December 31, 2011

2011 Wrap up Best books and Challenge Info

Favorite Books Read in 2011
1) 13 Reasons Why- Jay Asher
2) The Help- Kathryn Stockett
3) Wintergirls- Laurie Halse Anderson
4) Delirium- Lauren Oliver
5) Just Listen- Sarah Dessen
6) Matched- Ally Condie
7) Before I Fall- Lauren Kate
8) Practical Magic- Alice Hoffman
9) Across the Universe- Beth Revis
10) Going Bovine- Libba Bray
11) Between Shades of Gray- Ruta Sepetys
12) Fire- Kristin Cashore
13) The Dark and Hallow Places- Carrie Ryan
14) Bruiser- Neal Shusterman
15) The Maze Runner- James Dashner

Favorite Books of 2011
1) Delirium- Lauren Oliver
2) Across the Universe- Beth Revis
3) Between Shades of Gray- Ruta Sepetys
4) The Dark and Hallow Places- Carrie Ryan
5) What Happened to Goodbye- Sarah Dessen

I know I have been a bad blogger this year.  It has been a tough year personally, but things are looking up and I think 2012 is going to be fantastic!  I did not meet many of my challenge goals.  I only read 8 out of the 12 books for the Debut Author Challenge and I only read 73 books this year.  BUT I am going to dedicate more time to this blog and to reading more fantastic books.

Debut Author Challenge List (In order by favorite to least favorite)
1) Across the Universe- Beth Revis
2) Between Shades of Gray- Ruta Sepetys
3) Blood Red Road- Moira Young
4) Exposed- Kimberly Marcus
5) Where Things Come Back- John Corey Whaley
6) Here Lies Bridget- Paige Harbison
7) The Latte Rebellion- Sarah Jamila Stevenson
8) Blood Magic- Tessa Gratton

Books Read in 2011

  • 01) Little Bee- Chris Cleave
    02) Across the Universe- Beth Revis
    03) Matched- Ally Condie
    04) The Mockingbirds-Daisy Whitney
    05) Before I Fall- Lauren Oliver
    06) The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate- Jacqueline Kelly
    07) The Truth About Forever- Sarah Dessen
    08) Boy Meets Boy- David Levithan
    09) Eighth Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod Book 1)- Heather Brewer
    10) Candor- Pam Bachorz
    11) The Iron Daughter- Julie Kagawa
    12) Thirteen Reasons Why- Jay Asher
    13) XXXHolic, Volume 1- CLAMP
    14) The Family That Wasn't- Gene Twaronite
    15) Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicles Vol 1- CLAMP
    16) Glimmerglass- Jenna Black
    17) The Maze Runner- James Dasher
    18) Desires of the Dead- Kimberly Derting
    19) Purple Daze- Sherry Shahan
    20) Wintergirls- Laurie Halse Anderson
    21) Carter Finally Gets It- Brent Crawford
    22) Here Lies Bridget- Paige Harbison
    23) The Curse of the Wendigo- Rick Yancey
    24) The Count of Monte Cristo- Alexandre Dumas
    25) Bloody Jack- L.A. Meyer
    26) Where Things Come Back- John Corey Whaley
    27) Delirium- Lauren Oliver
    28) The Latte Rebellion-Sarah Jamila Stevenson
    29) The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins
    30) The Deathday Letter- Shaun Hutchinson
    31) The Summoning- Kelley Armstrong
    32) Glass- Ellen Hopkins
    33) The Awakening- Kelley Armstrong
    34) White Cat- Holly Black
    35) Blood Magic- Tessa Gratton
    36) Max Quick The Pocket and the Pendant- Mark Jeffrey
    37) The Playbook- Barney Stinson
    38) Everlost (Skinjacker Trilogy)- Neal Shusterman
    39) The Dark and Hallow Places- Carrie Ryan
    40) What Happened to Goodbye- Sarah Dessen
    41) The Scorch Trials- James Dashner
    42) Going Bovine- Libba Bray
    43) Fire-Kristin Cashore
    44) The Bro Code- Barney Stinson
    45) Fallen- Lauren Kate
    46) Beauty Queens- Libba Bray
    47) Bruiser- Neal Shusterman
    48) Demonglass- Rachel Hawkins
    49) The Help- Kathryn Stockett
    50) City of Fallen Angels- Cassandra Clare
    51) The Knife of Never Letting Go- Patrick Ness
    52) Monster High- Lisi Harrison
    53) Behemoth- Scott Westerfeld
    54) Just Listen- Sarah Dessen
    55) Star Girl- Jerry Spinelli
    56) Drink, Slay, Love- Sarah Beth Durst
    57) The Princess Diaries- Meg Cabot
    58) Swim the Fly- Don Calame
    59) Ship Breaker- Paolo Bacigalupi
    60) Forever- Maggie Stiefvater
    61) Blood Red Road- Moira Young
    62) Practial Magic- Alice Hoffman
    63) Sapphique- Catherine Fisher
    64) Uncommon Criminals- Ally Carter
    65) Goliath- Scott Westerfeld
    66) The Romeo and Juliet Code- Phoebe Stone
    67) Revolution- Jennifer Donnelly
    68) Glow- Amy Kathleen Ryan
    69) Packing for Mars- Mary Roach
    70) Numbers- Rachel Ward
    71) Wolfsbane- Andrea Cremer
    72) Darkover Landfall- Marion Zimmer Bradley
    73) Exposed- Kimberly Marcus

