Monday, April 30, 2012

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3) by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)
Good Reads Summary
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How many years has it been since Graceling again? Four years? Five?  I snapped this up as soon as I could my hands on it. Bitterblue’s own story is a complicated read. There were lot’s and lot’s of side stories, a couple old characters and then some other new ones… plus, a lot of them behaving oddly, so oddly that I was totally with Bitterblue in her confusion. I understood her in her need to know what was going on. Then I was with her in being confused about all the what’s/why’s/who’s. It’s only close to the end did things all feel smoother to me. BUT since I’m a sucker for stories of this kind- the kind with intrigue and questions and mysteries layered on thick- well, I enjoyed it.

Graceling left us with a ten year-old Bitterblue, inheriting a kingdom from a mad king who’d used his grace to mind-rape/control/abuse his people. Now 18, she’s still trying to get her people to move on but at the same time figure out the truth behind who and what and how.

What I loved:   

… There are twists in this one that you wouldn’t believe!

…Characters. While it’s true that whole stretches of it were confusing, there were moments when it was just her, or just her and another character that kept me glued to what they were saying. Bitterblue as a character could give Katsa a run for her money in the non-simple department. She’s unsure, confused.. but tough and tries her best to do what’s right. But sometimes she goes off half cocked, then sometimes she get emotional too. I had no choice but to like her. The Saf, who is a little like her, in that he is not the boy-she-loved. He too is complicated; he too could behave in ways she didn’t like… but he made sense, (sometimes in a childish reactive kind of way.) And then there’s Katsa and Po, both of them were a big surprise because they felt more lively here; more open(?)

… That even after Graceling, Leck still figures a great deal in the story. It is after all about trying to move on from what he’d done.  How some try to do this is just the root of most of the puzzles that Bitterblue’s to solve.

…That there’s a love story that wasn’t the driving force of the story but interesting in it’s own right. I enjoyed that it progressed: with people behaving badly, making shitty decisions but it’s the end that I have to commend the most- realistically.

What I didn’t quite love…

…I’m not really backtracking here, but in much the same way that those twists and plots always have me intrigued, there were points in it that confounded me, points when I’d have to re-read a couple of passages and try to trace where they were coming from. That’s how confusing things could get! I loved the intrigue, truly, I did… but I sometimes I got lost along the way.

… Unnecessary elements. I felt like too many things were introduced whose roles not quite material to what was going on.  I get that there are people to trust; I get there are people not to trust… it just got a little difficult to keep track of all of them and who did what and why.

4/5



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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ashfall (Ashfall#1) by Mike Mullin

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)
Good Reads Summary

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don't know it's there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let's get down to it, shall we?

First thing: Darla reads like an eighteen year old female version of MacGyver. 

Second thing : even if she read wise beyond her years (or unlikely,) I liked that aspect of her. Of how she’s the tough one who knew what to do while he starts out as clueless and sometimes bumbling around (but not all the time.) The eventual reversal of their roles then the re-reversal kept things interesting too because really, the action in this one wouldn’t quit!

It’s got the same feel as Ilsa Bick’s post apocalyptic/zombie YA novel Ashes, but more focused … in that it never veered away from the path it set out on:  His world’s in chaos and he’s looking for his family. People around him are desperate and doing things they wouldn’t normal. There’s hints at cannibalism, abuse and more… and every single thing/ person is a mess.  Some are good and others just plain evil.

To say that I enjoyed this is a massive understatement. Thank gosh for sequels.

3/5


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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Being Friends with Boys by Terra Elan McVoy

Being Friends with Boys
Good Reads Summary

Being Friends with Boys
by Terra Elan McVoy

Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl's perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys' band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free...until it isn't any more.

When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl...and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more than friends with Char...being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


3.5/5

Oh Thank God… Lately, I’ve been feeling less than enthusiastic over the stuff I’ve been picking. I think I’ve had me fill of girls saving the world/ post apoc/ whatever. Apparently, it takes a bunch of teenagers who don’t know what they want and how to say what they want once they’ve figured things out to get me pumped. Being Friends with Boys is not without its problems, take the girl who’s not aware of what she’s got going for her, take her very complicated non-love life… but I enjoyed it.

It starts at their end. But her recollections of what had gone on prior -all short and brief- high lit how good they were together. I liked her flashing back to them; her memories of them and their “golden summer” all pointed to a group who liked being together and had fun together; had a genuine connection.

Supporting character made for a more interesting read too. There’s Fabian, with his words of wisdom; it’s his and her connection that balanced out what would have been too much boy drama. Of course there’s Benji who is likely my favorite character. He was just always there and so easy to read of- which is not necessarily what I’d have to say for the two originals: Trip and Oliver. I like how it’s a mostly a non romance because there’s very little to that effect most of the book. It’s mostly this girl being friends with boys  Then eventually, the same girl figuring things out. There was that eventual romantic revelation to her in that final moment with her holding things then but reducing everything that had happened in a couple of breathes… but it was all right. Most of the time thoe two were absent, but it’s their absence that propelled most of the drama she experienced, as well as most of the discoveries made.

While I’d normally be scrunching my forehead over how oblivious she could get, her recognizing what was is half the fun/frustration of this story. She could be both (seriously,) but at least there was more to her.  She’s frustratingly unaware of why things had turned out the way they had, but willing to roll with things. Benji got her I suppose in  calling her his “Coastal.” She did go with the flow, but not always with her striking out on her own and trying some new things.

3.5/5
Thank You Simon and Schuster G&G!




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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe

Freeze Frame
Good Reads Summary 

Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe

No matter how many times Kyle rewrites the scene, he can't get it right. He tries it in the style of Hitchcock, Tarantino, Eastwood, all of his favorite directors—but regardless of the style, he can't remember what happened that day in the shed. The day Jason died. And until he can, there is one question that keeps haunting Kyle: Did he kill his best friend on purpose?

