My two best friends and I are extreme book nerds. Especially for YA books. Since we are viewed as weird in the real world, we decided to go to the Internet, where everyone is weird. It has been going pretty well. Our original blog is Crazy for YA
Top Ten Tuesday is a list based meme hosted by the wonderful ladies at The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's Top Ten Tuesday was open-ended, so we here at Crazy for YA decided to take it in a direction we find is rare in YA--to outer space! Because interplanetary exploration is slightly rare in YA novels these days, we may have recommended slightly fewer than 10 books this week, but all of our recommendations feature some of the most unique YA settings out there.
It is not a secret that I am a huge fan of BBC's cult favorite TV show, Doctor Who. I love the atmosphere of the extraordinary and mysterious that the show perfectly maintains. The Doctor's adventures are the perfect mixture of aliens, time travel, and the impossible. The TV show is honestly one of the most unique things I have ever experienced.
Likewise, Jackaby is one of the most unique books I have read in a long time. I mean, it is not often that I use fantasy and mystery as tags for the same post. And its similarities to Doctor Who do not stop there.
1. The main character is an aloof, mysterious, frustrating, yet terribly entertaining, man.
There are seemingly inginite parallels between the Doctor and Jackaby. They are both socially awkward. They both know a lot about the secret workings of the world. In Jackaby's case this means the supernatural, such as fairies and werewolves. They also dress similarly (David Tennant's trench coat = Jackaby's over-sixed coat). I mean, Jackaby's hideous knitted hat is the equivalent of Matt Smith's horrendous fez.
Unfortunately, I have the same problem with Jackaby that I occasionally have with the Doctor-- a superiority complex. Jackaby treats those around him as inferiors who cannot possibly help him in the investigation. Whenever he bothers to talk to his assistant, Abigail, it is mostly to criticize and condescend. But he gets away with it because he is just "socially awkward" and someone as brilliant as him cannot bother with things like manners and feelings. While Jackaby did have his good moments, I could not get myself to adore him like Abigail did.
2. The narrator is the underappreciated companion to the aforementioned genius.
Abigail is a spunky girl whose only goal in life seems to be to impress her new boss (which sounds a lot like Martha with the Tenth Doctor). She seemed too much like a feeble shadow of Jackaby for me to properly respect her. It does not help that whenever she tried to accomplish something, he berated her and tried to "determine her worth."
If you need any more convincing, Abigail is from Britain, where most of the Doctor Who series is centered around.
3. The plot is bigger on the inside.
Jackaby started as a seemingly simple murder mystery. I was intrigued with the premise, but not particularly impressed until the fantasy elements started peek through. I loved the stories and mythologies that were seamlessly incorporated into the plot. The mystery and suspense beautifully elevated to a full hunt for a supernatural serial killer. There were even a few magical twists and turns that surprised me.
Jackaby is seriously similar to my beloved Doctor Who in many ways. The concoction of the supernatural and occult with mystery was reminiscent of the Doctor's mix of science fiction and suspense. The characters are like reflections of each other (when it's time to find a 13th Doctor, Jackaby would make a great candidate).
While I adored the fantasy and mystery elements of Jackaby that reminded me of my favorite TV show, the characters left me wanting something more.
Have you read Jackaby? Do you like the idea of fantasy and mystery combined? Are you a fan of Doctor Who? If so, who is your favorite Doctor and companion? (Mine are David Tennant and Rose!)
This review was originally posted on my main blog, Crazy for YA. I post all kinds of bookish reviews, discussions, and ramblings over there with a healthy does of fun.
Thanks to the outstanding Carlisa @ Confessions of Carlisa for nominating me for this award. You can see her post here(with a wonderful story about a brave mountain goat named Billy). If a that does not catch your eye, you should check out her blog for the amazing reviews, discussions, and my personal favorite, Fairytale Fridays!
To get back on topic, here are the rules for this tag:
1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you (the aforementioned Carlisa and her awesomeness).
2. Answer the seven questions.
3. Frame seven questions for your nominees.
4. Nominate seven(ish) deserving bloggers for the award.
Now for the questions that Carlisa borrowed from Ali @ The Bander Blog.
This is a weekly list meme hosted by the wonderful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish.
Max here! This week's top ten Tuesday is an interesting one. Today, we're discussing some of our favorite hidden gems--specifically, books that have under 2,000 ratings on Goodreads. This week's topic really provides an opportunity to discuss some books that are just as great as those that receive tons of hype, but don't really get much attention when they're published.
I started my Goodreads account many, many moons ago. This was before I decided to start a book blog. Before I got a Twitter account. Before Divergent was published and the world went dystopian crazy. Before I knew the dangers of accumulating a massive TBR pile.
