Home    Reviews    Review Policy    About BAM    Double Dose

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Throne of Glass (#1-3) by Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: 2012
Source: Bought
Rating: A-

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Sarah J. Maas is a truly masterful storyteller. There are certain qualities in a book that really pull me in, and the first is powerful character development, which Maas is obviously no rookie at. From the opening line of the novel, Maas sets the scene for this incredibly strong-willed, sharp, unrelenting heroine named Celaena, who seems flawless even in the most trying circumstances—working as a slave in the salt-mines of a land named Endovier. I came to sympathize with, and love Celaena when her physical and emotional strength were tested at every plot turn. Maas reveals a soft side to her heroine that is passionately susceptible to such mortal dilemmas as forbidden love, shame and uncertainty, which make her a realistic and grounded character that really drives the novel forward.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced fantasy story spiced with mystery, intrigue, betrayal, romance, wit and soooo much more. I happen to be a tiny bit obsessed with fantasy/dystopian novels, so I’ve read my fair share of bad ones. Take it from me: Throne of Glass is not one of them.

With that said, although I loved the plot’s twists and turns, the ultimate resolution to Celaena’s most difficult mystery felt somehow too abrupt (maybe because I was enjoying the story too much!) I wasn’t all that satisfied with the fact that after an incredible journey with Celeana through victory, heartbreak, and everything else, her answers were almost handed to her. I would have loved to see her power through her last duel without help. It left me with a strangely sad feeling that the invincible assassin at the beginning of the book was not sharp enough after all to defeat her enemies unaided. Sorry for seeming vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything, and you should still read it!

Regardless of how Celaena discovered the truth behind her compelling mystery, I loved the story enough to want to finish the series. YA books are always hard because fitting a solid plot and developing mystery is a tough task to do in the 80,000 word window that these books usually have, but Sarah J. Maas manages to pull you in in keep you glued to the world she has created. It is vivid and riveting, and not at all overdone. By the time I flipped to the last page I felt so invested in her characters, and in their future, which is the mark of a great book!

PST! Kelsey is a new contributor to BAM Book Reviews! Learn more about her here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Source: BEA 14
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Rating: A

Some secrets are too good to keep.

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?
My motivation to read/blog/do almost anything besides watch Netflix has been somewhat non-existent for a few months. I feel like I belong in the music video of Summertime Sadness or something... pathetic, I know. Anyway, after picking up 5-10 different books and putting them down after the first chapter, I finally came across Life by Committee. I wasn't too optimistic, to be honest. After all, some of the other books I put down before LBC received RAVING reviews. If they weren't going to pull me out of my rut, why would LBC? And then... I read the first page... and then the second... and soon I was on a reading roller coaster that only went up, my friend. My emotions, however... well, that's a different story.

After reading LBC, I literally feel like I should tell every female I know to read it and learn something because way too many women have been the "side chick". I know, I know, every situation is different. Sometimes people fall in love while they're in a relationship with a different person... but in most cases, being the "side chick" is a very, very bad thing. I've never been the "side chick" and hell, I hope I never put myself in that situation, but Haydu writes in a way that made me feel like I was. If I ever had any temptation of going after a guy with a girlfriend (I didn't, FYI), well, you can say that is LONG GONE by now. While reading about Tabitha's journey, I had this pit in my stomach that I usually only feel during real-life situations that include heartbreak and loss. THAT is when you know you've struck gold. If an author can make me feel THAT close to a character, to the point of feeling like you're going through the same situation as them, well, that is gold.

Not only did LBC make me want to rage against people that made Tabitha (and myself) feel the way we did... but it also inspired me to be my bravest self and go for what I want in life... without being reckless and inconsiderate. Haydu showed me that life is too short to be anything but amazing. Haydu also showed me that it's okay to take chances in life because the end result might be life-changing.

This book is exactly what I needed at this point in my life. I feel empowered, brave, and my fear of showing any form of vulnerability has lessened. If you want a book to pull you out of your rut, make you fee like you're alive and inspire you, then I completely recommend  and peer-pressure you to read Life by Committee.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader

Publisher: Merit Press
Release Date: August 18, 2013
Source: Publisher
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 272
Rating: A

Since the age of ten, Mia has lived under the iron fist of the fundamentalist preacher who lured her mother away to join his fanatical family of followers. In Edenton, a supposed “Garden of Eden” deep in the South American jungle, everyone follows the Reverend’s strict but arbitrary rules—even the mandate of whom they can marry. Now sixteen, Mia dreams of slipping away from the armed guards who keep the faithful in, and the curious out. When the rebellious and sexy Gabriel, a new boy, arrives with his family, Mia sees a chance to escape.

But the scandalous secrets the two discover beyond the compound’s fa├žade are more shocking than anything they ever imagined. While Gabriel has his own terrible secrets, he and Mia bond together, more than friends and freedom fighters. But is there time to think of each other as they race to stop the Reverend’s paranoid plan to free his flock from the corrupt world? Can two teenagers crush a criminal mastermind? And who will die in the fight to save the ones they love from a madman who’s only concerned about his own secrets?

