Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson

Title: I'll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson (@JandyNelson)
Published: September 16th, 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary
POV: 1st person, dual
Print Length: 371 pages
Audio Length: 12 hours, 57 Minutes
Publisher: Dial Books
Format: Audiobook | Print
Source: Purchased
Rating: The Treasure Vault

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

I remember falling head over heels in love with Jandy Nelson's debut novel, The Sky Is Everywhere when it first published five years ago. So, I had high hopes for her newest release, I'll Give You the Sun. But once all of the glowing reviews started pouring in, I became a little nervous, since too much hype can set the bar too high and ultimately ruin a good story. So, I continued to set this story aside, again and again. However, once I got the audio version, I decided to dive right in and hope this story had been worth the wait. 

And what a novel to dive into - I'll Give You the Sun is an emotionally explosive story that cannonballs straight into your heart. Alternating between a younger Noah (ages 13 and 14) and a 16-year-old Jude, the twins share secrets of their past and present with the reader, and slowly untangle the mystery surrounding their peculiar lives. Between Jude's superstitious nature (and tendency to see her dead grandmother) and Noah's peculiar and artistic view of the world, these characters manage to be both realistically human and utterly effervescent. Nelson outdid herself with this story, these characters, and her vivid writing style. A truly magnificent novel, I'll Give You the Sun is a book you do not want to miss. 

Highlights: Not only were Jude and Noah wonderfully developed, but the side characters were equally fleshed out too. Some were quirky, some were normal, but all seemed like real people with real attributes and flaws. Nelson ties the two narratives, past and present, together expertly. But it's her writing style that brings this story to life - the descriptions are full of life, practically bursting off the pages. I could highlight lines all day when it comes to this story. Both romances are wonderfully written, and the tension between characters is so electric and alive. The topics involved vary from issues with sexuality to dealing with the wrongs of the past. All in all, I have no complaints when it comes to this novel. Truly incredible, I could praise I'll Give You the Sun all day and never quite describe how outstanding this story is. 

Lowlights: I waited WAY too long to finally to check this out. Definitely a lowlight1.

Audiobook: Julia Whelan and Jesse Berstein are, in a single word, phenomenal narrators. I cannot even choose which was better - they were both excellent, expertly bringing the story to life with every single word. They made me forget I listening to an audiobook and become completely swept away by Jude and Noah's story. They both pulled off the various characters with ease, and their voices were well-suited to such a colorful, flowing style of writing. 

Rating: The Treasure Vault: 5+ out of 5, Favorite. I'll Give You the Sun  is a marvelous story that has quickly become a favorite story worthy of treasuring. Vivid, evocative, mysterious, humorous, and heartbreaking, this novel will tug at your emotions and leave you with the desire to start rereading it all over again. I'd highly recommend this novel, and especially the audiobook version, since Jesse Berstein and Julia Whelan add a little extra spark to an already lively story.

1 *shakes head at self in disappointment* I should have read it sooner! Can't believe I waited so long.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Queen's Library (47): ALA Edition

ALA Recap + Books

I was able to drop by San Francisco yesterday for a few hours in order to attend ALA, and it was amazing. I've never been in that part of the city before, so it was insane to see all of the huge buildings up close, and Moscone Center was quite remarkable as well (especially the Illuminae staircase)!

I met so many amazing bookish people and people were incredibly nice (except for one random guy, who almost knocked me over in a nearly empty aisle - he apparently had places to be). I'm definitely hoping I'll be able to attend ALA again in the future (or maybe BEA), because it was such fun to be able to fangirl with a bunch of people over books. I got to meet Rae Carson (and be totally awkward around her while she was autographing my ARC. *sighs*) and have so many wonderful bookish discussions. 

I picked up some books while I was there - although my father ended up getting a majority of them, because he is apparently a magnet for books / tote-bags. I think I picked up only 9 books, and then he showed up with a bunch of books + bags. For a non-reader, he was surprisingly in his element! 

Books for Review 

I also received a few great books for review last week!

From HarperCollins

From Macmillan
Six of Crows (!!!!) + swag

And that's it for me! Many thanks to the various publishers / representatives for everything.

I'll be hosting a few fun giveaways VERY soon, so check back in for that! 

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend,


This feature is inspired by Pop Culture Junkie's This Week In Books / The Story Siren's In My Mailbox. The Queen's Library is a way for me to feature books that I add to my bookshelves and a place to post my weekly recommendations. This is not a new meme, but merely an adjusted feature that is better suited to my blog and needs.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (164): TAKE THE FALL

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

TAKE THE FALL by Emily Hainsworth
Balzer+Bray, February 16th, 2016


Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information…could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement, and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus, the artist, the screwup, the boy she might be falling for have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night…who could it have been?

