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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

YA Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥  (5 out 5)
Much of my life had been devoted to trying not to cry in front of people who loved me, so I knew what Augustus was doing. You clench your teeth. You look up. You tell yourself that if they see you cry, it will hurt them, and you will be nothing but a Sadness in their lives, and you must not become a mere sadness, so you will not cry, and you say all of this to yourself while looking up at the ceiling, and then you swallow even though your throat does not want to close and you look at the person who loves you and smile.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a contemporary novel about the effects of cancer through the lives of young adults. I picked this book up back when it came out and decided it was time to re-read it so I can properly review it! So without further adieu, here is my review on The Fault in Our Stars! 

The Plot
The Fault in Our Stars follows the story of Hazel and Augustus as they meet, fall in love, and move on. The plot is compelling, lovely, and heart wrenching all put together that makes such an amazing story. It fills you up with so many emotions that you sometimes have to put it down and think long and hard about the lives we live.
Its thought provoking and speaks on issues that we would not normally talk about. It truly makes you feel like we need to do more with the lives were given while we can, because at a moments notice they can get taken away from us.  

The Writing
John Green takes you on an emotional roller coaster with his story. The way he makes you feel sorrow, happiness, joy, and frustration is a true testament to his writing abilities. He mixes serious issues with humorous dialogue of his characters. He is able to tell a story that not only makes you feel immense emotions but also leaves you thinking long and hard about life.
He knows how to portray death and dying in a realistic manner which reflects in his writing style. There were no corny or awkward dialogues that left me rolling my eyes, and I genuinely like every single character which not a lot of writers can pull off!

The Characters
Pic from their facebook page
Hazel Grace, the fighter. She has all the qualities of a great character. She is genuine, funny, realistic, and optimistic. When she meets Augustus everything changes in her. She no longer stays cooped up on the couch reading and watching trashy reality tv. She knows she has cancer but goes on with her life and doesn't let her cancer be what runs her life. She falls in love like a normal teenage girl and shares amazing experiences with a boy she loves and cares for.
Augustus Waters, the witty. He is the light in  dark room. He has the ability to turn every situation into a positive one even in the face of death. Knowing that Hazel has a terminal cancer he still falls in love with her and together they experience and grow as human beings. He is the wit to her sarcasm, and the light to a dark situation. Without Augustus Waters, Hazel Grace would not have learned how to love, how to lose, and how to not let cancer become her life.

The Cover
The Fault in Our Stars cover is simplistically lovely. With a light blue background, we get the title and author in clouds with a cool font. It is so simple yet so refreshing. They weren't any cover models used and neither were there any stars used! There were no faults in the cover, and it doesn't take away from the beautiful story inside.

Let me know what you thought of The Fault in Our Stars in the comments below! I don't think a book has made me cry the same way this one did. Did that happen to you guys as well? 

See ya next time,
- Jesse Nicholas

Jesse Nicholas, todays guest blogger, lives in Manitoba, Canada. He is an aspiring writer and one day wishes to have a novel published. Along with writing, Jesse enjoys music, travel, trashy TV, and is an avid reader of anything in the Young Adult genre. He currently posts reviews on the YA novels he reads on his blog, and spends hours upon hours coming up with ideas for a future novel.  You can read other book reviews on his blog.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

♥ ♥ ♥ - -  (3 out of 5) 
As he bent closer, he realized they were words -- words his wife had carved into the cave ice with the last of her dying strength. As he read them, he felt them like three hard blows in the stomach.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Casandra Clare is the first book in the Magisterium series. I picked this book up for its similarities to Harry Potter and because I just love stories about magic! So lets start this review! 

The Plot
I want to put aside all the comparing and similarities to Harry Potter right now. The whole magical school and children plot line does not solely belong to J.K. Rowling. I will give an author credit if they can take that type of plot and put a new spin on it! 

The Iron Trial follows three magical students as they discover how to use their magic and how to control it. All for a greater purpose of preparing for when The Enemy of Death comes back and ignites a new war for power. 