I really wish that I got to read Escape from Eden sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, my classes got in the way this past semester. Eventually... winter break came and rescued me from my exams and semester long projects, which means I finally got to devour this little beauty. After finally reading Escape from Eden, I can honestly say it was nothing short of sensational.

I've always had a slight interest in cults and how the brainwashing typically comes into play. Why are these people so gullible? How can they really believe everything this cult leader is saying, no matter how bizarre it may be? Living in the world that Nadar created was mind-boggling in the best possible way. Sure, this novel is a work of fiction but after doing some research about cults this past semester, I've come to learn some of the events that occurred in  Escape from Eden aren't that far off from some real life events that have happened in the past. After learning that, well, I'm officially creeped out.

The first half-ish of Escape from Eden wasn't totally eventful but it was still completely compelling. You get to learn about the community, Edenton, that Mia and her family resides in. I found Mia to be relatable and authentic in her actions and was happy to root for her throughout the story. The romance in the story isn't the main focus and I enjoyed that, because much bigger and more important things were happening. For how much romance there is, it's done well and adds a little something to keep readers interested.

The second half-ish of Escape from Eden is shocking and sickening and I loved every minute of it. I kept catching myself trying to read ahead to see what happens, and then covering the rest of the page up to contain myself. I really respect the author and publisher for keeping Escape from Eden a standalone novel because I'm sure it could have easily been turned into another trilogy in the YA world. BUT, they kept it a standalone and it worked out perfectly.

If you couldn't already tell, I completely recommend this book to anyone interested in cults or even wanting an exciting read. If you decide to check it out, I'd love to know what you think! Leave a comment down below and let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

All Our Yesterdays (Cassandra Chronicles #1) by Cristin Terrill

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Source: BEA
Edition: ARC
Pages: 368
Rating: C

"You have to kill him." Imprisoned in the heart of a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

Only Em can complete the final instruction. She’s tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present—imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

Marina has loved her best friend James since the day he moved next door when they were children. A gorgeous, introverted science prodigy from one of America’s most famous families, James finally seems to be seeing Marina in a new way, too. But on one disastrous night, James’s life crumbles apart, and with it, Marina’s hopes for their future. Now someone is trying to kill him. Marina will protect James, no matter what. Even if it means opening her eyes to a truth so terrible that she may not survive it. At least not as the girl she once was.

After hearing All Our Yesterdays being talked about during the YA Editor's Buzz panel at BEA, I knew I had to score a copy of it-one way or another. At the time, I hadn't read any time travel books and it wasn't at the top of my priority list, either. However, the editor (whose name is escaping me) persuaded me to give All Our Yesterdays a shot. As much as I'd like to agree with the majority of All Our Yesterdays' fans, I honestly wasn't impressed.

I think the reason I'd avoided time travel books in the past is because I don't like the feeling of confusion. For the most part, I like to know what's happening during a book, and for the majority of All Our Yesterdays, I was so confused. Towards the end of All Our Yesterdays, most of the questions I had were answered... I just wish it didn't take so long. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy books that keep me guessing... but by the end, I grew so impatient that I didn't care about the ending that much.

Even though I didn't care so much for All Our Yesterdays, I understand why others do. The writing is really engaging and the whole idea is fantastic. The characters were really intriguing and overall, I did care what happened to them... just not enough to want to continue the series. I really wish I enjoyed this one more but I guess what they say is true: you can't make everyone happy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hereafter (Shadowlands #2) by Kate Brian

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Source: BEA 2013
Edition: ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy)
Pages: 320
Rating: B+

Summary and review of Hereafter may contain spoilers from the series' first novel, Shadowlands.

Rory Miller thought her life was over when a serial killer set his sights on her and forced her into witness protection. But a fresh start on Juniper Landing Island was exactly what she and her family needed. For the first time in years she and her sister hang out at the beach, gossip about boys, and party together. She's also made friends with a local clique--including a magnetic and mysterious boy named Tristan.

But Rory's world is about to change again. Picturesque Juniper Landing isn't what it seems. The truth about the swirling fog that rolls in each morning, the bridge that leads to nowhere, and those beautiful locals who seem to watch Rory's every move is more terrifying than being hunted by Steven Nell. And all Rory ever wanted was the truth. Even if it means learning that she can never go home again.

YES! Hereafter was a whopping improvement from the first book in the series, Shadowlands. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Shadowlands, but I expected it to blow me away and it unfortunately didn't. Hereafter, however, was much better!

I didn't expect Hereafter to creep me out as much as Shadowlands did. After the mystery within Shadowlands was revealed, I thought all of the spookiness would disappear, and I. Was. Wrong. The creep factor absolutely remained in Hereafter, which I was so excited by since I rarely read anything of this nature. It's such a fun change of pace for me!

