Saturday, May 31, 2014

Review: Talented by Sophie Davis

I received this courtesy of Sophie Davis through NetGalley in return for an honest review. 

Title: Talented
Author: Sophie Davis
Series: Talented Saga #1
Page Length: 386
Age: YA
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopian, Romance, Post-Apocalyptic
Rating: 3 Stars

I ended up having really mixed feelings about Talented. The first sixty percent was disappointing, and seemed more like a giant love triangle than the fast-paced-x-men-style book I had been hoping for. But once we got past that I started to enjoy the book a lot more. The main character, Tally, became less winey and stuck up and the book started to get a bit more action and plot. 

The Concept:
One of the reasons Talented frustrated me so much, was that the concept could have made for an amazing book. A couple years in the future there is a nuclear reactor spill, that gets toxic substance in the water and soil. The fish and animal begin to become abnormal mutations, and when the first generation of children are born after this, some of them have powers, such as shape-shifting, telekinesis, boosted intelligence, and so on. The mutant children are feared by the average adults and it becomes the law for all the ‘gifted’ children to be enrolled in McDonough’s School for the Talented, where they will be trained as weapons and them utilized in a secret agent program to eliminate rebel threats. The idea seemed really interesting and could make for a really good dystopian-paranormal read, if the execution had been better.

The Plot:
Natalia, or Tally’s, parents were both murdered by rebels when she was just a baby, and as a result the McDonough family took her in and raised her and as she grew up with them, she befriended their son, Donovan, and eventually developed a romantic relationship with him. As the book takes place she’s nearing her graduation to become a Hunter (secret agent). She is post-school training where she has to go on (mostly) low-key missions to prove that she is fit to be a Hunter. There is also the fact that Tally was growing feeling for Eric, a boy on her training team, who, of course, was the hot guy that all the girls where in love with, but he only ever hooked up with them, even though Tally also has her totally nice boyfriend and so on and so forth. 

The World:
Even though this wasn’t exactly dystopian it still had a similar feel since the government was forcing the kids with powers to go for a school and then took advantage of their powers just for them. I wish there was more focus on the government and weather or not they were corrupt, and also more on Tally’s struggle with believing in them or not. 

The Characters:
To me, characters that are likable, or at least interesting, are really important to books. This book didn’t have any characters I enjoyed reading about. Tally was irritable, naive and frustrating and for the first 60% of this book I wanted to go into the book and slap some sense into her so she would actually be the badass she was capable of being instead of mooning over some boy. Eric was supposed to be the love interest that was hot-and-cold in a totally sexy way (think Daemon Black), but he came off mostly as annoying and in various instances ended up being a pretty big asshole. And Donovan, the ‘loving boyfriend’ had absolutely no redeeming qualities at all. I did start liking Tally a bit more towards the end, but she was the only character. 

The Writing:
Sophie Davis’ writing definitely improves as the book goes on. The first couple chapters sounded like they were being written down as someone spoke, in the sense there were lots of ‘likes’ and other terms such as that. Towards the end the writing was better, but it wasn’t anything special. 

The Romance:
The romance in this book is absolutely infuriating. It took up so much of the book and was completely unnecessary. Tally was convinced she had a ‘healthy’ relationship even when she knew that her boyfriend was constantly hiding something from her and when she refused to say, ‘I love you’ to him because she had once said it and her had replied saying he didn’t know whether he loved her or not since they were just teenagers. And then her relationship with Eric ended up feeling really forced, as if the author desperately wanted Tally to have a boyfriend and so she came up with the romance between Tally and Eric. 

The Pacing:
The pacing in this book was also quite slow. I found myself constantly bored and waiting for the next action scene, which always seemed to take far too long to happen.

Despite all the issues I had with this book I did enjoy the second half and since a lot of people say the series gets better I probably will continue with this series (eventually).


Bouts of Books 10.0 Wrap Up!

