Betwixt the Books: Naked by David Sedaris Review

Michaela and I picked this one out for a PopSugar challenge for a book popular the year we were born, and really thought we’d like it. We didn’t! We were surprised! And sad! Find out why…

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Worth It Wednesday: “Insignia” by SJ Kincaid

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

InsigniaTitle: Insignia

Author: SJ Kincaid

Goodreads Description: The earth is in the middle of WWIII in Insignia, the first entry in S. J. Kincaid’s fast-paced sci-fi adventure trilogy perfect for fans of Ender’s Game.

The planet’s natural resources are almost gone, and war is being fought to control the assets of the solar system. The enemy is winning. The salvation may be Tom Raines. Tom doesn’t seem like a hero. He’s a short fourteen-year-old with bad skin. But he has the virtual-reality gaming skills that make him a phenom behind the controls of the battle drones.

As a new member of the Intrasolar Forces, Tom’s life completely changes. Suddenly, he’s someone important. He has new opportunities, friends, and a shot at having a girlfriend. But there’s a price to pay. . . .

Why it’s worth it: This book has been on my mind since my From the Notebook video titled Where is the YA for Boys? Insignia is one of the books that I mention me and my brother both having enjoyed, so I figured that it was fitting to give it it’s own time in the spotlight.

The fast way to say why this book is worth it is: it’s FUN. It’s SO MUCH FUN. I’m not the easiest person to make laugh out loud, but this is one of the books that did it for me. The main characters in this book–the whole ensemble, in fact–really stick out at me every time I think of it because they all had such a genuine friendship and good time with each other. When I read back over my ARC review in preparation for this post, I remembered the exact scene of hilarity I was referencing in it despite not having read it since that initial review in 2012.

I am not usually easy to sell scifi too either, since whenever I see it in book form I’m usually annoyed with it for one reason or another. Kincaid’s use of science and world building was good but also easy to access, painting a world that I could understand without hitting me in the head with weird and difficult science concepts. I enjoyed the space action immensely–but, again, super happy that the emphasis stayed on the characters and not the explosions.

Sure, there are some not so great things about this book. It straddles the line between YA and middle grade, so there is this weird half-hearted romance that happens, but it doesn’t particularly overrun the story. The ending villain reveal isn’t as in-depth as one might hope either, but in terms of a first book in a trilogy I’ll give it a pass.

It’s hard not to love something that was just FUN. Also, that me and my brother both enjoyed reading. Though I never read the rest of the series, I find this to be a serious failure on my part. Hey, at least I got my brother into the series. He finished it–and now it’s time to borrow his books.

Read it if you’re looking for: Great cast of characters, science fiction, books like Ender’s Game but better, laugh out loud humor, male protagonists, realistic characters, space battles, action, adventure, fast paced reads, fun

 

Worth It Wednesdays: “Clockwork Angel” by Cassandra Clare

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

clockwork angelTitle: Clockwork Angel

Author: Cassandra Clare

Goodreads Description: In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

Why it’s worth it: First off, Cassandra Clare is a wonderfully amazing author. I am incapable of letting people ask “What should I read next?” without screaming HAVE YOU READ CASSANDRA CLARE? That said, most people are familiar with her The Mortal Instruments series, which I also love a lot. However, I honestly think that this series is more strongly written than the TMI books–and also is a tighter, more thoroughly planned trilogy.

The Infernal Devices series has all the elements that I love in the first series, while being set in a more Steampunk setting. The characters are a bit more complex and the plot line deals with more issues than just magic/action/thrills. That said, they read REALLY fast and are good for plenty of heart-pounding and emotions and laughter.

ALSO THE ROMANCE. I have never been more on the fence with who I wanted the main character to pick in a love triangle. Yes, love triangle. BUT A GOOD ONE. Cassandra Clare basically only wrote this love triangle because Holly Black told her that no one could ever write a good love triangle. Clare succeeded big time.

…just talking about them now makes me wish they were here at school with me so I could read them again and again and again.

