Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Sweetes Thing by Christina Mandelski

The Sweetest Thing
Good Reads Summary

In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she's decorating a cake. Unfortunately everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable.

But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems - only her dad's about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed.

Using just the right amount of romance, family drama, and cute boys, The Sweetest Thing will entice fans with its perfect mixture of girl-friendly ingredients.

My Thoughts

The Sweetest Thing... what I enjoyed most about it is how EVERYONE called her out on her being immature and bratty because she was both of those things and more. About to turn to sixteen, she could not seem to let go of her past, of her mother who'd left, and neither could she imagine being anywhere but where she was. Almost sixteen, she was very used to the way things were so when the possibility of change came in... she behaved like a brat.

Then there's her indecision to contend with... indecision with regard to the love interest because there's not one but two here, one of whom just happens to be her BFF. As usual, she's unaware of his feelings until the popular guys starts paying attention. It's this aspect of the story that I could have done without. It's been done so much already! Love triangle? Check. BFF in love with MC? Check? MC unaware of last fact?Check. Add the act that the two love interests are so typical. I could ask you to pick any other YA and subsitutute them in Ethan and Jack's place~ where one is sweet and considerate, the other is the popular jocky type. What made Ethan a teensy bit different is why he was in her life to begin with.

She's talented of course with everyone knowing her as Cake Girl, but she couldn't see anything beyond that. So I ENJOYED it when people around tried to get her to see what else she could be. She's just so stubborn though!
She wasn't the only one who could be disagreeable though. Her father, while well meaning did some things that shouldn't have been done, but this same fact had him coming across as flawed and thus realistic... if a little bit mean. Her mother, now she was written to be disliked, though she plays no active role in the book, she's always a factor in how Sheridan acts. But it's in relation to her that Sheridan learns what she's got to learn.. to let go.

While I did enjoy parts of this book a good deal of it had me scratching my head. I felt some of the characters were mere caricatures of what they could be, saying things that fit the moment than them as people. Then there were the moments that felt fake to me (like those between her and her grandmother.) But there were also other moments that felt authentic like with Lori's humor, observations.

As to me liking this book, well, I'm split as you can see...

2-3/5
THANKS NETGALLEY!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)

Good Reads Summary

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective wall. To the south, the King's powers are failing, and his enemies are emerging from the shadows of the throne. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the frozen land they were born to. Now Lord Eddard Stark is reluctantly summoned to serve as the King's new Hand, an appointment that threatens to sunder not only his family but also the kingdom itself. A heroic fantasy of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and evildoers who come together in a time of grim omens.

My Thoughts

It was this last scene that had me picking up GoT...


Dany standing naked with those baby dragons wrapping themselves around her and all those people who were so different from her in appearance, bowing before her like it was the second coming?! Well, what did you expect me to do? I simply had to know what was going to happen. Having seen the series, I WAS tempted to jump straight into CLASH OF KINGS. But I read GAME OF THRONES instead. No, I blazed through it. I have the series to thank for making things so easy for me. Had I not seen it, I think I'd have muddled throught Ned's world.

His world and his people are not that different from other epic fantasies that I have read given settings that read like an older, rougher and wilder kind of England European country. The people not that extraordinary as a whole, but it's the individual characters that drew me in.

I've read some say that they are just typical of the genre. I suppose Sansa is the prissy princess. I suppose Arya is the princess who doesn't want to be one. I guess Jon is the boy who finds himself out of place and diconnected from others and that Rob is the boy who finds himself with too many responsibilities on his shoulders before he is ready. So maybe they were typical, yet I enjoyed getting to know them more nonetheless given that the series didn't dig in as deep as I'd have liked.

So what I have now are people... not good people or bad people, but people who have tha capacity for both For example, I took Catelyn to be strong, independent and protective, the book showed a harsher side of her though. Or Dany, whom I thought of as victim in the series... she's not just that in the book though, she's so much more than that. Even the relationship between Lord Eddard and King Robert became clearer to me. And Ned's loss dislike of the king's wife and her family I understood just a bit more. And the Queen or Littlefinger? Awesome baddies if anything, but not just baddies, but people whose decisions are shaped by ambition and stuff that happened to them. So yeah, all of them, are people with capacity of good and bad.... so freaking good.

I'm going to watch the next series but in the meantime I can read ahead becasue I NEED to know what;s happened to Dany, Arya and Jon... Sansa can bite it, for all I care.

So freaking good.
4/5

And here's an even better rendiotion of that scene above

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ambitious (Premiere High #1) by Monica McKayhan

Ambitious (Premiere High #1)
Good Reads Summary

There's only one thing tougher than getting in to Premiere High: Staying in…


At Premiere School of the Performing Arts, nicknamed Premiere High, talent is a must and competition is fierce. But the payoff is worth it. Some of the biggest stars in music, movies and dance are on the alumni list. New student Marisol Garcia dreams of taking her place among them one day. And being chosen to take part in a local dance contest where a film role is the prize could possibly be her first step into the spotlight.
Almost as big a challenge: getting Drew Bishop to see her as more than a friend. But Drew is preoccupied with his own dilemma of either playing basketball, which could be a free ticket to college, or pursuing the stage where he really comes alive. But every dream comes with a price. And as Marisol becomes consumed with winning, the once straight–A student risks losing everything. Starting with her parents' approval, her friends and her place at Premiere High…

My Thoughts

Ambitious did nothing for me on any level. The characters lacked a depth to have me caring about the outcome of their story. My reading experience went along the lines of 'Yeah? So what?'


As said, the characters lacked a depth to them. Mari has her dancing. She's been admitted to a prestigious Arts school. There's nothing really that she has to beat... there's no big drama in her life except that is to win a big dance competition. 'And so what?,' I asked. I really didn't care about her.

Maybe the love interest is a different matter because Drew's a player both on and off court, who'd dropped both to be in the same school to train to act. And you know what? I still felt nothing for him either. OK... I may have felt something a bit stronger... just nothing good: I had a level disdain for him, given his proclivity towards being pig. What he is, is a player. Even at the beginning when they barely knew each other, he'd shown himself concerned only with girls and how others saw him, there's also the fact that he expected others to be impressed with who his father was! Maybe I should like him more for being imperfect in this way but I just couldn't bring myself to do that.

