My Top 5 Favorite Books of 2014

1.  Ignite Me by: Tahereh Mafi

ignite me

Ignite Me is the third book in the marvelous Shatter Me trilogy, which follows Juliette, a girl with a lethal touch.  Since Ignite Me is the last  book in the series I am hesitant to give away much information about it because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but it was AMAZING! I loved it so much that I read it three or four times this year! I could always count on it to get me out of my reading slumps, therefore, it is no surprise that it was my favorite book of the year! Ignite Me is a neglect all your responsibilities and put down whatever you are doing right now kind of book! First, it not only is action packed, but it has hands down the most beautiful prose I have read in young adult literature.  Also, we spend a lot of time with WERNER in this novel, need I say anything else?  (As a side note, if you are reading the Shatter Me series, you must read the novella Destroy Me that comes between Shatter Me and Unravel Me because it is ESSENTIAL if you want to truly understand Werner’s character)

2.   Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

opposition

Opposition was the last book I read in 2014, and what a FANTASTIC book to end the year reading!  Opposition is the last book in the Lux series, which follows Katy, a book blogger who moves across the street from a family of uber attractive aliens. Of course a relationship with a hot alien, Daemon, ensues! Their relationship had me hooked! I feel like I could read about these characters forever, and its so sad that this is the last book ever to be written about them.  But don’t you worry if you don’t like romance ruling the plot, because Opposition is also extremely action packed and has twists I never saw coming!

3.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe By Benjamin Alire Saenz

aristotle and dante

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a moving story about friendship, family, culture, and coming to terms with who you are.  This novel essentially does not have a plot, but rather it simply follows Aristotle as he lives out his life.  There were so many aspects of this book which I adored.  First, in YA literature, the parents of the main character are often horrible people or absent from their kid’s life, so I found it refreshing that a main character had supportive parents who deeply cared for him.  Also, both Aristotle and Dante are Mexican, so this novel explores Mexican culture, which I loved!  Lastly, the ending was perfect.  Absolutely magical! (I did a review on his book in August so you can go see the review if you want to learn more information on it)

4. The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

retribution of mara dyer

The Retribution of Mara Dyer is the third novel in the Mara Dyer series, and what a conclusion it is! The Mara Dyer series follows a haunted girl, Mara Dyer, who wakes up one morning in a hospital and cannot remember the accident which killed all of her friends, but left her mysteriously unharmed. Mara suffers from severe post traumatic stress disorder after this accident, so you are left constantly guessing if what she is observing is actually happening or if she is just hallucinating.  I waited years for this last book to come out and it did not disappoint me!  A lot of people have problems with this novel and say that there were numerous plot holes in it, and while I can understand that, I typically rate books on how much I enjoyed them as I was reading it, and this one had me hooked! It may not be a perfect book, but it was action packed, kept me on the edge of my seat, and had a killer romance!

5.  All the Light We Cannot See By Anthony Doerr

all the light we cannot see

All The Light We Cannot See is an adult historical fiction novel set during World War II.  It follows two characters, Maurie Laurie, a blind French girl, and Werner, a young German boy preparing to become a Nazi soldier.  Through riveting flash-forwards and flashbacks, the novel follows the course of the two characters’ as they struggle trying to live their own lives without the interference of their bleak setting.  This story is almost written in threads, and it is not until the very end that you can see how Maruie and Werner’s stories thread together.  All the Light We Cannot See is a touching, well-crafted, and gorgeously written story, that I can’t wait to go back to and re read.

Christmas Book Haul and quick update!

Merry Christmas everybody! I know I have been away for a really long time, but I have just been so busy with school. From now on, I am going to try and post every Friday.  However, my blog has been comprised of reviews, but since I don’t have as much time to read I am going to start doing tags, book hauls, and other fun bookish things!

Alright so now on to the books.

1. Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

opposition

Since this is the fifth book in the Lux series, I am not going to give a brief synopsis because I don’t want to spoil anyone!  But, if you have not started reading the Lux series, I highly recommend it!  There is romance, action, and hot aliens… what could be better?!

2.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

perks of being a wallflower

To be honest, the only thing I know about this book is that it is a moving coming of age story, so I’m just going to go into it blind!  Especially since it is a short contemporary I feel like it is the best way to go into this book!

