Thursday, May 29, 2014

Rachel Rambles About Better off Friends

Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
From Goodreads:
For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

I'm a huge fan of contemporary romances, so as soon as I read the summary of this book, I was pretty positive I was going to love it. I waited around a bit for some reviews to come out, and when they were all super gushy and enthusiastic about the awesomeness of this book, I went ahead and bought myself a copy.

Better off Friends is absolutely adorable. It's written for a bit of a younger audience than the Young Adult books I normally read, and I'd say that this book is like a Middle Grade/Young Adult crossover. It begins when the main characters are in seventh grade and follows them through middle school and high school, ending when they're in eleventh grade. Because the characters are so young, the story is a tad more innocent than other Young Adult romances. Better off Friends doesn't have any bad language or sex or alcohol, and I would feel comfortable giving it to readers in elementary school. The lack of language/sex/alcohol isn't a bad or good thing, in my opinion. I just thought I'd point it out.

Even though this book could certainly be enjoyed by younger readers, that doesn't mean us old folks won't get anything out of it. (That was a joke! I'm only 17! Hardly an "old folk." :D) Better off Friends is the kind of story that people of all ages will appreciate. It's the classic best-friends-falling-in-love storyline, which is a personal favorite trope of mine. Macallan and Levi's relationship is so natural and realistic, and their friendship is powerful on its own without counting the romantic feelings. The reader gets to experience Macallan and Levi grow up throughout this book that spans several years, and they change a lot. They are, after all, becoming young adults, so their growth is evident on the pages. As they grow and change, their relationship to each other grows and changes, and it's really interesting to see how new developments in their lives affect their friendship.

This book is light and simple and fun, and I adore it with all my heart. It's the kind of book that will make you gush over the cuteness, but it also tells a meaningful story of family and friends. Macallan and Levi have a ton of obstacles in their lives--the usual teenage things: family, friends, romance, school, etc.--and it makes them real and honest characters that the reader can't help but wish happiness upon. Better off Friends is the epitome of a cute summer read, and if you like contemporary romance books or When Harry Met Sally, I think you'll love this book.

Better off Friends was my first Elizabeth Eulberg, but certainly not my last. I'm looking forward to checking out the rest of her books in the near future. For all of you Elizabeth Eulberg fans out there, any recommendations? :)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Random Ramble: Encouraging the Reluctant Reader (Guestpost!)

Today we have another guest post by my mom! It's not always easy to get kids who don't like to read to pick up a book and my mom has some advice on how she got my more reluctant brother to read as a child! 

Encouraging the reluctant reader

Another assumption people make about our family since Megan loves books is that my son must be a big reader too. I think I even fell victim to this belief myself when Brendan was young. We had amassed a large collection of great children's books - so why wouldn't he want to read them? We had a few big hits like, Are You My Mother and anything by Dr. Seuss, but that was it. When grade school started, our home library continued to grow. We had almost the entire set of The Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones. Megan consumed them all faster than we could get them, but with Brendan it was like pulling teeth.  It may seem stereotypical, but people say this is frequently the case with boys. I think people take that as the easy answer - write them off as non-readers and attribute it to video games or gender or whatever.

We started to spend days at the public library - first, this was a less expensive way to supply Megan's thirst for books, but it also opened my eyes that Brendan didn't hate books - his interests were just different. Where Megan loved to lose herself in the worlds of fiction, Brendan was grounded more in reality. Non-fiction books peaked his curiosity - bugs, sharks, dinosaurs, anything science or history based fit the bill.

As Brendan got older, I just needed to stretch where I looked for books. Brendan will never be as big a book fan as Megan, but not many people are. Here is a list of some of my favorite books for the reluctant reader. We would love to hear any suggestions you have for books you think other reluctant readers would enjoy.

Dan Gutman is still a hero in my eyes. The Weird School Series is fantastic, as are his books about sports heroes.
 Lucy & Stephen Hawking wrote some great books too that entwine space and science with a great storyline. (Check out the first one here)
Kingdom Keepers Series by Ridley Pearson - this series takes place inside the Disney theme parks which any fan of the parks themselves or the characters (especially the evil ones) can't help but enjoy.
The Boy Who Dared by Susan-Campbell-Bartoletti 
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 

Do you know anyone who is a reluctant reader? I know one of my favorite things is recommending or gifting a book to someone and watching them fall in love with it! Do you have any go-to favorites that even a "non-reader" would love? Let us know in the comments below! 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

We're Going to BEA 2014! (Rachel)



Much like the above minions, Megan, Katherine, and I are all freaking out. Last year, we attended BEA on Power Reader day (you can read my perspective of the experience here), and since our experience was mostly positive, we decided that this year we'd register for the whole conference. So it's official! We're going to BEA!

