Monday 10 June 2013

Review -- Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan


Title: Unspoken
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Series: Lynburn Legacies (1)
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Adults
Release Date: 11 September 2012
Date Read: May 2013
Rating: ★★★☆

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

Kami has had an imaginary friend her whole life- Jared. He exists in her mind- having conversations with her, the one she turns to when she's had a bad day, her best friend. Imagine her surprise when Jared arrives to her tiny little town of Sorry-in-the-Vale and he's real. Their close proximity means that their emotions, thoughts, secrets are more open to each other more than ever before. Their friendship, so carefree and innocent before, has now turned into their worst nightmare. They know every detail in their lives, every event, every secret, every fear.

"The idea of it's kind of romantic," Holly said. "But it wouldn't be, would it?"

But how do they know whether or not they're going to turn against each other and spill their secrets. I love that Brennan took a different direction with her characters and their 'special bond' than most YA novels. Jared believes their connection is a gift. Kami, on the other hand, can't stop thinking about the fact that she's never alone. Jared will always be with her, in the corner of her mind. She can't even be sure whether the thoughts and emotions in her mind are her own, or just a projection of Jared's. The lines of their own individuality is slowly, but surely blurring together and they don't know how to stop it.

That being said, I love Kami and Jared's relationship. I love it when they're together but I love them as individuals, too. Kami is cheeky, smart, independent, strong, determined and she can flip a guy twice her size over her head. There is no line she won't cross to find the truth, and for justice to be served- a true journalist. She once held a petition to get one of the teachers in her school fired, which then resulted in said teacher to chase her around the school with a hockey stick. Girl has balls. Jared is the resident bad boy, and even though I have soft spots for bad boys, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't like Jared. He's witty, caring, fiercely loyal but at times, he was quite dependent on Kami. He's never had other friends so he never wanted to lose her. He worked so hard to try and satisfy and make Kami happy. But again, kudos to Brennan for acknowledging the fact that you can't find happiness in making other people happy. Seriously, Kami and Jared's relationship development was one of the funnest rides ever.

One thing that usually happens in YA novels is when the heroine finds herself a man, her friends literally doesn't come back for chapters and if they do, it's usually just for a minor appearance and off they go again, doing author-knows-what. But Angela and Holly are Kami's best friends and they were all kinds of awesome. They're the two most beautiful girls in school, one dubbed as a slut, Holly, and the other more of a prude since she turns down every guy, Angela. Angela hates everyone and everything, unless it's a couch or a bed and she can sleep on it. Holly is new to their group of friends but she is welcomed all the same. She doesn't feel sorry for herself, being called a slut just because she grew boobs at 11. I was surprised that she was so upfront about using her assets and not feeling guilty about having them at all. As she should. It was refreshingly different from all the pity parties these character tropes have in other YA novels.

Brennan's writing style is so different. I don't think I've read something quite like it, to be honest, in a while, at least. There's a fairytale-like quality to her storytelling, which of course, fits the novel perfectly. I would like more world-building in terms of the magical aspects and legends of the story. But apart from that, I loved it. It was witty, clever, whimsical and vivid, all the things it needed to be.

Unspoken is hugely character-driven. Looking back, it could've all gone horribly wrong so easily. But it didn't. I'm massively late for reading this just now but at the same time, I'm grateful because it means not having to wait quite so long for the sequel. And trust me, I need that sequel because the ending is just not ok.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the girls over at The Broke and The Bookish. This meme feature features a different theme every week, showcasing book-related lists. And hey, who doesn't love a good list?

This week's Top Ten:
Top Ten Books Featuring Travel in Some Way

Travel novels are among my most favourite novels out there. It's almost guaranteed that I'll love a book if travel is featured in it, in a small or big way. (Usually) novels that feature traveling in some way mainly deals with self-discovery or it's a coming-of-age story. You have to get lost to find yourself. So without further ado, here are my top ten favourite travel novels:

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Hands down, Just One Day is the best travel novel I have ever read, and one of my all-time favourite novels. Sometimes, when I'm sitting on the couch and my eyes travel to my bookshelf, I see my copy of Just One Day and I'm just struck by the sheer brilliance of this novel. I relive some of my favourite scenes then get sad that all those stuff didn't actually happen to me.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
I am pretty sure I was Colin in a previous life. Fans of Green's works like Katherines the least but this is one of the best, in my opinion. Not many liked all the mathematical/academic stuff that Colin was obsessed but I loved it. Oh, and the anagrams! I loved it, I loved it all.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
PARIS and ST CLAIR and the FOOD. The Parisian culture was so rich, it was like you could taste the Parisian air.

