Tuesday, February 24, 2015

To-Read Tuesday

The other day my best friend and I were discussing how ridiculous it is that we love reading so much that we decided to be English majors, but now that we are actually majoring in English in college, we have no time for recreational reading. Does this make any sense at all? Not to me.

I see all sorts of books that I would love to read, but I just have no time! Between attempting to understand Shakespeare for one class, writing 12 page papers about Reader Response Theory in another, writing 25 page persuasive research papers for another, and reading Samuel Shem's House of God for a fourth class, it seems like my days of reading for fun have been left behind in high school. 

I make time to read for fun sometimes, and it seems like the Young Adult releases for 2015 are going to be very exciting. I have already read Red Queen, which was the book I was most looking forward to reading, but here are some more releases I can't wait to read this year:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Pub. Date: 24 February 2015
Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. 

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London - but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped

Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder
Pub. Date: 24 February 2015
Once, only her own life hung in the balance.

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job - and his life - are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret - or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is - while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
Pub. Date: 10 February 2015
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner. 

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen Trilogy
Release Date: 10 February 2015
Pages: 388
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Wow, Red Queen. First of all, I try not to buy books at their full price, because, even though I like to support the author, I can't frivolously spend between $18 and $25 for a new hardcover book. That being said, I had seen previews for Red Queen and I was so excited to read it, so I treated myself to it (on Valentine's Day…Happy Valentine's Day to me). In between classes, studying, and reading for school, I snuck in time to read to Red Queen and I was not disappointed. If you like Hunger Games, Divergent, and other dystopian novels, read this one.

Although I had seen from other reviews that the premise is similar to Red Rising by Pierce Brown (now on my to-be-read list) and although I have read quite a few dystopian young adult books, I was still blown away by the originality. While I will admit that the original plot points are mixed in with parts that are not so original- such as people having powers, forcing people to watch violence in order to keep them from rebelling, and other themes- I found the plot original enough to be shocked and enthralled. The author, Victoria Aveyard, is also a screenwriter, and I could visualize the story as a movie the entire time. I am sure that it will be a movie soon enough, joining Divergent, the Hunger Games, and Harry Potter on the big screen.

As readers, we have grown used to the "Love Triangle" of the guy she should be with, the guy everyone wants her to be with, and the guy she wants to be with (two of these labels being attached to one of the two boys in the triangle). However, is Red Queen it was like a Love Rectangle and I couldn't keep track of my emotions. One minute I loved Cal, the perfect prince and future King. The next minute I adored his younger brother, Prince Maven, the shadow behind his "perfect" brother. And then I would find myself drawn back to Kilorn, the Gale to Katniss, the Mare had known forever and secretly saw herself growing old with. I won't spoil the book for anyone, but CRAZIEST PLOT TWIST EVER.

I thought the ending would be predictable- the typical good guy wins over bad with the love of their life. Boy, was I wrong. The plot twist was so shocking, I'm still shocked. It was almost a "Jace is Clary's brother" revelation and I couldn't help myself from gasping (thankfully not loud enough to wake my roommate). I thought I would explode and then I thought it must be a joke, a trick, that it was all just a misunderstanding.

Obviously, I can't wait for the second book to see what happens next. Sadly, it only came out last week, so I have a long time to wait. This book was not only a fantastic read that kept me on my feet, but it by seeing how young the author is, I was shocked into thinking that maybe I could be a writer.
I definitely recommend reading it! But seeing that it has already reached #1 on the Young Adult New York Times bestsellers list, I have a feeling that people don't need me to tell them to buy it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

100 Books To Read Before I Die

As an English major, I have often found myself thinking "I really should have read that book already"…with a twinge of guilt. This happens especially when I stroll awkwardly past the Classics display in the bookstore, trying to ignore the glares I feel from the Charles Dickens and Shakespeare covers on my way to the bright and shiny Young Adult section. So, in an attempt to dissipate my guilt and become more "worldly" I suppose, I am going to make it my mission to read more of these books.

About a year ago, Amazon released a list of the "100 Books To Read In A Lifetime". Amazon's editors voted and chiseled down the list to just 100 books, ranging from Where the Wild Things Are to 1984 to Pride and Prejudice. I was pretty pleased with myself because I have read 20 off the top hundred, but I want to make it my mission to read all of them.

I have listed the books under a "100 Books To Read" tab and cross them off as I go. I also wanted read the list of books Rory Gilmore read in the TV show Gilmore Girls, but I don't think I can read all 339 of them any time soon.