The Fault In Our Stars

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsSince the film is now out in theatres, I thought it was about time I read the book that had everyone so excited. And so, another book was added to my already too-full bookshelf.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is a contemporary YA  following our main character, Hazel as she tries to live her life as a normal teen despite having cancer. During one of her many painfully dull trips at the cancer support group, a gorgeous boy catches her eye. She doesn’t know it yet, but Augustus Waters will change her life.

What I am going to say next will probably earn me an inbox full of hate mail but here goes: This book disappointed me.

Not to say that it wasn’t good. I actually quite enjoyed it but hearing about it and seeing the numerous TFIOS decorated tissue boxes everyone was putting together to go see the film, I thought I was going to read something that would change my life.

In my opinion, I would have enjoyed the novel much more if the premiss would have been less about the book they read, An Imperial Affliction. AIA had its place in TFIOS. I understand it was a big part of Hazel and it was a book she felt she could relate to but I felt as though the story focused a bit too much on it.

Though it wasn’t life-changing read I thought it would be, I can’t deny that John Green is an amazing writer. I loved how he portrayed his characters. They both main characters were fun, quirky, witty, and normal teens. Too often do I read cancer-related novels where the characters are defined by their illness. This wasn’t one of them. Obviously, cancer affects pretty much every aspect of their lives but Green has done a great job in making sure his characters also had a personality of their own and were ones I could relate to.

I also loved the relationships between the characters. Whether it was Hazel and her parents, Gus and Hazel with their friend Isaac, or Hazel and Augustus, they all felt genuine and natural to me. I’m also happy to say that there was no insta-love (which is something that is very recurrent in YA).

Despite TFIOS not living up to its hype in my eyes, I felt as though it was a great read. However, I believe I would have enjoyed it even more had I not expected so much from it and I do think it’s a wonderful book to add to your collection. Okay? Okay.

- Athena

My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations -The Fault In Our Stars, John Green

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Dangerous Creatures

Dangerous Creatures 2I am a little bit embarrassed to admit that I did not see this book coming. I read all of the Beautiful Creatures series. The way it ended felt pretty finite but Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl pulled a trick on me. I was utterly unaware that they were releasing another book in the series. Needless to say, I was both shocked and excited.

Garcia and Stohl’s Dangerous Creatures is a spin off series that follows Ridley Duchannes, Lena Duchannes’ cousin, and her on again off again boyfriend, Link, who happens to be Ethan Wate’s best friend. Now if you haven’t read the four books + 2 ebooks prior to this, I would recommend doing so for obvious reasons. Even though I want to talk about this book in detail, I’ll refrain from mentioning major plot twists from the series.

This was a great surprise and I was ecstatic to start reading it as soon as possible. I do this thing where I tend obsess over secondary or supporting characters in a book or a series. Ridley happened to be my favourite in the series, so you can imagine my excitement.

In this book, we get Ridley’s view on things. If you’ve read the books prior to this one, it isn’t an easy feat. As a both a Dark caster and a Siren, it was very interesting to see her train of thought and what she hides underneath that bad girl façade that she always bluntly displays to the world. We get a glimpse into her inner battles. We get underneath her skin as the Beautiful Creatures series continues with issues that I thought were resolved but let’s be honest, the ending was a little bit glossed over.

This was a really great book, I am biased because they are my favourite people in the series but I am sure any Beautiful Creatures fan would find appreciation with it nevertheless. A book like this can go both ways. Some fans can be sad to see a series end while others are relieved by it. I am the former. I love series and I never want them to end.

This book definitely revived the series for me and I don’t want to give anything away but I will say this, I believe we will be seeing more of Ridley and Link in the future. Which I think is great.

- wickedsparks

“When it came to relationships, the truth never set anyone free. The truth only set things on fire.”

- Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Dangerous Creatures.

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Wither

wither1I am guilty of judging books by their cover. If the artwork or lettering is appealing to me, I take the time to open it up and look at the summary. Titles influence my fascination as well. As for Wither by Lauren Destefano, the cover page was aesthetically pleasing to my eyes and it grabbed my attention. The artwork is gorgeous but a title such as Wither confused me, that it until I read it.