Luckily, we only live an hour outside of NYC, so our commute to the Javits Center isn't bad at all. We'll be staying in a hotel close by for a few nights, but unlike a lot of people attending BEA, we don't have plans to do any sight-seeing or special New York activities when we're not actually at the conference. Because NYC is so close, we can kind of just visit whenever we want, so this trip is not nearly as exciting as it is to people who live farther away. I know a lot of bloggers have epic plans to do ALL THE NYC THINGS while they're in town for BEA, but since NYC isn't that exciting to us, we don't have to worry about cramming in all the fun things. This means we can relax in our hotel room everyday after the conference is over, which I'm sure will be good for our exhausted bodies. :)

So the only place you'll probably be able to find us is at the actual Javits Center on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We're making lists of the authors/panels/events we're most excited about, so we have a few things that we'll definitely get to. Other than that, we don't have any concrete plans other than walking around and hopefully meeting people and making friends and having an awesome time.

Since all three of us are going, we'll be able to split up and cover more ground if we so desire. We all have different things we want to do, so we'll most likely be wandering around by ourselves at some point. I personally have a little list of authors I'm excited to meet/books I'm excited to get a copy of during the conference, so if you're at BEA, chances are you'll be able to find me in line for the following authors:

-Scott Westerfeld (autographing session for Afterworlds on Friday, May 30 from 3:45 pm-4:45 pm)
-Libba Bray (autographing session for ???* on Saturday, May 31 from 11:00 am-12:00 pm) *the website says Libba Bray is signing The Diviners, but I believe she might be signing Lair of Dreams? Eh, I don't really care either way. I'm just excited to meet her because Libba Bray is awesome!
-E. Lockhart (autographing session for We Were Liars on Friday, May 30 from 1:00 pm-2:00 pm)
-Lauren Oliver (autographing session for Rooms on Thursday, May 29 from 10:00 am-10:30 am)
-Amy Zhang (autographing session for Falling into Place on Friday, May 30 from 1:30 pm-2:00 pm)
-Adi Alsaid (autographing sessions for Let's Get Lost on Thursday, May 29 from 11:30 am-12:30 pm* and Saturday, May 31 from 12:15 pm-2:45 pm) *I'll probably try to go to this one!
-Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (autographing session for The Iron Trial on Saturday, May 31 from 11:30 am-12:30 am*) *I might not make this one, but Megan should definitely be there!

I can't believe BEA is almost upon us! It's less than a week away! I'm both ridiculously excited and a little scared that I'm totally unprepared. It's going to be a crazy week, especially since I'm ditching school for this and will have a ton of make-up work when I get back. But it will be totally worth it, because obviously BEA is more important than silly things like Precalc quizzes and gym class. :)

I'd love to meet some of you internet people in real life, so if you're going to BEA please let me know so I can look out for you and say hi if I see you!

Here are some pictures of what I (and Megan and Katherine) look like, so you'll recognize us if you see us:
Lauren (she won't be at BEA so just ignore her :P), me, Maureen Johnson! (as far as I know, she won't be at BEA either :P), Katherine, Megan
Megan will be especially easy to spot because she is like six feet tall with bright red hair, like so:

Katherine looks like this (minus the winter clothes because, you know, it's May):

And for me, I recommend just watching one of my YouTube videos. This video is short and I only posted it a few days ago, so it's very accurate to what I look/sound like right now.

Are any of you guys going to BEA? Let me know down in the comments! What books/authors are you most excited about? Is this your first year going, or have you been before? I did attend one day of BEA last year, but I'd still appreciate some advice from long-time attendees if you have any! :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (43)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid
From Goodreads:
Five strangers. Countless adventures.One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.

The gorgeous cover of this book caught my eye the first time I saw it, and after reading the summary, I became really interested in reading this book. I love a good travel/road trip story, so I'm sure I'll love Let's Get Lost.

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts in the comments below so I can check them out!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rachel Rambles About Bloodlines

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #1)
From Goodreads:
Blood doesn't lie...

