Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Great Escape (Wynette, Texas, #7)
Good Reads Summary
The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Where do you run to when your life has fallen apart?

Lucy Jorik is a champ at never embarrassing the family she adores—not surprising since her mother is one of the most famous women in the world. But now Lucy has done just that. And on her wedding day, no less, to the most perfect man she's ever known.

Instead of saying "I do" to Mr. Irresistible, Lucy flees the church in an ill-fitting blue choir robe and hitches a ride on the back of a beat-up motorcycle plastered with offensive bumper stickers. She's flying into the unknown with a rough-looking, bad-tempered stranger who couldn't be more foreign to her privileged existence.

While the world searches for her, Lucy must search for herself, and she quickly realizes that her customary good manners are no defense against a man who's raised rudeness to an art form. Lucy needs to toughen up—and fast.

Her great escape takes her to his rambling beach house on a Great Lakes island. Here, she hopes to find a new direction . . . and unlock the secrets of this man who knows so much about her but reveals nothing about himself. As the hot summer days unfold amid scented breezes and sudden storms, she'll also encounter a beautiful, troubled beekeeper; a frightened young boy; a modern-day evil queen; and a passion that could change her life forever.

In this dazzling follow-up to her New York Times bestseller Call Me Irresistible, Susan Elizabeth Phillips tells the funny, touching, enchanting story of a young woman searching for her destiny . . . and of a damaged man who doesn't believe in second chances.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, Susan Elizabeth Phillips! Your books never fail to bring a smile to my face. When I read of Lucy in Meg and Ted’s story, I’d downplayed her as the scared bride to be and nothing more. I’m proved wrong, because in the Great Escape she is so much more!

I’d forgotten that she was that thorny teenager taking care of her baby sister in that other book, so  when I put two and two together, I was take aback… mainly because she’s so different from that girl (all spunk, with a this huge fear under it) here she’s more the fear, less the spunk (at least initially). The man she hooks up with is nothing much at first, though with a name like Panda, that was bound to change sooner or later. And he does as this book does… because this book goes from Runaway Bride to the Body Guard to a little bit of Fifty Shades of something (emphasis on a little).

Beyond the unlikely pair are the place and the people they both meet: Bree and Toby then Mike, as well as that weight watching TV star. I think this what I love about SEP, that more often than not it’s not just the two people we have to consider, that they  aren’t each others be all end all. Rather they interact with others, and those others have their drama to share.

It’s a sweet story with some pretty awesomely hilarious moments.





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Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Ripple Effect by J.A. Saare

The Ripple Effect (Rhiannon's Law, #3)
Good Reads Summary 
The Ripple Effect by J.A. Saare

There is always a price to pay…

Rhiannon Murphy visited the future, witnessed hell on earth and made choices to change things for the greater good. Unfortunately there are consequences for her actions, the penalties for her interference possibly more than she can bear. Determined to sever her debt with a fallen angel, she pushes everything aside, focusing on locating Marigold Vesta’s resting place.

Until death comes knocking at her door.

When Disco’s maker arrives in New York, he resents Rhiannon on a level she can’t begin to comprehend. Yet Marius isn’t her most dangerous adversary, not by a long shot. Marius’s sire -- a half-demon -- is determined to see the necromancer who stunned the vampire world on her knees. If she won’t bend, he’ll do everything in his power to make her break. No price is too high, meaning no one is safe -- including Disco and Paine.

Dealt a blow from which she can never recover, Rhiannon turns to the only person who can help her: the fallen angel who is relying on Rhiannon to save her soul. Bartering with a creature from Heaven is probably just as dangerous as starting a war with a demon from Hell, but with nothing to lose it’s no longer about life or death.

It’s about getting even.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let's keep this short: People start to pick sides. People act out of character. But Holy schnauzer! What did you do, J.A. Saare?! You’re certainly unafraid of going the extra mile! It’s bloody, it’s gory, the baddies pure evil.  The people who love them, absolutely do so, because they do the most evil things on their object’s behalf. It’s interesting how she’s so angry, and justifiably so, but is torn, for just because she’s angry at him doesn’t make her stop having those old feelings. And while their names still make me laugh (Disco’s in particular), who cares when it’s all in their actions: he does some shitty things, but she does some careless others. They match up in terms of screwing up, but enjoyed the ride. Plus, what I thought of as an inevitable love triangle had me worried; how that’s tackled in this one still has me shocked.

Poor him! Poor all of them! It’s fast, it’s sexy… and I have high hopes for the next one.

3/5




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Friday, September 28, 2012

Necromancing the Stone (Necromancer #2) by Lish McBride

Necromancing the Stone (Necromancer #2)
Good Reads Summary
Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride

With the defeat of the evil Douglas behind him, Sam LaCroix is getting used to his new life. Okay, so he hadn’t exactly planned on being a powerful necromancer with a seat on the local magical council and a capricious werewolf sort-of-girlfriend, but things are going fine, right?

Well . . . not really. He’s pretty tired of getting beat up by everyone and their mother, for one thing, and he can’t help but feel that his new house hates him. His best friend is a werebear, someone is threatening his sister, and while Sam realizes that he himself has a lot of power at his fingertips, he’s not exactly sure how to use it. Which, he has to admit, is a bit disconcerting.

But when everything starts falling apart, he decides it’s time to step up and take control. His attempts to do so just bring up more questions, though, the most important of which is more than a little alarming: Is Douglas really dead?


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So much fun. This time a year ago, (has it been that long?) I was gushing over how much I loved this and that in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Sam and his buddies' return rekindled some of that love. Sam is not the same screw up he was before, but he still does stick his foot in it at times, only made funnier with him still having some of the best lines and having friends who are each all endearing one way or another.

He’s inherited all that had been Douglas’ power, riches and plenty other little oddities. It is Sam’s attempts at fitting things together that reveal  more of his go easy kid, go with flow attitude; but it’s also the very same that has him ignore (at his peril) certain things. Him figuring out how he fit in Douglas’ place with Douglas’s people, had him looking on the bright side even when there was none! So, it should be no surprise to find Sam screwing up, getting up and trying to make things right, over and over again.

Sam , the vegetarian necromancer on the supernatural council, makes it seem like the secondary characters have not much going for them. How can a shifter compare to that, or a vampire for that matter? The thing is all of them were equally quirky/ funny. With them as backdrop, he’s lack of know how is emphasized, but it’s also against them that kindness shines bright(er). Because with the pack everything is all about business, It’s here we catch a glimpse into their how to’s and who to go to’s; and it’s a glimpse that’s made me more curious because Bran, Brid and Sean differ so greatly.

