Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary
 Good Reads Summary

A sweet and touching modern love story, told through dictionary entries.

basis, n.
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.
 
My Thoughts

Full disclosure: I might have blinders on where this author is concerned because every book of his that I've read, I've loved... (Nick and Norah, Dash and Lily, the Will Graysons even Naomi and Ely were all wonderful reads!)  With Lover's Dictionary, I didn't know what I was getting into. But good golly, that was different... and refreshing!

It tackled what's familiar from all the possible angles. One need not strain one's imagination to see how a word applied, because it just DID. Each entry showed a different facet, a different stage of being in a relationship. Tina uses the phrase word play to describe it. And indeed it was as Levithan's reduces it to its essentials~ sometimes hitting it square on the end, other times oversimplifying matters, but mostly coming across as accurate and humorous.

Succintly putting each aspect/facet/stage of the experience into a word, one word. I thought Lover's Dictionary SMART, FUNNY at times, but definitely DIFFERENT. Is it gimmicky? Is it cutesy? Not at all! I've grown used to boy-girl headoverheels/ troublerunsdeep stories, this slim volume is none of those things *thank gosh!* It hit aspects of relationships head on. I really enjoyed it!

4/5

CONTESTS!

I've died and gone to book contest heaven...

First, head on to http://ramblingsofawannabescribe.blogspot.com/ for this awesome contest:

THE TRIFECTA of AWESOME GIVEAWAY
and you could win

Supernaturally (Paranormalcy, #2) Anna and the French Kiss  Wolfsbane (Nightshade #2)
Sign up here:
TRIFECTA OF AWESOME
The contest is international and ends on theAugust 6th!
(Eep!)

*****

And after reading FOREVER, I've really been looking forward to getting my hands on Maggie Stiefvater's THE SCORPIO RACES. That said, I am ecstatic to inform you guys of a contest for not one... not two... but four ARCs over at Carolina Valdez Miller's awesome blog. You could win THE SCORPIO RACES, Elizabeth Mile's Fury, Claire de Lune's sequel, Nocturne and Harlan Coben's Shelter.


The Scorpio Races Fury (Fury, #1) Nocturne Shelter (Micky Bolitar, #1)
Sign up here:
4 ARCs 4 U
It's international too and ends August 3, 2011!

****

Then head on over to THE BABBLING FLOW, she's  got drool-worthy books... drool worthy, I tell you! I finished Levithan's Lover's Dictionary recently (I've yet to post a review..) and enjoyed how refreshingly different it was. Being a big fan of his, I was super stoked to see EVERY YOU, EVERY ME as one of her picks *drool.* Of course there's Laini Taylor's DAUGHTER of SMOKE and BONE as well. *drooling a bit more* And then wait for it... LOLA's one of the picks as well! As in LOLA and THE BOY NEXT DOOR. *drooling everywhere* Then thrown in THE NAME of THE STAR and THE GIRL of FIRE and THORNS, and oh my god, I do think I've died and gone to book contest heaven!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Lola and the Boy Next Door Every You, Every Me
The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1) The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)

sign up here:
the babbling flow's signed ARC contest
it's international and ends on August 6th!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2) by Kiersten White

Supernaturally (Paranormalcy, #2)
Good Reads Summary

Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.

But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.

So much for normal.

My Thoughts
 
It took two tries before I hit the second half of Paranormalcy. Evie just didn't sound too endearing to me. And thinking back, I think she was the first YA girl I'd read who was very snarky which at times went a bit overboard. After awhile said snark became the norm. And I... enjoyed her and her story a bit more. Plus, all those paranormals dropping left and right were just too curious to pass up.

And in Supernaturally, you couldn't turn one page without something inappropriate/funny coming out of her. The snark abound! After Reth, one would think all was well in Lend and Evie land. It was and it wasn't. And it was this that had me struggling with the story. It's a new relationship I get it. But sometimes Evie was a bit insecure, Lend a bit insensitive... (or may be this is me nitpicking again?) Beyond the couple, I found the story to be of the non-filler type. Because there's a new guy, who manages not only to bring Evie's story to a whole other level without forgetting where it all began.

Most of my favorite moments involve her struggling as a normal girl. HI-larious. What she'd been wanting wasn't that great up close after all. And as a result, not a page went by without her saying something that rang like Buffy.

So take a new guy, who did everything I thought he was going to do, add some trouble in paradise for Lend and Evie, the don't forget the snark, well Supernaturally is just as fun as the first one.

3.25/5

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bad Taste in Boys (Kate Grable, #1) by Carrie Harris

Bad Taste in Boys (Kate Grable, #1)
Good Reads Summary

Someone's been a very bad zombie.

Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steroids are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe--not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate!

She's got to find an antidote--before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town. . . and stay hormonally human.

My Thoughts

Bad taste in Boys is mindless fun. It also marks the third book that I have read in a span of seven days where YA PNR has taken a comic twist. *See Durst's Drink, Slay, Love (vampires and unirons) and Moore's Texas Gothic (a witch and some ghosts).* Only this one has Girl-genius single handedly attempting to save her highschool/her town from a zombie outbreak! If this is the new direction, gimme more!

Again, mindless fun. Nevermind that a said girl with ziplock stash in her bag makes had me thinking the scouts who are always prepared. Never mind that after her first personal encounter, she went on her day without a hitch. Never you mind, I say, because this was mindless fun... and funny! Then throw in some love fulfilled, well I don't think this could have gotten any better.

Things that got me laughing:

*She's is former 100% geek, but given her choice of friends is now just she's fifty percent geek.
*She's got an awesome geek of a brother, complete with elf ears and fake sword.

This was hilarious, mindless fun...even if it did get a bit gory with black spew, feet chomping and digit severing... and scalps falling off every so often.

3.25

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Caleb + Kate by Cindy Martinusen-Coloma

Caleb + Kate
Good Reads Summary

Private school, rich friends, vacations in France--Kate has it all, except a belief in love.


When Kate's family purchases a hotel in the Pacific Northwest, she enters a world that is wholly unknown to her. She never has any privacy because of the constant flow of guests. And as the hotel owner's daughter, she struggles to make friends.

Then she meets Caleb, a strange combination of working-class, Hawaiian culture, and Christian bad boy. He talks about love in an all new way that she finds so alluring. But the two have nothing in common. He rarely smiles, rides a motorcycle with a rough crowd from town, and worst of all, he totally ignores Kate. But Kate has something that he needs and she resolves to prove to him that what she has doesn't define who she is.

My Thoughts

I'm keeping it short again...

I have mixed feelings about Caleb+Kate. Picture this a family feud, on one side is a family that's well-off, and on the other one is one that does not seem as wealthy. From the first is the girl, and from the second, the boy. Where the girl is bored and lacks passion, the boy is loyal and passionate and fiery. By some twist, they meet. Initially, they rub each other the wrong way, but after some exposure, they realize (after a month!) that they might be falling for each other. But the pesky patriarch of each family must be considered. It all rang of Romeo and Juliet that's time and again mentioned. And there were all the other people to consider as well~ the teen socialites with snobby their attitudes ala-Gossip Girl and Caleb's cousin Finn, who read bad boy and burned.