There were things I liked about the plot and other things that fell dry for me. There was a lot of boring build up to a mediocre climax. I was hoping for more excitement. But I will give the authors some props for creating a different magical world then what we know and love. They were inventive and creative which is probably what saved this story for me. 

The Writing 
As a middle grade book, I wasn't expecting some philosophical writing with puns, sarcasm, and intellectual dialogues like I'm used to in my YA choices of read. So this did not affect my rating of the book as I believe that the writing style of the book fits the age group that it was shooting for. I will leave it at that.

The Characters
Callum, the curious. Call is a very unique character. He is a bit timid and keeps to himself due to his past of being bullied. He also has a clear deformity with his lame leg, but he doesn't let that stop him from achieving his goals and saving his friends when needed. He's passionate, courageous, and sarcastic. 

Aaron, the chaos. The tall best friend type. Aaron is an orphan who stumbled upon Magisterium by chance and finds out he is a makar, one of the rare types of magic users. Now his destiny is altered as he is the only one that can take down the Enemy of Death. He's brave, humorous, and compassionate.

Tamara, the cautious. The only one of the group that has previous knowledge of magic and its uses and consequences. She provides the information in the group when it comes to the history of Magisterium. All she wants is to prove herself to her parents and older sister and be the best that she can be. She is smart, loyal, and caring. 

The Cover
I found the cover to be pretty cool! It pretty much sums up the whole book in one picture. It has all three main characters and of course the Enemy of Death, the main antagonist. Other than that, there really isn't much to love about it. It's not beautiful, or breath taking like some other covers, but it does the job of not ruining the front of the book.

Let me know what you thought about The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Casandra Clare below so we can discuss it! 

See ya next time,
- Jesse Nicholas 

Jesse Nicholas, todays guest blogger, lives in Manitoba, Canada. He is an aspiring writer and one day wishes to have a novel published. Along with writing, Jesse enjoys music, travel, trashy TV, and is an avid reader of anything in the Young Adult genre. He currently posts reviews on the YA novels he reads on his blog, and spends hours upon hours coming up with ideas for a future novel.  You can read other book reviews on his blog on his blog.

Monday, March 23, 2015

YA Book Review: Ensnared by A.G. Howard

This is the third installment of the Splintered Series by AG Howard.  
 ***WARNING: This review does have some spoilers to the other books in the series. 
 If you want to see Jesse’s review of these books, click here and here. ***

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ -   (4 out of 5)

“My precious Alyssa, share reality with me. Give me forever. We will wreak such beautiful havoc together.”

  Ensnared by A.G. Howard is the final installment in the Splintered trilogy. I picked this book up as soon as it came out and didn't really want to read it right away. The reason being that I didn't want the story to end. I have such a love hate relationship with this series, but I was sad that it was coming to end. A beautiful ending I might add! Without further adieu, lets get started.

The Plot
Ensnared picks up a month after the events of Unhinged. Alyssa must save her mother from Wonderland, and Jeb and Morpheus from Anyelsewhere. She believes everything is her fault for not accepting her responsibilities from the beginning, and decides to do everything in her power to rid the world of Red and her tyranny on her life. 

The plot thickens as she must decide what she is going to do once Wonderland and the human realm are safe again. Will she live her human life with her white knight Jeb, or fulfill her destiny as Queen of the Red Kingdom in Wonderland with the mischief maker Morpheus? Such tough decisions were made and an amazing ending was created to complete a fantastic trilogy.

The Writing
A.G Howard never disappoints with her writing. She had a lot to live up to by continuing the classic fairytale by Lewis Caroll. She was able to take the world he created and put a new spin on it. She brought all of Wonderland and its inhabitants to life with her writing which was probably a very difficult task.

A.G. Howard expanded on the Wonderland world and created her own worlds unique to her creative writing style. With influences from Lewis Caroll, and Tim Burton, she carved a path for our imaginations to take and experience an amazing story that we will never forget.

The Characters
Alyssa, the Queen of the Red Kingdom. What more can I say about our resident heroine? She had tough decisions to make this time around. She becomes selfless in order to save the ones she loves the most in life. She sacrifices everything in her power to do what she thinks is right in end. She truly proves she is ready to be the Queen she is destined to be. For a heroine of the trilogy, she never let me down because I knew she would make the right decision in the end. I am very happy with her character development, and I have no complaints at all.

