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January 13, 2013

"Monument 14" by Emmy Laybourne

[Clickey the cover for Goodreads!]
Title: Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1)
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Publication: 2012, Feiwel & Friends

Summary: Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.
...read more

Review: Thanks to a terrifying turn of apocalyptic events, fourteen kids ranging from elementary to high school age wind up imprisoned in a massive superstore. As biologically damaging chemicals and disastrous storms tear up the world outside, the trapped students find ways to keep alive. "Monument 14" does have quite the original and intriguing premise, despite the apparently unexciting superstore setting, |paused|

Side note: Okay, according to many people, the premise of the supermarket is apparently incredibly similar to Stephen King's "The Mist" that has a synopsis that goes: "trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world".

|resumed| however it just did not reach higher than ground level for me. Mediocre characters, a plot that goes stale, and a disappointing ending secured my final verdict for this one, unfortunately.

"Monument 14" without a doubt handles a huge cast, and out of all the characters, some were appealing, others weren't, and the rest just proved to be unmemorable for me. There is nothing wrong with unlikeable characters, and with a cast this large, I believe that the author most definitely can afford it. It also shows a broader range of realistic personalities, so that is great. However, when all these characters fail to earn the faith and attention of me, the reader, then that is when the overall impact of the book plummets.

In addition, the main character did not grasp my interest either, even being a male first person POV. Instead, he gave a bland narration and soon, my mind started to blend him and the other characters together into a blob even when he stood apart from the others in the story. The cast wasn't entirely weak, but considering the number of characters introduced, the impression they made on me was just too faint.

The initial swirl of events that plunked the cast inside the superstore made for an active and adrenaline-filled beginning. Overall, things happen, even once in the superstore setting is stabilized, yet soon after the first quarter of the book, I started to doze off. The plot moves forward, but combined with the two-dimensional narration from our male protagonist, it did not prove to be compelling enough for me. Also, many a turn of events was unoriginal-feeling and did not deliver a strong blow. Soon, the counted days in the story got repetitive and old and I found myself trudging along tiredly. 

However, the ending was what disappointed me the most. It was abrupt and blunt, an insulting cliffhanger that taunted me before I swatted it away with the decision that I no longer cared. 

"Monument 14" definitely has a couple of good moments, but there are just too many fundamental problems that irked me. The diction was unfortunately plain and unrefined and considering the main hobby of the protagonist (writing), it didn't make sense to me at all. The plot that turned bland failed to hold my attention and the conclusion really made me smack myself on the head in frustration. Sadly, this apocalyptic novel did not gain enough depth or momentum for me to truly enjoy it.

Rating: ✰✰ 2 Exhausted Hoots

Final Notes: I was taking a leap outside of my normal picks with this book and I really wasn't expecting to not like it. Perhaps it just wasn't my type of book because many people did turn out to like it just fine so don't let this negative review stop you if it sounds like your type of book.
Thanks for reading!

January 12, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #9

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme that features your books haul for the week! It is created and hosted by Tynga @ Tynga's reviews

Hello everyone~! This Stacking the Shelves will be a School Lit. Class Edition. When I ended back in school this week, Lit class definitely hit me the hardest, with a total of 7 books (seven!!!) that we had to read in the next two months. -sweat drop- Not that I mind, because although some of the titles intimidate me a tad bit, I'm nonetheless extremely excited to plunge into each and every one of them!

I haven't finished any of them yet, but since these are each surely wonderful literary works worthy of a school lit. class environment, I thought I'd share some of them with y'all, and when I do finish, maybe I'll share my thoughts on my favourite ones.

(Click the covers for Goodreads)

"The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James

This is a horror novel and I'm currently reading it. The writing style of Mr. Henry James is rather difficult to get into, purely because many of his sentences are so long-winded that you lose his thought process so often.

I'm still waiting for it to get scary, and it's been exciting in that anticipatory sense.

"The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka

This is going to be an interesting read, since I'm also simultaneously reading Kafka's biography right now. Has anyone read it yet? ^_^

I'm looking forward to it!

"Green Grass, Running Water" by Thomas King

Out of the five books designated for group presentations, this one's for my group! I actually have never heard of this book or its Cherokee author, but it has an aboriginal theme to it.

I've heard that it's fun, humorous, and...strange.... Hmm. Definitely intrigued, especially since we'll be working on it for an assignment.

These titles are exciting for me in a different way, that's for sure, but I'll definitely keep in touch on how they go!

What's been stacked on your shelves this week? Link up in the comments and happy weekend, everyone!