Look, I aprreciate love stories, but this one went over board a couple of times. BUT there was one very big surprise~ their faith, both Kate and Caleb allude to their faith and how it faith held them distinct from the rest. So I suppose one other thing that held them together was their faith... at one point Kate actually utters the phrase God is Love. Shaking off my initial surprise, and after opening up a little I could see that her/their faith was authentic even if their love developed rather quickly, passionately.

Did their love story read real and possible? Honestly, no.. everything was to intense and passionate given the span of time they knew each other. This was so, despite the history and antagonism between their families. But I did appreciate the moments where each character had to "wait and think.."

2.5/5
 
P.S Did anyone besides me miss the part where the blurb uses "Christian bad boy"? I need to get my eyes checked... because that bit speaks volumes of what's in Caleb+Kate.  Or maybe, I should just start paying more attention to the blurbs?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Genesis by Bernard Beckett

Genesis
Good Reads Summary

“What does it mean to be human?” The answer lies within the mystery of Genesis. Set in a postapocalyptic future, the novel takes the form of an examination undergone by young Anaximander as she prepares to enter an enigmatic institution known simply as The Academy. For her subject she has chosen the life of the philosopher-soldier Adam Forde, her long-dead hero. It is through Anax’s presentation and her answers to persistent questioning by her examiners that we learn the history of her island Republic, along with the rules and beliefs of their society. At the completion of the examination, when everything has been laid bare, Anax must confront the Republic’s last great secret, her own surprising link to Adam Forde, and the horrifying truth about her world.

Like the great writers Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, Bernard Beckett explores the relationship between humans and technology in a brilliantly rendered novel that will keep readers guessing until the final page.

My Thoughts
 
wowwhatabookbecausegoodgolly awesome book! I feel numb and impressed. For all who say that YA isn't complex given all the flip and reads of late, well why don't yall give Genesis a go. Anaximander lays down their history in a systematic, step by step fashion, but despite the linear progression of her retelling the ending still packed a whallop.

I do not know where to begin but I will point out that saying this is YA limits it considerably. It's not just YA (and perhaps not YA at all.) Because for such a short piece, there's a lot in it. It's Philo 101. It's Intro to Poli Theory. It's sci-fi at it's most concise. Ohmygaad... it's mind melting.

"He chose words carefully for the sound they made or the shape of the ideas they folded into."

"Many scholars have complained of our tendency to see history only in conflicts, but I am not convinced they are right. It is in conflict that our values are exposed."

"The truth that being a person is beneath me...
you flower young and slowly rot...
and that is beneath me."


"This is always the problem with building heroes. To keep them pure, we must build them stupid."


"I try not to be surprised. Surprise is the public face of a mind that has been closed."

I've only ever imagined what Charlton Heston felt when he discovered what was over the sand dunes in Planet of the Apes. This ending makes me imagine that feeling all over again.

*****
Shout out to Sir Salinas in Intro to Poli Theory at UPB! It's been a while since I thought of you and your class, but damned if I'm not impressed by how all encompassing some of your sessions were because a lot of what you said is touched upon in Genesis. That course content such as yours could coincide with a "YA" novella is quite impressive/mindmelting!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) by Catherynne M. Valente, Ana Juan (Illustrator)

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)

Good Reads Summary

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.  With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

My Thoughts

What did I just read?

The matter of fact manner in which the tale is told should have made things come across as droll. It was all very "this is this" and "that is that." Except this could have just have been a Wyvern or a witch or a wairwolf and that could just have been the Marquess, or an enchanted key or a flying leopard. But the manner in which it was told could not detract from how exciting/different (albeit confusing) September's adventure was. So, girl on a quest it was! The why's and the how's and the where's and the who's are where all the details and layers came in. But despite what I initially took to be the matter of fact tone, nothing was ever simple.

Once I got used to things, I recognized that she's got a way with words. She does not spoon feed a reader by simplifying things. The characters, the story, the humor all required thinking and imagination. Her descriptions of what is and what was were all humorous and quite original. My personal favorite bits were on being young and having courage: to be young is to be heartless; something September was told more than once but took to... uhh, heart quite slowly,


"When you are born your courage is new and clean,. You are brave enough for anything: Crawling off of stair cases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk, and crusty things, and fear, and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feeels like."


She writes smart. She manages all at once to entertain me and make me think and finally make me feel. A word of advice though, be patient and read slow. Otherwise, you risk missing out on something, every other page has got either a funny or a true moment. So slow it down. If this were a meal, it most definitely isn't fast food. It's a fairy tale/adventure: she is whisked from Nebraska to Fairy Land on the back of flying leopard. Once there, September had a choice of losing her way, her life ,her mind, or her heart..Guess what the eleven year old picked. I loved that she was so young and naive because it's both these qualities that have her adventure turning into something almost like Alice's, except September was a smidge more proactive.

4.5/5

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Texas Gothic
Good Reads Summary

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

My Thoughts

It's cute which I do not mean in a negative way. Texas Gothic is a surprising mix of witches and cowboys, magic and science, romantic-comedy and ghost mystery. It's not deep but damned entertaining. It starts with a girl in her undies flapping her arms at a cow whilst a young cowboy watches over then moves to a mystery of a long dead body, ghosts and sink holes. Can you blame me for finishing it? And it's funny! I love me a good laugh. While there's slapstick, with them bumping into each other, falling into holes and whatnot, there were also laughs that stemmed from the sweet/annoying moments between Amy and Ben.

It's different, I will give it that. They're different. From Amy to Phin Goodnight to Mark and Ben McCulloch, all of them were unique. Consider Amy's sister Phin, who mixed science and witchcraft, who at times was dense but when it counted could be sensitive. She's the forgetful scientist minus terrible hair plus magic. Or Amy! Gosh, this girl didn't make sense. At first I thought she would be like those other girls from magic families. You know, the different one? The one without magic in a mostly magical family ala- girl from Once A Witch. Things were not that simple though as she's more like the family's guard. She's hellbent on keeping her magic and nonmagic worlds separate to keep them if not secret, then at least, unnoticed. But with her aunt's reputation, I wondered if her insistence to keep those things apart really was necessary. And how did she keep those worlds apart? Snark. It is this that endeared her to me. Because IMO, it is this that endeared her to Ben as well.

Speak of attraction, the one between her and Ben was absolutely hilarious. Like watching a romantic comedy, at first they rubbed each other the wrong way, with each encounter their mutual annoyance increased. And when things finally did come to head, well... sparks! It smacked of Ten Things I Hate About You. Consider:

Her saying,"You have a funny way of showing how much you don't like me."

And him replying, "I don't like gophers either, but I wouldn't leave one to suffer. I'd shoot it to put it out of its misery."
Last, it doesn't take itself seriously. It's actually quite light in mood despite there being ghosts and danger. If anything there's a comic feel from beginning to end. Witches and Cowboys make for an interesting read.

