Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reminder: Bye Google Reader, Hello Bloglovin'!

As you might know, Google Reader is going to be gone by tomorrow, July 1. But, there is no need to panic! There's an easy alternative.

Bloglovin' is a super easy and efficient way of browsing through your feed! Right when you sign up (whether by email or Facebook), you're offered the one-click option of importing your feed from Google Reader, so you'll still have all the blogs that you used to.

I know I've already posted about this before, but seeing as tomorrow, Google Reader will be gone, I thought I'd post a quick reminder.

Here's a GREAT post about Bloglovin', how to get started, and its benefits: CLICK ME!

You can follow The Book Basement by clicking here or by clicking the little icon on my sidebar. And of course, subscribing by email is always an option!

Hope y'all are having a great day, and decide to move over to Bloglovin'! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Format: eBook
Page Count: 368
SynopsisWhen sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
Review: The biggest lesson learned from this book: Never doubt Gayle Forman. Ever. If you think something won't work, just leave it to Gayle Forman. She'll leave you breathless and shocked.

   If I'm being honest, I probably wouldn't have picked this one up if it wasn't written by Gayle Forman. But I loved If I Stay and Where She Went so much, I had to get this one. And at first, I wasn't really feeling it. I was reading it for the sake of reading. Allyson was kind of dull, her best friend Melanie was just a pain, and everything blurred together. Even when Willem was introduced, I wasn't feeling him either. He seemed too much of a playboy, and not much of a sweetheart.

   When Allyson returns from her adventure as Lulu after Willem leaves her, she kind of falls into a depression that lasts months. She neglects her schoolwork, distances herself from her family, doesn't socialize--I like to say that she pulls a Bella from New Moon. (But at least Bella did her schoolwork.) It's extremely easy to get frustrated with her during this period. You want to shake her and maybe scream, "Quit with all this teenage angst and get on with your life!" You just have to bear through this section, because it gets better. Way, way better.

   Allyson starts taking new classes and meets a new friend. Things start looking up. She grows into a stronger, better version of herself, though she still struggles to understand who she wants to be. At this point, I fell in love with Allyson's character. She was more focused, more logical, and she began to nurture an admirable determination. And when she decided to go back to Paris to get answers, I was all for it.

   The plot takes a huge turn here because it turns exciting. It's almost like a game that Gayle Forman plays--she builds up so much hope that Allyson will find Willem again, and then she crushes it... several times over. By this section, I was reading it because I enjoyed it. In fact, I couldn't put it down. It was exciting, suspenseful, emotional, and beautiful. And oh my goodness, the ending had me screaming. I cannot believe Forman ended the book there. And then, she has the gall to add ONE page of the next book, which does nothing but increase my anxiety and arouse more questions!

   There's not much of Willem in this book, and I don't really know how I feel about him. On one hand, we don't know much about him, so it's difficult to judge. But on the other hand, we hear so many despicable things that he's done (granted: from word of mouth), and you can't help but judge him! I'll have to decide when I read the sequel. He has a long way to go if he wants to win me over, though!

   All in all, Just One Day is an emotional roller coaster of a ride that combines a flawed, but thoughtful protagonist with a beautiful journey. Gayle Forman weaves together a gorgeous story that will leave readers aching for the next book, like I am.

   4.5 keys.

P.S. i have a video review for this book up on my youtube channel here.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Top 3 Things: I Love in Books

Hey, everyone! Lately, I've been posting review after review, so I thought I'd add in some variety. Today I'll be listing the top three things I love in books.

The more I blog, the pickier I get when it comes to reading. (I think.) I can definitely say that I read more critically and analytically now than ever before. This could also be that it comes with the territory of getting older, but I think blogging probably has escalated the process.

But anyway, let's get started!

1) Relatable characters/Character development: I cannot stress enough how important characters are in a story to me. I have to be able to connect with or relate to the characters to fully appreciate a novel. Otherwise, I tend to enjoy it less. It doesn't mean that the character has to be perfect or flawless. In fact, I really like flawed characters. That's a tricky claim, though, because it has to be a reasonably flawed character. I understand that that is really subjective, but I guess I'll put it this way: I can like a character who makes rash decisions or is impulsive; however, I dislike characters who remain that way throughout their whole story. Layered, relatable, flawed (to an extent) characters are my absolute favorite, and in turn, make me love certain books.

Examples of my favorite characters: Tris from Divergent, Anna from Anna and the French Kiss, Percy from Percy Jackson and the Olympians/The Heroes of Olympus

2) Beautiful prose: When you read books, it's easy to notice different writing styles. Some are more direct while others are more poetic. I really love beautiful prose. You know--the kind of writing that makes you stop, reread the passage, and just revel in its beauty. Sometimes, what makes it beautiful is its relatability; other times, it's how "quotable" it is. It doesn't necessarily make for a better book, but it's definitely an enjoyable aspect of a novel.