Things are made doubly hard: where he stands with them is made less certain with things that unfold. An out of nowhere, heart ache-development moment, mind you.  It’s not an unimportant heart ache-y moment either, as it is what propels all of them into action.

But them in action is key here. There’s a lot if Sam trying to catch up with others, with his friends Ramon a were-bear *so much win, right there,*Brooke and her ghostliness, Frank being mini-James, and Brid and her brothers being pack.  The thing I loved most? It wasn’t just Sam! It’s him with everyone else; that genuine affection he has for them and even those little guilty moments he feels because of them. Simply there’s a genuine and fun connection here that I liked.  Also, the fact that no matter how different he may think he is, there is always someone or something odder to consider. I mean just take the gnomes, Big Foot and a cat obsessed chupacabra!

I cracked up at how he and his friends tip toed around each other, then didn’t. Add a little drama that had my heart clutch all of a sudden…  overall this was fun, fast and different. A lot of this reminds me I need to pick up Hexed now.





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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) by Libba Bray

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)
Good Reads Summary
The Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."
 

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.

My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


It’s an atmospheric read with loads going on all at once. Part mystery, part horror story, part magic and more; there is a lot of them getting into trouble. Still, I confess it did get overlong, but everyone’s got a place and they all connect somehow. (It’s simply the matter of making those connections clear).

Goings on: The mostly selfish- sometimes kind Evie’s been kicked out of Ohio and into New York. Given the destination, she’s not exactly unhappy; she’s all this plans and all these goals, but gets caught up in among others a budding love-hate maybe romance, bonding with long time pen pal Mabel Rose, getting life into her Uncle’s museum… and yes, solving a murder mystery (or two). She meets funny guys and not so funny guys and gets into heaps of trouble with her Uncle, the authority, reporters, crazy fanatics and ghost to boot. Like I said, lots of goings on.

Characters: After this, there can in fact be too much of a good thing. Even if I did enjoy how not any of them were too good or too bad; rather just the right mix of both. Evie is likely the epitome of a girl that time: easy going, do as you please, and even sometimes selfish, but she's also this unexpected kindness in her; or Sam whose bad boy/funny guy, on the wrong side of the law most the time, but is where he is for a reason. Or even Jericho Nietzsche-quoting mysterious boy-man, too serious most of the time we know next too nothing of him (till’ we know too much because it’s his part that threw me off. I was enjoying piecing together the psychic-horror show that was going on, but what he eventually added part threw me for a loop). And then there’s Mabel Rose, her name alone reads ‘perfect daughter/ goody-goody’, except she’s not completely that given her friendship with Evie. Mabel’s simply not as out there as the other.

But let me not leave out Theta and Henry and Memphis and Isaiah, too. Each of them add some more things to get consider; more mysterious circumstances, with each their sad dramatic baggage; they are the run away, a seeker and a no-longer healer, respectively.

I had had hoped that all their parts, all those elements be neatly tied together by the end. And on one hand some parts were settled, but now only I've so many questions raised. Who’s Henry? And what’s so special about him? And what about Bill? Or Mrs. Walker for that matter? And Project Buffalo? And how come the one’s I’d pegged ‘good’ might not be so after all? I end DIVINERS with more questions than I started out with. Normally, I’d be pissy because of it, but for what it’s worth lots (and I do mean lots) happened so that it’s built an interesting foundation from which to continue. In other words, I’m looking forward to the next one.





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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)
Good Reads Summary
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A new queen and her personal guard sound like the makings of some sort of forbidden romance. And while it is there, it’s surrounded by so many other things. I was hooked: another prophecy, another quest, unwilling allies, new characters then more familiar ones, all of whom are lead by their faith. It’s faith that feels familiar, but it’s not a preachy kind. It’s a kind that strengthens, (and could have crossed into the world the line of hokey with hints of love and healing but I won’t go into that), because it’s faith in one’s God, faith in one’s place, and faith that one is to meet his or responsibility that pushes everyone and everything forward.

The characters are still lovely. Recall in Girl of Fire and Thorn, how Elisa was soft and meek then changed into someone harder: this fierce leader… and now queen. What’s surprising is the turn she takes here: queen she is, but not as confident as she was when leading her little band with Humberto at her side. She’s unsure and overwhelmed about leading her empire, a prospect made more complicated by the threats that surround her!

What I enjoyed most was the love story. Yes, that’s even with Godstones and prophecies! Yes, I may indeed be that shallow. But, the things is, there’s nothing shallow about their connection. It’s all difficult choices and proper places.  Elisa and Hector, the both of them are good people. She may be confused and young and unsure, but she’s motivated by ruling her people the right way and protecting those important to her. And where she is unsure, he is not. Hector knows how things are to go, he know that they’ve each they’re place. It is this knowing that compounds the difficulty… because they are good people so much so that they’d sacrifice what they want for what’s perceived to be right.

Along with are those threats to her. We know a little more of the mystery over her Godstone and why the Invierne want her/it so badly. A peek into that and we know that things are far from done. That this is precisely what makes this a perfect middle book: it’s the calm before the storm if you will, when both sides are getting ready before the things that matter happen. Despite that calm before the storm analogy, it’s not boring because they find things out why they are where they are and what actually matters to them.




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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)
Good Reads Summary
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Raven Boys:
Gansey. Adam. Ronan. Noah.

Each with a specific trait that determined how they were with each other. Gansey has the tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time even if unintended; what sets him apart is quest for a dead king on a corpse road. But it’s also the very thing that has him at the center of their odd group. Because he takes it upon himself to lead them, protect them (even if unwanted). He and Adam are similar in doing what needs doing, but Adam’s story is darker still. He wants out but must do so on his own terms. It’s on his terms that he butts head with Gansey, a butting of heads that’s frustrating because where one is well-meaning, the other steady in how he wants things done.

And where Adam’s the steady one, Ronan’s the fighter, with a past just as dark as Adam’s. It’s a past much alluded but never gone in deep (and I’d have wanted her to go deeper). What’s obvious is he’s not dealing and it’s the same that makes him the most volatile among them. A volatility that’s then sharply contrasted to his more gentle moments; I found that opposition a curious one. I found myself considering him more. Suffice to say, I look forward to more of him. 

Continuing with this ‘like a boy band each with a role to fill’ thing that I’ve begun: we have Gansey scholarly leader, Adam the one who knows what’s wanted, (the steady one), Ronan the fighter… and Noah? He’s the quiet voice, the one the links them as one. Except even with me simplifying them thus, they are far from simple boys because each of their stories had dark undertones. A lot of conflict so that it’s so much more than each of them being one thing, all that is made clearer once Blue was in the picture.