Happy New Year everyone!

December 29, 2011

Review of "Exposed"

by Kimberly Marcus
My Rating:
Pub. Date: February 22, 2011
Pages: 272
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Source: Borrowed From Library
Edition: E-book

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Liz is Photogirl—sharp, focused and confident in what she sees through her camera lens. Confident that she and Kate will be best friends forever.

But everything changes in one blurry night. Suddenly, Kate is avoiding her, and people are looking the other way when she passes in the halls. As the aftershocks from a startling accusation rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself shifts out of focus. What happens when the picture you see no longer makes sense? What do you do when you may lose everything you love most? Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse, Exposed is Kimberly Marcus's gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Virginia Euwer Wolff.
I picked up "Exposed" hearing great things, but, to be honest, not having high expectations.  I am presently surprised to say that it is a great book.  It is an extremely fast read.  I was reading it on my droid, which I tend not to read books solely on my phone, but it was such a fast read I flew through it only a couple of hours.
I've read a decent number of books written in verse, yet I foolishly didn't think "Exposed" would be able to tell a rape story in a fulfilling way; however, I was completely mistaken (and happy about it btw).  After reading this book I immediately had to tell my boyfriend (bless him for listening to me) about it.  I wish I could say I beautifully formulated a description that truly expressed the soul of the book, but I'm pretty sure I said something along the lines of "OMG!  THAT BOOK WAS RIDICULOUS!"  I was so pumped up that he thought I disliked the book and was shocked when I said I thought it was great!  I love when books get me so pumped up at the end that I have to blog about them immediately, jump out of bet, shout "OH SNAP!", talk to someone about it, or post something on Facebook- unless the book had a horrible ending that enraged me, but that should go without saying.
"Exposed" is able to tell a compelling story without using a lot of words.  Even though the book is technically about 272 pages, there is probably closer to 150 pages of actual writing.  I was so impressed with how emotionally invested I felt in the book in such a short amount of time.  Obviously I felt bad for Kate, but my heart ached for Liza.  She was stuck in an impossible position between everyone she loved in life.   This book truly shows how rape effects more than just the victim.   
"Exposed" is a great book, but I do warn that it is difficult to read.  Liza loses so much that I felt helpless while reading this book.  Even after I was finished I was shocked at how sad the story was.  I know the story is about rape and I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was at the end of the book, but I didn't expect a second hand account to be so depressing.  Foolish me!  This wasn't my favorite book of 2011, but it is one I highly recommend reading.  It is such a fast read you don't have anything to lose by trying it.  I really hope Kimberly Marcus continues to write.  