Once I got over the novelty of a website solely for book lovers like myself, I decided to start adding books to my shelves, mostly my to-be-read shelf. I quickly learned how to use Goodreads nefarious recommended reads feature, as well as the thousands of interesting lists in the listopia page. I added anything and everything that even sounded remotely exciting to me in the first few weeks on Goodreads. And I am currently paying the consequences.
I currently have shelves full of physical books that have been on my TBR for years and do not even get me started on my digital ebook shelves *cringe*.
I have finally admitted to myself that my TBR is a bit out of control (which is the first step to recovery, right? At least I hope...). I started to tackle the source of the issue: my Goodreads to-be-read list.
Even though Under the Trees is not the most unique book in the world. The politics were thrown aside for the romance, but I think that the characters redeemed the plot somewhat.
That being said, the characters were the highlight of the novel. This is a very character-centered novel, which I normally do not have any qualms about. Unfortunately, I found myself wanting a much bigger picture of the world that Araya and Thor lived in besides the trees they were hiding in. I wanted more of the political intrigue that was hinted at, but never elaborated on. I want to know why the kingdoms were even fighting in the first place. Without knowing the full story behind the feud, it was extremely difficult to involve myself in the story.
Unfortunately, I do not think that a book can survive on its characters alone. It's like trying to eat a PB&J sandwich without the peanut butter or eating cereal without milk. There has to be something for the characters to do, for them to think about, and to fight for. Most of the time, this is revealed in the plot, which was definitely lacking in Under the Trees.
I just wished there was more of a plot besides forbidden love. There was so much potential for a heavier plot, but I felt that all of the politics was thrown together and stuffed at me instead of developed. There were a couple of incidents that came at me with no warning, so I was not prepared to digest it. Araya's family dynamic, especially her brother's story and the reason behind his shocking actions at the end of the novel, should have been explained more in context of the story instead of just serving as shock value.
On the other hand, I did find myself enjoying the growing relationship between Araya and Thor. At first it seemed a little insta-lovey, but it definitely redeemed itself at the end. They worked so well together and I loved how their relationship grew instead of stagnating.
The ending was absolute perfection, in my expert reader opinion. It did not exactly wrap everything up with a pretty bow, which I really loved. It was realistic and believable. Most of all, it gave me hope. It showed that Araya and Thor still had things to work on, but they were willing to put in the work. To me, that is an important theme that is not normally touched upon in YA novels now. Couples just kind of get together and stay together by chance or luck, without really having to work for anything. But, I am glad to say that Under the Trees avoided the relationship complacency very well.
Under the Trees is more of a fluffy romance featuring a bad case of forbidden love than the novel of political intrigue mixed with romance that I was expecting. Personally, I like an even mix of character romance and action-filled plot, but Under the Trees definitely favored romance. I really wanted more from the plot and the politics.
I would recommend it if you are looked for a light, mind-numbing romance with a cute prince, but I would avoid it if you are looking for anything more.
This review and a ton of other bookish discussions, tours, and fun can be found on my original blog, Crazy for YA.
They are the light against the darkness.The steel against the necromancy of the Druj.And they use demons to hunt demons….
Nazafareen lives for revenge. A girl of the isolated Four-Legs Clan, all she knows about the King’s elite Water Dogs is that they bind wicked creatures called daevas to protect the empire from the Undead. But when scouts arrive to recruit young people with the gift, she leaps at the chance to join their ranks. To hunt the monsters that killed her sister. Scarred by grief, she’s willing to pay any price, even if it requires linking with a daeva named Darius. Human in body, he’s possessed of a terrifying power, one that Nazafareen controls. But the golden cuffs that join them have an unwanted side effect. Each experiences the other’s emotions, and human and daeva start to grow dangerously close. As they pursue a deadly foe across the arid waste of the Great Salt Plain to the glittering capital of Persepolae, unearthing the secrets of Darius’s past along the way, Nazafareen is forced to question his slavery—and her own loyalty to the empire. But with an ancient evil stirring in the north, and a young conqueror sweeping in from the west, the fate of an entire civilization may be at stake…
This book was provided to me from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.
I have honestly never read anything like The Midnight Sea, which is quite impressive considering the amount of fantasy novels that I devour. The setting was completely new to me, and was the magic in the world.
To see the rest of my review and the many reasons that you should pick up The Midnight Sea and to enter the giveaway, see my original post.
I am hosting a release day blitz for Jennifer L Armentrout's latest YA novel, The Problem with Forever. My stop includes an exclusive excerpt and an amazing giveaway full of goodies!