Like Scorpio Races, the meeting of both their ends of this story was long in taking place. It’s an inevitable merging, but one that took forever in happening, so that in the meantime we see each of them clearly, and for Blue, she’s is made absolutely clear, too. Blue is different, odd as well as sensible. She’d be the normal one in a family that’s different, but outside her family, she’s the odd one! She accepts their reality but not knowing the specific of it, dreams of another type of normal.

As with her other books, it was awhile before I got the rhythm of her writing. Perhaps ‘rhythm’ is not the right word. With slow specific words she again creates something moody and not pretty but not quite dark… definitely moody though. She’s a specific style that’s not once simple and all lush. It’s also those darker moments that rocked me because those moments came so unexpectedly. So, dead kings and corpse, foreknowing and scrying, ley lines and sacrifice, brotherly love then romantic love as well as a familial one, plus more than person who’s eccentric… Raven Boys felt different.

4/5




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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

The Tension of Opposites
Good Reads Summary
The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

When Tessa's best friend Noelle disappears right before the start of eighth grade, Tessa's life changes completely--she shies away from her other friends and stops eating in the cafeteria. Now, two years later, Noelle has escaped her captivity and is coming home, in one piece but not exactly intact, and definitely different. Tessa's life is about to change again as she tries to revive the best-friendship the two girls had shared before Noelle--now Elle--was kidnapped; puts up a futile resistance to the charming new guy at school; pursues her passion for photography while trying to build the bravado to show her photos to the public; and tries to balance her desire to protect and shelter Elle with the necessity to live her own life and put herself first.

My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars 

Noelle is gone. 
And she’s not coming back. 
My name is Elle.

Not the narrator one would think to pick with so many other options to choose from like the younger brother who read solid, or the family that had turned to religion, or most interesting of all: the girl newly returned. Instead, this goes beyond the core of who’d suffered directly, to someone not quite connected, but not all that disconnected either. Through the eyes of the victim’s best friend, TENSION is not really not about what Elle had gone through but more about answering ‘What now?’

Though it’s not outright stated, I feared that all Tessa’s glimpses of the past, snapshots of what they’d been was her laying down the foundation of expecting them to pick up where they’d left off. Two years, gone and that’s so obviously not possible. Thankfully, it’s not the case either. Because while Elle’s been kept, Tessa’s been keeping herself apart too. The bigger question is WHY. And it’s here where I began to feel less than enthusiastic over things.

Because it’s not just about Elle and moving on and healing (though that’s a part of it); it’s more about how Tessa’s put Elle in this little box as well as how she’s assigned herself the other’s keeper (sort of). Made even more complicated by Tessa finally, finally coming out of her shell. Because flashback two years past, and one is made aware that where Tessa’s the shy one, it’s Noelle who breathed life into whatever they were up to. The conclusion, according to Tessa, No Noelle, no life either. With this mindset, she’s put Elle first, even when the latter didn’t want it, even when significant other didn’t want it.

Focusing on Elle was understandable at first but then a little frustrating. Because eventually, I did understand how Max saw things except not all the way because his moves were sometimes maddening too. Pursed lips and raised brows on his part, never really saying what was till’ that critical moment? Poorly time, my friend. That mentioned we turn to the girl who’d come home. There’s supposed to be this transition made, but with question of how’s and why now’s, it’s also obviously not going to be an easy one. A process rendered almost impossible with everyone else walking on egg shells and questions they’re dying to ask but dare not do.
 
She used to shine brighter than anything I had ever known. 
But the girl who walked away from me was dark. 
Dull. 
Somehow, strangely rough. 
I didn’t know her at all.

A different take on a touchy topic, and while I was expecting more out of it, it managed to hold my attention and even have me wondering at the other girl’s ability to put the other one first… Every. Single. Time.
3/5


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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Going Underground by Susan Vaught

Going Underground
Good Reads Summary
Going Underground by Susan Vaught

Del is a good kid who’s been caught in horrible circumstances. At seventeen, he’s trying to put his life together after an incident in his past that made him a social outcast—and a felon. As a result, he can’t get into college; the only job he can find is digging graves; and when he finally meets a girl he might fall in love with, there’s a sea of complications that threatens to bring the world crashing down around him again. But what has Del done?

Basing her story on real-life cases of teens in trouble with the law for texting explicit photos, Susan Vaught has created a moving portrait of an immensely likable character caught in a highly controversial legal scenario.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Who am I?
    Why am I here?
        What’s the point?

My name is Del Hartwick and I have a felony conviction. In the eyes of the law, I am a criminal. I can’t tell you it was right, but I’m not sure I was wrong. .. The law says it was wrong, so I have to accept that, but I would like you to know the rest of the truth. I am not what those charges say about me. I’m not anything like that.

My name is Cain Delano Hartwick, and I want a future.

Judge me on what I can do, and give me a chance.

Please.
 
Gaah! I had a the most difficult time finishing this, given all the times I had to put it down. His circumstances are unfair; the consequences he was living, harsh. One would imagine at seventeen, the world his oyster, but it really isn’t. And well-meaning or no, all those goals they wanted him to set, and all those ‘next right things’ put on him, only made it more obvious what he could have or more apt, couldn’t.

The most real reaction here, but also the most painful, is his and Marvin’s. Neither is happy with what’s become of Del, but they both don’t do anything about it. They’d rather not rock the boat, would rather continue as is.  While, an understandable reaction, it’s also so frustrating... because a lot of what’s dealt him, is not his fault.

So, take a hot button topic, put in more than a couple of well-meaning folks who don’t know how to make things right, then throw in the possibility that there is no making things right at all. And in the center of all that, a kid who sees what he could have been but has to settle for so much less..

A 3.5/5 given an ending I felt too happy, though it's not a completely happy one either.


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Friday, September 21, 2012

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan

Flash Burnout
Good Reads Summary
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
Winner of the 2010 William C. Morris Award!

Fifteen-year-old Blake has a girlfriend and a friend who’s a girl. One of them loves him; the other one needs him.

When he snapped a picture of a street person for his photography homework, Blake never dreamed that the woman in the photo was his friend Marissa’s long-lost meth addicted mom. Blake’s participation in the ensuing drama opens up a world of trouble, both for him and for Marissa. He spends the next few months trying to reconcile the conflicting roles of Boyfriend and Friend. His experiences range from the comic (surviving his dad’s birth control talk) to the tragic (a harrowing after-hours visit to the morgue).

In a tangle of life and death, love and loyalty, Blake will emerge with a more sharply defined snapshot of himself.



My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good reading this, though likely not the first time to have funny combined with the sad, not once does it cross the line into hokey and over the top. The way things wrap up, and there really is none… he screws up, but they all do (OK, him most of all) was fine… more than fine because he made me laugh, he made me cringe, and he made me furious, too. Except he screws up and he owns up to it.