December 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays December 28th 2011

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.
Any one can participate! Just

1-Grab your current read.
2-Let the book fall open to a random page.
3-Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
4- Please share the title and author of the book to allow people to find the book if they like the teaser you’ve given!
***Please avoid spoilers!***

Finnikin of the Rock
Finnikin of the Rock
Melina Marchetta
"He looked down at his oversize feet and wondered how it would be possible to balance them on so narrow a ledge.
'Not for our feet boy,' Sir Topher said with a sigh." (Page 4)
I'm 100 pages into this book and loving it!  I am having trouble putting this book with each page I read.  :)

Feel free to share your teaser sentences by adding a comments

December 5, 2011

Review of "Glow"

by Amy Kathleen Ryan
My Rating:
Pub. Date: September 13th, 2011
Pages: 320
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Won ARC
Edition: ARC
Synopsis: If a violent battle destroyed the only world you’ve ever known, would you be brave enough to save who was left? Would love be strong enough to survive the fight? Either way, there’s no turning back.
The Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband. Everyone is sure he’s the best choice. Still, there’s a part of Waverly that wants more from life than marriage, and she is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.
Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean's sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.

I am having trouble with this review because I LOVED some parts of the book and HATED others.  My expectations were too high for "Glow", but I think the book had some problems.  Overall, I did enjoy the book.  The plot was interesting and Waverly's story grabbed me from the get-go.  There were parts in the book that were horrifying and a bit difficult to read, but being a dystopian fiction it was fitting.  To be honest, I was actually happy that there were parts of "Glow" that unnerved me because I feel like great dystopian books should do this.  I really liked the female characters in this book.  They were all strong and had individual personalities.  Even if I didn't agree with their actions, I understood them as characters.

Where this book went extremely wrong for me was the portrayal of men.  I don't think there was a single male character in this book that I liked.  Kieran had his moments, but by the time the book finished I wasn't really sure what to think.  It almost came across that 98% of men did not respect women and saw them as carriers for their children.  If a man did show some respect toward women then he still had violence or power issues.  This made it EXTREMELY difficult for me to care about the male characters in the book.  I got really bored while reading much of Kieran's accounts and wanted to get back to Waverly.  I just felt that the conflict between the boys in this book just didn't make sense.  Pretty much every male seemed to be exaggerated caricatures.  

Overall "Glow" was good.  It had some very strong points, but I just wish there had been more time focused on what was happening through Waverly's perspective.  Maybe I am bias because I am a girl, but I can't see guys being happy with how they were portrayed in this book.  I guess I am left with liking the book.  I am happy to know how "Glow" ended, but I am not going to be finishing the series.  

November 21, 2011

Review of "the Romeo and Juliet Code"

"The Romeo and Juliet Code"
by Phoebe Stone
My Rating:
Pub. Date: January 1st, 2011
Pages: 297
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Source: Borrowed From Library
Edition: Hardcover

Synopsis: Felicity's glamorous parents have a secret. When they leave her with distant relatives in Maine, Felicity hopes they won't leave her long. Her new Uncle Gideon hides things. Her Aunt Miami is star-crossed. And Derek, a kid her age, refuses to leave his room.

But Felicity needs Derek's help. Gideon is getting coded letters from Felicity's parents, and she's sure they're in trouble. Can Felicity crack the code, heal the family and save her parents, all while surviving her first crush? It's a tall order, but - like THE SECRET GARDEN'S Mary Lennox before her - Felicity's up for the challenge.

Don't judge this book by its cover! "The Romeo and Juliet Code" is a historical fiction book about WWII. I really enjoyed this book, but I probably wouldn't have picked it up because it just looked like a cute romance. There was much more to this book than romance. Felicity, the main character, is struggling to understand the events going on around her. Her parents left her to live with an aunt, uncle, grandma, and "cousin" she had never met. She doesn't understand why her parents cannot be with her and what problems exist between the family to keep them apart for so long. Felicity must find a way to make Maine her new home while she waits for her parents to come back.

The characters in this book had unique personalities. I loved seeing how Felicity changed throughout the book. She continued to be inquisitive and bold, but she was able to handle difficult information in a more mature manner. Aunt Minnie and Uncle Gideon were fun to read about. I wish they were my aunt and uncle. They brought Felicity into their home and did there best to make her feel at home. Watching Felicity's relationship with Derek grow was also really enjoyable.

If your interested hasn't been piqued yet then I should mention that there is lot of mysteries to uncover throughout the book. What are with Felicity's parents? Why wont Uncle Gideon play the piano anymore? Why didn't the family communicate until recently?

