Atlantia by Ally Condie Review

Atlantia

Atlantia by Ally Condie

Published Dutton 2014

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: Hardback

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

029c6-coollogo_com-9181998One of the first things that sticks out to me when reading a book is tone. I love books that have an underlying feeling – maybe it’s creepy, sad, haunting, positive, uplifting. It’s something that not all authors can do well, but when it works, it shoots the book right up to the top of my stacks. That’s what Ally Condie did best in Matched and then she did it again with this book.

I loved the world building. Creepy, mysterious, and really enchanting. 

You know that scene in The Little Mermaid when we are in Ursula’s cave? There’s something so enchanting about that moment, while it’s also really creepy. That was the first comparison I thought of when describing the mood of this book. Atlantia is an underwater city that lives off its relation with the people above ground. One of the first nuances of this relationship is within the first chapter, as we watch the young teenagers pick between the two, chanting a creepy oath about the differences between the two options. It shows the community of Atlantia – the good and the bad.

I liked the way the whole world came together. How Atlantia was established, the mysteries of the city, and the people who lived there. They have a very interesting religion that believes in all these miracles, one of them being the sirens. I’ve always liked the Greek concept of sirens, so I enjoyed seeing them here. The way they were portrayed was very haunting and creepy, but in a fascinating way. I wanted to keep learning more about the world, the sirens, and Atlantia.

While the world carries the book, Rio isn’t so bad either.

Just to say, I loved the way these characters were named. They all have some kind of water reference, like Rio and her sister, Bay. Anyway, the familial relationships were so on point in this book. Rio and Bay have a great sisterhood and while we don’t see them together too much, I liked the flashbacks as Rio considers her life with Bay. There is also her aunt, who may or may not be a villain. It’s very interesting as we learn more about their family history to learn more about the mystery passed from generation to generation.

Among all of this, there was a really sweet romance, a super climatic ending, and a really fun cast of characters. I loved the idea of the book and the world building pulled the whole concept with. And it left me questioning where I would want to live – Atlantia or aboveground?

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Where She Went by Gayle Forman Review

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)

Where She Went by Gayle Forman (If I Stay #2)

Published Dutton 2011

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Paperback

90a23-coollogo_com-221351400It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

e9da6-coollogo_com-9181998I thought I wasn’t going to read this at first. In fact, I had no idea what happened when it came in for me at the library from a request. But, I decided to pick it up because it was short and I could read it pretty quickly.

This is a new favorite book.

I was being ridiculous when I told myself not to read this – it was so amazing. I’m going to have trouble reviewing this without a lot of gushing, so I’m going to compile my gushing into a list:

  1. Adam’s Voice. He’s this raw, tired rockstar with a serious anger problem and plenty of struggles. From the time after If I Stay closed, he’s had lots of drama for himself.
  2. New York City. I need more books set in this beautiful city. I loved how the setting took Adam and Mia on an adventure throughout these areas and hitting the spots that are so different and unique.
  3. Mia’s transformation. I love her outlook on life, especially after the tragedy she went through. She has so many beautiful phrases and a truly life changing way to life.
  4. The way we were caught up on the past while staying in the present with Adam and Mia. I really liked how the book switched to catch us up with what happened between If I Stay and this book. It never felt too time jump-y, and really added even more detail to the story as a whole.
  5. The romance. Mia and Adam don’t get back together immediately and they really have to reconnect. But seeing them both together, you could tell their history and how much they cared for each other.
  6. Getting more If I Stay. We learn about what was happening outside of their perspectives, every detail of the most crucial moments of the first book.

Overall, this book sealed the deal for me on this duology, this story, and Gayle Forman as an author. I loved every moment of this and it’s a new favorite.

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Top Ten Tuesday: All Time Favorite Authors

top ten tuesday key

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Broke and Bookish. This week, I’ll be talking about my top ten favorite authors of all time!

favorite authors

  1. Beth Revis – I really love the way she writes action packed, intense sci-fi! I will read anything she writes.
  2. Julie Kagawa – The world building in her books is incredible, and I love reading her fantasy worlds.
  3. Jodi Lynn Anderson – From Tiger Lily to Peaches, she has impressed me with two very different stories. I can’t wait to read more.
  4. Rick Riordan – His humor, as well as his amazing mythology tie ins, make him a great author for new readers.
  5. Jenny Han – I love her super cute contemporaries!
  6. Ally Condie – Matched is one of my favorite trilogies, and I just read and love Atlantia. I love the worlds and the tone to both of these books.
  7. Marissa Meyer – The Lunar Chronicles is exploding across the book community! And for good reason. Plus, I met her and she’s super sweet.
  8. Lauren Oliver – I love everything she writes (and I mean everything). She’s so talented and diverse. Another author I met as well! She was so grateful and really nice.
  9. Gayle Forman – A more recent favorite, but her writing is really strong and powerful. I have yet to read a book by her that didn’t make me feel all of the emotions.
  10. Stephanie Perkins – Another super cute author. I love a great contemporary romance.

