Review: Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Title: Across the Universe
Series: Across the Universe, Book #1
Author: Beth Revis
Published by Razorbill, January 11, 2011
Hardcover, 416 pages

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn’t do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed’s hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there’s only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. (From Goodreads)

This book has been on my to-read list for over a year. I bought it the week it came out. (I mean, COME ON who can resist that cover?!) But then I gave it to a friend to borrow and I didn’t get it back until earlier this year, and by that time I had lots of other things I wanted to read. I kept putting it off, but I FINALLY got around to reading it!

Sci-Fi isn’t usually my thing. But this was really really really really really good. Most reviews I’ve seen have liked this book, but haven’t loved it. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was my favorite book, but I did enjoy it a lot, even enough to say that I loved it.

That’s not to say that I don’t think this book had its problems. It did. One of those being the instant-love. If you’re looking for some big romance where it takes a while for the main characters to fall in love, this is not for you. Elder loves Amy because she’s “different.” Period. AKA, she has red hair. He gives no other good reason whatsoever. AND Amy is kind of a whiner. Constantly. Sure, I probably would be whiny, too, given her circumstances, BUT PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER, GIRL. I do think the overall story arc for their characters was good, though, and I’m really excited to read the rest of the series.

I also really liked the mystery aspect of this book. I mean, I figured out what was going on WAY before Amy and Elder did, but it was still a nice addition. And normally, I really dislike books where the narrators of each chapter switch, but I kind of got into it with this, and I don’t think it would’ve worked nearly as well if it was JUST from Amy or Elder’s point of view instead of both.

I know this review is kind of late, given that this book has been out for over a year and a half, but I think that if you haven’t read it that you definitely should. It may not be the best thing you will ever read, but it was entertaining for the most part. I’ll definitely be reading the sequel after I finish a couple of others that I need to read first!


Back to School

Hey, guys! I know I just came back not too long ago, but I just wanted to let you know that unfortunately I won’t be able to post as much while college is in session. I’ll have much less reading time now (or at least the books you’ll want to hear about), but I promise I’ll try to update at least once a week! Hopefully I can come up with SOMETHING for you :)

Review: The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

Title: The Maze Runner Trilogy
Author: James Dashner
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
 (Overall rating of the series)

I’ve never done a review for an entire series at once before, but I figured that would be the best way to do this one. I bought The Maze Runner about two months before I actually read it, and I was nervous about reading it. I had really high expectations because I know a lot of people that love these books, and I didn’t want it to be a let down. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the first book of the series all that much until I was near the end.

Without giving too much away, I’ll try to tell you what the series is about, since the Goodreads descriptions are for each book separately. The Maze Runner series focuses on a sixteen year-old named Thomas. One day, he wakes up in a lift where he can’t remember anything at all about his past other than his first name. He isn’t alone, however. There are others who are just like him, who woke up in “The Glade” and didn’t remember anything. They’re also all boys. The Glade is in the middle of a giant maze with stone doors that close at night so that “Grievers,” which are basically giant slugs with mechanical arms, can’t get in at night. The day after Thomas arrives, a girl is sent into The Glade. A girl has never been sent to the maze before, and usually the boys arrive a month apart from each other. More surprising, though, is the message that she has been sent to deliver. Thomas and the other boys have to find a way out of the maze.

If I tell you any more than that, it would ruin the entire series, so there’s just your basic premise. I will tell you, though, that the rest of the series doesn’t take place inside the maze. We get to see what the rest of the world is like, which I liked a lot about the sequels. Honestly, I didn’t like the first book much at all. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads. At times, I got bored with all of the descriptions that Dashner gave. It almost felt like he had a certain amount of pages he HAD to fill, and so instead of giving us more things happening, he gives us endless descriptions of things that I honestly didn’t care about. On top of that, the characters never really made me like them (in the first book, anyway). I loved the ending though, so I knew I had to read the rest of the series.

The Scorch Trials was MUCH better than the first book, in my opinion. I can’t really give a description of what happens because it would spoil the first book, SO I’ll just say that I really loved some of the new characters that were introduced (Unpopular Opinion: Brenda was a MUCH better female protagonist than Teresa). The story was MUCH more entertaining than The Maze Runner as well. It still took a little while for me to really get into this one, but not nearly as long as the first one.

The Death Cure was my favorite in the series. It has the lowest rating on Goodreads, and I honestly don’t understand why. I felt like it was the perfect ending to the series. I think the reason I liked it so much more than the others was because we got to see the world outside of WICKED’s control, and by this point I had finally warmed up to most of the characters.

Overall, I enjoyed this series, especially after I started liking the characters. It’s not my favorite series, by any means (that’s a tie between The Hunger Games and Divergent), but I do think that it was a nice read. I definitely recommend that you guys check it out if you haven’t already. If you can’t get into the first book, don’t fret, because they definitely get better as they go!

The prequel to this series, The Kill Order, was released this week. I’ve already bought it, but I have a couple of other books I need to finish first. I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of it!