There is also a preorder special for The Problem with Forever. Send in your proof of preorder for a special gift!
Theodore Decker's life was a mess, even before he stumbled museum, and subsequently, into a terrorist bombing with his mother.
As fulfillment of an old man's dying wish in the wreckage of the museum, Theo leaves with a priceless painting, but without his mother.
From that day on, Theo's life is spent bouncing from place to place, and family to family. He starts at the house of a wealthy family friend in New York to the dusty streets of Las Vegas and the quiet isolation of Amsterdam. The only thing that stays with him is the painting from that cursed day in the museum.
One stolen painting in his childhood leads to a life on the edge, where there is a fine line between good and bad. Theo must decide if life, love, and art are valuable enough to keep fighting for.
I felt as if I was not grown up enough to read this book. I had many of the same gripes with The Goldfinch that I had with Donna Tartt's other novel, The Secret History. The book's style and tone were too much like classic books for me to reconcile the writing with the modern concepts. I also had trouble relating to the characters due to their improbable circumstances.
The characters all felt like they were decades older than they actually were. The main character was drinking, doing drugs, and cavorting with women at the ripe age of 12. When I was 12, I was still reading the Chronicles of Narnia and still believed that boys had cooties, so I find this completely unrealistic and unrelatable for me, and probably most of the other people who read this novel.
The circumstances that the characters were thrown into all seemed exaggerated and improbable. I understand that this is fiction and it does not all have to be real, but The Goldfinch was trying to fit too many coincidences into one novel.
The writing style was beautiful and reminiscent of classic authors's words, like Charles Dickens and such. The phrases and descriptive language used in the novel would not have been misplaced in a novel from the 1800's. To me, this is a double-edged sword. While the writing was absolutely stunning, it was often at odds with the context and the conflicts. This was also one of the problems that I found with Donna Tartt's other novel The Secret History. Most of the time, the writing came off more pretentious than stylistic. Honestly, the beautiful writing was not complimentary to the rather gruesome and modern conflicts of the story.
There were a few aspects of the novel I did enjoy, including the references to art. Most people would probably assume by the cover and the synopsis that this is a book solely focused on art, but that is an incorrect assumption. The artwork and Theo's precious painting are like the landscape of the plot rather than the main focus. Regardless, I did love the art references that were periodically included in the story, since I do not see appreciation for art that often in YA and middle grade books.
The themes of art, love, and life were thoroughly explored throughout the novel, and there were a few gems of quotes that I enjoyed. Theo's ideals changed so much over the course of the novel, and I enjoyed seeing his moral evolution (and devolution). There are certainly multiple morally gray areas that are explored in this novel and enhanced Theo's character and situations.
Another disappointing factor in the story was the relationship within Theo's family. Complicated is not even enough to cover it, and this is where some of the unrealistic improbability comes in. Theo has some of the worst luck of any character that I have ever read about, and the amount of misfortune Theo experienced with his family made the novel a little bit less put together for me. These "incidents" and circumstances all seemed to be rather thrown together for the sake of upping the drama level instead of adding anything relevant to the story.
The final nail in the coffin was the length and slow pace of The Goldfinch. Before you pick this book up, you should know that this is over 700 pages long. If you have the average reading speed of one page per minute, it was likely take you more than 12 hours to read this book. Personally, I do not think that this book is worth that much time. The writing was drawn-out and a great portion of it was not necessary. The Goldfinch could have been cut down to a mere 400 pages and it most likely would have been a better, more compact, and more memorable novel.
I would recommend The Goldfinch to anyone who enjoys somewhat pretentious adult literary fiction and who can stand to read pages of wordy descriptions and conversations. I would also recommend it to those who are looking for an adult version of The Series of Unfortunate Events or are interested in reading about art and the consequences of loving beautiful things.
I would not recommend The Goldfinch for readers who do not like lengthy and slow books that never seem to get to the point quickly. Also, if you are new to adult literary fiction, I would not read this one until you have gotten used to the genre.
This review and many other discussions, puns, and fun at my original blog, Crazy for YA.
I am not one of those people who systematically eat their meals in order. (I hope we have already established the fact that I am far from normal, if not, here is your first clue.) For example, if I were to have a hearty and delicious meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and peas, I would not eat anything in order. I would probably start with the meatloaf, and eat a couple of bites of the surprisingly delicious protein yes, meatloaf can be amazing. Then, I would take a couple of scoopfuls of mashed potatoes, maybe even mixing the meatloaf and the potatoes. I would then rotate to taste the peas. This process would repeat until I finish the whole meal.
