Friday, September 2, 2016

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN by Lionel Shriver (School Review)

Image result for we need to talk about kevin book

Kevin Khatchadourian is guilty of murdering nine of his classmates, a cafeteria worker, and a teacher. He now resides in prison, heavily guarded and being tried as an adult. While locked up, his mother Eva Khatchadourian, comes to visit him.
We Need to Talk About Kevin is the story of Kevin through Eva’s eyes, written in letters to her estranged husband Franklin. She describes raising Kevin in detail, from the day he was born and refused to drink his mother’s milk, to his odd distaste for everything from the very moment he was able to function on his own at all.  The story is just as frightening as it is eye opening - you are forced to ask yourself the age old question “Nature or nurture?” Kevin seems to have come into the world angry and manipulative, but could he really have turned out so bad if he had been raised ‘perfectly?’
There were many themes in this book, including a lot of American culture and bias. A native Armenian, Eva once made mention to Kevin by saying that he was ‘as American as he could be’ after shooting out his school, because she found this action to be distinctively “american.” She also addresses America’s optimism and “high-hopes-crushed” attitude, which is especially embodied in her husband, Franklin.
More importantly, I think that We Need to Talk About Kevin is very psychologically centered, focused on Kevin and trying to show all sides of who he was as a child, teenager, and finally a near adult in a jail cell. After a lot of contemplation, I would say the main theme was exactly the question that I asked above: Are people like Kevin (diagnosed psychopaths and sociopaths) born or made? Or on what side of the scale does it usually tip? In this book particularly, it tries to make it seem like a ‘born’ situation - and does a very convincing job of it - but it’s also a big controversy associated with this book in particular. Eva didn’t deserve a “Mother of the Year” award by any means, but Kevin’s behavior was uncalled for and unexpected even from the time that he was a screaming infant. At the same time, Shriver seems to offer the possibility that Eva’s ambivalence towards maternity may have affected his development, and yet there is no scientific or logical proof that it could happen.

I chose to compare We Need to Talk About Kevin with the song “The Chosen Pessimist” by In Flames ( I chose this song because of the tone and feel of it, and because of the lyrics “Approaching constant failure” and “Between love and hate/ Which path to follow?/ How can I keep balance in this race?/ Come faith, I’m dying...” I think that these lyrics really capture Kevin’s mindset. He sees that he is “approaching constant failure” and “between love and hate.” With these viewpoints, it doesn’t seem that there is a wrong or right path, and that the outcomes and consequences are all just blurred together. But if you only see yourself as approaching a “constant failure”, is there really anywhere else to turn?

Overall, I think it was a very well written book with undeniable literary value. It was thought provoking and realistically disturbing; the psychology so real and possible that it nearly made me develop agoraphobia. Shriver definitely did her job.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

SANDS by Kevin L. Neilson

For nine months of the year, the sands of the Sharani Desert are safe. The genesauri—giant, flying, serpentine monsters who hunt across the desert in enormous packs—lie dormant. The smallest of their kind is able to take down a single man with ease, and the largest is able to swallow entire clans. The people of the desert have always been able to predict the creatures’ appearance, but this year, the genesauri have stopped following the rules. 

When the genesauri suddenly attack her clan, seventeen-year-old Lhaurel draws a sword in her people’s defense—a forbidden practice for women of any clan—and is sentenced to death by her own people. Chained to a rock and left to be eaten by the next wave of genesauri, Lhaurel is rescued by a mysterious, elusive clan said to curse children at a glance, work unexplainable terrors, and disappear into the sands without a trace. 

With the fate of the clans hanging in the balance, Lhaurel discovers she possesses a rare and uncontrollable power—one that will be tested as the next deadly genesauri attack looms on the horizon and the clash between clans grows more inevitable by the hour. 

Sands by Kevin L Neilson is definitely unlike anything I have ever read. It was new, engrossing, and had a different and interesting feel. If I could give it any big overall award, I would for sure label it as unique.
Sands is set in a very interesting setting with a complex, thought out plot. It takes a vivid imagination to think up - or even understand - this one, but the author did a great job of describing it. There were a lot of things that I loved about Sands, and some things that I did not like quite as much - I believe I will try my first “list review” on this one!