A fifteen year old boy’s perspective, I kind of liked it even when I did want to give him a piece of my mind. But he isn’t a bad kid, in fact his heart is in the right place. It just takes his head a while to catch up and see things for what they were. Perhaps that last bit is made more difficult with two girls, one who needs him, another who loves him pulling him in two directions. But these girls aren’t bad girls either, they’re imperfect. Sometimes needy, overly emotional, too sensitive but they’ve both good moments to them too. With Marissa it’s a shred passion, and with Shannon, it’s this new sweet connection between the two, that both of them are exploring.

None of them are perfect, but something in all of them had me wanting them to be better. He is a funny kid and so very aware of it, in fact, it’s his thing. His other thing is trying to be this awesome boyfriend. All his little Houston moments cracked me up as they were supposed to. Pay heed, I’d think except at times it was a little too late. Him and Shannon, lust love sex… all rang true, better there’s an added element of him making things funny. Him and Marissa, it was all about being there for the other. And it was sweet, and I was all conflicted… but all the while, I knew who was talking and what he was feeling.   But Blake is young and not as wise as I would want him to be as were the girls in his life. Yet, there’s something that had me hopeful for the all of them.




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Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

The Hallowed Ones
Good Reads Summary
The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?
In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror…

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there...and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a decree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who would have thought that anything Plain folk could get this exciting? Because get this, it’s vampires in Amish country! And, these blood suckers? They’re the bloodthirsty, daylight-scared, and the vicious sort. All of that’s made more fascinating given the twinning of all that WITH she knew. Except even before that things already were complicated, by connections to the people she knew and those she didn’t.

This is a first for me, reading about Plain folk. I know what most other people know, (and may be even less,) that they live very basically. The closest thing we’ve got to such a bare to the bones religious way of life is… hmm, I don’t think we have one of those. So, me reading this was an education, Banns and Rumspringa and God willing things to be all things that made this even more an interesting read (because half the time I was wondering how they were doing it.)But, Holy Moses!

Katie read almost too perfect. You know, just the right mix of good and not so good? On one hand, she is good daughter and dutiful young woman. Then on the other there’s that younger side to her that longs for things that are different. The innocent side of her is what we start with, the one who thinks there’s all the time in the world; her thoughts as such went from cute to just plain beyond me. (Coca-Cola?!)  But it’s the rebellious aspect of her that’s time and again alluded to that we see grow because initially there’s a lot of nodding along and following.

Then enter the Outsider. Thing shake up and then ass holes start showing their true colors (even I wish that weren’t the case, especially with regard to Elijah.) But to Alex, at first, I found him explaining things feeling stilted; a bit unbelievable because I wondered at the necessity of having certain aspects explained at all. BUT, I kind of bought it after awhile. This outsider churning out bits of wisdom eventually felt less stilted and started making more sense in context~ because she knew what she knew and didn’t know what she didn’t. 

Perhaps most surprising were all those questions of faith, specifically her questions of faith because we start this story with a girl who certain about how things go but when all those carefully laid out plans of hers fall through and when certain people act counter to what she’s familiar with… everything, just everything get’s mixed up. And, so there I was all excited about how messed up things were. Not at all helped with people choosing to live with their heads buried in the sand, thinking that that which others didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt them… all the while being so far from being right.

Good stuff!
Thank you Net Galley!






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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Flesh & Bone (Benny Imura, #3) by Jonathan Maberry

Flesh & Bone (Benny Imura, #3)
Good Reads Summary
Flesh & Bone by Jonathan Maberry

Reeling from the tragic events of Dust & Decay, Benny Imura and his friends plunge deep into the zombie-infested wastelands of the great Rot & Ruin. Benny, Nix, Lilah and Chong journey through a fierce wilderness that was once America, searching for the jet they saw in the skies months ago. If that jet exists then humanity itself must have survived…somewhere. Finding it is their best hope for having a future and a life worth living.

But the Ruin is far more dangerous than any of them can imagine. They are hunted by fierce animals escaped from zoos and circuses. They must raid zombie-infested towns for food and medical supplies. They discover the very real truth in the old saying: In the Rot & Ruin…everything wants to kill you.

And what is happening to the zombies? Swarms of them are coming from the east, devouring everything in their paths. These zoms are different. Faster, smarter, infinitely more dangerous. Has the zombie plague mutated, or is there something far more sinister behind this new invasion of the living dead?

In Flesh & Bone, Benny Imura, Nix Riley, Lou Chong and Lilah the Lost Girl are pitted against dangers greater than anything they've ever faced. To survive, each of them must rise to become the warriors Tom trained them to be.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The cover is still kick ass, but that’s not the only kick ass thing in this one. With new baddies come new allies… but now, the gang’s faced with other stuff as well. Benny and Nix are not living the HEA I was hoping for; Chong is Chong and so is Lilah. And while more than one of the four seemed to be losing touch with what’s real, it’s how they dealt with it that choked me up a little more. And while some of them seemed to be losing touch, losing faith… there were others of them seeing things for what they were, admitting these to themselves. But that twist near the end?! That I didn’t see coming at all! Why you do this, Maberry? Why?! It came out of nowhere and now I’m slightly broken hearted for all of them. *sniff*

Long before that, some more interesting things are thrown at them. Take those baddies for instance, Saint John of the Knife and Mother Rose. I like how I am not supposed to like this Saint John but that there’s this absolute faith in his actions had me looking closer at him, just like Benny seemed to be looking closer at him, just like how all of them seemed to be looking closer especially at the world they found themselves in. So if past events already had them questioning certain things, the Reapers' actions had those questions pushed to the forefront. Basically, good stuff.

But it’s the four as a group that had me loving every moment of this. That they’re not necessarily a completely cohesive unit, each has a thing they do well. With Benny, it’s him screwing up but trying his best to be Warrior Smart; with Chong it’s him being the Town Boy and thus being so funny; then with Lilah, it’s all about being Lost Girl, more skilled than all of them put together, Except there’s Nix *cue the water works* who is not all that simple, but I loved her part in this the most.

Over all fun, except that twist… I’m still dazed!




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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Outpost by Ann Aguirre

Outpost (Razorland, #2)
Good Reads Summary
Outpost by Ann Aguirre

Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Do you know how much I loved all that running about and struggling to survive to get to a safe place in ENCLAVE? Well, I didn’t love this as much. Deuce, Fade, Tegan and Stalker have reached that goal but are faced with a different set of problems. The people of Salvation have a way of doing things and it’s a way that didn’t fit her, so there she was sticking out, winning some admirers but rubbing others the wrong way. But while trying to stay true to being a Huntress, it came as a surprise to her (and to me) when she’d act less fierce and more the girl in love. I was surprised, truly I was, because it’s a new side I was not expecting. Her putting away her old mindset the way she did and going all glow-y (her words, not mine) didn’t feel like the right fit. It’s what some other key character felt too.