Who are your favorite authors?

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Open Road Summer by Emery Lord Review

Open Road Summer

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Published Walker 2014

Format: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Hardback from the library

90a23-coollogo_com-221351400After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

e9da6-coollogo_com-9181998I think we have found ourselves a gem of a young adult author. As a fan of young adult contemporary, you might be able to guess how excited I am about that.

This book is sharp and poignant, with a main character that sticks out and a romance that sparkles right off the page. 

Reagan is our main character – and while others have had plenty of problems with her – I really liked her character. There is plenty of discussion about the supposed slut shaming in this book, and while I kept a watchful eye out for it, I could find only a few instances. There are a few times when Reagan jumps to quick conclusions about people she sees with Matt, but that’s what people do. In relationships, there is going to be some jealousy and asking an author to portray that any differently in a book feels like cheating. Authors are supposed to write books that sound and feel like real life, not idealized versions of that. She is a sharp character with a somewhat troublesome past, but that gave her so many layers. She wasn’t the typical young adult romance lead and I loved that.

What really makes this book a winner is the friendship between Reagan and Lilah.

In a genre where friendships are a rarity, this one is truly unique. Lilah’s country stardom makes her different and Reagan gets that – but she also gets that her friend really has not changed much (you know, other than having her face on a tour bus). I loved how Lilah’s fame did not get in the way of their friendship. They still had little traditions they had done forever, and both were willing to risk for each other. I loved the give-take between the two. It was an equally balanced friendship that read just like some I have experienced in real life.

In the end, the only thing I missed from this book was more.

This book would have really done good from some length and a little more detail. Contemporaries are supposed to be hundreds of pages long, but I would have liked to see their relationship develop a little bit more before moving on. Matt and Reagan become really close by the end, but there are some obstacles that are not resolved until the very last pages. It’s a contemporary romance pet peeve of mine, but I hate when they end like that.

Overall, this book is a formidable debut novel. I can’t wait for more of Emery Lord! Reagan is different, so if you go in expecting that, Open Road Summer is a delightful read.

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I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios Review

I'll Meet You There

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Published Henry Holt 2015

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Hardback from the library

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

029c6-coollogo_com-9181998If I had written a review for this book right after I read it, like I’m supposed to, and not a month later (the shame…), this would be a very different review. I might go on and on about how much I loved the characters and the relationship and the romance and all of that. But alas, after I finished this book, I had some tech problems and couldn’t post anything for a while. Leaving this review, and this book, to mull over in my brain. And when I was creating a Top Ten Tuesday post recently, I decided to include this book. However, I had a problem. I couldn’t remember the character’s name. So this is not going to be the glowing review I once thought it would be.

Josh is the stand-out superstar, MVP of this book. 

Plain and simple, he saved the story over and over again. I loved his one-two page perspectives and the way he was written. His PTSD felt real and emotional, not like something created just for the sake of romance. There is a lot of discussion in this book about the military and Josh’s youthfulness being taken away from him – something that we need more of in young adult fiction. This whole sector of veterans in our population is typically ignored, and that’s really sad, considering they risk their lives for us. The part of the book that sticks out the most for me, even now, is when Josh says that he doesn’t like when people thank him for his service.

What I’m saying is that the book would’ve been better if it was just Josh.

I liked Skylar. Don’t get me wrong. But I couldn’t remember who she was, and when I think about really great characters, that’s what I want. I want someone whose personality or thoughts or opinions or struggles sticks out and pushes me to think about my own life – especially when reading contemporary. Josh totally did that, but Skylar? Not so much. I felt like she was dealing with the same struggles as every young adult character – lives in a small town, has parental problems, wants to leave and uses college as her opportunity to do that. I did not hate Skylar. I felt like her struggles were real and deserved. But I wanted something more out of them.

One of the moments that still strikes me is when Skylar’s best friend tells her that not everyone wants to leave their sleepy California town. I LOVED that moment. I grew up in a small town, and I felt absolutely no necessity to leaving like so many young adult protagonists. Sure, I wanted to – but I was not going to leave my entire life behind for it. There is a part of me that wants to examine this from a sociologist lens (I once read about how recently, teenagers are more likely to want to leave and migrate around the US), but this review isn’t really the time for that.