Anyways, if you were looking for a gateway into Cassandra Clare’s world, LOOK NO FURTHER. There is definitely some debate on how best to read the series (since they interlock in weird ways, given the order in which they were published), but starting here will show you all the best that Clare has to offer, which will get you through some of the not as strong showings in TMI.

Read it if you’re looking for: steampunk, magic, fantasy, kickass heroines, romance, good love triangles, action, adventure, humor

Worth It Wednesdays: “Hex Hall” by Rachel Hawkins

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

Hex HallTitle: Hex Hall

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Goodreads Description: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag-along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Why it’s worth it: I know, it sounds kind of like Harry Potter, right? That’s what I thought. And, you know, that’s kind of correct. I honestly almost didn’t pick up this series because I thought, “Yikes, this sounds like something I’ve read before.” But you know what?

THIS SERIES IS SO MUCH FUN.

I often call this series “mind candy,” because that’s how I think about it. The plot isn’t overly complicated and the characters aren’t necessarily deeply nuanced, but I love it all the same. The dialogue is spot on, the action is packed and you can read through them like butter. Every time I re-read one of these books, I laugh out loud–and I don’t do that often!

I was so enthralled by Sophie and her narration that I almost couldn’t bring myself to read Hawkins’ next series, Rebel Belle. But, it turns out, this is just how she writes. I’ve been won over by her sense of humor and fast paced, easy reading–and I think you will too!

Read it if you’re looking for: Strong female friendships, swoon-worthy romance, fast paced action, books like Harry Potter, sassy main characters, magic, fantasy, witches, demons, humor and feel good moments

The Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clare

Are you looking for humor? Fantasy? Action? Romance? Mystery? Vampires? Werewolves? All of the above?

            Then I’ve got some books for you!

            Lately, I’ve been reading a lot in the paranormal genre, but nothing’s been quite as good or as fun a read as this trilogy by Cassandra Clare. The first book, City of Bones, tells the tale of Clarissa “Clary” Fray, who thinks she’s just a normal teenage whose dad died before she was born and an artistic but forceful mom. One night at a teen club in Brooklyn, though, she spots a group of teens slaying something that claims to be a demon—and finds she’s the only one who can see them.

            After her home is ransacked, her mother goes missing and Clary is attacked by a crocodile-looking demon, Clary finds that the group of teens is part of a large organization called Shadowhunters—warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. The fifteen-year-old is now burdened with the knowledge that demons—along with warlocks, witches, fairies, vampires, werewolves and all other manners of mystical creatures—really do exist.

            And her mother isn’t the normal woman Clary thought she was.

            But the secrets and lies exposed in City of Bones turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg. In the second and third books, City of Ashes and City of Glass, Clary will find and lose friends, learn the truth about her past and her family and fall in love—sometimes, with the wrong people—all while trying to save the world from a madman the Shadowhunters thought was dead.

            All three books are amazingly well-written and fast paced. Even the “slow” moments of the book keep you reading. The plot twists and turns like puzzling mystery to boot. My personal favorite about them, though, is that nearly every other page you will find yourself laughing out loud. Even after my two thousandth read-through, the jokes never seem to get old. Her characters, too, never lose me—they are some of my favorites in books overall.

            If you start reading them now, you’re very lucky. With the trilogy finished, you won’t have to wait in suspense to know what happens like I did! However, Clare recently released her newest book, Clockwork Angel, which is the first book in a new trilogy called The Infernal Devices. While in the same world as The Mortal Instruments, it is actually a prequel to that trilogy. But if you’re worried that means repetition and things you already know about, don’t be! I just finished the book myself, and the world and plot is so completely different then The Mortal Instruments it’s hard to believe they both take place in the same universe! However, Clare retains the loveable characters and laugh-out-loud humor that made me (and my brother) love her first trilogy. Even more recently, I have found out that Clare is writing a new trilogy that will follow the events after City of Glass!

            If you’re looking for a new fantasy series to read, I definitely recommend all of Clare’s books. At the very least, you’ll have to crack a smile. As for me? I’m actually in the middle of re-reading City of Ashes right now.

            That’s the only thing keeping me sane as I wait for Clockwork Prince and City of Fallen Angels to come out in 2011!