Category: summer 2017

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson – A Review

ya-book-reports:

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis

Emily and Sloane are best friends, practically attached at the hip. It is now summer and Emily has a million plans for what they will do. But one day, Sloane disappears. The only thing left behind is a confused Emily and a to-do-list written by Sloane. It is a list for Emily, a list of things for her to do without her best friend, challenges designed to bring her out of her shell. Since the list is Emily’s only clue to finding Sloane, she decides to complete it. But this is not an easy list. Number one is to kiss a stranger. Number two is go skinny dipping. Number five just says Penelope. This might be harder than Emily first expected, but with the help of some new friends and a whole lot of determination she might be able to finish it and hopefully find what she is looking for at the end of it.

Characters

Emily was never and outgoing person before Sloane came to town, and when they became best friends she was mostly known as Sloane’s best friend. Sloane brought the wild, daring and unexpected, and without her Emily is lost. Her only hope is to finish the list, but she might find something else than her best friend along the way; confidence, new friendships and possibly love. This novel also features an array of charming characters in the form of Emily’s new friends, who really help bring this story to life.

Thoughts

This is definitely a coming-of-age novel, and it is amazing to see Emily evolve from a girl who is afraid to talk to strangers to someone who stands on her own two feet. I wouldn’t say that it’s a story of romance as much as a story of self-discovery. Who are you really when all that is familiar is taken away from you and you are left on your own? Will you give up and retreat or will you fight to find a new place in the world? Emily chose the latter, and for that I admire her. This is a story of friendship and bravery, and it shows just how much you can change in one single summer, if you really put your mind to it. I have also written a review of Morgan Matson’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. They are both stand-alone novels, but I recommend reading Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour first if you are planning on reading both of them, since this novel contains a spoiler about what happens with Amy after the end of her own story. If you are a fan of Anna and the French Kiss or Fangirl you will probably love this story as well.

//Love from L

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A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa TahirThis is the second book…

A Torch
Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

This is the second book in a
series, so be aware of spoilers! You can find my review of the first book – An Ember in the Ashes – here.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Synopsis

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the
Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of
Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and
dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival.
And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his
last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias.
The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the
bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of
Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s
newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one
that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave
who helped him escape…and kill them both.

(from Goodreads)

Thoughts

If you read my review of An Ember in the Ashes, the first book of
this series, you will know that I am completely in love this this story. I
think the writing and the plot is fantastic, but above all the world this
fantasy story takes place in is phenomenal. It is loosely based on the Roman
Empire and also has a touch of Arabian Nights to it. With supernatural
creatures and magic. Sounds like a wired combo, but it works beautifully. In
this book we learn more about the magic and the different spirits and creatures
that live in this world. We also get to know more about all the different
peoples of the Empire and why the society is structured as it is and were all
the injustice stems from. I really enjoyed these parts because I felt that a
lot of things were left unexplained in Ember.
With all these new facts, you can start to see the big plot coming together,
and you start to understand what the major battles will be.

In this novel we get a new
narrator. Previously the story was told by both Laia and Elias, though
alternating POV chapters. In A Torch
Against the Night
, Helene is added to the narrator list. It gave the
plotline a lot more complexity, as it made it possible to tell the story from several
very different perspectives. However, I found that it made the story a bit
slower and a bit more difficult to follow, as all three are narrated in first
person. I also am not the biggest fan of Helene. I see her as a way, way too rule
abiding version of Hermione or Annabeth. I think my main issue with her is that
she accepts the class system too readily and without question, unlike Elias.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed
this book. It was high paced, magical action, filled with intrigue, plot twists,
and just enough romance. I love the character of Laia (somehow I can’t help
picturing her as Moana), and of course this world is fantasy gold. I have such
high hopes for this series. I can’t wait to see what will come next.

//love from L

Find it on Goodreads

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ya-book-reports: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour Rating:…

ya-book-reports:

Everything Leads to You by
Nina LaCour

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis

Emi is a
film lover and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She
has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then
a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike
anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives
an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic. She’s beautiful. And she is about to
expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

Thoughts

I adore
this novel. The very first thing that made me fall in love is the way films play
such a huge part in Emi’s life. At just 18, she is working behind the camera as
a set designer, which gives you a very different perspective on the world of
filmmaking. I used to think that the actors were the real core of any film, but
now I see just how much work goes into making one, even one as small as the one
Emi is working on. It has made me look at films in a whole new way.