Debut novelist Heidi Ayarbe delves into the depths of the human psyche as Kyle wrestles with inner demons that make him wonder whether the world will ever be okay again—or if the best thing to do is find a way to join Jason.

My Thoughts

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


“I never forget that Jason was my best friend.”
“No. But you do forget that you were his.”


*sob*

Kyle’s got a nifty way of thinking about things then presenting them. The thing is, like him, I didn’t quite understand all the mollycoddling that followed. His guilt, his confusion… both these, came across loud and clear. Him pushing others away, him feeling like he’d let everyone down, and they Jason given the decision? I felt it all plausible. His not remembering, his pain… then him trying to cope made this not the easiest of reads, but it was OK.

Kyle aside, most everyone around him did have their moments of truth. While the mollycoddling had me reacting as he did (as in, really now?) his parents’ “What now?” felt just right. The aftermath of his father seeming to shrink before his eyes then his mother not quite knowing what to do all felt like the most likely outcomes. But it was his sister in particular who surprised me. Her whole take on things felt slightly limited but honest. Her anger felt like it was directed at the right person, in the right time... and he took it. It’s her reception and honest contribution to it all that had me continuing.

There’s of course, the one by one addition of new people in his life. Take Mr. Cardoba and his own mystery. I knew there was something more to him, and for him to reveal it at almost the same pace that Kyle was revealing his own pain felt… fair. Then take Clock and how Kyle’s eyes opened to how they were in the same boat… but not quite. Ultimately though, it’s the Bishop’s who had me curious. Precocious Chase, who needs protecting has Kyle step up and pick up where the bigger brother couldn’t.  And while it’d feel too hallmark sweet, it felt just right. Both the younger boy and the older were trying move on but not quite ready to do so.

It’s a sad start but with an ending that leaves me a slightly hopeful.

3.5/5



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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Glitch (Glitch#1) by Heater Anastasiu

Glitch (Glitch, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network. When Zoe starts to malfunction (or "glitch"), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers. As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse. In this action-packed debut, Glitch begins an exciting new young adult trilogy.
 
My Thoughts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Well, this is awkward. I was expecting something more than the teenage Adrien spouting on and on about feelings of love and hate; things that Zoel just could not grasp (understandably so); or more than that same boy with his shunting Uppers and cracking whatever. Oi!  And to think the lingo was the least of the things I took issue with (mainly because it came from one character anyway.)

Going in blind I honestly didn’t know what was coming. But come on! When you start with a girl who’s confused and terrified because of her growing awareness of goings on,  the least you could do is keep to that path! But, nooooh… mostly, it’s her following behind two boys who behaved like they had everything under control.

That start (of her glitching and describing how afraid she was) held so much promise! It revealed a girl who’s scared, unsure and fearful… about changes inside her, confused about why it’s happening at all. Then only a few pages later, it’s more of the boys leading the way with her following along. She just kept following along! Once Adrien said , she’d echo the same thoughts later. After Max would describe something, she’d find herself picturing it and kinda/sorta swayed.

As to the romantic angle, Max’s romantic antics could be so incredibly awkward. Max and his passion crazy-ness, were… awkward. I get why that was the case: the girl was just starting to learn what it meant to be truly human, and then there was Max wanting something, talking about things not quite within her grasp. Ayayay! If the goal was to emphasize how disconnected she was and how different she was (they were from Old Worlders) well, guess what? Success! I felt slightly embarrassed for him but mostly offended and crowded in for her. This awkward feeling was likely intentional… but still it elicited from me a couple of giggles that I felt out of place/time.

Yet for all Max’s follies at least I bought his selfishness. It’s more than I can say for Zoe or Adrien. Zoe with her initial fear and confusion eventually echoes what she's been told. She’s all righteous indignation,with her "We must tell all, free all or do something." I got it; I just didn’t but it. Sure, the eventual reveal about her past made her slightly more interesting, but really… I felt she was too good all the time. Then there's Adrien whose words she echoed. He too felt like someone I’d read of before. The boy from the outside, whose presence stirred up trouble, the love interest… etcetera. His role? Old hat… and at the oddest of times, him explaining feelings to her sounded very non-teenage boy to me.

The one good thing in this for me was the "gifts" that came along with the glitching. Heck, the whole super-powers thing was far more interesting to read than the resistance against the Uppers aspect. At least with the former, most of it involved her discovering what could be done, what she could do through her doing. Contrast this to the “people controlled unknowingly” aspect which was laid out in Adrien’s telling, (seriously, Adrien did a lot of telling,) with Zoe (and us) expected just to buy everything: lock, stock and barrel. As to what’s told? Well, I’ve been there and done that too. Inside Out? Across the Universe? Glow? Matched? All had something like a perfect world where people unwittingly trade peace, harmony and order for control. So, who’s been there with me?

There were some interesting portions here that unfortunately got shoved to the side by some unexpectedly awkward moments.

Thanks Net Galley!

2.5/5




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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Because of Low (Sea Breeze #2) by Abby Glines

Because of Low (Sea Breeze, #2)
Good Reads Summary
Because of Low by Abbi Glines

In my debut novel, Breathe, Sadie may have fallen in love with the teen rock star, Jax Stone, but readers fell head over heels for Marcus Hardy. This is his story…

Marcus Hardy had hoped to enjoy a year away at college while he put the summer he’d rather forget behind him. But instead, he’s jerked right back to the coastal town of Sea Breeze, Alabama due to a family crisis. His dear ol' dad found himself a girlfriend only a few years older than Marcus. So now his sister needs help dealing with their mother who is mentally falling apart. The only bright spot to returning is the fascinating red head who sleeps over several times a week. The problem is she's sleeping in bed with his new roommate, Cage Watson.