There's nothing I love more than a good mystery, and this one sounds like it could be an excellent one to read! *waits impatiently for 2016* 

What are you waiting on? 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Highlights / Lowlights: A WICKED THING by Rhiannon Thomas

Title: A Wicked Thing
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
Published: February 24th 2015
Series: A Wicked Thing #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
POV: 3rd person, past tense
Pages: 352
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: electronic ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: Tea Party

Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining ofSleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

Highlights: What happened after the kiss? Rhiannon Thomas explores this idea, beginning her novel with the kiss that wakes Sleeping Beauty from her cursed slumber. But life isn't much of a fairy tale for Aurora, who is treated more like a pawn in a game of chess. True love and the happily ever after is hardly what Aurora wakes to. Instead, she finds secrets, rebellions, and the realization that she'll have to claim the life she wants to have, because no one is going to hand over the perfect happily ever after ending. Thomas' writing style has a nice flow to it, which makes A Wicked Thing easy to breeze on through in a matter of hours. 

Lowlights: As much as I wanted to fall in love with this book (Sleeping Beauty retelling!), I was simply bored throughout a good portion of the story. The romance was frustrating (both of them), and Aurora barely did anything until the conclusion. She was, in my eyes, a very passive character throughout most of the novel. The ending proved to be more intriguing, so I'm guessing the sequel might have more story to it, but this novel was ultimately a bit underwhelming.

Rating: Tea Party: Liked, 3 out of 5. While I found myself feeling slightly bored with the story, the last 50 or so pages picked up the pace, excitement, and finally gave Aurora the chance to become a character with agency, instead of merely a pawn for someone else to control. I have high hopes that the sequel will be the story I was looking for when I opened this novel. 

I received an electronic advanced copy of this novel from the publisher for review consideration. 
This is no way affected my opinion of the novel. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer of Sarah Dessen

This is the Summer of Sarah Dessen! Penguin Teen is celebrating Dessen's work, new and old, so be sure you don't miss out on the fun! Dessen's novels are always the perfect beach reads, and I highly recommend them.

PLUS, you can enter to win an epic, summer essentials prize pack full of all of Dessen's novels (signed!) and some summer goodies! Learn how to enter at #IHeartDessen Sweepstakes

Saint Anything | The Moon and More | What Happened to Goodbye
Along for the Ride | Lock and Key | That Summer
Just Listen | Dreamland | The Truth About Forever
This Lullaby | Keeping the Moon | Someone Like You

What's your favorite Sarah Dessen novel? Or if you haven't read anything by her yet, which one are you most interested in? 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (163): BLACKHEARTS

WoW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
February 9th, 2016
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything. This is their story.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

PIRATES! YES! Especially curious since it's an origin story. I've always been a fan of pirate narratives (hence my current obsession with Starz's Black Sails), so I'm very excited for Castroman's story.

What are you waiting on?

Monday, June 8, 2015

Mini-Review: ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers

Title: All the Rage
Author: Courtney Summers (@courtney_s)
Published: April 14th, 2015
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary
POV: 1st person, past |  present
Pages: 321
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Format: electronic ARC | hardcover
Source: Netgalley + Publisher |  Purchased
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out,All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

All the Rage features Courtney Summers usual writing style, and that's a compliment. Unflinchingly honest, this book throws harsh truths in your face and dares you to acknowledge them. Nothing is simple or easy when it comes to Romy's story, and this is not an easy read when it comes to your emotions. The novel throws all the ways we fail one another out into the open, and demands a changes in ourselves and in society when it comes to sexual assault victims. Powerful, heartbreaking, and disconcerting, All the Rage is an important story, and it's one that everyone should read. Borrow or buy it, but please, read this book. 

Highlights: Summers' previous novels end feature complex characters and invoke strong emotions, and this book continues that trend. Romy is a flawed protagonist, and she doesn't shy away from that side of herself. Instead, she embraces her reputation, and she demands attention while also trying to fade into the background. Her relationship with her family was nicely portrayed, and I especially loved the budding romance. 

Lowlights: The timeline is admittedly perplexing, but perhaps that was intentional (or maybe the ARC I read was incorrect). I was expecting Kellan to play a larger role in this story, but it has more do with Romy and the residents of the town.

Note: This is a rape story. It's the aftermath of rape, featuring the psychological effects of such horror. It features plenty of bullying and abuse. It's a bit jarring at times, but it's an important story. 

Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf: Loved, 5 out of 5. Courtney Summers never disappoints. Her work is daring, honest, and forces you to take a hard look at your life and society. All the Rage is a powerful story, and I cannot wait to see what Summers writes next. 

I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher for review consideration. 
This is no way affected my opinion of the novel.