Genevieve Angelique

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Book Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: YA (Fantasy)

In a Snapshot: After Alina Starkov saves her best friend’s life by releasing a coveted power, she trains as a magical Grisha and becomes the favorite of the mysterious Darkling. But a dangerous secret is waiting in the shadows–threatening to control Alina.

Why I picked it up and couldn’t put it down:

I ran across this title when looking for comparables to the YA novel Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. I really enjoyed the prologue told in 3rd person and was surprised when the narration switched at chapter one. But like the many YA novels told in 1st person, it served to heighten the main character’s emotions when dealing with self-doubt, love-unrequited, and temptation. Otherwise, the novel was well conceived with a compelling hook, an intriguing middle, and a fast paced third act. It also has an interesting love triangle–complete with an atypical spin at the end.

Who will like this? 

Fans of Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Fans of darker or medium fantasy.

A Favorite Passage: 

“She’s an ugly little thing. No child should look like that. Pale and sour, like a glass of milk that’s turned.”

“And so skinny!” the cook replied. “Never finishes her supper.”

Crouched besides the girl, the boy turned to her and whispered, “Why don’t you eat?”

“Because everything she cooks tastes like mud.”

“Tastes fine to me.”

“You’ll eat anything.”

They bent their ears back to the crack in the cupboard doors. 

A moment later the boy whispered, “I don’t think you’re ugly.”

“Shhhh!” the girl hissed. But hidden by the deep shadows of the cupboard, she smiled.

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TBT Book Review: Twilight (Series)

Twilight Book by Stephanie Meyer

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Genre: YA (Paranormal) 

In a Snapshot: When Bella moves to Forks, she falls for the beautiful Edward Cullen. But a happy ending isn’t guaranteed. Their love must survive the ultimate test. That being, Edward wants to kill her. 

Why I picked it up and why I couldn’t put it down:

This was the first book I picked up after my baby started sleeping through the night. And oh, what a perfect YA novel to choose. I became obsessed! 

First, Bella’s teenage persona–soft bodied, clumsy, a bit socially awkward–was totally me some odd years ago. Second, I am a complete sucker for Victorian-minded gentlemen (like Edward). Third, theirs is a forbidden love story that sweeps you off your feet and leaves you breathless for more–ok, that’s a bit cliché, but I really mean it.

Fun Fact: This is the book that motivated me to (finally) start writing toward publication. Seven years later, I’m still at it. 

Who will like this? 

Paranormal fans. Romantics.

A Favorite Passage: 

About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him-and I didn’t know how potent that part might be-that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”

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TBT Book Review: The Giver

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Author: Lois Lowry

Genre (& Award): YA, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Newbery Award

In a Snapshot: Jonas lives in a community where all his decisions are made for him. When assigned to The Giver, Jonas receives his mentor’s memories–full of pain and joy.

Why I picked it up and why I couldn’t put it down:

I read this first in high school, then in college. Both times it was an assigned read. And both times, I loved it! So much in fact, I went to a book reading by Ms. Lowry and got a signed copy of this novel!!!! It was my most prized possession–which is why I am still so sad at having lost it when I lent it to a chef while working as a waitress. A librarian at heart, even before getting my masters, I’ve always loved sharing book recommendations with others. And sometimes my recommendations come in the form of my own personal copies. It’s a practice I still do today (and still get burned by from time to time).

Who will like this?

Like the man depicted on the cover, this book is the grandfather of all dystopian books today: The Hunger Games, Insurgent, Maze Runner–they all sort of hail from Lowry’s groundbreaking work. Hence the gold stamp of approval, the Newbery Award. So, naturally, if you’re a dystopian lover, you need to read this book. This is as classic as it gets. And seriously, read the book before you watch the movie. I haven’t yet seen the adaptation, but the book is always better than the movie.

Some Favorite Quotes:

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

“It’s the choosing that’s important, isn’t it?”

“We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.”


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Book Review: Shiver

Shiver

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA (Paranormal) (Fantasy)

In a Snapshot: Grace has always had an affinity for wolves–especially the yellow-eyed werewolf who saved her as a child and still watches her every winter.

Why I picked it up and why I couldn’t put it down:

This trilogy promised to do for werewolves what Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series did for vampires. As I am a huge Twilight fan (seriously, loved that series), I gave it a try. 

I began reading this book in its audio format. Since the novel is written in dual (boy/girl) point-of-view perspectives, I found myself with the same problem I experienced with Across the Universe–namely, I couldn’t handle listening to Sam’s male voice as he impersonated Grace. So I ended up checking out the book at the library and finishing from there.