Willow “Low” Foster needs a place to live. Running to Cage’s apartment every time her sister kicks her out isn’t exactly a long term solution. Juggling her courses at the local community college and a part time job doesn’t produce excess income. But Cage has a new roommate and suddenly sleeping over at her best friend’s apartment isn’t such a bad thing. Not when she gets to see those sexy green eyes of Marcus Hardy’s twinkle when he smiles at her like he wants her there. 


Even though Cage seems a little territorial where Low is concerned, Marcus finds time to spend with Low without upsetting his roommate. Cage may use his small college baseball star persona to sleep with every hot female in his path but he’s still under the disillusion that when he’s through sowing his wild oats, he’s going to marry Low. Marcus intends to change that assumption for both Cage and Low. Until his carefully laid plans come crashing down with a revelation he never expected. He’ll have to choose between Low or his family. Because once the truth comes out.... there’s no other choice.


My Thoughts
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars


I’m not one to leave a series unfinished. This is true even when I hate the first book as is the case with Sea Breeze #1. If that book had anything going for it, it’d have to be Marcus. And that’s about it. The writing, the plot, the conflict, hell… just about everything in that put me off. Yet, Marcus piqued my curiosity. This beta male, good guy had me wondering what the author would have in store for him.

In terms of writing, BECAUSE OF LOW felt a bit less as stilted. No long winded declarations of love; no sudden intense obsessive neediness out of nowhere for the either of two involved. A big plus is how not over the top they could be. Marcus’s issue? Possible. Her issues? Less so. And Cage? OK, I admit it the role this guy had in all of it did get a bit out there. Still, drama level was tolerable, worlds away from that of Sea Breeze #1.

Taken together, I liked the upfront way they handled their attraction. Neither of them skirted around it; both of them acted on it. There was a concerted effort by the two to be mindful of how their being together could/would affect others. (Sort of.) 

Then individually… first off, it’s Marcus who had me reading this. In Breathless, he read the sensitive, good one; the one who’s careful and considerate. Here, he is all of that except he wasn’t just the sensitive guy. The things he dealt with pushed him to his limits and showed how much he could deal with and how he would do so. All those moments showed him being less than perfect and more real (and yeah, sheltered.)

In their love triangle that wasn’t, I felt that Marcus truly was the only viable choice. Especially if we consider how Cage behaved. I mean just because you’ve got an itch doesn’t mean you’ve got to scratch it 24/7. Cage Part I, oh… the eye rolls you induced!  Only later in a teensy scrap almost to the end, a second version of Cage showed up, Cage Part II. With this version in mind, it made sense why Low was with him at all. I was beginning to grasp what Low saw in him at all. And I thought, where the hell,  were you through out?! And of course Sadie, ehe.. I mean Low. The girl just read like Sadie. Insecure, unaware. Down on her luck but with a tougher past.

I suppose I will read the next one when it comes out. Because of Low was a much better reading experience that the first.

2.5/5



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Monday, April 23, 2012

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent#1) by Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers
Good Reads Summary
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?


My Thoughts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found nothing wanting in this one. It distinguishes itself from the rest given the obvious absence of most things encountered in past YA books. This one is just a boy who’s is so afraid of turning out like father (I mean what teenage kid doesn’t fear the same?) Only for him, the fear is absolutely justified given that dear old dad is also a serial killer.

This one felt fresh; Jazz’ voice, so new, different that I feel like I’d give either of my kidneys to get my hands on the next one. Even the typical YA conflict of figuring out his father’s truth isn’t so typically handled in this one. We all know his father’s truth, but it was Jazz running away from the same that had things moving along.

I liked them though I didn’t expect to do so. Jazz is the biggest surprise in this aspect because I liked him even with some similarities with douche-y YA love interests. He is cocky, manipulative and so sure of himself but also so deathly afraid of his possibilities given his history. Add the act that he is smart in an unlikely kind of way, but he always had this humor that had me hooked nonetheless.

All of them in fact had a certain humor to them. This was never more obvious than when Jazz was on  a page Howie. On Howie, at first, I felt that this character read like the typical BFF type. The one in over his head but too loyal to do anything about it? The one most likely to get the short end; the same thing that would propel the main guy to do something previously not considered. And the more I think about it, the more I have to concede that most these things held true for Howie. BUT… and this is important: I didn’t mind. Their interaction, as well as Jazz’s interaction with Connie, allowed Jazz to seem less scary... because this protag’s thoughts, could frankly get a bit uncomfortable in the bloody/scary/gory kind of way.

And holy hell! I hope I wasn’t alone with hair standing on end every time he had a flash of something from his past. The last moments were especially scary in what could have happened. I am still imagining things how things could have gone down.

I want the next one now.
Seriously.




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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Velveteen (Velveteen #1) by Daniel Marks

Velveteen (Velveteen, #1)
Good Reads Summary 
Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that's not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it's not a fiery inferno, it's certainly no heaven. It's gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn't leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what's really on her mind.

Bonesaw.

Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she's figured out just how to do it. She'll haunt him for the rest of his days.
It'll be brutal . . . and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen's obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she's willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can't help herself when it comes to breaking rules . . . or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.  


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I suspect that the tone she’s speaks will be a hit or miss with readers. Irreverent, she could be. Cheeky but perfectly aware of how unlikeable she was. Despite such an interesting character, the flow of the story felt choppy. With endings that served to emphasize how silly, horrific, stupid something was… the novelty of all those one liner endings eventually wore off because they cut off the flow of the story. Add the fact that it wasn’t that easy to get into at first. There’s little explanation as to what was what and who was who, so I had to learn everything along side the new guy. I couldn’t tell heads from tails, why something was happening or why something being done, so I could just imagine how confused he was… because I certainly was. Basically, it wasn’t that easy to get into in the beginning.

