Tag Archives: young adult

Aristotle and Dante

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

This is another superb book I’ve read recently. It’s not often that I read so many books that I absolutely love, so I’m feeling very fortunate in this regard.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a modern coming-of-age story, centered around Mexican-American teenagers Aristotle and Dante. Our two main characters struggle with identity, fitting in, and learning the hard truths about life. On the surface, Ari and Dante couldn’t be more different; yet as these two lonely boys form a connection, they realize they have more in common than expected.

It’s always so hard to know how much of the plot I should discuss in my reviews; I hate giving away spoilers. Instead, let me talk about themes, hopefully without ruining any of the surprises of the plot. This novel is about love, kindness, anger, honesty, communication, self-acceptance, and so much more.

I had the pleasure of listening to this through Audible. As I may have said before, a good narrator can make or break an audiobook for me, and this is no exception. With Lin Manuel Miranda narrating, the story has a tender, heartbreaking quality to it.

With over 50 Audible books in my library waiting to be read/listened to, it will be a while before I can make time to listen to the second book in the series. However, it’s definitely on my list for next year! I look forward to following along with Ari and Dante as they mature into young men.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Mortal Instruments

The Mortal Instruments series is very addicting, it’s almost like crack. Well, not really, or maybe, I don’t know, since I have no idea what crack is like!

I hadn’t really heard of the series or been interested until I saw a trailer for the movie. To be honest, even then I wasn’t that interested. It wasn’t until I did some research and read the descriptions of the books that I was intrigued.

At first, I was planning on reading only City of Bones so I could watch the movie. And that’s where my addiction started. I think I stayed up past 3am reading one night, even though I had to be up early (7:30am) for a conference call in the morning.

After the first book, I decided that I should take a break and space out the remaining books over a few months. However, after about 10 days, I caved and read City of Ashes, the second in the series. City of Ashes, City of Glass, and City of Fallen Angels, collectively lasted 5 days. I held out for another 5 days before reading City of Lost Souls, and I seriously frightened my husband (and my dogs) when I shrieked in horror when I discovered that City of Heavenly Fire (the sixth and final book) isn’t published yet and won’t be published until MAY of 2014. These are not the best books. They are not super thought-provoking or enlightening. What they are is easy to read, fun, and just all around entertaining. If you like paranormal, young adult, teenage romance, angels and demons, vampires and werewolves, faeries, any or all, you will probably like these. I haven’t read the Twilight books (and I currently don’t have any intention of doing so), but I imagine those are similar.Clary, our protagonist, is a soon to be 16-year-old girl. While out with her best bud Simon one night, Clary witnesses a murder. Or at least, what she thinks is a murder. But the body vanishes into thin air and how exactly can you explain THAT to the cops?

Soon Clary discovers that the “murdered” boy wasn’t human, but a demon, and the murders were Shadowhunters, super-humans with super human powers bestowed upon them by the angels in order to protect humankind and rid the earth of demons and evil forces. Along with Shadowhunters, Clary learns that “all the stories are true”, meaning that all legends, myths, etc. are actually the truth. Werewolves, vampires, faeries, warlocks, all true. Angels and demons, all true. Other dimensions, also true. Home to the demons. There are some people who believe it would have been best if the series had ended with book three. And it seems like it was originally written as a trilogy, and expanded to six books after the success of the first few. I’m not sure if I agree, but I did enjoy the first three the most.  I rated City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass as 4-star books and City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls as 3-star books.

It seems that Clary gets dumber and dumber as the series progresses. There’s a saying that love blinds, but this takes that to the extremes. As she goes through her own training to become a Shadowhunter, I was really hoping she would grow and become even stronger and independent. Instead, the opposite happens. She starts doing the stupidest “why on earth is that girl doing THAT” things. I suppose, that because, in the end, it all works out, it’s ok?? On the plus side, the other characters do develop a lot more as the series goes on. In between reading City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls, I rented the movie, which covers only the first book, City of Bones. I have to say this is one of the worst movie adaptations that I have seen in a long time. I think if I had seen the movie first, I would not have had any desire to read the novels. The characters are very one-dimensional in the movie. Now, they are not the most well developed fictional characters ever, even in the novel, but the movie just does a terrible job with the character development. Basically, there is none. Then, significant plot elements are changed or skipped, or revealed at different times or by different characters. I think as someone who hadn’t read the novels, it might not have been that bad, but it was sort of confusing. My husband admitted that in places the plot didn’t make much sense or was hard to follow. It seems like the movie studio wanted more action, so there’s a great big battle scene at the end that was completely not in the book. The entire ending, actually, is different. That’s really annoying, and it makes me wonder how they will correct that to follow the plot for City of Ashes. The movie is filming in and should be released in 2014.

(for the books, the movie gets 1.5 star)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dead Beautiful

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

A paranormal romance, Dead Beautiful tells the story of Renee Winters, and what happens when she is sent away to boarding school after the death of her parents.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but for a paranormal romance, I think it took way too long to dig into what, exactly, was paranormal. Possibly because it took so long, there were lots of clues and the big reveal was not much of a reveal for me. I won’t spoil it for you here, but if you read it, see if you can’t spot it waaaay in advance.

The other down side to this book was that I felt the writing wasn’t stellar. It was OK, but a little too wordy and a little repetitive in places with adjectives and information.

That said, I will still probably continue with the series, at least one more, to see if the writing improves.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this through NetGalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

This is the third, and final, novel in the Divergent Trilogy. All in all, I really enjoyed the trilogy and am looking forward to the movie early next year.

This was probably my least favorite book of the three. The main reason for this is due to the change in POV. The first two books are all told by Tris. In Allegiant, Roth chose to alternate between Tris and Four/Tobias. It could have worked, however, it was poorly executed. From the beginning, I had to pay close attention to the name at the start of each chapter (which is where the point of view shifts). Again and again, I found myself confused. The narrative voice was always the same and it was virtually impossible to tell if it was a Tris chapter or a Four chapter. I would find myself searching for little clues or jumping back the chapter start to check. As you might imagine, this was very annoying.

Along with the new part-time narration by Four, we get a peak inside his head. Well, intentional or not, Four comes off whiny, weak, and a bit of a mess. How we see him through his own voice is quite a bit different from how we’ve seen him in the past through Tris.

There are also some revelations in this one that made me less than happy. The plot moves some of our main characters out of the city and into the outside world. This was all fins, but then it gets into some science-y stuff that just didn’t make sense, and goes off on a tangent. There is little in Allegiant about the factions or the city, and that was disappointed.

Now, having said all that, I did like it!  I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more novels by Veronica Roth.

3 out of 5 stars.