn't seen Tamani since she begged him to let her go last year. Though her heart still aches, Laurel is confident that David was the right choice.

But just as life is returning to normal, Laurel discovers that a hidden enemy lies in wait. Once again, Laurel must turn to Tamani to protect and guide her, for the danger that now threatens Avalon is one that no faerie thought would ever be possible. And for the first time, Laurel cannot be sure that her side will prevail.

Luna's Take:

It feels like I'd been waiting for the third installment in the Wings series for forever and a day, so you can probably guess just how psyched I was to finally have this in my hands! Ever since the first book, I'd been completely hooked into both Laurel's human world and the fantastical realm of Avalon.

Safe to say, this book did not disappoint. Tamani crosses the threshold into the human world by posing as a typical high school student, all for the purpose of being able to act as Laurel's guardian up close (and personal!). One of the main reasons I think Pike really impressed in this book is the fact that she fleshes out most of the characters so they become more 3-D to readers. Personally, I felt that Tamani's character was lacking a bit of description and personality in Wings and Spells. Before, it seemed to me that all he obsessed about was Laurel this, Laurel that, did Laurel have breakfast today because that's an essential meal in every faerie's life, etc. Not to say that he wasn't overly-protective of her in this book, because he was, but his motivation and willingness to execute his goals are much more evident to us. We are able to read some passages from his POV, as well.

The main problem at this point is the appearance of Yuki, who is a foreign exchange student later revealed as a rogue faerie in the human world. Tamani and Laurel, among others, are baffled by her existence, especially since Laurel is the only known scion. They do their best to tread on water around Yuki, fearful of their predictions on how much she might know or not know about themselves, and this mystery lasts throughout the majority of the novel, making the plot thicken considerably.

The passion between Laurel and her two favorite leading men is absolutely smexy, too. At times, it's true that the love triangle can be a bit maddening, but most times, it's pure hilarity to witness Laurel's constant internal struggle to choose between the two.

I would definitely recommend this to all fans of Pike's previous two books, and if you haven't picked up on this series yet, be sure to get your own copy of Wings! Scoot scoot!

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review: The Sky is Everywhere

I'm back!!! And just in case you guys can't tell how ecstatic I am for school to be over, I'll tack on a few more !!!s. Anyways, I've gotten to read some fabtabulous books since the end of my term, so here's my first review post-finals-induced-hiatus!

The Sky is Everywhere

Author: Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Speak
Release Date: 22 March 2011
Pages: 288

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

Luna's Take:

This book made my heart ache a little. I almost don't know how to review it; there don't seem to be words satisfying enough to describe how I felt upon finishing it. Safe to say, Nelson's writing style is so enchantingly lyrical and breathtaking, I couldn't stand it at times. And just a little disclaimer for those of you who haven't read the book yet: Tears will be shed. Especially if you're a big ol' hopeless romantic at heart, as I am.

There are many different ways to mourn a lost one. Shortly following her older sister's death, Lennie undergoes a sexual awakening that is as surprising as it is sudden. Indeed, her feelings toward the opposite sex are so shocking because she has always been one to follow in her sister's shadow, making all her emotions and desires pre-death to be expressed in a muted fashion, and she therefore didn't quite live up to her full potential. Post-death, she attempts to bury her anguish and depression by pouring her heart out to two boys. While Bailey's boyfriend, Toby, helps Lennie remember Bailey in her glory, new boy Joe blows into town and alleviates Lennie's pain simply by being the happy ball of sunshine that he is. And while both of them help shoulder her crushing pain somewhat, it is only through self-reflection and contemplation that Lennie can truly learn to heal.

I'm sure that doesn't cover it all, but all I know is, my mind was going in all directions while reading this book. There were times I felt so strongly for Lennie's suffering, and other times when I had this huge grin on my face for the comical way in which she expressed her inner turmoil and confusion. Most of us have lost a dearly beloved, and I think Nelson truly managed to capture the core emotions we ourselves feel in our journey to recovery. Her words will stay with me, long past the last page.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, May 2, 2011

cover revealed for silence!

Have you guys seen the newly-revealed cover for Becca Fitzpatrick's Silence? It just came out today and it's 110% GORGEOUS. Can't wait for this to come out. :)


Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 14 October 2011
Pages: 400

And I know Waiting on Wednesday's a couple days away; I just couldn't wait to rave about this cover! Look at how beautimus Patch is... (heartheartheart). And I know I'm probably not the only one who's jealous of Nora in this image. I've loved all the covers in this series so far, and this one definitely doesn't disappoint! Gahh, who else cannot WAIT until October rolls around?!

Friday, April 29, 2011

the hunger games movie casting: effie

Okay, taking a short little break from studying here to announce... *drumroll* ...that the role of Effie Trinket has been scored by...

A Ms. Elizabeth Banks!
At first, I didn't know whether she could pull off our bubbly busybody, Effie, but at second glance, I think she could, with some effort. The only movie I remember her from is The Uninvited, and she played a fairly creepy role in that film. Anyways, just wanted to share for anyone who didn't know.

Back to hittin' those books!

Monday, April 25, 2011

review: The Goddess Test


Sorry for the long interval since my last post; it's finals week! I probably won't post again until next week, when school is all over and done with. For now, I'll leave you guys with this review...

The Goddess Test

Author: Aimée Carter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: 19 April 2011
Pages: 304

It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.

Luna's Take:

I love this cover! The "Greek-ified" title is cool too, even though sigma isn't actually pronounced with an "e" sound.. But oh well (Sorry, is my status as a college student that obvious now? :p).

Also, I've recently had a penchant for reading books regarding Greek mythology. As summer reading for my senior literature class, we read Edith Hamilton's Mythology, and there my obsession began.

So obviously, I got really wrapped up in The Goddess Test. Carter didn't really overload readers with facts on mythology, but enough was in there to keep fans like me happy. The description of the relationship between Kate and Henry was fairly swoonly, too. I was able to see it foster and grow throughout the book.

Appearances aside, this is not your typical read. One of the underlying plotlines is a murder mystery that remains to be solved. I don't normally read about this theme, but Carter wrote it in a way that drew me in and made me excited to read the subsequent chapter.

Though it wasn't a perfect read - some of the character sketches didn't quite agree with me - I enjoyed The Goddess Test, and recommend it to fellow Greek mythology lovers and to anyone who wants to discover some tidbits about mythology!

Rating: 4/5