3.5/5

Saturday, July 23, 2011

SISTER MISCHIEF by Laura Goode

Sister Mischief

Good Reads Summary

A gay suburban hip-hopper freaks out her Christian high school - and falls in love - in this righteously funny and totally tender YA debut, for real.

Listen up: You’re about to get rocked by the fiercest, baddest all-girl hip-hop crew in the Twin Cities - or at least in the wealthy, white, Bible-thumping suburb of Holyhill, Minnesota. Our heroine, Esme Rockett (aka MC Ferocious) is a Jewish lesbian lyricist. In her crew, Esme’s got her BFFs Marcy (aka DJ SheStorm, the butchest straight girl in town) and Tess (aka The ConTessa, the pretty, popular powerhouse of a vocalist). But Esme’s feelings for her co-MC, Rowie (MC Rohini), a beautiful, brilliant, beguiling desi chick, are bound to get complicated. And before they know it, the queer hip-hop revolution Esme and her girls have exploded in Holyhill is on the line. Exciting new talent Laura Goode lays down a snappy, provocative, and heartfelt novel about discovering the rhythm of your own truth.


My Thoughts

Theirs are individual, highly original and strong voices. And they’re funny! Throw in a couple of surprising moment of sweet…and this is me, hours later, contemplating a re-read. First of, I don’t get hip hop, but their early discussions on its origins, white/black/blue/red etc and ‘white guilt’ were hilarious and made perfect sense to me. They put into words the questions I never thought I had. I will also say that SISTER MISCHIEF is clever in tackling the subject. Then throw in some politics, religion, a joint or two, and… well, this is not a simple book! They sure as heck weren’t simple characters.

The humor had me busting my gut. Once the school of SWASPS comes up with a policy counter hip hop, they respond by starting up a GSA club with focus on discussions on it. So… yes, a it’s a little serious with discussion on religion but that’s just one aspect of it because if we strip it down, it’s all on the individuality of these four girls who want to express themselves in an unconventional manner. So, the great thing is they are regular girls, but not teen YA cardboard cutouts. I dare not say that I loved them, because to do so would be too simplistic. And this book, and these young women are anything but.

Out of the four, I was certain Marcy would be my favorite, given her tough and independent I don’t care what others think/say stance. But it was Rowi, with her confusion and choices and actions that stands out right now; particularly her choices with regard to Esme... I saw/felt the conflict. Of course, there’s Tess to consider with her faith and religion coupled with an (unexpected, but deeply appreciated) open mind.

*I wish I had a head/an ear for hip hop, then I could get a handle on what they sounded like… but that’s the extent of my complaints.

READ THIS PEOPLE! 4/5
*Thanks NetGalley

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One
Good Reads Summary

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

My Thoughts
 
Awesome-freaking-sauce...

Wade's world is one of "people living within an illusion," who are all the while engaged in a scavenger hunt of epic proportions. Throw in a teensy tiny angsty romance, and I'm sold. Layer on some game-speak, a hell whole lot of pop-culture references from the 80's well and one would worry that READY PLAYER ONE is a muddle. BUT the thing is, it isn't~ a muddle, I mean. It works. If one were born in the 70's and was a teen in the 80's (neither of which I am,) one would most likely get a huge kick out of this, but you need not be either of those to enjoy this.

IMO, this was written with my brother in mind, my brother who still has working ATARI, who still has not one but two of those pink and grey game units that work. He'd be familiar with a lot of the things that just went right by me here. And yet, I enjoyed RPO. Admittedly, my eyes did glaze over a couple of times at the beginning but when some blood was drawn, I just had to see it through. Again, a lot of the game-speak probably (most assuredly) flew right by me, but no matter.. Wade's adventure is just that~ an adventure, a scavenger hunt of epic proportions with the happy addition of a romance and a lot of friendship.

And with a cool turn of phrase here and there, some interesting (honest) observations on the human condition, some existential discourse and voila... it's just a little more interesting. Ready Player One is set in world where the shit has hit the fan, where our worst fears have come to be, but what is described could be fact, particularly those descriptions of the illusion people immersed themselves in:

"Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation: Worlds upon worlds.

In the OASIS, you could be come whomever and whatever you wanted to be, without ever revealing your identity, because anonymity was guaranteed...

or

A self imposed prison for humanity..."

*Added bonuses (for me) are mentions of Neon Genesis Evangelion and all those John Hughes films :)

4.5/5
Get on this people!
*Thanks NetGalley

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Iron Knight (Iron Fey # 4) by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Knight (Iron Fey, #4)
Good Reads Summary

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.

Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.

With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.

To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.

And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.
 
My Thoughts

I'm feeling a mix of sad and satisfied with Iron Knight. With this last one, you can imagine my absolute frustration at having the galley stall for reasons unknown at page sixty, with my agony over having actually read Iron Knight... well, DEVOUR is what comes to mind. Because devour it, I did.

I sort of wish I had not gone through it so quickly though because now I feel understand how that green JFL mascot* feels whenever it wails after each episode, "...It's Over!" But, I am happy. Because now, I see how things go; it's wonderful when one sees beloved characters end up just where they're supposed to.

BTW, Iron Knight = happiness!

In the books prior, my favor went from Ash to Puck then back to Ash again. Ash's attraction was that he was not afraid to be what he was~ a winter Prince, ice cold and confident. Puck's charms lay in his warmth, his humor. Iron Knight brings both of them into focus, and I can't say that I was disappointed especially after watching them work together. While Puck simply could not help himself for even at the peak of battle he'd crack a joke, Ash is precisely the Ash he came to be in Iron Queen: steadfast, with one word and driven. That is until questions surfaced. It was this last thing that complicated matters. Initially, his goal was clear: to get back to Meghan, in a manner not contradictory to his oath, to allow him to be with her. Simple matter? I think not. At least there was help along the way some came as expected, but others cames totally out of the blue. All with their reasons of course.

Some high points:

It's More like boy book, without losing what made the last three books so good... Maybe I'm playing into this is Ash's POV = boy book idea, but IMO, Iron Knight felt more action-packed to me. The scarier parts like Wyld Wood were darker and just a bit more creepy. The various magical creatures were just a tad more viscious. And yet, surprsingly, it also revealed Ash's softer side, his (in)decision and his conflict. So, Ash, Prince-no-more showed he was a boy with a heart after all. *sigh*

Humor. with Puck there, what else did I expect? But I have to point out how much I liked Puck and Ash's cat-dog behavior. Previous books have already shown that they weren't exactly friends; that theirs wasn't an easy alliance. Here, it still wasn't. What's wonderful to see is how that antagonism had them volleying one insult after another, back and forth. And the strange (but doubly funny) part, is how the magical creatures mirrored this relationship. So, on one hand there's Ash-Puck; on the other, there's Grimalkin-Big Bad Wolf.

Twists There are so many things unexpected that take place, bbut there's that one twist~ that darned twist~ that I had no idea was coming!

The best part of it all:  knowing a bit more of Puck and Ash's history, what they were and how they came to be the way they were, and despite all that... they still worked together.

