Friday, January 30, 2015

Panic

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars


Rosie Thinks: I like to really scope out book before I read them, so I saw quite a few reviews saying it was another cheap take-off of 'The Hunger Games'. Are these people reading the same summary I read? Maybe the book was different? No - this book turned out to be absolutely nothing like THG. It is set in the small, dead-end town of Carp, NY, where every summer the seniors participate in a dangerous and sometimes deadly game called Panic. It is pretty much a game of chicken on steroids. The contestants are made to battle against all different times of fears, until they chicken out or get booted out of the running to win the grand prize of almost $70 000.

The story alternates between the POVs of Dodge and Heather - and no, there is no romance between these two (don't fear, though, there is romance). At the beginning, I wasn't so sure about this book. The premise is awesome and the mystery surrounding the whole game and the secrets kept me hooked, but Heather and Dodge's characters almost turned me off. At the start, Heather comes off as whiney and desperate. Dodge really interested me, because his mind switched between cold and clinical, of a boy who has grown up much too fast, to that of a teenage boy with a hopeless crush. Of course, since reading Oliver's 'Before I Fall', I knew to never judge one of her characters too quickly - and I was glad I didn't. This story sunk its hooks deep into my mind until I was so immersed in the world, I began to live and breath Panic. My mind kept going down different paths, trying to figure out all the twists and turns - I got some, but definitely not all. Heather and Dodge, and the rest of the supporting cast, made their way into my heart. Not one of them was good, yet not one of them was bad. Oliver's characterisation is phenomenal in the way that she created people who were real and had such incredible depths and layers. Not once did she tell the reader what the character was like - she showed you through examples and dialogue that was crafted to carry the most weight in the shortest amount of time.

'Panic' perfectly captures just how desperate these kids are, to get out of small town Carp and away from families that can pull them back into a never-ending cycle of despair and loneliness. So don't be put off by the beginning of this story. Allow 'Panic' to draw you in and have you on the edge of your seat until the explosive ending.

And PS, Goodreads has this book under the Dystopia category, but that's not right - it's definitely YA!

Friday, January 23, 2015

And Then There Were None

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Age: Adult
Category: Mystery & Crime
Rating: 5 stars


Marta Thinks: Agatha Christie, most commonly called ‘The Queen of Crime’, has an extremely vast and prestigious repertoire of novels, such as ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ (whose unexpected plot twist earned her reputation) and ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, which was later produced as a movie casting stars such as Ingrid Bergman and Lauren Bacall. Her novels vary - some have no detective (such as this one), some include Tommy and Tuppence, many others have Miss. Marple (my personal favorite), an elderly spinster who uses her small town anecdotes to solve mysteries and of course, Hercule Poirot, Belgian detective with a remarkable mustache and stunning insight into human psychology.

‘And Then There Were None’, most commonly considered as Agatha Christie’s masterpiece, features only a group of people invited on an island. The varying point of views allow the reader to see that each invitation comes from a different person that assumes various alias in order to convince the people to come to the island. And, one by one, each person dies. Each person on the island is rightly suspicious and it brings up questions such as: ‘Who is the killer?’ ‘Am I next?’ and ‘Why are we being killed?’ The answers to each of these questions is chilling but also utterly unpredictable. Other than this, however, I cannot add anything else. As Maurice Richardson wrote (correctly) in his review on The Observer: ‘We will also have to refrain from reviewing it thoroughly, as it is so full of shocks that even the mildest revelation would spoil some surprise from somebody and I am sure that you would rather have your entertainment kept fresh than criticism pure.’

‘And Then There Were None’ was hugely acclaimed upon its release and is Agatha Christie’s best-selling novel, the world’s best-selling mystery and one of the best-selling books of all times. Clearly not a book to miss out on.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Percy Jackson & the Olympians and Heroes of the Olympus

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Middle Grade
Category: Fantasy; romance
Rating: 5 stars


Ali Thinks: Now that the last book of the Heroes of Olympus series is out, nine years after the first Percy Jackson book was published, I can finally talk about my favorite book series (while I mourn the loss of the next-book excitement).