Review: Serena by Ron Rash

Author: Ron Rash
Originally published by Ecco Press, October 7, 2008
Paperback, 371 pages

The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains—but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband’s life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons’ intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning. (From Goodreads)

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while now, since it’s being turned into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence (of Hunger Games fame) in the title role. After reading the book, I can’t WAIT for the movie to be released next year, because I think Jen will be absolutely amazing in it.

But this isn’t a post about a movie, it’s a post about a book. And this book is stunning.

I love it when a book centers around a villain. And Serena is most definitely a villain. As is her husband, Pemberton, to some extent. They will stop at nothing to get what they want, until Serena finds Pemberton’s weakness: his illegitimate son. The story not only follows the Pembertons, but also the men who work at the Pembertons’ lumber camp, and Rachel, the mother of Pemberton’s son. In several reviews on Goodreads, I’ve seen the workers called “a kind of Greek chorus,” which basically sums up their purpose in the book. They fill in the gaps for us, as well as gossip about what they think really happened. I really loved reading their parts of the book because they were just so much fun. They served as comic relief as well.

I also enjoyed hearing Rachel’s story throughout the novel. It made me sympathize with her a lot more than I would have otherwise. Most of all, though, I enjoyed the character of Serena. No matter how evil she is, her character still made me want to cheer for her most of the time. Did I mention she has a pet eagle? Yeah, she’s a total bad ass.

The way this novel is written is absolutely beautiful. Some of Rash’s descriptions are so descriptive, I feel like I’m there. The whole thing was very, very literary. I feel like it could eventually be a classic. And I hope it is, because it’s just that good.

Review: Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard

Title: Paper Covers Rock
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Originally published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, June 14, 2011
Paperback by Ember, June 12, 2012
Paperback, 192 pages

At the beginning of his junior year at a boys’ boarding school, 16-year-old Alex is devastated when he fails to save a drowning friend. When questioned, Alex and his friend Glenn, who was also at the river, begin weaving their web of lies. Plagued by guilt, Alex takes refuge in the library, telling his tale in a journal he hides behind Moby-Dick. Caught in the web with Alex and Glenn is their English teacher, Miss Dovecott, fresh out of Princeton, who suspects there’s more to what happened at the river when she perceives guilt in Alex’s writing for class. She also sees poetic talent in Alex, which she encourages. As Alex responds to her attention, he discovers his true voice, one that goes against the boarding school bravado that Glenn embraces. When Glenn becomes convinced that Miss Dovecott is out to get them, Alex must choose between them. (From Goodreads)

I really wish I would’ve written the review for this book as soon as I finished reading it. It’s been a while since I read it. I may not remember everything about it, but I do remember that it was absolutely amazing.

For a YA novel, I felt that this book was extremely well written, even though it’s a bit on the short side. Each chapter begins with a quote from Moby Dick (which, if I had read Moby Dick, I probably would’ve understood the significance of), which is also the book in the library that the narrator, Alex, hides the journal behind when he isn’t writing in it. It adds a sort of “literary” element to the book that I liked a lot. Alex also writes poetry, so there are several poems included.

I could relate to most of the characters in this book, and I feel like they’re all represented as true teenagers. I feel like most, if not all teens can relate to this book in some way, because the characters’ struggles are all very real problems. The characters are all flawed, which makes them more real than in TONS of YA novels where the characters are seemingly perfect. It is set in 1982, but while reading it, it felt like it could’ve taken place today as well.

So, even though my review for it sucks, you should DEFINITELY check out this book. If you’ve enjoyed books like Looking for Alaska and  A Separate Peace, then I definitely would recommend this book for you.

Review: The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair

Title: The Thing About Thugs
Author: Tabish Khair
First US Edition published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July 24, 2o12
Hardcover, 256 pages

A subversive, macabre novel of a young Indian man’s misadventures in Victorian London as the city is racked by a series of murders

In a small Bihari village, Captain William T. Meadows finds just the man to further his phrenological research back home: Amir Ali, confessed member of the infamous Thugee cult. With tales of a murderous youth redeemed, Ali gains passage to England, his villainously shaped skull there to be studied. Only Ali knows just how embroidered his story is, so when a killer begins depriving London’s underclass of their heads, suspicion naturally falls on the “thug.” With help from fellow immigrants led by a shrewd Punjabi woman, Ali journeys deep into a hostile city in an attempt to save himself and end the gruesome murders.

Ranging from skull-lined mansions to underground tunnels a ghostly people call home, The Thing about Thugs is a feat of imagination to rival Wilkie Collins or Michael Chabon. Short-listed for the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize, this sly Victorian role reversal marks the arrival of a compelling new Indian novelist to North America. (From Goodreads)

I was fortunate enough to receive this book from one of Goodread’s First Reads giveaways.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was different to what I was expecting, though. By the description, I was thinking The Thing About Thugs was going to be a murder mystery. It wasn’t. Within the first few chapters, the reader is told who is doing the murdering and why they’re doing it. If you’re looking for a good mystery, this is probably not the book for you.

