Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

Love & LeftoversLove & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Hmmm. What is it with the lead in this one, whose story runs along the same line as Playing Hurt, yet has me considering her all the same? Infidelity. When ever a story goes there, I always end up judging someone as selfish. Always. Because it seems to me that what follows it (or precedes the act as the case may be) is a reason behind the same. And in so doing, things feel like a cop out. This is so even with all the bad crap she had to undergo.

Yet, once all was said and done, there was a return to normalcy. And because all of them-- from dad, to mom, to the lead, to her ex, to BFF-- behaved badly at one point or another.  So, for me at least, it felt like one bad act canceled another that bad act out, (if you catch my drift.) It felt needlessly long and needlessly sad because in the end, there’s just a simple realization that had she heeded her mum’s words, she wouldn’t have found herself in such the shitty position of needing to grovel, and the shittier place of still being treated like crap and thus left feeling pissed on her own behalf because there was no one with whom to share the load.

And talk of mum’s words of advice? She had some interesting notions, I thought. It was simply too bad that her mum came up short as well. And why? Because her mum had problems of her own! And in the end, all I saw was a bunch of people with problems galore. Strangely enough it seemed that it was daddy’s boyfriend who’s not so bad after all. And that good old sweet Linus, could be an A-hole in his own right. My point? It seemed that by the end of the book none of them came up smelling like roses. Who could blame one character for doing this or another for doing that? They all do something crappy. *cop out. *

All that said if there was one thing I truly enjoyed here it’s the idea of ‘leftovers.’ Of people who don’t fit in with any particular group and end together because there’s nowhere else.

2.5/5





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Monday, January 30, 2012

Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic

Never EighteenNever Eighteen by Megan Bostic

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I’m holding back, but Never Eighteen doesn’t not hold a candle to any book I’ve read on the same topic; the topic supposedly being one of awareness of one’s mortality, knowing when one’s limits been reached, and what one does for things to become ‘meaningful.’

My Biggest Issue with this is how a lot of it felt forced. Things progressed in the same rhythm as one would check off items on a list; which was precisely what the main character was doing. And while each item, person on that list had a story, that on their own would have been heartbreaking and saddening, shocking and upsetting, taken together, it all went overboard. A tad too Hallmark movie sad, me thought.

He went from one person to another hoping to force out a moment of clarity from each of them. And if that was his goal, well he succeeded because in the end, there were a lot of forced emotions. I felt it all to be too likely, almost as if the people were mere characters in a soap opera saying/spewing/unloading what was expected of them. Consider a dead friend and his barely coping mother; or estranged husband and wife; or a girl and an abusive friend; or another couple in an obviously unhealthy relationship; or even, a girl previously victimized and now spiraling out of control; or the unrequited unrecognized pining of one best friend for the other. All these Individual stories would have read more authentic as individual stories, but when taken together as they were here, well, ‘twas a bit too much for me.

1.5




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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fated by Sarah Alderson

FatedFated by Sarah Alderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

* really 3.5

Sarah Alderson has a knack for stories of this kind. And by stories of this kind, I mean those that pair up unlikely people together in a story that if not mystery-filled then with some pretty interesting twists in them. Plus the action, when there was some, went non-stop. Plus have I mentioned how hot most of them seem to be? Definitely, no wilting wall flowers here or scrawny barely there boys either. And sure I wasn’t blown away by her Hunting Lila, yet I surprise myself yet again, because despite FATED not being that different in theme from the former, it wasn’t bad at all. It read like an action movie, which was just what I was in the mood for; in fact, I rather enjoyed most of it.

It’s a quick trip through a world split, filled with people with their own intentions. Now don’t read that deeply into any of them - the story and the people do have flaws, but if you can take an alpha type who’s taken to a loner type. Having them fall for each other despite the numerous reasons for the same not to do so well this is the one for you. And it was for me, this time around, at least.

I could forgive Evie’s Dru-esque (from the Strange Angels 2 through 4) impersonation somewhere in the middle of the book. Because if at first, she’s tough and prickly, and all gung ho about going with the program, her falling into slumps of ‘don’t expect me to be happy’ were points that made the most sense in this book. And I was all yes, I feel what your saying girl when she fell in those moments. Yet it was one step forward and two back for her with me because when Tom was in the picture, well I was scratching my head.

Then take Lucas. Oh, please do take Lucas, who - pardon my being extremely superficial – read hot, hot, hot. If at first, he was pretty standard in being one of the best at what he did and being motivated by past pain then doing what needed be, the turn in events in his department while not a surprise (at all) still felt inexplicable. Because, yes, in this one is yet another ‘I love you and shall die for you’ tale. It’s still fun though.





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Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis

A Million Suns (Across the Universe, #2)A Million Suns by Beth Revis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5/5

It kept me guessing and on the edge of my seat. I definitely enjoyed it more than I did Across the Universe. That the first book was one of my first reads into what would be YA sci fi slanted toward space, might explain my lukewarm reception of it. And while I did like the idea of a world prior to something like A Knife of Never Letting Go, (which is what I thought it would be,) perhaps I was underwhelmed by the Elder-Amy connection that was thrown in. Except, I must admit I was thrilled *read shocked* by the big reveals in it as with the surprises on who was ‘good,’ as well as who wasn’t, and even that on how they got a start in the first place. 