Kate Brian has a special quality to her writing that just sucks you in and doesn't let you go. Just like with Shadowlands, I had a difficult time putting Hereafter down. I can't be sure if it's just because the writing flows so well or if the storyline is just that gripping. Actually, it's probably a combination of both.

Even though I really enjoyed Hereafter, it was a little predictable at times. I wish there were a few more plot twists that shocked me, but that's okay. I have a feeling the next installment will have me guessing and then BAM! Totally (and hopefully) shock me.

Overall, Hereafter was a pretty satisfying read that left me craving more. Even though there are some predictable parts within, I would recommend it for anyone wanting a quick and spooky read, especially since Halloween is right around the corner!

Waiting on Wednesday (26)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. It's a weekly feature that lets us share what titles we're waiting on!

What I Thought was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

Gwen Castle's Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

As some of you may know, I adored My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I read and reviewed it during the summer and thought it was just fantastic. I'm so excited to get my hands on What I Thought was True and hopefully it'll be just as great as MLND.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Hey there! I'm Nick!

All right, so I'm really bad at writing introduction posts of this sort, but I'm going to give it a try. I'm Nick, and like everyone else here I'm pretty into shamelessly devouring and just as shamelessly enjoying the occasional "young adult" book, series--what have you. Chances are, if I'm reading a young adult novel it's going to be dystopian, futuristic, post-apocalyptic... something of that nature. Maybe not, I can enjoy a good romance, an arresting mystery, or just trashy teen lit in general. But I'm going to be brutally honest and opinionated, so if you read a review of mine, take it with a grain of salt. I'm going to back up my judgments, but if you don't agree with them, that's all right. Everyone is different. A review is just that, it's not an end-all, and you should never not read a book just because of one review.

So yeah. What I'm into besides teen lit: I love videogames. I love writing. My favorite writer is David Sedaris, he's a hysterical genius. My favorite film is Girl, Interrupted. My favorite book/series is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the series it belongs to (the Millenium trilogy). I love Girls; Lena Dunham is my spirit animal. I'm also helplessly addicted to American Horror Story.

I guess that's about it? Look out for my reviews and my keen male insight!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Source: Bought (Barnes & Noble)
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 316
Rating: A+

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Tears. The Fault in Our Stars produces many, many tears. I'm sure you've already heard this before, though. I know that almost every other book blog in existence has already reviewed The Fault in Our Stars, but I figured I'd give my two cents as well, anyway! Even though I haven't read any "cancer books", I know that The Fault in Our Stars is so much more than that. I was actually a smidge bit anxious going into The Fault in Our Stars because John Green is supposed to be this YA legend. He has such a huge fan base and so many readers adore him. In the past, I've read Looking for Alaska and while I thought it was good, it wasn't as amazing as I hoped it would be. With that said, The Fault in Our Stars turned me into another adoring reader of Green's. I don't think any other author has ever made me sob in the way that Mr. Green did, and for that, I applaud him.

Going into this book, I was pretty sure I knew what was going to happen. Bloggers were saying things along the lines of "The Fault in Our Stars is one of the most heartbreaking books I've ever read!" That can obviously only mean one thing, right? Wrong. Because I was so confident about my predictions, I didn't expect the unexpected. With that said, don't try and figure out what's going to happen. Why? Because The Fault in Our Stars isn't the type of book to keep guessing through. Just read it, indulge, and (silently, or in my case, deafeningly) weep.

What I liked the most about The Fault in Our Stars is that it felt so genuine. I didn't feel like I was reading a YA novel that was written by a 30 year old male (no offense, Mr. Green!) I felt like I was reading the true story of the exquisite Hazel Grace Lancaster and how she met her soul mate, Augustus Waters. Speaking of Augustus... can more people like him exist? Pretty please? Augustus is so unforgettable and will definitely stay in my heart forever as one of my favorite characters. You would think because I'm so obsessed with the main characters of The Fault in Our Stars, that I might not have enough room in my heart for any minor characters. WRONG, again! I pretty much fell in love with every character from The Fault in Our Stars besides Monica, even the characters I'm probably meant to dislike. They were just perfect, but flawed, but oh so perfect. I want to meet all of them.

I can't tell you how many pages of this book that I bookmarked (I could... but that would take a while.) I'm not the type of reader to mark my favorite pages or passages because nothing usually captures my attention enough to make me stop reading and do it. I made sure to do this with The Fault in Our Stars though. There's something about the way this book made me feel, that I know when I return to certain passages, the same feelings will return and it'll be amazing. This book just understood me. This was definitely a huge, gushy, choppy review, but I hope you've taken everything I just said into consideration.

If you haven't read The Fault in Our Stars yet, I highly, highly encourage you to do so, and please let me know what you think! If you've already read The Fault in Our Stars, let me know what you thought in the comments or leave me a link to your review!