Because with that going on, OUTPOST became less about the Freaks and more about the characters and their plentiful feelings . I’m not scoffing, (OK, perhaps I am a little,) because when it got gory and bloody I felt engaged and excited… but when it reverted to all those soft then hard emotions, my feelings of ‘Come on! Haven’t you guys been through enough already?’ would well up. So there I was, disappointed a little because I’d have wanted them all to be what they were in ENCLAVE. In that they were upfront and ballsy and ‘I’ll kill you if you look at me wrong.’ Here there’s all the ‘I’ll win you over some how’ or ‘I don’t what to hurt your feelings.’ Except to be absolutely fair, it is a shift that’s understandable because they were in a new place and they were learning new ways. Worse, sometimes some of them could be so unforgivably selfish… just saying.

The four’s complicated relationships aside, bits of the story was interesting. I doubt Deuce of old would have approved of the place. They’ve their own way of doing things, a very clear and almost simplistic distinction between male and female roles. But it’s a distinction that made no sense to her given her background where one’s merits aren’t defined by age nor by gender but by one’s actions. So, her frustration at being hemmed in was so obvious. It’s this aspect of the story that added a little something extra because she’s of two minds: grateful for the safe place but frustrated by how things are done. 

3/5




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Monday, September 17, 2012

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?


My Thoughts
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Unspoken was funny as all get out.

It brought back what I loved in HEX HALL and SOCIAL SUICIDE: smart characters, crazy back and forth, as well as conventional YA themes turned on their head. I enjoyed this like you don’t know how much! Why is it protagonists with investigative reporting aspirations are always so funny? Each thing that came out of her mouth was true but funny too. And even if a bit too blunt at times, no one could fault her her reasons, and perhaps that’s another thing I love: how she could be so reasonable about one thing and then another thing and then another thing though it’s likely not how things seemed to the observer.

The best part of this is that it’s a supporting set that actually pull their weight: quirky each of them, but more than that too. Take Angela who isn’t quintessential BFF that though she’ maybe unfairly beautiful, it’s not the only thing she had going for her. She’s not the one who gets in trouble time and again rather she’s sort of the voice of reason (save the fact that she’s a voice gone unheeded a lot, largely because she sounds so lazy!) Or take Holly, initially pegged as a boys’ girl rather than a girls’ girl; my favorite moment is how this fact comes to the attention of Kami, who’s admittedly slightly (more than slightly) judgmental. Then take the boys boys boys! (Yes, please do!) OK, this aspect of the story does fall under the heading of new boy(s) liking the odd girl… but that’s fine too because what’s there not to like? Better is the way things progressed. It is safe to say that smooth sailing? That was absent.

The mystery is half the fun because ONE moment I’m laughing at a particularly witty turn of phrase on her part THEN the next I’m on edge thinking, ‘This is how girls die on slasher films.’ Or, otherwise asking, ‘Did you not pay attention to that stoner dude enumerate the rules in Scream?!

Because the place? The place was creeps-ville, a little like the one in THE LOTTERY, where everybody knows something but nobody’s telling. And for one reason or another she’s surrounded herself with those who actually don’t know anything! This made for a reading experience that’s so it could get frustrating! Because each discovery actually is a discovery, so that with her, I went, ‘Oh, right. I get it!’ till I was terrified for her, of course.

So, take a girl who has aspirations of investigative glory, then take two boys who are both mysterious and hot, plunk them in a place with a history that’s shrouded in mystery and a little bit of the scary… except make all of them funny… and well, this is me thoroughly entertained. Yes, I loved this. And that’s even given that cliffy because at least here there was some sort of a resolution, just not a complete one. I am definitely looking forward to the next one.




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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Crazy by Han Nolan

Crazy
Good Reads Summary
Crazy by Han Nolan


Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen upon bad times—his mother has died and his father has succumbed to mental illness. As he tries to hold his crazy father and their crumbling home together, Jason relies on a host of imaginary friends for guidance as he stumbles along trying not to draw attention to his father’s deteriorating condition.

Both heartbreaking and funny, CRAZY lives up to the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for. As Jason himself teeters on the edge of insanity, Nolan uncovers the clever coping system he develops for himself and throws him a lifeline in the guise of friendship.

My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

CRAZY is one part funny and two parts sad.

But, overall an intense read which just so happens to be my kind of story. It’s one where the protagonist lives a messy life, and is not having an easy time of it up to the very last because the realizations were slow to take. Jason is a good kid, he loves his father but sometimes loves his father too much, because big things are placed on him all of which he takes it all on willingly, more often than not to his detriment.

A smart aleck too, it is in fact what people notice at first: he likes middles but not beginnings and ends, dates are arbitrary he says. But dig deeper and one sees how reluctant, angry even, to accept any interference… though that’s what he gets. Well-meaning, that’s how the lot of them are, but it’s this that he cannot see past what he has got to lose.

So, it’s sad then funny then sad.

Compound all that with the people in his head, who liven things up… unlike those who are actually around him; it’s the latter’s help that felt more than just intrusive to the boy, and I totally got where he was coming from… especially judging from my teary reception of what was going on. Boy, did I sob! Because just when I thought things looking up, only more things sprang up, things to handle; things that had him clam up.

But, like I said, he’s a good kid and he loves his father. So what he cops to, what he admits made him a little bit more sad in my eyes.

Intense.
I loved it.




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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rage Within (Dark Inside #2) by Jeyn Roberts

Rage Within (Dark Inside, #2)
Good Reads Summary
Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts

Aries, Clementine, Mason and Michael have survived the first wave of the apocalypse that wiped out most of the world's population, and turned many of the rest into murderous Baggers. Now, they're hiding out in an abandoned house in Vancouver with a ragtag group of surviving teens, and trying to figure out their next move.

Aries is trying to lead, but it's hard to be a leader when there are no easy answers, and every move feels wrong. Clementine is desperate to find her brother Heath, but it's impossible to know where he'd be, even if he is still alive. Michael is still haunted by the memories of his actions during his harrowing struggle to survive. And Mason is struggling with something far worse: the fear that he may be a danger to his friends.

