Find Me, If You Can… (Tag)

Lately I’ve been horrible at updating my Instagram account, mostly because I was just feeling so uninspired and because I really disliked what pictures I did take of books. But thanks to Rosie @ Rosie Reads and Charlotte from @ The Simple Tales for tagging me to do this! It just might be the push I need. :D

Without further ado, the Find Me tag created by the ladies at Novel Ink!

 

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

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Ehhh…: The Cage, Megan Shepherd

Title: The Cage
Author: Megan Shepherd
Published: May 26, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
BUY IT: The Book Depository | Amazon

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy. 
 
When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn’t know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments—tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures—all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn’t alone. 
 
Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora’s past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer—a handsome young guard called Cassian—appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren’t from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo—where the exhibits are humans. 
 
As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer—though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

Sigh, where do I start? There were so many ways The Cage could become a sci-fi of epic proportions, so what happened along the way to waste such good potential? I’m still reeling from the disappointment I felt and the mediocrity of this book.

The Cage started out well enough, with Cora waking up in a strange place where seasons changed in just a few steps, and where all kinds of cultures clashed together in a bizarre town. The story wasn’t like anything I’d read before (a gem in an age where YA books resemble each other in one way or another), and there was a good amount of mystery and confusion to keep me reading. The pacing was done masterfully throughout the novel; the suspense, questions, revelations — all were present in the right quantities so that nothing seemed to be revealed too early, or too late, and I never knew what to expect.

Unfortunately, the plot progression was about all that impressed me.

I honestly did not care for any of the characters. I admired Cora’s bravery, determination, and selflessness, but her character was so inconsistent throughout the book that it was impossible to fully come to like her. One minute she’s tough and strong, and the next she’s giving up and agreeing to comply with the aliens’ third rule (basically: to reproduce). One minute she’s thinking about escape, and the next she’s kissing Lucky — another one of the four teenagers in the Cage — under a cherry blossom tree. I get that inconsistency is human nature, but Cora’s fickleness didn’t feel genuine at all. The characters’ pasts on Earth could have used a lot more page time as well, because except for a few paragraphs here and there, I didn’t know what kind of lives they led before they were captured and caged up.

Okay, confession time: I didn’t actually read the full blurb when I went into this story, which may have contributed to why I didn’t like the romance at all. See that bit where it says “a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian“? Yeah. I didn’t see that, but then again it wasn’t like I wasn’t expecting some kind of romance between Cora and her alien captor (because a YA read is nothing without forbidden romances, lbr). All because Cassian was a leeeettle nicer to Cora than his friends were.

IS THIS HOW GIRLS FALL IN LOVE THESE DAYS?

But perhaps the worst part of the book was the fact that everything was so. damn. convenient. I won’t go too in-depth because of spoilers, but let me just give you a rough idea:

  • Right when something bad is about ton happen to Cora, something else occurs to prevent that.
  • Some of the drama involving Nok (another captive) toward the end of the book was so unnecessary and flimsy — I just wasn’t buying it.
  • The captives were supposed to solve “puzzles” in the Cage in order to earn tokens (aka money), but the puzzles seemed more like mini games, and it was convenient how Cora and Rolf could solve every single one of them. The puzzles could have been better described to give the idea of a challenge, but they weren’t.
  • And finally, the one that pissed me off the most: When the characters were told that something awful had happened, THEY DIDN’T QUESTION ANYTHING. There was no denial, no “how” or “why,” just dramatic displays of shock. They accepted what they were told without question, and it made me want to rip my hair out.

Spoilery paragraph ahead, so read at your own risk! Apparently the four humans were chosen by the aliens because they were “paragons of humanity,” but there was hardly any proof of that through their actions. Leon was strong? Obviously not, if a small girl who had been caged up for pretty much her entire life was able to fight him one-on-one (and even give him a nosebleed!). Lucky had morals? Nope, otherwise he wouldn’t have lied to Cora or accepted money from her dad to cover for the accident. Cora was self-sacrificing? Maybe, but in an extremely stupid way, like not wanting to leave the others behind even though she knew that they were planning to kill her. Girl, get over it and save yourself. (Or maybe I’m just heartless.) Overall, more convenient stuff, really.

Needless to say, The Cage was another disappointment I could have done without. It had a stage set for a grand and amazing performance, but as I read on, I realized that the performance I was looking for wouldn’t happen. I do think, though, that people who don’t usually read sci-fi will have a much better time with this book than I did, so not all hope is lost! :)

Rating: ★★ 1/2

Music to My Ears ♫

No music, no life.

