Thursday, December 29, 2011

Uncommon Criminals

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
Publication Date: June 21, 2011
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 298
Keywords: thief, cleopatra, travel
Format read: library book

Summary: Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she's simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That's why Kat isn't surprised when she's asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners. There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn't been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat's world, history almost always repeats itself. But it's the third problem that make Kat's crew the most nervous, and that is... the emerald is cursed. Kat might be in way over her head, but she's not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time. Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

Ally Carter wowed me again. I sped through this book in less than 48 hours. I was absolutely blown away about midway through the book. I cannot say anything, really, because it would give away the awesome-ness that was this plot. It was just so unpredictable. Every time I turned the page, I encountered a new problem I had not seen coming. And Katarina, as always, is a fabulous character. I love that she is stubborn and doesn't always see the obvious, even though that makes me want to smack her. However, that is the brilliancy of her. And I love her crew (especially Hale) and the fact that they are all just as cunning and witty as Katarina.

Of course, I did have a teeny problem. All of these heists are incredibly well-thought, and the reality, though slim, is pretty good. The books have a very realistic quality about them, which is what I like so much. However, a curse? Really? I was so upset to read that in the premise. But, the book actually didn't mention the curse enough to be considered the biggest problem for Kat and her crew. In fact, I was really confused after I finished the book because the curse was only mentioned casually when someone tripped on the sidewalk. So that was fine, really, because I didn't like the premise of the curse anyway. But I was confused at why it was presumed to be the biggest problem for them.

There's really not much more to say, other than this was an awesome read. I really really enjoyed it, and it was a lovely one to read over the holidays, as I could zip through it quickly and get lost in it, and I was able to avoid doing laundry for a day or so. Really highly recommended!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Beginning of After

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
Publication Date: September 6, 2011
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 432
Keywords: orphan, grief, car accident

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Laurel's world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel's life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgement. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss — a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways. 

I was really excited to read this one, but after the fact I think I didn't know what to expect. Meaning, I had an idea of what I wanted the book to be, but it turned out completely different. And in a good way. I've read a lot of reviews of this one, and some kind of make me mad. This isn't really a grief story in any way, other than the fact that Laurel loses her family. It is about her life continuing, and the fact that life doesn't stop, no matter what happens. It says so right in the title. This is what happens after. And I think that's where people got confused. They wanted it to be a grief story, just like I did. But it was such a well-written after-the-fact story.

I loved Laurel and David, cliche as it is to do a good-girl, bad-boy premise. But they were both such lovely characters, developed really well. They also had good dialogue back and forth, and I loved that a dog kept the two together even though they were far apart at times. I hated Joe. Joe was a guy Laurel had liked at school, and he finally asked her out to prom. However, I felt the whole time he had asked her out of pity, and then he didn't put any effort forth in continuing a relationship. He only did things when drunk or when Laurel acted first (anything at all, not just romantic-y stuff. texting. calling. everything. he drove me nuts. man up!). And I really didn't like Laurel's best friend, either, though I understand her purpose and her hidden storyline.
One thing that really drove me crazy (alert to ALL AUTHORS) was the texting. PEOPLE DON'T REALLY TEXT IN COMPLETE ABBREVIATIONS. I use full sentences and punctuation. And I didn't know what half of the words were in their texts. And honestly, they were unnecessary. Description could have done the job better. They were a huge disruption to the story and frankly, I hated them. And I hate to see texts in books anyway. It's just annoying.

Moving on. I loved the progression of this book. It didn't dwell on too much of one particular time period, but it focused when it needed to. I never got tired of reading description and happenings in the narration. It was all done very well. I also loved the animal focus in this book, giving Laurel a new purpose and something to focus on. This was a very real and believable aspect because this could actually happen. Laurel's Nana didn't really like the whole animal thing (not sure why...), but I did and thought it added great depth to the overall effect of the story.

Overall, it was a pretty good one, once people get it out of their heads that this is a grief story. Remember, it's a story about life moving on no matter what, and how Laurel manages the "after."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Between the Sea and Sky

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 229
Keywords: mermaids, sirens, journey
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alander, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alander band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.

This book sounded so interesting, and I loved the idea of a winged boy being childhood friends with a mermaid. And the beginning was lovely, and it had a few nice descriptions of the mermaid life. However, this is about as much as I liked in this book. I was under the impression that this was a YA novel, but to me, the dialogue and the language seemed very juvenile. I wish this would have been at a higher reading level. However, if it was directed at middle grade, then there were some issues with men gaping at women's chests all the time that weren't necessary at all. And the magic siren belt? You're not fooling anyone — it's a chastity belt. So as long as Esmerine doesn't give that up, she's fine. Because of this, there was no urgency to the book at all. She had no deadline for finding her sister or any real danger threat anywhere that I kept looking for. 

It also did not hold my attention well at all. I wasn't interested in the overly simple plot. It seemed that humans and mermaids knew about each other, but the way mermaids traipsed into the world was a little pretentious, and they expected everyone to take care of them, so I can see why the humans weren't very kind and sort of took advantage of the fact that they were all stupid. I was just really disappointed in this book. 

I also haven't read Magic Under Glass, which I heard was lovely. Also I just found out that this book might have been based off of one of the characters from the other book, and that it might have made more sense if I read the other one...? Not sure if this is right. In any case, there was no indication that I needed to read anything else, so if that was the case, I'm a little mad that I was bored and confused because I hadn't read the other one when given no indication that I needed to. Overall, just boredness and wishing I picked up something else.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Delcroix Academy — The Candidates

The Candidates: Delcroix Academy by Inara Scott
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Pages: 293
Keywords: boarding school, telekinesis, magic
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that's not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia's mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just...happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to people, believing this way she can suppress her powers and keep them hidden. But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy offer her a full scholarship, Dancia's days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats' kids and child geniuses — not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she's special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make her feel welcome. And then there's her mysterious new friend Jack, who can't stay out of trouble. He suspects something dangerous is going on at the academy and wants Dancia to help him figure out what. Dancia isn't convinced. She hopes that maybe the recruiters know more about her 'gift' than they're letting on. Maybe they can help her undertand how to use it...but not even Dancia could have imagined what awaits her behind the gates of Delcroix Academy. 