Sydney is an alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of human and vampires. They protect vampire secrets - and human lives. When Sydney is torn from her bed in the middle of the night, at first she thinks she's still being punished for her complicated alliance with dhampir Rose Hathaway. But what unfolds is far worse. Jill Dragomir - the sister of Moroi Queen Lissa Dragomir - is in mortal danger, and the Moroi must send her into hiding. To avoid a civil war, Sydney is called upon to act as Jill's guardian and protector, posing as her roommate in the last place anyone would think to look for vampire royalty - a human boarding school in Palm Springs, California. But instead of finding safety at Amberwood Prep, Sydney discovers the drama is only just beginning...

For those of you who don't know, Bloodlines is the first book in the spin-off series to Vampire Academy. You can read my ramble about the Vampire Academy series here.

This review has no spoilers for Bloodlines, but it has some details from the Vampire Academy series that you might want to avoid if you haven't read it yet!

For the most part, I really enjoyed reading Bloodlines. It was definitely strange reading a Richelle Mead book about someone other than Rose Hathaway (aka one of the best characters of all time). Sydney, the protagonist in Bloodlines, is nothing at all like Rose. On the one hand, this is awesome because how much would it have sucked to read about another character who was super similar to Rose? But on the other hand...I love Rose! And it was hard to read Bloodlines without thinking about how much I missed her.

It took awhile for me to get used to Sydney as a narrator. Sydney's perspective of the world in VA/Bloodlines is completely different from Rose's, so it was strange to see the story through her eyes. Her views on Moroi/Strigio/Dhampirs/Humans/Alchemists/etc. were weird to me at first, but eventually, I found myself growing accustomed to Sydney's personality and opinions, and I ended up really liking her as a main character. Like Rose, she is strong and intelligent, but her strength and intelligence show in very different ways. 

The biggest issue I had with this book is that it was very slow at parts. The entire beginning seemed to drag on and on. In Vampire Academy, I was annoyed that the beginning of the book had very little world-building and explanation as to what the heck was going on, but Bloodlines had the opposite problem. There was so much world-building and explanation that nothing exciting happened. It wasn't bad enough to make me stop reading the book, but I was definitely put off by the super slow start. I wish there had been a healthy middle for both series to begin with, instead of not enough world-building and then too much world-building.

As for the rest of the book, it was still pretty slow. Unlike the Vampire Academy books, where something crazy/intense/exciting/action-packed seems to happen on every page, Bloodlines had more of a slow build-up to an actual plot. While I think it's interesting to read two different series set in the same world but structured in totally different ways, I found Bloodlines a bit boring at times, in comparison to Vampire Academy.

I loved getting to read about my favorite characters from Vampire Academy in Bloodlines. And when I say "my favorite characters," I mean Eddie. Seriously, you guys, Eddie is my favorite. I adore him, and I think he's such a complex and fascinating character. I always wanted more Eddie in the VA series, so I was overjoyed to find that he played a major role in Bloodlines.

I was not as overjoyed about Adrian's role in this story. Adrian is an interesting character for me. When he was first introduced in VA, I disliked him. It took quite awhile for me to trust him, let alone like him, so when I finally got to a point towards the end of the series when I liked him, I was amazed at the journey he had been on since he'd first entered the story. I was happy that he was finally in a place where I could like him and appreciate him as a character. But in Bloodlines, Adrian seemed to take a gazillion steps backward, and he returned to the Adrian I had a hard time liking. I understand that he's been through a bunch of messed-up stuff that made him return to his old self, but it was still really frustrating to read about him in Bloodlines. I kept wondering where the Adrian I knew and loved had gone. However, I believe Adrian's character development is really well-done and interesting, so I trust that Richelle Mead will do fabulous things with his character as the series continues.

I could say a lot more about this book, but I should probably shut up now. So, long story short: I enjoyed Bloodlines, but didn't love it as much as the Vampire Academy series, which I'm totally fine with. I had some issues with this book, but I definitely plan on continuing the series, especially with that ending! (The last sentence of Bloodlines made me SQUEAL with excitement. :D)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (42)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
From Goodreads:
Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

Afterworlds sounds absolutely, one hundred percent perfect for me. First of all, Scott Westerfeld is an awesome guy and a fantastic writer. Second of all, this book is actually two books! There's the book about Darcy, and the book that Darcy actually writes. How cool is that?! Thirdly, Afterworlds is about a teenage author, which totally appeals to me because I'm a teenager who loves to write. And finally, this book is about NaNoWriMo and book publishing. I've participated in NaNoWriMo for the past three years, and I hope to have a career in the book publishing industry in some capacity when I'm older.