From What I Remember by Stacey Kramer and Valerie Thomas
I was surprised by how much I loved this book. It was such a fun read. It had a lot of cliched tropes but it didn't feel cliched, do you know what I mean? It was hilarious, but still had enough 'serious' moments amidst all the fun. It was kinda like The Hangover, except much better and more heartfelt and with teenagers, instead.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
This is one of the cutest novels I have ever read. About 3/4 of the it takes place on a plane and it's these two teenagers- strangers- who've managed to fall in love with each other in about twenty four hours. But Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (that's a friggin' mouthful) isn't just about a non-insta-love. It's also about coming to terms with a broken family.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K.Rowling
Time travel counts, too, right? Of course it does. 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
TFiOS is one of my all-time favourite books but we're focusing on the travel aspects of the novels so this isn't so high on this particular list. Anyways, this brought Amsterdam on my radar. I never really gave it much thought before but I didn't realize how amazing it is. And how can I forget about Hazel and Augustus' ridiculously romantic date? Who am I kidding, the whole trip was one big ridiculously romantic date.

How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan
This one is a collection of short stories and only one involves travel but it's one of my favourites. It's stuck with me since I read it and I don't have a clue what the other short stories were about. I'm sure the others were good, just probably wasn't as good as the travel one.

I haven't actually read that many travel books, now that I think about it, no matter how much I love them. I've left the list incomplete since I didn't want to just pick any random thing. So any ones you think I must read?
What books are on your list? Any ones you think I should read? Sound off in the comments, leave me a link to your TTT post and I'll stop by!

Monday 3 June 2013

Review -- Night School by C.J. Daugherty

Night School

Title: Night School
Author: C. J. Daugherty
Series: Night School (1)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: 21 May 2013
Date Read: May 2013
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Allie's world is falling apart...

She hates her school. Her brother has run away. And she's just been arrested.


Now her parents are sending her away to a boarding school where she doesn't know a soul.

But instead of hating her new school, Allie finds she's happy there. She's making friends. And then there's Sylvain, a suave French student who openly flirts with her. And Carter, the brooding loner who seems to have her back.

Soon, though, Allie discovers Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Nothing there is as it seems. And her new friends are hiding dangerous secrets.

I got nothing of what I expected from Night School. It had a misleading title, misleading cover and a misleading synopsis.

I thought it was going to be the type of boarding school where select students are secretly paranormal/supernatural. The main character doesn't know she's got some special blood in her, a little romance on the side and something that makes it stand up against all the other YA novels out there.

Allie is shipped off to the middle-of-nowhere-boarding school Cimmeria Academy after being arrested one too many times. Her parents are hoping this strict private school will straighten her out. No internet, no cellphones, no tv, no going out, no life that exists outside of the Cimmeria walls.

I found the first few weeks of Allie's new life interesting to read about. She's focusing hard on her studies, making new friends, real friends and a couple of maybe-more-than-friends friends. I thought it was really good exposition, and the story and characters are being set up nicely. I was having fun. That is, until I realized the whole book was going to be a big set up for God knows what. It went on and on and on, Dear God, and on and on. Daugherty tried to go the 'mysterious plot unfolding' route but it just did not work. I don't even understand what the whole point, the real story of Night School is. After chapters filled with nothing but teenage woes, what we've got is a generic Evil Guy willing to do Anything to get Whatever He Wants. What exactly is it that he wants? I don't freaking know, something the Good Guys won't hand over to him. Why does he want it? I don't freaking know, because he's a big baby throwing a tantrum? Oh, and for Some Reason, Allie is special (of course she is) and she is integral to Evil Guy's plan. Why is she special? I don't freaking know. I don't know why the attention is all on her. She's got no interesting personality and boring as watching paint dry.

The romance was filled with such annoying tropes. There was a love triangle with Golden Boy on one side and the Troublemaker on the other. Allie knew she should be attracted to Golden Boy, and she is (he's smoking hot) but she just can't stop thinking about that Troublemaker whom she made eye contact with that one time. She tried to keep him out of her mind by going out with Golden Boy but it all kind of went to shit after he tried to rape her. Troublemaker to the rescue and now they're in love. Later on, Allie finds out that Troublemaker has been watching her in the beginning, looking in her window to 'keep an eye' on her because he didn't trust her.

Doesn't this book sound like just about every other crappy YA novel out there?

But you know what? I'm over it. I'm over Night School. I'm angry and disappointed and I don't care anymore.

An ARC was received from the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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