Amy is an even bigger surprise in this one even if it’s mostly Ender on the page. Big surprise, I say because if in the first book it was her in the between  sleep and not-sleep moments that struck me as haunting and scary; here, it’s her recalling what she’d recently gone through and making decisions of of that that impressed me. No little girl here, neither a love struck teen, she’d gone through something, made decisions and acted.

If moments with her painted a picture of a young woman haunted, moments with Elder painted one of man who’s conflicted. I like that he was trying and was never really sure about what he was doing. That he’s not superhero material or anything is clear, and it’s this fact that let’s old questions surface that seemed to have been laid to rest in the first book.

Of course, with him being so young and leading (seemingly reluctantly,) I did see what was coming in terms of ‘following the leader.’ And still I was on the edge of my seat. I do have say, the people in this are not as bloodthirsty as the ones in Glow, and still they manage to have a very similar dark vibe to them. And still, that didn’t put me off because I was hoping the best for them. 


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Friday, January 27, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life by Jesse Goossens

It's a Wonderful LifeIt's a Wonderful Life by Jesse Goossens

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked how bits make an attempt at making something grim less so~ as with Daniel, his bet and the numerous people coming up to her with their respective stories. I liked Ann Bot’s odd ball, movie quoting antics... at first. I even  liked the thought that she'd had to move across the ocean to find  herself, making her come across as how as independent and strong and mature. Sure, she was all those things at certain points, but she could also sound young, be na├»ve, and act melodramatic.

I'd probably have loved it more had the translation been better.  As is, her being odd never breached the point of me feeling more than amused but it manage to go to the point of me feeling slightly uncomfortable for those listening to her. I mean what exactly does one respond with when faced with a line out of the movie? She’s random and could be so out of place sometimes, and I’m not talking about her across the globe traveling either.

Maybe the fact that the story is twice removed from my tongue, added to it feeling a bit stilted. Factor in the small town warmth that was a touch too cutesy quaint, well… I think some will find it charming; personally, though it just wasn’t my thing. I read on though because other than Ann, odd ball behavior abound. The town she’d found herself in was quiet welcoming, but filled such Personalities. One person with his ‘everyday is a holiday;’ another with his I love my job and I’ll convince you, they all seemed random and sometimes inauthentic.  YET I had to read on, wanting to see what their point was.

It’s a Wonderful Life is an interesting concept of one jumping into something foreign only to become more at home there than from whence one came. Still, some of the people around Ann were just too odd and out there but not quiet endearing enough (or sometimes too much so) for me to like. So much so that my favorite moments were not when something sweet took place, but rather were those moments of her contemplating how different she was and how lonely she’d been/could be.

2.5/5
THANKS NETGALLEY!


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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Starters by Lissa Price

StartersStarters by Lissa Price

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I’ll be frank. STARTERS came short of something I’d have probably enjoyed. It’s just that I had a so many issues with it. I’ve read so many books of world order altering diseases and the outcome that Callie’s world read similar to the lot of those. Add the fact that the characters could have been so much more; they had potential, but there’s potential unmet here because Callie and Michael and Blake and even Old Man never reached theirs.

Her potential lay in being strong and doing what needed to be done; the boys’ potential lay in being more than love interests. And finally, there’s The Old Man, (who IMO was the most interesting character,) little was said as to who he was and what drove him. But what’s worse is, in the final moments of the book, a touch creepy came out of nowhere. Things were not helped by them seeming stilted. Her interactions with Blake felt manufactured and out of nowhere. That they became special to each other is explained later on, but while it was happening, well, I will just say that it felt ‘off.’ 

I think I’d have liked it more if there were a greater sense of urgency as called for by the situation, but Callie’s reactions things just flowed along.  The pacing is not helped by the sudden dumping of histories. I found it funny that a character just met could make an off hand lengthy explanation on the background of the chip, or even their own personal histories. Even the changes in location and people would have been interesting additions to this story, YET they still didn’t do anything for me: from slums to big mansions to institutions; from friendlies to renegades to Marshalls. Or Enders versus Starters? Ah! All those bits read interesting; it’s simply too bad that none of them were tackled in detail.

I suppose my biggest problem is there’s a lot going on but not that much detail. And while others still on the post apocalyptic, virus altered world kick will enjoy this, it just wasn’t for me. See for yourself though.

2/5
THANKS NETGALLEY











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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Once she went, “When surprised and excited and innocent Gus emerged from grand gesture Metaphorically Inclined Augustus, I literally could not resist,” I have to admit that I was equally charmed. When she said something along the line of falling for him as slow moving at first then sudden, I felt the same... only a something more because the same thing can be said for what I felt for her.