So, clearly this book was written for me specifically. :) I'm so ridiculously excited to read it, and I'm not sure I can handle its super far away release! (Although, rumor has it there will be ARCs at BEA...Fingers crossed I'll be able to snag a copy!)

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Random Ramble: Bonding With Your Children Through Books (GUEST POST!)

Today on the blog we have a very special guest post from none other than my mom. You may remember her as the totally awesome person who transports us to and from signings in New York City because she is the best mom ever. Without her, we would probably attempt to walk all the way to New York, so thanks for making sure we don't die trying to get ourselves to the city Mom! Without further ado, here's her post about how she has bonded with her kids through books.

Bonding through Books

Hi all, I am Megan's mom. The girls were nice enough to let me join their blog to answer some of the many questions that I get asked being a parent of a book-aholic and maybe help some other parents bond with their kids over books.

The first assumption many people make is that I too am a prolific reader and that must be where Megan's love of reading originated. The fact is, I am partially dyslexic and reading had always been a struggle for me so no, I don't read often. If anything, Megan has gotten me to read more. Whether it is meeting an author at a book signing, or simply listening to Megan, Rachel and Katherine talk non-stop about books I have become a YA fan myself. The category didn't exist when I was a YA (we won't mention how old I am now). Back then there were just "books" and most of what we read for school were "the classics", which I often had trouble relating to. I am glad there are authors today writing about topics everyone can relate to.

I am also so thankful for the authors, publishers, bookstore owners and other people in the literature world that have encouraged and supported the girls in their efforts working on this blog. It is one thing to hear stories and receive pats on the back from your Mom, but a totally different thing when an author or publisher takes the time to speak with them. Everyone has always been so nice, enthusiastic and reassuring.  I have come to look forward to our trips to signings and talks almost as much as the girls.

One of my favorite memories is sitting in bumper to bumper traffic for three hours trying to get through the Lincoln Tunnel on our way to Books of Wonder, our favorite bookstore. Normally, the trip door-to-door isn't more than 1.5 hours, but this day we were within eye site of the tunnel, but just sat there. As the start of the book signing neared the tension in the car grew. We had brought my son with us this trip (his first and only book signing adventure) and every few minutes he would look at the GPS and read the estimated time of arrival out loud to the group. "We only have five more miles guys, we will be there in 10 minutes." The problem was the car wasn't moving so this little tidbit was as accurate as it was helpful. I wasn't sure if the girls were going to strangle him or jump out of the car and try to swim the Hudson instead. In the end, we did make it in time, the girls were on cloud nine, and all ended well. This is now a continual joke with each trip into NYC and is a memory I will cherish forever. Some people say the girls are lucky I offer to bring them into the city etc., but in reality I am the lucky one - they have let me share a piece of their world and I treasure it.

What do you think about bonding with children through books? Have you bonded with your parents/kids through a love of reading and books? Let us know in the comments below! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Rachel Rambles About Maybe One Day

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor
From Goodreads:
Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend.

Even when she isn't sure what to say.

Even when Olivia misses months of school.

Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia's crush.

The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.

In this incandescent page-turner, which follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Melissa Kantor artfully explores the idea that the worst thing to happen to you might not be something that is actually happening to you. Raw, irreverent, and honest, Zoe's unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

Warning: this book will make you sob uncontrollably. (In a good way.)

Maybe One Day is about a friendship between two teenage girls, and what happens to that friendship when one of the girls gets diagnosed with cancer. But don't worry, it's not a super sappy cancer book. The most important thing about Maybe One Day is the friendship. I love a good friendship story, and I think it's important to seek them out amid all the romance stories in Young Adult books (and even media in general) these days.

Zoe and Olivia have been best friends for most of their lives, and as a result, their friendship is natural and raw and realistic. Everyone who has ever had a best friend can relate to some part of this book. Zoe and Olivia's relationship undergoes a lot of change throughout this story, and the book portrays the ups and downs and twists and turns of their friendship. The way the two girls interact with each other feels so normal. There is no awkward dialogue or unrealistic wisdom; it's just two teenage girls joking around and getting annoyed with each other and comforting each other. It seems like most books about cancer focus on romantic love, so it was refreshing to read a book about cancer that focuses on love between friends.

While the summary implies that Zoe's relationship with love interest Calvin is a major part of the book, that is not totally accurate. This book is not about a romance, so Calvin's role as love interest is quite small. In a book so focused on friendship, there simply isn't room for a romance, for which I was grateful. I was worried that Calvin would steal the spotlight away from Olivia and Zoe, but he didn't. His role in the story is certainly important, but there was no unnecessary romance in Maybe One Day.