I received this book a long time ago and grabbed it for my pile that came to school with me because the premise sounded so good. And it was pretty fascinating. I really loved the basic concept. I'm loving the different supernatural turns in books now — super sick of vampires, werewolves, etc. So the fact that Dancia was pseudo-telekinetic was pretty cool. I wanted a little more explanation of where her power came from, since there really wasn't any at all, but maybe that will be resolved in the second book. After all, Dancia only really explores her power after she gets to Delcroix, (and because of spoilers, I won't say anything else) but she can't really know that much yet, I don't believe. 

I loved the friends that Dancia made at Delcroix. They were Hennie and Esther, and I absolutely adored them. I was back and forth on how I felt about Jack. He really cares for Dancia, and wants her friendship and her trust so badly. However, he is very paranoid about being followed, and at times, it was a little excessive how paranoid he was. But overall, I really liked his character. Though he did something at the end that was really hypocritical and just pissed me off, quite frankly. I'm also not quite sure how I feel about Cam, who is the hottest boy in school mentioned in the summary. That's what I really liked about this book. It still has me guessing, wanting to read the next one to figure out how I really feel about all these people.

The only person I feel sure about is Dancia herself. While confused and trying to figure everything out, she was kind of annoying. She was mean to her friends and to Jack. Yes, sometimes she just wanted to be left alone, but I still didn't really like that. She also stereotyped a lot of people when she first got to the school, and later on, they turned out to be perfectly nice to her. Yes, it really can be attributed to the fact that her whole life, she's been avoiding relationships. But still, it just made me sad. 

This was a relatively good book. It made me want to read the second one. After finishing this, I read several mixed reviews of the novel, and I was really surprised to learn that people seriously didn't like it. I did not think that at all. This was definitely a worthwhile read, and I read it in about 2 days. So it is also very easy to get through if you're looking for a quick read. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Unrelated News about HARRY POTTER

So this has nothing to do with reviewing, but it is definitely Harry Potter related, and I'm definitely extremely excited for this! I'm studying abroad next semester (flying out on January 5) in England, just near a town called Grantham — it's about an hour north of London.



Tonight I just purchased tickets for exactly six months from today to tour the official Harry Potter sets (yes, the ones they LITERALLY used in the films) at the Warner Bros. studio in Leavesden, which is right outside of London. Yes, I get to see the actual sets!

I cannot begin to express how excited I am for this trip. I'm probably going to hyperventilate when the time actually comes to go there!

(For anyone that's interested, I'm also going to do a separate blog of my overseas adventures, and I'll definitely update things on here and post a link, in case anyone wants to see what I'm up to!)

Click here to see the Warner Bros. home page and see what the touring business is all about!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Haunted

THIS IS A REVIEW OF  HAUNTED, THE SECOND BOOK IN THE SERIES. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE FIRST ONE, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW!


Haunted by Joy Preble
Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 290
Keywords: Anastasia, paranormal, magic
Other books read by the author: Dreaming Anastasia
Format Read: paperback from author (thank you!)

Summary: Anne is trying her best to live a normal life, but she's still got some power sparking inside her. She's hearing and seeing things that she tries her best to ignore-like being haunted by a Russian sea nymph that claims the princess Anastasia is still alive.
That's when Ethan Kozninsky-he of the stunning blue eyes, thick brown hair, and former immortal status-returns. Anne soon realizes that everything she's been trying to forget might be impossible to bury.

I was a little disappointed with Dreaming Anastasia, which is the first in the series. Not enough was explained for me to fully understand how the magic worked, why Anne was chosen, and different things like that. I feel like Haunted should have just been attached with the first book. There is so much that is explained in this sequel that had to do with the first book, I feel like if you haven't read the first one, you'd be awfully confused as to why some bits were important. Often, there were bits of the story mentioned that had nothing to do with Anne's current problem, but they focused on what happened in the first book. So this was great for me, because it cleared up TONS of questions I had at the end of the first book, but bad for those who didn't want to read the first one.

I was still a little frustrated about the whole teenage-girl-attached-to-her-cell-phone aura about Anne last book, but that was a little better in this one. She seemed to have grown up quite a bit, after all that happened previously, which I really liked. The character development was so much better. I also loved the way Tess grew up. She became a much more developed character with a bigger part to play in this book, and that led to us seeing more of her, of which I definitely approved. Ethan was about the same, which kind of disappointed me, though he wasn't afraid anymore to exhibit his true feelings for Anne. But he was really the same character at the beginning of the book as he was at the end.

And, of course, Ethan has a rival this time around. When he gets back from Europe at the beginning of the book, Anne now has a new boyfriend named Ben. I understand the purpose of Ben — to make Ethan jealous and make Anne realize she actually loved Ethan! That's not new stuff. However, I really just thought he was rather unnecessary. And there were random inserts about Anne thinking about having sex with him, and how he always felt her up. I mean, this could have been okay had it been a really steamy scene, but they were in a pool house where Ben worked as a lifeguard. I just thought that WHOLE bit was really out of place and strange.

As far as what happened, there was a lot more action going on than in the first novel, but it didn't start until about halfway through. The first half was kind of like the Ethan vs. Ben show. Then the action started. Once it did, it was truly interesting. A rusalka (Russian mermaid) has been appearing to Anne over and over again, saying she needs help. Well, obviously Baba Yaga has something to do with it, so there is a reappearance to her forest, and flashbacks back to the whole Anastasia debacle. This is when it starts to answer some questions from the first book, but if you haven't read that, you'll just be really confused.