  • Lhaurel was an amazing MC. She was strong and independent, even given her background (a clan where women are totally disrespected and treated like trash). I always love a good character that can fight back, and Lhaurel was one of them.
  • As I have already mentioned, I loved the setting. I can honestly say that I have never read a book with a even a similar setting, and (trust me) I’ve read a lot of YA books
  • The genesauri. Dang, those things are scary as heck, but also totally realistic. They’re basically just like dinosaurs on steroids... yeah. Sweet dreams.
  • The light romance put in there. I myself am a romantic, so I appreciated it and found it a lot more believable than the ‘insta-love’ we see so much in Young Adult books today.
  • The world didn’t feel foreign - what I mean to say is, the author was obviously well acquainted with the world that he built and knew it inside and out. He was able to provide good, thoughtful detail to help me know how to navigate its complexities.
  • Plot twists. I love me some plot twists.

  • This one is obviously opinion, but I have never liked having more than two (sometimes I can tolerate three!) points of view. Especially since some of the names sound so foreign to me, I sometimes got lost and it would turn my head around for a few pages before I finally caught on. If you’re good with names, this won’t be a problem for you.
  • There were some minor editing problems. They weren’t so frequent that I was distracted from the story or anything, but they were there.
  • It’s a tad bit slow in the beginning.

Overall, it was a very refreshing read. I personally love finding books that are diverse, so it was very a entertaining and fun ride. I highly recommend for you fantasy lovers (I might even classify some of this as epic fantasy, but that’s my opinion going off again) and anybody who loves a good book that requires you have a brain (we all know those YA books that you could read on 1 hour of sleep and understand completely)
Ending rate, I give it 3.75 stars for the reasons above. Happy Reading! :)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

HOTEL RUBY by Suzanne Young

Stay tonight. Stay forever.

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…

Welcome to the Ruby.

I’ve always been fascinated with the song “Hotel California” by The Eagles. In seventh grade, my friends and I would debate on what the meaning of the song was and what we thought was really going on at that hotel. That’s why this book was such a perfect match for me. Hotel Ruby is basically Hotel California in YA book form - and it perfectly captures the image.
When The Casella’s decide to stop their road trip momentarily to rest at the Hotel Ruby, everybody is excited. It’s a very beautiful building, they’re treated like kings and queens, and Audrey gets to spend a little more time with her dad before she needs to part with him. But the beauty of the hotel is only a fleeting glimpse before the Hotel’s true colors start to show. Audrey is put on the 13th floor alone, where she beings to see and hear things that aren’t there. She keeps hearing a particular song being played over and over, but she doesn’t know where it’s coming from or even if it’s real or just a figment of imagination. But just when Audrey thinks things couldn’t get any creepier, her brother and dad start to change... her dad keeps insisting that they stay longer and her brother keeps hanging out with this totally wack chick that Audrey can’t seem to persuade him is crazy. All she wants to do is leave, but it seems her dad and her brother want to live at the Hotel.
But when Audrey meets the sexy Elias she starts to think huh... maybe this isn’t so bad after all! But is Elias just another thing to be afraid of?
Hotel Ruby was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but my favorite part of this book was how much it blew my mind. One of those We Were Liars types that totally messes with you, but you love it because after it’s finished all you can do is stare at the wall and say “Whoa...” over and over. In just a few words: Hotel Ruby is a haunting blend of romance and mind-blowery. And if you love Hotel California, you’ll love this book for sure!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Jerome Jones contacted me recently on writing a review on his children's books The Mystery of The Lost Recipe and The Mystery of the Lost Uniforms. Both books follow Abby and Tommy as they solve mysteries in their hometown Pismo. I was very excited to review these books, but because I am no longer a child, I brought in the real professionals - my younger siblings.
My first sibling to help me out was Sophie, who is eight years old. Weston, the second to help me along in writing this review, is currently six years old.
Here’s what we think of The Lost Recipe:

The Lost Recipe was all three of our favorites of the two. Sophie once exclaimed, “These kids are awesome!” while I was reading. Afterwards, she remarked that it was “fun and interesting.” she also liked that they found the recipe and that Mr. Nut “had a funny name.”
Weston felt the same way. But while he agreed that he liked the book, he had to admit that he didn’t know why he liked it. Except, of course, because of Mr. Nut who had a “funny name.”
Their favorite parts were the pictures, which Sophie liked because they “helped [her] solve the mystery” and Mr. Nut. At the end of the day, I think that we could call these two a Mr. Nut enthusiast.

The Lost Uniforms:

Sophie was interested in this book as well, but thought that it was a little bit too long. In her opinion, she liked that the other one was shorter and a little more to the point. Aside from this point, they were  both excited for a new story involving Abby and Tommy and loved listening to the new mystery. And of course, when Mr. Nut made an appearance they were very excited. No joke, they exclaimed, “Mr. Nut!” as soon as his face appeared on the pages.