Recalling my excitement over the possibility of a ghost-girl haunting her killer, I admit it was this aspect of the story delivered. Her memories of him… and anything to do with him had the effect they were suppose to have: Horror, I say. Yet, the story isn’t as simple as a dead girl haunting her killer (if you could even say that that is simple) because it’s a just small part in a bigger world of her Purgatory. The things is it could get confusing; not only did her cheeky ways, one liner endings cut off the flow, I felt as if I were plopped right in middle of something happening and then expected to know what was up. I learned at the same the newbie did… but things did clear up a while later.

Speak of Purgatory, I’d never quite pictured it that way. She and the people around her made for an interesting read. Having just read WANDERDUST, with its team of paranormals, I was quite surprised to encounter something similar here. Though, I have to say that the “teams” in this one were much more interesting. On one hand there’s Collectors, then on the other Scavengers. That one tram was comprised of poltergeist siblings, members that could posses either living or non living was certainly different, Luisa especially. I just wish a little more of her Purgatory were laid out more smoothly.

Thanks NETGALLEY!
3/5


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Friday, April 20, 2012

Wander Dust (The Seraphina Parrish Trilogy#1) by Michelle Warren

Wander Dust
Good Reads Summary
Wander Dust by Michelle Warren

Ever since her sixteenth birthday, strange things keep happening to Seraphina Parrish.

The Lady in Black… burns Sera’s memories.

Unexplainable Premonitions… catapult her to other cities.

The Grungy Gang… wants to kill her.

And a beautiful, mysterious boy… stalks her.

But when Sera moves to Chicago, and her aunt reveals their family connection to a centuries old, secret society, she is immediately thrust into an unbelievable fantasy world, leading her on a quest to unravel the mysteries that plague her. In the end, their meanings crash into an epic struggle of loyalty and betrayal, and she’ll be forced to choose between the boy who has stolen her heart and the thing she desires most.

Wander Dust is the breathtaking fantasy that will catapult you through a story of time, adventure, and love.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting concept of putting people together and having them depend on each. All the talk on Seer/Protector/Wanderer had me curious, but sadly it just took too long before I was more than just flipping pages. The author has a very clear vision of how things are in her world. She takes her time laying down the details, keeping the time travel details/ paranormal elements clear and different enough, so most things did make sense. But something outside the PNR/travel aspect also still dragged WANDER DUST to the point of boring for me. Sadly, even when things did finally get a little more interesting, my enthusiasm had been lost somewhere along the way.

It’s not bad though because Sera is different. She’s her issues but tried to deal. She initially came off as immature:  the sad lonely little girl with a father that didn’t get her. But her thoughts on going insane made her slightly more interesting to me.  She’s not got her head stuck in the sand, was perfectly aware of how screwed up her father was and how screwed up she could be. But she paid attention.

I was a little more impressed with how her past was weaved into the mystery that surrounded her in her new school. Yet, I was (as usual) frustrated by the closed mouth way a lot of them were. I enjoyed Sam the most (even if Max Bishop is painted as every girl’s dream) because of the absence of the “instant connection” between the two; this, I thought, was more plausible.

So basically the three of them struggling to get to know each other because they had to… was a different way to introduce a would be team of paranormals. That said, there’s little else I could commend in this one. Well, I suppose I should add that the magic, the teachers, and the newness of it all to Sera... felt “very-new-girl –in-new-school” ala Harry Potter. And like I said, the details are there and they explain a lot away, but there was something in the beginning in the manner the details were presented that bored me. The ending saved it for me. I had a hard time getting into it but now that’s it’s over I’m curious about what’s to follow.

3/5


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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Slow Twitch (Brenna Blixen# 3) by Liz Reinhardt

Slow Twitch (Brenna Blixen, #3)
Good Reads Summary
Slow Twitch by Liz Reinhardt

Summer scatters three friends, ties them back together, and makes them question who they have been and who they want to be in the future.

Brenna expected to soak up the knowledge of great Irish writers at her summer workshop in Dublin. But there are some things even the best books can't teach you, and a passionate new friend and an old familiar full of surprises challenge Brenna to follow her heart. By the time she's back in the States, she can't wait to throw herself back into Jake's arms and tell him exactly what he means to her.

She puts the brakes on that plan when it becomes clear that Jake may not be ready to shoulder any more. He visits his family's palatial home in the mountains of New York, and is exposed to all the possibilities a life surrounded by his pampered relatives and washed in money would hold for him. But is it possible to accept so much and not change who you are? Jake has to face the reality that changing sometimes means losing things...but how much is he willing to put on the line?

Saxon has been thrust into a life of drudgery and indentured service he never dreamed of after a brush with the law puts him on family-enforced probation. Who would have thought Sussex County's resident bad-ass layabout would fall head-over-heels in love with a girl, an elderly aunt, and a shot at a whole new life. The problem is, he's a Maclean to his marrow, and it's in his blood to be a selfish screw-up. Isn't it?

Brenna, Jake, and Saxon spend one summer growing up, working things out, and doing their best to weather the changes that get thrown their way. But can the love and friendships of one amazing summer last through the ups and downs of the coming years?

Slow Twitch is book number three in the Brenna Blixen series. Book one is Double Clutch, and book two is Junk Miles. All books in this series are YA Mature. Slow Twitch contains sex, drug references, alcohol consumption, and swearing. It is intended for mature or older readers.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was charmed by Brenna in Double Clutch. She impressed me with her head on her shoulders, her feet solidly planted on the ground. So I was completely taken aback with the turn of events in BOOK TWO. I recall feeling her that reasons were a cop out to getting what she wanted at the expense of another. Now, a couple of moths later, I’m happy to report that SLOW TWITCH brings back a little of my admiration for her in DC.  So Slow Twitch might not be as good as book one but it’s a far cry better from Book two.