"The Romeo and Juliet Code" is a great book. Even though I found the book to be a bit predictable, the other elements in the book outweighed the predictability of the plot. I really thought this book was a great balance of historical fiction, mystery, and a bit of a love story.

November 2, 2011

Review of "Forever"

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3)
My Rating:
Pub. Date: July 12, 2011
Pages: 400
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc
Source: Purchased
Edition: Hardcover

Synopsis: In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

"Forever" is a great ending to a wonderful series.  I loved the first two books in the "Wolves of Mercy Falls" series and "Forever" left me content even if I was a bit sad.  I liked the new spin on werewolves and the romance between Grace and Sam in the series.  I have to say I was disappointed in the lack of Sam and Grace interaction at the beginning of the book.  I know this was to be expected, but it just went too long without it.  Their connection as wolves almost makes up for the lack of connection between them at the beginning of the book.

The beginning of the book went very slowly for me.  Even though there were things happening, I was kind of wondering when the book would really start.  Luckily, once "Forever" got started it held me until the end.

I did like learning more about Cole.  It was nice to see a different side of him.  He seemed like a bizarre addition to the wolves, but I understood why Beck chose him by the end of "Forever".  He is also a great comic relief in the book and is pretty crush worthy.  He lightens up the mood when Sam starts brooding too much.  I also LOVED seeing him interact with Isabel.

If drool worthy male characters, romance, and werewolves aren't enough to keep your interest then there is also the plan to wipe out the entire pack.  Isabel's father has finally had enough and he is taking out all the stops to destroy these wolves.

"Forever" is a good book, but it has its faults.  Maggie's writing is beautiful as ever and I enjoyed the new text color.  I just really wanted to see more of a connection between Grace and Sam.  I was completely satisfied with the ending and was a bit sad that the series was over.  If highly recommend reading the author's notes at the end of the book!

October 22, 2011

Review of "Blood Red Road"

Blood Red Road (Dustlands, #1)
My rating
Pub. Date: June 7th 2011
Pages: 459
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Source: Library
Edition: Hardcover and Audio CDs
Synopsis: Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives bearing four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on a quest to get him back.
Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Overall, I really enjoyed "Blood Red Road". The characters were great and the plot was fantastic. My major problem with the book is that I found it difficult to read because of the punctuation. I know this sounds kind of weird, but the fact that quotation marks weren't used really took a while for my brain to get used to. I kept getting confused about what was being said and what was an action. It also didn't help that I left my book at work and then started a new one while I was in the middle of "Blood Red Road" so I had to get used to the lack of quotation marks all over again. I know it shouldn't be that difficult on people, but my brain can get confused easily when it comes to reading. My other problem was that I just didn't like Saba for about a fourth of the book. I thought she was just cruel to her sister. My option completely changed by the end, but it was difficult for me to get over.

I like how “Blood Red Road” didn’t just focus on Saba’s search for Lugh. Saba learned a lot on her journey about both the world around her and herself. She was put in situations where she was forced to make tough decisions. Her journey to find her brother became so much larger as she learned more about the world around her. Even while fighting for her life, Saba couldn’t help but notice the plight of the people surrounding her. Whatever Saba thought of her father while he was alive, she had to realize that he was able to protect his children from horrors they couldn’t even imagine. I liked being able to see Saba grow through the book as her journey developed and morphed. Her original goal stayed the same, but as her social consciousness and self-awareness grew, Saba realized that she had a chance to drastically alter the course of humanity.

“Blood Red Road” has a great mix that will be a winner for many readers. It has action, adventure, mystery, violence, a bit of romance, a strong female character, a civilization full of evil, and great characters. Once I got into the book, I was able to fly through it in only a couple of days. I got so hooked on the book that I was actually listening to the audio book in the car and at the gym, reserving the book for every other free moment. I would recommend “Blood Red Road” to readers who enjoy dystopian fiction, especially to fans of grittier novels like “The Hunger Games”, “Maze Runner”, and “Ship Breaker”.

October 7, 2011

Review of "Drink, Slay, Love"

"Drink, Slay, Love"
Sarah Beth Durst


Pub. Date: September 13th 2011
Pages: 385
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Synopsis:  Pearl is a sixteen-year-old vampire... fond of blood, allergic to sunlight, and mostly evil... until the night a sparkly unicorn stabs her through the heart with his horn. Oops. 