If you enjoy historical fiction, however, you will most likely like this book. The writing is fantastic, and the story is mostly entertaining. There were bits that kind of pulled me out of the story being told, though, when the narrator would talk about finding Amir Ali’s letters in his grandfather’s home and say that he imagined things in certain ways. I know those were put in to make it feel more “literary,” but they kind of made me want to just hurry past them and get back to the real story being told.

I love that the story unfolds in different narratives. You have the chapters that are Amir’s letters (which are written in a script font that some may find hard to read, though I didn’t), others which are his stories told aloud to the Captain, and then the chapters which follow other characters such as the murderers and Amir’s friends. The story moves kind of slowly, but by the end I was really interested to see what was going to happen to Amir and his friends, although we aren’t given a definite answer.

I really liked this book a lot. It wasn’t something that I would have normally chosen to read on my own, but I’m glad that I did. It’s definitely worth reading, especially if you’re into historical fiction.

Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Title: Struck
Author: Jennifer Bosworth
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 8th, 2012
Hardcover, 373 pages

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything. (From Goodreads)

I wanted to like this book. I really did. The book trailer was absolutely stunning, and I really liked the description given, but it never lived up to my expectations. Not to say that there weren’t SOME good things about Struck. The world building was great– Bosworth’s descriptions of the post-earthquake LA were at times extremely realistic– and the idea of being struck by lightning and receiving you some sort of “powers” was really cool, but the way that sci-fi element was included didn’t turn out to be great. The cults could’ve been a great addition to this book, but I felt like they were overly religious most of the time, to the point of making fun of Christians, which I didn’t like in the least, no matter how much the author denies she was doing that.

Really, though, my biggest problem with this book was my lack of emotional investment in the characters. I honestly didn’t care what happened to any of them at all. If an author can’t make me feel sorry for at least one of the characters throughout the entire course of a nearly 400-page book, then in my opinion that book is not worth reading. I should WANT to know what’s going to happen to these characters, but that just didn’t happen for me in Struck, unfortunately.

I HATE giving a book a bad review, especially when I was so excited to read it. I really wanted to like it. The concept was intriguing, and the trailer and book cover are both great, but I honestly had a hard time making it through. There were several times I just wanted to quit, but I kept on reading anyway just because I thought it HAD to get better at some point. I suppose I was wrong.

Playing Catch-Up

Hey, guys! Instead of posting TONS of reviews over the next few days, I thought I’d just give a run-down of the books I read while I was away. Several of them are books that have been out a while, so I didn’t really see a point in giving a full-on review when most of you have probably already read them (I’ll link to the Goodreads description just in case). Some of the books WILL get separate reviews, and therefore will not be included in this post. So without further ado, here’s what I’ve been reading!

 Looking for Alaska by John Green

This summer, I have come to love John Green’s writing. I read The Fault In Our Stars when it was first released, but then for some reason waited until this summer to read anything else he wrote. I really enjoy his writing style and his character development. I always feel so connected to the main characters and I really love that about his books. This book is absolutely amazing. It’s not my favorite John Green (more on that later), but I did love it a lot. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you solve that problem pronto.

Breathless by Lurlene McDaniel

I’m not sure how popular this book is. I honestly had never heard of it before I bought it on a whim from Amazon, so many of you may not have read it. This book is so short that I read it in about 3 hours. The story was good, but I felt like I never got to know any of the characters at all. I would’ve liked it a LOT more if it would’ve been about 100+ pages longer. I felt like the whole thing was rushed, and I didn’t want it to be because I felt like I could’ve really liked it if it WASN’T that way. Oh well.

Paper Towns by John Green

THIS is my favorite John Green book. For some reason I’ve heard a lot of people say it was their least favorite, but I loved it the most. Maybe it was because I connected SO much with the main character, Quentin. I don’t know. But this is another MUST read. Absolutely loved it.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

For some reason, I never read this book until now. We didn’t have to read it in AP Lit in high school, even though every other class before ours had to. I never read it on my own, either. So while I was on vacation, I decided it was time to buy it and read. And I’m so glad that I did. It became one of my favorite books of all time. I just absolutely love it, and there’s no need for any more of a review than that. If you haven’t already read this, then you’re really missing out (even though I’m pretty sure I’m probably the last person on earth, or at least in America, who is over the age of 16 and hasn’t read this.)

That’s all for now, but full reviews for the other books I’ve read while I’ve been away will be up throughout the week! Thanks for sticking with me :)

P.S. I’m SO bummed that they moved the release date of the new Gatsby movie! I was really looking forward to seeing it over Christmas. Oh well. I guess 6 more months isn’t THAT long.


Hey guys! So sorry it’s been so long since I’ve updated! Hopefully lots of new reviews to come soon! Thanks for checking back even though it’s been a long time since an update :)