THANK YOU Netgalley!

*And here's the JFL mascot in sucky video demonstrating how I feel right now.

Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst

Drink, Slay, Love
Good Reads Summary

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?

My Thoughts

The title alone had me curious, but throw in were-unicorns, and... well, what choice did I really have? I had to get on this! There really aren't any big surprises in Drink, Slay, Love, and that's even when considering characters who make little digs at YA in general and sparkly vampires in particular.

But that it's campy, kitschy and that it had those little digs are what I appreciated most. The most awesome moment is her calling the guy out... too bad it ended at her calling him out because, despite the valid points she made, their romance still progressed. But really, all that is fine... because Drink, Slay, Love doesn't take itself seriously and neither did I. It's all in good fun.

I had my fingers crossed, hoping for a good laugh out of it (in the same vein as Hex Hall. And dare I hope? Maybe, even maybe even Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.) And lo, I was not disappointed. Especially, with a character like Pearl who reads as over-the-top femme fatale type: strong, violent, into fast cars, tight clothes and what not... she made me laugh. Plus, she's a vampire.

And there be sparkles just not from one you'd think to sparkle because once Pearl went, "He staked me. The pretty sparkly horse staked me," I was hooked. And all that in the first chapter alone too!

*Thanks Simon & Schuster!
2.5/5

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Forever (Wolves of Mercy #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3)
Good Reads Summary

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater.

then.

When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from a curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives.

now.

That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt.

forever.

Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever

My Thoughts

I finally see what others saw in Sam/Grace in the SHIVER & LINGER. That said, I'm feeling a tad regretful because it's as if I'd missed out on something sweet/good/sad. How many months have passed since reading Shiver and Linger? Then, all I thought after reading them was these were just ordinary stories of boy-girl-love. But what has changed that I'm shifting from what was decidedly an unenthusastic response to what is now a new place of surprised satisfaction?

I admit I started reading this solely to get my Isabel/Cole fix; they were what shone through in SHIVER & LINGER. They were the one's I was rooting for. Where I thought Sam Grace just another couple, too sweet to be perfect, Isabel and Cole were another matter all together. And yes, Isabel/Cole did not disappoint in this one. They injected FOREVER with what I had come to expect from them the bitterwseet, caustic, funny, engaging interaction. What comes as an absolutely delightful surprise to me is that Grace/Sam held their own as well.

Thus, the feeling of me coming in at the tail-end of some really great conversation, me feeling like I'd missed out because it's only now two books passed am I making this connection with all these characters.

*I am totally rereading SHIVER and LINGER...
 3.5/5

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ashes by Ilsa Bick

Ashes

Good Reads Summary

It could happen tomorrow...


A cataclysmic event. An army of "The Changed."

Can one teen really survive on her own?

An electromagnetic pulse sweeps through the sky, destroying every electronic device and killing billions. For those spared, it's a question of who can be trusted and who is no longer human...

Desperate to find out what happened and to avoid the Changed, Alex meets up with Tom---a young army veteran---and Ellie, a young girl whose grandfather was killed by the electromagnetic pulse.

This improvised family will have to use every ounce of courage they have just to survive.

My Thoughts

I'm very easy to please because despite some of the problems I encountered, I want more. After reading a couple of reviews on Ashes, I had this nagging feeling that I wouldn't find Alex believable, especially given all her how to survive in the wild knowhow. Yet I thought , she was believable. Here's a run down of what she had on her:

"Five power bars.
Five packets of instant jell-o~ two lime, one orange, one lemon, one cherry.
A space blanket.
A small brown bottle of ancient iodine tablets.
A small bottle of water.
Her car keys with a working mini flashlight. And a... glock."

It was the last item that struck me as odd. I mean she was what, sixteen? Seventeen? Then I remembered: I could chalk up her maturity and toughness to the fact that she had no parents, was living on borrowed time, such a life would probably make you grow up fast. But that's all without considering her post-apolcalyptic world of plagues and zombies. Such a world would probably teach people toughen people up. So yes, the maturity and survivor knowhow of water warmth/shelter/water/food eventually did make sense all that in mind.

But what I really loved is this: She's no pushover and would not kowtow to the whims of a twelve year old. She's all, "If you don't wanna? Fine." And then she was out of there. Boiling it down, all she was, is attributable to what the times were like. Alex made sense to me.

But then there was Tom... and the strong Alex that I was coming to like was replaced by a version of Alex I was not too excited about. She certainly was still tough, but much of her responsibilty shifted to him. I could see why she liked him, I could see and understand it. But I wanted more of her, strong tough Alex.

THANKFULLY, things didn't end there because there were so many things thrown in. I didn't mind. Some may say ASHES went all over the place with all those story lines to follow. But when I go "WHAT?!" every so often, I know I'm hooked. And I tell you ther were a lot of WHAT's coming out of my mouth. After Tom, the hero, there's also Alex the dog whisperer. Then there's the Village of the Creepy and the unexplained rules therein. Then there are the Chosen, the Spared and the Awakened. And Chris!

I totally see why people feel like there was too much going on all at once. Because there was, but for me it was fine. Now, I'm left wanting to know more... and very excited about what's too come.

*Thanks Netgalley!
 3.5

Monday, July 18, 2011

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

Playing Hurt
Good Reads Summary

Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college-and everyone's admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea's dad springs for a three-week summer "boot camp" program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she's immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who's haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain-or finally heal their heartbreak?

My Thoughts

As the story swung from Chelsea to Clint, so did my opinion of Playing Hurt. From being intrigued, to being annoyed, then finally, me fanning myself over their encounters.... then back again. In the end, however, I can say without a doubt, I do not like Chelsea. As for Clint, well, I do not dislike as much.

She's selfish and she cheats. When she said no one could help what they felt. I agreed, but I wanted to add, they could help what they did. Perhaps, the cheating greatly affected my opinion of her, but it's everything Gabe had to say in the end that summarized what I felt; it's even what Clint had to say when they finally blew up, something that ran along the lines of her being a scared girl who could not even decide between to boys. (That last line alone had me boohoo-ing *insert sarcasm here* for her!) Everytime, yes, everytime she asked herself what was wrong her... well, I was wondering the same thing too.

As to Clint, I'm indifferent. Like Chelsea, he too was hurt. And like her, he too behaved in a way that's unacceptable ('it takes two to tango' and all that, right?) But I sympathized with him just a little more, his interaction with his friends, his relationships with other people beside Chelsea, proved he cared... and was not as callous as Chelsea could be, a callousness demonstrated by her brushing aside Gabe, as well as by her ignoring all the warnings from her brother.

One thing though, I'd have have wanted a little more on her and her father. Them trying to make their peace, them trying to put aside blame as no blame could be had... it was this part of the story that rang true for me. Sadly, it came too little and too late because her actions had entrenched her in my not-so-good people list.

2

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Eve (The Eve Trilogy #1) by Anna Carey

Eve (The Eve Trilogy, #1)
 Good Reads Summary

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.

