Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

The Geography Of You And Me, by Jennifer E. Smith

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2.25 stars

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and—finally—a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

I think The Geography Of You And Me is one of the few fluffy, light books I’ve given a (slightly) less than average rating for, and one can assume I didn’t find it as entertaining as I thought it would be. That’s partially true, but most of my problems with this book parallel closely with the issues I had with Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between, the last book I’ve read by Jennifer E. Smith, and the only book I’d read at the time by her. This book had so much potential with its concept, but was ultimately disappointing due to the dull storytelling, unrealistic scenarios, and enormous amount of wasted potential.

The story starts out with Lucy and Owen, stuck in an elevator when they realize nearly all of New York has lost power. After finding their way out of the elevator, they stay together, wandering the pitch-black night of New York, talking about their lives and watching the stars. But, after the electricity is back, they realize they are both moving away, traveling and starting new lives. Obviously Lucy and Owen are still in a daze, thinking back to the dream-like night they spent together, and while they vow to keep in touch through email and postcards (a recurring symbol throughout the book), it isn’t enough. Will they ever find their way back to each other?

I do feel like the writing was the downfall of this book. Lucy and Owen were apart for most of the time, and while the descriptions of London, Scotland, and Paris were beautiful, there was a spark missing in their personal lives that was so evidently present when they were together. It is a long-distance “relationship” after all, but Lucy and Owen’s individual lives lacked seriousness and insight, it was pure fluff when it shouldn’t have been. This is was the same problem I had with Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between, while the concept was relatable and common among young adults, the writing and storyline refused to break out of the “light and cute” barrier, when it should have gone to discuss deeper, insightful topics through the stories of the characters. Other than that, I thought Owen and Lucy’s lives were eventful, yet told in a dull, monotonous tone. The POVs are in third person in present time. which I find awkward and the writing overall didn’t have a spark to it, much like the characters.

Continue reading “The Geography Of You And Me, by Jennifer E. Smith”

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Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers

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4 Stars

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Claps for me! I have finally crossed off this book on my to-read list after nearly a century, and I’m happy all that waiting was worth it. I’ve had a crapton of perceptions before reading this book, and was worried that it wouldn’t match my expectations. But, while there were some flaws I cannot excuse, Grave Mercy turned out to be an enjoyable, satisfying read.

The story starts off with Ismae Rienne’s background, as we learn that Ismae was nearly “claimed by Death” when she was born through a severe illness, which had consequently caused a long, red scar across her back. We encounter a scene where Ismae’s cruel and abusive father forcefully marries her off to an older man, and where Ismae is whisked away to a convent which serves the god of Death, Mortain, after her wedding night. The beginning briefly but wisely introduces us to the purpose of the convent, where the assassin nuns assist in killing and carrying out the tasks that the nuns assign them to, directly from Mortain himself. This scene takes place when she is about fourteen, and then the story skips to a 17-year old, fully trained Ismae on a mission. The main journey of the story starts after she is assigned to pose as the mistress of Gavriel Duval, half-brother to the duchess of Brittany, as they travel to protect her from a dangerous impending marriage. While she assists Duval, she is under orders from the convent to keep watch over him. But, as she learns about the court and the history of her convent under different perspectives, she realizes she is truly unknown to the motives of St. Mortain’s convent and Mortain himself, caught between who to trust and who to not trust.

I think a historical fiction junkie would really dig the world-building. The mythology is influenced by Celtic and Roman history and myths, while the world itself is well thought out. On the other hand, I would definitely say the writing and pacing of the story is meant for a certain kind of reader. I’m mainly a character-based reader and am not particularly fond of politics and history-based reads, but the discussion and court intrigue in Grave Mercy was pretty interesting and understandable. It wasn’t so hard to follow and the writing was delightfully middle-English inspired. Unfortunately, the pacing is quite slow and the writing is bound to lose a few readers along the way. I actually contemplated docking 0.5 of a star or a full one even because of it, but considering my liking for the world-building, characters, and story, I decided against it. But, just a warning, if you aren’t patient and don’t like a lot of discussion, the pacing, writing, and overall story can really grate on you.

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Books

New Releases in YA: November 2016

November is the month of Thanksgiving, so if you’re in the U.S, curl up with a good book this Thanksgiving break and relax. (Or stress, because the election also happens to be this month)

  1. The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon – Coming Nov 1st, 2016

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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?

I’ve actually had an ARC of this book since June, but haven’t gotten to reading it yet ;). However, Yoon’s debut is very popular, so if you like romance, give this a shot.

2. Heartless, by Marissa Meyer – Coming Nov 8th, 2016

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Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I absolutely love Meyer’s Cinder series, and it’s super exciting to see her return to fairy-tale retellings. I will definitely be reading this as soon as it comes out.

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Books, Reviews, YA Fiction

The Museum Of Intangible Things, by Wendy Wunder

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2.5 Stars

Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. Audacity. Gluttony. Belief. God. Karma. Knowing what you want (there is probably a French word for it). Saying Yes. Destiny. Truth. Devotion. Forgiveness. Life. Happiness (ever after).

Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.

As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.

An unforgettable read from the acclaimed author of The Probability of Miracles, The Museum of Intangible Things sparkles with the humor and heartbreak of true friendship and first love.

I’ll be honest: I picked this book up because of the gorgeous, tumblr-y cover along with the deep, tumblr-y title. Since I needed a light read (what’s new), I grabbed this book expecting it to be a fluffy, tumblr-esque, best friend- adventure story. I will say that there is a road trip involved and many adventurous, hipster-like antics that the characters engage in, but the overall message of The Museum Of Intangible Things is supposed to run deeper, to subjects like depression, anxiety, loneliness, and mental illness. By the way, this contains some minor spoilers toward the end, guys.

The Museum Of Intangible Things follows Hannah and Zoe, two best friends living in a small town off the coast of New Jersey.  Their lives aren’t particularly exciting, specifically Hannah’s, who’s trying to cope with her neglectful mother and her depressed, slightly manipulative weatherman father, while working as much as she can to make her own money and a life for herself. After Hannah has had enough of her father’s acts, Zoe convinces her to escape on a road trip across the country, using their desire to explore the “intangible things” in life (mostly Zoe’s desire). Through this road trip, Zoe enacts her infamous concept named “The Museum Of Intangible Things”, consisting of several demonstrations originally created for her autistic younger brother, made to educate on the many complicated concepts of living life, but now she teaches Hannah, on how to fully explore life and live and dream larger than she ever has.

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