Both of them are different from conventional leads: a little more clever than the norm maybe, but definitely more thoughtful, given their differing opinion on how they saw things and what their roles ought to be. And this might be what I loved in Fault: that they’re basically polar opposites because where one wanted to leave a mark on the world, thought it necessary that a mark be made and that some noticing take place, the other deemed it best to go through life without leaving a dent in it or on others.  AND the other that I might indeed love in it is: how each recognized what the other believed. And polar opposites or not,  they recognized the other’s points, applauded the same even, but still held to what made them them. There’s a recognition (a little applause too) but no real change with both stating and not really arguing how they saw things.

It’s not perfect though. Their combined knowledge of Cancer Kid Conventions made for hilarious observations. Yet, they each fell into their own descriptions at one point or another: her with her resilient survival; him with his glad to be alive version. What’s made it OK though were the moments when they jumped out of those conventions and just were who they were, as when she was with her mother or when he was with Isaac. 

Speak of, I’d have loved more of Isaac. Bromance? Maybe, because with him and Gus together, you see how each held the other up, mocked the other, joked around, but really there’s a genuine connection there. Yup, bromance, indeed. Except, Isaac is barely there, his part in the story felt like a backdrop to emphasize how larger than life Gus/Augustus could be, (Gus and his game playing of needing to save the day; Gus and his little tidbits of what to do and how to do it.) Again, the both of them are different and each with their quirky thing. Him with his hot boy easy confidence, then her with her random scrambled egg observations etc. But given what they were living with, a little quirky felt just right.

Two more things:

I thought nothing would top what she had to say on their infinity. I LOVED, simple loved, her what she had to say and how she said it. Only later… later, it’s what Augustus said about who we choose to hurt, that got me a little more.

I LOVED THIS!
4.5/5





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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

Ballads of SuburbiaBallads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Ballads of Suburbia has me feeling exactly as I did after How To Kill A Rock Star, as in geez.. do I hate it or I love it? I was sucked in that’s for sure. Kara’s story is depressing and sad;  the all of those others around her were equally so. One would think that stories such as the ones found here have been done to death already. Starting with the ordinary day to day of family drama, moving on teenage angst of being friendless and placeless, then  the getting out of one’s shell, to finding one’s people and finding one’s own thing like drugs (a lot of drugs) and music. Her story went up then down then down then down. YET, here I am still thinking about it.

I enjoyed the idea of each person having a story to share, a ballad (as the title offers) about something in their past explaining some of why they'd ended up as they were. They each had their own drama. And while normally, I’d be rolling my eyes over their ‘woe is me, my dad is an ass, or my brother’s abandoned me, or  my parents have split… so my life-is-shit schtick (that all of them had going), I read and bought the drama (some more than others, but I bought the drama nonetheless.)

The biggest negative I encountered was how out of place a mature observation seemed to come up out of nowhere, where one of them would for one reason or another wisened up and said they were going down a bad path because otherwise, all of them went with things with little complaint (some happily even.)  It just seemed so out of the blue and out of place with all the angsting.

It’s very angst filled and all of them could be very self-absorbed… Yet together, sometimes they could be better, not so alone, less unhappy about what they had to deal with, but they just never became 'good,' more often they simply dragged each other down. Each person in this is far from perfect, but I choked up for some, wanted something a little different for each of them. It’s definitely not a happy story, given the very few happy moments in it, but I shock myself in admitting that I’ve committed a major book no-no because by the books end… I’d found I’d dog-eared a couple (heck, more than a couple) of pages in it.

A steady climb from 1 to 4 of 5.
(Now, I wonder where I can get a copy of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. I’d gladly swap my copy of this for that one.)




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Monday, January 23, 2012

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

BittersweetBittersweet by Sarah Ockler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Yays! For a while there I was worried that the YA contemps would be bust this year, what with my last two picks being so non-stellar.  But my 4-hour read to 3 in the morning with BITTERSWEET proves otherwise. And while my back says Ouch, Josh and Bug were worth it. I’m half tempted to bring out my fangirl gif.

Picture me thoroughly charmed because I liked all of them. Hudson Avery in particular is big surprise because I don’t normally go for girls her type… the sad on purpose type, the solo flight type, the one friend in all the world type. Yet, there’s just something, (a couple of somethings) about her that cracked me up. She’s sassy. She’s hilarious. And while her life might not have been all roses, she retained her humor and made do. It was just the all the making-do that led to some of the drama (and I do stress the ‘some’ part.) 

So, Hud is hilarious and sensitive… and did I mention funny? While there were moments of her broody  with her parallel Hudson fantasies of ‘I want out of here,’ I found myself rooting for her because she kept things light:

"I wave, forgetting all about the cool-man nod I practiced in front of the mirror. Josh smiles at me from the line. Oh. Is the pancreas on the left side? Because I think mine just twitched."

"I check the roster and count the boys three time to be sure, looking at them in the eye as I do. It’s a thing I learned from that show where the guy gets dropped in the jungle with nothing but a pillow case, a pack of gum, and a tampon applicator: make eye contact with wild animals to claim your territory and avoid a beat down."