In addition to the focus on friendship, Maybe One Day tells an important story about family. Olivia's family has to cope with her cancer, and this book shows the power of familial love. I love stories that have strong familial themes, so I was delighted to find that this book includes a lot of moments with Olivia's parents and siblings, as well as Zoe's parents.

While this book isn't super sappy, it does have its sad moments. The last fifty pages or so of Maybe One Day made me sob hysterically. Not my most dignified moment, but hey, how awesome is it that a stack of paper made me feel that way? Bravo, Melissa Kantor, for bringing the feels.

Maybe One Day is an emotional and powerful story. I haven't cried this much reading a book since The Fault in Our Stars, so if you're ready for that kind of emotional pain, then by all means, get thee to a bookstore and pick up a copy of Maybe One Day.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Empower: Fight Like a Girl Cover Reveal

Today I'm revealing the cover of a book I just found out about a few days ago, but am now super excited to read. It sounds awesome, and the cover is awesome too.

Praise for Empower: Fight Like A Girl

"Even non-girls will feel empowered by these stories about ordinary, flawed characters finding their own strengths. Highly entertaining and original." - Lee Goldberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Chase and King City, whose mother lost her hearing to lupus.

Women of TV have united against lupus! Presenting Empower: Fight Like A Girl, a special collection of short stories by top women writers from some of your favorite shows, including: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Family Guy, Person of Interest, Grimm, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Law & Order: SVU, Star Trek: Voyager, Eureka, Twisted, The 100, Malcolm in the Middle, Millennium, Being Human, The Shield, Castle, Chuck, Gilmore Girls, and Game of Thrones. In this anthology, you'll discover supernatural thrillers, crime mysteries, horror, comedies, and more.

Authors contributing stories to this volume include:

  • Amy Berg
  • Cherry Chevapravatdumrong
  • Akela Cooper
  • Liz Edwards
  • Jane Espenson
  • Shalisha Francis & Nadine Knight
  • Lisa Klink
  • Pang-Ni Landrum
  • Lauren LeFranc
  • Kam Miller
  • Jess Pineda
  • Jennifer Quintenz
  • Lisa Randolph
  • Kay Reindl
  • Kira Snyder
  • Jeane Wong

  • All proceeds will be donated to the non-profit Lupus Foundation of America to help solve the cruel mystery of lupus.

    I'm glad I found out about this book, because it sounds like something I'll really enjoy! What do you guys think of the cover? Do you plan on reading this book? Let me know down in the comments!

    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    Waiting on Wednesday (41)

    Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

    City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

    I am coming.

    Darkness returns to the Shadowhunter world. As their society falls apart around them, Clary, Jace, Simon and their friends must band together to fight the greatest evil the Nephilim have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in the world can defeat him — must they journey to another world to find the chance? Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world changed in the sixth and last installment of the Mortal Instruments series!

    I think I speak for both myself and Rachel when I say we have never been more eagerly anticipating a book in our lives. I just know that CoHF is going to be amazing and rip my heart to shreds. I've never been more excited or afraid to read a book before. It's the end of an era.

    What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to WoW posts below and I'll check them out!

    Monday, May 5, 2014

    Megan Rambles About Perfect Lies

    Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
    From GoodreadsAnnie and Fia are ready to fight back.

    The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

    But Annie's visions of the future can't show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia's first love, Fia knows he's hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other - but that may not be enough to save them.

    It's no secret that I'm a huge Kiersten White fan. She has such a unique fun way of writing and her characters are always so strong and sassy that I can't help but love every book she writes. Obviously after loving Mind Games I had high expectations for Perfect Lies and it did not disappoint!

    Perfect Lies kept up with the fast pace of the first book and jumped right in almost immediately after Mind Games ended with two separate timelines. In one timeline, the before, Fia and Annie are separated and each dealing with the aftermath of their wild escape from the Keane Foundation at the end of Mind Games. The other timeline takes place several weeks after their escape. Jumping between these two timelines allows for the reader to know what Fia is up to while in the next chapter Annie is a week in the past wondering what the heck is going on. If this sounds confusing, it was at times, but I thought it added an extra benefit to the story with the timelines getting closer and closer together I couldn't help but feel like I was rushing towards a huge event without any way of stopping or slowing down. 