Jeb, the human love. My all time favorite book boyfriend. I fell in love with his character from the very beginning, and he never disappointed me. He embodied the white knight perfectly with his bravery, self sacrifices, and undying love for Alyssa. He proves to Alyssa time and time again that he would do anything for her and it was remarkable. Even though his heart got broken several times due to Morpheus's schemes, he stayed true to Alyssa and her decisions. He developed into a well rounded man who was nothing like his father.

Morpheus, the netherling love. I have said again and again how much I dislike Morpheus because he was ultimately what stood in-between Alyssa and Jeb being happy together. Even with all his scheming, and riddles his true character began to shine through. In the final book he starts to grow on me a bit.There is a budding sort of friendship that developments between him and Jeb in Anyelsewhere that starts to change things. Now they aren't competing for her love and affection, but instead sharing the two halves that  make Alyssa who she is. With all that said, I still dislike him and will be forever Jeb biased!

Tom, Alyssa's father. We get to know Tom a lot more in this book. He gains his memories back and discovers his past and how it intertwines with Wonderland. But what's most important is that love that he has for Alison and that even though they both gave up everything to be together, they still are deeply and madly in love with each other. 
Red, the former Queen. She is the reason everything horrible happened, in Wonderland, the human realm, and Anyelsewhere. We learn so much about Red through her past memories that she chose to lock up and forget that makes you want to sympathize with her. She just wanted what was best for Wonderland and her kingdom, but she went about it the wrong way. But I feel that the story ended for her in a way that no other villain would have got and for that I am happy for her.

The Cover
This is hands down my favorite cover from the trilogy. (Most likely due to bias reasons: Jeb<3) It utilizes the color Red, which represents Jeb, Queen Red, Queen of Harts, and the Red kingdom. It also showcases the beautiful face of Jebidiah Holt, my all time book boyfriend! I have zero complaints with this cover!

So the story of Alyssa, Morpheus, and Jeb has come to an end. As I am a bit sad, I am always relieved. Ensnared had a beautiful ending that I can't complain about. Everyone wins in the end, and it was a great way to complete the trilogy. Let me know what your thoughts about the book were, I would love to hear them.

See ya next time~

-Jesse Nicholas

Jesse Nicholas, todays guest blogger, lives in Manitoba, Canada. He is an aspiring writer and one day wishes to have a novel published. Along with writing, Jesse enjoys music, travel, trashy TV, and is an avid reader of anything in the Young Adult genre. He currently posts reviews on the YA novels he reads on his blog, and spends hours upon hours coming up with ideas for a future novel.  You can read other book reviews on his blog on his blog.