I was more impressed with Preble's style in this book — it developed immensely and created a much better story. There were still a few things I didn't like, but for the most part, this book cleared up any issues I was having with the first, and it was a bit more entertaining to read just because everything was developed much better!

Don't forget to keep checking back for my interview with Joy Preble!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dreaming Anastasia

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 310
Keywords: Anastasia, paranormal, magic
Format Read: paperback from author (thank you so much!)

Summary: Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.
In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

I really love the mystery behind the whole Anastasia Romanov deal (they solved it, but still... in case some people don't know the true story I won't ruin the mystery here), and I think that's such a fascinating bit of history.

As far as the book goes, I was really surprised to see that there were a lot of people out there that weren't too crazy about this. I really enjoyed it. Yes, it's not been my favorite, but I still really liked reading this. I had never read a book based on the Anastasia mystery, so I really loved that. I also loved the characters, though I was a little perplexed by why Anna was so obsessed with her cell phone. Ethan was lovely as well, and he was really genuinely concerned about saving people, which I loved. He was honest and truthful, and a very steady character. I'm interested to see where things go in the second novel, as I'm not quite sure how it's going to continue (which is super duper exciting!).

The whole magic theme was interesting, and I loved that the whole story was more than just running from bad guys. However, the magic was totally unexplained. I wanted to know more about how it got to be in those people, why it worked that way, and why Anna inherited it. There were just a lot of unanswered questions that I would've liked to have known the answers to. Periodically throughout the book were letters written from Anastasia to members of her family. I loved getting her perspective on things, and they were one of the most interesting parts about the book, but the font was so difficult to read, which really disappointed me. They added so much of the mystery into the plot, giving us information only she would know, but it took me twenty minutes to read three pages because the font was just too hard to read.

For the most part, it was really well done, and I don't see why so many people have given it the thumbs down. Even the historical bits are not boring, and it sums things up nicely so you don't have to have an extensive knowledge of the Bolsheviks or Russia or anything that happened really during that time period. There's not much more to say about it other than that I would recommend it, it's a great book that's worth your time. Not perfect, but I still really liked it, and I'm excited to see how everything pans out in the second novel, Haunted.

Don't forget to check out my first author interview EVER with Joy Preble, author of above mentioned book! It will be coming soon! Keep watching!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

After Obsession (Blog Tour)

Welcome to the blog tour for After Obsession! 

For this, I've just posted a review at the bottom, and here are some interview questions found in the back of the book that were highly entertaining to read!

Artistically speaking, what did each of you contribute to this book? How is it different than the usual novel you write?
STEVE: Well, the most obvious answer is that the book is written in alternating points of view between Carrie's character, Aimee, and my character, Alan. Carrie's writing is very much character driven and very feminine. She sees a lot of detail that I tend to gloss over. I'd say this novel is much richer in detail and tone than anything I've done previously and I blame Carrie for that.
CARRIE: it is much quicker, much more plot-driven, and has a lot more testosterone in it. Steve puts a really man energy into his chapters and he's so good at dialogue and flow. I was really lucky to write with him.
After Obsession features a girl in Maine and a boy who comes from Oklahoma. Are there other elements in the novel that mirror your lives or your relationships to your Okie or Mainiac collaborator?
CARRIE: Well, Steve is tall. Alan is tall. Steve is less politically correct than I am. Alan is like that too. Aimee and I both try to eat healthy and we both paint...
STEVE: Alan and Aimee learn a lot about each other, and that was true for me and Carrie as we worked together. I learned a lot about living in a small Maine town. Can you believe they really don't have football in most Maine high schools? I know I worked in several details gleaned from my life as a high school teacher.


After Obsession by Carrie Jones
Publication Date: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 305
Keywords: demons, Native American, dreams
Format Read: ARC from publisher for blog tour

Summary: Aimee has good grades, great friends, and a hot boyfriend. But she also has secrets. Like the violent dreams that are almost prophetic. Or the real reason behind her mom's death. Alan is new in town. Rugged, sexy, with a hint of Southern charm, he and Aimee connect immediately. Bye-bye boyfriend. But Alan has his own secrets. His Native American heritage gives him mystical, unlikely abilities. Not the kind of thing you show off in the cafeteria. But it's not Aimee or Alan who's in trouble. It's Courtney — Alan's cousin and Aimee's best friend. She's consumed by a strange demon. Alan says there are four stages: Invitation, then Infestation, Obsession, and finally, Possession. Aimee and Alan must figure out what to do, and quickly. Because once the demon takes full possession, there's no saving Courtney — or anyone else. 

This book was fairly interesting. It held my attention all the way through. It wasn't boring or unentertaining. But there wasn't really anything that grabbed me that made this book extraordinary. The characters were interesting enough, and I really liked Alan. However, his Native American background bothered me a little. I had no issues with the fact that he was Native American. I was very pro-that, and I LOVE the long hair thing. But the fact that he got all of his information from the internet was a little sketch for me, and I didn't like that there was no story on why his father wasn't there, or why his mother hated the fact that he wanted to practice Native American traditions. I also had an issue with how quickly Alan and Aimee fell in love. Way too fast. One look and it was happening. I was just really frustrated with that.

But I did like Aimee, and I loved her story. I loved that she had the dreams that came true, and it was all explained really well. I even liked Alan a lot, I just wish things about him were explained more because I think he could be equally interesting. There were so many open-ended things about his past that I really wanted answered but weren't.