I’m glad I did. Stiefvater has a knack at folding paranormal wrinkles into an otherwise normal teenage life. She also surprises the reader with some beautiful lines and lyrical language. I especially liked the poetic songs Sam creates in his human-form mind.

Who will like this? 

Twilight fans. Werewolf fans. Romantics.

A Favorite Passage: 

“I could still smell her on my fur. It clung to me, a memory of another world. I was drunk with it, with the scent of her. I’d got too close. The smell of summer on her skin, the half-recalled cadence of her voice, the sensation of her fingers on my fur. Every bit of me sang with the memory of her closeness. Too close. I couldn’t stay away.” 


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Book Review: Fangirl

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Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: NA (New Adult)

In a Snapshot: Cather, an introverted and gifted college freshman, writes fan fiction while learning how to navigate college, love, and family drama.

Why I picked it up and why I couldn’t put it down:

Young adult writers everywhere were practically stamping their heart-patterings for this book all over the internet. And since I enjoyed Rowell’s Eleanor & Park so much, I figured this was going to be good.

I was wrong. This book is AMAZING. I mean, I love it as a writer. I love it as a reader. As an introvert. A nerd. A romantic. You just have to read this one.

I really mean it. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK.

Who will like this? 

Anybody who loves reading. Or writing. Or ideally loves both–and relates to being a nerd.

Oh, and everyone else.

Favorite Quotes: 

“Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and mildly socially retarded, I’m a complete disaster.”

“To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.”

“Months are different in college, especially freshman year. Too much happens. Every freshman month equals six regular months—they’re like dog months.” 

“That was the beauty in stacking up words–they got cheaper, the more you had of them.” 

“Ugg boots. In fashionable places, you have to pretend that you’re over them, or that you’ve always hated them. But in Nebraska, you can still be happy about new Ugg boots. That’s nice. There’s no end of the innocence.” 


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Book Review: Across the Universe

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Author: Beth Revis

Genre: YA, NA, Science Fiction, Dystopian

In a Snapshot: Amy, a frozen teen on her way to a new planet 300 years into the future, is awakened 50 years too early. With the help of Elder (the boy destined to someday be the ship’s leader), she uncovers a terrible truth about the ship—and the people on board.

Why I picked it up and why I couldn’t put it down:

As always, I was in the mood for a romance, and I could tell this was going to be a love story based on the cover. I was also in the mood for a soft science fiction, so this fit the bill.

I read 2/3 of Across the Universe in audio format, but I finished with a hard copy from my library. I needed to get through the story faster. The pace of the audio book was too slow for my impatient reading ways. And no offense to the actors who voiced the dual perspectives of this book, but I don’t like to hear impersonated girl voices from male actors. The inflection and emotion seems off–especially when you have the female counterpart voice/actress to compare it to.

Who will like this? This book has a similar vibe to The Giver by Lois Lowry or City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau–but with an explicit sexual spin to itReaders who like dual boy/girl perspectives will like this (think Marie Lu’s Legend).

Note: some of the sexual scenes are just gross & dark (for a reason), so this book is for more mature readers.

A Favorite Quote: 

“I never thought about how important the sky was until I didn’t have one.”


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Book Review: Seraphina

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Author: Rachel Hartman

Genre: YA, Fantasy

In a Snapshot: Seraphina is a gifted court musician from the medieval Kingdom of Goredd. When she joins Prince Kiggs to investigate the death of a royal family member, peace between humans and mathematical, shapeshifting dragons is threatened–as is the terrible secret Seraphina must keep hidden from both humans and dragons alike.

Why I picked it up and why I couldn’t put it down:

I was intrigued by the premise of dragons loosely passing as humans in shapeshifted forms. It was also awarded the 2013 William C. Morris Award for the best young adult work by a debut author.

Hartman’s beautiful, thought-provoking language and rich world-building elements is compelling. A diverse set of characters also adds depth. The heroine is intelligent and witty, also brave despite her physical limitations. And a love story fits nicely within this mystery-based plot.

Who will like this? High concept readers who appreciate literary books. Harry Potter fans. Robin McKinley fans. 

Some Favorite Quotes: 

“For future reference: do not underestimate the seductive power of math.” 

“He did not know the truth of me, yet he had perceived something true about me that no one else had ever noticed. And in spite of that—or perhaps because of it—he believed me good, believed me worth taking seriously, and his belief, for one vertigi-nous moment, made me want to be better than I was.”

“I cannot perch among those who think that I am broken.”