Cade and I head down so many winding country roads, that even as a life-long resident of the area, I’m lost. Still, I enjoy the sunshine and wind blowing through the windows. I place my face closer to the window and take in all the smells of freshly harvested fields, cut grass and sunshine. I swear sunshine has a smell, too. The sun is warming my face and I can feel sweat gathering in the middle of my back. I start to feel self-conscious just in time for Cade to stop the truck. I open my eyes slowly and take in the large shade tree we are parked beside.
We are in the middle of a field. Only us and the shade tree. Cade is staring at me.
“Do you like it?”
“Like what? It’s a shade tree in an empty field,” I smirk.
“Exactly. Do you like it?”
I nod and smile. Cade bounces out of the truck and gathers some things from the back before coming around to open my door. He takes my hand as I hop down.
“Nice dismount,” he says, jokingly. “This way,” he takes my hand and leads me to the far side of the tree. […]
I grin like a goofy school girl as I watch Cade set about spreading a quilt and sliding off his boots. He stuffs his socks inside to keep them safe, then motions for me to join him. I start to, and then I’m met with the memory of my dead husband's face and I freeze. He would want me me to move on. I want to move on. 
I need to stand on my own. 
I’m not sure what Cade and I are exactly.  “What are we doing?” I ask.
“What do you mean? I already told you, it’s a picnic. A pic-a-nic, Yogi.”
I can tell he’s trying to make light of the concern on my face, “No. What are WE doing? Are we friends? More than friends? I keep trying to think through what we are, and I can’t put a name on it.”
He looks serious, “What do you want us to be, Rhae?”
“Me? I don’t know. I know you can’t want to be anything more than friends with me. But then you do something like staying with me at night, at least until I fall asleep, and then sometimes you do things like plan a surprise pic-a-nic. I don’t know what we are doing.”
“I don’t want to pressure you. I just want to spend more time with you and figure out what we’re doing, too. I can’t get through the day without thinking about you. Sometimes I manage to text you, but all I really want to do is be at your door the minute you get home from work. And what do you mean, you know I can’t want anything more than to be your friend?”
I swallow. Oh, he heard that part of my ramble. “I mean, why would you want to be with me. I’m an overweight widow. You may not have noticed, I’m pretty broken. Why would you want to get involved with me?”
“Are you crazy? You're amazing. You keep waking up every morning, dealing with the shit storm of a mess your husband left you. I can see how broken you are. Still you go to that job you hate and take care of the house you hate. You don’t have to know what you’re doing or where you’re going to keep moving, and you keep moving. As far as being an overweight widow, WHO CARES? I see you. The real you. The heart of you. Why do you think I’m so tangled up inside? I want us to be something, but I’m afraid how broken you are. I don’t want to push you too hard too fast. Maybe wanting to be with you is selfish.”

I realize I’m crying as I start to see myself through his eyes. It takes me a few minutes to settle my breathing. Cade has moved closer to me and pulled me down to my knees on the blanket. He leans in and wipes the tears from my eyes. Holding my face in his hands, he leans his forehead down to mine and says, “Let's just take it one day at a time.”

This is an excerpt from the book, A Place to Stand which is currently on sale for only FREE! So, what are you waiting for?
Rhae Peters is happily married until her life comes crashing down when the worst thing imaginable happens -- Ryan is killed in an accident. Adding insult to injury, she learns that Ryan was keeping secrets. The revelation causes her to question everything about their marriage.
With her life in turmoil, Rhae wants to start over and forget everything about Ryan. She builds a coping mechanism out of her friends and family, including her neighbor Cade. Chivalrous and overwhelmingly handsome, Rhae feels the hand of propriety holding her back from pursuing more with him, despite all the clues that let her know he's willing. 

Our guest post is by the author of this book: Meg Farrell.  She's from North Mississippi, US. She's a busy wife and mother, but decided to follow her dream of writing a novel. She completed the first draft of A Place to Stand during NaNoWriMo 2013 fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a writer.Her husband, Jason, and her have 3 children, 2 old dogs, and 3 surly cats.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

YA Book Review: Unhinged by A.G. Howard

This is the second installment of the Splintered Series by AG Howard.  Next week, we will be reviewing Ensnared.

 ***WARNING: This review does have some spoilers to the first book in the series, Splintered.  If you want to see Jesse’s review of this book, click here.  The review to Ensnared is here.***

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ -     (4 out of 5)

All I have to do is set the power free. Escape the chains of humanity, let madness be my guide. If I forget everything but Wonderland, I can become beautiful pandemonium.” 

Woo! I made it to the second book.
I honestly couldn't wait to read the second instalment after I finished Splintered. And after two or three books I just couldn't put it off any more. Partly to see what how Alyssa was dealing after all the news she received at the end of Splintered. But mostly because I needed more Jebidiah in my life. I don't think I have ever felt such a strong connection (albeit an imaginative connection) with a character from a book before. But no matter the type of connection, a connection is still a connection. (Wow, that's a lot of connections)

The Plot:
The story picks up with Alyssa in the human realm. After the events in Wonderland over the summer, she decides to live her life with her new boyfriend/best friend Jeb, graduate high school, and attend her school's prom. But unfortunately Morpheus won't allow that. 