What’s better is she’s not alone in being funny because there’s Dani too. Dani who is of the same feather, only more out there and a little more loud. I love that she’s a romance novel reading, life living funny girl. I enjoyed their BFF dynamic. I liked that they each had their thing, yet had time for the other. But what I liked even more was how Dani was friend enough to call Hud out on her behavior.  They held each other up, but pushed each other as well… pushed each other, because really HUDSON could be so unsure and held back by the past. Again DESPITE all of Hud’s flaws, I found myself, like Dani, rooting for the girl.

Then Bug! Wasn’t he just darling? He’s positively precious. I liked that he was the one constant POSITIVE thing in here… because there was drama, which wows me a little more because the drama that was present never went over the top; everything going on in it, read quite possible: the struggle to make ends meet; the tiny resentments and feelings of being overwhelmed, even the losing sight of what’s good and fun… all happen, all the time.

This is what I was hoping for when I picked up The Sweetest Thing a couple of months back. Because in this is a girl who's got problems but doesn’t drown in them or over dramatize, a girl one who keeps it together, tries to make things work and still laugh at the funny things. Now, if there’s one thing to complain about, it’d be her indecision~ over the boys. It’s not incredibly annoying or anything because that ending has me grinning a little (a lot) as I recall it. 

This reads real, and possible… and yes, Bittersweet. 
4/5




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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt

Aces UpAces Up by Lauren Barnholdt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Shannon Card sounds ridiculously young, definitely younger than her purported seventeen. Coupled with a tendency to over react, say things without thinking them through and then coming up with whopping lies, it was a wonder that she thought to get  away with what she was doing.

Family stuff. There’s little to know about them. Emphasis is on her and her sister and if anything it was the only positive I could see in all this.  At first glance, it’s Shannon who seems to have it all: the smarts, a goal and a plan, but events later prove otherwise. It’s Robyn who’s in fact got it together. The ups and downs and issues of trust, telling or not telling between them were OK additions, but there were too many things going on beyond the home front. Things are not helped by her tendency to be bratty. IMO, It felt like she was lording it over her family that she was doing something. Though how that was done is contrary her doing what she did on the sly. )

The Lead. (Not that much of a lead though.)  The biggest thing I disliked is how I felt she seemed to feel that she was different from others. Take her screwed up interaction with Parvati, her math archnemesis, whom she saw as totally false, being fake kind and sometimes a bit little condescending. The truth is, Shannon acted fake just like the other. Or her being bothered by how her coworkers dressed up, cleavage baring outfits and over the top make up and what not, when not two pages later she’s done up in the same way. 

Boys. There’s not that much to them. On the one hand, there’s Max, former BFF, who’s capable of being an ass in one moment then a sweet and present the next. I like what he could do, but he did some pretty crappy things here. That said, my dislike is not limited to him, Shannon’s simply too big a target. Drama Queen?  Liar? Self Absorbed? All apply to her. Then there’s Cole. For a few moments there, I thought things would be different. I thought Shannon too  would be different with him. I was wrong. It took too long for her to see what was what. That she realized that something was wrong, good. That it took that long, not so good.

2/5




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The Statistical Probabilty of Love at First Sight by Jennifer Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight is less a love story and more on reconnecting and forgiving. But you know what, Hadley?  I’m torn between sighing over how unbelievably lovely things went and nitpicking over how neat things turned out, (there‘s simply that nagging part of me that’s held back by the “unbelievably” part.) I like you, Hadley. You’re brave and at least you try to say what’s on your mind… if not to the one that matters then at least to a total strange. Yes, you be brave… but some things just didn’t compute. 

Tidy seems to be the most apt thing I can label the story with. It’s this same thing that has me feeling less than enthusiastic over it. Most everything turned out the way things should have. Personally, I’d have stuck to early feelings of hurt and being betrayed. I simply could not get my head wrapped around how easily things seemed to go, especially where her father was concerned. Of course, the story did stress the two year lapse, so what happened might indeed have been a long time coming. But reading from where I was, the sudden about face in her feelings felt a tad too neat.Tidy, as I’ve stressed repeatedly. And maybe, just maybe, some of the same could be accounted for by Oliver’s role in the story. But that boy’s role in the whole story was minimal to say the least. I would have loved to learn a little more of him, but the title doesn’t say “…Love at First Sight,” for naught.

Hadley and Oliver. A few hours and boom, there’s love in the air. Highly unlikely but not impossible, if we’re to follow the story. Yet, color me pleasantly surprised because despite that being the title it really isn’t the only thing the story is about. While I enjoyed the two of them together (from being strangers to being a little more for each other,) the story really is one of a daughter figuring out who she is in a family that’s changed so completely.

Tidy, but if you’re in the mood for sweet endings this is the one for you. (Plus it’s a quick read.)