Her family thinks she was attacked by a vampire hunter (because, obviously, unicorns don't exist), and they're shocked she survived. They're even more shocked when Pearl discovers she can now withstand the sun. But they quickly find a way to make use of her new talent. The Vampire King of New England has chosen Pearl's family to host his feast. If Pearl enrolls in high school, she can make lots of human friends and lure them to the King's feast -- as the entrees.
The only problem? Pearl's starting to feel the twinges of a conscience. How can she serve up her new friends—especially the cute guy who makes her fangs ache—to be slaughtered? Then again, she's definitely dead if she lets down her family. What's a sunlight-loving vamp to do?

I have read so many vampire romance books that I am kind of sick of them.  Even though I haven't had much of an interest in them this year, I was pretty excited to learn about "Drink, Slay Love".  I enjoyed "Ice" and "Enchanted Ivy" tremendously and I wasn't disappointed in "Drink, Slay, Love".  I have to admit I wasn't sure how the vampire and unicorn combination would work, but Sarah pulled it off.  This book does make fun of the vampire romance genre a bit, but in a playful way. 

I always love Sarah’s characters and her new cast is no exception.  Pearl is rough and sometimes cruel, but her attitude hooked me into this book.  She really struggles with the changes that come with being a vampire awake during the day.  On top of her new schedule, she is having feelings that go against all her natural instincts.  I loved Pearl’s cast of friends even if they were corny and uber sweet at times, it just worked.  The unicorn, which Pearl endearingly names “Mr. Sparkly-and-Pointy”, has personality.  All the vampires are unique, especially Antoinette who is obsessed with 80s pop-culture.

"Drink, Slay, Love" has drama, comedy, heart, unicorns, vampires, a bit of romance, and a splash of danger… what else could you possibly ask for?  This book was very fun and I breezed through it in only a couple of days.  I love the fact that "Drink, Slay, Love" doesn't take itself too seriously.  I would recommend this book to people who like paranormal romance, vampire books, comedies, and/or are fans of other of Sarah Beth Durst's books.

*I did receive a free copy of this book for review.

September 25, 2011

Review of "Monster High"

"Monster High"
Lisi Harrison

Monster High (Monster High Series #1) 

Pub. Date: September 7th, 2010
Pages: 255
Publisher: Poppy

Synopsis: From Lisi Harrison, the New York Times bestselling author of The Clique and Alphas, comes a new series with a fresh twist on high school, romance, and the "horrors" of trying to fit in. 

The monster community has kept a low profile at the local high school, but when two new girls enroll, the town will never be the same. Created just fifteen days ago, Frankie Stein is psyched to trade her father's formaldehyde-smelling basement lab for parties and prom.

But with a student body totally freaked out by rumors of monsters stalking the halls, Frankie learns that high school can be rough for a chic freak like her. She thinks she finds a friend in fellow new student Melody Carver-but can a "normie" be trusted with her big secret?

I have to admit that this book didn't really appeal to me because I was never interested in reading any of Lisi Harrison's other books.  The only reason I read this book was because it was on audio book and I had heard good things about it.  After being so skeptical I am shocked to report that I LOVED "Monster High"!  The book was funny and the characters were interesting.  Even characters I thought I would hate grew on me once I learned more about them.  They all had more depth than being beautiful, bitchy, or a paranormal.   I think my favorite character had to be Frankie.  I didn't always agree with her actions and knew she was going to cause trouble, I knew she was only doing what she felt best.  I found it very brave that she was willing to put herself out there whether people liked it or not.  I also liked how she was so into pop culture and had her own catchphrase.  She just had a unique style and personality.

I was also presently surprised with the world that Lisi Harrison created.  It was somehow realistic even though there were monsters everywhere.  She creates her own monster history that is entertaining and adds some believability to the story.  I loved how the monsters were able to mix in with humans and found tricks to hiding their true identities.  I also have to say I like how gung-ho the school got into all the monster drama that started to unfold.  The love stories were pretty expected, but they were still entertaining.  My favorite thing about this book was how it was all about identity and being true to yourself.  I usually struggle with books that have multiple perspectives, but I really enjoyed seeing how Frankie's and Melody's worlds collided.

