Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Early Review – Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

January 22, 2016 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, YA 1 Comment

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel SavitAnna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on January 26th 2016
Pages: 240
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-stars

A stunning, literary, and wholly original debut novel set in Poland during the Second World War perfect for readers of The Book Thief.

Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.

style-3 (2) review

‘There is no labyrinth as treacherous as that with neither paths nor walls.’

When seven-year-old Anna is placed in the company of a neighbor while her father attends to some business, she never thought that would be the last she would see of him. The year is 1939 during the very beginning of World War II and the Germans are beginning their round up of scholars and Anna’s father is a professor at Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Unsure what to do, Anna turns to a mysterious stranger she names Swallow Man after he displays his proficiency with languages including the ability to speak to birds. Intrigued by this man, Anna begins to follow him and the two stay together, walking across Poland, for many years.

“A riverbank goes wherever the riverbank does. […] I’ll be the riverbank and you be the river.”

During this duo’s travels, the Swallow Man teaches Anna many lessons, cultivating her ability to survive with or without him. The two that bear repeating most: “To be found is to be gone forever,” and “One can’t be found as long as one keeps moving.” And keep hidden and moving they do. Within this short novel, years pass and it becomes more and more difficult to continue to survive in a world that has transformed around them, blanketing them in war. Throughout their time together, the Swallow Man persists in fascinating Anna with his perpetual crypticness and continues to keep the reader curious about the circumstances which brought him to this point.

‘It was very difficult for her to take her attention away from the thin man, even for a moment. Somewhere, tickling the back of her brain, she felt a certainty that if she wasn’t constantly watching this fellow, she would miss whole miracles, whole wonders – things that he let fall incidentally off himself as other men might shed dandruff.’

There was something supremely enchanting about this well-written story. It combined the heartrending historical aspects of The Book Thief with the magical realism of The Snow Child. Unfortunately, Savit built up a mesmerizing tale of survival only to lose steam and fizzle out at the end. The hazy inscrutability that is cast over this story leads to the magical feeling of mysteriousness but by the end, I was expecting that haze to clear and it never did. View Spoiler »

Divider

Book Review – Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

December 12, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Pages: 608
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Unearthed, Lifel1k3

three-half-stars

For fans of Marie Lu comes the first book in an epic series that bends the sci-fi genre into a new dimension.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, maps, files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

style-3 (4) review

 The day started off like any other day, except for the fact that Kady just broke up with her boyfriend Ezra. Oh, and also the fact that their planet was invaded that afternoon by corporate rival, BeiTech Industries, after it was discovered that they were operating an illegal mining colony. The frantic evacuation of their planet forces the duo back together temporarily as they flee from certain death. The residents succeed in launching three ships to get as many individuals to safety as possible, but the tension doesn’t relent as there’s a BeiTech dreadnought hot on their heels. To make matters worse, there’s a virus circulating quickly on board and issues with Alexander’s artificial intelligence system. Kady takes it upon herself to hack into the ships computer system in order to find out what’s going on because of the ongoing secrecy. What she finds out fails to inspire hope, but she’s willing to do what must be done in order to survive.

The first thing you need to know about Illuminae is that it’s told in epistolary form. Not just your basic journal entries à la Georgia Nicholson either, but is instead a full spectrum combination of all possible epistolary formats: emails, interview transcripts, memos, security footage, pseudo-Wikipedia pages, and most especially instant messages. With that kind of formatting, I am absolutely 100% the targeted reader and find this method of storytelling to be oh so much fun. The blend of multiple genres only increased the entertainment. Science Fiction, Romance, Horror, plus some form of rampant plague and ZOMBIES. Well. I would have thought it’d be too much, but it was fantastic. This is one page-turning thrill-ride that I did not want to get off of. There are twists and turns that were constantly throwing me for a loop, and oh man, my EMOTIONS. I’ll just leave this here and let you non-readers try to ponder the meaning.

There was an immense amount of hype surrounding this one, including starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus which immediately makes me impressed before I’ve even picked up the book. But admittedly, I was nervous. I find myself in the black sheep camp more often than not and my hopes were high with this one. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, with reservations, as the ending felt like an odd piece of the puzzle. View Spoiler » Even with my reservations, this was a thoroughly engrossing adventure and I will most definitely be picking up the next installment in hopes of getting some answers to my lingering questions.

Divider

Book Review – The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

October 5, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 3 Comments

Book Review – The Spectacular Now by Tim TharpThe Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on November 4th 2008
Pages: 306
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


two-stars

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

‘Another spectacular afternoon. This weather is unbelievable. Of course, that probably means summer is going to be vicious again, but I’m not worried about that now. I was never big on the future. I admire people who are, but it just never was my thing.’