I wish that Skylar was a stronger main character. The people around her were so well developed. She wasn’t boring, but she should not have been our lead through this story. I would have loved to hear straight from Josh, or maybe one of her friends. Skylar felt very immature from the community she grew up in, and her voice didn’t align with everything else. I did like the plot and the discussion of her parents.

Overall, I liked this book, but I do not think that Skylar was the one to tell it. I loved hearing from the PTSD-striken Josh, as well as some of the ideas on living in small town communities. However, Skylar and the romance between her and Josh did not pull it off well enough for me.

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Peaches Trilogy by Jodi Lynn Anderson Review

Peaches (Peaches, #1)The Secrets of Peaches (Peaches, #2)Love and Peaches (Peaches, #3)

Peaches, The Secrets of Peaches, Love and Peaches by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Published HarperTeen 2005, 2007, 2008

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Hardback

9ebf8-coollogo_com-221351400In a Ya-Ya Sisterhood for teens, Peaches combines three unforgettable heroines who have nothing in common but the troubles that have gotten them sentenced to a summer of peach picking at a Georgia orchard.

Leeda is a debutante dating wrong-side-of-the-tracks Rex.

Murphy, the wildest girl in Bridgewater, likes whichever side Rex is on.

Birdie is a dreamer whose passion for Girl Scout cookies is matched only by her love for a boy named Enrico.

When their worlds collide, The Breakfast Club meets The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in an entirely original and provocative story with a lush, captivating setting.

ab8ee-coollogo_com-9181998This will be a spoiler free review for all three books in the series!

This is a really great, summer-y contemporary series! Just like the summary says above, it’s very similar to plenty of series that are classics within the young adult contemporary genre. However, I think this one just might be becoming a classic contemporary series of its own!

The first book is probably the hardest to start with. It’s plenty of world developing, although it isn’t a fantasy. We are learning about the peach farm the three girls live on, how they all ended up there, what is happening during that time, etc. Plus, one of the major differences is that it takes place over a longer time period than the rest of the books. There is also plenty of history to get to know between each of the girls. The second book picks up a ton and was my favorite in the trilogy, while the third book mostly served to wrap everything up (and made me super sad because I love these characters so much!).

Now, for our three main ladies. First, we have Birdie. I was never a huge fan of her character, but I didn’t not like her either. I really liked her character arc throughout the series, especially her romance with Enrico. The addition of the migrant farm workers from Mexico added a very realistic touch to the story. I really enjoyed how they were integrated within the farm community. Enrico and Birdie had some frustrating moments, but overall, I really liked their romance. I was pretty okay with Birdie as a character.

My favorite of the three girls was Murphy. She had so much spunk and was a really great character. She pushed the entire friendship with her very honest, straight-forward style. I think I could have read an entire book just about her. Murphy’s entire attitude made the series a much more enjoyable read.

Next, Leeda. I waffled between books with my opinions about her. In the first book, I didn’t care for her much. She was just the rich girl with some boy problems. By the second book, there was so much character development happening and she was almost unrecognizable (in a good way) in the third. There’s a lot of pressure for her to be like the other girls in her family, so I liked seeing her break away from that to become her own person.

Overall, this is a great, summer-y contemporary trilogy! I loved following these three throughout the early years of their life, all the sweet moments on the peach farm, and the great story of friendship.

Peaches-

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Secrets of Peaches-

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Love and Peaches-

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Discussion: Characters’ Names

discussion

I really hope that y’all can relate to me on this because I have a problem with some books…

The characters’ names.

That’s right. Sometimes, I cannot read entire books – not because of some plot or writing or concept issue. Because of the chosen name for the character.

It can be all types of things. For example, I really don’t like reading books with my name (Katherine) or any variations on it. For a long time, I refused to read The Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout because the main character’s name is Katy. Obviously – because I now love this series so far – it does not bother me too much because it’s told in first person. The name rarely comes up, but when it’s in third person, I can’t do it.

This also is a problem with my friends’ or family member’s names. If the love interest shares the same name as my brothers or one of my best guy friends? Yeah, no way, not happening. I’m a little bit better with my girl friends’ names or sisters, but if it’s a really emotional, darker contemporary, I will draw the line there too.

Maybe I just have a problem imaging another face with that name, especially if my mind is free to totally create the character’s face and personality.

Another naming problem that I have? If the character’s name is just totally ridiculous. I like unique names (mostly because that means I tend to avoid the above problem), but when they aren’t really real names, that gets a little ridiculous. I will give dystopian and fantasy worlds a pass because naming is a HUGE  part of the culture and society, but a contemporary with crazy names? That just really bothers me.

So, do you have some problems with character names like I do?

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