April 9, 2014

Future Favorites #161


Future Favorites is a weekly feature on Electrifying Reviews. Its purpose is to highlight six different books that look great, and will hopefully be favorites of mine when I get the chance to read them.

Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley (HarperTeen: April 22, 2014)●
On the Fence by Kasie West (HarperTeen: July 1, 2014)●

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings (Greenwillow: June 10, 2014)●
The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno (July 8, 2014)●

Vampires of Manhattan (The New Blue Bloods Coven, #1) by Melissa de la Cruz (Hyperion: September 9, 2014)●
Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown: May 20, 2014)●

Which of these looks best to you? What are some books you're looking forward to? Comment below and let me know!

April 5, 2014

Elevated by Elana Johnson

Title: Elevated
Author: Elana Johnson
Publisher: AEJ Creative Works
Release: February 14, 2014
The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months. Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday. But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.
Elana Johnson is one of the coolest people in the world. It has been a pleasure to get to know her as an author and person over the years. When I got the opportunity to read her latest book, Elevated, I knew I couldn't turn it down. First of all, it's a verse novel. While it is her first venture into this style of writing, Johnson makes it seem as though all her books were written similarly. Another advantage of Elevated being written in verse was that it made the book go by so quickly. I couldn't stop reading, which I'm sure would be the case whether the novel was in verse or prose. 

Elevated is, initially, structured around a very basic concept: two teens who seem to have a tumultuous past are stuck in an elevator together. As the book progresses, however, readers find out that there is much more to the plot of Elevated than first anticipated. There is always something ominous eluded to throughout the novel, which makes it hard for readers to set the book down. Personally, I always wanted to know what was being hinted at so I constantly had to tell myself "just one more chapter," but I rarely followed those instructions. When the history of the characters began to come together, it was even harder to resist. 

Prior to reading Elevated, I had only read one other novel by Elana Johnson: Possession. That novel, and the series that follows it, is very different than Elevated, so truthfully I was going into this novel fairly blind. I knew from prior experience that Johnson was a capable writer. I did not have the scarcest idea how her talents would carry over to a contemporary novel, let alone one in verse. I was pleased to discover, however, that Johnson once again proved herself an author worth reading. While I cannot lie and say that Elevated was a favorite of mine, I enjoyed reading it and wouldn't deter people from doing the same. 

Elly and Travis are complicated characters. While readers are able to get to know them better throughout the book, I personally never made any connection with either of them. Truthfully, they seemed more like vessels for the plot rather than the forces who influence it. It was heartbreaking to learn about their past experiences, and it was a pleasure to experience the positive things that happened to the both of them during the novel. Although Elly and Travis are the primary characters in the novel, Elevated is told mostly in flashbacks which allows readers to meet a handful of other characters. I believe that these secondary characters added a great deal to the story, and that the novel would have fallen flat without them.

Elevated is a quick novel that is easy to be pulled into. I wish it was longer, as to allow some things to occur more naturally, but alas. Elana Johnson is a great author, and her first foray into verse literature was overall a success in my opinion. If you are interested in dystopian novels, please check out Johnson's Possession series. If you're a contemporary fan, however, I believe that most readers would find appeal in Elevated.  

March 15, 2014

Secrets by Lauren Kunze with Rina Onur

Title: Secrets (The Ivy, #2)
Authors: Lauren Kunze with Rina Onur
Publisher: Greenwillow
Release: June 1, 2011
Reputation, Reputation, Reputation. You're a student at the most prestigious university in the country, and you've been tapped for the most elite social club. You've made it. Now Don't Blow It. Callie Andrews triumphed during her first semester at Harvard: she made incomparable friends, found the perfect boyfriend, and received invitations to the most exclusive secret societies. But she may have ruined every-thing with one ill-fated night. Now she's keeping secrets from everyone, including-- Clint: the upperclassman who's too good to be true; Vanessa: the best friend turned backstabber; Gregory: the guy who's a total(ly hot) mistake; and Lexi: the social queen who wants to bring Callie down. But Callie didn't get into Harvard by giving up, and she isn't about to now. Besides, she's not the only one with something to hide...
I could not help but to be sucked back into the world of The Ivy soon after finishing the first book in the series. Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur surely understand what it takes to make readers addicted, because even though I have recently read two books in this series I am vying for the rest!

Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur are basically experts when it comes to the complexities of Harvard and its social scene, considering the two attended the school for four years. They are able to write in a way that pulls readers right onto campus and feel as though they're getting the Harvard experience along with the Callie and the crew. The Ivy series is a bit juvenile in writing style, but the details and scandal included by the authors more than make up for it. This book would not be nearly as entertaining had it not been written by real alumni. 

My main issue with Secrets is that not much happened. The main conflict in the story was foreshadowed at the end of the first book, but that's really the only major dilemma. I preferred the first novel in the Ivy series because it revolved around Callie having to adapt to her changing environment as a freshman at Harvard, and there was a lot to adapt to. In Secrets, the characters have a firm grasp on how things operate at the university, so there is less conflict in the plot. Do not get me wrong, Callie and her acquaintances still had to deal with some issues, but I didn't think the severity of the problems in Secrets matched the first book's.