2.5/5




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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dreaming Awake (Falling Under #1) by Gwen Hayes

Dreaming Awake (Falling Under, #2)Dreaming Awake by Gwen Hayes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


It’s too bad that the main thing I did like in the first book was virtually absent in this one. What one thing? Those nightmare snippets of sisters sewn together, of burning men and the like, well… little of those were in this one.

I’d come into this knowing what I disliked in Theia and Haden, so there were no big surprises from their department. The last one ended with things upside down.  Instead of love having conquered all, making someone better than they were, they’d been placed on equal footing. Instead of one bettering himself, there was a downgrading of sorts, a la Fiona and Shrek (it seems trolls and demons have a need for love too, just not outside their kind.)

For all that, I was surprised by how not annoying I found Theia to be. All of them in fact, left me feeling little in terms of liking/disliking. Yes, there were moments where she was dense, when they were all dense. But over all, there was nothing in this (or them) for me to feel strongly about. I feel the same way for this book as I do for pudding. As in, “OK. Thank You. What else you got for me?”  Things are not helped by what perceived as a clunky storyline on the part of her sidekicks. A love spell gown awry? A love that’s recognized a little too late? All those side bits didn’t mesh too well in the end.

The most interesting bit is how not all of it is told by Theia  or by Haden’s disembodied voice for that matter. Those moments with Donny, Gabe and Amelia exclusively were interesting peeks into what made them tick. This is true even if some of their worst nightmares revealed them to be vain fools. Skeletor? Gabe, really! I was starting to like you, too.

2/5




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Friday, January 20, 2012

The Nightmare Garden (Iron Codex # 2) by Caitlin Kittredge

The Nightmare Garden (Iron Codex, #2)The Nightmare Garden by Caitlin Kittredge

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Thank the gods, for the recap moments in Nightmare Garden which caught me up on the details that were fuzzy at best. As much as I loved whole chunks of Part One, the book is simply too long to bother with. The thing that’s stuck this long is how much I liked how different Cal turned out to be.

There be SPOILERS for the first book ahead...

Recall that there was something special about Aoife.
Recall as well that by the end, it had come to light that ALMOST everyone around her had something special going for them. It was all half this or part that… or wholly something else disguised as something else ordinary.
Recall the role that Cal had had in it as not simply the token BFF (who’s predictably in love with her,) but also one duty bound keep tabs on her.
Recall her escape from Lovecraft, then her encounter with Dean, a teen boy with secrets his own.
Recall their flight from one place to another each place each as mysterious as the previous one.
Recall Tremaine convincing her to trust some but not others, to do certain things that had unforeseen consequences; unforeseen on her part of course, because for a smart girl, she simply had a tendency to trust the wrong fellows.


This second book did take things up a notch in terms of pace. My primary complaint in the first was how needless some moments were. And while this second installment is along one, most everything in it didn’t drag by. If anything it was one chase then another then another. Now, if that were all to be said, I’d stop. But there’s a couple of things nagging at me:

Foremost of which is Aoife.  I could never settle what I felt for her. Did I like her? Was I annoyed by her? Did she make me sad? And it seems she made me feel all these things but never too deeply. One thing was clear to me: she was doing the same wrong things she’d done in the first book.  And it had me wondering if she’d she ever learn. Add the fact that I did not like what Cal had become in this one. If in the first he was a major player (BFF and all that,) here little was heard from him. His presence felt like an afterthought to me.

If there’s one thing that’s got me more than a little excited it’s Dean. We finally know a little more of who he is. That aside... I need to find out what’s to come for him. Because that damned ending (cliffy or not) was effective.

3.5/5

Thank you Edelweiss!




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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Thief (Queen's Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner

The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


It is a relatively short book but NOT a quick read. I enjoyed the story despite it being slow in parts.

What’s good. It's Gen, the thief, who’s funny and clever. He knows what he can do and is aware of his faults.  And what's better is how he didn’t go on and on about himself.  I can’t help but like him even though I did not know that much about him in the beginning (and even in the middle of the book.)  He reveals very little of himself, but I was only too aware of what he thought of his abilities as a thief (with his “I can steal anything,” right?) This lack of information had me wanting to know more… and with each little bit, I found myself liking him more and more. The same can be said for his companions Magus, Po, Sophos and even Ambiades.

Things went slow though. It’s solidly written but I must admit I went in thinking some pretty big things were hidden and I kept waiting for things like him he really being a girl to pop out of nowhere. Yet, I had to piece things together and not rush through it even if there weren't that many big thrills nor that many details to work with.

Perhaps it’s the pace AND lack of detail that added more to the suspense. I simply needed to know more of where they were, who the players were, what they were doing and why they were doing what they’d set out to do. Like I said, things did get boring, so one of the main reasons I’m looking forward to the next one is because of those reveals near the end. Those reveals, btw? There were hints pointing to what was coming; only it’s took me a couple of looks back to see them for what they really were.

3.5/5




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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Angefall (Penryn and the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1)Angelfall by Susan Ee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There’s not much to add when there’s a whole chorus singing this self-pub praises…

But Oh. My…Wow.