This past week I participated in Bout of Books 10.0, which is a low key read-a-thon in the blogging and vlogging book community. I also had finals this week, which is why there were no reviews or updates posted to my blog. I still really wanted to do a wrap-up post, so all of you could see the books I read!
I ended up finishing a total of five books and two novellas, but also started four other books.
On Monday I read a short novella for school, To Build a Fire by Jack London. It was 32 pages and I ended up giving it 4 stars. I also read The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery which was 96 pages. I gave it five stars because I absolutely loved it! On Monday I also read The Assassin and the Princess by Sarah J. Mass which is a 12 page Throne of Glass novella, that I gave 4 stars. And I started the Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken which I read 57 pages of and then put down because it wasn’t holding my interest. I ended up reading a total of 197 pages on Monday.
Then on Tuesday I read two books, and part of another book. The first book I read was Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan, which I really enjoyed and gave 5 stars. I also read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which I had pre-ordered about a month ago and received in the mail Tuesday, the day it came out. It exceeded my expectations and I gave it 5 stars and added it to my favorites list. I also read 67 pages of The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegal, which I was sent for review. In total I read 460 pages
On Wednesday I read two books, and part of another one, but one of the books was a collection of novellas. At the beginning of the day I read Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi, which is the novella between Shatter Me and Unravel Me, and which is part of the novella bind-up entitled Unite Me. Then I read Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi, the second book in the Shatter Me trilogy and then I read Fracture Me, also by Tahereh Mafi, which is 2.5 in the Shatter Me trilogy, and with reading that I finished Unite Me, which totaled up to 197 pages. In addition I read 40 more pages of The Break Up Artist. My total pages for Wednesday ended up being 725 pages.
Then on Thursday I started two books. I read 82 pages of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and 22 pages of Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen. Then I also read 40 pages of The Break Up Artist. My Thursday total was 144 pages.
My birthday was on Saturday and so I spent Friday and most of the weekend celebrating with my friends and family. On those three days I read a total of 143 more pages of Gone Girl.
In total I read 1562 pages this week, which I’m pretty happy about considering I was doing exams and it was my birthday. Now I just need to catch up on my reviews!


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Review: Pretty Deadly by Emma Rios and Jordie Bellair

I received this courtesy of Diamond Book Distributors through Netgally in return for an honest review. 

{Actual Rating-2.5 Stars}

“And the end of the world began when death fell in love”

This book was a bit of a let down. Let’s start out with the positive; this graphic novel had breath-taking art. The drawings were beautiful. Unfortunately, this is where the positive ends. Maybe it’s just me but I didn’t get the plot. There was a girl. She was fleeing. I think. . . Other than that I didn’t get what was going on at all. And to tell you the truth that makes it slightly difficult to actually review. But basically: not impressed.   

The Summary:

“He freed beauty’s soul, but kept the child whole, and death named his baby girl Ginny.”

Since I don’t quite understand the plot, this summary is going to be a bit all over the place. Death falls in love with a women trapped in the castle. He frees her and they end up having a child, Ginny. Ginny is special for a reason that was never mentioned (maybe it’s because she the child of death, but I don’t know). The book follows Ginny who, I think, is on the run. There were also random snippets of other people who I don’t ever remember being introduced. Basically this book was a giant mess of confusing


If you’re looking for a graphic novel only because you want to see nice art, this book is for you. If not you might want to pass on this one. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review: The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop

I received this courtesy of SwitchPress through Netgalley in return for an honest review

{Rating- 5 stars}

“Maybe I’ll just sleep forever.”

The Isobel Journal is a portrayal of life as a teenager told through single sentence pages, photos, drawing, and collages. 

I read this book in less than half an hour, and only wished it lasted longer. Since it’s told through photos there was no definite plot, however, I could still understand what Isobel was going through, what her emotions where, and how she was maturing. There is only around a sentence per a page and sometimes less than that, and the verse goes from being quite basic to developing a poetry to it, showing Isobel maturing and growing as the book goes on.

This book is mainly drawings, so I completely understand an aversion to buying it. But, if you are really against spending money on, you should at least see if your local library has it, because it’s a really fun read. This said, I am definitely going to buy myself a copy soon, because I would love to be able to flip through the pages and see the images in real life, not on a screen. 

The Summary:

“Just a girl from where nothing really happens.”

