Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed


~Audiobook Review~
Title: Rogue One (Star Wars Disney Canon Novel)
Author: Alexander Freed
Released December 20, 2016
Listened via Audible subscription
Rating: 4/5

Summary

As the shadows of the Empire loom ever larger across the galaxy, so do deeply troubling rumors. The Rebellion has learned of a sinister Imperial plot to bring entire worlds to their knees. Deep in Empire-dominated space, a machine of unimaginable destructive power is nearing completion. A weapon too terrifying to contemplate . . . and a threat that may be too great to overcome.

If the worlds at the Empire's mercy stand any chance, it lies with an unlikely band of allies: Jyn Erso, a resourceful young woman seeking vengeance; Cassian Andor, a war-weary rebel commander; Bodhi Rook, a defector from the Empire's military; Chirrut Imwe, a blind holy man and his crack-shot companion, Baze Malbus; and K-2SO, a deadly Imperial droid turned against its former masters. In their hands rests the new hope that could turn the tide toward a crucial Rebellion victory--if only they can capture the plans to the Empire's new weapon.

But even as they race toward their dangerous goal, the specter of their ultimate enemy--a monstrous world unto itself--darkens the skies. Waiting to herald the Empire's brutal reign with a burst of annihilation worthy of its dreaded name: Death Star (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

I saw the Rogue One film last December and knew that there was something about it that stood out to me more than the other Star Wars films.  As soon as I saw that there was a novelization of the film, I knew I wanted to read it to get an in-depth view of the characters' thoughts.

The novelization is very similar to the film, but has a few extra scenes.  Listening to the audiobook was almost like seeing the movie again, especially during the anxiety-inducing final scenes.  The relationship between Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor really stood out to me on screen, and their relationship is the main reason why I decided to either listen to or read the novelization.  I think the book is successful in developing these two characters up.  We get a better picture of their thought processes, motivations, and character development.  Even Krennic's POV was interesting to read, as twisted as his mind is.

When it comes to the side characters like Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus, the novelization did not add much to their relationship and history.  I think I felt a better emotional connection to these characters on-screen.  Overall, this was a cool novel to listen to.

Audiobook Performance Review
Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
Rating: 5/5

Once again, my history of audiobooks is rather short, but I thought the performance by Jonathan Davis was fantastic.  His voice acting for most of the male characters sounded very similar to the film actors.  This was nice because it made it easier for me to visual the film actors while listening to the book.  I highly recommend the audiobook, as it even has cool sound effects!
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Title: I'll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Released September 16, 2014
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4.5/5

Summary

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them.

But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life.

The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

For some reason I went into this book thinking it would be a light and fluffy read.  Boy, was I wrong. Although it was an easy read, it packed an emotional punch.

The book alternates POVs between twins Noah and Jude. All of Noah's chapters are accounts of the twins when they were 13 years old, and Jude's when they are 16. Both teens are artistic, Noah moreso than Jude which is evident by the super flowery prose in his POVs. I am not a fan of flowery prose, so the plethora of metaphors in Noah's POVs threw me off.  However, as the story developed it became addicting and I didn't mind it as much. The hard thing about the metaphors was decrypting them so I could split apart what was actually happening in the scene versus what the character was experiencing emotionally.

I didn't truly start to fully enjoy this book until the second time I got to Jude's POV.  I think I really enjoyed the way Jude was carrying these random objects because of her superstitions and her relationship with her grandma's ghost. And also Oscar. Who doesn't love a character with a British accent?

A Jude-and-Oscar scene that I loved:
Jude: "A boy boycott."
"Really?" he says with a grin. "I'll take that as a challenge.
Help.
As a sibling of a bro that is both my best friend and gets on my nerves on the daily, the dynamic between the twins was relatable except when bro and I fight, it's like it never happened an hour later. I think the story captured the relationship between siblings amazingly with Noah and Jude's banter and emotional moments.

I'm not sure how to describe the ending except that it was extremely satisfying. The whole book I'm feeling tense because Noah and Jude have this rift between them and I'm wondering how they will make amends. The story was weaved in such a way where the ending was, plain and simple, beautiful.
Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Title: The Sun Is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Released November 1, 2016
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3/5

Summary

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? (Summary from Goodreads)

Review

I really wanted to love this, but unfortunately I felt "meh" about it.  Oddly, it was too romantic for me.  I say "oddly" because usually I enjoy a good ship and experiencing all the feels.  I've come to realize that I might just enjoy slow-burning ships.  The dialogue seemed too unrealistic.