Again, it was a little captivating, and it did hold my attention well through the end. As the book went on, it seemed to get better. Most of the things I didn't like about it were in the first half. And the demon that possesses Courtney also wasn't explained too well. It never really resolved why it was there, or how it got there, or why it possessed Courtney, and the others it did before her. I was just left wondering about a lot of things. Overall, it was pretty good, but just a one-time quick read, nothing more than that.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Carrier of the Mark

The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 342
Keywords: Ireland, natural elements, magic
Format read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: From the moment she sets foot at her new school in Ireland, Megan is inexplicable drawn to the darkly handsome Adam DeRis. But Megan soon discovers that her feelings for Adam are tied to a supernatural fate that was sealed long ago — and that the passion and power that unites them could be their ultimate destruction. 

This is an incredibly short summary from the back of the book, so I'll try and give a little bit more information about what's going on here. Meg moves with her father to Ireland because he's been job-hopping ever since Meg's mom died. Meg actually starts to settle in in Ireland, something she hasn't done in a while. She makes friends, a lovely girl named Caitlin, who's got a whole love-mess of her own, and a few other pretty interesting but minor characters. Then, Meg is attracted to (obviously) the stunning brooding boy in the corner (Adam) that every girl has tried to obtain, but without any luck. He's apparently too good for everyone. Until Meg gets there, that is. The magical part is more interesting. Without giving too much away, it has something to do with the elements of the earth (earth, fire, water, and wind). There's also a top-secret society involved and of course, people trying to hurt Meg and Adam.

That's more of an idea of what goes on. I'll start with a tiny problem I had. I hated that within three days, Meg knew that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Adam. She hadn't even talked to him yet. They were so clingy it made me sick. I don't really care if there was some force that pushed the bond; it was too soon and too fast. It was just SO unbelievably unreal, there was just no way it could've possibly happened like that.

Now, that's pretty much all I didn't like; the rest of the book was so interesting and unique. The whole paranormal deal with the elements of the earth — that's new. And I loved it. It was such a unique perspective on everything, and it was so original. In addition, there was a sufficient amount of explanation that went behind the magical forces that it totally made sense, and I wasn't left clueless. However, the information was spread out well, leaving just enough out that it was super suspenseful.

Aine, Adam's sister, was one of my favorite characters. I loved her spirit about everything, and she seemed truly genuine. The author seems to have put so much work into her character, which was lovely to see. I also fell in love with her...magical issues...(so I don't give too much away), which is another reason I think I felt so attached to her. She was humorous as well, behaving just like a sister should when her brother would take Meg out. I also loved Rian, Adam's older brother. He was supposed to be really intimidating, which he was, but there is so much backstory to his personality that drew me in. I'd be much more attached to him than to Adam. Generally, all the characters were extremely well-written. The only issue I had was with the extreme cliche-ness that was the love line. It just happened way too fast. Overall though, I really enjoyed this book! And LOVED that it was set in Ireland! I'M GOING THERE IN ABOUT 4 MONTHS!

And this book also gets about 1000 cool points for a badass cover.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mockingjay

WARNING: THIS WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE FIRST TWO BOOKS IN THE SERIES. SO IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED EARLIER, DO NOT READ THIS!

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Publication Date: August 24, 2010
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 390
Keywords: dystopia, survival, rebellion
Other books read by the author: The Hunger Games
Format Read: hardcover purchase

Summary: Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding. It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans — except Katniss. The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay — no matter what the personal cost.

I'm really not sure how I feel about this book. I loved loved LOVED the first two. This one, somehow disappointed me. I was expecting a climactic adventure again, and I don't really think there was one. Obviously, overthrowing the Capitol would be a hard thing to do, but after the exciting-ness that was The Hunger Games, I was just a little sad.

Maybe it was because Peeta was MIA for most of this novel. I wasn't really sure if I liked Peeta or Gale more, but I suppose I was leaning more towards Peeta. Gale, to me, didn't really seem to care genuinely about Katniss. He did, but he didn't care about other people and things she cared about, which made me angry. So I suppose I do like Peeta more (though I'm really not sure I liked the ending at all — it seems to me it's like Harry Potter's epilogue — it really could have just done without).

Katniss really just made me angry in this book as well. In the previous books, she was just spunky, and she just had a fiery personality. Now, she was just stupid. She put people's lives on the line so she could be the hero, and frankly, it just pissed me off. And she not only didn't really like Peeta, but she was genuinely mean to him at times. I understand that she's been through a lot, but her character took a huge turn for the worse in my opinion. She just became mean, short with people, and very very unpredictable. And I'm really unhappy about the ending. I'm not sure the epilogue even needed to be there. It was kind of nice at the end of the book to be left with a strong new start. Instead, I flipped the page, and the epilogue stared me in the face. Ugh. I just really did not like it.

This is still one of the best series I've read in FOREVER, but this last book just made me sad. The best, by far, is the first in the series.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Publication Date: September 14, 2008
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 374
Keywords: dystopia, survival, rebellion
Format read: library book

Summary: In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I have NO CLUE what took me so long to get to these books. I've been on the waiting list at the library for months because, as I'm studying abroad soon, I've been cheap and trying to avoid spending a ton of money. However, once I finished this book, I caved and bought the series. I could not wait months to read the second and third. These were that good. I finished the whole series in the course of about two and a half days. I really don't even know where to begin.

If you follow this at all, you know I adore realistic science future books. Anything up that realm. And this, to me, was sort of a cross between Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series and James Patterson's Maximum Ride. The government was obviously the bad guy, and everyone's rooting for the society. Katniss was a lovely character. I loved her attitude, her unwillingness to conform, and the fact that she put up a fight. I loved the whole archery aspect, too. I think that's by far one of the coolest weapons and trades Katniss could have had, so I really enjoyed that part of it. She wasn't really the brightest of girls, but I suppose it was on purpose that she was clueless about social aspects of the novel. I don't really want to give too much away, but it drove me insane how aloof she was to feelings of a certain individual.

