Review: Winger (Winger #1) by Andrew Smith

Winger

Winger by Andrew Smith 
Winger #1
Young Adult | Contemporary | Realistic Fiction
Published by Simon & Schuster on May 14, 2013
★★★★★

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids in the Pacific Northwest. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

There’s something incredibly refreshing about a book that focuses on growing up (Ryan Dean is 14 years old) and living your life yet still follows a plot. Although the plot wasn’t mountain moving like saving a country or destroying a government, it was very clear: get Annie to fall in love with Ryan Dean. That wasn’t exactly an easy task considering Ryan Dean was 14 and Annie was 16 along with the fact that Ryan Dean thinks every girl is hot. He’s also a major pervert.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you,” Annie said. “Did you bring any swim trunks? We have an indoor pool and Jacuzzi.”
“Wow,” I said. “No. I didn’t.”
I looked down, then shrugged and looked over at Annie and whispered, “I’ll go without.”

Therefore, not am I only glad that I get to read about a hilariously perverted 14 year old boy, I get to read a hilariously perverted 14 year old boy who learns that life is more about girls and more about living.

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Top Ten Books I Want to Read but Don’t Own Yet

top ten tuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Wake up, Caitlin

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He’s magnetic. He’s compelling. He’s dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else–her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

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Book Review: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Keuhn

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Keuhn
Young Adult | Contemporary | Realistic Fiction
Published by St. Martin’s Press on January 11, 2013
★★

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

To be frank, I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. I’ve read so many rave reviews on Charm & Strange, therefore I expected something specular and riveting. What I got was extremely confusing and mediocre. Right off the bat, you’re confused. You’re thrown into this story that’s being told by this unreliable narrator who’s a bit on the crazy side, meaning he really doesn’t know what the heck to think, because he may or may not be suicidal.

Honestly, as a reader, you never get any of Win/Drew’s backstory from the actual story until the end or until you draw your own conclusion (that, if judging by the werewolf “callings,” is probably wrong). Before reading the book, I had read the summary once, so I was a bit blind going into the book. At first, I thought Win and Drew were two completely different people. I mean, they lived such different lives! Long story short, by reading the summary you’ve pretty much read the book.

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Discussion: Finishing a Series with a ‘Meh’ First Book

discussion

Today’s discussion topic will be about finishing a series when the first book was just alright for you.

When it comes to YA books, I go into them with a higher expectation than any other genre, therefore my end rating for YA books is generally pretty harsh. And my reviews tend to be pretty harsh as well. This results in the majority of the books I read in the YA genre ending in 2.5 or 3 stars.

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Book Review: Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano
Standalone
Young Adult | Mystery | Contemporary
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on March 25, 2014

Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother’s job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone’s skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn’t trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn’t figure it all out soon—she’ll be next.

I must warn you first that I am really into bad boys in young adult literature. I don’t know why, but they thrill me. I suppose I liked Nearly Gone as much as I did because Nearly reminded me of myself in many ways. Firstly, I’m very competitive and serious when it comes to my grades. I constantly compete with the smartest kids in my class to set the learning curve (I fail most of the time, but I still try). Secondly, I love puzzles. They confuse the heck out of me, but I love them. Thirdly, Nearly likes bad boys. Yeah, I like bad boys as well.

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Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Me That I Must Read

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. (: This week’s topic is books that people have told me that I absolutely must read! tttAnna and the French Kiss–Do I even need to elaborate? Yes, I have purchased this book. No, I have not even read the first word. Yes, my friend Sav has even borrowed it and read it. So has my friend Lauren. But me? Nope. Nada.

My Life Next DoorSo many people have been telling me that this is a good book, so I just had to buy it! You know, back in January. It’s been about seven months. I think it’s time that I sit down and read this.

Eragon–You would not believe how many people at school have told me to read this. I’m talking about the kids that despise reading with their very being. Yes, they’re telling me to read this descriptive monster. Admittedly, I own it. And the sequel. Fudge my life.

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Book Review: The Iron Knight (The Iron Fey #4) by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
The Iron Fey #4
Young Adult | Fantasy | Romance
Published by Harlequin Teen on October 26, 2011

My name – my True Name – is Ashallayn’ darkmyr Tallyn. I am the last remaining son of Mab, Queen of the Unseelie Court. And I am dead to her. My fall began, as many stories do, with a girl…

To cold faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase – a half human, half fey slip of a girl – smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the unwelcome company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end – a quest to find a way to honor his vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron Realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. And along the way Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

NOTE: This is the fourth book in a series. There will be spoilers for the first three books.

I wish The Iron Queen was the last book in the series. Although The Iron Knight wasn’t bad and I did happen to enjoy parts of it, that’s all that I enjoyed–parts of it. I didn’t enjoy the entire book, which I wanted to so badly.

The Iron Knight is in Ash’s point of view, and it starts off right where The Iron Queen left off. Ash is searching for a soul so he can go into the Iron Realm to be with Meghan. If you’ve read my review for The Iron Queen, then you’d know that I’m on Ash’s side now. Before you freak out, yes, I was on Ash’s side for this book. I don’t know how to explain it other than this book was boring.

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Book Review: Avalon (Avalon #1) by Mindee Arnett

Avalon by Mindee Arnett
Avalon #1
Young Adult | Science Fiction | Dystopian
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 21, 2014

A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.

Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.

Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon’s cult hit show Firefly.

Jeth Seagrave lives in a world where a police force called the ITA monitors the planets and people can travel at the speed of light in their spaceships using metadrives. In this futuristic world, Jeth works for a powerful man named Hammer Dafoe, who’s basically the equivalent to a drug overlord in today, stealing spaceships and metadrives from the ITA.

On one of Jeth’s missions, he runs into an ITA agent who’s willing to work with Jeth to betray Hammer in exchange for information on Jeth’s parents who were murdered by the ITA for treason. This supposed alliance starts Avalon off with a bang, which is something I appreciate.

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Book Review: Everbound (Everneath #2) by Brodi Ashton

Everbound by Brodi Ashton
Everneath #2
Young Adult | Fantasy | Paranormal
Published by Balzer + Bray on January 23, 2013

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

Immediately after reading Everneath, I had to go out and buy Everbound. I’m not even kidding. I finished Everneath on Friday night, and then I went to Barnes & Noble to buy Everbound Saturday morning. The series is that addicting.

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