I read exactly like I read. I love to nibble on one book, then snack on another, then return to the first one. (See, there was a point to that intro besides making you incredibly hungry.)
I read multiple books at one time, and there is nothing wrong with that.
In some spheres, this is one of the dirtiest and most humiliating crime to commit in the reading universe. Most people do not think that you can read two books at one time and fully enjoy and understand both of them.
I am living proof to the contrary.
I am a fickle mood reader sometimes, which means I can get bored with books really quickly, no matter how good they are. I need to refresh my palette by reading something else, like taking a crisp sip of cool water after a good meal. This translates into me reading more than one book at a time.
I think that it can be beneficial to take a step back from a story and start a new one for a couple of reasons.
This book was provided to me from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.
Adriana's coronation day did not go exactly as planned. She is not even supposed to be the Demon King yet. But in the absence of both her father and her brother, she is forced to step up to the throne and take charge of the Demon Kingdom.
But before Adriana even has a chance to feel the crown on her head, she is summoned to a fledgling mage who has no idea the power that he just summoned. Now instead of wearing her crown and controlling the power of the Demon Kingdom, Adriana is forced to obey the will of a weakly mage who cannot even light a candle by himself.
If Adriana wants to keep her kingdom safe, she has to hide her identity from the mortals who trapped her and get back to her leaderless kingdom before it falls apart.
Sometimes size does matter when it comes to books. Some books are too long and long-winded to capture by attention (The Secret History by Donna Tartt) or they are too short and lacking in detail for me to fully appreciate the story.Demon Princess falls short of my standard for world-building and character development.
I really wish that I knew more about everything in this book. The story and the characters were interesting, but I finished the book and still felt as if I knew nothing about them.
The history of the world and the inner workings of the characters were mostly thrown aside for the romance. I would say that a good 3/4 of the book was romance and all of the world-building and fantasy was shoved into 1/4 of the book. Normally, I like these ratios to be flipped.
There were also long periods of time that were completely skipped over in the novel. This is to be expected since it is so short, but instead of enhancing the story, this time gap further disconnected me from the characters and the plot. Skipping large amounts of time is one of my pet peeves in novels. Time gaps always make me feel as if I missed something and leave me wondering what happened during the time without getting any answers.
Due to the unique nature of fantasy novels, I believe that the longer they are, the better. Now, this is not a steadfast rule, but the more detail and length that is put into the world-building and descriptions, there is a better chance that a fantasy book will impress me.
When I read the synopsis of this book, I did not expect romance to be the main focus. I wanted the culture and history of the new world that I was thrown into and some memorable characters for me to hate or love. In the end, I was just indifferent to everything since I did not know enough to really develop an opinion about most of the characters and the world.
The inklings of ideas that were introduced in this book were interesting, which I will give it credit for. There were some unique concepts in Demon Princess that I have not encountered in other YA fantasy books. This is rather hard to accomplish due to the massive amount of books that I read, especially fantasy novels. If those concepts were expanded and used more throughout the novel, my final rating would have been much higher.
Even though correlation does not always result in causation, I believe that more detail, events, and length in Demon Princess would have greatly improved the novel.
Since I do not have a Time-Turner, a TARDIS, or a cloning machine, I just do not have time to write a full review for all of the books that I read. So, I have decided to write mini-reviews to discuss the books that I do not have as much to say about. That does not mean that I did not like these books, but sometimes, as creative and amazing as my brain is, I just cannot think of that much to write about a book.
Today, I am discussing how Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between broke my heart, how The Demon King gave me hope for books with multiple perspectives, and how You are Mine's unique premise was not enough to make me love the story.
Freedom is in short supply in the Empire.
Laia watched her family be mercilessly murdered as her defiant brother was dragged to prison. No one escapes Martial prisons, but Laia is willing to do anything for the only family she has left. Apparently, everything includes accepting the dangerous, and doomed-to-fail, mission from the elusive Resistance. The only way to get her in is to sell her as a slave to the most brutal woman in the Empire in the most dangerous place in The Empire.
Elias is a good soldier. But that does not make him a good person. He lived his years at Blackcliff in a constant cycle of training, obeying, and killing. He is a slave to the expectations of the Empire. Graduation is coming up, along with a chance to break that soul-crushing cycle. While Elias wants to escape with his soul intact, it seems like destiny will do everything to rip the life from him.
These two desperate slaves to the Empire meet when the world is in the midst of chaos, which quickly includes them in its madness.
There seems to be a trend of mixed reviews with this book, and I am afraid that I am not going to be able to break the streak. There were definitely aspects of the book that I absolutely adored, but there were also things that rubbed me the wrong way.
