[ARC Review] This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: September 17th, 2013
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – Contemporary

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.
Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

Review

This Song Will Save Your Life (aka TSWSYL) easily becomes one of my favorite books of the year, one of the best contemporaries that I ever read. Everything in this book is so relatable and believable I could even see a movie playing inside my head when I was reading.

The MC Elise is such an amazing heroine. Sure she has her own flaws but her voice is so realistic and I had no trouble relating to her. I haven’t been through as many things as Elise, but there were times that I agreed with her points, understood her feelings. There were sentences and paragraphs that made me stopped reading for a while and stared at my laptop screen and read them over and over again because I couldn’t stop myself from comparing to my personal experience.

“I was not going to give up. This was a new year, I was a new girl, and I was going to use the next thirty-five minutes to make new friends.”

(Yes. I seriously thought that too on the first day of middle school. On the first day of every term actually. I’ve always been a naturally shy person so yeah… expect me not to make friends easily in real life…)

My social problem isn’t as big as Elise, definitely not so big that I ever think of suicide, but Elise’s attempt of committing suicide seems pretty reasonable to me. In my opinion, when you see it from the outside, it’s so easy to say that suicide isn’t the answer. But this time around, we get to see it from the inside – a mind so desperate – a girl who is facing a problem so big, a girl who feels unloved and rejected… And Leila Sales manages to depict Elise’s emotion genuinely.

I don’t see this book as an entertaining read, I see this book as an emotional read but occasionally, Elise’s funny side makes brief appearances.

“I mean, yes, I wanted to look like a cool person, but I didn’t want to become impoverished in the process.”

 

“Furthermore, if I tried to overdose but didn’t succeed, then I would run the risk of living, but being severely brain damaged. I am already socially disabled; I didn’t need to be mentally disabled on top of that.”

This isn’t an unpopular-girl-gets-a-hot-guy typical kind of story. While there’s also romance, This Song Will Save Your Life is more like a journey-to-find-and-accept-yourself kind of book. Elise is an outcast in her school. She tried committing suicide once but she failed and some time later she discovered new friends and her passion for DJing. Elise’s character development is brilliant, the story itself is brilliant, asdfghkl everything was ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT. I could just talk about how amazing this book was and quote every passage that I found extremely relatable but then this review would be too long cause I might end up quoting the whole freaking book. YES IT’S THAT GOOD.

Okay now my review is starting to get a bit uncontrollable.

I loved every single character in this book. I loved Vicky, Harry, Mel and even Char and Pippa – they all play a part in “changing” Elise. I loved how the romance turns out and that made me admire Elise even more. Oh my gosh and the ending is perfect too. I cannot ask anything more from this book. It was such a perfection and I cried several times and I tell you what – I DON’T usually cry when I read and I didn’t cry when I read TFIOS (just got a bit teary). But This Song Will Save Your Life was such a touching book I got tears all over my face on the last 100 pages. Everyone should read this book – it was inspirational, realistic, extremely relatable… I think I ran out of adjective to describe this fantastic read.

Wow. Now I’m craving for more Leila Sales’s books.

Thank you so so much, Macmillan, for giving me an opportunity to read and review this magnificent book. But trust me, this doesn’t affect my opinion at all. And note that the quotes are taken from eARC edition so no guarantee that they won’t be altered or removed from the finished copy.

 

[Review] Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess
(The Infernal Devices #3)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: March 19th, 2013
Pages: 568 (Paperback)
Genre: YA – Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal

Danger and betrayal, secrets and enchantment in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.
Tessa Gray should be happy — aren’t all brides happy? Yet as she prepares for her wedding, a net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of London Institute. A new demon appears, one linked by blood and secrecy to Mortmain, the man who plans to use his army of pitiless automatons, the Infernal Devices, to destroy the Shadowhunters. Mortmain needs only one last item to complete his plan. He needs Tessa. And Jem and Will, the boys who lay equal claim to Tessa’s heart, will do anything to save her.

Review

Oh, where should I begin?? I was speechless when I finished this book. There was a happy feeling – satisfaction – when I closed it, but there was also sadness and frustration cause it finally ended. Clockwork Princess was the best of the series in my opinion. The pacing isn’t slow and I found myself enjoying this book as a whole – probably too much that although I was so curious about the ending, I did not want this book to end.