I enjoyed how each of them got a chance reveal more of themselves even when these revelations were done reluctantly. Things got done in this book and it allowed me the opportunity to get a clearer picture of why Brenna was the way she was.  Still, I have to say that my favorite moments were of Saxon: a little less the bad boy, he was turning into something so different from what I’d come accustomed to in the first books. I felt satisfied with his outcome… which is not precisely what I felt for the other two of this not-quite-love triangle. 

I was confused by Jake because the same issues I had with him in the past crept up a little, but I wasn’t as bothered. Perhaps this is because in this he read more authentic. Jake and his insecurities even Brenna and her need to be who she was and her need to decide what she felt, felt less forced to me.  Maybe because it’s been a couple of months since I read the last one and now I’d become used to their personalities? Basically, they all felt like persons /personalities to me instead of people just spouting of justifications/excuses.

It’s an OK end to a series whose start had me excited. The “me, me, me” bent I attributed to Brenna personality after BOOK Two has been blunted now. I think I know her more… and maybe even like her (just not all the time.)

3/5
Side note:  Is it just me or does Brenna draw Saxon type personalities to her? I am quite curious about what’s in store for Evan, (aka Saxon with ovaries.)  Will there be there a spin-off?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The King of Attloia (The Queen Thief#3) by Megan Whalen Turner

The King of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #3)
Good Reads Summary
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides (yoo-JEN-ə-deez) wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making.

Then he drags a naive young guard into the center of the political maelstrom. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king's caprice, but his contempt for Eugenides slowly turns to grudging respect. Though struggling against his fate, the newly crowned king is much more than he appears. Soon the corrupt Attolian court will learn that its subtle and dangerous intrigue is no match for Eugenides.


My Thoughts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I loved the twists in this one even if the way he presented himself could get quite frustrating. I was waiting and waiting for him to show his truth. So waiting for his truth to become clearer to all of them, I was simply gleeful when things finally did take place according to how I expected.

But even before that, I think I fell a little in love with the people in this one. This time around it’s Attolia and her people who have to get used to him. I tell you: I enjoyed them all. Attolia and all those people loyal to her could be so frustratingly loyal! and I loved that too. Because what they did and what they did say proved just how little they knew of Gen but also showed just where their hearts/loyalties lay. So on the one had they all did frustrate me, but on the other they also endeared themselves to me. Costis especially!

Of course, Gen’s humor only concealed just how serious he was… but it’s a humor that I appreciated. Serious moments had me griining because I could just picture how confounded he made everyone around him feel. But never his Queen. And then them together? Oh me dear… ! I fell a little more in love with their story. The hints in how they were together, of few people saw and probably the confusion they all felt. Simply, I loved the complexity of his connections with all of those around him. His manipulation, his tactics… all impressed me. Their reactions, their receptions had me imagining what I’d have felt in their place.

The King off Attolia is filled with moments that were so unexpected. Add that a pacing was just right, and people who had me feeling so many things. Well, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise if I say that this is definitely one of my favorites this year.

*Btw, audio version is so darned engaging.



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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief#2) by Megan Whalen Turner

The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #2)
Good Reads Summary
The Queen of Attolia  by Megan Whalen Turner

Revenge
 
When Eugenides (yoo-JEN-ə-deez), the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes's Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eugenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered...she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.
 

...but
 

Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.
 

...at what price?
 

When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph, and his greatest loss, comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago...
 

Books for the Teen Age 2001 (NYPL) and Bulletin Blue Ribbon Best of 2000 Award(less)

My Thoughts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Three reasons why I loved the Queen of Attolia: There be Humor. There be Intrigue. And a love that is so completely unexpected.

Queen of Attolia is what awesome is made of. Though truth be told not one moment was broing. One thing then another went from interesting, to good, then to awesome. The bets thing about this is that it’s so cleverly written. I had no clue what was going to happen next. The political intrigue especially was plotted so specifically, so carefully that when something did happen I was floored (I kid you not.)

Then add people who had me rooting for them. That Gen had all these people around  and that he felt a certain way for others with them feeling the exact opposite. This is where things got pretty emotional for me. What he thought of himself and what others saw in him. Then what he thought of Attolia and what she thought of him. It was all so complicated. Now, if the first book had me pegging him as a certain something, this second book proved me wrong in some aspects: here he learned some things about himself and as he learned those things so did I and I was left only more impressed.

Nothing in this is simple. His relationships with those who know him best, plans behind plans and plots were all so complicated and cloudy that I could not tell what was in store for him and everyone around him.

This is a definite favorite.

****

so here's the skinny:

THIS BOOK IS MADE OF AWESOME!




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Monday, April 16, 2012

Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Breaking Beautiful
Breaking Beautiful 
by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.


My Thoughts 
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out why parts of it felt like I’d read it before. This book is (very) similar to Stampler’s WHERE IT BEGAN only minus the overly annoying “me, me, me” of Gabby. The biggest similarity is how anything bad that could have happened, actually did happen to Ally.

The thing is, I think, I’d have enjoyed her Allie’s story more, had she had more guts. She didn’t; she seemed to expect things to get fixed by others. All the while she’s depressed and waiting and crying and moaning. I get it, of course, after everything that’s happened: (view spoiler)[abusive boyfriend being the first; followed closely by absent parents and a mother too focused on an outward appearance of familial bliss; then followed by school dramarama of girl on the fringe with her own personal mean girl/ ‘HS Queen.’ Plus, a reformed bad boy. (hide spoiler)])

So, a girl who can’t quite remember her accident but recalls with clarity everything that had gone on before it: I liked it, but was never completely engaged by the story. I felt sorry for her, but didn’t quite understand some of the choices made. And even though the mystery flowed; those flashes into her past having emphasized just how bad things then how clueless everyone could be, some other parts read unnecessary:

Take Hannah and her gang. Could anyone really be so self-involved and react so acidly? It felt so needlessly dramatic. And small minded. Or take the role of ‘small town mind set’ and how afraid the same had Ally in telling all. I didn’t buy it; Nope, I didn’t get it. The cluelessness of some of the people in her life bugged me a lot too.