My disconnection to story might have been exacerbated by the way they spoke and thought... or the way the overall story was told (and I'm not talking about the shifting POV's.) I felt the writing to be too easy, predictable. Each character always had something to say, had a way of responding that seemed contrived and fake to me. It seemed they said something or behaved in a certain manner because it's what was expected. Perhaps 'easy' isn't the right word. Neat? Yeah, everything was way too neat, as in 'this goes in that slot and that one in this slot.' Everything had a place, postion and sequence.

1.5/5
Thanks NETGALLEY!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Saving June

Good Reads Summary

Harper Scott, trying to come to terms with her perfect older sister June's suicide, takes a road trip and finds love with a mysterious boy who had a connection to June-- and may know more about her sister's life and death than he's telling.

My Thoughts

There are so many lines to choose:
...from the sad, "I wish she was here, but she isn't, she never will be
And I have to get used to that."

...to the angry, "There is no fate," I say, "There's what you do and what you don't do."

...to the cutesy-funny, "Do you have a bobby pin?
"Yes, right here in my pocket along with a stick of gum, a shoelace and a number two pencil. Will that be enough for you MacGyver?"

...finally to the achingly romantic,
"Look. Stop. Breath."
His hand on my waist to the small of my back. It's all I can do not to shiver.
"Don't look at the floor.
Don't think about it...
Just move with me."

I adored this book because when there's there's music plus road trip plus release, what's not to like?  All these three things have me loving Saving June but above all it's the characters (again) who got me hooked. They leave me feeling as I did when I read Adam and Mia in Where She Went: weepy, emotional sad and happy and everything in between:

Harper isn't the most sympathetic of characters. I know she's in a place of pain, but at times she came across as too teen angsty in a nobody-gets-me or what-about-me way. But I have to say she's grew on me. And it was mainly through her interactions with Jake that I saw her wit her charm her strength come through. I simply loved their back and forth, their banter. Beyond the boy-girl aspect of the story, there's her story and Laney too. It was a sweet addition to see that Harper was more than just the grieving sister; she's a the loyal, strong friend too.

Now Jake. Well, allow me to swoon. Apart from the physical, he's a different kind of person. One can tell this from the firnsd they keep, right? I think it's the glimpses into who he was that has me feeling very strongly about him. Actually, I am feeling a big urge to compare him to my YA favorites: Tom and Adam. I mean all three of them have this mysterious inner pain thing going for them (the very same thing that had me wanting to hug them.) And that they had music was a definite plus. and talk of Jake and music? Oh, the passion! This boy loves his music and I felt it. This boy feels deeply, and I felt that too.


READ THIS!!
4/5
THANKS NETGALLEY! 

While the new cover is pretty, I find myself preferring this original cover. I don't know but the first time I heard of the book, this was the cover and I hope I get my copy soon.

Saving June

Friday, August 26, 2011

Zero by Tom Leveen

Zero

Good Reads Summary 

For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn't materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero's parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she's so much more than a name.

My Thoughts


I’ll admit to judging this book based on its cover. I was expecting a darker heavier YA. Surprisingly, Zero is sweet… not that it was all sweet all the time since her dysfunctional family and an uncomfortable friendships are a big part of it… but it’s mostly about a girl figuring out what’s best for her.

Amanda is Zero. Her nickname alone should be enough to clue you in as to what she thinks of herself. And it’s this fact, above all, that bothered me… and apparently her as well.  Reading her work out what she was worth and what she wanted…. was annoying, funny and entertaining in turns because she is a typical teenager with issues that run the gamut of superficial and complicated. She’s an artist and not sure about her talent. She’s a daughter and very angry one at that given her situation at home. She’s a loner. But she’s complicated too because every so often she’d be hard ass tough then turn around and be insecure and unaware.

The interaction between the characters could get a bit clumsy at times but OVERALL I felt there was an authenticity to how they acted and behaved around each other. For example, the bands familiarity with each other, their passion rang true. But out of all of them it’s Zero and Mike that stick to mind… how she and Mike were new to each other: at first, perplexed by each other then holding each other up and even later disappointing each other a little. I think it’s that they weren’t each other’s “everything” is the best thing about them. Both had their own thing. He had his music and parental issues; she had her art and familial obligations too.

3/5
THANKS NETGALLEY!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1) by Richelle Mead

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)

Good Reads Summary


The first book in Richelle Mead's brand-new teen fiction series - set in the same world as Vampire Academy.

When alchemist Sydney is ordered into hiding to protect the life of Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the last place she expects to be sent is a human private school in Palm Springs, California. But at their new school, the drama is only just beginning.

Populated with new faces as well as familiar ones, Bloodlines explores all the friendship, romance, battles and betrayals that made the #1 New York Times bestselling Vampire Academy series so addictive - this time in a part-vampire, part-human setting where the stakes are even higher and everyone's out for blood.

My Thoughts


I didn’t read the synopsis (again,) because knowing that Adrian was in it was enough to have me impatient to start it. When I started it, I really wasn’t sure who was being paired with whom. And the end product is OK. Just OK though, nothing brilliant.

I suppose there’s a lot of reconnecting done here. I loved that aspect of it, but Bloodlines itself? It’s just an OK start to a new series; I am not completely in love with everything it had to offer. There are a bunch of stories lines in it:  One of the main story lines is how all of them (Eddie, Sidney and Adrian) must protect Jill from a Moroi plan to overthrow her sister. Sadly this aspect is not dealt with much, we simple know that she’s in hiding and must be kept secret.  This brings forth one thing I really didn’t like. Jill! She’s so passive. Bullied and shy, she rarely if ever got to speak up and act. And when she did act, she comes across as a spoiled little girl. She’s nothing like her sister, who in the VD series was poised but strong. Jill just seemed a bit weak (I might be judging her too harshly though, and the other books leave room for growth, right?)   

But focus should be given to Sydney. In VD, I thought her strong, passionate and sometimes blindly loyal. Here, she’s kick ass… but not as kick ass as Rose. Too bad. As the main character, I found her sometimes frustrating. Her loyalty to her family and to her job often had her boxed in. But I enjoyed reading how she worked within those limits… because I saw more of her. She’s didin’t see things in the black and white fashion as others like her did. She was flexible! And I liked seeing her vulnerability, her fear; she wasn’t all business all the time. As to her discovery, I’d like to know where Mead takes us.

