THE COLOR PROJECT: Review

22892448The Color Project by Sierra Abrams
Published by Gatekeeper Press on July 18, 2017
Genres: young adult, contemporary romance
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Audible

Rating: ★★★★½ 


Before I read this book, I made a prediction. I’m normally terrible with predictions (unless we’re guessing the twist from Insurgent), but I was crossing my fingers and hoping I’d be right.

My prediction was this: that The Color Project would would feel like a Sarah Dessen novel, but with more heart.

Let me clarify what I mean by that, because I’ve said before (in my review of The Truth About Forever) that Sarah Dessen’s novels have more heart than your average mass-print YA contemporary. To some degree I still stand by that: Dessen is not afraid to touch on issues like chronic illness, the messiness of divorce, how a loved one’s actions can turn your life upside down, death of family members. Most of her characters deal with some serious topic such as these. But, in retrospect, I don’t feel that Dessen takes these issues home. Her books tickle the heartstrings like any Hallmark movie, but they’re too Hallmark-y (and similar, goodness gracious) to have a deeper, prolonged impact, though there’s certainly potential for such impact.

So when I say I was hoping TCP would be a Dessen novel with heart, I was hoping Sierra Abrams would address hard issues and have them hit home. I wanted intense and emotional and real. My prediction was that I’d get all three.

I’m pleased to say my prediction was correct.

I met Sierra sometime last year at a book signing, and I found out she was publishing a book through staying in contact with her on social media. So I know a little bit about this book’s journey and some of the inspiration behind the scenes. It’s hard to self-publish–mainly because you’re your own best publicist–and be successful. It’s even harder to self-publish your debut and get it right; a lot of “normally”-published books can’t even do that.

It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Here, Sierra proves it.

I’m amazed by the life of this book. It’s a vibrant, pulsing thing–full of giggles and wide smiles and some incredibly heartfelt moments. This book doesn’t just ask for your attention while reading–it demands it, because it’s that engaging and that intense.

I loved Bee. So much. I’m not necessarily in the same position she is, but I can relate to her so well, and her voice just exudes off the page. She, too, is awkward and self-conscious, but she’s intense and sensitive by nature, and big-hearted by design. She’s my kind of girl. The writing style reveals some of her little mannerisms, like how she talks to herself a lot–sometimes to encourage, sometimes to shame herself. (Who doesn’t talk to themselves from time to time?) She’s just such a real character, so full of love for life, and her personality was too passionate to be ignored. It was so cute to see how Bee reacted to meeting Levi and being around him, and how Levi reacted to her. I was constantly grinning.

Speaking of Levi: wrap him up–I’ll take two! This boy (or, as Bee calls him, “the Boy,”) is adorable. He’s chivalrous, he’s respectful, he’s sensitive, he’s generous, and he’s stubborn, but in the good way. You’d think he’d quickly become the Manic Pixie Dream Boy (and there were some moments where he read more like a character than an actual person), but Levi’s just as real as Bee, and just as intense in his own ways. Their chemistry together–both the way it was written and the way it played out–was spectcular and realistic, even the conflict. It got cheesy during a few moments, but eh, cute couples are inevitably cheesy. They’re still my #relationshipgoals. 😉

Now on to the darker parts of this novel: the family tragedy. Bee’s experience with her family is based off the author’s own experience (key word being “based”), and my heart ached for both the author and her characters as we went through the uncertainty and desperation tragedies like these always leave in their wake. I won’t spoil anything, but this part of the book hit hard, and, despite never having something like this happen to me, I could easily sympathize with Bee and her family. There were many touching, tear-jerking moments.

This book is real (goodness, I’ve used this word a ton in this review) and honest–in so many heartwarming ways. Expect it to leave you laughing, crying, and grinning ear-to-ear with from warm fuzzies. When asked to find the balance between cutesy romance and meaningful, heartfelt moments, this book passes with flying colors.