    In addition to the alternating timelines, the book also continues alternating between the two sister's point of views. This offers a unique insight into each girl's perspective on the events as they unfold. Annie and Fia both have a very different way of telling the story and having the book alternate points of view helps readers to get a more complete idea of what is going on. This also helped to counteract any confusion from the separate timelines.

    Above everything else, this duo is about Annie and Fia and their relationship as sisters. They aren't perfect and they have both hurt each other. In Perfect Lies, Fia is desperately trying to save her sister and put an end to their problems once and for all while Annie is trying to keep Fia from getting in too deep with the Keane Foundation and getting herself killed. Seeing their relationship throughout this novel while they were separated was even more beautiful because how deeply they care for each other was on display. Annie and Fia would, and do, sacrifice anything and everything for each other  and their relationship is the best part of the book. It's such a nice change to have a book focused on two sisters instead of a romance. 

    Kiersten White also handled her characters' emotional states beautifully. After everything she has had to do Fia is mentally broken up and it shows in the writing when the book is in her point of view. Her thoughts are choppy and don't always string together perfectly and I loved the way Kiersten White wrote her side of the story. Annie also developed well as a character. She was frustrated with her inability to do things herself as a result of her blindness and started demanding that people help her learn how to fend for herself. By the end of the novel she was a lot stronger and had grown up to meet the challenges that were thrown at her and her sister. 

    While readers will learn more about some minor characters in Mind Games, Perfect Lies was mainly centered on the relationship between two sisters and the unbreakable bond that they share. I loved reading about the two of them and highly recommend picking up a copy of Mind Games and Perfect Lies if you haven't already! 

    Saturday, May 3, 2014

    Rachel Rambles About The Maze Runner

    The Maze Runner by James Dashner
    From Goodreads:
    "If you ain't scared, you ain't human." 

    When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He's surrounded by strangers--boys whose memories are also gone.

    Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It's the only way out--and no one's ever made it through alive.

    Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

    I've had The Maze Runner sitting on my shelf for years, but it wasn't until everyone started buzzing about the movie and I was invited to participate in a readalong* that I finally got around to picking it up. I was wary of this book because I didn't think it was "my kind of book," but I needn't have worried because I ended up really enjoying this book.

    The Maze Runner is exciting and action-packed, with mystery and suspense on every page. It's fast and fun while also being disturbing and terrifying. Most importantly, it sucks you in and doesn't let go.

    The Maze Runner was a bit of a slow start for me. I had a hard time getting into the story because it was super confusing. I thought the setting was strange, the language the characters used made no sense, and the main character was annoyingly clueless. However, looking back, I can appreciate this rough start. In the beginning of the book, the main character was confused and scared and uncomfortable, so it makes sense that the book was written in such a way that the readers felt the same. It makes it easy to relate to Thomas, and as he starts to understand more of the world he's thrown into, so do the readers.

    Once I got over that rocky patch in the beginning, I was completely hooked by the story. Something exciting seems to happen on every page, and there's no time for the readers or the characters to relax or take a break from the action. This book is difficult to tear yourself away from because you can't help but feel desperate for answers and explanations as to what happens next. The pacing of this book is fantastic. It's fast, but not too fast that things start to get rushed or confusing. 

    The Maze Runner is full of mystery and suspense. Without spoiling anything, the characters spend the book trying to solve the mystery of the maze, a feat that seems impossible. While I was reading, I was unable to form theories or predictions because the mystery was too outlandish to solve. I just had to keep reading and wait for everything to come together, which was frustrating, but in a good way. The story is so complex that everything came as a surprise to both me and the characters, and there were so many crazy plot twists that made me gasp out loud as I was reading.

    The best thing about this book is the setting. The world-building in The Maze Runner is some of the best world-building I've ever experienced. I don't want to talk about it too much because it's something I think you should read about for yourself, but I was incredibly impressed by the details of the Glade and the maze and everything about the world Thomas lives in. James Dashner managed to provide full and vivid descriptions of the world without having super long, boring paragraphs in which he described everything. He'd regularly drop in little details throughout the whole novel, so the reader gleaned bits and pieces of descriptions at a time until it eventually all came together in one large, clear image.

    The Maze Runner has action, mystery, and suspense. It's weird and disturbing and confusing and exciting. The setting is unique and wonderfully written, and the story is fascinating and unlike anything else I've ever read. I had my doubts about The Maze Runner, but I'm happy to report that I loved it. I'm definitely looking forward to continuing on with the rest of the series.

    *Thanks to Cassie at My Thoughts... Literally! for hosting!