Now Adrian. It’s not secret I am a big fan of his. It’s just that in this one… he’s got no direction *sad.* Events of past have got him stuck in his head and his sad and depressed and I just didn’t like reading this side of him! Stillk, he injected the necessary humor into Bloodlines time and again. I do hope the next books in this series have (all of them) them doing more.  

3/5

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Imaginary Girls

Good Reads Summary

Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.

My Thoughts

Imaginary Girls leaves me feeling the way I did after seeing Donnie Darko and Virgin Suicides for the first time ever. Picture me utterly confused at times but mostly unnerved and slightly creeped out. Donnie Darko is my favorite 'WTF was that movie' while Virgin Suicides was my first 'how sad but twisted' one. That Imaginary Gilrs had me feeling both things (sometimes simultaneoulsy) is quite a feat. Needless to say, Imaginary Girls is different... and I liked it.

Who else has come across those posts on manic pixies? Ruby is almost like one of those except she's so much more. Yes, she's the beautiful, mysterious girl and has everyone enamored with her. But there's something more sinister to her. I kept waiting and waiting for the book to reveal precisely what had my skin crawling but what she was is never clearly defined. One thing is certain though, she isn't one dimensional. And if I had to label her the villain, I'd hesitate to do so. She simply loved to deeply and completely.

At it's core it's a love story but not a romantic one. It's a love between sisters that's slightly definitely skewed and a bit overly dependent... on both sides. Where Chloe is the younger sister grown used to what her older sister's decisions and whims are, Ruby, the older one is defined by her role as protector. Both of them go overboard and it was fascinating to read.

With all that, there were still boys, no men, to consider. Men who're so in love with the idea of Ruby. It was disturbing to read... but I could not tear myself from it. I think the best thing about this aspect of the story was Owen. I'd dreaded the moment when Chloe would turn out like her sister. But the minute something along those lines did happen, well it was a great moment. Because instead of a "love conquers all" thing, there's a dimming of brightness for both. What he thinks of her has changed and vice versa. Definitely, these were not simple characters.

Goodness me! I really enjoyed reading this, and I really like that I find myself struggling to define what kind of read it was. It's different and dark. With the way it started, I had no idea where I'd end up.

READ THIS!
4/5

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Wanderlove
Good Reads Summary

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.
But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry into this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.
 
My Thoughts

I'm keeping it short again:

So, I'm from a place where tourism is the main economy... and maybe I'm not alone, but I have teeny tiny disdain for tourists. Not all toursits though just the good majority who gawk. I simply hate the gawking, and since one travels /tours to see the different, the gawking shouldn't come as a surprise. So when Rowan broaches the idea that travellesr ought not forget that people live in places they visited and that locals live there 24/7. He puts in words what I couldn't, that he found it slightly peculiar for a traveller to want a sanitized version of the place. well, he made sense to me. However, I wouldn't go as far as saying as he did, that travellers owe it to the locals to toughen up and bare it, but it's just that I simply despise the gawking.

To say that pieces of this book, no, moments with Rowan resounded with me, is an understatement. But beyond his bits of travel wisdom, there's Bria and her conflict as well. All that off hand lying did not bode well. But she grew on me as she grew in the book. And her conflict? Her Arts? Her past? Well, I'd have punched Toby in the nads, just saying.

Read this!

3.5/5
Thanks NetGalley!






Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Marked Son (Keepers of Life #1) by Shea Berkley

The Marked Son (Keepers of Life #1) 
Good Reads Summary

Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kennedy always knew something was different about him, but until his mother abandoned him in the middle of Oregon with grandparents he's never met, he had no idea what.

When Dylan sees a girl in white in the woods behind his grandparents' farm, he knows he's seen her before...in his dreams. He's felt her fear. Heard her insistence that only he can save her world from an evil lord who uses magic and fear to feed his greed for power.

Unable to shake the unearthly pull to Kera, Dylan takes her hand. Either he's completely insane or he's about to have the adventure of his life, because where they're going is full of creatures he's only read about in horror stories. Worse, the human blood in his veins has Dylan marked for death...

My Thoughts
 
Keep at it. It starts out typical enough but it's worth in the end. A two things kept me glued to it: moments of it had a high fantasy feel and there's a very entertaining mix of characters. As usual, I read this without with the synopsis, so I had no idea if what it had in store for me would run along the lines of werewolf or vampire or what not. Apparently the same can be said for Dylan who had absolutely, no inkling of his history or that he was even special. does this read typical YA PNR hero? Well if it does there were a bunch of things that sets him apart: a free spirit (almost neglectful) mother and his dreams of a girl. It's in that last thing, where get a tad complicated and unreal. Because his dream girl, isn't just a dream girl: Kera lives in a different world.

Positives

All the characters are different, but I have to say it was the secondary characters that I liked the most. While it's Dylans story, I have to say I didn't like him that much. He simply started out as unlikeable. I know that his history and upbringing should make me want to give him a hug, but he simple was rude... and sullen (at least for the first quarter of the book.) Despite that I couldnt help but cheer him once he figured out what he wanted and what he wanted to do about it.

And what he wanted was Kera. Now between Dylan's and her's, it's her part of the story that drew me in. Her world is a world I did not understand at first. What were they exactly; what was she? People people or different people? Once worked out though, I wondered why she could not see what was planned for her. I did like that she wanted change. I also liked that she had a secret of her own. Things were never simple there with secrets heaped on secrets. Add the fact that there was a power hungry (possible lunatic) who'd come sniffing around (I mean, she really didn't see that coming?)

Other than these two, who were sometimes remarkable other times predictable, the other people in the story were simply darling. I positively loved each page Leo and Jason were in. Honestly the way they came to be friends was a bit contrived and convenient but I liked that they they were the comic relief, in what would have been too much of a star corssed lovers sob story. Leo with his surprising theoretical scientific knowledge, and Jason and his wrestler tough guy schtick were just too funny. And then there's Bodog.. again, fun!

Beyond the characters, the story too wasn't as simple as I'd initially pegged it. While it started out rough and was bogged down by some boring parts, the good parts were simply good! Once it really started, there was a high-fantasy, boy-on-a-quest feel to it. The great thing is, it wasn't just the boy's story. Like most high fantasies, there's help along the way, here it's Dylan and Kera meeting Bodog, Jason and Leo. Heck, even his grandparent played a role in it. Where his grandfather was old wisened warrior; his grandmother was healers/nurturer and complete with pie!