It’s a world of angels who aren’t good with cannibals and low demons as well as people trying to survive the apocalypse. Angelfall brings a little of what I loved in Ilsa Bick’s Ashes back. Only where Ashes drew on two major themes, effectively splitting my enthusiasm for it, this one had everything thrown together from the get. And then stuck to the rather original path of scary world with scary monsters (whether angels or not) but more specifically of a girl trying her best to protect her own.  There’s no major sudden division here, instead it’s a steady stream of adrenaline pumping chase scene after chase scene.

Big points for Raffe. I did get a big kick out of the reluctant guardian angel said major character posed. It’s his part of the story that’s muddled and has me impatient for the next one and strangely excited Excited, you ask? If an agnostic angel doesn’t pique your interest, then I don’t know what will.

I liked Angelfall…  a lot.

3.5/5



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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Wise Man's Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles #2) by Patrick Rothfus

The Wise Man's Fear (Kingkiller Chronicle, #2)The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A lot to take in. A couple of moments had me nodding off. The same fact held true for Name of the Wind, but I at least I found that one refreshingly different. This second book, I didn’t love as much.

The first third involves a lot of back pedaling, rehashing, going over, (in much the same way that I use these words one after another.  Get it?) If I were being completely honest, the only parts that truly got a kick out of me almost always had Bast or the Chronicler in them. Kvothe’s second day has lost a lot of what I liked in his first day of recalling what he’d seen, learned, met and mastered. His recollections of his past self, revealed a boy full of himself (for good reason or not because the boy could be arrogant.) He’s simply too perfect. And in the rare instance that he wasn’t brilliant, well, he didn’t stay that way forever. A run down:

1. University. The first portion goes over a lot of what Name of the Wind tackled of a poor boy making his way through University, struggling to make tuition.  It’s the same boy whose great skill and brilliance in all fields wows some but alienates most. It’s the same boy mooning over a girl most unlikely; the same, making friends with the most unlikely of people.)

2. Patron search. There’s  another long winded hunt for a patron. Dear Gods! All those lessons on what’s proper and not? Mind bogglingly boring, I tell you.  And frankly, I thought, unneeded. Where were the parts of awesome that peppered the Name of the Wind? Where were the parts that had me chuckling in the dark? Where were the entertaining conversations that revealed the boy’s arrogance, while unintended made him both annoying and a little endearing?

3. Mercenaries. He’d set off with a group of them that viewed him as a good for nothing spoiled something or other. Taking all that in stride, he proves them wrong, makes friends with them, then learns all sorts of mercenary ways.

4. Felurian and the Forest.   Later still he’s ensnared by The Fey goddess death by sex powers to boot. But lo and behold,  our boy out-sexes her, has the goddess fall in love with him and have her gift him with a magical cloak of shadow. Was there nothing he could NOT do?

5. In Haert. With his new-found mercenary friend, he learns some Secret Ways only to offend an entire people. I do confess it’s this portion that entertained me. I love that he fell flat on his ass time and time again. I love that he got schooled by some warrior women and child. It was entertaining how he mastered ninja-sounding moves like ‘Dancing Maiden’ and ‘Break Lion.’

I could go on…   but that it’s a rather long story, full of what he did, what he learned is no joke. And honestly, it was entertaining at points, I simply could have done with one or two moments more of awesome. Bast and Chronicler are what first come to mind in this regard. I loved their banter. I enjoyed how at one moment, Bast is sweetly childlike and loving where his Reshi is concerned; only to be coldly terrifying with the Chronicler. Or Elodin and his insane methods and seemingly pointless questions, him I found completely hilarious!

He goes from place to another mastering something new, impressing some and earning the hate of most others most others. Yet despite this boy who reads annoyingly brilliant, with a story that’s (a bit) long-winded, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn't be reading Day Three.

3/5




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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Girl With Dragon Tattoo (Millenium #1) by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Grisly from all angles: Lisbeth’s story, Hariet’s own, even Blomkvist is such. I liked/disliked all of them, but I confess I’d likely not have finished this if not for the audio version. Four attempts at the print version and if not for the incredible narration, I‘d likely never have gone beyond chapter two.



I liked…



…how utterly unforgiving Lisbeth was. Her seeing things a certain way, then finding choices of certain players to be precisely that~ choices, left little room for her to sympathize with others. And to an extent, I found myself agreeing with her. Where others would have felt a teensy bit sorry for what a character had to do, Lisbeth could not and did not given an inch. That said, she is far from perfect too. And that’s fine because she made for a fascinating if not confusing read. She’s not all there, and she’s the first to admit such fact. In one instance she’s easily pleased and in other parts she’s not… this in turn led me to be confused for and by her. Again, she’s far from many things: perfect, simple or all there for that matter.