3.  It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

its kind of a funny story

I have been interested in this book for a very long time.  From what I can gather, it follows Craig Gilner, a boy who tries to commit suicide because of the pressures in his high school.  Craig is admitted into a mental hospital after his attempt to take his life and there he meets a variety of individuals who help him on his journey.

4.  A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

a great and terrible beauty

In the summer I volunteered at my local library, and I always had my eye on this book’s beautiful cover, but I never got a chance to pick it up! It follows a sixteen year old girl, Gemma, and is set in Victorian England.  After her mother dies Gemma is sent to a haunting boarding school in England where she joins a clique of girls.  This is supposed to be a dark and complex fantasy with elements of mystery and twists you never see coming!

5. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

speak

I read Speak a few years ago so it seemed fitting that I finally own it! Speak follows Melinda Sordino who busts an end of the summer party.  After this party, people at school despise her, and she refuses to speak.  She internalizes her pain and agony because something happened that night at the party.  Something too traumatizing to say out loud. If you have not read Speak I highly recommend it, its a haunting story that you will not be able to put down.

6.  Paper Towns by John Green

paper towns

I hear that Paper Towns has characters similar to Looking for Alaska, which is totally fine with me because I loved Looking for Alaska!  Besides that information that is all I really know about this book so I’m going to go into this book blind!

7.  An Abundance of Katharines by John Green

abundance of katharines

I love John Green, what can I say! I hear that this is many peoples’ least favorite of John Green’s books, but it sounds cute and quirky, so I’m ready to jump into it.  It centers around a boy named Colin Singleton who loves girls by the name of Katharine- in fact has dated 19 Katharines and has been dumped by all 19 of them. He who goes on a road trip with his best friend, but no Katharines in his attempt to finally win the love of a girl.

Noggin By John Corey Whaley: Book Review

Noggin

Summary

Listen — Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.

Now he’s alive again.

Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.


When reading the synopsis, you would think that Noggin was going to be a weird sci-fi book, but it is actually kind of a cancer story.  The novel follows Travis who has had his head cut off after his body was ravaged by cancer.  Knowing that he had no other options, Travis endured a new medical procedure, in which his head was cut off and cryogenically frozen until technology allowed his head to be placed upon a different body.  Travis expects to wake up in the distant future, but instead he wakes up 5 years later, which is just long enough to let his friends and family move on, but not long enough for Travis to be able to let them go because to him it is as if no time has passed.

I was not expecting to like this book, but from the very start it drew me right in.  I tend to shy away from stories about grief, especially revolving around cancer, because I find they are a little too heavy handed for my taste, but Travis’s refreshing voice made me unable to put the book down.  Interlaced with the perfect amount of sarcasm, Travis’s humor jumps off the page and put a smirk on my face despite the despondency of his situation.

Noggin tells Travis’s story of coming back to life as a famous medical miracle, while including flashbacks of his former life.  Emotions abound in this novel. Although Whaley’s writing style is humorous, there is a sad undertone which made me tear up at times.  Some of the tears were shed out of the beauty of Travis’s relationship between his family and his friends, but also, there were moments that made me feel weak and fragile because of the heartbreaking situations Travis endures.  Noggin primarily focuses on Travis’ relationships with his friends and family, all of which are strained because of the circumstances.  Everyone wants to move on, but nobody knows how. Sadly there wasn’t a “dealing with the aftermath of when a relative comes back from the dead” book to guide them.  As the story goes on, it becomes evident the significance Travis’s presence has on all the characters.  I really felt touched by the stories of these characters, especially between Travis and his old friend Kyle.

Although I felt very engrossed throughout the beginning and middle of the story, the book trailed off in the end for me.  I didn’t think the ending was that strong and some of Travis’ actions began to annoy me.  While they fit along with his desperation, I would have hoped that by the end of the story he had developed a little bit more.  However, my expectations might not be as realistic as the ending that Whaley planned out for a character in Travis’ situation, so I would not call it the worst ending ever, it simply did not hit me.

Overall Noggin is a unique novel regarding the effects of cancer.  This is a book that despite its humor will really make you think about relationships, life, and the passage of time.  This would also be a fantastic book to read in book clubs because there are so many ideas and themes worth discussing.  If you are looking for a funny book that still has some depth to it, I would highly recommend this book!

f8a63-4stars

Book Review: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone (By: Kat Rosenfield)

Amelia Anne is Dead and gone

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town–and Becca–into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson’s life are intercut with Becca’s own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia’s death.


Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone follows two girls; Becca and Amelia who feel trapped by their lives.  Both girls simply want to run away, escape the lives they have been living, and finally feel freedom hugging them, telling them they can finally breathe.  Amelia and Becca were very similar during life, but now Amelia has been murdered, and her body rests on the outskirts of Becca’s town.

Although this book wasn’t my cup of tea, I am not oblivious to the great aspects Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone attains.  If I could rate a book simply on writing style I would undoubtedly give this book 5 stars.   From the very first sentence, I knew I would love Rosenfield’s writing style.  If this is her debut novel, I have no doubt in my mind that Rosenfield will have an amazing career ahead of her. Her prose was incredibly lyrical and yet it was still able to capture the dark undertones of hopelessness and confusion.

Also, I give Rosenfield credit for her unique approach to writing her novel.  By including Amelia’s perspective, she foiled Becca’s character wonderfully.  Amelia’s chest ceased to rise and fall in the same place in which Becca was born and raised. Amelia graduated college the same day Becca graduated high school.  Both yearn to fall in life’s embrace, but Amelia’s opportunities were cut short.  Amelia is physically trapped in the same town which Becca fears she will remain locked in.

Now that I have mentioned the aspects I enjoyed in the story, I am going to move on the parts I did not like.  Even though I just praised Rosenfield for her unique method to write the story, I do not think it was necessarily successful.  I did really enjoy seeing from Becca’s current perspective and Amelia’s days leading up to her demise, but I really disliked Becca’s third omnipresent narrator.  The third person narrator often gave the audience information that wasn’t important to Becca’s or Amelia’s storylines, therefore I think the book would have been stronger without it.

I personally really love character driven books, but besides Amelia, almost all of the characters in Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone are horrible people.  Certain authors are able to work with heinous characters and make you love to hate them, but that wasn’t the case here.  Rather than caring about the characters, I felt indifferent towards almost all of them.  Even when the twist happens and we finally discover who killed Amelia, I didn’t feel my heart pounding and I wasn’t excited, but rather, I just wanted to be done with the story. .

Although I personally didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t necessarily let this review hold you back from picking this book up. Many people I trust on opinions absolutely adore this book, so maybe you will too!

3 stars

 

Book Review: Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards

Blurb:

She has everything she’s ever wanted. But not her memory…

When Chloe fell asleep in study hall, it was the middle of May. When she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can’t remember the last six months of her life.

Before, she’d been a mediocre student. Now, she’s on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he’s her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won’t speak to her.

What happened to her? Remembering the truth could be more dangerous than she knows…


Although I really enjoyed Six Months Later, I am not a part of the majority of people who gave it five stars.  I can understand why some people do absolutely adore this book.  The premise is extremely intriguing, and the mystery promises to keep readers engrossed the entire time.  Furthermore, Chloe’s narrative is as disorientated, frustrated, and annoyed as a person who might be going crazy would be.  At times this book reminded me of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer because similarly to Mara, Chloe’s narrative reads as though she is an unreliable narrator, which left me questioning if she was losing her sanity.  Chloe is a very easy character to like, she has a fierce determination to get to the bottom of things, and is very resourceful at gluing the pieces of her life back together.  And the more pieces she finds, the harder it is to put this book down!  Six Months Later is certainly an addicting book which will keep you thrilled the entire way!

However, when we finally discover what had happened over the six months, I was extremely disappointed.  It was just a little too inconceivable for me.  I was hoping that her loss of memory resulted from a psychological issue because that would have made the book more poignant, but it was not.  While reading the book, I was preparing for a fresh new end of a psychological thriller, but its ending made the plot feel familiar, and also there were still a lot unanswered questions.  The book wrapped up so quickly that it felt as though information was thrown at me without giving me the proper time to digest it.

Also, I have incredibly mixed feelings about the romance.  At first, I really enjoyed observing Adam and Chloe’s friendship and then relationship occur.  Adam I even came to really love.  It was also refreshing that the romance was kept second, and the mystery was the main driving point in this story.  However, I didn’t like how the relationship turned out.  Even though I started off loving Adam I grew to despise him despite any regret he had regarding his actions.  I simply couldn’t find it in me to completely forgive the information he kept from Chloe.  I recognize that his situation may not have been completely under his control, but it still tarnished my love of him.