The men were even more lovely. I couldn't decide who I loved more, Peeta or Gale. Peeta was the son of a baker in Katniss's district, and he was her fellow competitor in the Hunger Games. He genuinely cared about the well-being of people, and Katniss especially, which made him so lovable. Gale, on the other hand, was Katniss's childhood friend. They used to sneak under the fence that surrounds the district to hunt for their families, and they spent so much time together. Gale was the adorable boy next door. He cared so much for his family and Katniss's, I wanted him to succeed no matter what. It is a challenge for me to decide who I love more. I still don't know.

The plot was phenomenal. Nothing was ever boring, and I never got tired of reading. EVER. I really have no complaints about the plot. The Hunger Games were held in arenas that the Capitol built specifically for that year's Hunger Games. The design of the arenas was unreal. I was so impressed with the detail and the imagination that went into planning them, especially the arena in Catching Fire (book #2). I was blown away by how intricate everything was. In addition, everything about how the Capitol ran was unbelievably detailed. Everything fir together so well. I have no questions in regards to how anything in this world works. It was just so well-written, it is insane.

And I want to say how ecstatic I am to see the movies, and how incredibly sad I am I'll be in Europe for the release. I'll just have to find a theater over there somewhere. Hopefully they'll show it!

And I'm very happy about one Peeta Mellark:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Intertwined

Intertwined by Gena Showalter
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 440
Keywords: paranormal, telepathy, demons
Format Read: library book

Summary: Most sixteen-year-olds have friends. Aden Stone has four human souls living inside him. One can time-travel. One can raise the dead. One can tell the future. And one can possess another human. With no other family and a life spent in and out of institutions, Aden and the souls have become friends. But now they're causing him all kinds of trouble. Like, he'll blink and suddenly he's younger Aden, reliving the past. One wrong move, and he'll change the future. Or he'll walk past a total stranger and know how and when she's going to die. He's so over it. All he wants is peace. And then he meets a girl who quiets the voices. Well, as long as he's near her. Why? Mary Ann Gray is his total opposite. He's a total loner; she has friends. He doesn't care what anyone thinks; she tries to make everyone happy. And while he attracts the paranormal, she repels it. For her sake, he should stay away. But it's too late. Somehow, they share an inexplicable bond of friendship. A bond about to be tested by a werewolf shape-shifter who wants Mary Ann for his own, and a vampire princess Aden can't resist. Two romances, both forbidden. Still, the four will enter a dark underworld of intrigue and danger — but not everyone will come out alive.

I'm still not really sure how I feel about this book. It started out fairly well — the whole idea that the souls are inside Aden was new. This was a paranormal feature that hadn't been used a thousand times. How disappointed I was when vampires and werewolves entered the picture. I really don't hate the whole vampire thing too much. I'm just tired of it. I feel now, writing about vampires and werewolves show no creativity because everyone else on the planet is writing about them too. I'm just really sick of it. But I stuck with the book because I liked Aden enough, and I liked his problems, just not the vampire.

The whole storyline was a rather mediocre one. Not much really happened, as far as I'm concerned. It was a lot of talking about things rather than doing things, and not much exciting-ness happened until the very tail end of the book. That, really, is the only part that made me want to read the second one. I have it checked out from the library, but I finally got my hands on The Hunger Games, so frankly, I'm not sure I'll read the second one. I've only got 6 days until I move back to school.

I liked Mary Ann's character, and her father as well. There's a bit of an interesting plot turn midway through the novel that really interested me in her father, and Mary Ann as well. But I really can't reveal any of that because that would give away the only real bit of action that happened. I heard so many good things about this book that I was really excited to see it on the shelf at the library, but I was just disappointed. And I'm not sure there's much else to say about it. It was just rather boring, unfortunately.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ruby Red

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Publisher: Henry Holt
Pages: 322
Keywords: time travel, historical fiction, family
Format read: library book

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended — and rather eccentric — family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her ancestors' peculiar history, she's had a relatively normal life so far. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped over Gwen, so she hasn't been introduced to "the mysteries," and can spend her time hanging out with her best friend, Lesley, watching movies, and talking about boys. It comes as an unwelcome surprise then when she starts taking sudden, uncontrolled leaps into the past. She's totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He's obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she's seen in any century...

I knew absolutely nothing about this book before I read it, I just remembered people all over the internet being in love with it. I certainly saw why. I finished this book in a little under 14 hours. I was obsessed. First, I want to give a shout-out to the author on an excellent book (and soon-to-be trilogy that I cannot wait for). Second, I want to give a shout-out to the translator. I went to get on the author's website and found that she's German! (I think). The english translation was so phenomenal, I had no clue it was even translated. That shows truly good writing, so I just wanted to mention that. Now, on to the fantasticness that was Ruby Red.

I loved all the characters I was supposed to, and I hated all the ones that we were supposed to hate. Gwen's cousin Charlotte was pissed when she found out it was really Gwen that carried the gene (I'm not spoiling anything, this was in the first chapter — and SUPER obvious). I loved that I hated Charlotte so much. Gwen's character was lovely as well, and she was one of those heroic female characters that doesn't listen to the men and picks up a weapon and fights. I loved that about this novel. I also really liked how certain things were kept secretive. It wasn't too much, but there are definitely some things that better be answered in the next two books, because I'm waiting (not so patiently) and wondering (a lot).

The whole time-traveling phenomenon was done so extraordinarily well. It wasn't just magic and that was it. There was a scientific explanation behind it, and I understood every step of how the time-traveling gene worked and was passed all the way down the family line to Gwen. I was so enthralled by the style of the writing. Everything just flowed together seamlessly, and I loved every second of it.

I also loved the character Gideon. I don't want to say too much for fear of giving away things, but I loved that it didn't really work out perfectly the way most romance things do, and there are still several things that intrigue me about him. I definitely want some questions answered about him and his relationship with other people in the future novels.