Negatives

It got predicatble at times, especially on Kera's side. That she did not see what was inteded coming just boggle the mind! That there was a baddy of lunatic proprotions also didn't impress me much. On Dylan's side, things did get a bit contrived too. consider his friendship with Leo and Jason which sprang from ghost hunting to a die to death kind of loyalty in mere day; it just seemed a bit of a stretch. That his mother was basent wasn't a bad thing. Yes, parental absence = bad, but in this book it's neceassary integral even so that he could discover his specialness. The mom BTW, was written to be hated, and that's even after light had been shed on the why's of her actions.

Now, I know The Marked Son is the first in what could be a series/trilogy(?), but that it ended the way it did, leaves me satisifed. It ended with things most things tied and most questions addressed, almost an HEA. But there's still things to tackle and I'm quite curious about finding those things out.

3.5/5
THANKS NETGALLEY!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Sean Griswold's Head

Good Reads Summary

According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.

My Thoughts

It's been a while since a book's got me pilling an all-nighter. And it came as total surprise to find that Sean Griswold's Head is the book that had me doing so. Honestly, I read it on a lark (without even glance at the synopsis.) Now? I find myself pleasantly surprised and very satisfied (if a little bit groggy.)

That title merely hints at how funny Payton could be BUT while she is funny, her observations hilarious, I found that she could be self-centered, bratty and annoying too. Now given all those flaws, one might wonder, what's so good in SGH then? At it's core it's about her growing up and facing up to what is. And her what-is is actually quite depressing. It's how she initially reacts that shapes how the rest of the story flows. And boy, did the story flow! From the very first page, I had to know how things would turn out for her, her flighty bestfriend, her out of the box family, and yes, even Sean, and his head. The best thing about this book is the characters, while the female protag was a bit off putting at times, at least all of them tried to be present. Sean's entry into the book was particularly unusual. And as the title seems to indicate, it all starts with his head. Or would it be more apt to say it all starts with Payton's guidance counsellor and her unusual coping strategies?

The supporting cast is nothing to sneeze at either. Each with their own quirks added a lot to this book. Without them, I think I'd have wanted to strangle Payton given her tendency to label and her brattyness. Her bestfriend is so far from what she was and how she would behave! But it's not their difference that has me commenting on her, it's that the same bestfriend had issues to deal with as well. My point? It wasn't all just about Payton. I liked that. And there's her paretns as well. At that age, I don't think I'd have gotten away with a quarter of the things she did.. and she managed to stretch it out for three months. Lenient? Yes... but understandable given them trying to work out the kinks in their relationship. Which now brings me to Sean. All right, is this boy for real? I don;t mean that in a bad way either!

So yeah, SGH = WIN!

3.5/5

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra

Fairy Tale Fail
Good Reads Summary

Of all the twenty-something women who are hopeless romantics, Ellie Manuel is more “hopeless” than “romantic.”

Even after her Prince Charming broke up with her, she just won’t give up … because fairy tale heroines don’t live “happily ever after” right away, silly, they’re tested first!

Determined to pass the test, she spends the next year restoring herself to the girl Prince Charming had fallen in love with in the first place.

Until she discovers that life without him might not be so bad after all: her career is taking off, her confidence is back, and the cute guy at work is no longer a stranger.

So when is it okay to quit on a fairy tale?
 
My Thoughts

Two things: I liked it but didn't like one specific thing in it. I liked that all the characters' reactions and quirks were believable. The hate on the ex-boyfriend parade? Check. The 'Move on. Oh, please move on'? Check. But what had me holding back was her 'Woe, is me' schtick. More specifically, I was held back by how blinded she was to what she thought she wanted.

That aside, Fairy Tale Fail reads a lot like those visuals in Batman and Robin fight scenes. Who here remembers those *WHOOSH* or *SMACK* visuals? FTF reminds me of those for some reason. The dialogue is fast paced; the writing in general was lightning quick.

The story itself is simple. When Ellie is dumped by one she considers perfect, she has a chance to do things over. Along the way (with some a lot of glances back,) she rediscovers herself and her passions then kind of/sort of meets a new guy. And said guy? Well, get a load of this, "He always looked clean and he smelled great but his hair was a calculated mess.'

These characters felt possible to me. Her moving on (albeit reluctant and slow then stop start at some points) read real to me. Him being the subject of gossip and being called Rock Star'? I bought those things as well..

Cute, quick and fun.

3/5

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sing Me To Sleep by Angela Morrison

Sing Me to Sleep

Good Reads Summary

THE TRANSFORMATION

Beth has always been "The Beast" - that's what everyone at school calls her because of her awkward height, facial scars, and thick glasses. Beth's only friend is geeky, golden-haired Scott. That is, until she's selected to be her choir's soprano soloist, and receives the makeover that will change her life forever.

THE LOVE AFFAIR

When Beth's choir travels to Switzerland, she meets Derek: pale, brooding, totally dreamy. Derek's untethered passion - for music, and for Beth - leaves her breathless. Because in Derek's eyes? She's not The Beast, she's The Beauty.

THE IMPOSSIBLE CHOICE

When Beth comes home, Scott, her best friend in the world, makes a confession that leaves her completely torn. Should she stand by sweet, steady Scott or follow the dangerous, intense new feelings she has for Derek?

THE HEARTBREAK

The closer Beth gets to Derek, the further away he seems. Then Beth discovers that Derek's been hiding a dark secret from her ...one that could shatter everything.

My Thoughts

Sing Me to Sleep is very emotional but sometimes overly so. And being perfectly honest, the story should read hokey, in a soap opera over the top kind of way. Take each element on it's own and everything could have become too much. There's a make over, a boy who's special for reasons unknown, and a love that starts in another country. Then there's another boy pining over his bestfriend. And bullies!!! But I suppose this is my kind of drama because enjoyed it and am not even embarrased to having cried twice: once when he was explaining what was and the other when she finally sang him her song. Thinking about those moments have me teary eyed again! Anyway, this is my kind of drama; I'd much rather have a girl who feels, and feels deeply over a girl who's caught in a triangle. Or even a boy who isn't so perfect, in his secrecy and wanting to keep his realities separate.


That it's told in her POV added a bit more to me liking this book. Her voice is crystal... I got what she felt. I felt her frustration over Derek, but I also understood why she felt so deeply for him. But she confused me a little too, I know she'd been isolated and was unpracticed in the how-to's of boy's and girl's, but that she'd jump to conclusions and make all these theories had me chuckling and head desking too. So she frustrated me with her naivette. But her loyalty and passion had me reading on.