All those things aside there was something in this one that I actually loved, in a ‘why isn’t my twin brother like that?’ kind of way. The side story of her and her brother was sweet. I was relieved by his presence as the main positive in her life. He brought in the much needed “safe place” into this one.

Thanks Netgalley

3/5




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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Angel Arias (Night Creature #2) by Marianne de Pierres

Angel Arias (Night Creatures, #2)
 Good Reads Summary

Angel Arias by Marianne de Pierres

Retra - now called Naif - has escaped from Ixion, the island of ever-night. She doesn't know if her friends on the island survived the battle between the Ripers and the rebels. But she does know that she must return home, behind the sealed walls of Grave, to find out why the Ripers have been seen there talking to the councillors. What links the two worlds?

First she must convince Ruzalia to help her. The fierce pirate captain saves those who face terrible fates on Ixion, but that doesn't guarantee their gratitude. Instead, she faces a revolt - and Naif is caught in the middle.

Naif will need all her courage to survive. For Lenoir, who wants to keep her safe, for her friends Suki and Rollo, if they live, for Markes, who has secrets of his own, and for the new friends she will make on this journey.

The fate of worlds depends on it.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Well, the author has certainly got no qualms about putting her people in sticky situations. She’s also very generous when introducing new characters who I felt just as interesting as the originals; Jarrold and Liam both had me imagining so many things! I look forward to the next one with a little more time with them.

All said, Angel Arias didn’t have me as pumped as Burn Bright. That may be because it’s not in Ixion. Let’s face it a place where anything goes is likely to grab then keep a body’s attention, yes? This one with though is filled ducking and covering in places that brought out the girly-girl in me as in: *shudder.*  Some of the descriptions, as in Burn Bright, were vivid just not as enamoring. It felt almost scarier, almost more disturbing than some of the things Burn Bright.

Recall that I was very impressed with Burn Bright with its vivid world as well as characters that contributed. Book two has both these things, but strangely, I’m just not as in love with it. I do have to point out that I enjoyed the direction some of the characters went. Markes and Lenoire especially had me paying more attention. It was refreshing to see things from the Lenoire’s  side. Then things got even more interesting to see more of what made Markes Markes.

Revelations here made for a more complications in Naif’s already overly-complicated life. I mean just consider her connection to Lenoire. Then consider her connection to Markes. Then don’t discount the promises she’d made to herself then to her friends.  See? Complicated. Yet, I like that she’s so different from most everyone in the book. I also like that the others were not clueless about how different she actually was. She’s an interesting lead, as is repeatedly mentioned, she’s quiet, doesn’t want to make waves but strong and acts when necessary. Most of all, I like that she’s not afraid of showing her vulnerabilities to people who actually count.

So even with me feeling lukewarm over book two, I am still looking forward to the next one. Maybe some of the dark/magical/different vibe that Burn Bright had will come back minus the ducking and covering that filled this one.

3/5




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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black

Black Heart (Curse Workers, #3)
Good Reads Summary

Black Heart by Holly Black

Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars


*picks up self after swooning... then swoons again*


Yay! Here's something I actually lovelovelove. Never mind the long cringe inducing jag of sucky book after sucky book because the good ones always make up for all the face/palm, head/desk body floor moments. Black Heart is definitely one of the goods one. It is, I dare say, an awesome conclusion to a series quite different from its peers.

I enjoyed the darker feel to it, how "not good" any of them were. I also got a kick out of the humor it’s laced with: most everything that took place (intended or not) had me trying not to laugh. Also there's a romance that’s not too angsty; that has a beginning that made sense and an ending that had me feeling satisfied.

I should make a decent review but what I’m feeling is slightly  sentimental over the end of a series I’ve been following since day one. I love how they perceive themselves then how they present themselves to others. They are not good guys and they don’t fool themselves into thinking the same. It’s It’s of course Cassel who’s had more issues with that fact that anyone else. His problems are made worse by a family not quite trustworthy and a love life that sucks.

It’s his family that’s different too. They each want what’s best: best for themselves first, then for those close to them. Cassel and Barron especially made for an odd couple in this one considering the things that had happened previously. I love the turn in their relationship with of them trying to be better. OK, wait I have to get it out there: I love Barron...but I feel sorry for Barron too.

The love story too is one paid attention to. Not too much drama and one that worked for me. His and Lila’s story has been long and drawn and it’s about time they both got (* spoiler removed*) The progress of them together had me feeling excited/mushy… something! Her and him, definite high notes for me.

Now that the series the series is over and Cassel and Barron are who they are, I can say… I loved every moment of this. Not one of them are “good” good people but they do match. They go together so well… and I love the progression of this story, how different it is from its peers. How bad he is, how lost he feels and how he sees himself always coming up to short. Or Barron! See? I knew there was a reason for my liking him.

*Now to get White Cat in the same cover to make them match.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

The Stone Girl
Good Reads Summary

The Stone Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

She feels like a creature out of a fairy tale; a girl who discovers that her bones are really made out of stone, that her skin is really as thin as glass, that her hair is brittle as straw, that her tears have dried up so that she cries only salt. Maybe that's why it doesn't hurt when she presses hard enough to begin bleeding: it doesn't hurt, because she's not real anymore.

Sethie Weiss is hungry, a mean, angry kind of hunger that feels like a piece of glass in her belly. She’s managed to get down to 111 pounds and knows that with a little more hard work—a few more meals skipped, a few more snacks vomited away—she can force the number on the scale even lower. She will work on her body the same way she worked to get her perfect grades, to finish her college applications early, to get her first kiss from Shaw, the boy she loves, the boy who isn’t quite her boyfriend.

