Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Date

First Date by Krista McGee
Publication Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers
Pages: 336
Format Read: ebook via NetGalley

Summary: The orphaned daughter of missionaries, Addy is quite content to stay in the shadows and never draw attention to herself. But when she's selected for a reality TV show to try to become the President son's prom date-a show she didn't audition for-she's suddenly in America's spotlight.
The lights, the make-up, the competitions, and the blogs discussing every move she makes all make Addy incredibly uncomfortable. But through her time at The Mansion, Addy comes to realize that first impressions aren't always right, that hiding out may not be what God had planned for her life, and that her faith should affect everything she does. It may just be that her selection wasn't random at all and that she's on this show "for such a time as this."

This book has an adorable premise, but frankly, didn't live up to my expectations. It seemed like such a cute idea, though not necessarily original (reminding me of American Idol, beauty pageants, and Meg Cabot's All-American Girl). But I was willing to give it a shot. I read the whole thing in about four hours. The language was so simplistic, almost like it was written for a second-grader to read. I literally flew through the book. But some of the content was about the contestants back-stabbing each other, and the religious content seemed too complex for the younger reading level. I'm really not sure for which level this book is actually intended. Because nothing romantic happened at all, other thank a few casual glances and a smile every now and then.

I was also annoyed with the religious references. I'm Catholic, and I go to church, and I believe in God, but every other page referenced Addy thinking about God's plan, and how she wasn't sure if He was right. This would have been fine, except I was thrown into her life. This could work, but I had no idea she was Christian up until the second page when she started questioning her faith and everything happened at once. I would have liked a little lead-in explaining this. I also thought her parents' backstory was highly unnecessary. While I understand it was supposed to be a big factor in Addy's religious beliefs and a tear-jearker for the story, it was so abrupt and very fake-y. I did not like how unreal the whole thing seemed. I also didn't understand why Addy was afraid to tell her friend on the show that she was a Christian. Sure, some religions might not get along, but in America, today, in this modern world, it's a rare chance that someone will isolate you for being a Christian. Very VERY unlikely. I was just really annoyed that she thought telling her friend was such a big deal, when it really didn't need to be.

This could have been a really cute preteen book, but in my opinion, didn't quite make it. It seemed like I was reading a first draft instead of a ready-to-be-published novel.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fracture

Fracture by Megan Miranda
Publication Date: January 17, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Pages: 262
Keywords: medical emergency, winter, supernatural
Format read: ARC from publisher


Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine —  despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it? 
Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening? 

I was very excited to hear that I would be reviewing this for the blog tour today in anticipation for the release of this book, and I started reading it as soon as I got it. Despite many mixed reviews, I give Fracture a huge thumbs-up. It's hard to get me hooked on a book from the beginning, but this book managed to do just that. It was so fast-paced from the first page that it literally grabs the reader and pulls him into the story, instead of gradually easing. I loved the simplicity of their lives before Delaney got stuck in the lake: they were average high school teens. Nothing super crazy, which was a nice change from some of my recent YA reads. 

I had a hard time with Delaney's male interests though. I think the plot would have been more interesting had all three males been riveting and wonderful men. However, I only really liked one. In fact, I hated the other two, which didn't make it difficult or fun for me as a reader in that aspect. However, I did like the introduction of Troy and the slight supernatural "gift" he and Delaney shared. This turned the story in a completely different direction than I was expecting. However, I still didn't think he was a likeable character at all. I was particularly bothered by his introduction to Delaney at the beginning of the book — he stalked her and stared at her until she asked him his name. I just thought this was a bit unnecessary. And the other male interest should have just not been there. But I see the reason after the end of the book.

Decker is Delaney's best friend, who, coincidentally, I loved. It was interesting seeing both his and Delaney's thoughts and feelings of guilt. Decker pulled her out of the lake, but not until 11 minutes had passed. In his defense, he was held back by friends, but he still felt guilty for not saving her sooner. I really loved the parallels between their stories and their different sides. There were a few characters I didn't really understand why they were even there (Tara, e.g.), but that was a minor thing I got past pretty quickly. 

The writing was very good, for the most part. It was simple, yet got the story moving and flowing well. The writing seemed to improve as the story went on, becoming more descriptive and metaphorical, which really worked with the story line in a good way. This was a very worthwhile read for me, and though I didn't like a few things about it, it was good overall and I can't wait to see what Megan Miranda has in store next!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Switched (Blog Tour)

So the new thing is self-publishing books for e-readers, and that's just what Amanda Hocking did. She got noticed — a lot — and now her Trylle series is coming out in print. The first appears on shelves on January 24, and I've got a review of it below!


Switched by Amanda Hocking
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 318
Keywords: magic, trylle, paranormal
Format read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: When Wendy Everly was six-years-old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. It isn't until eleven years later that Wendy finds out her mother might've been telling the truth. With the help of Finn Holmes, Wendy finds herself in a world she never knew existed - and it's one she's not sure if she wants to be a part of.


So basically (I promise this isn't a spoiler, it appears in about the second chapter of the book, but if you don't want any information, then skip this part) at the beginning, Wendy meets Finn. Wendy has been moved to a bunch of different schools because she's a "trouble child," and gets in fights and is expelled — a lot. She lives with her aunt Maggie and her brother Matt, who both love her dearly and move around with her. At the most recent school, Wendy notices this creepy kid named Finn oddly staring at her, so she confronts him. And basically two days later (this is the not-so-spoiler part of the book, but if you really don't want to know, stop reading now!), she finds out she's a troll. Yeah, weird, I know. She doesn't believe it at first, naturally, but soon finds herself in Finn's world, full of trolls, mansklig, and plenty of other strange-sounding words and people. This is when the story really begins. From here, we follow Wendy's tale of trying to fit in with the world, as she learns a big surprise about her real family (you know, the troll one) and her heritage. 

I am so excited to read the second book of this series. I was engrossed in this world, even though it was a little weird for me at the beginning. Yes, I, probably like everyone else, thought, trolls? They're short, and ugly, and gross, and hairy, and this is WEIRD. But Hocking makes up for that, and through Finn, explains the other side of the story, though I still think the fact that they're trolls is extremely weird. 

Surprisingly, not too much action actually takes place in this book. It's mostly description of Wendy's new world and the setup for what's to come in the next two books. But I wasn't even bored. Hocking did an excellent job of providing description and background throughout the book, instead of just cramming it all in the first couple of pages and moving on. The story feels very well-thought out, and I could tell a lot of work went into writing and understanding this created world. I very much enjoyed that, because I wasn't confused at all when reading it. The characters were also extremely well-developed — another aspect I was very pleased with. At first, when Finn just popped into Wendy's life, I was a little leaning towards the annoyed side (you know, in a YA book, boy meets girl and 6 minutes later, they're madly in love connected by a strong feeling they have). But after the whole Trylle explanation, it makes more sense why he was stalking her, and after that, I thought the characters were described rather nicely. 

Towards the end, there was a bit of action that happened, though I can't really say much because that's a huge spoiler. But even this more exciting bit at the end was very well-written, though the very ending was a little predictable. Still, this isn't even a bad thing, because it will make for an excellent start to the second book. Again, I cannot wait to read it. 

And now, I've seen two covers: want to comment below and tell me which one you like better? (personally, I like the red one, despite my tendencies to hate people on the covers of books!)

Here's the second cover (the first is back up top)

And actually I just found a third, so for good measure here's that one:
I kind of like this last one!