“The world is a wheel,” he said. “When we rise or fall, we do it together.”

The main reason I enjoyed this book is mostly because I grew so attached with the characters. I loved Jem. I loved Will. Their brotherly affection nearly KILLED me because even though they are caught in a love triangle with Tessa, that doesn’t change how much they love each other. Their relationship had me in tears a few times (well, that’s saying something cause I almost never cry when I read and I didn’t expect two boys who care so much about each other would make me cry.)

“I am grieved for your pain,” he said. “But I am glad that you love her.”

I think that’s what makes the love triangle even more painful and nearly unbearable – in a good way, of course! And speaking of the romance, I really really liked how the book ends and how Clare concludes the love triangle. I might be in the minority here, but I loved the boys so much that whenever Jem is with Tessa, I felt really bad for Will and whenever Will is with Tessa, I felt really bad for Jem. Maybe it was a tad too HEA, but it was truly satisfying and frustrating too at the same time (cause the book ends and there are no more pages after that).

The book starts well, the middle was really heartbreaking and I was touched the most in this part (mostly because of Jem). There were so many actions and although my friend annoyingly spoiled something for me, there were twists that still caught me off guard! I loved, not just the main characters, but also the secondary characters like Charlotte and Henry, Sophie, the Lightwood brothers and Cecily. And even Bridget, who admittedly sounds so gloomy, could make me laugh thanks to her depressing songs.

The other romances between the side characters are also sweet! Cecily and Gabriel, Gideon and Sophie, and Charlotte and Henry… oh my god they are FREAKING ADORABLE! And like I said before, I grew so attached to all of them. The POV shifts A LOT from Tessa to Will, Charlotte, Gabriel and Cecily, etc. Those shifts don’t seem random anymore. I was, in fact, waiting for the shifts and whenever it was Tessa’s turn and there hadn’t been any POV shifts for a long time, I was like, “When is Will’s turn? Or Charlotte’s and Gabriel’s?” Not that I dislike Tessa or anything, but those POVs provide an insight of those characters’ minds and we get to know what happen to the others.

I probably spent too much time talking about the characters but, really, I LOVED them so much I just couldn’t help it. Clare successfully stirred my emotions and tore my heart for the whole time and yet as I read the ending (including the epilogue) it was as if my heart was sewed again. But there will always be scars left and believe me, I think this series had been a pleasurable experience overall.

If you haven’t read this series yet, WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU WAITING FOR??!

Rating

5 Cakes!

[Mini Reviews] Raven, Alex & Free Four

Short stories time! Obviously, they didn’t take very long to read, especially Free Four (being only less than 15 pages long).

(Delirium #2.5)
by Lauren Oliver
YA – Dystopia, Romance
Rating: 4 Cakes
I was really excited to get into Raven’s head cause she’s one of my favorite characters from Delirium trilogy thanks to her leader-like attitude and tough personality. We get to know more about Raven’s past from this short story, how she evolves from a scared teenager when she first arrives in the Wilds with Blue, her relationship with Tack and her decision to help Lena saving Julian. Sometimes Raven’s attitude is a bit harsh in Pandemonium or Requeim, but now I understand what she has been through before and that makes me respect her more.
My only complain was the confusion I had when I started this short story. I admit it was a bit hard for me to adjust to the timeline (this story is set near the end of Pandemonium) cause I already read Requiem. And it goes back and forth between Raven’s past and present. But overall, this is a very nice short story. Just saying, I think I would enjoy Requiem more if there was Raven’s POV in it.

(Delirium #3.5)
by Lauren Oliver
YA – Dystopia, Romance
Rating: 2 Cakes
We get to know Alex’s childhood, what happens to him after the last event in Delirium, how he escapes from the Crypts and his own journey of finding Lena in the Wilds. Honestly, this short story was a bit boring for me. And confusing. But I did liked some parts of it and even though I didn’t enjoy this as much as I wanted to, I still like Alex’s character. Here is my favorite quote:
“Sometimes I think maybe they were right all along, the people on the other side in Zombieland. Maybe it would be better if we didn’t love. If we didn’t lose either. If we didn’t get our hearts stomped on, shattered: if we didn’t have to patch and repatch until we’re like Frankenstein monsters, all sewn together and bound up by who knows what. If we could just float along, like snow. But how could anyone who’s ever seen a summer – big explosions of green and skies lit up electric with splashy sunsets, a riot of flowers and wind that smells like honey – pick the snow?”