As the Baggers begin to create a new world order, Aries, Clementine, Mason and Michael will have to trust and rely on each other in order to survive.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
 "Eenie, meenie, miney, moe.
Catch some suvivors by the toe.
If they holler, kill them on the spot."
It seems the whole YA survival post apocalyptic scene is not done with me yet. I suggest you reread the DARK INSIDE before going into this, because I certainly wish I had. I struggled to recall who was who, a feeling made worse by the four alternating points of view, but I got over it eventually and being the contrary person that I am: I can honestly say that I enjoyed this just as much as I did the first. So, yays for no sophomore slumps!

Still told mainly by Mason, Aries, Clementine and Michael, each is confronted by scarier things, other than Baggers who kill for no apparent reason, it’s the shifting loyalties and the divisiveness, as well as assholes being assholes that made for a more interesting read.

The scary black veiny eyed people, who kill for no other reason other than they could, apparently do have reasons, but as we’re figuring this out, the four protags here encounter more those like themselves  allowing for a couple of truly funny situations, especially as assholes prove themselves to be exactly that. If in the first, it's mostly them making do as individuals, here they've banded together and formed a unit that's not quite cohesive. It's this banding together, following and the leading that chafes at each of them in a different way. Then there's the growing closeness of the romantic sort, well, let's just say it's gotten loads more complicated.

Parting shot: I. 
                         know.  
                            Nothing! Pun totally intended




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Friday, September 14, 2012

Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso

Counting Backwards
Good Reads Summary
Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso
Three weeks ago I tried to run away from home. Now all I want is to go back.

When troubled Taylor Truwell is caught with a stolen car and lands in court for resisting arrest, her father convinces the judge of an alternative to punishment: treatment in a juvenile psychiatric correctional facility. Sunny Meadows is anything but the easy way out, and Taylor has to fight hard just to hold on to her sanity as she battles her parents, her therapist, and vicious fellow patients. But even as Taylor struggles to hold on to her stubborn former self, she finds herself relenting as she lets in two unlikely friends-Margo, a former child star and arsonist, and AJ, a mysterious boy who doesn’t speak. In this striking debut, Laura Lascarso weaves together a powerful story of anger and self-destruction, hope and love.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
 

"I’m not a person to them; I’m a problem that needs fixing. And there’s nothing wrong with me.”

For a tale of girl on self-destruct, COUNTING BACKWARDS went quickly… yet somehow also almost too neatly. It’s this last that could explain my lukewarm reception I have for it. I’d have loved it to be messier; I’d have been more than interested were Taylor less 1-2-3. She and her life certainly were all that at first, but there’s actually only one moment that had me chest-clutching because it was so painful. That when she finally imploded, she did so spectacularly… except despite that one moment that was so painful, everything else seemed to take away from what that had me feeling.

Taylor finds herself in a place where she’s to set herself to rights. But the set up felt a bit conventional with anything (anyone) a broken girl might need being there to fulfill the role. There’s a nemesis, an experienced older mentor type and yes even, a sweetheart. All of them had their roles to play, but it’s Taylor’s changing one that at first interested me but eventually lost me too.

It’s the first half of this story that’s the was the best: her not wanting to be where she was had her fighting and proving just how much she needed to be where she was. Then, it’s the second half when things are overcome, that felt a tad too neat to me, with one step leading to another, *tada* rehabilitation. Simply, I felt the strength of the book was how messy her life was, how not neat, not pretty but painful and sad and disappointing it all was all was:
“Love is not enough. Hate means even less. Anger is destruction...I feel more powerless than ever before.

Except, all that’s overtaken by redemptive healing part which in and of itself is happy and nice, but I preferred the messy painful part of it. I believed how messy and messed up she was, she had an anger that I felt rang true.

3/5

***
There was a moment there (57%) that had my chest hurting from breathing in too long... except that was it all, that moment.




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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Carnival of Souls
Good Reads Summary
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures--if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father--and every other witch there--fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable. While Mallory possesses little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and "Graveminder," comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one's own destiny.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.45 of 5 stars

Sorely tempted am I to grant that one star for which the ending seems to beg. (Where’s the Yoda .gif when a body needs one?!)  But I won’t because overall I was mostly entertained by all four voices in this one. And this is so even with some choice actions on Kaleb’s part; and yes, this is so even with Mallory shifting down from kick ass to mopey somewhere along the 77 because over all, yes, this was all kinds of awesome.
So, here we have two sides of daimon and witch at war (and I believe as the case usually is, with the humans, oblivious to it all)… was it inevitable that a star crossed bit get injected into it? Who knows… the build up toward that though wasn’t bad as we are introduced to whole lot of players, each with their own baggage.

Characters. First, there’s Mallory who isn’t privy to everything but as dutiful daughter continues with her day to day, of training to kill, of working with guns, of living a life that accepts that daimons are real and that her daddy’s a witch, but at the same was feeling the tightness of it all. So first presented, I was curious about her… till’ I wasn’t anymore, because everybody else outshines her eventually. Aya and Belias in particular, but I’m jumping ahead because there’s Kaleb to contend with. He’s her mysterious boy who we soon learn is more than just boy… It is his (and Aya’s) contribution that had me more than excited: Blood! Gore! Claws! Fights to the death! Oh! I loved it… and all for what now? Survival and a pack mate who’s equally (and sometimes more intriguing) than the first: Zevi’s different, at first I’d pegged him as the best friend perpetually in trouble, but he proves himself neither defenseless nor incapable. So them together, begged the question… what bound them?

Upping the angst a notch was Aya and Belias’ whole drama. Blessed at first glance, only not really… well, at least she wasn’t. She initially comes off as too much of everything: too power hungry, too cold, too calculating, too manipulative… and she is all those things (Yay!) but for good reason, except she’s also so much more than what she seems. Now, Belias had me curious because everything seemed to be happening to him… and just like Mallory, he’s taken by surprise time and again.

A Complicated Place.Between the City to the real world, the difference is so absolute except  it’s also clear to me which of the two’s more interesting. Where they come from is more basic, darker… not honest per se, simply more straightforward because they all do what they have to do to survive. It’s that last fact that Kaleb, Zevi and Aya, heck even Belias establish. There’s a way to things and there’s a place for every one, a hierarchy. But, what struck me as funny was how it seemed each level was represented by at least one of the key characters. It’s also this that had me split because it rendered things slightly too neat some how… except the more I think on it, the more obvious it is that not one moment in this ever was (neat, I mean.) How could it be neat, given how one person connected to another and how those connections tangled with all the other connections?