I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy paranormal books, especially those who enjoy humor.  "Monster High" reminded me of something Meg Cabot would write.  It is definitely worth giving a try and if Frankie or Melody don't suck you in at the beginning then at least you gave it a shot.  Especially if you are a person who enjoys monster movies or classic horror books.  I totally got a kick out of seeing all my favorite monsters as teenagers.  I will definitely read more in the Monster High series, but I'm still unsure about reading"The Clique" or "Alphas"... I might come around eventually though.

September 19, 2011

Review of "Bruiser"

Neal Shusterman



Pub. Date: June 29, 2010
Pages: 328
Publisher: HarperTeen

Synopsis:  Tennyson: Don’t get me started on the Bruiser. He was voted “Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty” by the entire school. He’s the kid no one knows, no one talks to, and everyone hears disturbing rumors about. So why is my sister, Brontë, dating him? One of these days she’s going to take in the wrong stray dog, and it’s not going to end well.

Bronte: My brother has no right to talk about Brewster that way — no right to threaten him. There’s a reason why Brewster can’t have friends — why he can’t care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that can’t be explained. I know, because they’re happening to me.
Award-winning author Neal Shusterman has crafted a chilling and unforgettable novel about the power of unconditional friendship, the complex gear workings of a family, and the sacrifices we endure for the people we love.

"Bruiser" is a book I picked up having absolutely no idea what it was about.  The only thing that I knew was it had to do with abuse and bullying.  I cannot express how glad I am that I came across this on a YALSA list because I doubt I would have picked it up on my own.  I have been waiting to write this review because I am worried anything I say will give away Brewster's secret.  I was right thinking that this book was about abuse and dealt with bullying, but the book is really about so much more.

I think "Bruiser" is a book that honestly depicts human nature.  The characters have flaws, but we are able to look past them because Shusterman balances the good with the bad.  Bronte means well when she takes Brewster under her wing, but even she is blind to the truth that is right in front of  her.  This book is also about friendship and family.  Both types of relationships are complicated and can only be successful if people are willing to be honest with themselves and the people they love. 

I highly recommend "Bruiser", but warn that it may be difficult for some people to read.  The book does deal with some generic issues that teens can relate to, but the method in which Shusterman addresses the issues is unique.  I feel like readers who liked "Wintergirls", "Thirteen Reasons Why", and maybe even "Before I Fall" would enjoy this book.  Although they might not because "Bruiser" isn't exactly realistic fiction... I'm not really sure how I would classify it. I know this review is short, but I would rather be brief than ruin the plot for everyone.

August 29, 2011

Review of "Demonglass"

Rachel Hawkins

Demonglass (A Hex Hall Novel)


Pub. Date: March 1, 2011
Pages: 359
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

Synopsis:  Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.
That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.
Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.
But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Acher to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

I really loved "Demonglass", it actually kind of surprised me how much I loved it.  I know I really enjoyed "Hex Hall", but I enjoyed "Demonglass" more.  I'm not sure if I was just really in the mood for it or what, but I just thought it was a great combination of funny and adventure.  I just love the tone of these books.  They deal with some very serious issues, but Sophie is so spunky it lightens the entire mood of the book.

Sophie struggles with her identity as a demon and desperately wants to go through the Removal.  She is also trying to learn more about her family history while solving the mystery of who is raising demons.  Luckily she has plenty of people to sass off to and other demons trying to get her to loosen up a bit.  If this isn't enough to keep Sophie busy, she is struggling with her feelings for Archer.  I have to say that I love Cal's dry sense of humor in this book.  Yes, Cal plays a major role in this book!  I would explain, but I would be ruining a good laugh.

I was a bit worried that I would miss the setting of Hex Hall, but there was so much going on I didn't really think about it.  I really wanted to know who was raising demons and if Sophie would accept herself as a demon.  Is she just a vessel for evil that will one day take control of her body making her kill innocent people or is this something she can learn to control?

I love the combination of romance, mystery, paranormal, identity, and humor that the both "Hex Hall" and "Demonglass" possess.  Rachel Hawkins has impressed me so far with this series.  It may not be super original, but it is such a fun read full of adventure that it didn't bother me.  I am over the fact that the covers have black cats that aren't in the book.  I was taking them WAY too seriously.  The covers are cute and so are the books.  I would recommend "Hex Hall" and "Demonglass" to fans of Meg Cabot, "Paranormalcy" and the "Magic in Manhattan" series.  I kind of feel like fans of Ally Carter might enjoy this series as well.