Much thanks to the author for providing an ARC for me to read and review. I’ve been looking forward to this book for such a long time, so thank you for the opportunity! It more than delivered. 🙂

GIVEAWAY: Stars, Sea, Storm, and Sun by Matthew S. Roberts

Hello, all! It’s been a little while, heheh. But I’m back (momentarily) with something I think you’ll like: a giveaway! I’ve never hosted a giveaway before, so this is completely new–and incredibly exciting!–to me. Keep reading to find out more about the book I’m giving away. 🙂

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Stars, Sea, Storm, and Sun is a collection of poetry and short stories written by a friend and colleague of mine, Matthew S. Roberts. In its pages, “S^4,” as it has been nick-named, discusses many thing: rejection, loss, uncertainty, the triviality and yet ironic weight of age, the importance of honesty, and more. But, primarily, Stars, Sea, Storm, and Sun is an exploration of pursuit: pursuit of passion, pursuit of truth, pursuit of love, and pursuit of God. Here’s the Goodreads summary:

“EVERYBODY DIES IF WE INTERCEPT THAT SHIP!”
On its way to provide relief to a disease-ravaged Earth, C.S.S. Compassion is forced to make a harrowing choice that drives her crew to pieces.

“LOOK OUT AROUND YOU. IT IS ALL PART OF THE SNARE.”
When a despairing sailor discovers a dark lighthouse wandering the open seas, the supernatural illusions he finds within prove deadly.

“IT’S NOT YOUR SADNESS, MR. CHESTER, IT’S HERS!”
An old man mourning the loss of his wife befriends a young girl whose outlook shows him a light he could not see.

A collection of short stories and poetry, Stars, Sea, Storm, and Sun invites you to explore in the pursuit of Compassion, Truth, Love, and God.

There’s a little bit of everything in this little book: spaceships, intriguing characters, and literary allusions; some serious gothic atmosphere, complete with Dracula vibes; and a heartwarming friendship between a weary old man and a starry-eyed young girl. This book deserves a chance to help you appreciate the profoundness of life, so I’m giving away an extra copy.

However, there are some rules:

  • You must be 18 or have your parents’ permission to give out your mailing address.
  • U.S. residents only. Sorry!
  • One entrant per household.
  • Giveaway ends July 2.

Click on this link to get started, and good luck! In the meantime, help me spread the word about this giveaway and S^4.

 

 

 

Mood & Music Monday: 5/22/17

Hello, friends, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? Imagine Dragons has released some new music recently, and I’m only just now listening to it, but I’m enjoying what I hear so far. It sounds pretty reminiscent of their older stuff. (Also, this one has me boppin’ my head like crazy, hehehe.)

What are you reading? Still working through Heir of Fire; 150 more pages left. I’m also a chapter away from finishing Gatbsy.

What are you drinking? Plenty of Kombucha; I have an upset stomach. :/

Any goals for this week? Staying on top of my reading schedule; I have several books I need to start, heheheh.

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1): Review

8490112Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1) by Laini Taylor
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on September 27, 2011
Genres: young adult, paranormal romance, fantasy
Pages: 422
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating: ★★★


Mm. Hmm.

I’m chewing my lip at what to say here, folks. It’s been almost a year since I read this book, and I don’t feel much toward it. Except disappointment.

This book has been on my radar for years. Almost all my favorite reviewers love it and Laini Taylor. They praise the vivid world-building, the complex love story, the enchanting way Taylor weaves her words. About 25% through the book, I almost found myself agreeing with them.

But then the romance happened, and my reaction to the rest of the book can be described in just one word: Huh?

Taylor gives us a lush, atmospheric setting for her novel: Prague. We learn about Karou, the unusual girl with the blue hair; her friend, Zuzana; Karou’s work collecting teeth for her chimera father figure, Brimstone, and his cohorts, the family Karou never had. And, on top of it all, there’s an angel named Akiva in Prague, looking for Brimstone and Karou–an angel who may know more about Karou than she knows about herself.

All in all, it’s a captivating, unique story, and it drew me right in, because I’ve never quite read anything like it. The setting, the writing, the mythology–all of it was unique and engaging, and I wanted more.

But that’s where my praises for this book end. Because then the romance takes center stage, and this book goes from fascinating paranormal story to a book about star-crossed lovers who, you guessed it, were star-crossed in a previous life, as well, causing a rift between their two worlds.

Maybe I could get behind this if it was something that’s not incredibly overdone in YA paranormal literature. But Karou and Akiva’s first romance wasn’t even very interesting, because there wasn’t anything to base it off of. Karou saves Akiva during a battle between his kind and hers, and all of the sudden, he’s in love? I don’t know. The progression seemed too hasty for me, and, seeing as the majority of this book’s appeal rests on your ability to engage in the romance from about 30% on, such a progression resulted in my growing disinterest with the story.