It was good till’ that damned ending. I mean so now we know who they are and now we’re aware of what each of them have at stake, so what now?  Why, roll in the credits of course! That would be just perfect! Feeling sort of cheated, what could have been a 4 of 5 for me is now:

3.45/5




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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up
Good Reads Summary
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

i don't know why i like this. but i do.

it's those images, her words, of ed and then of herself, of what happens. and why it happens that allowed me my first impression of trying (too) hard  at something or other. except there's all that praise, so there i was struggling at times to get through the more than often annoying, sometimes too much a little too young, and a bit too in love voice of min waxing poetic about why she feel in love and what changed so that no longer was the case.

i don't know why like this except bits of it are still going though my head, but i do and those bits are.

three days is a long time for me and a book. truth be told at times it felt like three days too long. but it's her being long winded, not knowing when to stop and saying everything, just about everything that crossed her head (even the things she wasn't seeing) that has me knowing more about her now. so, now i know her and  now i have this feeling that she's not just this annoying long winded voice on a page.

bits of this are still running through my head.



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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

False Memory by Dan Krokos

False Memory (False Memory, #1)
Good Reads Summary
False Memory by Dan Krokos

Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn’t at all surprised by Miranda’s shocking ability.

Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn’t easy—especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can’t remember loving.

Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn’t seem to matter... when there may not be a future.

Dan Krokos’ debut is a tour-de-force of non-stop action that will leave readers begging for the next book in this bold and powerful new series.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

In recent months there’s been an upswing in kick ass, superhero like characters in YA, not so many werewolves and vampires of late instead we’ve got the Merrick brothers of Elementals, those aliens in the Lux series, and even those super special ‘uns in Hunting then Losing Lila (there are more, I’m sure). More action and kicking butt, all around... and where does FALSE MEMORY factor in? It might just have surpassed one or two of those I’ve mentioned.

Simply because it’s so creatively kick ass.

Now… hmm, let’s see if I can keep this short (I’m hoping to keep the details out.) One really ought to go into this knowing anything. Let loose, relax, and don’t look too hard at some things, and perhaps like me, you’ll come away feeling like you’ve just seen an action flick. So, it’s a movie in my head, complete with explosions, hand to hand combat and baddies ominously named Mrs. or Mr. Something or other.

The one thing I could fault it with is how none of the characters ever shake off that ‘just because’ or ‘just going with it’ feel. But where things went and where they took me? Dare I say it? Awesome sauce, words that have lost their true value from over use, but really this was awesome-freaking- sauce.

And even with that one aspect of it bugging me (that none of them actually bothered to stop and think things through given their easy acceptance of things for no real reason,) I still had fun with this one because really (and this definitely pot-kettle on my part,) “What can I do but go with it, you know?” To start, Miranda’s woken up knowing next to nothing about who she is, and where she is. it’s her initial reaction that I found funny. What’s one to do when they’ve no memory of themselves? (view spoiler)[Why shop, of course! Except… not really. (hide spoiler)] Then suddenly things start happening and eventually there’s this tentative thing (re)built between her and her team. A team… a team that’s just, well… I enjoyed them, even if it’s not obvious yet:

So, her team.

There’s Fearless leader in Peter. There’s the funny and less serious one in Noah. Then there’s Olive who seems to hold them together. Theirs is a complicated little unit as she’s soon to discover: how there’s more specific loyalties within the group and that there are complicated histories that they’re all treading on. And never fear, lovers of love! For, yes, there’s a love connection in this one, too (more than a couple in fact,) but who cares… when there’s so many other things going on? Take those memory pills and Rogues and Alphas and Betas (and not in the wolfie pack sense, either.)

Damn me, but this was fun…
and exciting!






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Monday, September 10, 2012

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

If I Lie
Good Reads Summary
If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

With a first half that was almost too difficult, it's the second half that saved it for me.

It got difficult, trying to cheer for someone acting like a martyr. A good portion of IF I LIE had me questioning Quinn’s reasons. I also doubted her strength, such stalwart loyalty because if it wasn’t one thing, then it was another... and on and on and on. That there was so much negativity directed at her for what exactly? And why was she pushing through despite all that? All of it became almost too painful to bear, but she’d remain strong in the face of everybody being in turns vindictive, cold, and then accusatory. So much so that I simply I wondered to what end on her part. And it’s sad and depressing everything she goes through… and frankly, just this side of frustrating sometimes: that she could be such a good person, such a strong individual, holding things in all because of a promise made. Worse, it’s promises made by others that make her life a little more hellish. Bottom line? Each time something happened, there I'd be hoping she'd do/say something...anything! 

I almost threw my hands up in defeat with every mention The Other dude... because I simply felt him weak and undeserving, but then this relationship and all other relationships she was part of had me engrossed. Every single (non) relationship she had was a surprise, how some people could disappoint her, let her down… and later how others could redeem themselves. Mainly though there’s the matter of how those that matter, surprising her; and then how those that didn’t matter, acting as expected.

But first, take a small town where everyone knows what every one else is up too, made only more difficult to navigate by a military got your back set up, and her life already difficult becomes more so because if you step back in the past, it is evident that her life never has been that easy. An absent mother, an overbearing father, and her keeping up with the appearance of being one in a perfect couple, life could get hard… but as her story proves, it could get worse.

But things do get better; more real, if you will. Eventually, all that painful sadness aside, it’s the slow revelations that come to her, about who is in control, who actually matters, as well as what others are capable of that had me reading from this in a matter of hours. And yes, these developments had me seeing her in a slightly different light, and yes, I may have even started cheering for her (although maybe we should substitute cheering with a fist pump + quiet-ish whoop that came much later in the story). 

The direction it all went, that the strength I’d initially doubted finally going in a direction I could agree with? That’s the bit that had me nodding happily along. That she wasn’t a martyr after all, that she did something about things, and those that failed to step up are made aware that they’d fallen short. Moments like those had me going, “Finally, someone saying something I agree with.”


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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Five Parts Dead by Tim Pegler

Five Parts Dead
Good Reads Summary
Five Parts Dead by Tim Pegler

What do you do when you’ve just lost three of your best mates?
Who do you turn to when your life is suddenly bound to a wheelchair?


Dan has dodged the Reaper again. If he were a cat, five of his nine lives would be gone—when his mates didn’t even get second chances. He’s still grieving their deaths when he’s dragged on a family holiday at a remote island lighthouse.

Left alone, at what feels like the end of the earth, Dan starts sensing a mysterious girl. Is she a dream? Or has he somehow hooked into the spirit world?

The lighthouse logbook helps illuminate some of the girl’s tragic story but Dan will have to dig deeper to find answers and the inspiration to embrace life again.

Tim Pegler gets inside the minds and hearts of teenagers and captures their voices—spot on.


My Thoughts
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Haunting… that’s what ties the two stories together. Where on the one hand, there’s Dan struggling with just going on, eaten up both by what’s said but more so by what’s left unsaid. Then on the other, a story of people making do and later doing a most incomprehensible thing... and that would be Lily’s story.