August 28, 2011

Review of "City of Fallen Angels"

"City of Fallen Angels"
Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments, Book 4)4

Pub. Date: April 5, 2011
Pages: 424
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Synopsis:  The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She's training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.
But nothing comes without a price.
Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary's best friend, Simon, can't help her. His mother just found out that he's a vampire and now he's homeless. Everywhere he turns, someone wants him on their side—along with the power of the curse that's wrecking his life. And they're willing to do anything to get what they want. Not to mention that he's dating two beautiful, dangerous girls—neither of whom knows about the other one.
When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.
Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. The stakes are higher than ever in City of Fallen Angels.

I'm assuming I was like everyone and pretty shocked that there was another book in the "Mortal Instruments" series... especially since it was marketed as a trilogy.  I loved the other books in the series and "Clockwork Angel", but I didn't feel that with "City of Fallen Angels".  I thought everything was wrapped up nicely in "City of Glass" so I was curious to see where this series would go next.  I have to say that I am a bit disappointed.  I thought we were over the questioning of worthiness between both Clary and Jace, but apparently not.  After all they have been through I assumed they would have learned to communicate, but that was false hope too.  Luckily the book focus on multiple plots taking away from some of the annoyance of their issues.

Simon had a major role in this book, but he wasn't very Simonesque.  He was two-timing some fantastic females... this just isn't the Simon we know and love.  I thought this aspect of the story was pretty useless.  It didn't create enough conflict for it to really be relevant.  The lack of Alec and Magnus also left the book a bit flat.  They are such great characters I was disappointed not to see more of them.  Even Isabelle seemed to fall a little flat.

If the characters annoyed me so much, why did I give such a good review?  I had trouble putting the book down.  The mysteries behind the death of the Shadowhunters is much more twisted and gripping than the synopsis makes it sound.  I have to say that this conflict is really what kept me going through this book.  There was a lot of interesting things happening in Simon's life... and yes Jace was being all tormented and emo (he had a pretty good reason though so I'll let it slide).  There were some new interesting characters who came into the book that really sparked my interest.

Overall, I wish this book had focused on new characters.  We could have been introduced to a different group of Shadowhunters or Cassandra Clare could have left Jace and Clary out of it.  I guess that wouldn't have solved the problems with the rest of the characters, but if there had been more focus on them they would have stayed truer to the original three books.  I am still looking forward to "Clockwork Prince", but I don't think I will be in a rush to read "City of Lost Souls".

Review of "Fire"

Kristin Cashore

Fire (Graceling)5

Pub. Date: September 24, 2009
Pages: 461
Publisher: Gollancz

Summary:  It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her. Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don't need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven't, you'll be dying to read it next.

I thought "Graceling" was great and "Fire" did not disappoint.  I was hooked by the end of the first chapter.  I liked that we were shown another part of Cashore's world.  The monsters sounded beautiful and I loved the fact that their beauty would captivate men so that they could kill them.  Even bugs were beautiful enough that some characters would allow for themselves to be bit.  These monsters were just as deadly as they were radiant.  Fire was so beautiful that men had trouble controlling their urges towards her and Fire had the power to control the minds of others.  The danger is both her beauty and power is terrifying and created tons of conflict throughout the book.

I really liked the characters; they were full of depth.  Fire was interesting because she was so hesitant to use her powers even though it would have made he life much easier.  Her moral code was very strict, but that didn't mean she was a saint.  Archer was both a character you couldn't help adore, but sometimes he was such a scoundrel I wanted to slap him.  Some of the characters I disliked at the beginning of the book I grew to love.

"Fire" might not be a book for all readers.  Even though I did not find this book to be slow (I listened to it on audio and I would sit in parking lots DYING to know what happened next) I can see how some readers might not think there is enough going on. I liked that the book wasn't just about the threat to King Nash's throne.  I think "Fire" had a lot more intensity to it because it focused on bigger issues than the struggle to control the Dells.  The book was full of heart and had enough suspense to grip me until the end.  