Sethie will not allow herself one slip, not one bad day, not one break in concentration. Her body is there for her to work on when everything and everyone else—her best friend, her schoolwork, and Shaw—are gone.

From critically acclaimed writer Alyssa B. Sheinmel comes an unflinching and unparalleled portrayal of one girl’s withdrawal, until she is sinking like a stone into her own illness, her own loneliness—her own self.


My Thoughts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


See if I started this with an ‘Isa didn’t get this book’ then proceeded to say ‘Isa this,’ ‘Isa that…’ the same the Stone Girl progressed with its ‘Sethie this and Sethie that,’ well, I’d likely drive you batty. That is if you’ve an issue with third person which I didn’t realize that I had an issue with myself.

It felt clunky and clumsy at times with the all the telling going on. And if that’s not bad enough, the POV effectively distanced the girl from me. It kept me from feeling more sympathetic to what she was feeling. Though she did have me confused by how blind she could be with a certain someone.

The ending too left me feeling cold. I felt it oversimplified matters. That all that she’d been going through felt reactionary. That suddenly there’s an amping up of what she was doing, feeling, experiencing came into focus after Shaw. I mean what about prior to that? How did Janey put i? That the way she was, was not a normal reaction versus healthy one? This felt like it was discounting everything Sethie had been saying even prior to it. I mean somehow Sethie recognized there was something wrong; she just didn’t have a name to put to it. Why make it a mere reaction to a break up when something was wrong the word go.

Thanks Netgalley!

2/5



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Sunday, April 8, 2012

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone
Good Reads Summary

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert

A raw, edgy, emotional novel about growing up punk and living to tell.

The Clash. Social Distortion. Dead Kennedys. Patti Smith. The Ramones. Punk rock is in Emily Black's blood. Her mother, Louisa, hit the road to follow the incendiary music scene when Emily was four months old and never came back. Now Emily's all grown up with a punk band of her own, determined to find the tune that will bring her mother home. Because if Louisa really is following the music, shouldn't it lead her right back to Emily?


My Thoughts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I iz disappoint.


I loved loved loved the angsty “ballads” she had for each of her characters in Ballads of Suburbia, where each person had a depressing/angst-y/dramatic story to share. The angst in this one though just came from one person, so it’s the same thing that had me feeling overloaded. So, if in BALLADS, the angsty/depressing stories were spread out (thus manageable for me,) this one really felt over the top. 

The title "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" had me expecting Emily Black to be mostly music less drama. It had me thinking punk girl, maybe strong, maybe independent. One going her own way. As it stands, it’s mostly about a scared girl who’s dissatisfied with where she’s at (a Podunk town as it is repeatedly referred to) despite having an awesome dad and a sometimes awesome best friend.

This Emily Black that I got, I didn’t like. The only time her story truly gelled with me was when she was deciding to do something instead of being swept along by her emotions/hormones. Although I also liked it when she talked about her music, clearly there’s a passion there. It’s her dedication to her “art” when I felt I could like her. Off stage was another matter completely: I simply didn’t like her. She had most things going for her after all. It’s was one questionable decision after another that mucked things up. Well, that and her pining for someone not there.

Then if we layer on the drama added by her mother’s point of view, well = Drama overload. I must confess though I bought more of Louisa’s drama than her daughter’s. Louisa’s recurring nightmare in particular, then her eventual choice to settle down after being so alone all rang much more truthful too me.  

The same things that I loved in her Ballads of Suburbia were present in this one except I didn’t love it as much.  Too much angst. Too much immaturity. Too many questionable decisions by most parties involved.

2/5







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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spell Bound (Hex Hall #3) by Rachel Hawkins

Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3)
Good Rads Summary

Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Hailed as “impossible to put down,” the Hex Hall series has both critics and teens cheering. With a winning combination of romance, action, magic and humor, this third volume will leave readers enchanted.

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Unfortunately, Spell Bound didn’t leave me feeling what I did after I'd read Hex Hall and Demon Glass. Most of what I loved in those previous books was Archer and Sophie volleying witticisms at each other. Sophie in particular has a special place with me because she’s so consistently funny. However, I also loved the vibrancy of her relationships with others. By “others” I mean her and Jenna then her and Archer then her and her parents. This book just didn’t pack that much of a punch for me though. For some reason (and I still can’t put my finger on it,) I didn't feel the same enthusiasm for it or for its reveals.

Perhaps this was due to seeing less of them together. Or perhaps it was the introduction of a bunch of people who just didn’t click with me.  But overall, this left me wanting more of what I felt when reading books one and two.

Or maybe, some parts just didn’t feel right to me. The Cal-Sophie-Archer felt a tad too dramatic taking all three of them away from what I’d become used to expect from them. Previous books had me enjoying them getting to know each other: as with Sophie and Archer joking with each other. Or later her and Cal developing a friendship. Sophie’s interactions with them almost always left me feeling  refreshed by how  different her approach was. An approach that was not quite too serious, punctuated by me laughing every so often.  One specific thing I didn’t like: Cal. I found myself wondering if what did happen truly was necessary. It felt so pointless to me.

I’m not quite satisfied with how this turned out but Sophie’s still Sophie with her snark and humor. (I still love the first two books though.)

3/5

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Of Poseidon
Good Reads Summary

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma’s gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom . . .

Told from both Emma and Galen’s points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.


My Thoughts
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Of Poseidon is just Not For Me. I see all those four and five star ratings and wonder WTF is wrong with me? This book did not make me happy. Beyond ‘Syrena’ and what not were people who each had something stupid to say and or do.