Wonderland is in shambles and Queen Red is on the loose wreaking havoc. She wants her throne and kingdom back, but she needs Alyssa's body for that. Now Alyssa must struggle with the decision between the two parts of herself. Her human half that wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her quiet life with Jeb, and her netherling half that is yearning to get back to Wonderland and the throne. 

Morpheus doesn't just bring news of chaos in Wonderland, he also brings along secrets that get revealed. The past of her mother, Alison and the origins of her father, as well as more information about Wonderland and her destiny she never thought would’ve even been possible. You have to read to find out what happens! You won't be disappointed.

The Writing:
I find Howard's writing to be straight-foward and engrossing. Admittedly, it did take a while to get used to. The way the characters spoke, their customs, the elaborately descriptive way Howard paints the world of Wonderland and the human realm might be more labour intensive reading-wise than your usual YA book, but trust me. It goes together like PB & J. And I never joke about food.
The Characters: 
Lets see what I thought of the characters this time around starting off with our resident heroine and protagonist, Alyssa. Much was revealed in the last novel that sends her world upside down. Does she choose to stay human?  Or does she tap into her netherling side?  As the novel progresses we see her struggle with herself. She remains strong, courageous, and conflicted. With all that's thrown at her it amazed me she was able to stay sane. (For most of the book that is...hehe)

Jeb, the hunky white knight. After having all his memories erased from the first novel, we get a fresh slate with this character. We get to focus more on how caring, and loving he is towards Alyssa. He is 100% devoted to only her and to see how that changes from one little mistake breaks my heart. (You'll have to read the book to find out) We also get to see a scary side of Jeb, one that is said to represent his father's personality. But no matter what Jeb will always have a place in my heart.

Morpheus, the cunning and conniving netherling. I don't know if I could possibly hate him any more than after the first novel, but low and behold he manages to do it. For a guy who says he has immense feelings for Alyssa, he just keeps messing it up. And anyone who tries to get between Alyssa and Jeb is on my bad side. But aside from my personal problems with him, we do learn quite a lot about his character. He has pure devotion for his realm and would do anything to protect it from being destroyed by Red. Even if it means meddling in Alyssa's to get her to come fix the problem only she can fix. When he seems to mess up, he also finds a way to redeem himself. (Another thing that bugs me about him) No matter how much I hate him, I have to give him props for sticking up for his world and his dear friends.

The last character I want to briefly talk about is Alison (Alyssa's Mom). We get to learn so much more about her past in this book that I believe it was worth mentioning. Even though we find out some incriminating things about her in this novel, it's the love she harbors for Alyssa's dad that I admire the most. I guess love is a powerful thing. Proving that love transcends even past admitting yourself into an asylum to protect the ones that are dear to you.  I truly did admire Alison in this novel.

The Cover:
Although Morpheus is my least favorite character in this series, it doesn't take away from the beautiful cover of Unhinged. With the purple and blue color scheme, as well as the details of Morpheus' face, the cover captures the essence of the story perfectly.

I could probably go on and on, but I think you guys get the point. Unhinged lives up as the second instalment in the Splintered Trilogy. It serves as a great bridge that will bring us to the end of the trilogy and it makes me even more excited to see how it all ends. In an ideal world I would love for Alyssa to save Wonderland and then live happily ever after with Jeb in the human world, but I know that's just wishful thinking and A.G. Howard most likely has secrets and twists up her sleeves that are going to leave me pulling out my hair.

But that's what makes a great story.

So if you haven't started this trilogy yet, then I'm sorry if you failed to read my spoiler disclaimer and ruined the first book for yourself. But if you have read the first book then you need to hurry and read Unhinged today!! Stop stalling and get to reading!

See ya next time,
- Jesse Nicholas 

Read other YA Book Reviews here.

Jesse Nicholas, todays guest blogger, lives in Manitoba, Canada. He is an aspiring writer and one day wishes to have a novel published. Along with writing, Jesse enjoys music, travel, trashy TV, and is an avid reader of anything in the Young Adult genre. He currently posts reviews on the YA novels he reads on his blog, and spends hours upon hours coming up with ideas for a future novel.  You can read other book reviews on his blog at jessenicholasya.blogspot.ca