Interesting story, if you look at all the individual elements. There’s Dan and Pip, and how he sees what’s there and what could be. It’s a sweet addition to what’s over all a mish mash of so many things. There’s Dan and Mel and their twin-ness. I felt this more than slightly hokey, though.  So, when bringing twins into the mix, is it at all possible to talk of a sibling closeness without looping back to this super twin mind link? Because as a twin myself, I’ve not experienced it , at least none that I recall *thinks back* Nope, not once have I had my brother knocking about in my head to pass some secret message for me and me alone. That said, the former closeness between the two is evident BUT it’s a relationship that’s made even more complex with one admittedly feeling overshadowed by the other… now that, that there was an aspect that rang real. 

And like I said, it’s a mish mash of a lot of things. There’s impromptu crime solving going on, there’s that new unexpected and slightly insecure young love shimmering about, but mostly, it’s him trying to see beyond being ‘five parts dead,’ beyond him asking why him and not them. It weaves in the sad with the mysterious slash scary moments of maybe ghostly apparitions as well as someone who got him for good measure and this was an OK story.





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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Slice by Steven Herrick

Slice

Good Reads Summary 
Slice by Steven Herrick

A funny, refreshing look at the most awkward time in any young boy’s life from school, girls, and parties to parents, friends, and the dreaded “sex talk”.

Darcy Walker is a normal 16-year-old boy but he can handle that. He can even cope with parents, deal with parties, and soldier through the occasional fight. He’s certainly got his infatuation with the beautiful Audrey under control, is clearly the best at spending quality chess-time with his nerdy best friend, Noah, and doesn’t blink an eye at the misadventures that can occur when kayaking on a school excursion. He’s a teenage boy – he can handle anything. That is, if only he’d learn to keep his mouth closed first.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 "I'm sixteen years old and my mouth runs ahead of my brain. Our friend Pele would describe it as - ahem - premature enunciation. Mum says I talk without thinking. She's wrong.  
I mean what I say, I just shouldn't say it aloud."

This was funny with not a page going by without me laughing. And as that quote indicates, Darcy just couldn’t shut it, do that we knew precisely what he was thinking. It got painfully obvious that the boy was clueless about certain things but spot on about others. It’s simply that when he was wrong or about to stick his foot in it that had me cringing for him but laughing (with him), too. And boy, did I laugh!

A boy’s life isn’t all that easy after all. Except this boy’s life while funny could get painfully… ergh, painful. Oh, the things this particular one put himself through! As illustrated in that funny but definitely awkward moment of his father (not) explaining the birds and the bees, or in him deciding the pros and con’s of shaving (Vaugh in Art class called me Frida Kahlo), or him thinking of his dream girl, or him navigating through the whole social scene and pondering things like what it took to be a man or how to be just so and so.

But mostly I love that he’s equal opportunity in poking fun at stuff, himself included. He’s not one to take himself too seriously, that’s for sure.

Funny stuff.



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Friday, September 7, 2012

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

The Lost Girl
Good Reads Summary
The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna

Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination—an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her “other”, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known—the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love—to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive.

What Eva finds is a grief-stricken family; parents unsure how to handle this echo they thought they wanted; and Ray, who knew every detail, every contour of Amarra. And when Eva is unexpectedly dealt a fatal blow that will change her existence forever, she is forced to choose: Stay and live out her years as a copy or leave and risk it all for the freedom to be an original. To be Eva.

From debut novelist Sangu Mandanna comes the dazzling story of a girl who was always told what she had to be—until she found the strength to decide for herself.

My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s the easy flow of most everything in it that surprised me, given the idea of Echoes made by Weavers, raised by Guardians for their Familiars. The allusions to Frankenstein’s creature had me expecting dark and moody, but this wasn’t. Simply it's a girl with a very specific role to perform. Her life is hitched to what another does, her Other… Amarra. There’s a relationship between the two as well, but it’s what Eva discovers that allows Amarra to become more than just her Other. I loved this unfolding, that there’s always more to someone because one can only know so much of someone else at a distance.

Nothing in this is simple, it’s all complicated , all the time: who she is, what she has to do: being the other, following the Weaver’s rules, not stepping out of bounds, making this or that person happy with who she was. So taking who Amarra and contrasting that to who Eva is… not easy at all.

Then there’s the fact that there’s so many things that make Eva Eva. Relationships with those who’ve raised her.  Like that between her and Sean, an aspect that add some extra zing to her; but basically, I liked them together. There’s an easy way they had with each other that goes in sharp contrast to the most uneasy situation they’re in. The fact that they’d each poke fun at how star crossed lovers they’d become had me liking them even more.

Contrast all that, once in the Other’s life. Sad and frustrating all at once, but could you blame them? A little, I suppose because that they acted as they did, saw what they wanted versus seeing what was… not one moment of was easy on any of them. Eva’s made a point in saying,

 “…Maybe that’s what the dead do. 
They stay. 
They linger. 
Benign and sweet and painful. 
They don’t need us
...
The echo all by themselves,”

Now, with all that, we’ve this conflict and pain and turmoil, and later questions about who deserves what.

I loved this
4/5
   





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Thursday, September 6, 2012

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me
Good Reads Summary
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Winner of the 2010 John Newbery Medal
Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.
By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.
I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.
The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.


My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s 11:00 in the morning and I want to strangle whoever is on the other end of the phone. Who the hell calls a body at eleven in the morning not knowing if the one answering is a morning person? Though, 11 isn’t exactly the crack of dawn. Though how could they have known that I was just about to get some shut eye? But then, bits of the story trickle back and though I’m still grumpy (read raging mad pissed) at having been roused, I’m not as grumpy… because I’m grinning and grinning and maybe looking crazier by the minute bed head, morning breath and all because WHEN YOU REACH ME took me by surprise.  

Going in on this one, the less you know the better, except I dare you not to love WHEN YOU REACH ME once it’s over. I’m struggling here, attempting to sum it up, but without giving anything away: I will say it’s short, sweet, sad and funny. The narrator is delightful in her observations, honest in her reactions and over all just wonderful. It’s a story about friends, losing some, and then making some. It’s about her family and saying the right thing, doing the right thing and then making mistakes along the way. 

It is a young book, she’s a young girl but the way she sees things: unusually; the way her story unfolds, unusual as well. But then throw in a game show and then time travel and secret note from God know who… and well, I loved this. (Yes, even that surprise moment that had me ugly-crying.)

Now, lessons learned:  one, I can go without sleep so long as a book is worth my while. Two, working overtime sucks. Most important, do not call me at anytime before lunch.




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