Examples of authors who I think write beautifully: Lauren Oliver, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Green

3) Complex romance: One thing that I usually must have in the books I read is romance. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a swoon-worthy boy! However, the romance has to develop fully for me to believe it. This means no insta-love! Instead, I love it when authors are able to weave together a layered love story with its ups and downs. Sometimes, this means creating a love triangle, but that's a discussion for another day! Seeing (or reading, I guess) two people develop feelings for each other and watching their feelings intensify is just a beautiful thing, and the authors that are able to capture that in their books are seriously amazing!

Examples of my favorite romances: Mia/Adam from If I Stay/Where She Went, Macy/Wes from The Truth About Forever, Hazel/Gus from The Fault in Our Stars

So those are my top three favorite things in books! Of course, there are so many other aspects of a good book: pacing, plot, friends/family, genre, concept, etc. But I think characters, prose, and romance are the things I love the most in books.

What'd be on your top three? I'd love to know.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My Introduction to YouTube (AKA: I HAVE A FACE?)

Hey, everyone!

I've been wanting to try making videos for quite some time, but I've always been too shy and nervous to actually post anything. Perhaps I'll regret this later, or delete it after a few hours, but I made a YouTube channel for The Book Basement*.

*Actually, I made it in December of 2011. But I never posted anything until now.

Below is my first video. (I KNOW--I HAVE A FACE! Crazy, huh?) I'm probably making this a bigger deal than it actually is. But omgomgomg.

Here's the link to my channel:

Please leave a comment, like the video, or (oh my goodness) maybe even subscribe. (Though why anyone would want to watch my face, I don't know.)

Thanks so much for bearing with me!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Prodigy by Marie Lu

Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Format: eBook
Page Count: 371
Synopsis: June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.
Review: If you thought Legend was good, just multiply that by 100. That should probably give you a good feel of what Prodigy is like, because wow, things get so intense in this phenomenal sequel!

   Prodigy starts not too long after Legend ends. I'll admit, I thought the beginning was kind of slow, and at first I was a bit confused at the parts I didn't remember from the first installment. But gradually, things came back to me, and the story line picked up. The plot in this book was just fantastic. It was thick and layered, exciting and emotional. It was always interesting, and honestly, the plot was smart. It wasn't just thrown together. I feel like Marie Lu started out with a full puzzle, cut up the pieces, and then scattered them, so that while reading, it seems strange, but in the end, everything adds up perfectly. And, oh my goodness, the ending! Tell me I'm not the only who cried? Am I? Okay...

   The character development in this installment was absolutely great. On the one hand, we have June, our female protagonist. I love, love, love June. She's so intelligent, analytical, and quick on her feet. She's a fighter and is just plain tough. In Prodigy, we get to see her intelligence as well as her more vulnerable side. On the other hand, we have our second narrator, Day. While I liked him in Legend, I had problems with him in Prodigy. He was sometimes extremely frustrating and self-centered. I feel like because he grew up from nothing, he let the fame of being a huge celebrity-like rebel go to his head. Also, he tended to blame anyone but himself. While I did harbor negative feelings toward Day, that doesn't make this book less great. In fact, I feel like Marie Lu intentionally wanted us to feel these different, mixed emotions as the characters grow in depth.

   The romance in this book definitely took a huge turn from Legend. Unfortunately, there were extra love interests thrown in, which is kind of disappointing. But they're not all that serious. Tess is no longer the little, younger sister-like figure to Day anymore. Instead, she's an infuriating, grudge-holding girl. While I felt like her development into a suitable love interest was abrupt and quite unbelievable, she did serve a necessary purpose for development in Day's character. Anden, on the other hand, I actually kind of liked. I don't ship June with him, but he definitely was surprisingly likable.

   I love the originality in Prodigy. During Legend, I felt like it was bit too cookie-cutter dystopian at times, but in this book, I really began to discover the refreshing ideas of Marie Lu's world-building, such as the Colonies. The Colonies were definitely not what I was expecting, and I'm super excited that we got to see a glimpse of them in this book! I love the contrast between the Colonies and the Republic, and I really love how the goal is not to bring down the government, but to restore it to the original United States.

   All in all, Prodigy is an exceedingly excellent sequel to Legend. It's more intense, action-packed, and substantial than its predecessor (which was already a great novel). Although this review is pretty critical, don't let that mean it's a bad novel! In fact, it's the opposite. Prodigy is an awesome book that really outshines the previous installment. I cannot wait to see where Marie Lu goes with this series!

   4.5 keys.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Publication Date: April 1925
Publisher: Scribner
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 180
Synopsis: In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.
Review: I admittedly saw the film before reading the book. (I really hope this does not become a habit.) I enjoyed the film, but I enjoyed the book more. There's something absolutely lovely about Fitzgerald's writing. It's simple, but it has a certain resonance and beauty to it. I really like the writing in The Great Gatsby, above all else. The way Fitzgerald captures the setting, the characters, and the events makes for an interesting read and, in the end, an acclaimed classic.