Overall Six Months Later is a fast-paced, entertaining read, that is sure to keep you thrilled.  What really hindered my enjoyment of this book was that I expected a psychological thriller, and an outlandish plot took its place.  I do recommend reading Six Months Later because it is super entertaining, but if you are expecting a book focused more on the psychology of the character you will not find that in this novel.

3 and a half

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Review)

Blurb:

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison.  Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world.  When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common.  But as the loners start spending time together, they discover they share a special friendship-the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime.  And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the people they want to be.


This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read.  There essentially isn’t a plot and just focuses on a boy, Aristotle, and his character development while he thinks about life and himself.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe left me with a very calm and peaceful mood, I didn’t even realize how invested I was in the story until I finished the book, and discovered that I flew through it in one day!  I highly recommend this book, especially to those who love contemporaries about family and friendship; this is definitely a book that gives you all the ‘feels’ and it fortified why I read YA books.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe follows Aristotle, a very angry young teen with an older brother in prison.  His family never speaks of this brother, to them it is as if he disappeared from the face of the planet, leaving no stains of his existence on the Earth, however, he stained Aristotle, leaving him desperately wondering who this mysterious character is.  Aristotle also has a few older sisters, but since they are all so much older than him, it is as if he is an only child, leaving him very lonely because he also doesn’t relate to people his age.

One day, Aristotle meets another boy named Dante at the swimming pool, and Dante seems to be everything he is not: outgoing, peculiar, and bursting with kindness and patience.  From this day on, Aristotle and Dante form a unique friendship, which allows them not only to uncover some of the “secrets of the universe” but to uncover who they truly are and what makes them happy.

As I mentioned above, this book focuses alot on friendship and I absolutely adored it! Like all real friendships, the one formed between Aristotle and Dante was not always easy, but in the end they always cared for each other because their friendship had formed an unbreakable bond between them.  Not only was Aristotle and Dante’s friendship beautiful, but I also really enjoyed the relationship between Aristotle and two girls he knew from school, and how although he earlier didn’t want to admit it, along the way he gained the friendship of them as well.

Another thing I adored was the novel’s focus on family.  I have mentioned this before on my blog, but often in YA dystopian or contemporary books, the family is either absent or horrible people.  While this is sometimes true, I myself have a really wonderful and supportive family, so I loved reading about Aristotle’s and Dante’s families, because they did love each other so deeply.

A unique point in this book was the prominence placed on the culture of the characters. Both Aristotle and Dante are Mexican, and it was interesting to see bits and pieces of Mexican culture woven into this story.  Also, both Dante and Aristotle are the children of immigrants, but they themselves have only lived in America, so they often discuss that they truly are not Mexican at heart, and I thought this was really fascinating, because me, myself am a child of two Portuguese immigrants and I could relate a lot to what they were saying.

Lastly, the ending of the book was one of the best endings I have ever read.  I do not want to dig deep into it because I do not want to spoil it for anyone, but I loved how the story came together in the end and how all of the characters got their happy endings.  This is not a book where anyone is killed off or dies due to a lethal disease or anything, so I loved the fact that this is a book that focuses on a snippet of a character’s life, and how it ends in a way that we can picture how Aristotle and Dante’s life will unfold.

Overall I LOVED this book and HIGHLY recommend picking this book up.  It is not a fast-paced, action-packed world, but it is really enchanting and will take you on a beautiful journey of friendship and self-discovery.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe contains a lot of truth within it, and it was amazing to read about all the life captured between the pages of this book.  This post is more me gushing about why I loved this book than an actual review, but there was not one thing I didn’t like in it, so I felt it was my duty to convey all of the joy that reading this book brought me.

July Wrap Up

Hi everyone!  Today I decided to do something different and give a general wrap up of all the books I read this month! Along with the books I read in July, I will also give the ratings I gave each individual book!


If I Stay by Gayle Forman: 4/5 stars

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz: 5/5 stars

Branded (Sinners # 1) by Abi Ketner:  5/5 stars

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison: 5/5 stars

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick:  5/5 stars

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare:  5/5 stars

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han:  4/5 stars

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins:  4/5 stars

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson: 5/5 stars

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:  5/5 stars

Just One Day by Gayle Forman:  4/5 stars

Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout:  5/5 stars