Then, some other drama gets thrown into the book (no spoilers here) which threatens the existence of Karou and Akiva’s relationship. Again, this is normal. This is okay. Maybe it might peeve me a little bit, but it wouldn’t bother me too much if we hadn’t spent so much time building up this romance instead of focusing on the other aspects of the story. Why are the doors closing? Exactly what does Brimstone do? I want to know more about him and the chimera and their relationship with Karou. I wanted to see more of Prague and all its magic. I wanted Karou to show us more of her abilities. As far as I was concerned, the romance, while initially intriguing, can take a hike. As soon as the “star-crossed lovers” slant is given to it, their relationship becomes incredibly generic. And tiresome, because we’ve seen this type of relationship before.

In short: With creative mythology, spell-binding prose, and interesting characters, this book had great potential to be an engaging, fresh look at angels and demons in a modern-day/fantasy setting. However, by focusing more on a cliched, overwhelmingly star-crossed romance, this book inadvertently hides the qualities that make it so unique for a story element not impressive enough to take the place of those qualities. I’m disappointed in this decision, and probably won’t be continuing the series.

RONIT & JAMIL: Review

30317423Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on February 21, 2017
Genres: young adult, realistic fiction, contemporary romance, poetry, retellings
Pages: 192
Format: Hardcover
Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | IndieBound

Rating:


This rating is not what you think.

Or maybe it’s not what I would think it to be; usually, for me, one-star reviews mean that the reviewer didn’t just dislike the book they’re reviewing–they hated it.

But I didn’t hate this book. I was just underwhelmed by it.

Ronit & Jamil is pitched as a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in the midst of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Not only is this conflict a current issue–it’s divisive, and it’s affecting both ethnic relations between Arabs and Jews and U.S. foreign policy. So divisive, current, and important–but not widely covered. Not in YA literature, at least. I’m also part Syrian, and my heritage has partially influenced my cultural interactions with others whose families are involved in this conflict.

So I was really looking forward to this story, both as a unique approach to Shakespearean retellings and as a provoker of discussion. This story promised to address the question posed in its first pages: Whose land is it, really? And is there ever hope for peace in a two-state solution?

This story doesn’t answer those questions. There are mentions of peace and conflict and bombs (although, some of this might be metaphorical; kind of difficult to tell when the book is written verse [I’ll come back to that]). There are moments where Ronit and Jamil question why coexistence is so impossible, and why enmity between the two nations has become so prevalent and potent, it’s practically its own family tradition. But these questions are not developed more–they are touched on briefly, and then left to dissolve in to the backs of readers’ minds.

It seems what I’m trying to say is that this story’s priorities were focused more on the romance than on an important contemporary socio-political issue. But what I’m trying to say is that…actually, I don’t know. I’m really not sure where this story’s priorities were, and I think that’s one of its major faults.

Am I supposed to focus on the romance? It’s barely developed. Ronit and Jamil go from acknowledging the others’ existence to having the hots for each other and running away together. Their connection is so brief and underdeveloped that I have no idea why they fell for each other, or why either loves the other so much they would run away from their former lives and their family. I also had difficulty telling the two of them apart; despite their different ethnicities and the variations that result (different ways of addressing their parents/talking about food, etc.), their voices were almost identical. What makes it even more confusing is that Ronit is the girl here, and Jamil is the boy; I thought at least I could rely on the beginning letters of their names to distinguish who was who (R=Romeo, J=Juliet), but here, it’s swapped, I think. Even now, I don’t know. I barely remember the characters themselves.

Am I supposed to focus on the conflict between Israel and Palestine? This book acknowledges that conflict exists, but more words are wasted describing food, running errands, and kissing than on covering this conflict. If you’re going to include an issue like this as a springboard for discussion, please use it for something. Conflict is conflict–it is meant for causing change. Conflict is a force, not a setting. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be mitigated to a backdrop for two lovers if you’re not going to address the nuances that make this conflict so messy. You could set this book anywhere else, and very little would need to be changed to tell the same story.

Ronit & Jamil‘s failure to develop both its characters and its conflict as real, engaging, and relatable renders this story ineffective–as commentary, as a retelling, and even as a book of good poetry; nothing about the prose in this book grabbed my attention. It’s a very quick read (I finished it in about two hours), but it’s forgettable–the last thing a book featuring such an important issue should be.

Mood & Music Monday: 5/15/17

Hello, friends, and welcome this week’s Mood and Music Monday!