It all started off with Percy Jackson, an 11 year old boy who’s wrongly accused of stealing the Greek god of gods’ lightning bolt because apparently he’s not only half god himself, but the son of Poseidon.

On a quest to prove his innocence, he realizes there’s a lot more that meets the eye, and the Titans want to rise again. And, to his chagrin there he is right smack dab in the middle of some great prophecy to save or end the world on his sixteenth birthday.

Fast-forward five years, and the world doesn’t end on Percy’s 16th, he thinks he’s got the rest of his life— the summer, at least— to hang out with his friends, his brother, and his girlfriend. What actually happens, however, is the start of Heroes of Olympus where Percy Jackson has gone missing, and three new characters are introduced, one of them knowing nothing but his name.

It’s soon realized that the next Great Prophecy is already in motion and that seven half-bloods from a mix of Greek and Roman descent must (again) save the world from Mother Earth, Gaea.

Ten books is a lot to tell a story— even if it’s split over two series. It can be repetitive, lose it’s charm, and just get kind of dull. Percy Jackson & Heroes of Olympus isn’t immune from this, but overall Riordan manages to keep a fast-pace so that even boring bits don’t seem to drag on.

I always found Percy Jackson to be interesting because it put Greek and Roman mythology into a more accessible, comprehensible context for children (who the series if primarily aimed at). More than that, though, it’s witty, it’s an adventure, and though it’s a children’s book, there’s still a definite draw for other demographics.

Honestly, the Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus series is one of my favorites. I started reading them about five or six years ago, and every year since I’ve been waiting for the next book to hit stores. While I’ll miss that dearly, It’s kind of nice to know how… most of the characters turn out.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Isla and the Happily Ever After

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Romance; contemporary
Rating: 3 stars


Juliet Thinks: It is hard to forget Stephanie Perkins’ debut novel, Anna and the French Kiss, because of all of the praise it received from the YA community. Followed by Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After, these standalone novels are tied together with cameos from the different main characters of the books. I have to say that this book was my least favorite of the series, but I enjoyed it all the same.

Isla and the Happily Ever After centers around Isla, a studious hopeless romantic in her final year at the School of America in Paris. And then there’s Josh, the son of an American senator with a rebellious streak and artistic talent. Upon having an actual conversation for the first time, their romance escalates rather quickly with a love story that is very bold and rampant. With cameos from Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket, and mentions of the Olympics, the novel grants the reader a sense of continuity and closure.

Perkins’ writing has a natural flow that most certainly captures the mind of a deeply infatuated female adolescent. The intensity of teen emotions dominates Isla and Josh’s relationship with very high school centric conflicts. At times, Lola’s immaturity and indecisiveness is very present, yet somewhat understandable given her age. One notable character from the novel is Isla’s best friend, Kurt, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Their genuine friendship and Isla’s loyalty to him is heartwarming and realistic. I would even venture to say that I liked him more than I liked Josh.

This book features three different cities--Paris, Barcelona, and New York--which adds an almost magical aura to the happenings between Isla and Josh. The descriptions of city sights made me want to visit those places myself, most especially the Spain scenes. Lastly, I recommend this book to those seeking a quick, light read. Perkins’ touches of humor on this whirlwind adolescent romance will certainly entertain.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Star-Cross'd: Round X Results

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 6:28 PM 0 comments
I loved reading this year's SC entries very, very much, so thank you to those who participated! I highly recommend reading the wonderful submissions listed below. The prompts for Round XI will be posted by next Monday. Happy holidays, everyone.