Thanks for reading!

January 8, 2013

"False Memory" by Dan Krokos

[Clickey the epic cover for Goodreads!]
Title: False Memory (False Memory #1)
Author: Dan Krokos
Publication: 2012, Hyperion

Summary: Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn’t at all surprised by Miranda’s shocking ability.

Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn’t easy—especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can’t remember loving.

Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn’t seem to matter... when there may not be a future
....read more

Review: The explosive high-quality action, well-developed characters, and high-strung plot-line equated "False Memory" to a striking and addictive thriller. Like a complex and clever origami creation, "False Memory"'s world and main character is folded from scratch, yet by the end, everything about this debut will blow you away in a wave of awesomeness!! 

Miranda, our fantastic protagonist, wakes with no memories whatsoever, and although confused, she remains relatively calm. However, the peace lasts for only a split second because before you know it, you will be swept away in frighteningly intense action. The world of Dan Krokos is very modern yet underground, the futuristic science blending in smoothly to create a solid arena for the story. Along with Miranda are the line-ups of others with her destiny and physical abilities and the inside romances, friendships, and adventures prove the fantastic chemistry that the author lit amongst his dynamic characters.

"False Memory" has such an addicting and compelling plot-line that I honestly couldn't put it down. Climatic points accent the overall story in effective places and kept the pacing moving constantly. Complex , twisted and deceivingly layered,  what you learn to think while reading is not going to turn out the way you think!

Through this book, the deeper theme of truly finding and knowing yourself and who you are will be clearly confirmed. Identity is an extremely important component of the developmental stage of adolescence so I found the author's theme very satisfying and cleverly chosen in relation to his target audience. -cue applause-

This debut has great romance, momentum, and excitement that will knock you off your seat so come one come all and immerse in the magnetic and thrilling world of "False Memory"!

Rating: ✰✰✰✰ 4 Rose-y Hoots

Final Notes: Ah, this book makes me all gushy because it was really quite the rollercoaster ride that refused to put you down! Once you get on, hold on tight because you will be in for the entire journey! The layering that I later discovered near the end had me comparing this book s bit to the style of the movie Inception. Sort of. To be honest, I was a tad confused near the end of this book, and it really took me a bit of turning the facts over around in my head before I really got it.Still, super enjoyable thrill of a ride!
Thanks for reading!

January 5, 2013

●Challenge● Books-in-a-Series Reading Challenge 2013

This 2013 Reading Challenge is created and hosted by Heather @ BookStacksOnDeck. You can visit the Challenge page here.

My first official reading challenge outside of Goodreads!  I thought that this is such a wonderful idea because I've got so many series that have made me go, "Oooh! I'd love to read this!", add it to my tbr, and then forget about it and never end up reading. -embarrassed smile- The good thing is that this challenge lasts all year long!

That means that since school is starting soon, I most likely won't have time for these in the next couple of months, but I pledge this moment that I will get to them before the year ends -determined face-

There are 4 levels for this challenge (another really nice thing; it's like you can personalize your challenge for a custom fit!), and I have chosen the level....  

"The Obsessive: Choose 16-20+ Books"

Here's a mini brainstorm on some titles that I'd like to read for this challenge (click the titles for Goodreads!)
These are three books that are the first in series that I'd like to read. I can also choose books that aren't the first in series that I've already started reading  ^_^

1. Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth 

Edit: Read it! No, I have not read this one yet -hides- But I am now! It's like any other dystopian from the first 3 pages that I read, but lets see what everyone's buzzing about for this one.

2. Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

No, I have not read this one either -continues hiding- Incredibly intrigued by this, this, Daemon guy, however.

3. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin

I am incredibly curious about this one. Not only from the raving reviews it's gotten, but also from the summary. 

The brainstorm will end here for now. I really love the idea of this challenge because it helps give those poor books sitting on my tbr list a chance to be read! Thanks again to the awesome Heather for hosting!

♡ Vivian

Stacking the Shelves #8 + Miscellaneous

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme that features your books haul for the week! It is created and hosted by Tynga @ Tynga's reviews

Hello everyone~! This Stacking the Shelves will be a Happy 2013 + Winter Break Edition. School is also going to restart again for me so this will be my last chance to share some books with all you lovelies ⊙▽⊙

I've gotten two books for Christmas (Thank you, Pat and Mama!) and can't wait to start them along with some great Indigo giftcards (Thank you, Marianne and Alice!). One is out of the YA ordinary, but it comes highly recommended so I am very excited to read it in the near future.