Mood and Music Monday is a weekly meme I’ve started, wherein I’ll post a song and talk about how it relates to my day/week, as well as a few other things. (And, in case anyone’s wondering, this meme has no relation to Lauren’s [from Always Me] “Music Mondays.”) Feel free to participate and to leave a link to your posts down in the comments!

Here’s the update for this week:

SONG(S) OF THE WEEK

What are you listening to? Okay, I know this seems like a weird thing to listen to on repeat, but I love the French language, and, though I haven’t been to France (yet!), I love what I’ve seen of the French culture. The lyrics to this anthem are so powerful and fierce (what other language has a verb for “to slit one’s throat”?); I’ve memorized the first verse.

But, anyway, one of my friends was singing this earlier, and now it’s stuck in my head, so that’s why I’m currently listening to it. 🙂

What are you reading? Still working on Heir of Fire. Last week was busy; hopefully I can do more reading this week. :/

What are you drinking? Water! (Not enough, though, heheh.)

Any goals for this week? Beta reading! One of my reading deadlines is approaching, so I’m hoping to meet it this week. Wish me luck! 🙂

How about you?

  • What song(s) are you listening to today?
  • What is your current read? Are you enjoying it?
  • Do you have any plans or goals for this week?

Catching Up!

Hello, again! Guess who’s still alive?

Yeah, I’m back. Between tons of homework, a phone that’s deleted all its info and still refuses to go back to factory settings so I can finally fix it (-_-), and some health issues, it’s been a wild few months, and I’ve dropped the ball on a lot of things. Unfortunately, running this blog was one of them.

This post is meant to be a hybrid of several different posts, to make up for my inactivity:

  • a Mood and Music Monday update
  • a March/April wrap-up
  • a May TBR

Without further ado, let’s get started.


Song(s) of the week:

I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for Corpse Bride a lot over the past two days–it’s so haunting and atmospheric, and I love the movie so much. (Morbidly enough, I can relate to several of the characters–sometimes rather depressingly so.) The main titles, in particular, have been on repeat, but I’ve been listening to the rest of the soundtrack, too.


March/April Wrap-Up

Here are the books I finished during my hiatus:

Here are the books I DNF’d:

  • Ignite Me (and all the extra novellas in the Shatter Me series) by Tahereh Mafi: Unravel Me was disappointingly dull, and I figured that I didn’t want to force myself to keep reading a series I wasn’t enjoying just so I could say I’d finished it. Too many books, too little time.
  • Gilded Cage by Vic James: I wanted to like this one, but I could barely get through the first two pages before growing bored. So I put it down. (On another note: Someone should write a cool fantasy novel based on Gilded Age America. How cool would that be? I mean, I know English history is kind of cool, but American history is so underused as a setting/inspiration for fantasy/paranormal novels. I’d love to see more of that. [Maybe I’ll write it?])
  • Frostblood by Elly Blake: My interest with this book waned, especially after seeing how similar it is to other titles *cough*Red Queen*cough* in the YA fantasy market right now. (And Red Queen was already a knock-off, so would this be…a knock-off of a knock-off? [A knock-off-off??])

May TBR

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of this. My phone basically erased all the pictures I had left for the April book challenge I was participating in, and won’t let me take more pictures, so there might not be book pictures for some time. 😦 But here’s a list of all the books I’m attempting to read:

20658347Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3) by Sarah J. Maas

Found this at the library, and I’m ready to continue the series! Supposedly, this is where things start to go down, so I’m looking forward to this. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

30037861Silver Stars (Front Lines, #2) by Michael Grant

I love WWII, and I enjoyed Front Lines, so I’m excited to have this in my hands. It’s time for some more female soldier action!

 

 

 

 

 

29772863Wires and Nerve, Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer

I’ve already read the rest of the series, so why not? It’ll be exciting to read a graphic novel; I’ve never picked one up before. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

22892448The Color Project by Sierra Abrams

I received an ARC of this darling book in the mail the other day, and I’m so excited to start it! Sierra is a dear, and this book promises to make my heart very happy, so, of course, I can’t wait to read it. 😀

 

 

 

 


Four books to read this month. It’s definitely less ambitious than I’ve attempted in previous months, and hopefully(?) I’ll have less homework, so I can read all of these this month. I’m eager to get back into the swing of things again!

What about you?

  • How many books will you be reading this month?
  • Which of those books are you most looking forward to reading?