And speak of frustration, oh my... Derek could be so frustrating but a lot of the drama came in because of him. I loved that he wanted her separate despite knowing full well that doing so would be impossible. My curiosity was piqued even more given his reactions to Scott. Derek is so far from perfect but there's simply something about him that I can't get over.

Then Scott. Talk of loyalty I was relieved to see some real reactions fom him. While his loyalty was heartwarming his reactions close to the end of the book made him more plausible.

There's a lot of drama and emotion in this once, but given the simple way it's told as well as the little bonuses of lyrics, well, I loved it.

4/5

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies

A Beautiful Dark
Good Reads Summary

On the night of Skye's seventeenth birthday, she meets two enigmatic strangers. Complete opposites--like fire and ice--Asher is dark and wild, while Devin is fair and aloof. Their sudden appearance sends Skye's life into a tailspin. She has no idea what they want, or why they seem to follow her every move--only that their presence coincides with a flurry of strange events. Soon she begins to doubt not just the identity of the two boys, but also the truth about her own past.

In the dead of a bitingly cold Colorado winter, Skye finds herself coming to terms with the impossible secret that threatens to shatter her world. Torn between Asher, who she can't help falling for, and Devin, who she can't stay away from, the consequences of Skye's choice will reach further than the three of them could ever imagine.
 
My Thoughts

Did I hate it? Nope. Did I love it? Not really. There's just a lot that's been tackled before in Beautiful Dark like, say the presence of three boys who are into the same girl for a variety of reasons. Or a girl caught between two opposing sides. Or say a girl unable to make her mind up on what whom to choose. The one thing that had me giggling was their names: there's a Skye, an Asher and a a Devyn. It's like when I read historical romances there's always a Lady or Lord or Viscount something or other of a frou frou name. Here, the names sound so made up like 'Barbie' or something; I couldnt help but giggle.

The story itself is nothing new. The first half went slow for me but had me curious enough to plod on. The second half is where all the big reveals were made. The famale MC is is typical.. smart, pretty. almost too perfect. She's got friends who are funny and pecuiar in their own right. The fact that one of her male BFF's was into her is not new too, but that she was aware of how he felt (instead of being oblivious to the same) was a a little refereshing. Sadly, that story line belonged to Dan and Cassie, her other bestfriends And speak of the supporting cast, I felt that Cassie read exactly like Norah's friend in Hush Hush (pushy, out there, some times insensitive, but the most plausible of the bunch nonetheless.) Dan and Ian added the needed sweetness in an otherwise very emo read. Her adoptive mother, was absent a lot but when she was in the picture acted the part of protective nad caring.... i reiterate the point of her being absent a lot.

The love interests were curious too. Once I knew what they were, nothing changed for me. The reveal just came a little too late, I felt I'd pieced it all together so many pages before that I didnt' care what made them special. Wnat's more (worse) is that like Ske, they kept creating drama where none was necessary. Why hold back information when they could reveal? (Anyway, any one could have pieced it together long before.)

It wasnt all bad though... I appreciated the humor that Asher had. His quips and non serious manner seriously annoyed me, but when he got serious I was impressed (even if those moments felt a little too dramatic.) Devyn with his more serious side was a tad better.

The ending was rushed, (just like mine to like this one.)

2.75/5
Thanks NETGALLEY!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vanish (Firelight #2) by Sophie Jordan

Vanish (Firelight, #2)
Good Reads Summary

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.

My Thoughts

Goodness me... Jacinda COULD NOT make up her mind in this one! This above all is what made me dislike her and the book. The sequel to Nightshade was Calla unable to sift through her feelings for Ren then Shay. There's a lot of the same in VANISH. One moment JACINDA's pining wishing for Will; in the next moment, she's lip locked with Cassian. I wonder what made her so special. Is it suffiicient that she be head strong and would buck authority time again? Really? What is it that she's got that has not one, not two... but get this, three boy after her?

I actually liked Firelight too because I got precisely what I was looking for when I read it~ star crossed lovers of a draki falling for her hunter. Then there was also a bonus of her being a different kind of shifter. But VANISH simply stretched my patience too much. Wait, it was Jacinda's indecision that stretched it... And despite the Tam being on the cover this time around, she has little time to shine in her new role because all VANISH was about JACINDA. (and her indecision)

So many things happen too.. and I do not mean that in a good way. A lot of drama that seemed overdone to me too. She's hunted (they all are really.) There's an escape (several n fact.) Her friends are pissed at her. She's no longer the golden girl. Her sister becomes... becomes.. well, read it! Even someone's mad crush on her or is it someone who's mad has a crush on her? "Dramatic follow-up," indeed!

2.5/5
Thanks NETGALLEY !!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Before Ever After
Good Reads Summary

Three years after her husband Max's death, Shelley feels no more adjusted to being a widow than she did that first terrible day. That is, until the doorbell rings. Standing on her front step is a young man who looks so much like Max; same smile, same eyes, same age, same adorable bump in his nose; he could be Max's long-lost relation. He introduces himself as Paolo, an Italian editor of American coffee table books, and shows Shelley some childhood photos. Paolo tells her that the man in the photos, the bearded man who Paolo says is his grandfather though he never seems to age, is Max. Her Max. And he is alive and well.

As outrageous as Paolo's claims seem; how could her husband be alive? And if he is, why hasn't he looked her up? Shelley desperately wants to know the truth. She and Paolo jet across the globe to track Max down; if it is really Max and along the way, Shelley recounts the European package tour where they had met. As she relives Max's stories of bloody Parisian barricades, medieval Austrian kitchens, and buried Roman boathouses, Shelley begins to piece together the story of who her husband was and what these new revelations mean for her "happily ever after." And as she and Paolo get closer to the truth, Shelley discovers that not all stories end where they are supposed to.

My Thoughts

There were things I loved, things that had me melting, and moments that just didn't compute. Before Ever After isn't something I'd normally pick having sworn off time travel romances... but the epilogue saved me from days of agonizing over what if's and what could be's. The very same epilogue that's got me craving baked eggs and cheese.

Positives.