Free Four: Tobias Tells the Story
(Divergent #1.5)
by Veronica Roth
YA – Dystopia
Rating: 5 Cakes

I love every single thing in this story, even though it’s less than fifteen pages long. This story is about knife-throwing scene from Divergent in Tobias’s POV. Unlike Alex, I think this short story actually adds depth into the scene. This short story is so well-written and I think it will get better or at least it won’t be any less awesome if I re-read it over and over. I need something like this more! I don’t have many things to say about this but one word: AMAZING. 

[Review] The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

This review is of a re-read, I originally read this book in 2012.

The Mark of Athena
(Heroes of Olympus #3)
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Publication Date: October 2nd, 2012
Pages: 586 (Paperback)
Genre: MG – Adventure, Fantasy

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close— the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare…


Review
Oh, man. Seriously, Rick Riordan? THAT ending… This is the second time I read The Mark of Athena but that cliffhanger never fails to frustrate me. Good thing that The House of Hades is coming out in a few months and the cover will be revealed this week! Okay, onto the review.

Rick Riordan does it again. He has crafted this book (or this series) masterfully that you can’t help but being thrilled and basically all sorts of emotions while reading the seven demigods’ adventure to stop Gaia and her minions from destroying the world. The Mark of Athena has no less (or maybe more) action, humor and mystery than the previous books, but I have to admit this book has more romance than its predecessors since Percy is reunited with Annabeth, Piper and Jason are together now and Leo, Hazel and Frank are caught in a love triangle. The plot undoubtedly has no dull moments cause they keep facing dangers throughout their journey. I mean, once a problem is solved and the characters have a breath of air, another problem appears and that keeps happening until the end of the book. So. Many. Actions.

Now, let me talk about the characters cause I love them so much.

Percy is still Percy. I love him. He’s funny and protective. I enjoyed his POV. However, now he has to adapt to the fact that he’s no longer the “spotlight” — or leader or whatever you want to call it — in the group cause Jason is also a natural-born leader and some of them haven’t even met Percy before. In the beginning their relationship might be a little bumpy but gradually they start to trust each other more and work together well when facing enemies. Percy also develops a fear after his last bad experience with the Earth in The Son of Neptune and I think it adds another layer to Percy’s character, which is good cause it shows that he’s not that perfect after all. I like characters with flaws.

We finally get Annabeth’s POV! She’s one of my favorite characters from PJO series (I have quite a lot) and this time we get to see the world from her eyes. In this book, Annabeth has a really important role to unite the camps and heal her mother’s grudge toward the Romans. Annabeth has to follow the Mark of Athena to its source and her succeeding could change the course of war against Gaia, making this book has two plots (?): one about the seven’s journey to save Nico who is trapped in Rome, and the other about Annabeth following the Mark of Athena. I always know that she’s brave, smart and determined. But here she proves that she can overcome her fear and you don’t have to win by muscle, you can win by your intelligence.

I remember that I wasn’t a fan of Piper and bored with every of her chapters in The Lost Hero. But here she seems to improve a lot. I think I like her more. Although she’s not that good in direct combat, she saves the crew a few times thanks to her great strategies and now she earns my respect. I’m looking forward to her future development cause to be honest, I think she’s the least developed character of the seven.

Leo… Ah, my baby Leo. Probably the only guy who is funnier than Percy in this series. He never fails to make me laugh with his good sense of humor and never fails to make me sympathize with him. I think he’s an awesome character — apart from his unique ability — but he just doesn’t realize how great he is. He always feels like an outsider and I felt like giving him a hug at some point. I hope he’ll build himself confidence in the future and won’t blame himself for every problem. And he seems to have a tendency of falling in love with a girl he has no chance with. Rick Riordan, you’d better let him get a girl.

Speaking of Leo, he’s caught in a love triangle with Hazel and Frank. I really like Hazel and Frank but I’m really confused with whom Hazel should end up with. She’s cool and mature for her age. I’m a huge fan of Leo but after I re-read The Son of Neptune a few weeks ago, my love for Frank is growing as well. Rick Riordan better give a good resolution to this triangle. Perhaps get Leo a girl so Frank and Hazel can be together??