If you haven't gotten the idea, this has been, BY FAR, my favorite book of the summer. Hands down. So really, go pick up a copy — STAT.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Leviathan



Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Publication Date: October 6, 2009
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 440
Format Read: library book

Summary: It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet. Aleksander Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men. Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered. With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever. 

I was ecstatic when I found this at the library, as I'm a GIANT Westerfeld fan. However, maybe I was expecting this to live up to the greatness that was the Midnighters series and the Uglies series. It just didn't do anything for me. The premise I liked. It was a fantasy about World War I, with mythical half-breeds that the Darwinists created. However, it took me until about 75 pages in to figure this much out. I do not read the little blurb before I start, and now that I've read it, it makes much more sense. But Westerfeld dives right in, expecting the reader to know these things (also what a Clanker is — that one took me a while, too). I did not like that there were so many expectations of the reader.

I liked the characters Deryn and Alek. They were brave and full of life, but I feel like they were still very much children. Overall, this seemed like a book written towards the younger audience, which I was not expecting. The language was much more simplistic than Westerfeld's other writing, and I got so sick of the phrases "Barking spiders!" and "Blisters!" They were overused and frankly, just got incredibly annoying.

As far as the storyline goes, it was decent. It was interesting enough that animals were really airships, but I got confused as to which animals were doing what to help keep the ship afloat. Then the crossover between Alek's escape and Deryn's adventure was good, but there was still entirely too much confusion. I'm still not sure about a lot of different things, like the mysterious eggs that were aboard the Leviathan. Questions were never answered, and I understand that there is a second novel to finish up this story. However, even at the end of most first books in series, there is always some sort of ending note. It felt as though Westerfeld wrote one giant novel, and just split it down the middle. And the sad thing is, I'm really not attached enough to any of the characters to make me want to read the second one. It just wasn't that good.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Overbite

 This book is the sequel to Insatiable, and my review may contain spoilers if you haven't read the first one, so here's my review of Insatiable!

Overbite by Meg Cabot
Publication Date: July 5, 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 275
Keywords: vampires, paranormal, telepathy
Format Read: library book

Summary: Meena Harper has a special gift, but it’s only now that anyone’s ever appreciated it. The Palatine Guard—a powerful secret demon-hunting unit of the Vatican—has hired her to work at their new branch in Lower Manhattan. With Meena’s ability to predict how everyone she meets will die, the Palatine finally has a chance against the undead. Sure, her ex-boyfriend was Lucien Anton­escu, son of Dracula, the prince of darkness. But that was before he (and their relationship) went up in flames. Now Meena’s sworn off vampires for good . . . at least until she can prove her theory that just because they’ve lost their souls doesn’t mean demons have lost the ability to love. Meena knows convincing her co-workers—including her partner, Über-demon-hunter Alaric Wulf—that vampires can be redeemed won’t be easy . . . especially when a deadly new threat seems to be endangering not just lives of the Palatine, but Meena’s friends and family as well. But Meena isn’t the Palatine’s only hope. Father Henrique—aka Padre Caliente—New York City’s youngest, most charming priest, has also been assigned to the case. So why doesn’t Meena—or Alaric—trust him? As she begins unraveling the truth, Meena finds her loyalties tested, her true feelings laid bare . . . and temptations she never even imagined existed impossible to resist. This time, Meena may finally have bitten off more than she can chew. 

 This was a bit of a let down after Insatiable. I absolutely loved the first book. It was witty and humorous instead of being deathly serious the entire time. Overbite seemed to think that it was supposed to be very very serious, and all of Meena's sarcasm and character seemed to just flatten out. I was really sad about that. I was also upset that Alaric and Meena seemed to spend most of the book apart, though from the ending, it seemed like they should have been together for the whole book and more.

Don't get me wrong, I'll still read more if there are more. And I hope there are. The ending just seemed rush and there was really no set up for the way the book ended. It all happened in about 4 pages, and I was left saying "...That's it?" But I was still interested in the romance, the plot, and the different aspects of the story. But I really didn't love it like I did Insatiable, and I was incredibly excited to find Overbite at my library as it was just released, but it didn't live up to my expectations. A solid four stars for just being pretty good, but it missed out on the last one for having such a crap ending that made me really really sad -- not about things that happened, but about how little that happened.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bones of Faerie

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
Publication Date: January 27, 2009
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 247
Format Read: library book

Summary: The war between humanity and Faerie devastated both sides. Or so fifteen-year-old Liza has been told. Nothing has been seen or heard from Faerie since, and Liza's world bears the scars of its encounter with magic. Corn resists being harvested; dandelions have thorns. Trees move with sinister intention, and the town Liza calls home is surrounded by a forest that threatens to harm all those who wander into it. Still, Liza feels safe. Her father is strong and has protected their town by laying down strict rules. Among them: Any trace of magic must be destroyed, no matter where it is found. Then Liza's sister is born with faerie-pale hair, clear as glass, and Liza's father leaves the baby on a hillside to die. When her mother disappears into the forest and Liza herself discovers she has the faerie ability to See — into the past, into the future — she has no choice but to flee. Liza's quest will take her into Faerie and back again, and what she finds along the way may be the key to healing both worlds.

I could not get interested in this book. The premise seems interesting enough, but Simner plants you in the book so that you feel like you missed the prequel. This did not feel like the first book at all, and I found myself asking so many questions. I couldn't figure out where the magic came from, why there was a great war between humans and faeries, or why magic was so dangerous. In addition, I couldn't figure out why magic was only thought deadly by some towns and not others. I was left asking too many questions to focus on the actual plot of the book, which wasn't even super great to begin with.

I felt like this story should be geared more towards the 10 - 12 age group. It did not seem like older teens should be reading it at all, really. The writing was very simplistic, and I flew through the story, even as disinterested as I was. There was never a dull moment, but this, to me, was a bad thing. Every page I flipped Liza was being attacked by one thing or another. It was exhausting. And also very unlikely, even with the feud between the worlds. 