It is set in a kind of dystopian future, as with a lot of YA novels but this one felt different to me. Orphaned at twelve, Rhine and her twin brother Rowan, barricade themselves in their family home and slave away everyday at demanding jobs in order to survive. The world is corrupted. Obviously.

It follows Rhine, who is only sixteen years old when she is kidnapped and brought to a remote location to become one of three brides of Linden, a twenty-two year old also known as the Governor. Sick and twisted right? It gets worse.

Mankind is at a disadvantage in this story because no girl lives past the age of twenty and boys die at the ripe old age of twenty-five. Yikes.

Scientists played with genetics in order to prolong the human lifespan and fix any underlying diseases such as cancer. Needless to say it had a devastating effect. The first generation flourished with these modifications and have an extended lifespan, their offspring however, are subjected to consequences and death in their early twenties.

Rhine befriends Gabriel, one of the mansion’s servants, and together they seek to escape the confines of the estate. This is a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I could not put this book down and I read it in no time at all. Although, there are times where things are not explained and you are left wondering but it is part of the Chemical Garden trilogy and I am so glad that there are more to come.

- wickedsparks

The man in white says, “What fate has brought together, let no man tear asunder.” Fate, I think, is a thief.

- Lauren Destefano, Wither.

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What Came First

11684995-what-came-first-by-carol-snowAfter my fun and … interesting read of Bad Taste In Boys, my craving for a contemporary/chick lit was still in full effect (since the last book I read was far from contemporary).  So I decided to grab What Came First by Carol Snow. Because I don’t seem to learn to never choose a book based on the cover, I deduced that this book was what I wanted. The chick hanging out in baby socks kind of screamed chick lit, I thought. And this time, I was right.

What Came First by Carol Snow is an adult fiction that includes everything from engagements to kids to insane jealous girlfriends. It’s a very entertaining read that had me simultaneously wanting and dreading to have children. Seriously, this book played with my head.

The story follows three women. Vanessa, who is 29 and whose only wish is to receive an engagement ring from her longtime boyfriend, Eric so they can get married, settle down and start a family. Eric, on the other hand doesn’t think that’s the kind of life he wants to have.

Wendy and her husband, Darren have two children; twins who were conceived with the help of a sperm donor since they couldn’t have children the old fashion way. However, Wendy never imagined herself having two out of control kids while her husband does nothing more than play computer games all day.

Then there’s Laura, a career-driven woman who desperately wanted a child and knew she could have one with or without the help of a man. Her son, Ian was also born thanks to the help of a sperm donor. She’ll do anything for Ian, give him anything he wants. What he wants is a sibling.

Having no children, I didn’t feel I was able to identify with these women. Though I could try to imagine what my reaction would be in their position, I know it’s easier said than done. But even though I haven’t lived anything remotely close to their situation, I still enjoyed the book and seeing the comparison between the three women and their thought process.

I would consider this a great summer read. It’s light and very easy to read. It’ll make you giggle, frown and even think a little. It might also leave you wanting pet chickens.

-Athena

Angie’s kids get pizza rolls, french fries, and some orange drink that supposedly contains vitamin C and calcium. Angie says “If you deprive kids, they’ll end up craving stuff.” Which makes her sound better than “I’m too lazy to cook real food.” – What Came First, Carol Snow

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Bad Taste In Boys

best coversBad Taste in Boys_Harris high defI had this one completely wrong. Tonight I felt in a contemporary mood. So when I looked on my bookshelf and saw Bad Taste In Boys by Carrie Harris, I thought it would be perfect. Not only is it SUPER short, but judging by the cover, something I should really learn NOT to do, It looked like just the book I needed tonight. Not quite.

Not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I did. It just wasn’t at all the type of book I thought I had chosen.

Bad Taste In Boys follows super-intelligent Kate Grable, a high school junior who aspires to get into college and become MD. She’s intelligent and funny, but a bit socially awkward. She describes herself as a string bean who looks like she belongs in a library doing research on weird medical mysteries – a “nerd”. To improve her college application, Kate volunteers as the school’s football team paramedic and that’s where things get …strange.