My Thoughts

There's potential here, but what comes to mind right now is Handmaid's Tale, even Wither. Except Eve is a pale version of those. Where all three possess elements of a society being rebuilt on the backs of unwanted, Eve lacks the deeper emotions and awareness that Handmaid's has; it also lacks the seamless, lush writing that Wither possesses. That said, Eve isn't a bad story despite some of the clumsy dialogue and sudden/abrupt shifts because right now it feels like to ended too soon.

Eve's story starts where most stories like these do: a girl relatively happy (and ignorant) with how things are. But that's quick to change because after seeing how things are going to be, she runs... and finds herself in a place where she does not know what to do, with a vague goal of getting somewhere else.

And I think this is where my problems with Eve start. Everything is so vague. Her world, her history is bare, I knew little of it and what little that is known is still too bare (for my liking.) That after a plague destroyed nearly everything, rebuilding was done mainly through those orphaned. That while girls were broodmares, boys labored. That while they toiled, a new City was built, protected by soldiers of a New America. Of course there were those too old or too opposed, but we got little exposure of them. In the end? I simply wanted to see more beyond Caleb and Eve's love developing (which, btw, did develop.) AND I'm not saying that this development was a bad thing because, at least something was tackled beyond a glance.

World building is thin. Like Eve, we know little of what was and even less of what is. Character development too, leaves a lot desired. Both these could have been tackled a bit more. The parts that are absolutely clear is that there's a girl on the run with a boy who knows a bit more than she does. Their companionship goes to the next stage. There's a lot of chasing and an ending that's not happy but designed to push through to the sequel. As I said, while Eve is far from perfect, there's potential here, so much so that I'm likely to read the rest.

3/5
*Thanks Netgalley!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Wildefire (Wildefire, #1)
Good Reads Summary

Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.


My Thoughts

By part one I was leaning strongly toward a one. It was all over the place for me: a hot head (or maybe even homicidal?) older sister, a hot head female protag, unplanned meet ups with five others of her kind (unknown to her,) and... godhood. Perhaps it was going to be one of those "not me" books because some parts were OK, other parts were boring, while other's still had me really curious. I will say that Wildefire is one of extremes~ there's violence and there's the corny.

The violence, I didn't mind. When one reads UF, violence becomes part of the reading experience, there's always rhyme, reason, with the violence being a necessary. (Not that this is UF or anything, but it coud have been.) Here, initially I thought, the violence was needlessly thrown in just for the hell of it... BUT after the big reveal, when I knew what she and her sister were, I could understand why they behaved the way they did. I'm not saying I love Ash as a character; she's simply too unsympathetic, but at least I saw from whence she came.

My biggest problem in it lies with the moments of corny. And these moments were never sporadic. One could count on Colt (the slightly older, a little creepy love interest) to utter something very corny to cringe to. He had lines of getting to know the girl and long speeches proclaimed sincere but just rang false in my ears. And there's their gullibility. When somebody says you're a god, well believe it, you are a god. Drawn together by I don't know what, this curious bunch were very too quick to believe! Well, at least their god names were cool~ to an exent, even if the same was a bit stereotypical pigeonholed. Meaning? since a character looked a certain way or was of certain descent, then by golly this character would be this god and that character would be that god (nitpick alert! sorry...)

But hey, I managed to finish it. After slogging through part one, it was part two that had me sitting up and paying attention. The ending too is enough to get me to read on.

2.5/5
*Thanks Simon & Schuster

Friday, July 15, 2011

Burn Bright (Night Creatures #1) by Marianne de Pierres

Burn Bright (Night Creatures, #1)
Good Reads Summary

Into a world of wild secrets and deadly pleasures comes a girl whose innocence may be her greatest strength.

In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute . . .

Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom.

But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother.

When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion?

Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness?

Listen well, baby bats. Burn bright, but do not stray from the paths. Remember, when you live in a place of darkness you also live with creatures of the dark.

My Thoughts

On Part One, the biggest thing that might put people off is the world building. It's a daunting thing to tackle especially with it being so intricate. "Imagine a place where there are no Elders. No rules. No punishment. Only music and laughter and freedom. That's Ixion." Needless to say, Ixion is complicated. And I confess, after reading that line I was imagining an outcome of donkey ears and wooden noses.

That aside, what I truly enjoyed was the puzzle that Retra presented. Plopped smack in the middle of it, I was unsure as to how I felt about her. I can't say I disliked Retra, neither can I say that I liked her. That I was confused by her is certain. Her upbringing as a Seal presented two things for me. It made her experience in Ixion a little more scary and alien. As a Seal she was taught little and was aware of few things outside her walls. So when she stepped out of that her world in search of her brother, her feelings were mine: unsure, confused but certainly fascinated, and maybe even a little enthralled by the how different things were. HOWEVER, it's the same upbringing that set her apart from the rest in a more postive way because she was not weak, "Their voices rained on Retra. She wanted to scream loudly enough to drown them out, but her Seal-disciplined vocal chords would not oblige her. Seals did not shout for help for themsleves. Seals did not scream..." She did not swallow the company line like the others did either. Instead, she questioned, she sought... and had her own agenda. Of course, it all these things that put her in danger.

Another notable thing about the first part is the absence of a romance... or more accurately, the focus on anything but that! I love that! Yes, she's a girl. Yes, there are boys. Yes, they all live in a place where anything went. So one would expect some romance to be kindled somewhere. I admit it, I was expecting it, hoping for it even. But despite all the opportunities presented for it to be tackled, her thoughts did not progress further than, "Hmmm, I like him or might like him." Thoughts like those were quickly set aside by the novelty of her situation. Of course, the romance bit is tackled a bit more in the second part, but hey it's all good because the direction the story went was very surprising!

And aside from Retra, there's a whole bunch of characters who actually contribute. Almost all she came in contact with had something to add. At first, Rollo and Suki came across just like everybody else, but slowly as she got to know them, their stories added somemore to what was already coming out as complicated in my mind. Complex given the number of players that include: Ripers, Night Creatures, Zoners (burn bright but burn fast,) Peaks (too old) Circle (spies,) Ghosts, The League etcetera, etcetera.

And by the time Part Two rolled in.. I was all, F*ck, what was that? Never a dull moment, I can honestly say I had no idea that Burn Bright would go in the direction that it did. Not that I'm complaining because the second part was where the action was.

I loved the book, so I could go on and on and on about what I liked, loved, didn't like and didn't love so much, so here's the skinny:

PROS:

*No cardboard cutout protags. All characters even the supporting ones had something to contribute. Whether it's the needed mystery, humor, sappy-sap love or angsty jealousy, all the people she met had something to contribute. And at the center of it all is Retra. She's fascinating! Her background kept her ignorant, and in Ixion, her experience read like a fish out of water, but it is the same upbringing that made her stand out in a positive sense.
*There's worldbuilding of the intricate type. Even if there was a lot to take in the story flowed seamlessly.
*A lot of confict. There's never a dull moment especailly in the second part.