Isobel is a girl living with her father, step-mother, and three siblings. She learning to make her way through being a teenager. The book is really relatable. A good chunk is just her saying random, quirky facts about herself and a lot of them where facts about me too. The book starts out when she’s a bit younger, but quickly moves into her being a teenager. At the beginning it focused mostly on the good of being a teenager.

“I love discovering bands-it feels like a special secret.”

But she soon is exposed to many of the negative aspects of being a teenager. She starts to become more aware of physical appearance and of who’s she’s friends with. 

“Do you ever see those super cool looking girls in the street and you wish you could make them your friend-“

She also deals with first love and first heartbreak. Since there’s lack of words in the book you can imagine all the character as people in your life and get to think up their personality a bit, yourself.

“I want to plant forget-me-nots in your mind so you think about me all the time.”

But despite this, the book was ultimately about being happy, and surviving your teenage years joyfully.

“It’s just important to surround yourself with good people.”


The Isobel Journal is Perks of Being a Wallflower told through drawing, collages, and photos!

Review: The Circle by Sara B. Elfgren and Mat Strandberg

{Actual rating- 4.25 stars}

“If the salvation of the world depends on their ability to work together, well, unfortunately things looked pretty fucked.”

The Circle is Skins UK with witches.

Because although it is definitely a paranormal book, it also had a big focus on real-world elements. It discussed bullying, suicide, eating disorders, abuse, student-teacher relationships, and self-medicating. This is one of the few urban fantasies that actually seems urban, and where the teenagers act like actual teenagers. This book would be an easy five stars, however, it is a translation from Swedish, and sometimes that was quite obvious because the writing style became awkward and choppy.

If you’re looking for a paranormal-contemporary mix, I would definitely recommend The Circle. The characters were real and had flaws, but managed not to get on my nerves too much, the plot was well-developed with twists that I never saw coming, and there was never a slow moment.

The Summary:

“Life won’t get better. Might as well end it now. Spare yourself the pain. Spare yourself the betrayals. It never gets any better anyway, Elias. Life is just a humiliating struggle. The dead are the lucky ones.”

These are the worlds that Elias Malmgren hears as a force compels him to take a shard of glass from a broken mirror and slit his wrist in the school bathroom, only to be found dead by his best friend, Linnea, and the school’s goodie-two-shoes, Minoo, the next day. Elias’s death is immediately ruled a suicide. He had a history of depression, self-harm, drug abuse, and had attempted suicide once before. But Linnea thinks there’s more to Elias’s death. Only a couple minutes before he killed himself he called Linnea, saying he would come over to her apartment that evening to explain why he relapsed the day before.

Meanwhile, various girls around the school are developing strange powers. Vanessa wakes up one morning and finds she’s invisible. Assuming she’s only dreaming to proceeds to tell her mother’s boyfriend, Nicke, what she really thinks of him. Until a day later when she’s at her boyfriend apartment she turns invisible again. And at the memorial assembly for Elias, Rebecka makes a light fall next to Ida, the most popular (and bitchy) girl in school, who was reading a poem on to honor Elias, even though she was one of the people who bullied him. And Anna-Karin, nicknamed the B.O. Hoe, manages to make her disconnected mother stop talking just by ordering it in her head.

And then one night, when there’s a blood red moon in the sky, Linnea, Minoo, Vanessa, Rebecka, Ida, and Anna-Karin are all drawn by a mysterious force to a park. And there they are met by Nicolaus, the school janitor. Apparently all the girls are the Chosen One (don’t worry, they’re confused by it too) and Elias was a Chosen One too. And the Chosen One is meant to fulfill a great prophecy. Basically all the girls have to manage to find a way to play nice because if they don’t stay together another one of them will die. And to make things more complicated, a two hundred year old witch possesses Ida’s body to inform them that they must all fight against a great evil that’s hunting them and that killed Elias

“I am you. You are me. We are one. The Circle is the answer.”

And despite how this sounds somewhat stereotypical, it’s not. Trust me.