OK



Blomkvist is a whole other matter because my enjoyment of Lisbeth failed to extend to him. He is the practical guy and seems to let things fall as they would. Yet, not once did I feel anything greater than ‘and now what?’ Hearing that the next installments have a whole lot more of Lisbeth makes me excited. There’s just not that much to him. His actions with Lisbeth, Cecilia and the editor point to his being a lady’s man, yet his easy way with them and everything else in his life pointed to him being the practical guy letting things fall where they would too. I liked him sure but I not once did I feel more for himnot even when he was being sampled by the nut job.



Interesting



Was the mystery to be solved. I called it early on, but held back thinking things couldn’t be as simple as I believed. I waited things out, wanting to see if that I thought was the case. Thinking a more complicated explanation was called for was what kept me in the story. Indeed, it’s the mystery in this that’s, on one hand, astonishingly simple at first glance, but upon closer inspection, a bit more intricate and complex. It’s the little things that made up those intricacies that account for what was sometimes gruesome then appalling in the story. Men who hate women, indeed.



3.5/5





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Sunday, January 15, 2012

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning

You Don't Have to Say You Love MeYou Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me is a makeover book with not one but two characters who need some perspective. Where she obsesses over what she looks like, he has hang-ups in the relationship area. And just like Grace and Vaughn in Unsticky, Neve and Max had me so frustrated at times.  While her with her size ten goal and him with his missing the hints did bother me, there were times when they could be sweet and funny. 

Even if the transformations were lengthy in this one, things balanced out with both of them growing out of what I didn’t like (one more so than the other.) She’s in her twenties, has got job that she loves and some pretty good friends as well as rather interesting family. Two of her problems stem from what she sees when she looks in the mirror. Her physical transformation notwithstanding she’s still not happy with what she sees, a fact made worse by her wanting to impress the man of her dreams. It’s her insecurity and lack of experience that results in a harebrained scheme. Hilarity!  Her life gets interesting, romantic, steamy and all kinds of confusing after setting out to find a body willing to do a trial run with her; a man willing to show her the in’s and out’s of man-woman interaction. A series of disastrous internet dates and she ends up Max. Max who from the get is referred to as office Man Whore.

If not the characters, then I can say I LOVED how their relationship moved from one stage to another. Starting with the Horrendously Awkward first moment moving on to the slow building up of a friendship that addressed both their issues (her insecurity and his unable to commit.) Wait! Did I just type ‘unable to commit’? Max seems the typical man about town. And maybe he is. He likes women; he unashamedly goes with one then another then another. It’s his experience that draws her to him, (well that and a couple of alcoholic beverages.) But a couple of chappies later after what they'd shown each other had allowed for more. And I bought them... their growing feelings as well as their deepening intimacy. 

Again, it’s their relationship that I liked. She’s simply too insecure and food/weight obsessed for me to like all alone. I sympathized at points, but I got tired of her and her whining. Now, Max. Oh Max! What an ass he was close to the end! But he wasn’t just an ass. And I think that’s what made them an interesting read. He’s capable of being good, thoughtful and sweet, as was Neve. Both were very able to say what’s what, call things out like they were. Their delivery was a whole other matter though because some things best left unsaid were said; both of them crossed a line or two.

3.5/5




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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Surrender by Sonya Hartnett

SurrenderSurrender by Sonya Hartnett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Surrender is not something I’d normally. It’s a few phrases shy of purple, yet I trucked on because of the way it was written. It was soft and gray as well as slow then disturbing. But it could be predictable at points too yet on the whole… it was haunting.



Alternating between the two boys both of whom had sad, depressing tales; it was both of them who had me continuing.  Both sides of the story were bitter. And the rare moment of sweet for one of them, was just that: rare. What one could do to another, what one wanted want of another; some things seemingly so simple and basic, yet as both their experience proved, not so easily attained.



This was in no way an enjoyable read, there's simply to much sad in it. Yet, it's his voice, as well as the other’s view of what was happening that held me. Yes, moments of it were obvious, yet the slow of reveal things did not take away how disturbing things really were… and sad.



I felt for these boys.



3.5/5





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Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl and the Dying GirlMe and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5/5



Me, Earl and the Dying Girl is quite the surprise. Our guy has a tendency to go off on tangents, funny, humorous tangents that revealed not only his self-deprecating  humor but also that he’s an ability to state things as they really were (or maybe not.)



Because while Greg reads ordinary, he is disconnected. He doesn’t want to make waves. He doesn’t want enemies, but neither does he want friends. Curious guy, I thought. Except, paring it down, we see that he’s so afraid of what others see and think as it related to him. And it’s such things that drives him to be as he was, which is I repeat, disconnected. But if he was that at the beginning of the book, he certainly wasn’t that by its end.



Yet I did enjoy this story. Mainly, I laughed at how thing were stated. Because the best thing in it was how he’d take the making s of a conventional thing and turn it on its head. Put a dying girl and boy who had no real close friends to call their own together. A romance was likely to develop, yes? Right? Or take the same boy, who’s basically terrified of a lot of things (most especially what others thought of him,) then take a tough guy who’d just as soon as kick you than look at you. And ask yourself, do these two have the makings of an unconventional friendship. Would one take the other under his wing? Would the other?  Maybe.  Most of all though, I respect how Greg called things out as moronic: other people, other people’s behavior, but more often than not, himself… because he really could be such a moron.



