Thursday, January 30, 2014

Review: The Statistical Probability of LOVE at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.
A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?
Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it. 

          This book has been on the TBR list for a long time. An intriguing title, yes? But urban romances are a dime a dozen and often worth less -- the characters weak, the setting thin, and the plot strong together on some inexplicable magnetism between the leads. Because, honestly, what is the statistical probability of love at first sight? The title was so tongue-in-cheek that I couldn't resist. Thank goodness I didn't!

           Hadley Sullivan is a, perhaps, perfectly average teenage girl -- plodding through life and dealing with baggage from her parents' divorce. But far from her hardships callusing her, they deepen her feeling and we can see just how thoroughly she lives life. With such a smoothly formed character, even her rash actions take on motivation and hence are realistic and empathetic. And, of course, her counterpart, Oliver, is everything a girl could wish for: funny, smart, caring, confident, and ever so cute. Though I would have liked his back story and it's repercussions in his live explored a bit more, his solid character is evident in his charming dialogue with Hadley (several giggly moments there). As characters, both can easily stand on their own merits, but together they make a definite re-read.
Characters: 4 Stars

           The story begins and resolves over the course of a single day. When looked at from a distance that's a whirlwind romance -- how could anything made that quickly even have the appearance of being real? But we don't see the whole romance. We only see the main characters' first, second, and third encounters, and the plot almost takes on the whimsical feel of the Disney short Paperman. Seemingly by mere chance, two perfectly suited people meet and refuse to let their meeting slip away into the depths of time. Set against a vibrant;y written backdrop of first an airport and then London, the characters develop a strong friendship while struggling with the pulls that real life has on them. This beginning of their relationship is grounded so firmly, that though we leave them at a dance, with no promises made, we can rest assured that their romance will last far into the foreseeable future, if not forever (That's what I'm going with).
Plot: 5 Stars

           The language of the tale fits the content perfectly -- relaxed and genuine -- with a witty narrator to convey longing, exhilaration, insecurity, and sureness with a few carefully placed words. We get to experience Hadley's full range of emotion and identify with her on an entirely new level. The descriptions are creative, original, and definitely have their own taste. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of picking this book up yet, I highly recommend it to satisfy you well-written romance cravings. Overall, a very sweet, clean, satisfying read.
Style: 4.5 Stars

Rating: 4.5 Stars
Source: Library
Genre: Romance
YA Fiction
236 Pages

Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner


It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. 

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. 

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?
Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.(less)

             One look at that gorgeous cover and I was sold. And a few hours later, I'm happy to report that this story totally lives up to that dress.

             From the get-go we have two dynamic characters (The only two characters for the majority of the book) that are completely opposite: Lilac, the society darling dripping with money and the necessary arrogance to keep fortune-hunters away, and Tarver, a man for rugged terrains and a recently returned war hero. I found Lilac very sympathetically and sweetly portrayed. Instead of loathing the rich girl with daddy issues, I loved her. She tried to get better, and recognized when it was better to bow to authority or dig in her heels all the way. She was level-headed, courageous, and blessedly whine-free. The authors took no short cuts with her character, and Tarver was no different. Unfortunately, so many young adult authors simply paste down a generic hunk for the love interest and call it good ('Can't you see the figure we just described for you? No wonder she falls in love with him!') playing off the tropes of YA to let the reader fill in the gaps.That may be fine for a fairytale, but the romance can never reach those desperately beautiful heights that make us squeal and nibble our nails. Thankfully, that was not this book. Tarver had his own detailed past, his own clear motives for choices and he did not exist solely through his feelings for Lilac. There was poetry and hunting and hiking through the woods. And there was plenty of squealing and nail nibbling. It was nice.
Characters: 5 Stars

          I never knew crossing fields and forests and mountains could be so exciting! (Let's be honest. There are some parts of Lord of the Rings that are just...meh.) But mix with that the bite in Lilac and Tarver's interactions, Lilac's character arc as she experiences a world she never dreamed existed, and -- to top it all off -- ghostly apparitions that may be telling the future. Or maybe Lilac's just going mad. Science fiction smashed into romance, creating an intricate whirl-wind of a tale.
Plot: 5 Stars

          I haven't had the pleasure of reading anything by Meagan Spooner and can only looking forward to reading more from Amie Kaufman, but These Broken Stars was a satisfying read with a solid difference in the styles between to the two point-of-views. It was easy to tell what character was narrating, and the present tense was a good fit,
Style: 4.5 Stars

Rating: 4.8 Stars
Source: Library
Genre: Science Fiction
YA Fiction

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Review: New Sight by Jo Schneider

          After succumbing to the sudden and terrifying urge to rip people’s eyes out of their sockets, 16-year-old Lysandra Blake finds herself tied down in a psych ward, convinced she’s crazy. The doctors have no answers, and Lys is ready to give up when the mysterious Jeremiah Mason appears, telling Lys that she’s not insane—she’s addicted to a rare and deadly drug that she has no recollection of using. Mr. Mason offers to take her to his facility where he can treat her. Desperate yet suspicious, Lys agrees to go with Mr. Mason to his facility where she meets with a fellow addict, the tall and handsome Kamau. Together they discover that Mr. Mason may not have told them the truth about their condition—they’re thrown headfirst into a world of daunting powers that are not only unbelievable, they are dangerous.

          To say that Lys (main character) goes through a lot, is putting it mildly. Torn from her perfectly normal life and placed in a 'special' drug rehab facility after exhibiting symptoms of what she is told is a deadly drug addiction, she adjusts. A few chapters later, she is torn away again...and again. And she takes it remarkably well. Her disbelief in the magic, though realistic, is a bit frustrating, and at times she comes across as whiny, but overall she's determined and keeps pushing forward. The other characters stepped in and out of the story as needed. I would have liked to be able to develop a bit more depth, but it had the pro of keeping the focus on Lys and her personal journey as a character.
Characters: 2.5 Stars

          New Sight's magic system is fairly standard, though built on the interesting premise of magic as an addiction.I enjoyed the wrench this threw into the already twisty world the characters found themselves in, and how natural its strengths and weaknesses felt. With all the various backstabbing going on, the magic itself almost takes a back seat as a steady foundation for the plot. I can honestly say the book was nonstop action from cover to cover. The scenes were appropriately intense. However, they fell into a mantra of attack-escape, attack-escape, and my interest ebbed. That being said, the story had it's beautiful moments, particularly in the first half, when I couldn't stop reading. This is a perfect book for someone seeking a quick thriller with not much commitment needed to enjoy it.
Plot: 2.7 Stars

          The style carried through consistently, sporting a classic gung-ho, adventure story feel. Containing romance, spy novel, tragedy, spooky asylum (for a bit), drug rehab, and of course the effervescent fantasy, the story definitely appeals to a wide-variety of tastes, and could perk the interest of even those unfamiliar with the genre.
Style: 2.7 Stars

Rating: 2.6 Stars
Source: Arc from author for review
Genre: Urban Fantasy
YA Fiction
Releases April 22, 2014