The Powers:

This book had a really interesting magical world. Each witch has one element. Only there are actually six elements, fire, water, air, wood, earth and metal. And there are seven witches. So one of them doesn’t actually have a power (more about that later). The fire user can generate lighting. The water user can creature storms. The air user can before invisible. The wood user can shape and control living material. The earth user has the power of compulsion and is very strong mentally. And the metal user makes the perfect medium and has the gift of fortune telling.

The Characters:

The Circle is told in third person POV from all the Chosen Ones perspectives minus Ida and from the perspective of an unknown witch who is locked in a prison. The authors managed having seven perspectives really well, and you were never confused about who was telling the story.

Linnea was one of my favorite characters. She was Elias’s best friend and took his death pretty hard. But even before that she was depressed. She copied Elias’s ways in the sense that she also spent a good amount of her spare time getting drunk.

“Are you alright?” Minoo asks, before they go in.
“No.” Linnea answers, with her hard little smile. “But I never am.”

Despite this she was one of the smartest girls in my opinion. She managed to figure out things that none of the other girls could. If I could change one thing about the book I would add more about her background. She lived in her own apartment and therefore clearly had issues with her home life, though they were only mention a couple times, very briefly.

Anna-Karin had been bullied her whole life and was now trying to stay invisible to avoid this. She never talked to anyone, wore shapeless, gray clothes, and did her best to blend into the walls

“There’s something heart-wrenchingly hopeless about Anna-Karin.”

She was one of the most interesting characters, because there were so many elements that made up who she was. One the one hand she was a vulnerable bullied girl, who wanted nothing more than to fade into nothing.

“She thought so many times how easy it would be to end it all… For eight years she’d thought about it everyday.”

She had a difficult family life, too. Her father left when she was young, and her mother is depressed, and disconnects herself from Anna-Karin’s life as much as possible. The only positive aspect of her whole life is her grandfather.

“Anna-Karin. The B. O. How. The fat kid. The country bumpkin. The girl who had to use magic to make her own mother care about her.”

But she thought that because she was a victim she was on a pedestal, that since she had been bullied she was allowed to do whatever she wanted, no matter how much it might hurt other people.

“Why shouldn’t it happen to her? Who is more deserving of magical powers than Anna-Karin Nieminen, the eternal victim? Isn’t this perfect justice?”

Rebecka was another Chosen One. She had nice, popular friends and the dream boyfriend, Gustaf. She had a seemingly perfect life. But on the inside she was fragile and vulnerable, constantly doubting herself and her thoughts were constantly plagued by an eating disorder she’d had since middle school

“It started in sixth grade when she and a few friends went on a diet together. The other’s gave up after just a few days, but Rebecka discovered that she was good at it. Way too good.”

She was most insecure about her boyfriend. She was constantly worried that he would leave her, however the authors didn’t make it annoying or whiney, but real and relatable.

“She’s afraid he’ll disappear. How could he stand to be with someone who’s in such pain? Who’s so disturbed she won’t eat, then eats too much, throws it up and goes back to not eating. Someone who lives in constant fear of falling apart.”

Despite this she still had a will to live even if she would be in pain.

“But I want to suffer!” She shouted, “I want to live!”

Vanessa was another complex character. Her mother got pregnant with her when she was only sixteen from a one-night stand. Since her mother was so young, she was also really irresponsible. Vanessa’s mother lived with her boyfriend, Nicke. Nicke was described as annoying, arrogant, stupid, and any other awful adjective Vanessa could come up with. Every so often she would stand up to her mother about her choices and I think those were my favorite moments. They truly showed what a strong character Vanessa was.

“You got pregnant with me when you were sixteen, for Christ’s sake! With some at a conference in Gotvandaren! You were so drunk you couldn’t even remember his name.”

She spent most of her time with her older boyfriend, Wille, who was a drug dealer along with his friend, Jonte. Because of this she got drunk a lot and did anything else to help her forget about her family problems.

“God, she loved being drunk. All the sharp edges disappear and the problems fade to insignificance.”

Ida was a the bitch of the group. She spoke her mind and didn’t really care about what harm it did. She was popular but only because she scared everyone at school.

“I read that poem because I wanted everyone to believe I cared. But I don’t care. I think it’s just as well that people like Elias commit suicide.”

