Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Review: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Bryan Katcher
Published: May 19th, 2015 (Katherine Tegen Books)
Pages: 336
Source: ARC via Edelweiss
Series: NA
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★☆

It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.

If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak quite possibly has the most improbable storyline I could've come up with, but somehow, it works. It's geeky, silly, and at time makes no sense, but I enjoyed every moment of it.

Both Ana and Zak are a bit of an outcast, both geeky in their own way. Ana is always top of her class, has a bazillion extracurricular activities and is pushed by her parents to be as perfect as possible. Meanwhile Zak is somewhat of a slacker, failing his health class and trying to dodge his mom's new husband who is trying to make him into something he's not. Ana has no free time -- Zak has too much free time and loves everything geeky. Strategy games, costumes, nerdy cons: he loves it all. But he especially loves Washingcon, the annual sci-fi convention in Seattle. But when his health class teacher tells him he is failing his health class and only joining the quiz bowl team will help him pass his class, all his plans fall apart. Because the quiz bowl team semifinals are the same weekend as Washingcon, and there is no way out of the quiz bowl activities for Zak. His Washingcon plans straight down the drain.

But Zak loves Washingcon so much, he talks about the event non stop, motivating Ana's brother, Clayton (who is also on the quiz bowl team), to sneak out and find out about the con himself. What ensues is a hilarious Clayton hunt across the entire con. Turns out Zak is some kind of legend at Washingcon -- who knew? Along the way, Ana and Zak get to know eachother and it turns out they aren't so different after all. They both struggle with pain, loss, and trying to fit in.

Both Ana and Zak go through a motion of development in this book, even though the biggest portion of the story is set during the first day of Washingcon. Ana learns to let her hair down. It's okay to be different, to have fun, to get out there. It's not the end of the world if you break a few rules. Meanwhile Zak learns to reign it in a bit. They kind of balance eachother out because they understand eachother.

By far my favourite thing in this book is the geekiness. I loved all the cosplay, the nerdy references (even if I didn't understand where half of them came from), the silly dialogue and the hilarious plotline. In any other book, it would have made no sense, but it works in this one. The setting combined with some of the wacky characters passing by is fantastic and I really enjoyed reading about all these characters who were so different but also so alike. There's one particular scene near the end of the book where Ana teams up with Strawberry to distract a cleaning guy that had me snorting up my drink through my nose -- something I don't intend to repeat. The silliness was hilarious and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading.

While I would have loved to have felt some more chemistry between Ana and Zak, I think their story is really well done. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak: quirky, goofy goodness. Like!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On My Wishlist (77)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Publication date: September 16th, 2014

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

Goodreads page

I must admit that I don't really know all that much about this book, besides it being a contemporary rollercoaster ride about twins and it won the Michael L. Printz Award 2015. Basically, I've heard so many people raving about this book, I need to read it for myself. Maybe I should wait a while until the hype dies down, so my expectations aren't skyhigh, but I'm not sure I can manage.. So I think I'll just dive in, then :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Published: January 27th, 2015 (Bloomsbury)
Pages: 528
Age group: Adult with crossover appeal
Source: borrowed ARC (Thanks Debby ♥)
Series: The Bone Season, #2
Buy the book: Bookdepository
Rating: ★★★★★

Note: this is not the first book in a series, and can therefore contain (minor) spoilers for the previous book(s) in the series. Reading of this review is at your own risk.

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

I honestly don't really know where to start with this review. After reading The Bone Season, reading The Mime Order was a no-brainer. How the hell was I supposed to leave at that point? And now this? I mean, really, Samantha? WHY MUST YOU TORTURE US SO. Where the first book had a lot of infodumping because of the worldbuilding, you get sucked in straight away with its sequel. Be ready to be blown away.

I loved how Shannon continued on her worldbuilding. The setting was created in The Bone Season, but she really took it to another level with this book. You immediately immerse yourself in the world, the characters and just overal the story. The plot is a slow one, but it's so exquisitely written that you can't help but flip the pages. Gods, it was amazing. Every time I flipped a page I had no idea what was coming. It's one of the few books that made me start thinking about complot theories: what was happening? Who did it? What's next? Usually, I prefer to just go along with the story (even though I know perfectly fine what I want to happen) but with this one I was wondering who was responsible and if I added this and this and that, it would mean they were responsible but then.. Gods, I loved it.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate all of the characters? They really come alive. I especially admired Jaxon's sassiness. It was brilliantly written and I felt like I was actually LOOKING AT JAXON while reading. Everything was so vivid in my mind, it was kind of like watching a movie. And not only with Jaxon, mind you. I loved the scenes with Paige and Warden because their chemistry is awesome. I loved how all the characters interacted with eachother and I loved all their personality quirks.

BUT THE PLOT Y'ALL! I mean, holy smokes. FANTASTIC. It was so awesome I felt I had to use CAPSLOCK to convince you how brilliant it is. It's slow building, kind of like when you are on a roller coaster ride and the first bit of the ride is when the carts get pulled up to the high point of the ride. It's slow, you're basically waiting to be catapulted down the tracks, but still you continue, working your way up. Then you reach the highest point and slowly all the carts rattle over that point and you race down at the speed of light and basically that's what The Mime Order felt like for me. Because when I was finished with reading the last page, I literally sat there, pointing at the book, saying "I.. What?" "What is even?" and more "I.. what?!" (ask my book club friends, they were there). For emphasis, I shook the book while pointing at it, you know, so they knew what I was talking about. I was quite literally speechless. Lost for words. I mean, I lost the ability to even.

To sort of sum things up: everything is so complex and so carefully woven together, it really is an amazing fantasy series. To be honest, I feel kind of like an addict going through withdrawal with that cliffhanger ending.

Yes, this review is a mess. I regret nothing. Just read it, you'll seee.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On My Wishlist (75)

In On My Wishlist I spotlight books that I'm really looking forward to. I know there's a meme Waiting on Wednesday and there even are others, but I'm going to rebel and do it how I want it (hehe). I'll feature the synopsis as posted on Goodreads and put a linkie to the Goodreads page of the book. This week: Oblivion by Kelly Creagh.

Oblivion by Kelly Creagh
Expected publication date: July 28th, 2015

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins? —Edgar Allan Poe

The fine line between life and death blurred long ago for Isobel Lanley. After a deadly confrontation with Varen in the dreamworld, she’s terrified to return to that desolate and dangerous place. But when her nightmares resume, bleeding into reality, she is left with no choice. Varen’s darkness is catching up to her. To everything. Threatening to devour it all.

Isobel fears for her world. For her sanity and Varen’s—especially after a fresh and devastating loss. To make matters worse, the ghostly demon Lilith wants Varen for her own, and she will do anything to keep him in her grasp—anything.

Can Isobel ever find her happy ending?

Goodreads page

YES YES FINALLY! I read Nevermore all the way back in 2011, Enshadowed in 2012 and so I've been waiting for THREE WHOLE YEARS for the final book to come out. Gods, it's been so long I'm not even sure I remember what happened in the first two books. Maybe a re-read is in order? I do know I'm ready for more of the dark, twisted goodness that is the Nevermore series!

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