The last book of stories in another story that I did read was one I didn't love so much. In it, I kept waiting for the big connect, the common thread that pulled everything together. Only there, said thread came a little too late for my taste. I ended up with was a series of good and not-so good stories that felt disjunct. Not the case here. OK, maybe I'm lazy but I liked knowing that each story in this one led to another one, that they all shared something in common. I appreciate the fact that Before Ever After isn't a rehash of other love story meets time tavel. You know, the ones that involve the same characters over and over again or those doomed to repeat mistakes of old unless something different is done? Instead, here there's one soul touching plenty of others. I loved that Ms. Sotto lays it out and makes things plain from the start, "Girl meets boy. Boy meets girl. Boy dies, but not really." Only Shelley and Max's love story isn't standard at all.

Add the fact that Before Ever After is pretty easy to follow and that's even with all the shifts from the then's and the now. Going from one steady continuous point in Shelley's present to most of Max's past and then to their past as a couple; things went by at a rather quick pace. It had me engaged, interested. And I thank gosh for clarity, not once did I get lost in it.

What's better is how each story had me feeling a little more connected to Max (in a mostly 'aaw' isn't he sweet/sad kind of way,) but also feeling slightly bitter and heartbroken for her. Because with each story is layer of what made Max Max.

I liked that she sounded so much like me: with her plans and lists, and her being scared. I liked that she came across as realistic, not uber beautiful but beautiful in his eyes. Not super brave given her constant statements of fear of commitment. Also, I liked how they all sounded! The people on the tour with them; the people in his stories; Paolo too. All off them, were if not sad and imperfect, were most defintely possible. Of course possible, whilst overlooking the time travel aspect. And convenient pairing among them too had me weaving stories and finding parallels in my head. Jonathan to his Rose, almost had me imagining what Max and Shelley would be like. Simon and Brad, new to each other, another pair M & S could become. And Dex! Whose story was sweet but honestly, just a little strange.

But most of all I liked how each new thing she learned had her seeing him in different light. He was far from perfect... but could be selfish, even heartless IMO.

Negatives.

A tad unbelievable was how easily she came to believe Paolo. (Yes, I know this is a weird place to start nitpicking over what's 'incredible,' especially since BEA is premised on time travel or more specifically (view spoiler)[an immortal, whose history is traced alongside stops on a backpacking tour! (hide spoiler)]) But, I found it incredible to have this woman jump on a plane on the heels of a virtual stranger mainly because he bore an uncanny resemblance to her three years dead husband! Any way... it is what it is and she believed what she did.

And the sudden (re)introduction of a needless foe, one literaly taken to be the bogey man. I mean wasn't Max's life complicated enough with time travel, imortality and a grandson lookalike?

The ending too would have annoyed me no end! But thank gosh I was patient enough to turn that last page and see then read the epilogue.

Again, that same epilogue has got me dreaming of  craving baked eggs and cheese. Before Ever After is sweet, fun with bits of mystery, and  a whole lot of drama towards the end. I enjoyed it!

3.5/5

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

The Pledge
 Good Reads Summary

Words are the most dangerous weapon of all.


In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she’s spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can’t be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.
 
My Thoughts

I was curious about what type of world Charlie's would be. It started out really good too: with Queen Sabara transferrring her power. It's the same power that got me more curious. Charlie's world is a more different since that it's language that kept the people apart. I wanted to know more of Queen Sabara and her power; I wanted to know how their world worked. Sadly a good deal of THE PLEDGE deals with Charlie and Max' romance~ the same romance that developed too quickly. In fact a lot of this was predictable:

There 's Charlie, Brooklyn and Aron, besfriends. I was predicting jealousy and a not too good bestfriend. I got all that from Brooklyn. I even saw the makings of bestfriend loves you but you don't know it. Not that any of that bugged me (much) because with Max in the picture I was befuddled, by what? Their sudden love and his overprotectiveness!

There's potential in this one but given the characters, I didn't love it as much as I was hoping to. (I seriously struggled to recall the MCs' names just as I was going to type this up!)

2.25/5
Thanks Simon & Schuster!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

Cold Kiss

 Good Reads Summary
 
“It seemed so right. Danny was mine, I was his, and that wasn’t going to work if he was dead. So I would make him not dead, not anymore. I didn’t think any further than what it would feel like to kiss him again, to wrap my arms around him and bury my head against his shoulder.

That was my first mistake. It also turned out to be the biggest.”

When her boyfriend, Danny, is killed in a car accident, Wren can’t imagine living without him. Wild with grief, she uses the untamed powers she’s inherited to bring him back. But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy she once loved.

Wren has spent four months keeping Danny hidden, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school and somehow, inexplicably, he can sense her secret. Wren finds herself drawn to Gabriel, who is so much more alive than the ghost of the boy she loved. But Wren can’t turn her back on Danny or the choice she made for him—and she realizes she must find a way to make things right, even if it means breaking her own heart.

Amy Garvey’s transcendent teen debut is perfect for fans of Shiver and Beautiful Creatures. Wren’s unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

My Thoughts

I've been keeping my expectations of YA PNR low lately. That way I'm not too disappointed if something turns out sucky. I am pleasantly surprised by elements of Cold Kiss, despite bits of it being standard. One, girl loves boy but with an obstacle before them, things got difficult. Two, the same girl meets another boy who is just as delicious as the first, and tada triangle. Cold Kiss isn't not that simple though. True, the characters weren't fleshed out. True, the story took place right after she'd done the unspeakable. I didn't mind though as I enjoyed piecing them together, figuring out if they were good or not.

And in the end, I can honestly say that I don't not like Wren. I applauded her gung ho, "I don't need anyone attitude." I respected her independence. But realistically she really was weak and selfish given that it was her initial act that got the ball rolling. Shoud I give her props in recognizing that same fact? Is it enough for her to admit to being weak and selfish? It should be. So, heck, why not. But what's really annoying is how she treated the people around her... Gabriel especially. This boy positively puzzled me. 'He saw her' is what said. What pray tell did he see? From the way the story is told she'd basically isolated herself, cut herself off from her family, her friends. I understand why she acted that way she did... but do boys really like sulky girls? He puzzled me like he puzzled her. When she asked why.. so did I.

And while she's trying to figure out how to get out of the mess she'd found herself in, there's her family and friends to consider as well... Gabriel's too. I saw potential in Olivia, his sister; she too puzzled me too in her easygoing manner. But the part that could have been tackled a bit more was Wren's family, there were so many things left unsaid there. Her father, her mother.. their situation. I wanted to know so much more.