Kate finds out that the football coach has been giving the team some sort of drug. She has no clue was is in the drug but some of the boys start acting very weird -sort of…zombie-like.

Though this was not the kind of story I expected to be reading tonight, it was an enjoyable one. This book had me confused, cringing and giggling all at once and the dark humour just tied in everything nicely.

Don’t pick this book up thinking you’ve got a profound read that will change how you see the world, but if you’re looking for a quick, easy and entertaining read, I’d suggest giving Bad Taste In Boys a try!

-Athena

“I stumbled into a clearing. In the springtime, it was probably the kind of place you’d like to hang out with sparkly vampires. But it was slightly less attractive in the rain.”― Carrie HarrisBad Taste in Boys

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One Kick

One KickI’ve been so lucky these past few months and won so many great books from Goodreads. One Kick by Chelsea Cain was one of them and probably my favourite so far.

This story follows Kick Lannigan who was kidnapped when she was only six and found a few years later. It’s obvious that the kidnapping has changed a lot in different aspects of her life. As a result, she has grown to become a tough woman who I would not want to mess with. She has learned how to defend herself  by mastering different sports such as boxing and Tae kwon do as well as knowing a thing or two about weapons.

Kick is surprised by a visit from John Bishop, a wealthy former weapons dealer asking for help. He is determined to find two local kids who have gone missing in the past month and thinks Kick would be of some help. Though she’s not too fond of him, after much considerations, she agrees to team up.

To be honest, I thought I had it all figured out after the first few chapters. I thought I knew exactly how the story would unfold and though I did get some elements right, for the most part it wasn’t quite as predictable as I thought.

There isn’t much I didn’t enjoy about this book. The only negative thing I can come up with, and this may only be because my head was elsewhere when I started the novel, is that it took me a while to see the characters’ personalities. Kick didn’t come to life for me until the second half of the book. After the second half though, she kicked ass!

I’m so happy I received this book. I hadn’t read anything by Chelsea Cain before One Kick and now that I have, I want more. I love her writing style, her stories and that she’s not afraid to add a little gore to them.

I’m not sure whether this book is a part of a series but the ending made me want to know so much more!

One Kick will be released in August 2014, just in time to finish your summer reading with a bang.

 -Athena

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Tic Tac Tome

20140520_131233This morning I opened the door and found this little package on my front step from Quirk Books. This is such and unusual little book that is actually quite addicting.

The way to use Tic Tac Tome by Willy Yonkers is actually very simple. You play tic tac toe against this little book by turning the pages. Let me warn you though, chances are you won’t win. There’s only one way to beat it so be sure to ponder every move.

This is the perfect thing to bring on a trip. Small and compact, it can fit nearly anywhere and will entertain you for hours on end (as I said, it IS addicting).

Before starting your game, be sure to read the introduction as well as the FAQs which are hilarious.

Will you be the victor? Or will you let a mere book make a fool of you? 

-Athena

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Little Bee

Sometimes I’m just drawn to books for no particular reason. They just seem to make their littlebeeway into my hands and beg me to purchase them. Little Bee was one of those books. It caught my attention seconds before I walked up to the checkout at my local second hand book store. After I read the inside flap, I was sold. “We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.” – Ok, if this isn’t enough to get you curious, I don’t know what will. And so, I am now the proud owner of Little Bee by Chris Cleave.

I will do my best to explain the premise of this book without giving out too much, since the author obviously wanted the readers to dive in the story blind.

The story follows two women: Little Bee and Sarah O’Rourke, one from Nigeria and the other from Britain. They have met before, many years ago,  due to an unfortunate situation. Now they meet again. Through the novel, we follow each women’s path which brought them together for the second time.

Cleave is truly a remarkable writer. His sentences have a sort of poetic vibe to them that makes reading his book even more enjoyable. All the while, he is able to give each characters their own personality and dialect which helps us connect and care for these characters.

I also found the structure of the book interesting. Throughout the novel, we find ourselves going back and forth between the two women, experiencing events from their different perspective. We start the book with no knowledge whatsoever of the events that took place and as we progress through the book, and more information is revealed, we start to put the puzzle pieces together and understand the situation.