The one thing I could have liked was how both the girls pointed out just how wrong the boys acted. I mean who wants to be stalked? Who wants a controlling, manipulative person hanging over them? Both Galen and Toraf act like douches… and the girls knew it. The problem is despite acknowledging the same fact they still ended up, and I quote, “One part hissy fit and one part swoon.”

funny gifs


And  I could have liked Emma too given her being saucy and smart and funny at times... but… but… but  the advise she gave about acting hard to get did not sit right with me. In fact, none of them sat right with; none of their actions at least. Her mother, Rachel and Rayna…. all said some pretty idiotic things to say. Does a girl only spend time with a boy to do the deed? Is the whole purpose of her being to date? Dear lord, why bother with the ruse of dating at all? Mother of god! Or Rayna… What? What? I liked the no-nonsense, my life= my choice stance that she came in with. But her eventual about face because she was jealous was just not right. AT. ALL. And Galen, dear misguided Galen. I didn't like him. He could simply be so condescending all the time! 


Actually, the idiocy was spread far and wide in this one. I finished it but only barely.

1/5


Thanks Net Galley!







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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Insignia (Insignia#1) by S.J. Kincaid

Insignia (Insignia, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible.

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

Gripping and provocative, S. J. Kincaid’s futuristic thrill ride of a debut crackles with memorable characters, tremendous wit, and a vision of the future that asks startling, timely questions about the melding of humanity and technology.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


My biggest complaint is the manner in which the information is first shared. It’s taught. While  said fact does make sense given the setting being an academy, things sometimes got a bit dry.  That said, I did enjoy the story (eventually.)

I liked the idea of it. Set in the future, with corporations fighting over resources, battling things out in a in a virtual war. That technology was a key role had me worried. Would terms escape me? Would I ‘get’ it? I did… mainly because it read so darned exciting. Past the teaching, the “doing” was awesome. The action, the battles were all quite exciting. It was in those moments that these brilliant kids showed just how brilliant they could be.

I saw that I actually liked Tom, the MC Particularly when interacting with his friends. Tom himself is not quite the hero you’d imagine. He starts out at a disadvantage, but almost always doing something to screw up his position. He’s smart, but not always so. What’s more is he is not a weak guy. He knows what he knows and behaves accordingly (well, most of the time.)

Still, my favorite part has to do with Vik, Wyatt and Yuri. There’s nothing ‘secondary’ to these secondary characters. Instead of standing around contributing nothing to, they were what I was looking forward to because truth be told prior to them interacting and goofing off with their Doctors of Doom, Man Hands and Spicy Indian, reading INSIGNIA was like a test of endurance. The book only truly shone once he and the others were in things together more. It wasn’t just about Tom nor how “special” he was. It’s them together as friends that had me continuing. It was Tom and Vik who had me laughing. Then Tom and Wyatt who both had me cringing on their behalf.

Bottom line? I liked that this is a story of kids (brilliant kids, mind you) being kids then just a few pages after being and vicious and/or devious.

Thanks Edelweiss!



3/5




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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Unraveling
Good Reads Summary
Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I loved then liked then felt iffy over bits of Unraveling...

I love...

A girl who puts her foot down and refuses to go down the same path as other YA heroines have with their “I’m so pretty I don’t know it but others do” schtick.  She’s smart; she thinks then acts and refuses to make decisions she’d likely regret. She’s pretty vocal about what she thinks of certain things too. What’s better is she isn’t stick in the mud/ too straight laced. She’s simply one with priorities and goes after the same. Plus she’s actually conscious of who her friends are and aren’t.  No one’s fool this one. Basically? A girl with her head screwed on right.

My favorite moment of her is her tearing apart over the top declarations of love, finding them a tad unrealistic and creepy. See, I got what she was saying then in the same way that I laughed out loud at 5 Movie Romances That Won't Last (according to Science.) ’ She (not to mention said article) made valid points. Though it could have gone otherwise for her with her little contemplations over Ben; already half way in love with him, I worried she’d cut her own argument at its knees by being over the top lovey dovey and /or all ‘choose me’ over a boy she'd not really paid much attention to prior.

That aside, I really did respect her no nonsense manner. I liked her presence in her family and the responsibility she took too BUT more I liked how she knew that she was getting the short end but took things on nonetheless because there was no one else to do so. See?  Head on straight.

I like it…

…When a story makes an effort to go in a different direction. There’s no denying the YA scene is filled to the brim with not-quite dystopias and YA paranormals of mermaids and angels that read like copies of each other. Unraveling, however, brings some variety into the scene with its little bit of science fiction (though emphasis must be laid on “little bit.”) It’s got string theory plus metaverse plus a countdown to the world’s end.  Then shakes things up a bit more with the addition of FBI and chases and mysteries being solved. Then adds in a little romance that actually wasn’t too clichéd all the time. (All right, maybe the romantic bit got a little old at points. I mean, it's got a boy saving a girl; the same boy is annoyingly closed mouth about the how and why of doing so. Ringing any bells?)

…When things just flow or as the case stands with this book, when things barrel on non-stop. This one had no slow moments in it, (heck, even the romantic bits were scorching hot at times.) Something was always happening or about to happen… the world was ending after all. That in mind, the move from one moment to another was quick. That sense of urgency that each chapter (brief as most of them were,)  had me feeling was spot on. Now, that ending, well… let’s say you’ve got to read Unraveling.

I’m feeling iffy…

…Over things happening and people knowing things and people doing things just because. That certain someones in the book could do a certain something just because  they happened to have done something sometime some when in the past. Or that a certain something would eventually happen just because… (Because like I said, the science fiction in this one is not thoroughly defined/explored.) Still, I’ve got to hand it to Unraveling, it got me hooked even with my (few) issues with it.

So if you like a girl with her head on straight, in a book that’s slightly different from the current crop offered up at the moment, I’d say give this a shot.


Thanks Edelweiss!

3.5/5


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