First of all, my ship majorly sunk. I am talking a bigger shipwreck than the Titanic. Yes, I am bitter about it. Even after some 450 pages I still do not exactly understand why the romance happened the way it did. I feel as if it was more of a temporary, spur-of-the-moment thing, than a relationship that I can actually put my heart behind. I do not think that the couple pairings at the end of the novel were the best choices. (I did ship Katniss and Gale, so I am used to the heart-shattering disappointment.) I just hope that the romance in the next installment of the series is more convincing and realistic.
I also felt as if Laia was playing a constant game of "he loves me, he loves me not" with a flower that has infinite petals. There was some complicated love geometry in the story. In the midst of the intensity, action, and suspense I had to listen to her pining after two guys.Honestly, I did not even want her to end up with either of them.
I actually enjoyed the world-building, even though I wish that I was given a little but more information about the history of the world and the "things that crawl in the dark" as I am dubbing them. Some things and facts just seemed to randomly pop up in the story, which threw me off guard. I would like to know simple things like where did the Augurs come from, does anyone else have powers, and what exactly are the magical creatures in the Empire. More of the magical aspects of the story would have been appreciated too. I was just left with too many unanswered questions.
On the other hand, I loved the atmosphere of the novel. The intensity and rigidness of the military academy was beautifully constructed, as was the conflicting atmosphere of the open and free Scholar marketplace. The information about the world was a little bit lacking, but I enjoyed the setting that the world-building created.
There was a brilliantly vibrant, and diverse, cast of characters that I loved. The made me happy, sad, and angry at all of the right times. Everyone had a carefully constructed background story, and I loved hearing how each of the characters got to be how they are. I found myself sympathizing with every character. (I even felt the tiniest bit sorry for the Commandant toward the end, which testifies to the quality of the characters considering how awful she was.)
My favorite character has to be Helene. I feel as if she was a little bit brushed over when she could have offered a lot more to the story. I hope she has a bigger role in the next book.
Another thing that I loved about the character and the story in general was its examination of guilt and morality. It is full of morally gray areas and hard decisions between right and wrong, honor and disgrace, and good and evil. The heroes had their faults, while the villains had their stories of glory once upon a time.
I also really loved the title of the novel. It fitted extraordinarily well with the story and it seems so poetic. I love it when it is obvious that authors put a lot of thought into their titles. I feel as if truly beautiful titles are in short demand nowadays, so something as meaningful and deep as "An Ember in the Ashes" is nice to see.
I would recommend An Ember in the Ashes for anyone who likes a mix of fantasy and dystopian. If there are any fans of love triangles out there, this book has all of the love geometry that you could ask for. I would also recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a diverse cast of characters who all have their own unique stories and backgrounds.
I would not recommend An Ember in the Ashes for anyone who is looking for a high-fantasy read. Unfortunately, the magic is more background music than the main display in this novel. I would also avoid this novel if love geometry frustrates you (or if you are like me and frequently root for the wrong ship...).
Welcome to Book Battles, a feature here at Crazy for YA where I put two books in the battle ring and have them fight it out to see which one is better.
Today's fight is between Alive by Scott Sigler and Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant.
Alive is a science fiction thriller about a girl who wakes up in a coffin without a clue where or who she is.
Messenger of Fear is a thriller that leans more on the urban fantasy side of the spectrum about a girl names Mara and her exploits, or more like terrors, with her new nightmare, the Messenger of Fear.
Since both of these novels are thrillers, it is best if I do not reveal a lot about the nature of the plot. I want to keep the mystery and suspense intact.
Disclaimer- These are just my thoughts on a classic novel. They are not intended as a study guide for an English test that you forgot to study for. My opinions may vary from other people's, even yours. Please respect my opinions as I will respect yours.
Also, this is a discussion of the entire novel, which includes the ending. Basically, there will be spoilers about everything. Read at your own risk.
The Scarlet Letter is one of the classic classics. Almost every high school (or even college) student has (or should have) read it at some point in their English career. It is a story that teachers frequently use as examples and is the topic of a plethora of essays.
It is idolized in the literary world due to its blatant symbolism, dominant themes of religion and hypocrisy, and its revelations about human nature.
Students know it better as the book that is way to obsessed with a stupid red letter.
But, that is the magic of this book. The scarlet letter is so much more than a piece of fabric. In order to fully understand and appreciate the novel, you have to look past the superficial appearance of the novel and dive a little bit deeper, which I know is daunting. But with a little bit of guidance, this book could become one of your favorites.
If you want to know more about the real meaning of Hester's scarlet letter, how public shaming is still a problem today, and how this classic book is attached to YA, see the original post.