2.5/5
Thanks Net Galley!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley

That Which Should Not Be

Good Reads Summary

Winner of the 2011 JS horror writing contest!


Miskatonic University has a long-whispered reputation of being strongly connected to all things occult and supernatural. From the faculty to the students, the fascination with other-worldly legends and objects runs rampant. So, when Carter Weston’s professor Dr. Thayerson asks him to search a nearby village for a book that is believed to control the inhuman forces that rule the Earth, Incendium Maleficarum, The Inferno of the Witch, the student doesn’t hesitate to begin the quest.

Weston’s journey takes an unexpected turn, however, when he ventures into a tavern in the small town of Anchorhead. Rather than passing the evening as a solitary patron, Weston joins four men who regale him with stories of their personal experiences with forces both preternatural and damned. Two stories hit close to home as they tie the tellers directly to Weston’s current mission.

His unanticipated role as passive listener proves fortuitous, and Weston fulfills his goal. Bringing the book back to Miskatonic, though, proves to be a grave mistake. Quickly, Weston realizes he has played a role in potentially opening the gate between the netherworld and the world of Man. Reversing the course of events means forgetting all he thought he knew about Miskatonic and his professor and embracing an unknown beyond his wildest imagination.


My Thoughts

"I was Thomas of old, condemned not to believe, lest I see. Alas time would come when mine would see and mourn because of it."

It's that line that I held to because while its beginning was solid, the middle tried what little patience I had. I wanted to see what Carter saw and see I did... eventually. Talley writes with images in mind. He makes That Which Should Not Be dark and scary and confusing and new (at least to me it was.) The problem is it got too much at times even if the beginning piqued my interest. Starting with the MC shoved right into the action with little preparation, the 'thereafter,' was another matter. The middle tried me sorely because I wanted more of Carter, only what I got were stories within a story. A good deal of this is a couple of broken men telling their tales to an untested young man. Taken individually said stories ran along the lines of that fantasy/horror/sci-fi TV show, Amazing Stories. So it's horror, old school style; a lot of waiting and thinking and imagining less the blood and gore.

I suppose what bugged me was the waiting. Waiting for the connection to be made. Waiting for Carter's role to become clear. Only, if I'm absolutely honest it was precisely said waiting that built it up and had me considering, thinking about how those stories would connect. Were they connected? Could they be connected? Take Jack's Wendigo; Daniel scholomance, haunted abbey; William and his asylum; Captain Gray and his book; and finally, Carter and his search. Each bit was very easy to envision given the attention to detail. I mean, just consider this line, "Even with the blinding snow and darkened skies, some unknown glow illuminated the oily sea as it boiled and undulated under the ever gathering barrage." But all that said, the final 'reveal' was simply interesting, again, ala-Spielberg's Amazing Stories.

Too bad about the cover though, because scary as it may look, it does look a teensy bit cheesey. And this book is not cheesey...a bit slow at times but after a while, there really is a good story (a couple of good stories) in here. And what I liked most was it didn't mess about, but simply threw Carter into it. I will even admit to liking the back and forth between the then and now. I suppose considering this isn't a book I would typically read it really isn't bad. Heck, it's actually pretty interesting. Interesting enough that it had me making up theories and looking for connections.

Wait, a minute!
Back up a second... Comparisons to Amazing Stories actually do make this book sound cheesey, especially since the episode that is clearest in my memory is that of the killer wig in Hell Toupee (Yes, I even looked up the episode's title!) So, scratch that comparison and substitute Rosemary's Baby instead. Where nothing really scary really shows up on screen, but what terrifies is the product of one's imagination.

2.75-3/5

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Juliet Spell by Douglas Rees

The Juliet Spell

Good Reads Summary


I’m Juliet.
At least, I wanted to be.
So I did something stupid to make it happen.
Well, stupid and wonderful.

I wanted the role of Juliet more than anything. I studied hard. I gave a great reading for it—even with Bobby checking me out the whole time. I deserved the part.

I didn’t get it. So I decided to level the playing field, though I actually might have leveled the whole play. You see, since there aren’t any Success in Getting to Be Juliet in Your High School Play spells, I thought I’d cast the next best—a Fame spell. Good idea, right?

Yeah. Instead of bringing me a little fame, it brought me someone a little famous. Shakespeare. Well, Edmund Shakespeare. William’s younger brother.

Good thing he’s sweet and enthusiastic about helping me with the play...and—ahem—maybe a little bit hot. But he’s from the past. Way past. Cars amaze him—cars! And cell phones? Ugh.

Still, there’s something about him that’s making my eyes go star-crossed....

Will Romeo steal her heart before time steals him away?

My Thoughts

Instead of a retelling, Juliet Spell plays with around elements of Romeo and Juliet... cute? Right now though two things are clear: it was sometimes improbable but mostly sweet.

That it involved magic spells was not what rang unlikely to me. That it involved a time travelling English man boy was not a big deal either. I came into Juliet Spell knowing these two things. Rather, it was the characters reactions that confounded me. Everyone was so OK with how things unfolded. On a side note, I found the weeping that took place quite novel if a little annoying. Now to the reactions, Drew's and Miri's mother reacted very surprisingly... both simply went with the flow. Another improbable was the forgiving nature of both mother and daughter.

While the characters aren't the best of what I've read of late, they are different, cute and entertaining in their own right. Our Juliet is Miri; she's a take charge kind of girl but sometimes came off as (a lot of the time) clueless. Sometimes I liked her, other times I wanted her to open her eyes. One moment she's focused; the next she's so desperate to get the boy to like her. But at least she had a good relationhip with her mother! And speaking of, her mother was so easy going; too easy going, in fact, that I found her a tad unrealistic. Juliet/Miri's Romeo is a time travelling Englishman (an unintentional one, of course) was hilarious and annoying and cute and not as simple as I originally thought.

As to the rest of the players, some were developed, others were just extra. The one who stands out though is Drew: what a handy guy to have around! His explantion of the how behind the time traveling was long winded and confusing but entertaining to hear. It's obvious where the story was headed once he started showing up more... and that this was not obvious to Miri herself, is another one of those improbables.

But if the characters were OK with how things were, then so be it... I am too. Why? It's simple not meant to be taken too seriously... but simply a sweet love story... with highly improbable elements (and I'm not talking about thetime travel or the magic!).
Thanks Netgalley!