Sutter is spontaneous with a luring personality who lives life solely in the moment. Aimee is plagued by insecurity but has a mind that is saturated with dreams of the future. The two are an unlikely combination but Aimee is mesmerized by the lifestyle Sutter leads and Sutter is convinced he can do Aimee good by giving her the confidence she needs so badly.

“To hell with tomorrow. To hell with all problems and barriers. Nothing matters but the Spectacular Now.”

Oh, Sutter. His character is not portrayed solely as an addict or an alcoholic, instead he’s this extremely fun and charismatic person that everyone really can’t help but love… he just has a serious problem with alcohol. But that’s not his defining feature. There was a complete lack of character development in regards to Sutter; he simply maintained as he was first introduced. I definitely wished I had seen some alteration, even slight, especially since this is highly considered to be a coming of age tale and I require character development in order for that label to be fitting.

Considering this story is told from the point of view of Sutter, everything is glorified because that’s the mentality he projects on the world. Unfortunately, the same goes for his alcoholic tendencies. It’s reflected in such a glamorized and non-gritty light and I can’t help but take issue with that since this book is targeted towards children. Taken at face value I think it would be difficult for children to see past the facade and realize that Sutter has a serious issue. The ending sheds some light on the seriousness but not enough in my opinion. Sutter’s story is truly a tragedy, I can only hope that for those children that do read this have parents that are willing to sit down and discuss with them the ravaging effects of alcohol.

Despite his good intentions towards Aimee, their relationship is truly toxic. The effect Sutter had on her was initially beneficial, however, she ended up turning down the exact road as him as her grades began to slip and she began drinking (almost) as much as him. What astonished me most was the family members of both main characters and their complete absence in their lives. I understand being a parent myself and not being able to see issues all the time before they rear their ugly head but Sutter made the fact that he was on a downward spiral loud and clear.

My opinion is quite the unpopular one regarding this book. This was well written and an honest depiction of alcoholism, I just didn’t agree with the glamorized feel the book lent it, especially when you consider the target audience.

Divider

Early Review – The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

September 5, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 8 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Waking Dark by Robin WassermanThe Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on September 10th 2013
Pages: 464
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Girls on Fire

four-stars

A taut, haunting read, The Waking Dark is "a horror story worthy of Stephen King" (Booklist) and will appeal to the readers of Gillian Flynn and Rick Yancey.

They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed—or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas—something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town—and in themselves.

The killing day.
The day the devil came to Oleander.
That day.

 Oleander, Kansas is a small, quiet town that was never cause for much attention… until the killing day. The day when twelve people were killed in a few short hours by the hands of their friends and neighbors. Once all surrounding them were dead they then killed themselves having outlived their purpose. One survived to tell her tale, but she remembers nothing of the horrors that she dealt out. When the town is placed under quarantine after a horrific storm does further damage to the town, a darkness wakes in the citizens. The deacon decides this is the perfect opportunity to cleanse the town and the remaining citizens begin to take the law into their own hands.

This book is insanity incarnate. It’s dark and distressing. It’s maddening and stupefying. It’s one of the most horrific books I’ve ever read. It was fantastic. I have never been left more shocked and appalled by a single chapter and that’s just what Robin Wasserman managed to do. The Waking Dark is horror, but it’s not exactly scary. The madness that consumes this small town is more vexing and mortifying than anything and showcases perfectly the mentality of a small town and what can happen when it all goes wrong.

The story is extremely character driven and is told from several different points of view with very distinct characters so it didn’t cause any confusion as its fantastically written. It’s a sordid tale told over the span of a few short weeks with enough violence to last a lifetime. The Waking Dark has drawn comparisons to Stephen King and Gillian Flynn, I believe for good reason. Having read both authors I feel that they both possess a subtle eeriness in their writing, a creepiness and unflinching details that sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise.

I feel it must be said that this is one of the most violent and mature YA books I’ve read and is definitely not meant for a younger crowd. It involves infant murders, detailed meth use, crucifixion and people being burned at the stake (and that’s not even half of the craziness that goes down in these pages). This is not for the faint of heart.

There is so much to say about this story, but so much that needs to be experienced firsthand. I have to say though, I was extremely pleased at how the violence was maintained throughout the story because I figured it would letup at some point, (nope) but I expected it to end in a manner as shocking as the first chapter but it was a bit too tidy of an ending for my liking. Nevertheless, I am most impressed with this author and will be seeking out her past works.