I have to agree that of these two, I liked The Lost Recipe more because it was a little more exciting and to the point. However, it was not significantly better than The Mystery of the Lost Uniforms. And while there were little problems along the way (such as occasional redundancy) both books were a fun and exciting read. My twelve year old sister had even been found eavesdropping, and she said that she found it enjoyable to listen to.
But aside from just being a fun and exciting read, the kids felt like solving a mystery and eating healthier afterwards, which was a big theme in these books. Abby and Tommy are outside constantly when solving mysteries and getting involved in their communities, and they never forget to stop for a nutritious meal.
Overall, I found the book very fun both personally and for my siblings. But even more than that, I loved the messages that it shared. Kids are getting increasingly more lazy, and the promotion of being active is very important. Tommy and Abby are great role models and exciting to read about! So if you have a child around the ages of 4-12 and are looking for some good books, I would definitely recommend.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


It’s all Ryden’s fault. If he hadn’t gotten Meg pregnant, she would have never stopped her chemo treatments and would still be alive. Instead, he’s failing fatherhood one dirty diaper at a time. And it’s not like he’s had time to grieve while struggling to care for their infant daughter, start his senior year, and earn the soccer scholarship he needs to go to college.

The one person who makes Ryden feel like his old self is Joni. She’s fun and energetic—and doesn’t know he has a baby. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to keep his two worlds separate. Finding one of Meg’s journals only stirs up old emotions, and Ryden’s convinced Meg left other notebooks for him to find, some message to help his new life make sense. But how is he going to have a future if he can’t let go of the past?

What You Left Behind is a heart breaking book of loss and recovery. By far, it is one of the saddest books that I have read in a long time. In fact, if I were to say there was only one flaw about this book, it would be that it was TOO sad. Which is saying a lot, coming from someone who has survived novels like The Fault in Our Stars and the likes.
The book starts right in with Ryden and his six month old baby, Hope. As to be expected, he is discouraged having to take care of a baby at the young age of 17 without much help. And just to pile onto the already terrible situation, Hope is the reason that Meg - Ryden’s lover - is dead. He doesn’t blame little Hope, but there is a part of him that is unhappy with the little girl whom he isn’t even sure likes him. But as a reader, I couldn’t blame him too much. After all, he just went through the traumatic experience of losing somebody that he loved dearly and in the process, had a huge responsibility placed on his shoulders.
While juggling school, his job, and his fatherly responsibilities, Ryden is also hoping to play for his High School Soccer team, and hopefully get a scholarship into college with it. But with his already precarious situation, it can only go downhill when he discovers that Meg left a journal for her sister - and when he sees a check list of journals Meg chose to write on the back of it and sees his name, he knows there is a journal out there waiting for him. He thinks that it will help him cope; but his mom and friends think it will only make it worse.
So he works out schedules with Meg’s best friend Aaron about babysitting Baby Hope while he goes to soccer practice and looks for journals. And in between time doing that, he’s got Joni on the side. But while the synopsis of the book may allude to this being a more romantic novel, it is not something I would categorize it as personally. Romance is in there for sure, but it is far from the purpose of the book. What You Left Behind is a story of loss and getting back up on your feet after everything has gone wrong. Ryden’s situation brought me to tears and forced me to take regular breaks because it was honestly too much for me to read sometimes. But then, isn’t life like that sometimes? Ryden’s in a bad situation for sure, but we all find ourselves having trials - some bigger than others, but we’ve all been there. This book was an inspiring tale of being able to rise again and smile more, even after you feel like everything good has vanished.
In the end, it was a good read. Will you be an emotional wreck? Most likely. But it’s worth it in the end.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Hey guys! I’m sorry I have been so absent of late. I’ve been trying to get back into the school routine. Anyway, let’s get back into the groove with another “Let’s Talk Covers!” And I’m not the only one who has experienced grief with these covers. Introducing... The Lux series.

The Lux series is one of my all time favorites. The story is awesome, Katy is basically my fictional twin, and Daemon. Who could ever forget Daemon Black, the super sexy, funny guy with a weakness for being over protective. It’s also... and hear me out before you click out of the page... a love hate romance. And I know a lot of bibliophiles nowadays hate them, but if it’s done right who can deny the amazingness! What can I say, I love it when the lovers fight.

I have to be completely honest and say that I do like the first cover. I actually found Obsidian by walking around the Library and finding myself caught by Daemon’s entrancing eyes. Not to mention, he’s about the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. So I checked it out and BOOM. One night read, just like that.