In Secrets, Callie is very isolated. She is, of course, the protagonist so I expected to be spending a lot of time with her as a reader. However, the lack of interaction she had with the other characters over the course of this novel was disappointing. Of course she spends time with the people she knows, but there is a lot of self-pity and wallowing that she does. It wasn't always fun to read. I found myself missing the other characters in the series as I was reading Secrets. I'm sure that the other books in this series will be different, and I'm looking forward to reading them in part because of that.  

Despite their location, the Ivy novels are by no means academic reads. But they're fun and I really enjoy reading them. I'm currently in the process of figuring out where I'll be spending my college years and I can only hope that my higher education experience is as exciting as the one the characters in the Ivy series have. But maybe without all the drama. 

March 12, 2014

Future Favorites #160


Future Favorites is a weekly feature on Electrifying Reviews. Its purpose is to highlight six different books that look great, and will hopefully be favorites of mine when I get the chance to read them.


Fan Art by Sarah Tregay (Katherine Tegen: June 17, 2014)●
Born of Deception (Born of Illusion, #2) by Teri Brown (Balzer + Bray: June 10, 2014)●

(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn (HarperTeen: June 10, 2014)●
Wicked Games by Sean Olin (Katherine Tegen: June 10, 2014)●

Push (The Game, #2) by Eve Silver (Katherine Tegen: June 10, 2014)●
Vivian Divine is Dead by Lauren Sabel (Katherine Tegen: June 3, 2014)●

Which of these looks best to you? What are some books you're looking forward to? Comment below and let me know!

March 9, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton
Release: January 10, 2012
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
 I feel like I was the last person on Earth to read The Fault in Our Stars. I am not quite sure why I put it off so long; I like John Green and I hadn't heard many negative things about the book. Nonetheless, The Fault in Our Stars sat on my shelf for many months. I'm pleased that I finally got around to reading it--not just because it was a great book, but because I finally feel as though I am part of the hype surrounding this book and its fandom. Readers don't have to be told that John Green is a fantastic author. It's hard to ignore his presence in the modern literary world.

Previous to reading The Fault in Our Stars, I had only read one of his other novels, Paper Towns. Despite my somewhat lackluster knowledge of Green's literary scope, I still consider myself a big fan. John Green writes smart books. When reading something by him, I never feel as though he is trying to make things easier to understand. I really appreciate that, because when reading other books I sometimes feel as though my ten-year-old sister could understand the content and language just as well as I can. Green's books are for young adults, and it is evident that he acknowledges that the teen years are a formative time of growth for people. His writing truly reflects that.

The characters in The Fault in Our Stars are masterfully written. They have depth and are fragile and flawed. These characters are second-best only to real people. Connecting to Hazel as a protagonist was as simple as speaking to a good friend. Emotions she felt in the book were felt by me as a reader. That definitely made the book difficult to read at times, but made it so much more worthwhile of my time. Gus, the love interest, is so much more than a love interest to Hazel, and to readers. All of the travails the two face together are sure to impact anyone who reads The Fault in Our Stars profoundly.

Before even cracking the spine, readers know that The Fault in Our Stars is going to be a sad book. It's about cancer, which is never good and is always a detrimental thing. I had no idea how heartbreaking it would be, however. I had a constant stream of tears running down my face during the final fifty pages of this book, and more at other times in the novel. It should be known that I rarely cry at anything. The kind of emotion I felt was gutting and had an effect on me like no other book has. I'm sure droves of readers have felt the same way. 

Yes, The Fault in Our Stars was a good book. A great book. You didn't need me to tell you that, because it's also a very popular book and I'm sure you've heard it before. Of course, the novel has flaws, but I am able to overlook them due to the profound impact the novel as a whole had on me. I recommend it, highly. 

March 5, 2014

Future Favorites #159


Future Favorites is a weekly feature on Electrifying Reviews. Its purpose is to highlight six different books that look great, and will hopefully be favorites of mine when I get the chance to read them.

Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu (Katherine Tegen: May 13, 2014)●
Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman (Balzer + Bray: April 22, 2014)●

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller (HarperTeen: May 13, 2014)●
The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson (HarperTeen: July 1, 2014)●

Find Me Where the Water Ends (So Close to You, #3) by Rachel Carter (HarperTeen: July 1, 2014)●
Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff (Balzer + Bray: May 27, 2014)●

Which of these looks best to you? What are some books you're looking forward to? Comment below and let me know!

February 27, 2014

Future Favorites #158


Future Favorites is a weekly feature on Electrifying Reviews. Its purpose is to highlight six different books that look great, and will hopefully be favorites of mine when I get the chance to read them.

The Taking by Kimberly Derting (HarperTeen: April 29, 2014)●
Tease by Amanda Maciel (Balzer + Bray: April 29, 2014)●

Renegade (Mila 2.0, #2) by Debra Driza (Katherine Tegen: May 13, 2014)●
Exile by Kevin Emerson (Katherine Tegen: April 29, 2014)●

Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike (HarperTeen: April 29, 2014)●
After the End by Amy Plum (HarperTeen: May 6, 2014)●

Which of these looks best to you? What are some books you're looking forward to? Comment below and let me know!