In addition to books, I did some hauling in other areas too 。◕‿◕。 But first up, the books!

(Clockwise from bottom right
 Teddy Bear Indigo Gift Card Holder

I quite liked Austenland, the first book, so I'm looking forward to this new heroine's trip to Austenland, even though the Goodreads ratings for both books are really surprising... ಠ_ಠ It's Shannon Hale! In my heart, all her works will be 5 ★s! -stubborn-

We're starting Contemporary Horror in Lit class this term, so I reckon it's about time I get around to this classic vampire book. We've all had our fair share of vampires around here, and I'm not sure yet how my experience with YA vampires will affect my take when reading this one, but I'm willing to find out!

Winter's Tale will be my first outside-of-YA read for 2013, aside from my school books! I've never read anything by this author, but I have read the first couple of pages and I'm definitely intrigued so looking forward to reading more of it!

Now, for some other haul items after the jump! 

January 4, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday #11

Feature & Follow is a Friday meme created and hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read! Answer a feature question, make new friends and gain new followers!

Q: What New Years blogging or writing resolution have you placed on yourself?

Yay for the New Years resolution questions, because I haven't gotten around to writing a resolution post yet for 2013 (bad, Vivi...bad....).

New Year 2013 Resolutions! 
1) Catch up on reviews.
So I am ridiculously behind due to many books read before the school year started and when school started, I just couldn't get those reviews down on paper -sob-. I feel that I owe those authors an apology that I've started so late on the reviews for their books because the thoughts are no longer fresh like my usual reviews.  I will catch up on them after this post! Promise! (Just to give you a sense, reviews include ones for "Unspoken", "Monstrous Beauty", and "Tiger Lily")

2) Frequent my posts.
I realize now that I can afford more than one post per fortnight with all the ready-to-go drafts I've stashed up over the past Summer and Winter breaks, so more reviews, hourray! I might even throw in a meme or two here and there. Even though this blog is still on semi-hiatus with the school year, I'll do my best to keep it a bit more alive than last year with scheduled or automatic posts.

3) Let my writing style mature.
I've got this terrible writing style habit where I use way too many frilly adjectives (I do love my adjectives!!!) which leads to my reviews being as unnecessarily flowery as the purple lolita dress on the left.

My resolution for my writing style would be for it to lose a bit of the frill from that lolita dress (which is nice, but not exactly what I want anymore.)  to maybe something more like the dress on the right. 

It'll still be my descriptive style with lovely adjectives, but...just...not as...overboard, haha! -embarassed smile-


That's it for Vivi! 

What are your 2013 resolutions? Link me up and I'll be hopping! 
 ♡ Vivian

January 2, 2013

"Hourglass" by Myra McEntire

[Clickey the lovely cover for Goodreads!]
Title: Hourglass (Hourglass #1)
Author: Myra McEntire
Publication: 2011, Egmont USA

Summary: One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back....read more

Review: This spunky time-travel read is fabricated on an imaginative backdrop and topped off with engaging characters and overall, a great and driven plotline. Emerson is a girl scarred with tragedy who sees shades of the past all around her and is bothered and an outcast because of that specialty. Her caring brother does everything he could to find persons who might be able to help cure Emerson of her visions, and that is ultimately how she meets the man who opens a whole new world to her: one that she can belong in. 

Emerson Cole: a strong and sometimes even overwhelming protagonist that made this debut novel take on a bold  and often sarcastic tone. She starts out a broken and insecure soul but soon allows herself to accept her abilities of time and to contribute to the conflict of the story. Emerson is an admirably brave and stoic character and I really enjoyed her snarky attitude and dripping sarcasm and to be honest, it was what won me over to her side in the beginning. However, as the book rolled on, the act became a bit old and I felt that it didn't have the same powerful effect in the last quarter. Unfortunately, she lost me a bit somewhere in the second half. The other solid characters surrounding Emerson, including the dashing and handsome Michael of course, made up for that and overall, this book's entire cast is vibrant and well-rounded. 

The way Ms. McEntire formed the concept of time travel was unique and interesting, complete with fragments of different time periods appearing here and there. Emerson's special ability is well adapted into the diction and I felt the experienced incidents vividly alongside her. Everything about "Hourglass" felt wonderfully realistic and close by to me as a reader and I really enjoyed that. 