2.75/5




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens

Good Reads Summary

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.
 
My Thoughts

Beauty Queens is funny like the third Austin Powers is funny. Compare Austin from the first to the second to last installment, and (maybe, just maybe) you'll feel as I did and find a noticeable increase in what was crude. Basically, while the third was funny it wasn't as good as the first, and yet... I couldn't help but laugh. Yes, it got a bit ham handed and obvious but it still had me laughing.


This is exactly what got me through Beauty Queens. And like Bumped,  I had a hard time getting into this because of what I thought as 'commentary' (layered on thick.) But it's not meant to be taken too seriously (or maybe it is?) But I will say that Libba Bray clearly shows how adept she is in writing funny. In Going Bovine, she had me laughing given the trippy feel of it. This too had that same unreal atmosphere, but there were odd honest/accurate moments that popped up every so often.
In this one you'll find: a Corporation (that's capital C,) and at it's helm is one very cut throat female (not the word used).Some teen pirates who are "bodacious," (Yes, that's the word used!) Miss Teen Dream contestants each bringing something different, ranging from blind loyalty to the pageant to secret journalistic goals of taking the same down. Throw in a transgender former boybander, an eco terrorist love interest who might not actually be an eco terrorist, and a possibly deranged leader of a small nation named MoMo ChaCha.

Given all that, there is no choice but to laugh even if moments had me shaking my head. The Q&A portion almost had me crying from laughing so hard! When Fabio/Adina finally cracked and said,"What are you even saying? You just made my brain die a little..." I was rolling on the floor; Tiara with an A, Ms Mississsippi was completely hilarious, in a sad way. Her character tickled the Pinoy in me the way Babbaloo did with his interactions with Dolphy!

4/5

Monday, August 8, 2011

Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar

Raw Blue
Good Reads Summary

Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly café. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing ... and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago. Then she meets Ryan and Carly has to decide ... Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?

My Thoughts

Reading Raw had me breathing in, then breathing in some more until... him. Carly read honest and real and possible to me. I 'got' her. Am I being redundant in saying I was hooked by her flaws? She's so hard but she's so fearful too and it's all clear why. But she's still sad that way anyway and that's even given her words that were sometimes profound, sometimes heartbreaking but sometimes frustrating too.

It's the characters that impressed me most:

Carly isn't a simple girl rebelling (at all)... although that's what she seemed at first with her thoughts on "being pressed in a shape that didn't suit." She's Carly, who leaves me feeling as Tom (The Piper's Son) did because they both had me feeling, thinking and feeling some more.

What's got me thinking a little more is it wasn't only about her but also about the people around her; what they were to her and vice versa. That while she's at the center of it, there's Danny, Hanna....and Ryan's as well. Danny who sees people in colour is precisely as she describes him: precious. Hanna her polar oposite, emphasizes what she did have, inhibition, but manages to bring her a little out of her shell.

And Ryan. Why has this guy left such an impression on me? That's easy really: It's because he is such a simple guy. He's not there to save her, though it felt like he could have and might have even wanted to at some point. It's that he didn't and was just present that did it for me. He was just there.

Add the fact that I liked how easily the people around her chose to do things. To do something just because. It's what she needed; they are what she needed.

And the writing! Consider:
Finally I have a clear view of the surf and I feel an electric charge. It's a glitter skin day. The ocean is a vivid emerald colour and the wind ruffles the waves so that they shatter the sunlightt like glass. Seeing the glittering skin always tightens my thorat with joy. it's stupid, but that's how I feel: joyous.
It's visual and simple; all so easy to imagine, clear to see. I need to read this author's other stuff.

5/5

READ THIS BOOK!

****
Lines, the most awesome ever...

"8 is just an infinity symbol right side up."

"It scares me. I don't want to do it. But sometimes I think it's the only way I'll be able to turn off what's in my head."

"Why is the reality of attraction a;ways so claustrophobic?"

"Some phone calls he doesn't say much and I know he called just to hear my voice. That's all he wants- to hear me tell him about my day, what the surf's like, what work's like. And that's humbling, knowing that your voice can mean so much to another person.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Goliath (Leviathan #3) by Scott Westerfield

Goliath (Leviathan, #3)

Good Reads Summary

Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies.
The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is at it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy.
 
My Thoughts
 
'Goliath' even the title hints at the effort I exerted in reading it... which is not necessarily a bad thing just... different. It offers (this series) a totally different reading experience for me.


Thinking back to Leviathan, I remember having shelved it; only catching on to what others saw half way through my second time around with it. I'm used to 'give me fast and easy books', Leviathan and Behemoth are not any of those. Instead of fast and easy, I had to pace myself, pay a little more attention to Dylan's and Alek's world. It was a chore at first, for sure... but once the I'd grown accustomed to set pace, there was no way I wouldn't see it through. Fast forward to Goliath, and I still got the same feeling of 'I must read carefully.' Because, yes, I couldn't rush through it for fear of missing something big.

OK so after much thought, I'm going to say that I'm happy where things ended. I really didn't know what I wanted to happen. Prior to reading, I'd imagined the reveals done in the most shocking manner; I'd imagined someone being heartbroken; I'd even considered something tragic taking place. I'd also wondered where the story would take me in terms of them as a couple. Would there be a couple? Would there be an HEA? Did I really want an HEA? Especially since I'd lauded/praised/raved about how different Deryn/Dylan was from her peers with her tough and independent manner? Did I want her girl side to show up? I mean, her girly side was showing with the hints of crushes and love-unlikely. But... did I want an HEA? Or would going there take away the what made Leviathan and Behemoth different?

Anyhoot, I am happy with how things turned out: Dylan/Deryn is still tough and goal oriented. Alek had reverted to the Alek he was in Leviathan, the boy playing at being soldiers because upon his return he was feeling a tad out of place and functionless... and suspicious. Things got even more complicated with the introduction of a new character who'd been alluded to in the previous books: Tesla.

The war between the Clankers vs Darwinists is still in full throttle, but the best thing about this aspect of the story was how it affected Alec. He was so conflicted about his place. There's a lot of indecision from him. To trust or not? To Love or not? To Reveal or not?

This last installment manages to strike a balance between action and emotion.
4/5

Thank you Simon & Schuster!

****

Leviathan (Leviathan, #1) Behemoth (Leviathan, #2)
Me on LEVIATHAN
Me on BEHEMOTH