I think you
can really tell when someone is passionate about something, and it is evident
that Emi, and the author, really has a passion for films and everything about
them. Nina LaCour really knows what she is talking about, form the descriptions
of all the people working behind the camera, to all the little references to
cult films that pop up throughout the book. Either she loves films just as much
as Emi does, or she has done some serious research. Anyhow, as clearly as you
can tell that Emi is passionate about films, you can see that the author is
passionate about this book.

As you may
have guessed from the synopsis, the main character is gay. Frick yeah,
DIVERSITY! What I love most about Emi is that her being gay is not some big
revelation. It’s not about her questioning her sexuality because she just
kissed a girl. She knows exactly who she is and she is so confident about it.
The book starts out with her trying to deal with a recent break up, and
progresses into her falling for someone new. Seeing her become stronger and
then taking the chance to fall in love again is just beautiful, and will give
anybody warm fuzzies.

This is so
much more than just a love story. It’s about family, identity, and breaking up.
It’s about adventure, taking risks, and finding your place in the world. It
flows beautifully and has so many amazing characters. I urge you to pick this
up the next time you feel like reading something sweet and uplifting.

//Love from
L

Find it on Goodreads

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The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola YoonRating:…

The Sun Is
Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not
destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of
girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love
with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to
Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my
parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her,
I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has
something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single
moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

(from Goodreads)

Thoughts

I have wanted to read this
book ever since I saw a picture of it on Tumblr. I will admit that I was mostly
drawn to it because of the beautiful cover (check out this link to see how it
was created – out of nothing but string and nails!)
, but when I read the
synopsis I was even more intrigued. The story takes place over one day in NYC,
and is told in chapters with alternating narrators; the POV changing between
Natasha, Daniel, and the Universe(!). The last narrator is what really made
this story stand out for me. In between the more traditional chapters focusing
on the events that take place during the day, every now and then there is a
chapter that completely breaks the pattern. It can be a short life story about
a minor character that features in the main plot, or a brief deviation into a
fact that becomes relevant to the story, such as the traditions of naming in
Korea or the evolutionary history of eyes. Sometimes they are just a few poetic
pages about fate or coincidence. These chapters focus on subjects or objects
that may seem like side-tracks, but which end up mattering hugely to the story.
I am so in love with this way of storytelling. It gives the story a lot of
depth and makes you think about things an ordinary contemporary love story
would not.

As I was reading this, I had
to stop and ask: “Can this author read my mind?!”. This book brings up thoughts
and ideas about fate, the universe, and coincidence that very closely echo my
own. Are things meant to be? Are there alternative universes? How do the tiny,
miniscule choices we make every day shape our lives and futures, or the lives
of those around us? These are questions that usually pop into my head right as
I’m about to sleep, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. In this novel,
questions like these are approached from both scientific and
philosophical/poetic angles. All of this made the book stand out from the other
contemporary YA novels out there.

The love story in this novel
comes across as sort of insta-lovey, but somehow it works. I usually don’t like
this trope, but even though Natasha and Daniel’s love story play out over the
course of just one day, it feels like much longer. During this day, they get to
know each other very deeply. I love their relationship, and their discussions
are a joy to read. Seeing them come at questions from the very different angles
of a scientist and a poet is both hilarious and thought-provoking. They are the
kind of couple you just can’t help but root for.

Aside from the love story,
this novel focuses on many different and important subjects, such as
immigration, race, identity, and family relationships. I would say that
immigration is the biggest issue in this story, and throughout the novel the
author gets to approach it from many different perspectives. This is a big
theme for both characters, as one is an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica
about to be deported, and one is a second-generation Korean immigrant, born in
America. In the “universe chapters”, we also get to explore the relationship
their parents have with their new country. In many ways, this is a story of
identity, and not just concerning immigration. I remember reading somewhere
that there is really only one story – Who am I? This novel fits that idea very
well.

This book surprised me. I was
expecting a light and fluffy read. Instead I found a deep and complex story in
spite of the cliché premise. I would describe it as a romance with an
existential twist. Most of all, it was brilliantly interesting and
thought-provoking. I would 100% recommend it to anyone who likes romance and is
looking for a story to completely lose yourself in. It’s a perfect summer read.

//love from L

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