The saddest part of it is the level to which he’d did not believe in him self.  The depressing state of his self-confidence was funny and sad (but really, mostly funny.) Yet, things did change. Slowly. And while one would think that it’s due to the dying girl, it really isn’t. His moment of clarity comes from the most unexpected of sources. And I love, love, love this fact.



So, take heaps of self-deprecating humor, some really crass, gross jokes, a dying girl and then two boys, and color me surprised. I enjoyed this one.



Thanks Net Galley!



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Friday, January 13, 2012

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

PinkPink by Lili Wilkinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


There were moments when Ava went 'I'm ashamed of me' that I was nodding along… because I was ashamed of her too. This bright girl was prone to sticking her foot in it and saying the most awkward of things. Talk of normal versus common is likely to piss some one off... and I'm not the exception. But I’ll be frank, Ava on one hand endearing and on the other positively infuriating.



Endearing.



She’s unsure of what she wants, what she wants and who she is. She’s not a hundred percent on what makes her her. And I get that. I even respect the fact that she voices these things out, if not to others, then at least to herself. There’s a moment or two where she says what’s on her mind without really thinking things through. Sometimes, she says the most brilliant of things, other times not at all. I like that she sees herself doing things. She sees herself singing, dancing and doing all manner of things. I like that she sees possibility in herself. I respect her putting herself out there and going about it her way.



And it’s her way that had me laughing and screwing my eyes shut, hoping that what I knew was coming wouldn’t happen. Because dear me, some of the fixes she found herself were cringe-worthy at best, and disastrous at worst. Case in point: oh gods, her audition! How I cringed, I can not tell you.  Or her sparring with Sam and Jules and the other Screws: simultaneously enlightening and hilarious. Or her molding herself to be less screwed up and just a little more run-of-the-mill. And then there’s her love of pink.



Infuriating.



Yet, a lot of her actions were infuriating too. While she’d voiced her concerns out early on, some of the thing she did just showed what little regard she had of others for Chloe in particular. Yes, Chloe had time and again proven how far from perfect she was, but Ava was far from perfect too. 



As said, she's uncertain, she’d not really settled on who she liked and who she was. Again, I respect that she’d voiced the uncertainty out, but I didn’t like the direction she took it. Basically there's lying, hiding, pretending, and half-truths. All surprising, given that she was smart, and had in several moments shown the ability to put herself out there and be independent. Were the things that happened funny? Yes. But still, these same things brought things to a higher level of drama, higher than necessary.



Yet, despite my complaints, the ending that saved things for me. It’s another open ending that doesn’t put a definitive answer on who she is or who she could like. It leaves her and things about her as open and flexible. There’s that possibility to her and her story that I like. She’s a person in the making and it's this fact that I might be what I like most of all.







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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronilces#1) by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Name of the Wind had me liking Kvothe, then liking him a little more. Admiring him, then disliking him for the oddest of reasons. I felt everything for him. Humble he was not, but there was good reason for the same. He’s full of himself, and I could have accepted him in no other way. And add on the people around him, and I saw so many other facets to him: Big brother with Auri; good friend to a few; curious questioning student with the Masters. Then lover (unsure, confounded and insecure though he was) with Denna.

I loved most things in Name, but two things pull it shy of perfect, namely (a) Kvothe’s tendency toward being redundant and (b) a move so out of character that one of them loses a little of herself. The first is much easier to accept; given its length, I could understand the need to repeat a certain detail. It’s the second I’d trouble with: among all the people around him, it was Denna I had high hopes for.

At first everything about her pointed to her being his female version, making them seemingly perfect for each other. Something close to the end though shoved her from his would be equal (both being street smart, charming and sort of/kind of independent) to something otherwise. It was an uncharacteristic moment of her not thinking that turned her from his equal in most respects to someone he was to protect, to take care of. Potential equal no longer, now she’s reduced to manic pixie dream girl epic-fantasy style. Another mpdg, she could be wild, out there, and yes, sometimes heartless… and I’d have respected that. But that one unthinking moment was simply so uncharacteristic of her; everything she’d done prior painted a picture of a smart, independent, cautious and  thinking one. And I simply couldn’t (still cannot) see the necessity of making her act so out of character.

These two things aside, I loved most everything in this lengthy story that detailed what Kveothe was, showing just a little of what he would be. What he was, at first: all innocent and loving, even precocious, with his parents, his troupe and later on with the man who’d set it all into motion, Ben. Only to later he’s scared and desperate, but wily on the streets. And in the university? He was so much more: Passionate, driven, and directed. Fearless and reckless. But above all brilliant, extraordinarily so. And while he could be a cocky bastard, at least he was cognizant of the role luck played in how things played out for him.

I don’t do audio books that often but this had me laughing, tearing up, and brooding in the dark. All in all, this was 28 hours well spent.

(Oh, and I may have a teensy crush on the narrator.)



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