Thursday, September 17, 2015

Signs Point to Yes by Sandy Hall

Title: Signs Point to Yes

Author: Sandy Hall
Format I Read: ARC
Pages: 272
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Stars: 4
Goodreads Link

This book is a short, sweet read that has perfect summer vibes. I read Signs Point to Yes way back in June, when I was drowning in dystopian fantasy that I just couldn't seem to finish (An Ember in the Ashes, Snow Like Ashes, etc). This was the perfect breath of fresh air that I need to get me out of my funk. I'll be real with you: Signs Point to Yes probably won't win any awards for depth, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't a great read!

For those who are unaware, Signs Point to Yes is Sandy Hall's (author of A Little Something Different) second novel. The synopsis is as follows:

Jane, a superstitious fangirl, takes an anonymous babysitting job to avoid an unpaid internship with her college-obsessed mom. The only problem? She’s babysitting the siblings of her childhood friend and new crush, Teo.

Teo doesn’t dislike Jane, but his best friend Ravi hates her, and is determined to keep them apart. So Teo’s pretty sure his plans for a peaceful summer are shot. His only hope is that his intermittent search for his birth father will finally pan out and he’ll find a new, less awkward home. Meanwhile, at Jane’s house, her sister Margo wants to come out as bisexual, but she’s terrified of how her parents will react.

In a summer filled with secrets and questions, even Jane’s Magic 8 ball can’t give them clear answers, but Signs Point to Yes.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hall's sophomore novel. It was fluffy, fun, and quirky. Yes, the characters were a wee bit lacking. The only thing that Jane ever seemed to do (beside moon over Teo) was write fan fiction. Sure, she was adorkable, I guess. But she was just a little too awkward to be realistic. The dialogue was painfully embarrassing, and the exchanges between Jane and Teo made me want to bash my head into a wall because of second hand embarrassment. But it was all dealt with so well that I loved it. Everyone in the book was just so frank! Jane would say something dumb and acknowledge how dumb it was. I thought that was adorable. The writing style, the dialogue, and the characters just really clicked for me. It may not work for everyone, but I really enjoyed it, nonetheless!

Beyond that, the characters also had some interesting depth. I loved the college debate between Jane and her mom. I really appreciate the books that are beginning to argue that college isn't the only route to go after high school. It's so refreshing to see that perspective, to see people actually talking about how there are other options. I also really enjoyed the Margo storyline, though it was very small. It was cute, but also real. We got to see both sides of her bisexuality--the giddy "OMG I think that girl likes me" and the panicked "what if my parents disown me." I thought that was very interesting and I loved her character. She added a little something extra (or a little something different--see what I did there)!

In addition to my love for Margo, I had an undying love for Teo's little sisters. Keegan, Piper, and Rory were an absolute riot. By the end of the book, I so desperately wished that I had younger siblings. They were such great comic relief, while still managing to give you that bubbly "aw" feeling. Honestly, I really loved all the characters (for their actual character and personality), other than Jane. I didn't hate Jane, but I didn't love her either. But I adored everyone else--even Ravi, who's a total brat. Every conversation with Ravi--whether it was between Ravi and Teo, Ravi and Jane, or Ravi and Margo--made me giggle. Another one of the minor characters that really stood out was Jane's dad. He was absolutely hilarious. I swear, I laughed in all of his scenes.

Actually, I laughed in almost all of the scenes! If I wasn't laughing, I was definitely grinning like an idiot. Signs Point to Yes was just one of those feel-good books that makes you want to skip around in the sunshine and chase rainbows. It was fluffy enough that you could ignore the handful of flaws that it had. Definitely a must-read if you're looking for a couple of laughs and a tickle in your tummy!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Title: Illuminae 
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Format I Read: ARC (Hardcover--eep)
Pages: 608
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller, Romance
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Stars: 5
Goodreads Link

Guys, Illuminae is literally going to redefine the world of books as we know it--it is absolutely revolutionary. I'm honestly astounded by the magnificence and ingenuity of this novel. I'm still reeling, so excuse me if this review is gibberish.

My experience while reading Illuminae was unparalleled. I did a buddy read with Aila (@ One Way or An Author) and we gushed over every other sentence. I'm not even exaggerating about that. We started it at around 8pm on Friday night, stayed up until 1am, and finished at 3pm on Saturday. We could barely put it down to eat and shower--not kidding. I actually wrote all about Aila's and my emotions in my mini-review, which I posted back when I first finished the book in July. You can check out our frantic, mildly incoherent, and jittery reactions (no spoilers) here.

For those who are unfamiliar with the absolute masterpiece that is Illuminae:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

First of all, the book is absolutely beautiful. The ARC is a hardcover work of art. I'm absolutely serious when I said that it's a work of art. I wanted to spend hours on each page. I was stuck with conflicting temptations: I wanted to read the book as fast as possible to figure out what happened next, but I wanted to savor each and every word and take my time. Eventually, the suspense won and I devoured the book. This book was more than just words--it was an entity, in and of itself.

I really did not think I was going to like Illuminae this much. I didn't think that it would be possible to become attached to the characters or immersed in the story if it was just told in a bunch of impersonal documents. Yet, within the first few pages of the interviews, my heart was in the hands of the authors. They then proceeded to inflate it and make it gush with swooning emotions, and then they proceeded to crush it into smithereens with dismay and agony. Yeah, these authors are damn powerful. I swear, they're magicians.

The story itself was such a fantastic blend of genres. You get the suspense and action of science fiction (and I'm talking about science fiction, like throwback to when science fiction was edgy and completely pure, not watered down at all). You get the swooning and the angst of a romance. You get the mystery and puzzle of a thriller. And it's all completely seamless. You find yourself yearning for any snippet of conversation between Ezra and Kady. You find yourself gnawing at your fingernails as you try to figure out who could die next. You find yourself flipping through all the possibilities and all the possible intentions of each character. You find yourself completely captivated.

The characters were unbelievably likable--lovable, even. Like I said, within the first few pages, I was already attached to all them. Everything they felt, I felt. Every time a new character was introduced, even a minor one, I found myself loving them, hating them, feeling them in my bones. I don't know how many times I said "God, Kady is such a badass" or "Ezra is so swoonworthy" or "God, James is hilarious" or "What the hell is Torrence thinking" or "Byron is a freaking genius" or "AIDAN is so creepy." Kaufman and Kristoff made me feel more deeply for these characters than I've felt in way too long. They were charmingly real. They found humor in a miserable, chaotic situation. They refused to buckle under the destruction surrounding them. They held an undying loyalty for their loved ones. They were amazingly complex. They were characters that stick with you and haunt you long after you turn that last page.

The plot was so perfectly constructed. The conflict was so complicated, yet so simple. It had so many details and factors that came into play, yet it all seemed so clear at the end (the end is such a whammy, guys). There were just so many layers to the conflict, so much complexity. I'm not going to go more in depth, for fear of spoilers. But honestly, Illuminae was anything but ordinary. It was one of the most extraordinary books I've ever read.

I honestly don't know what else to say. This book has genuinely left me speechless. This is the best book I've read all year. It deserves all of the hype it's been getting because it is literally going to change history. I'm not exaggerating. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have created a new wave of literature, and I'm so glad that I got to experience it.

This is one book that you MUST pre-order. Honestly, you need to pre-order it. Like right now. Go. Go pre-order it.

Okay, so I'm assuming you've pre-ordered it at this point. Good job! You're going to thank me later, trust me. Enjoy the sweet agony of Illuminae, everyone.