I did like some of the themes that were dealt with in the story (i.e.controlling parents, figuring out what you want to do with your life, identity, suicide, illegal immigration).  I could especially understand the dynamic between Daniel and his father.  Although my own dad is not nearly as controlling as Daniel's father, he has always reminded my brother and I how good we have it compared to him growing up.  

I also thought it was interesting that we got information about minor characters in some chapters and could see how the main characters affected their stories.  It was a "cute" story and easy read, but it didn't impress me as much as I thought it would.
Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Released May 2, 2017
Bought on Kindle
Rating: 3/5

Summary

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

***Review contains spoilers***

Time to FINALLY review ACOWAR, which has been all over the YA book community since its release. Going in, I forgot almost everything that happened in ACOMAF. All I knew is I wanted more Rhys! Maas did a great job bringing me back up to speed on previous events.

I'm debating where to start when reviewing such a huge book with so many characters...

I'll start with what I liked. At first, I found the beginning chapters exciting because Feyre was going all spy mode and taking down Tamlin's court. But upon reflection, I realized it was kind of stupid on Feyre's part, knowing that she would need his army later when fighting Hybern. Still, it was badass until she was caught. I also particularly enjoyed one of the war scenes toward the end when we had great descriptions of Cassian raining destruction upon Hybern's army. We are told how glorious the crew is at fighting, but it was nice to finally have a scene showing it.

Now, three stars means I liked it but there were numerous problems that prevented me from really liking or loving it. My first problem is the size of this book. There was no reason for these books to be this long, especially when they are filled with scenes that provide nothing for moving the story along. There really shouldn't have been so many sex scenes between Rhys and Feyre. I would't mind if there was one, but this book is supposed to be high fantasy and is long enough without these useless scenes getting in the way of story progression. Another part that bothered me was the scene where Rhys and Feyre were hosting a meeting to recruit the High Lords to join their forces in the war with Hybern. This scene felt ridiculously long because it was as if they were teenagers bickering rather than High Fae that have been alive for hundreds of years.

I like to read other reviews on Goodreads because they get me thinking about some elements I wouldn't have thought of on my own. One three star review mentioned that ACOWAF would have benefited from multiple POVs, and I totally agree. You could tell Maas had Feyre on the sidelines in some scenes just so that she could watch and describe what the other characters were doing. For instance, there was a scene where Feyre got into Lucien's head which was basically done just so the reader could see how much Lucien was obsessed with Elain. Which leads me to another point: wtf happened to Lucien? Maas built up his character in the beginning chapters only to throw him completely out of the picture! Again, this would have been an excellent opportunity for multiple POVs! We could have seen what Lucien was up to or the sweet exchanges between Cassian and Nesta from one of their POVs.

There were other things that bothered me as well, such as the fact that Feyre didn't even think about finding the Suriel until the worst possible time. The writing was definitely better than the first book, but a step down from the second. Not sure if I will continue the series...maybe if the next books are shorter!
Friday, May 5, 2017

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Title: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Released November 22, 2016
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 3/5

Summary

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own (Summary from Goodreads).

Review

Hey readers, sorry it's been awhile since I've posted anything! I didn't even bother posting a TBR for the month because I was still reading two books from last month's TBR.  The last month has been crazy busy and stressful because of school, but I only have one more exam tomorrow and then it'll be time for extreme reading.  Last May, I read 6 books in 2.5 weeks!

On to the review.  After much deliberation, I ended up rating this 3 stars because I liked the concept and the main characters, but didn't love the writing.  What I really liked about Scythe was that the idea was original.  I haven't seen any YA books remotely similar to this, except for the competition factor between the two main characters.  Our main characters actually seemed to have common sense in their actions and thought processes, unlike a lot of YA main characters.  I also liked that the beginning of each chapter had an excerpt from the Scythe's journals, which gave me a better idea of what they thought about the morality of being a Scythe and the politics in the Scythedom.

However, I couldn't help but be bored by the flat writing.  There were many times when my eyes kinda glazed over and I had to go back to reread.  Since the book was set hundreds of years into the future, there was an opportunity to do a lot of world-building and descriptions of the technology, but it lacked both.  Not only that, but the side characters were rather dull, and I would have liked to see more descriptions of how characters said things or what their facial expressions looked like.  This is another book that I think my younger middle-school self would have enjoyed more.

While I would have liked a more surprising ending, it was good in that the author could have left this a standalone book or added sequels. It looks like there will be a sequel, but I'm not sure if I'll actually read it...
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