{this is me messing around}
{end of messing around}

Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon (Abandon Trilogy, #1)Title: Abandon (Abandon Trilogy #1)
Author: Meg Cabot
Released: April 26, 2011
Genre: YA paranormal, fantasy, supernatural
Pages: 304 (U.S./Canada hardcover)
Publisher: Point

"Though she tries returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can't help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it. Yet she's never alone... because someone is always watching her. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She knows he's no guardian angel, and his dark world isn't exactly heaven, yet she can't stay away... especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld."

This story has so much potential to be dark, mysterious and exciting, but unfortunately, the narrative drags on so long that it falls flat.

This book definitely has an interesting premise, which is why I picked it up in the first place. Abandon is somewhat a modern retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone, in which Hades, the god of the Underworld, kidnaps the beautiful Persephone and takes her as his consort for eternity. In this novel, Persephone is Pierce, a high school senior who is being stalked by John, ruler of the Underworld, after escaping from his Underworld kingdom where he took her for his eternal companion.

The beginning of the narrative is interesting, fast-paced, and well-written. Meg Cabot does a good job of revealing just enough at a time to keep the reader’s curiosity burning. However, it wasn’t long before my curiosity died out and everything just became tedious.

The novel is long, but all of the in-the-present events take place over a span of only two days . This is because Pierce and John’s backstory is told in a series of long flashbacks. The somewhat random flashbacks to the often-referred-to “accident” and “incident” only make the story drag on and the backstory more confusing. Needless to say, it could have been done better.

The protagonist and narrator, Pierce, is tolerable, but certainly boring. She’s presented as a stunningly beautiful girl who cares for the well-being of animals (which does make sense, considering that Persephone is the daughter of Demeter, goddess of the harvest). Other than that, she doesn’t seem to have any endearing qualities, or even any real flaws. The entire time I was supposed to be sympathizing with her I was only thinking about what a cardboard cutout of a heroine she was.

The romance was the thing that bothered me most. John, the love interest, was possibly even more flat than our heroine.. Throughout the first 250 pages of the narrative, John is shown as an angry, hot-tempered, controlling man who follows the protagonist around and whose only personality consists of the “pain” Pierce sometimes sees flashing in his eyes. Later on, bam! The reader is supposed to swoon over him after he confesses his love to Pierce. Not only is the romance nonsensical and unbelieveable (these two characters have talked to each other for a total of how long? An hour?), but because Pierce’s entire opinion of John changes after she discovers his love for her, Pierce begins to appear more self-centered and annoying.

Meg Cabot’s writing style is for the most part well-crafted and makes the book a bit more bearable. Cabot has also built up a story that has quite a bit of potential to grow and become more complex. The exciting last 50 pages give a preview of what could come in future installments. Although the story and characters fall flat, the most curious of readers may want to pursue the series, but only if they have the patience.

My Rating:
2.5 Brains

Recommended if:
-you're a fan of paranormal romance

Hope you enjoyed the review (and the new rating system)!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #1!

Well good morning, lovely readers! I hope everyone's having a wonderful Wednesday so far, oui? Right now I'm giving my first shot ever at "Waiting on Wednesday", a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine. It's a weekly event that lets book bloggers share an upcoming release they're super excited for.

So let's get cracking! 
This Week's Choice Is:

Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings, #3)Title: Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings #3)
Author: Jackson Pearce
To Be Released: September 4, 2012
Genre: fantasy

"Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.

Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.

When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul."

Oh my gosh, I feel like this is a super obvious choice and that it's so obvious that I would want to read this book that I shouldn't even bother using this book for this meme. I mean, psh, who doesn't want to read this book?

That was completely incoherent, so let's start over!

First of all, if any of y'all haven't read Sisters Red and Sweetly by Jackson Pearce, go! Run off to the library/bookstore, little children! They're both part of Jackson Pearce's fairytale retelling series, with Sisters Red being a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood (except with badass werewolf hunter sisters) and Sweetly being a retelling of Hansel and Gretel (again, with a lot of badass werewolf hunting). They can be read as stand alone retellings, but Pearce actually weaves continuity throughout the books, mainly using the badass werewolf hunting. Can you tell that I really like the badass werewolf hunting? I really do.

So after reading the first two awesome books of Pearce's series, of course I must be jumping out of my pants for Fathomless! It's a retelling of, you guessed it, The Little Mermaid. I'm actually quite interested in mermaid stories and so I'm super excited for this one! Plus, I'm really curious of how Jackson Pearce is going to include the badass werewolf hunting in this one.

So tell me your thoughts! Also, what are you all waiting for this Wednesday?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: Notes From The Blender by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Notes from the Blender
Title: Notes From The Blender 
Author: Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Released: May 24, 2011
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 240 (U.S./Canada hardcover)
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Rating: 8.4/10 (Great!)