I was just so confused through the whole book, it seems difficult to review. I really just did not like this, and I know others did after reading lots of reviews, but I couldn't get into it, which frustrated me. Seems like an interesting concept for a story, but I did not enjoy the way it was told.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Pages: 402
Keywords: divorce, love, moving
Format Read: library book

Another town? Another new school? Mclean really doesn't mind. In fact, she welcomes the chance to try on a new persona. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, she and her father have been on the move, leaving the unhappy past behind them. And each move has brought a fresh opportunity for Mclean to reinvent herself. Perky rah-rah girl. Drama mama. All-round joiner. But here in Lakeview, for the first time she's putting down roots, making friends, and just trying to be someone she hasn't been in a long time: herself. Dave has something to do with it. He's the most real person Mclean's ever met, and he thinks he's fallen in love with the real Mclean. Mclean doesn't even know who that is anymore, but she wants to find out -- before it's time to move on again. 

I always enjoy Sarah Dessen's books. So this was pretty much a given that I'd say I at least liked it. And I did. Though, going back and reading the little synopsis that's in the front of the book, I'd say that it doesn't really explain the novel. To begin with, Dave falling in love with Mclean isn't really mentioned until the last eighth of the book. I never read these before I start a book because I want to go in with a fresh slate, and frankly, I'm glad I didn't.

However, though the story didn't really match up with the synopsis, I did really enjoy it. Mclean was an interesting enough character, though the whole moving-around-a-lot thing has been done a lot. The aspect of the story that I really liked was that her dad was a chef, so he moved to different restaurants. I loved the restaurant called Luna Blu and all its workers. Those characters, in my opinion, made the story better. I also loved how a few mentions of people from Along for the Ride made it in. I love when authors tie in characters all over the place. It makes me happy!

I also really liked how the friends Mclean made gathered at the restaurant to help out on a community service project one of the cooks volunteered for to keep their parking lot. It seemed like a really interesting way to kind of hold the whole story together, and it was a centrally located meeting place.

Mclean was an okay character, but she did annoy me in some ways. I didn't like how she changed personas. It's really not that easy to just change who you truly are, and I don't think she could have fully done so. In addition, she had different social network pages for all the different "people" she'd been, and I didn't like how big of a deal it was when her friends found out. This truly was not a big deal to me. They knew she moved all over the place, and they knew that she was probably going to move again, so I don't understand why they freaked out when they saw the different pages.
Nonetheless, I still liked this book regardless of a few weird details. A pretty fun summer read over all!

Friday, July 22, 2011

In My Mailbox (6)


This IMM is being done since I've been at camp. So the following are everything I've gotten since my last IMM post. And, as always, IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren! All the titles are linked to Goodreads!

8. Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi

It was a wonderful period of time as far as books go, and I think I'm the most excited to read And Then Things Fall Apart (it was a surprise, and I LOVE surprises!)


Imaginary Girls

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Publication Date: June 14, 2011
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Pages: 348
Keywords: sisters, mystery, murder
Format Read: library book

Summary: Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. After a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers a dead body floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away — away from home, away from Ruby. But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home at last, she finds a precarious and deadly balance waiting for her. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. Even before I wrote this I read tons of reviews and saw way more good ones than bad ones. I love the cover. It is truly mesmerizing. That is the only thing that is captivating about this book. Ruby and Chloe had an odd relationship. I've never had a sister, so I don't know how that works, but it still seemed very odd that even as a free-thinking teenager Chloe still did absolutely EVERYTHING her sister told her to do. She never talked back, she never questioned, she just did. I hated that. I wanted Chloe to develop as a character. Even towards the end, she continued to listen to her sister. It just baffled me.

I hated Ruby. Absolutely HATED her. I thought she was a horrible person, not caring for anyone but Chloe, seemingly. And she didn't even act like she liked her own sister at certain points, which really bothered me. This story started out as a contemporary-mystery sort of novel, but turned to a paranormal one halfway through, as we were introduced to an underwater city and people that should be dead but weren't. And Ruby was at the heart of it. My problem with this part was that there wasn't enough told about ANY of the above situations. I had no idea why Ruby possessed this power or where she got it or how it worked. I had no idea what the underwater city of Olive truly was or why they needed people that were supposed to be dead but weren't or why it was so special really. And I began to figure a few things out by the last chapter, but it definitely was NOT enough. I was just thoroughly frustrated that I was left to figure out or guess at so much in this book. It seemed as though nothing was explained, and no one developed throughout the story, and nothing really changed.

I was upset that this week at camp, on my very limited time away from the kids, I wasted it on a novel I was really hoping was going to blow all others out of the way. I was mistaken.

Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Publication Date: September 21, 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 391
Keywords: paranormal, demons, angels
Format Read: library book

When Nora and Patch are forced together as lab partners, Nora would rather fall to her death than put up with his elusive answers to her questions, his teasing, and his infuriatingly handsome face and hypnotizing eyes. It seems Patch was put on earth just to drive her crazy. But before long, Nora's defenses start to break down as her curiosity about Patch heats up. Why does he always seem to be wherever she is and know exactly what she's thinking? How does he know what to say to both attract and repulse her? And what is up with those V-shaped scars on his chiseled back? As their connection grows stronger, Nota's own life becomes increasingly fragile. Nora needs to decide: Is Patch the one who wants to do her harm or the one who will keep her safe? Has she fallen for one of the fallen?

I really like it when a book immediately grasps my attention and doesn't let go until I flip the back cover shut. Unfortunately, this did not do that. It took me about 150 pages to begin to like the book and care what happened to the characters. The reason, I think, why it took me so long was because the author didn't let the reader know what was going on at all. I'm all for some suspense, but up until three-quarters of the way through the book, I had no idea what kind of paranormal workings existed within this world. It was very odd being kept in the dark for so long, and I did not like it. However, by the end, the author had me guessing at who was dangerous and who was not. I honestly had no clue whatsoever who to trust, which was a major advantage for this book.