There were small moments where the book portrayed her as having a nicer side, but not very many. I hope that in the next book we see more of that side of her and find out more of backstory, and maybe have some chapters from her POV.

Minoo was the most average girl in the group. She was unpopular, but not bullied. She was a straight A student, but had no friends. But she still managed to captivate you. She was vulnerable, but buried all her emotions into her studies only showing them every once in a while.

“Suddenly tears are streaming down her face. She becomes afraid of losing control completely.”

She had a crush on her teacher, which the authors managed to pull off well, by plot twists involving their relationship and only focusing on it occasionally.

The Romance:

One of the great things about this book is it didn’t fall into the giant category of romance books disguised as fantasy. Two characters had boyfriends at the beginning of the book. Even though the relationships where discussed, it was minimally and didn’t take away from the storyline. There was one developing romance between Minoo and her teacher, however it ended up being part of the storyline and there wasn’t too much focus on it.

The Friendship:

Despite having the somewhat stereotypical plot line of six girls from different school groups coming together the end result was unique. The girls never really became friends. They stayed how they were, which is actually quite realistic. The only times they seemed to come together was when they needed to lean on each other emotionally.

“Minoo and Linnea put their arms around each other. It just happens. Minoo isn’t the type to hug people, and senses that Linnea isn’t either. Right now, all they need is to feel the closeness of somebody else, someone alive.”

And after those moments they went back to how they were before. So if you’re worried about this being a stereotypical, friendship read, you don’t need to worry.


The Circle is a fun, exciting book with relatable characters, unexpected plot twists, and a great plot.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Bouts of Books 10.0

Bouts of Books 10.0

I'm going to be joining the Bouts of Books readathon during May! I'm really excited, however my progress in this read-a-thon might not be the best because I have exams the weeks of the read-a-thon and then that weekend is the weekend of my birthday. Nevertheless, I shall still at least attempt to try!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Comment below if you are joining Bouts of Books.
I will also have a like to my twitter, in case any of you want to follow me during the read-a-thon so you can get updates from me!



Review: Panic by Lauren Olvier

{Actual rating - 4.5 stars}

“No one knows who invented Panic, or when it first began”

This is, like all Lauren Oliver, is a love it or hate it book. And, like all Lauren Oliver (so far) I loved it. 

I understand completely why some people didn’t like this book. Because I think your opinion of this book is shaped greatly by who you are and how you interpret it. To some this book is an entertaining, but ultimately pointless read. But to me this is truly a book about how far you will go to keep yourself and those around you happy. Would you be willing give up your money, your comfort, your safety, your dignity, your virtue, or even your sense of self just to help the people in your life? This is, in my mind, what Panic is truly about. 

And, yes the writing isn’t perfect, and the characters got on my nerves occasionally, and the plot could use some work, but screw it, I loved this book.

The Summary:

“The rules are simple. The day after graduation is Opening Jump, and the game goes all though summer. After the final challenge the winner takes the pot.”

Every year in the poor, small town of Carp, New York the seniors compete in a game called Panic to win $67,000 and with it comes the chance to leave Carp and start a new life somewhere else. Panic involves a series of dangerous and deadly tasks that have one soul goal, to make you panic. And if you panic you’re out. 

“In the seven years of panic there had only been three deaths-four including Tommy O’Hare, who shot himself.”

Heather, one of the main characters, enters Panic on a whim, in an attempt to get over her boyfriend, Matt, cheating on her.

“Matt’s voice kept came whispering back, and she kept climbing.”

Her father shot himself when she was young, and she lives with her irresponsible, alcoholic mother, and her fragile, younger sister.

“Offed himself right after the baby came along. Came home and found his brains splattered on the wall. Can’t say I blame him.”

Her main goal in life is to keep her younger sister, Lily, happy. And she goes through so much to do this. Winning Panic means that she could move out with her sister, and save her from having to continue growing up in such awful conditions. 

Dodge, on the other hand, has been planning to enter Panic ever since it left his sister paralyzed from the waist down.

“He was going to win Panic. He was going to do it for Dayna. He was going to do it for revenge.”