I really only started to get upset with the latter covers.

Onyx and Opal. TERRIBLE covers! For one, Katy doesn’t look like... well... Katy. The character I know didn’t go traipsing through the forest in scandalous dresses trying to look super sexy. Same with the third book. Literally the whole series Kat is telling Daemon that he doesn’t need to protect her all the time and that he needs to lay off being so overprotective. It doesn’t much look like that on the cover, does it?

And Origin... I think I cried when I first saw this cover. WHAT HAPPENED, IT’S EVEN WORSE THAN THE LAST TWO. For one, he looks like he’s from the nineties, his leather jacket looks like it’s a denim jacket (which clashes horrifically with those jeans of his!) and WHAT, what, WHAT happened to his delicious hair that was all messy and floppy? In this cover it looks... okay, I guess, but his beard thing! Ew! And what is he doing? Just slow-mo walking through a desert in a cowboy costume? Halloween is over. Really, I could go on for hours about this one.

So, after much complaint, we got an announcement from Jennifer L. Armentrout: NEW COVERS! And dang was I excited. And so appropriate as well - these things were hideous. So I awaited excitedly for the next covers.

And then they came out.

WHYYY. I mean... sure. They’re cool or whatever, and in real life they are sparkly, but come on. They’re both shirtless, the makeup on “Katy” is super over the top, and worst of all... I CAN’T SEE DAEMON. Except for half of his face in the last book, I don’t get the full glory of him. And that’s sad for me.

In the end, I accepted that I would never be content with the Lux covers. But I PROMISE, the story is amazing. If you’ve ever thought twice about reading this series, let me make the process easier by saying: Just do it.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

THE DREAMER by E.J. Mellow

Molly hasn’t slept well since the night of her twenty-fourth birthday. Being struck by lightning might have something to do with it, but then again, her chicken did look a little undercooked at dinner. Whatever the culprit, her life quickly catapults from mundane to insane as, night after night, Molly is transported through her once dreamless sleep to a mysterious land illuminated by shooting stars.

There she meets the captivating but frustrating Dev, and together they discover Molly possesses a power coveted by his people—the ability to conjure almost anything she desires into existence. Seduced by the possibilities of this gift, Molly shifts her attention from waking life toward the man, the magic, and the world found in her dreams.

But Molly must ask herself—does something truly exist if you only see it when you close your eyes?

Faced with the threat of losing everything—her job, best friend, boyfriend, and most importantly, that little thing called her sanity—Molly will learn just how far she’ll go to uncover what is real and what is merely a figment of her imagination.

I do admit that I was a little bit reluctant to read The Dreamer. I’ve always been a little bit skeptical of indie books because of previous experiences. But I am happy to say that I was not disappointed by The Dreamer.
Two main things that I absolutely loved about this book - the idea, and the romance. Let’s start with the idea.
We meet Molly, our MC, right as she gets struck by lightning. Luckily, she is fine, but she starts having these odd dreams of this different, all too vivid world. This idea almost seems cliche, but when I thought about it I realized I have never encountered a book where dreaming is actually a reality. It takes Molly a while to realize that this world she is being transported to is a real place, and when she does, she realizes that she has a real problem. She has a hard time coming to terms with it (because really, who wouldn’t have a hard time with that?) but as all lovable main characters are, she is up to the challenge. And her biggest might just be... Dev.
Dev. Don’t even get me started! He’s that super attractive guy that every good NA/YA novel needs. But at the same time, it’s kind of like... Do I even like him? He kind of sucks. But daaaang he is attractive. We’ve all been there as readers of Young Adult novels. But then of course, we won’t only have Dev, but we also have Jared, who is her super nice (earthly) boyfriend who only wants nothing more than to be there for her. The two extremes. And to be honest, I still don’t know where I stand when it comes to choosing between them...
While there was a lot of great things in this novel, I did have one slight problem with The Dreamer - it was a little bit slow. It almost was like an introductory book to get us ready for the awesomeness that the second book promises (which I am sure is coming). It was still interesting, but I didn’t feel that the plot was completely developed and at times didn’t see character’s goals. Nonetheless, it ended in a way that was too tempting to say no too. Talk about a cliff hanger! I need the second right now!
I do recommend The Dreamer for slightly older audiences (I would say 15 and up) and for those who enjoy fantasy and romance. I give it 3.9 stars, because it deserves more than 3.5 by doesn’t quite make four because of the pacing.
Get ready for The Divide, which comes out this October!