Honorable Mention: Topsy-Turvy by thenifoundfivedollars

Other Submissions 



Honorable Mention: Unattainable by justmaybe

Other Submissions

Friday, December 19, 2014

Eleanor & Park

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Age: Young Adult
Category: Historical; romance
Rating: 5 stars


Melissa Thinks: Our two titular characters are portrayed as two sixteen year olds struggling to fit in with high school life. There’s Eleanor, the quirky red head who has a problematic home life and a style that warrants the attention of bullies. And then there’s Park: the cute and nerdy half-Korean boy who has trouble relating to his more popular friends and classmates. Together, the two of them must overcome the obstacles that life throws at them. How far will they go to protect each other and their “adolescent” love?

This Printz award winning novel includes vital themes such as: bullying, racism, body-image, abuse, and neglect. At the same time, Rainbow Rowell still somehow manages to keep her readers laughing with quick wit and geeky references.

From the start, the author makes it very clear that this novel does not take place in present time. With the mention of tape players, vinyl records, vintage comics – we are almost instantly aware that we are reading a book that takes place in the 80’s: bad hair and punk rock included.

What I love about E&P is that it’s not simply a love story; it’s an accurate portrayal of life as a teenager and the struggles that teens face every day, though you may not even realize it at first glance. Eleanor’s family plays a huge role in this book. Through her experiences we learn what it’s like to live in an abusive household and how that can affect a person and the ones around them. Park’s family has their own troubles as well. His parents are realistically portrayed as an interracial couple. His father constantly berates him for being too “girly” and often insinuates that he’s gay. Park’s friends don’t seem to understand his relationship with Eleanor which creates some shame and paranoia for him in the beginning of the book.

Eleanor & Park is without a doubt the best book I’ve read this year. The alternating point of views gives a clear and almost poetic picture of Eleanor and Park’s relationship. There is no insta-love here – the relationship starts off slow and burns brighter as the story moves along. I was so emotionally invested in this book, to a point where I stayed up all night to finish it even though I had a class that morning.

With a movie deal on the way and a string of cities already banning it from public school English classes, this is not a book you want to wait around to read.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chai and a Pinch of Salt

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 8:37 PM 0 comments
Chai and a Pinch of Salt by bulletproof.cupid

It's funny the things you learn about a person after they die. I loved him once. Could I love him again? -Young Sofia has just come back to Pakistan, lured by her father's death. Can she overcome her grief? Moreover, can she trust herself not to fall in love with the one person she can never have? Love has never been so tempting. The tale of a girl and her once-upon-a-time servant.Banner Credit: Atramento

Melissa Thinks: In the ongoing fictional story "Chai and a Pinch of Salt", the reader is immersed in a culture that we don't often read about on FictionPress or even in published novels. Sofia returns to Pakistan after the sudden death of her father. Here she lives with her many cousins, her uncle, the servants, and her childhood best friend Zafar. The theme of family is pervasive throughout the text and, although romance does not play a large part in this story, it does exist within it. Sofia deals with the loss of her father, a man she was just beginning to know, and the grief that comes with his death. She's faced with the aftermath of her departure from Pakistan 15 years earlier; how her father has seemingly moved on, how her childhood friend is very much a different boy, and how life in Pakistan compares to her life in London.

Beautiful flowing descriptions help to reel the reader in. Once you start, it's hard to stop reading as the delicate writing keeps you addicted. I honestly enjoy learning about Pakistani culture, language, and customs from this story and it feels like the author tries hard to teach you about the main character's life without being too invasive. Even though there's a depressive nature to the plot, bulletproof.cupid is adept at slipping in little pieces of humor to amuse her readers. Sofia has a strong voice and is an attractive character, yet is flawed, which is one of the best things about the story. Reading about her emotions - her anger, loss, jealousy, guilt, gives her life and gives the story a defining quality.

I only have one complaint, and it's not really a complaint, but the chapters are about 2k words long each and I just find myself craving more at every end I come to. Although the grammar could use some tweaks, the author is seemingly very open to critique and constructive criticism, so I encourage everyone to help this budding author out.
 

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