CONS:

*It's short. Much shorter than I would have liked because just as I was getting more excited well The Acknowledgements showed up; this was not a good way to end a book... at all.
*The second part had much more speed and was more action filled than the first, making the first part seem a tad tame. But really it was the first part's intricacy that had me going. While some may take the first part and weigh it against the second to find it wanting, frankly, both parts? Equally awesome!

4.5/5

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren't Complicated, I Wouldn't Be Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver #4) by E. Lockhart

Real Live Boyfriends (Ruby Oliver Quartet Series #4)
 Good Reads Summary

Ruby Oliver, the neurotic, hyperverbal heroine of the The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, and The Treasure Map of Boys, is back!

Ruby Oliver is in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. But Noel seems to have turned into a pod-robot lobotomy patient, and Ruby can’t figure out why.
Not only is her romantic life a shambles:
Her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos,
Her mother’s got a piglet head in the refrigerator,
Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar,
Gideon shows up shirtless,

And the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever.

Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks?
Will she ever understand boys?
Will she ever stop making lists?
(No to that last one.)

Roo has lost most of her friends. She's lost her true love, more than once. She's lost her grandmother, her job, her reputation, and possibly her mind. But she's never lost her sense of humor. The Ruby Oliver books are the record of her survival.

My Thoughts

Four days for four Ruby books. Not much sleep, a load of laughs... and now I have a new favorite female lead who is far from perfect but definitely unforgetable. YA contemps/ chick lit need not be angst-filled, drama-ridden to be good. And while Ruby's stories are angst-filled and drama-ridden, hers are hilarious and painful and truthful and accurate.

Reading Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren't Complicated, I Wouldn't Be Ruby Oliver  is like the before and after of a coaster ride. Right before, you know you want to, you're dying to get on in fact; that's even if you're a little scared, even if you're a little nervous. And right after? With your heart still galloping, you're thinking, "I want do that again!" This was the fourth; this was the last, so I wanted to savour it; slow down and stretch it out, but once I got settled in, pages flew and in the end,

Some things came as expected. Its funny and she hilarious (as usual.) Things did get complicated and then a little more complicated. Some people (Ruby especially) did screw up, but the same people did try to (and sometimes did) redeem themselves.

Now Ruby, specifically? She is not as mental as she first thought herself to be. From The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver  to The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them to The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon—and me, Ruby Oliver,  she had me cringing, tearing up from laughter, gritting my teeth in annoyance. But, she entertained me with her naivette, with all her observations, and she even surprised with her honesty and her eventual unwillingness to let things just be. And the others? It is safe to say that Ruby wasn't the only one with issues.

Said fact, above all, is what I loved. I loved how imperfect they all were. Ruby was a given, but Noel? Her father? Her mother? Issues abound!

But there's the unexpected too. A moment, 95% in, with me almost done, there's this one bit between Noel and Ruby that had me sniff-sniffing like an idiot. Where in heck did that come from?! So now, I love the book just a smidge more.

READ THIS, EVERYONE!!!

5/5

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon—and me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver #3) by E. Lockhart

The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon—and me, Ruby Oliver  (Ruby Oliver, #3)
Good Reads Summary


Ruby is back at Tate Prep, and it’s her thirty-seventh week in the state of Noboyfriend. Her panic attacks are bad, her love life is even worse, and what’s more: Noel is writing her notes, Jackson is giving her frogs, Gideon is helping her cook, and Finn is making her brownies. Rumors are flying, and Ruby’s already-sucky reputation is heading downhill.

Not only that, she’s also: running a bake sale, learning the secrets of heavymetal therapy, encountering some seriously smelly feet, defending the rights of pygmy goats, and body-guarding Noel from unwanted advances.

In this companion novel to The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book, Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and to find true love—if such a thing exists.

My Thoughts

What does Ruby Oliver have that has me going through her books one after another? It's not like she's perfect, her life is so far from being perfect:

She's boy crazy.
(Or maybe just plain crazy?)

She's slightly neurotic.
(Make that very neurotic.)

Her friends Suck.
(Let's face it, they do suck. Boo!)

She is completely aware of the fact that she does not know what she wants!
(But with the help of the awesome Dr. Z, some bitchy llamas, zoo animals that don't judge, and her parents, the new dog named Polka Dot... that's slowly changing.)

Her observations are hilarious. Her lists, while hilarious in their own right, managed strike at the truth too.
(I'd copy paste all her lists but you'd miss out on all the fun.)

Basically, this story is honest, sometimes painful, but almost always funny. So, Read This! Read all of Ruby's stories.

4.5/5

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them (Ruby Oliver, #2) by E. Lockhart

The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them (Ruby Oliver, #2)
Good Reads Summary

Here is how things stand at the beginning of newly-licensed driver Ruby Oliver's junior year at Tate Prep:

• Kim: Not speaking. But far away in Tokyo.
• Cricket: Not speaking.
• Nora: Speaking--sort of. Chatted a couple times this summer when they bumped into each other outside of school--once shopping in the U District, and once in the Elliot Bay Bookstore. But she hadn't called Ruby, or anything.
• Noel: Didn't care what anyone thinks.
• Meghan: Didn't have any other friends.
• Dr. Z: Speaking.
• And Jackson. The big one. Not speaking.

But, by Winter Break, a new job, an unlikely but satisfying friend combo, additional entries to The Boy Book and many difficult decisions help Ruby to see that there is, indeed, life outside the Tate Universe

My Thoughts

I'd promised to hold off on reading this for one of my meh-reading days, but I just couldn't help myself and picked it up and...

... I loved it...

I'm done pretending to possess any self-control whatsoever when it comes to this series because I am most definitely starting the third one now. Why, you ask? Ruby Oliver is a little more aware of goings on in Tate. She's a little tougher, not so naive but still funny as heck. I think the first one was sufficient on it's own, but if this sequel proves anything, it's that one can never have too much of a good thing. Because a good thing, is what this is. Only sometimes I really wanted to shake her. Mostly, though, I was laughing alongside her.

Here's what I'm thinking right now:

a. I should probably get some sleep except... these characters are still running around in my head. Some, I want to hug (Noel,) while others (Kim, Jackson, Nora, Cricket, heck, even Ruby sometimes,) I want to clunk on the head with a very, very thick book.

b. I miss sleepovers! Meghan, Nora and Roo make me miss those: friends, fried chips, movie marathons and talking of nothing of consequence.

c. ...I still want to clunk Kim and Jackson their heads!.

d. And... Noel, aaawh. (But if I've gotten anything from Ruby, Dr. Z, it's not supposed to about the boy, but about knowing what you want and figuring out how to get it.)

e. I do wish she'd heeded Meghan's advice about keeping her nose out of things (things involving Kim and Jackson, and even things to do with Nora.) Said feeling coming from a purely spiteful "they deserve whatever was coming their way" stance. Except Ruby, after months of therapy, time with newfound friends, and even time with her parents, had turned into more evolved type of girl and thus grown up.

The best thing about this is how real she comes across: defintely insecure and slightly neurotic. Fortunately, like I said, there are new friends, a therapist, and unconventional parents who helped along the way.