"Declan loves death metal--particularly from Finland. And video games--violent ones. And internet porn--any kind, really. He goes to school with Neilly Foster and spends most of his classroom time wondering what it might be like to know her, to talk to her, maybe even to graze against her sweater in the hallway. Neilly is an accomplished gymnast, naturally beautiful, and a constant presence at all the best parties (to which Declan is never invited). She's the queen of cool, the princess of poker face, and her rule is uncontested-- or it was until today, when she's dumped by her boyfriend, betrayed by her former BFF Lulu, and then informed she's getting a new brother--of the freaky fellow classmate variety. Declan's dad is marrying Neilly's mom. Soon. Which means they'll be moving in together."

This book isn't just quirky and funny. It's full of emotions and awkwardness and family and lessons about life and sarcasm and witty jokes and is a total roller coaster ride, which is basically what it's like to be a teenager.

Notes From The Blender is written in two alternating perspectives, which I personally loved. Every other chapter is written by either Declan or Neilly, which is awesome because we get to hear the equally funny voices of Declan, a sarcastic, hormonal teenage boy, and Neilly, a typical "popular" girl who is surprisingly witty and likeable. Though the characters are opposite of each other, the two authors' styles of writing are similarly quirky and charming. There is quite a bit of foul language. Some people don't like it, but I actually thought  it made the characters more realistic. There's also quite a bit of sex talk, but hey, we're talking about teenagers here.

This book also has quite a bit of meaning. The family aspect of the story is totally comedic, but it' also emphasizes the importance of family. I also loved the inclusion of the gay parents and the all-accepting church, both of which taught a lesson about love and acceptance.

Declan and Neilly both seem like teenage stereotypes, but in reality, they each have surprising amounts of emotional depth. Their experiences with family, friends and life are challenging but fun. Above all, they're relatable, which is what makes this book totally awesome for teenagers (or those who are just mentally teenaged).

You might like Notes From The Blender if you:
- like comedy
- enjoy reading books with multiple points of view
- don't mind swearing
- are comfortable with sexual subjects (no sex scenes here, but there is quite a bit of sex talk from Declan's point of view)
- can relate to teenage awkwardness

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched (Matched Series, #1)
Author: Ally Condie
Released: November 30, 2010
Genre: dystopia, science fiction
Pages: 366 (U.S./Canada paperback)
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Rating: 7.3/10 (Good)

"Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow."(less)

The dystopia trend in YA fiction right now is going at full speed, and publishers are churning out dystopian novels like there's no tomorrow. Matched by Ally Condie naturally had a lot of hype surrounding it (Look at that cover! Just look at it!) and was rumoured to be one of the best YA dystopian novels in years.

My expectations for this book weren't high in the first place; I knew better than to believe the hype created by publishing companies (shame on you for getting my hopes up all the time!). But hey, Matched exceeded my expectations! The book had quite a few flaws, but it was enjoyable at the same time.

My favourite thing about the novel was the narrator/female lead, Cassia. She's such a refreshing heroine because she's mentally tough without being hard or closed off to family and friends. In fact, she has a great relationship with family and friends in the novel. She's generally polite, intelligent, and likable (which is less common in YA than you'd think it'd be). Most of the background characters are well developed. I also enjoyed Ally Condie's writing style, which was smooth and enjoyable to read. 

Because this is a dystopian novel, setting is crucial to the success of the story. Unfortunately, Condie's world development of the Society just didn't do it for me. The dystopia just wasn't well developed enough. Some elements of it don't make any sense to me (why are teenagers allowed to have romantic flings outside of their matches in such a restrictive society?). The only reason I'll let this slide is because there is room for more development later in the series. Still, it's not an excuse. 

This novel goes at a snail's pace. For 366 pages, not very much happens. There is no real climax, and there are a lot of times when I feel that the author/narrator asks way too many questions and is just using them as filler. 

Most of all, Matched just didn't have the "disturbing" factor that a dystopian novel needs.

From all the negatives that I listed I'm sure it seems that I hated this book. But I didn't. I don't know. All in all, there's just too much potential in this series to give up hope on it. 

You might like Matched if you:
- don't mind slow books
- like science fiction
- like love triangles

Monday, July 16, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


Hey y'all! It's everybody's favourite day of the week: MONDAY! (Haha, joking.) So today I'm going to be doing my very first meme ever, "It's Monday! What are you reading?", hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  (I've always wanted to do one of these meme thingys, and now that I have a blog, I can! Muahaha.)

(I also realize that I should have gotten this post up earlier today. Oopsies. Trial and error, right?!)

So let us begin with the books I read last week:

Books Read Last Week:

Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
(See my review here!)

I cannot even express how much I liked this book again. It was SO ASLDKFJASLDKFJASLDKFJ. (That was me spazzing with it's greatness.)