Little Bee isn’t a light read but a truly rewarding one. Cleave is able to bring so many intense subjects into a novel without it being a overwhelming read. It’s clever and even has a bit of humour thrown in the mix at times. If you haven’t read this book and are in the mood for a contemporary fiction. If you enjoyed The Dinner by Herman Koch (I felt they both had similar elements) , might I suggest adding this book to your To-Be-Read pile?

-Athena

“Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this storyteller is alive. The next thing you know something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.” 
― Chris CleaveLittle Bee


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ROOM

7937843I loved this book. I’d even dare to say it’s my favourite so far this year.

The story follows Jack, a five year-old boy who shares his remarkable story with us. In Jack’s mind, everything that exists in the world is contained in one small room, the rest, as he puts it, is TV.

From the day he was born, Jack has never stepped out of his tiny room. He has never felt grass, seen the ocean , or even met another person other than his mother, and Old Nick, his captor. The whole thought of another world outside this room is inconceivable for young Jack. Even when his mother tells him stories of her childhood, he has a hard time believing all of it.

Emma Donoghue thought of things I wouldn’t even have considered. The effect the time spent imprisoned had on both characters were well researched and thought out. Things as simple as Jack seeing all objects in the room as almost his friends. The table wasn’t just a table it was Table with a capital T. It, or should I say, “she” had a name. I thought it was just brilliant.

Donoghue’s writing style in this novel is another element that makes it so unique. We experience the story through Jack’s eyes thus the novel is written as a five year old would think or talk. Though the writing style was a bit off-putting for me at first, as I got deeper in the story, I realized that it brought me so much closer to Jack. I think when reading Room we often need a reminder that Jack is only a small boy and the writing style does an amazing job at doing just that.

I won’t go on about the story as to not ruin it for anyone. I believe it’s one of those books that is so much better when going in almost blind. Let me just tell you that it is seriously
the best book I have read so far this year and I recommend it to everyone.

I was on edge most of the book wondering what would happen next, how everything would unfold. I felt so many emotions and couldn’t help but laugh when Jack tried to explain things as best he could in his adorable, innocent way. I honestly think it’s a book anyone can enjoy.

Room is truly a masterpiece! Toronto Star had it right when they called it “Both gripping and poignant”.

-Athena

“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.” 
― Emma DonoghueRoom


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Shadow Heart

taeuffer_04_23_14Shadow Heart by Pamela Taeuffer is another book I was fortunate enough to win through Goodreads and I would like to thank Pamela, as well as Goodreads for holding this giveaway. I am always happy to receive new books and discover new authors. When I see the e-mail telling me I won a giveaway, I get super excited and my mood is lifted for the rest of the day.

Shadow Heart is a Contemporary romance novel about a seventeen year-old girl named Nicky. Raised in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to have given up on everything, Nicky has learned to cope with her situation by overbooking her days to avoid going home, and focusing on her education. Unlike most girls her age, Nicky has never paid much attention to boys. Of course, all of this changes when she meets Ryan, a dreamy baseball player with a bad reputation.

I very much enjoyed this novel. It was easy to read and although the subjects introduced in this book are very heavy ones, I didn’t feel as though they were overwhelming. I also enjoyed the fact that, for once, even though Nicky had a rough upbringing, her time and energy was focused on positive things as opposed to adapting a rebel lifestyle as we often see in novels. Nicky’s personality, though a tad annoying, is how I’d imagine someone with the same upbringing be like. With low self-esteem, a fear of commitment and the expectation that everything will always turn for the worse, I feel she is great, believable character.

On the other hand, and main thing that bothered me throughout the novel, Ryan feels very fictitious to me. I can’t picture him as being a real person for the simple reason that he seems to have no flaws. Everything about him is perfect. The way he talks, the way he acts, his fame, his fortune, his body – there isn’t a flawed hair on this man. He’s perfect to the point of getting on my nerves.

I, however, enjoyed Ryan’s intensity. He reminded me a bit of a more toned down Guideon Cross form the Crossfire series in the sense that he knows what he wants and will do anything to get it.

Even though Ryan isn’t my favourite character, the story itself was an enjoyable one. I had a great time reading it and I can’t wait for the sequel.

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