   The narrator is Nick Carraway, neighbor of wealthy party-thrower Jay Gatsby, and cousin of the beautiful Daisy Buchanan. Nick is a fantastic choice of narrator because he has just the perfect connection in the whole web of characters. He isn't particularly likable in any sense, but his voice stands out in the prose. However, he is overshadowed by the other vibrant characters like Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan.

   Jay Gatsby is probably one of the most fascinating characters in literature I've read about. At the tender age of seventeen, he set up a future for himself to be a powerful, wealthy man. He spends his whole life, chasing that dream and one girl: Daisy Buchanan. Gatsby is a kind-hearted man, really, when it gets down to it. He's dedicated, passionate, stupidly in love with an awful girl but disillusioned. He's helplessly stuck in the past, and doesn't know what to do when time goes on without him. Gatsby is a flawed character, but an excellent one, in my opinion. The way his story ends made me so heartbroken. It's so wasteful that such a great man spent his time chasing an unworthy goal.

   Daisy Buchanan... oh, Daisy! Daisy is the love of Jay's life, but she married a wealthy man named Tom Buchanan. (Tom is just an awful man. Awful. Both of the Buchanans are, really.) There's something about Daisy that leaps off the pages. The way she's described, the things she says--she's an extremely memorable character. In the era of frivolousness and indulgence, women are seen as docile. Daisy conforms to that image. She's intelligent and has such a sarcastic sense of humor, it makes me want to like her. But her priorities are so shallow! Of course, that's how it's "meant" to be during this era and in correspondence with her social status, not to mention who she's married to. She makes incredibly terrible decisions, but that's how she's supposed to be. You're not supposed to like her. I think she represents the destruction and poison of high social status in the 20s.

   I think the weak link of this novel is definitely the plot. It's a short book, so the slowness of the plot didn't bother me all too much, but compared to the characters, the plot definitely seems to take a backseat. It's slow, and not quite as important as the characters themselves, but I will admit, there were times when I got bored. It wasn't as engaging as it could have been, and the beginning definitely could have picked up quicker. Also, I felt the pacing was inconsistent.

   I believe I'm supposed to read this in junior year, so I can't wait to analyze it in English class. There are so many themes and developments to discuss. I definitely appreciate the literary value in this book, and I'm glad I read it (especially after watching the film). The Great Gatsby involves depth, colorful characters, and lovely prose, but lacks plot and consistent pacing.

   3.5 keys.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

False Memory by Dan Krokos

Publication Date: August 14, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion
Format: eBook
Page Count: 336
Synopsis: Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn’t at all surprised by Miranda’s shocking ability.

Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn’t easy—especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can’t remember loving.

Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn’t seem to matter... when there may not be a future.

Review: After all the excitement that I harbored for this novel, I must say that plot-wise, this book was amazing. However, it did lack certain substance, such as character development.

   Right from the start, False Memory pumps thrills and excitement. Miranda North, our protagonist, wakes up, knowing nothing about herself except for her name. She asks a cop to help her, but things quickly go awry. Enter Peter, a teenage boy who seems to know her and what she is, and this begins our quickly paced adventure. The plot is full of drama and action, which I really liked. It made for an interesting and quick read. However, I must admit that some plot twists were blatantly predictable. 

   The pacing of this book is very fastfastfast with little time to catch your breath. It's fun, it's quick, and it's entertaining. But the quickness of this book also results in the lack of character development. There's hardly any description of the characters when they speak, so you don't get a strong idea of how each character feels at certain points in the plot. I understand that a lot of character details are meant to be imagined, but still, you need at least some basis to ignite the imagination in the right direction. This was quite a challenge for me while reading because I normally invest most of my reading experience into the characters.

   There's a love triangle in this novel! And although it's understandable as to why the love triangle exists, I found myself feeling detached almost. I didn't believe in the romance between Miranda/Peter, nor did I believe in the romance between Miranda/Noah. This could be another effect of my lack of connection with the characters, but I didn't buy their love. At most, it seemed like physical attraction.

   Dan Krokos's writing style is very minimal and simple. It doesn't offer much description or insight on the characters. I've realized that I'm not a fan of such writing, but it does seem fit for a book like this one. False Memory is more plot-driven than anything else, which I guess suits Krokos's writing well.

   I know that this is science fiction, but I had difficulty believing everything: what Miranda was, the purpose of it, all the roles of the higher people. It was all hard to actually buy. I felt like there wasn't enough reasoning behind any of it, which hindered my enjoyment of the novel a bit.

   False Memory is an adventurous, exciting debut sure to please fans of Maximum Ride. (Seriously. It's pretty reminiscent of the Maximum Ride series--at least, the first three books.) It's fast, entertaining, and chock-full of action. However, if you're looking for something with more substantial characters or thoughtful prose, I'm not sure this is the book for you.

   3 keys.

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