August 9, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: Demonglass (Hex Hall 2)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

by Rachel Hawkins

"I'd wanted to move my bed and decided to use magic to do it.  Instead of scooting over a few feet, the bed had gone fling out the window, taking out a big chunk of the wall with it. " (page 25)

 It is killing me that I don't have more time to read because "Demonglass" is off to a great start!

What is your teaser?

August 8, 2011

Review of "Beauty Queens"

"Beauty Queens"
Libba Bray

Beauty Queens4

Pub. Date: May 24, 2011
Pages: 390
Publisher: Scholastic Press

Synopsis: The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

I feel like such a weirdo because I didn't love this book.  I did think it was a lot of fun and I liked how it did push the envelope, but it felt almost too heavy handed.  I felt like the story was just too broken up with commercials and footnotes, at the beginning I loved this, but towards the end I was just dying to know what was going to happen next!  There was a beginning of a bookmance... but sadly I fell out of love a bit by the end.

My favorite part about "Beauty Queens" was the characters- they were FANTASTIC!  They were all endearing in their own ways, even if I did want to slap them a couple of times.  I liked how they all had their insecurities, which made them entertaining and relatable.  Some of the characters may have been a bit far fetched, hell most of the book is pretty unbelievable, but Libba Bray is a master at making the ridiculous work in her books.  I think her characters are what bring the readers back to reality when they sometimes feel like they are in a parallel dimension.

The over abundance of romance kind of bothered me a bit in this book.  It just seemed to come a little too easily for everyone, but by the end it came back to reality a bit.  I don't know why this bothered me so much, this book obviously isn't super realistic, but I worry when books create these impossibly perfect romances- love is wonderful, but it is not perfect... nothing is!

I really did like how this book was able to deal with some pretty controversial issues in a way that showed how important they are, but without being depressing or too serious.  I liked how the girls decided they wanted to create basically a girl power convention where there were lectures on subjects from makeovers to self-respect.  I also liked how the book discussed sexuality in every way I could possibly think.

"Beauty Queens" is a great book; it deals with a lot of important issues and I actually really appreciated this.  I just wish there weren't as many fake commercials.  This book probably isn't for all readers; I can see some people being offended by this book.  It is definitely for mature readers.  I feel like readers who enjoyed "Airhead" series by Meg Cabot will probably enjoy this book.

July 26, 2011

Review of "Passion" Lauren Kate

Lauren Kate

Passion ((Fallen))2

Pub. Date: June 14, 2011
Pages: 420
Publisher: Random House Children's Books

SynopsisLuce would die for Daniel.
And she has. Over and over again. Throughout time, Luce and Daniel have found each other, only to be painfully torn apart: Luce dead, Daniel left broken and alone. But perhaps it doesn’t need to be that way. . . .
Luce is certain that something—or someone—in a past life can help her in her present one. So she begins the most important journey of this lifetime . . . going back eternities to witness firsthand her romances with Daniel . . . and finally unlock the key to making their love last.
Cam and the legions of angels and Outcasts are desperate to catch Luce, but none are as frantic as Daniel. He chases Luce through their shared pasts, terrified of what might happen if she rewrites history.
Because their romance for the ages could go up in flames . . . forever.
Sweeping across centuries, PASSION is the third novel in the unforgettably epic FALLEN series.

I loved the first two books in the series and I thought Lauren Kate set up for a fantastic third book, but sadly "Passion" was only okay.  I spent most of the novel wanting to punch Luce in the face.  I just thought her judgment was TERRIBLE!  She didn't really question anything that was happening to her and was far too trusting of others.  There was too much time spent with Luce and not enough with other characters.  There were only two other characters that played a significant role in the book, and I was not a fan of one of them.

In the first two books I thought the endings were surprising and extremely climactic, but "Passion"'s ending was the opposite.  I thought it was predictable and I wasn't sure why all the characters were so shocked.  Luce's quest to learn more about her relationship was interesting for about half the book, but by page 200 I was sick of seeing Luce combust.

I really was looking forward to this book, but I honestly don't think I learned much more about Luce and Daniel's relationship.  It was pretty much exactly what I thought it would be without any surprises.  I think I could have done without this book and skipped to the final book without feeling like I missed anything.  I will probably read the final book in the series, but I will definitely go in skeptical.