As far as I was concerned about the characters...I really wasn't. I didn't really care for Patch. He was supposed to be a rebel sort of fellow and have some sex appeal draw to him, but he was really just an ass to Nora through the whole book. Not even one that was a teensy bit kind to her. I really just hated his manor for communicating and generally being around Nora. As for Nora, she did not make very good decisions. She was the character in the horror movie that goes into the haunted house alone at night, or the one that doesn't wake the others and investigates the loud noise alone. She was really quite stupid, and she didn't make actual human decisions, simply staying a character in a story. I suppose this is fine, but I love when the characters come to life, and these really did not.

Not a great book, but if you're really REALLY into paranormal stuff and don't mind characters that are only so-so, you could like it. The last 80 pages or so were entertaining. Other than that, it really wasn't worth my time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Six Rules of Maybe

The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti (web | tweet)
Publication Date: March 16, 2010
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 336
Keywords: pregnancy, sisters, summer
Format Read: Hardcover from publisher (thank you!)
Get It: barnes and noble | amazon | indiebound

Summary: Scarlet spends most of her time worrying about other people. Some are her friends, others are practically strangers, and then there are the ones no one else even notices. Trying to fix their lives comes naturally to her. And pushing her own needs to the side is part of the deal. So when her older sister comes home unexpectedly married and pregnant, Scarlet has a new person to worry about. But all of her good intentions are shattered when the unthinkable happens: She falls for her sister's husband. For the first time in a long time, Scarlet's not fixing a problem, she's at the center of one. And ignoring her feelings doesn't seem to be an option...


I received this book a while ago, and I was hesitant to begin it because the last book I read by Caletti did not impress me. This book changed my opinion of her writing entirely. It was an odd sort of writing. The first thing I noticed about it was that it was choppy, and Scarlet's thoughts seemed random and quick. But the strange thing was, it worked. The words flowed so well together, I could not put this down because there was never a good stopping place. I love books like that. Everything just fit and I could not stop reading.

I hated Juliet, Scarlet's sister. But I suppose I was supposed to hate her. She had the perfect husband who was willing to give her anything, and she ignored him. However, I did not like the fact that Scarlet began to have feelings for Hayden, the husband. There was a perfect other boy she could have liked, and I'm not sure why she chose to fall for Hayden, though he was an extremely lovable person. Though I suppose this is how I was supposed to feel, and Caletti did an excellent job at making me want to hit Juliet in the face and give Hayden a big hug because he's such a sweet person.

My favorite character, however, was Zeus. This was Hayden's dog. For some reason, there was so much character in this dog. And one line from the book really stuck out to me that Hayden said:
"'I'm positive that the world is made up of those who apologize to dogs and those that don't.'"
I loved this line, and from then on, I was in love with the idiotic dog called Zeus. Probably because I had an idiotic dog who was large but thought he was small — he died about three weeks ago of liver cancer. Zeus just reminded me so much of my dog, and that's why I believe I fell in love with him.

As far as the rest of the story goes, there wasn't really a giant climactic point or a giant problem to solve, but miraculously, it still seamlessly flowed together, and I still really enjoyed it.

Read When: You are ready for a fun read in the summer time but need a little more substance and plot line that "girl-meets-boy-the-end."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Contest: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby


Ready to win a hardcover copy of Moonglass by Jessi Kirby? Well I've got one to give away! Basic contest, just use the entry form below! Must live in the US or have a US shipping address (sorry! I don't ship internationally!) and the contest ends on August 10!

Read my review of Moonglass!

Good luck!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Along for the Ride


Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Publication Date: June 16, 2009
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Pages: 383
Format Read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Riding a bike is only one of the many things Auden's missed out on. Even before her parents' divorce, she was cast in the role of little adult, never making waves, focusing on academics to please her demanding mother. That was when she stopped sleeping at night. Now she's spending the summer before college in the tiny beach town of Colby, with her father and his new wife and baby. A job in a trendy boutique introduces her to the world of girls, their friendships, conversations, and romances. And then there's Eli, an intriguing loner. A former star on a bike circuit and a fellow insomniac, Eli introduces Auden to the nocturnal world of Colby. Together they embark on a quest: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she's been denied; for Eli, to put a tragic episode behind him. Combine two lonely people with a charming beach town and an endless supply of long summer nights, and just about anything can happen.

After reading several mediocre books, I was frustrated and knew I could count on Sarah Dessen to make me happy about reading summer books again. As always, she did no disappoint. I really related to Auden very well, because I had a very similar high school experience. So from the very beginning, I felt closer to Auden and was actually interested in her well-being (though I DO know how to ride a bike).  I also loved that she developed throughout the course of the book, like a true character should. She was definitely a different person by the end of the novel. I also loved her relationship with Thisbe, her new baby sister. Heidi, Auden's father's new wife, was having trouble keeping Thisbe calm. Auden started to learn to love her new family additions and really grew in that sense as well.

I also like Eli, though not as much as some of Dessen's other male protagonists. The tragedy behind his personality was kind of cool, but not so intensely gripping that it defined his character. I loved that he was an insomniac. That was the part of his character that I truly enjoyed. It seemed that he was adventurous and he was interested in making Auden's life experiences better. The fact that he rode bikes was also really intriguing, but I would have liked it if it were explained more in detail. The few mentions of jumping and doing tricks on bikes often weren't even associated with Eli, as I was hoping they were.

There was also a great sense of surprise to Auden in the novel. She made assumptions about people and the summer in general, but soon found out that things were not always as they seem. Some parts also surprised me, but not so much that I was utterly shocked. As far as the novel goes in general, I really enjoyed it, which is probably why I made it through in about a day and a half! A lovely summer read!