5/5

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver #1) by E. Lockhart

The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver, #1)
Good Reads Summary

Ruby Oliver is 15 and has a shrink. She knows it’s unusual, but give her a break—she’s had a rough 10 days. In the past 10 days she:


- lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list), - lost her best friend (Kim),
- lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket), - did something suspicious with a boy (#10), - did something advanced with a boy (#15), - had an argument with a boy (#14), - drank her first beer (someone handed it to her),
- got caught by her mom (ag!),
- had a panic attack (scary),
- lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie),
- failed a math test (she’ll make it up),
- hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends),
- became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
- and had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the boys’!?!).

But don’t worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.

My Thoughts


WOOHOO! The Boyfriend List = WIN!

I enjoyed Frankie in The Direputable History of Frankie Landau Banks, but after reading The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver, I find that Ruby beats Frankie, hands down. Both of them read innocent, quirky, funny and imperfect. In other words, they are both screw ups. But wait! Ruby Oliver's story has so much more going for it because as she is not perfect, her life, her story certainly weren't. The Boy Friend List in turns sweet, annoying, and HILARIOUS.

Her recounting the fifteen boys (imaginary or otherwise, real or not), her three "friends," her unconventional parents, what they were to her and the role they had in what she was feeling, was hilarious. Her mom wants her to forget, her father to forgive, but I wanted her to kick someone's ass!

But wait!

The predicaments she found herself in (panic attacks, labels that were not at all flattering and being socially ostracized) started because she was the victim of some meany (though she sort of was, a lot of meanies, in fact) but were also exacerbated by her own in-action. And it is the fact that she is just so imperfect and funny... that I could not help but root for her.

I so badly want to start The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them! BUT I'm saving the rest of the series for when I'm desperate for a good book.

HILARIOUS!

4.5/5

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Winter's Shadow by M.J. Hearle

Winter's Shadow
Good Reads Summary

Blake Duchamp...

He's all that Winter Adams can think of. Ever since their fateful meeting at Pilgrim's Lament. Ever since he looked at her with those emerald eyes. Ever since he saved her life.

But Blake isn't all that he seems. There is a strangeness about him, something dark and otherworldly. Something dangerous. In his attic is a secret he would kill to defend, but Winter seems to have a special ability to make him forget his duty. And he is her only protection against the gathering darkness.

The only problem is, to protect Winter, Blake must risk exposing her to an even greater danger. Himself

My Thoughts

It's starts out in familiar territory: a dark brooding hero and a girl with a sad, sad past are inexplicably drawn to each other. Said romantic hero has a secret and must keep the girl at arms length~ just to keep her safe. It's then interspersed with glimpses into someone's past. Now, between the present day troubles and the past ones, I'd much rather have reading about the latter, Madeleine and her love, especially since Blake and what's her face's story was old hat.

THANKFULLY, things took an interesting turn when the cats showed up.
Picture this:
Photobucket

Then throw in some of what made Soul Screamers (books three and four) special, when the Other World was explored. It was both these elements that pulled Winter Shadow out from what would have been "been there and done that" territory into something a little better and more interesting.

Initially there's a good deal that's predictable in it, with the story only really becoming its own sometime after the first two-thirds.

Not bad.

3/5

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns 
Good Reads Summary:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

My Thoughts

Here's the old cover:
And here's the new one:

THANK GOSH the publishers opted for the current one. While the original is undoubtedly attractive, it wouldn't have done this book justice. It's simply too pretty For one, it does not convey how much magic and adventure play a role in the book, how "epic" her tale really is. And two, superficial as I may sound, it does not match the image of her that I have. The model looks too attractive, and it seems to say romance.

One of Elisa's charms in my eyes is how aware she is of both her appearance and how it affects others reception of her. And, admittedly she did start out soft, but she grew out of it. Her adventure starts rather quickly. Married to a virtual stranger, leaving home to settle in another to become as it's new queen. Only upon arrival does she (as do we) see that her new husband while well-meaning is not as strong as one would like, especially since he keeps her status a secret! Each discovery makes her wary of whom to trust with things getting more difficult (and more intersting) when she is taken. Unsure as to who her true enemies are, we witness Elisa grow up and even harden a little. All happening with her the bearer of the Godstone.

I loved the story.

There's adventure, romance and magic. There's princess and princessess as well as a prophecy to fulfill, but the main thing that makes this stand out for me (both in a good way and bad way) is her appearance... and what that had to do with her success. She started out homely; she's fat and knows it while others think it. So, I thought that made her different and a little more accessible especially with her being a princess. The annoying part comes in because she had to change before she actually helped anyone. I wonder, did she really have to undergo physical change for her value to be known? Because, really? it shouldn't have been about what she looked like. And it really isn't because a lot of good parts of the book reflect her strength of character. This touches on another aspect of the story that I loved: she was her strength of faith (Yes, color me surprised.) Not to say that it (or she is) preachy, but a big part of it is about keeping faith.

*THANKS NETGALLEY!
4.5/5

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thyla by Kate Gordon

Thyla

Good Reads Summary

My name is Tessa. I am strong. I am brave. I do not cry. These are the only things I know for certain.

I was found in the bush, ragged as a wild thing. I have no memory - not even of how I got the long, striping slashes across my back. They make me frightened of what I might remember.

The policewoman, Connolly, found me a place in a boarding school and told me about her daughter, Cat, who went missing in the bush.

I think there is a connection between Cat, me, and the strange things going on at this school. If I can learn Cat's story, I might discover my own - and stop it happening again.


My Thoughts

My name is Tessa. I am strong. I am brave. I do not cry. These are the only things I know for certain..

Thyla may be my third book of YA in two weeks that touches on memory (either forgetting or being forgotten.) The first half is Tessa piecing things together. She is discovered in the bush, sort of adopted by this policewoman, and then sent to a boarding school. Her inability to remember and her numerous questions about what she didn't know had me divided. Sure, I found her refreshing at first; Tessa was like a blank slate and she wasn't ashamed to ask questions. But the way she worded her questions only made her stand out more, made her sound old. And it goes on and on like that; for the first half (third ?) of the book, it’s Tessa trying to fit in and piece her memory together, but I’m nitpicking, because that aside one's got to admire at how she tried to fit in.

You only get to experience the paranormal, later in the book. And it’s this bit that engaged my interest. Gordon’s are a different type of Were with their own mythology. On one hand there are the Thyla (tigers?) on the other, the Sarco (Tasmanian devils?) Natural enemies of each other, they are forced to team up against what appear to be a common “vampire” enemy. What’s interesting is how they came to find themselves in that position because that’s where the history of the place comes a little bit into play. For an outsider (me), things were a bit hard to piece together, but once done, I thought, “That was different.”

I think it would be fair to say that there are two stories in this one. One (the first half really) is of Tessa not remembering. The second is on the Thyla, the Sarco and another kind of "vampire" enemy. It’s the connection between the two that’s the mystery. Add the fact that there’s a teensy bit of forbidden romance somewhere in the book, well, you get a little bit of everything

In a word? Interesting… I’d say it’s a 3 


Thursday, July 7, 2011

So Over You by Gwen Hayes

So Over You

Good Reads Summary

Layney Logan, girl reporter.