(Random tidbit you should know about me: for somebody who loves books, I sure am a slow reader, especially when the book is good. That might sound weird, 'cause why would anybody read a good book slowly? I just like to savour the amazingness of the story, you know? Can anybody relate to this?)

Currently Reading:

Matched by Ally Condie

I don't really know why, but my expectations for this book weren't too high. I wasn't going to read it. The synopsis was slightly intriguing though, and the cover was just so pretty. (I know, "Don't judge a book by it's cover, blah blah blabbity.)  Let me tell you, it's definitely exceeding my expectations so far! The first half was slow (in fact, the entire book is pretty slow), but I like the characters better than I thought I would...

To Be Read This Week:

Abandon (Abandon Trilogy, #1)

Abandon by Meg Cabot

I'm really excited to read this one, mainly because it's a modern twist on the Greek myth of Persephone, goddess of the Underworld. 

For those who don't know, Persephone, daughter of the harvest goddess, was tricked into eating Underworld-ian pomegranate seeds by Hades, condemning her to live in the depressing Underworld with him four months a year.

A modern twist on that? How awesome does that sound?

Notes from the Blender

Notes From The Blender by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Serious books are cool and all, but funny books? Love love love. It's basically the whole reason why I picked up Notes From The Blender; it sounds really funny. A death-metal loving teenage boy and a typical, popular, girly-girl becoming step-brother and step-sister. GIMME!

So that's pretty much it, guys! My first meme completed! LEVEL UP! *triumphant video game music*

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the previous four books in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series.

Title: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian
Author: Rick Riordan
Released: May 5. 2009
Genre: fantasy, adventure
Pages: 381
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Rating: 9 (Awesome!)

"All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of a victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows.

While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate."

The last installment in a series always makes me emotional. Like really emotional. Sometimes I start to tear up in the middle of the book, not even because of the story, but because of the knowledge that this will be the last time I share an adventure with the characters.

But I did not expect The Last Olympian to get me emotional. 

Don't get me wrong. I truly did enjoy the first four books in the Percy Jackson series; I loved the twists on Greek mythology, the sidesplitting humour, and the fast-paced, monster-filled adventures. Before The Last Olympian, I always thought, it's just a series I read for fun, right? No emotional attachment to the characters here.

But I don't think I ever realized how much I loved this series until I read the final book. And trust me, I got emotional.

The Last Olympian was truly a great finale for the Percy Jackson series. It's definitely my favourite book of the series, along with The Lightning Thief.

The problem I always had with the earlier Percy Jackson books was that the characters just felt sort of two-dimensional to me. It's especially common in middle-grade and children's novels, but it's not necessarily fatal to the books. A lot of the time, books for younger readers are plot and humour driven, so the story can still be fun to read, even if the characters are not as fleshed out as they could be. This is how I felt about the Percy Jackson books in the beginning. The original story lines and the hilarious dialogue always made up for the lack of character depth. 

As the series went on, this improved. And The Last Olympian definitely surprised me.
There was character development!  It was amazing! As Rick Riordan revealed the mysterious pasts of several characters, I found myself understanding and learning to love characters I had never liked before. Even Annabeth, who I had always thought of as a "meh" character, grew on me as Riordan revealed glimpses of her past. 

This novel is quite a bit darker than the previous ones, and that lead to the exploration of serious themes: death, betrayal, guilt. This only added to the development of the characters and the depth of the story itself.

Naturally, as the last book in a series about an impending God/Titan/Demigod war, the vast majority of the book is battle. Riordan also has dozens of loose ends to tie up, so there are a lot of flashback scenes. However, there is rarely a boring moment. Riordan's imagination, the fast-paced plot, and Percy's lasting humour add up to a fantastic finale for a fantastic series.

And now I have to get my hands on The Lost Hero ...

This Is The Beginning, I Guess


That was my frustration at not knowing what to write as the first sentence on the first post on my first blog.

Now that that's over with, hey there! My name is Mary, and this is Books Equal Brains, a book blog created to honour the amazingness that is reading. On the blog, I'll be talking about and reviewing the books that I read, which will be primarily young adult fiction (sorry non-fiction lovers!). There will definitely be other posts too, and LOTS and LOTS of randomness. Randomness is fun! 
As for genres, I love to read YA contemporary, fantasy, historical fiction, science fiction, and pretty much all other types of fiction. Occasionally a non-fiction book will catch my eye, but fiction is where my heart is!

Now, to answer a question I'm sure people are going to wonder about: What exactly does "Books Equal Brains" mean?

In my eyes, it can mean a multitude of things:

a) that reading books makes you smarter;

b) that books have brains, and therefore have lives of their own;

c) anything you think it means.

And so, I will end this post with the hope that I don't make too many mistakes during my first venture into the blogosphere, and that you have fun reading Books Equal Brains! 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...