Same as Piper, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Jason in The Lost Hero. In this book I guess I started to like him more. Maybe because he can be funny and reliable sometimes even though he gets knocked out quite a lot in the beginning. And Coach Hedge! I kinda miss Grover (where the heck is he?) and the other character from Camp Half-Blood, such as Clarisse. But Coach Hedge gives a good entertainment and a few set of giggles throughout the book with his silly attitude.

Honestly I thought The Mark of Athena is the best of the series so far. Narrated by Annabeth, Leo, Piper and Percy, it has actions, humor, romance, mystery and heart-pounding moments. Of course, I can’t wait for The House of Hades, especially because of THAT ending and I’m sure Nico will have an important role ahead, assuming the title and his promise to Percy.

Rating:
5 Cakes!

[Mini Reviews] The Son of Neptune & Requiem

Hey! I re-read The Son of Neptune a couple weeks ago and haven’t written a review for it. I just finished Requiem last Saturday but I was too lazy to write a proper review so that’s why I wrote mini reviews for them!

(Heroes of Olympus #2)
by Rick Riordan
MG – Adventure, Fantasy
Percy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn’t know much more than his name. Somehow he has managed to make it to a camp for half-bloods, but it doesn’t ring any bells with him. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth.

Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn’t do a very good job out of it. Now, because of a mistake she made back then, the future of the world is at risk. Hazel wishes she could rise away all on the stallion that appears in her dreams.

Frank is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from heroes, but he doesn’t see it. His bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially in front of Hazel, his closest friend. He trusts her completely – enough to share the secret he holds close to his heart.

Beginning at the “other” camp for half-bloods and extending as far as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment in the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and feature other remarkable creatures, all destined to play a part in the Prophecy of Seven.
Review
This is the second time I read The Son of Neptune and it was still amazing. In fact, I think I loved this book even more after re-reading. I liked Hazel and Frank more. I actually felt for Hazel, when she had those flashbacks, and her character developed well until the end of the book. I appreciated her bravery and her determination to protect the ones she loves. I sympathize with Frank and what I liked the most from him was his commitment to put duty first before his own life. He also became more confident in the end as he accepted his weaknesses and realized that he, too, has a gift. Before, I thought that Percy was the highlight of this book but now I realized that Hazel and Frank are as important as he is. Each character has his/her own moment to shine. The plot was unquestionably full of actions and I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite knowing the ending and all. I got to pick up the little things I missed and I was struck when I spot a few quotes that might foresee the future in the next books. And that made makes me scared. 🙁 But this book also gave me a good amount of humor. 🙂

5 Cakes!

***
(Delirium #3)
by Lauren Oliver
YA – Dystopia, Romance

As her country erupts in open rebellion, Lena fights for the resistance and must make a heartbreaking choice between two loves.
After saving Julian from a death sentence, Lena escapes with him and other members of the resistance. But as she embraces her love for Julian, a boy from her past returns and causes her to question everything.
In the meantime, Lena’s best friend, Hana, is engaged to Portland’s young mayor and is living a safe, proscribed, loveless life. The story is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view.
As Lena struggles to save the people she loves, everything comes to a head in this exciting finale to Lauren Oliver’s epic trilogy. Requiem is a sophisticated, wide-ranging novel that explores the large issues of society, government, and resistance, and of course, there is romance.

Review
I really loved Delirium. And I thought Pandemonium was not as good as Delirium, but still loved it anyway. As for Requiem… You could say that I was disappointed. There were still elements that made me fall in love with this series in the first place (for example: beautiful writing). But there were also things that made Requiem less enjoyable for me. I felt the pacing in the beginning was slow to the point I almost wanted to throw this book away and do something else instead. Requiem is told in Lena’s and Hana’s POVs. I could distinguish who is who, but at times I thought the multiple POVs were useless. I would rather have a single POV, although Hana’s POV was quite interesting sometimes. The love triangle didn’t really work for me. The love interests were likable in the previous books but in this… I didn’t feel anything for them until the end I was leaning towards Alex (again). Speaking of the ending, most people thought it was disappointing. However I, surprisingly, was quite satisfied by it. I mean, when I first reached the ending I was like, “What?? Did it just end? That was the ending?” *checked the pages afterwards and found nothing other than the acknowledgement* Lots of questions popped up on my mind but not long after that, I actually felt pleased. 🙂

3 Cakes!