That's all she's ever wanted to be. This year, her senior year, not only does she have to share the coveted Senior Editor position with her arch nemesis, Jimmy Foster, she also has to figure out how to keep the school paper alive. With the local paper closing and the school cutting Journalism from the budget, it's a long shot. Working side-by-side with Foster, the guy she likes to call Lucifer,makes it even worse.

The only thing Layney dislikes more than swimming in the high school dating pool is Jimmy Foster think he got the best of her, so she takes
his ridiculous newspaper assignment--to go on twelve blind dates--to prove his powers of darkness won't work on her. The trouble is, the more she learns about herself on her journey of bad blind dates, the more she wonders if maybe Foster has known her better than she knows herself all this time.

And maybe she should have trusted him with the secret she’s kept for four years—the secret that broke them up to begin with.

So Over You is a young adult short novel of almost 40,000 words.


My Thoughts

SO OVER YOU satisfies something that’s been missing in what I’ve been reading lately. It’s funny on purpose. More often than not, I laugh at how ridiculous I find a scenario or at how improbable I find certain events in books. And while this one does have a serious side, it’s laughter that was in mind when a girl “married to her job” is forced to go on twelve blind dates.

Funny? Check.

It’s also fun when a lead is likable in how off-center she is. And she knows that she’s neurotic too. Too serious, she admits to being devoted to the getting the paper of the ground. She also admits, time and again, (and to his face) to loathing her partner, Foster. There be awesome chemistry between them, especially given their history. It was them, their byplay, that had me chuckling. At times, he’d come across as crude, but she certainly gave as good as he did. And when she instigated, he'd respond without holding back.

Chemistry? Check.

They sound like teenagers too. I always complain when a YA protag sounds/talks too young (too middle grade with ‘fake’ cusses to boot,) or when they sound too old. Such things, I did not find here because both Logan and Foster (even Tyler and Micah) sound realistic.

Overall, it’s a nice fluff-filled break… I ought to give it a 4 just for the laughs, but but I’ll settle for a three point five.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Tris & Izzie
Good Reads Summary

A modern retelling of the German fairytale "Tristan and Isolde", Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

My Thoughts

Beautiful cover, you have misled me... again!!!

The one and half star is due mainly to the beautiful cover and sporadic moments of me actually laughing at what came out of Izzie's mouth.

It's characters, none did I like. Izzie is self absorbed and totally unaware of everyone else around her. Her bestfriend is scheming and blames everyone else for her troubles. Tristan sounds robotic, (but at least there's a reason for that). And Marc whom I thought was going to be one of the better parts of the books does something that I find unexcusable.

**Spoiler ahead**

Specifically, Izzie is so clueless that by chapter four she still couldn't get it wrapped around her head that her BFF was in love with her BF. She's so secure in the thought that everyone wanted her to be happy. Oh puh-lease! I wanted to shake her! When Tristan finally appeared, both his too formal ways and oh-so-good looks rubbed her the wrong way, and simultaneously made her want him. Talk about contrary! And she slaps people a lot. Tristan is the dark brooding hero, but reads ROBOTIC. I felt no connection to any of them!

It's plot predictable: Everything said and done seems to be said and done because it's the thing to do. Puppets, that's what come to mind, with the marionette pulling strings of one puppet to do/say one thing then pulling another set to get another to say something in response. All this leading to a rather obvious conclusion. Obvious to me at least, because NONE (Izzie, in particular) of the characters could see past their noses!

And there's potential unfulfilled. A retelling of Tristan & Isolde, give me some of that, right? In truth, the similarity lies in the names alone.

1.5/5

*The bits that had me chuckling were all due to skimming: "I had spatter of invinciblity potion on my shirt," and I go, "How'd she manage that?" I had to look twice because I swear I thought it read invisibility. At this point I'd been skimming the galley AND listening an old SVU episode. Guess which kept my attention.

**Thanks Netgalley

Once was Lost by Sara Zarr

Once Was Lost
Good Reads Summary

Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.

In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed—-about God, about your family, about yourself—-is transformed.

My Thoughts
 
Let me keep this short: Samara may be the pastor's daughter, but her story isn't a preachy one.

Once Was Lost touches on faith, but not just about faith in a higher power, but more on one's faith in others. Zarr writes a story of a girl who is relatable in her confusion and sad in her wanting to be alone. But it was her experience with her mother with the added element of addiction/alcoholism that came across as real.

I'd been complaining of how fake I felt Stevie was in Flyaway. In that one I felt that the Stevie was needlessly optimistic and that she thought and spoke in a way an adult expects a teenager to speak/act. I encountered no such problem with Sam who read confused, angry, sad... authentic. One of the lines that stuck is her describing her feelings as those of resistance, doubt and suspicion.

She says it all, doesn't she?

4.5/5

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flyaway by Helen Landalf

Flyaway
Good Reads Summary


Fifteen-year-old Stevie Calhoun is used to taking care of herself. But one night, her mom, who works as an exotic dancer in a downtown Seattle nightclub, never comes home.

That’s the night Stevie’s life turns upside down.

It’s the night that kicks off an extraordinary summer: the summer Stevie has to stay with her annoyingly perfect Aunt Mindy; the summer she learns to care for injured and abandoned birds; the summer she gets to know Alan, the meanest guy in high school.

But most of all, it’s the summer she finds out the truth about Mom.

FLYAWAY is the story of a teen girl’s struggle to hold on to what she’s always believed, even as her world spins out of control.

My Thoughts

OK... I was expecting something along the lines of Stealing Heaven, only I get this:
It took me two tries to actually read it and not nitpick. My first go at it was me picking over how inauthentic things felt; I found myself obsessing over what one character said or did, finding this thing or that thing to be just the thing one said/did ina given situation. For example, Stevie's walking out on her aunt was a bit too much of angry-teenager for me. Or her school counsellor saying something that ran along the lines of not having Stevie "slip through the cracks." These things just felt cliched to me. Another part that truly had me baffled was Stevie's optimism when it came to her mother; for a street-wise teenager, she sometimes came across as painfully optimistic and too trusting.

But perhaps this optimism and belief could be contrued as authentic, too. Would it not be authentic to believe the best of one's parents? To think that they could do no wrong? So, yeah, giving Fly Away a second go (with a little more of an open mind,) I could recognize moments of it for what they were: a girl who loved her mother deeply, loyally. But there's also Stevie, the friend. It seemed the relationship with her mother was mirrored in the ones that she had with her "friends." She showed how trusting and forgiving she could be. And this once again baffled me. Her trusting them and whatnot just went contrary to the tough and street smart girl I expected her to be. Then there's Alan. Honestly, I thought there romance was just extra; it added nothing but took nothing away either.

Overall, while moments of it were authentic (mostly involving June,) I think there are other books that tackle the subject better.

1.5/5

*Thanks to Netgalley.