This book was fast-paced starting after Emerson clicks with the main conflict of the plot and everything afterwards flows nicely. There were fantastic twists that had me completely fooled and absolutely shocked once and the final climax was emotionally intense and thrilling. In the end, "Hourglass" was an entertaining and quick-paced ride with a great new outlook at sci-fi time manipulation and a gripping, well thought-out story.

A Favourite Moment: "When I finally regained control, I gave him a sweet smile and reached out to shake. Then I flipped him over my shoulder. As he lay on the ground panting, I walked to stand over him, looking down, my smile still in place. "So I'll see you later?" He blinked once. I took that as a yes....I felt great. The sass was back. It's amazing what flipping a grown man over her shoulder does for a girl."

Rating: ✰✰✰ 3.5 Rippling Hoots

Final Notes: I think I went into reading this book with way too high of an expectation which probably became reason #1 that I didn't enjoy it as much as a 4-star-and-up book. Reason #2 would sadly be that I'm not one to really enjoy science fiction of any form, including time travel. 

With that being said, if you do like time travel, this is definitely a fantastic novel to read! It's different, fun, hilarious, and romantic in all the right places.
Thanks for reading!

January 1, 2013

"Leviathan" by Scott Westerfeld

[Clickey the cover for Goodreads!]

Title: Leviathan (Leviathan #1)
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publication: 2009, Simon Pulse
Summary: Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever
....read more

Review: This book would be a very classic example of YA steampunk and as a fan of historical fiction, I really appreciated the WWI alternate history that was pulled off here. "Leviathan" has some great world-building and Scott Westerfeld's creativity soars in the moulding of a completely different outlook on the Great War  

"Leviathan" is told from two different POVs, one of the 15-year-old Austro-Hungarian prince Aleksander and the other of a British girl named Deryn Sharp. Mr. Westerfeld kept the pacing really even overall and we get to see the world and situation in "Leviathan" in equally sized chunks from both pairs of eyes. Both main characters have dimension, however I did not find them to be engaging to a satisfying extent. Third-person POV was used for both Alek and Deryn and I felt that that resulted in both of them being kept a distance away from me as a reader. Although that's not the only factor, that definitely didn't help. Don't get me wrong, they were likeable and nicely shaped but neither truly pulled me along or felt memorable to me. I also felt that it was probably because I was a bit old for these characters.

This book was a long ride for me, not only because it does have quite a high page count, but also because the atmosphere wasn't intense enough for me to keep trudging along. I took a ton of breaks in between chapters and it didn't bother me to put the book down, sadly. There was nothing wrong with the pacing, but the whole story felt very detached, a bit like what happened with the characters. 

I'll be utterly honest and say that I'm not one to be very excited about science-fiction, and this is my first YA steampunk read. I thought that Scott Westerfeld did a great job in getting his visions of his world across clearly for the most part because someone who has a weaker imagination for sci-fi was able to follow along. (tell me to conjure up fairies and mermaids and I'll be able to do that, no problem. A great big robot-like war ship? Uh oh.) Yet, of course, it wasn't perfect and although it was possible for me to see the vividness, it wasn't amazingly clear or grasping and it did take me a long time to truly understand what the author was trying to pull off. 

Which brings me to my favourite part of this book. The illustrations. They. are. awesome. I don't mean to down-talk the book itself, but I'll say quite frankly that without the illustrations, I would not have made it through this book. Kudos to Keith Thompson because his artwork really captured the essence and important details of Scott Westerfeld's universe to a huge extent and as a reader, I was grateful for that extra visual embellishment to the book.

Even though "Leviathan" was a relatively slow read for me personally, I still enjoyed the journey because the premise painted here really is quite genius. I may not be one to fully appreciate and experience the wonders of sci-fi steampunk to full potential, but I still have the feeling that this book would be a great standard example of what a good steampunk novel should be like. The imagery presented was incredibly broad and stretched my imagination and Keith Thompson's illustrations added much more as well. Overall, still an entertaining ride that had me looking up the sequel. 

Ratings: ✰✰✰ 3.5 Darwinist Hoots (because Vivi's Team Darwinists)

Final Notes:I've already got the second book sitting on my shelf, purely because honestly, this book wasn't that bad. I do think that the ideas were really clever and well thought out. It's just that I hate science (I'm sorry...most hated subject ever, from grade school to high school.), so I don't really enjoy science fiction, so I wasn't really able to connect with this genre. 

My personal bias aside, I think that steampunk fans can really appreciate this alternate world. It's smart and it's good. Plus the illustrations are really great! (I had to say that again >_<)

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Hourray for first post of 2013! Happy New Year (again) everyone!!