Divider

Early Review – Every Day by David Levithan

August 6, 2012 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2012, YA 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Every Day by David LevithanEvery Day by David Levithan
Series: Every Day #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on August 28th 2012
Pages: 338
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Lover's Dictionary, The Lover's Dictionary

three-half-stars

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

‘Every day I am someone else. I am myself – I know I am myself – but I am also someone else.
It has always been like this.’

A is a new person every day. Boy, girl, straight, gay, white, African-American… it doesn’t matter. Each day A lives life through the eyes of someone new. A is something of a spirit and has no control over where he ends up the next day but it happens without fail each and every night. After being so many different people, A has made it a point to not change these people’s lives. He’s able to access memories in order to determine where they need to be on each particular day and to be able to interact with others in that person’s life but A tries to interact as little as possible because of the guilt from the intrusion. I found the whole concept of this storyline to be extremely interesting and original despite a few issues.

‘If you stare at the center of the universe, there is a coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us.
That’s why we have to care about each other.’

First off, there was this one particular scene where A goes to a computer and accesses his personal e-mail account. To me, A seemed more like a spirit which inhabited a new person’s body on a daily basis and since this was never elaborated on then that’s the explanation I created. So, spirits with email accounts? Eh. Of course this played a huge part in the entire story, but it still threw me off for the rest of the book.

It had a wonderful message though, about loving someone for who they are inside and not for what they look like outside. The love story itself between A and Rhiannon I admit was a bit instantaneous but I ended up sold by the end pages. It was touching and incredibly sweet and I truly believed that she loved A and not because of an outside appearance as that changed daily. But…

‘If I were in a different body, this would be the time I would lean down and kiss her. If I were in a different body, that kiss could transform the night from off to on. If I were in a different body, she would see me inside. She would see what she wanted to see.
But now it’s awkward.’

Then A woke up in a 300 pound body. It was definitely disconcerting how A acted because of his appearance, how everyone treated him that day, and how it resulted in View Spoiler » Also, I found it to be a bit over the top when A and Rhiannon were struggling to see each other every day. A was always calling in sick or leaving school early just to meet up with her to see her and Rhiannon was doing the same. It seemed as if the majority of the story was finding rides and making excuses to get to see her and it got a little exhausting.

Despite my few issues, I still found this to be a fast and enjoyable read. This is only my second David Levithan book (first being The Lover’s Dictionary) but his writing continues to amaze. Definitely won’t be my last book of his.

Divider

Book Review – Tighter by Adele Griffin

July 30, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 1 Comment

Book Review – Tighter by Adele GriffinTighter by Adele Griffin
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on May 10th 2011
Pages: 224
Genres: Contemporary, Ghosties, Mystery
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Brilliantly plotted, with startling twists, here is a thrilling page-turner from the award-winning Adele Griffin.

I love a good ghost story. One of my favorites of all time is Heart-Shaped Box. Now that is one freaky book. I was a little skeptical about going into this with high expectations since it is YA and all; it turned out to be one of the darker types of YA books.

Jamie is a very disturbed 17 year-old with an awful pill addiction. After suffering a back injury she hasn’t been able to quite kick the habit. Her mother, concerned with her recent behavior and thinking she may be suffering from depression, helps set her up with a job as an au pair for an old friend on the island of Little Bly in New England. Jamie is skeptical about taking this job but thinks it may in fact be a good idea; that maybe by the time she got back, they’d be gone. They being the two ghosts that haunt her, her Uncle Jim and second cousin Hank… both individuals committed suicide. Jamie has seen them both ever since the night she personally contemplated suicide.

Upon arriving at Little Bly Jamie finds out that the child, Isa, her last au pair Jessie was killed in a plane crash when her boyfriend Peter was flying. Jamie’s unsettled to see how the town residents stare at her… because Jamie is the spitting image of Jessie. It doesn’t help matters when Jamie starts to see Peter and Jessie, ghosts, just like her Uncle Jim and Hank.

The book was certainly a tad unnerving, as can be expected with ghost stories. But the author… her writing style was crazy. Jamie would be in the middle of thinking something and right in the middle she would say something else and have seemingly zero awareness of what she just said For example:

“I knew I needed more socializing than just interacting with Connie and Isa and Milo; even a daily phone call with Mags would have helped, but the longer I stuck with just myself, the more messed up I might become rapping at the windows crying at the locks and it was beginning to bother me how much.”

Crying at the locks? What the hell are you talking about?! What’s going on?? But the writing was great; I loved how it always kept me guessing. And guessing you do… right up until the very end; I gasped. It’s one of those books where when you finally realize what’s going on it makes you have to stop, think, and look back at all that’s happened… makes you rethink everything.

Divider