He’s grow on the bad side of town, fatherless, with his mother who brings home a new date every night and never has looked after him or his sister (sound familiar)? A couple years back his bright and vibrant sister, Dayna, played Panic. She made it to the final round, the Joust, but ended up in a wheelchair. Not only did she loose her legs but she lost part of her liveliness. 

Dodge is convinced that the only way he can avenge what happened to his sister is to, during Panic, kill the brother of the boy who left her paralyzed. 

Nat, Heather’s best friend, has been planning to enter Panic for a while, so she can get the money to make it as a model in L.A.

And so the selfless, the selfish, and the revenge-bent join together to win Panic, kick some ass, and risk their lives.

The Challenges:

Let’s start off by saying that, despite being contemporary, these challenges involve doing some serious shit. The challenges not only are physically challenging but, in the individual challenges, require serious mental strength. Think Divergent in contemporary. You have to face your worst fear and if you show that you’re scared you’re out.

The Characters:

There are four main character in this book. However, the POV is in third person from two of the characters POV, Dodge and Heather.

Heather is our main protagonist. She is, in a word, average. She isn’t anything special. In fact, if anything, she’s less than special. She is insecure and believes that she will never be loved and that she will grow up lonely. In addition she has many issues involving her father’s suicide. Even though it is never stated, it seems clear that Heather is depressed. In multiple parts of the book she debated killing herself. She feels incredibly connected to her sister, which gives her a determination that she would not normally have. I actually liked Heather’s character a lot. Although her reasons for joining Panic where stupid and immature, her reasons for continuing Panic where honorable.

“She was playing for keeps now. For Lily.”

Dodge is the other main protagonist. In my opinion he was not a very likable character. I felt bad for him as he grew up in a poor home, with no father and a mother that was never there, forcing him to look after his handicap sister. What made me not like him was the fact that he was so obsessed with Nat. 

“She was wearing this yellow jumper-type thing, with the shirt and shorts attached, and that would have looked stupid on anyone else. But on her it looked amazing.”

He seemed to have ‘had a crush on her’ since he had moved to Carp. But he didn’t really know her. The crush was more of an infatuation and a personality that he had made up for her, based on how pretty she was. And in a later part of the book an event occurred with Nat in which he made a comment that made my annoyance for him turn to hatred.

Nat is a key side character, who shows up quite often. Nat was the most well-off of all the characters. She lived in the rich part of Carp and had two supportive parents. She was a bit of the odd man out, though, since she was the only character who was only in it for herself. However, it made her really interesting to read about, especially since you never actually heard from her point of view.

“But I don’t need Panic. I don’t need Heather. And I don’t need you.”

Through out the book I wanted to know more about her, and I wish there was more of her character in the book. She seemed to have obsessive compulsive tendencies, and was constantly counting and tapping her fingers when she was nervous or scarred. I would have liked to know more about what was really going on with her. 

“She thought of the way that Nat always liked things even, straight down the middle. How sometimes she showered more than once a day. The taps and tongue clicks. Stuff she’d mostly ignored because she was used to it.”

Bishop is the last character I will be discussing. Even though he never played Panic he was still an integral part of the story. He was also fairly well off, and had been friends with Nat and Heather since they were all kids. Everything he did was for someone else, and he did some serious things. I think it’s slightly hard to say much about his character without spoilers, but he was my favorite out of all of them.

The Romance:

I ended up enjoying this romance, despite how it was slightly clique. The storyline of being friends since they where kids and then realized they where in love is one overused in YA, but this was still quite cute. 

“They had their own language, their own jokes. They were constantly touching each other too-pushing and shoving, pinching and hugging, like kids flirting on a playground.”

However, the couple did have some more serious moments. They were painfully honest with each other at time in the book, which shows depth in their relationship.

“You want everything to be shitty. You have a sister who loves you. Friends who love you. I love you, Heather.” He said it fast, in a mumble, and she couldn’t even be happy, because he kept going. “You’ve outlasted almost everyone in Panic. But all you see is the crap. So you don’t have to believe in anything. So you’ll have an excuse to fail.”


This is a great psychological contemporary, however there are flaws in the plot and pacing issues.

-Izzy Elena