It’s overused and probably the lamest thing ever to say, but in my case, it’s true. Since I haven’t talked much about music on my blog, many of you may not know that I am a HUGE music lover. Wherever I go, I play music. When I’m studying, I play music. When I’m working, I play music. It’s probably the one thing I do more than reading or watching stuff on my computer. And because practically no one around me listens to the same music I do, I though I’d take the brainwashing to my blog, hehehehe…

So here are the top few artists/bands I listen to!

1. Lana Del Rey

lana

Words can’t even begin to describe my love for Lana Del Rey. Yes, she sings about love and drugs and alcohol, but I love that her love stories aren’t always those happy and “carefree” ones I always hear on the radio. Her songs are so beautifully depressing and sad and yet strangely uplifting at the same time. And don’t get me started on her voice. It’s gorgeous and holds so much depth and makes her songs even more enchanting than they already are!

Also, if you get the chance, listen to her unreleased songs… A couple of years ago some loser leaked tons of her unreleased songs onto YouTube, and they’re still circulating today. I used to keep away from them because I felt bad listening to music she didn’t release, but some of them are SO GOOD that I couldn’t resist. Queen of Disaster, Last Girl on Earth, Break My Fall — go listen! :B (And thanks, not-so-bad-loser… I guess.)

It took all of my self control not to just add all of her existing albums into a playlist and shove it into your faces, but here are some of my favorites by LDR:

2. Florence + The Machine

florence

I AM ALREADY SO IN LOVE WITH FLORENCE’S UPCOMING ALBUM. *FLAILS*

Florence + The Machine has a special place in my heart because she was the first artist I truly fell in love with. Her album, Ceremonials totally blew my ears off, and her wonderfully dark song, No Light, No Light basically turned me into an eternal fan (plus, the music video is gorgeous).

A lot of people find her weird and sometimes “demonic,” but I love how she ignores the haters and continues expressing herself through some very emotional and symbolic videos. Her bold tunes + powerful voice + strong symbolism = pure brilliance.

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Need A Heart-Warmer?: Things We Know By Heart, Jessi Kirby

Title: Things We Know By Heart
Author: Jessi Kirby
Published: April 21, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss
BUY IT: The Book Depository | Amazon

When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection. 
 
After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.  
 
Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn’t want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they’re connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost… and all that remains at stake.
The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing: we know this in countless ways. (Blaise Pascal)

After having read and adored Jessi Kirby’s Golden, I knew that I had to try out her other books. And while I didn’t find her latest to be as impactful, it still didn’t fail to disappoint. Things We Know By Heart was heartwarming, endearing, and the perfect summer read — or spring read!

This story had a somewhat new premise for me, since I had never read a book about a loved one dying and their organs being donated and transplanted. So it was both incredibly enlightening and interesting to read about the interactions — or lack of — between the recipient and the people related to the donator. Who was, in this case, Quinn’s ex-boyfriend, Trent. Heartbroken after his death, Quinn spent more than a year in a depressed daze. To get some closure, she sent out anonymous letters to the recipients of Trent’s organs, and heard back from most of them… All except the person who had received Trent’s heart.

Kirby did an amazing job conveying Quinn’s pain and grief to us. Even though I have been fortunate enough to not have lost anyone close to me, I was able to sympathize with her feelings to a good extent. Trent may have been long gone, but her love and loyalty toward him weren’t, as shown through the pictures of them she refused to take down, and the dried-up sunflower Trent had given her during their first meeting which she kept in her room as a constant reminder. And honestly, it was a tiny bit heartbreaking for me, too, to see her in such agony.

One thing I really liked about Things We Know By Heart is that family plays a huge role in Quinn’s recovery. Most of the time tragedy books like these are FULL of romance. Only the love interest can penetrate the thick and sad wall the protagonist put up, while the family fades into background noise and rarely makes an appearance. Not for this book, though! Quinn had supportive parents (and an awesome grandmother!) who worried for her and tried to get her back on her feet again, despite facing their own problems. And Quinn’s older sister, Ryan, just kicked ass. It’s a mark of how close siblings are when they are willing to tell each other things they don’t tell their parents.

My main complaint was that despite all these good aspects of the book, it still fell a little flat for me. Maybe I was looking for something a little more emotional, or a little more memorable; whatever it was, I called this a “summery read” because the story was exactly that — something you read on a bright and sunny day, feel happy about, and then forget about in the next few days. The characters were nice to read about, but not particularly developed. The plot was predictable as far as contemporaries go, but not so much that it ruined everything. The romance and love interest were nothing special either, but there’s no denying that it was sweet to read about! Here is one love interest who isn’t clouded by angst and anger. It was refreshing to read about such an innocent boy with a pure heart, even though the heart may not be his.

So, if you’re looking for something that will warm your heart and make you appreciate the little wonders in life, then Things We Know By Heart is the perfect book for you! It is soft, sweet, and gentle, not especially impactful, but still an enjoyable read nonetheless!

Rating: ★★★ 1/2