Thursday, January 31, 2013

Altered (Altered, #1) by Jennifer Rush

Altered (Altered, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Altered by Jennifer Rush

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I’m still trying to get a clear picture of the time and age and the obvious gap there between the characters… but that’s about all I can complain of in this one. ALTERED was an entertaining read, different in the same the same way that PARTIALS and Krokos’ LOST MEMORY were different. Wait, does that mean it’s not that different after all? Ye… ergh, does it matter? I was thoroughly entertained by them and the set up… even if there were gaping holes that had me wondering about things just like all the leads were in this one (and this was even after they’d pieced things for themselves.)

Picture this: all those YA hot brother team ups, mix in some lost memory in the same vein as Jason Bourne’s only here it’s times four and they’re younger (I assume.) then even more interesting: skills unexpected coming making themselves known at the most convenient of time! That last bit might have you think me being so-over-this since everything I’ve mentioned so far, have been tackled at one point or another, either separately or all together in some fashion. Yet, surprise!  I hooked me in.

Eunice’s Merrick comparison was what got me to push this up because the cover alone was doing nothing for me. It’s a little too much like the opening credits of a TV show I refuse to admit having salivated over even when said show got cheesy. I also refuse to comment over the striking resemblance between the cover model and the aforesaid TV show's smoking hot alpha lead, either. See? I refuse. I refuse. I refuse. But really… beyond the hot boys and the mysterious air going on for him and the rest of them, the story itself was not badly done. (at least when it counted.) 

She’s goody-goody but with a pinch of rule breaker in her: doing most everything right unless we discount this little thing she does on her own time. She’s interesting I suppose, but all alone without the rest of the guys in the picture there’s really not that much to her: girl missing her mommy, feeling that lack more clearly with a father who’s not as present as she’d want. Then take things up a notch and have her be girl in love with boy of unknown dark past variety Unknown... and there’s the kicker. See, with him in the picture, we were getting somewhere.

As subject of her desire, you’d think she’d wax poetic about his attributes… but see, there’s not that much to wax on about. There’s really next to nothing known! And that’s fine too as each thing she discovers was truly a discovery for all parties involved.  I really liked that aspect of the story. Well, that as well as the fact that the hot boy team up in this one was so complete in a way that there’s one of every kind you might fancy: a hot one, a surly one, a sweet/smart one and a funny one. I was happy with that… ‘til I realized things were feeling more and more like an introduction. We know so much about one of them and next to nothing about the rest, a fact I’m hoping will be remedied by follow ups for the other boys, yes? 

Anyhoot.. I liked the hot boy team up and her as plus one, because there’s this obvious connection that’s more than you think. In fact, there’s a lot of “more than you think’s” in this one.  With the next reveal feeling bigger than what had preceded it. Then those face offs and the gun battles, all very cool in execution evidence by me having some serious Matt Damon as Jason Bourne flashbacks as I was reading.

Bottom line? This was Fun!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Everbound (Everneath, #2)
Good reads Summary
Everbound by Brodi Ashton

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Everbound.. I have got to hand it to the author, with the first book ending as it did, you'd not be baseless in wondering what twist she'd throw our way in this one. And you may think you know, but you'd be wrong... so, so, deliciously wrong. the ending and the work up to it? i loved it because it's so unexpected, even when it shouldn't have been. I just love being surprised, is all.

Now, that's not to say that i loved every bit of the book:

-Sure, I was intrigued by the segues into where, when and how come of her 'ever yours' Jack,

-And sure I was more than curious with Cole and his about face even slightly feeling gooey on the inside over what he was doing and what he posed to lose.

-And sure Max was still a curious bit...but none of those things in this sequel match up to how good the world was:

Everneath, a character all its own, levels and labyrinths and all, with its  maybe mad queen, and Wanderers and Shades... as each bit was doled out, I was more and more curious about the where and the how. Then the moments of scary? Here there's a balance between the lyrical sometimes purple feel to how she thought of things with the more specific visual details of where things were going down, walls and limbs, lakes of guilt and mist of blood?

Again, the awesome here is in the details... and yes, sometimes even in the characters (I'm looking at you, Cole!)

I'm happy with this one. 

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Boundless (Unearthly, #3) by Cynthia Hand

Boundless (Unearthly, #3)
Good Reads Summary
Boundless by Cynthia Hand

The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfil her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Immediately upon close, I was all… my heart just can’t take it. Who they end up with whom and the lead up to that? Minor things all of them… the biggest and best thing about BOUNDLESS is how she’s not just simple part blood angel lead in this one. She’s girl-conflicted, friend-ever-present then big sister who wants to be there.

Then there’s the humor that shouldn’t have come as a surprise given how the first books went. But yes… the humor in this one sneaked up on me, so that I found myself cracking up out of the blue, despite some of the heavier stuff that had me sad-sighing on their behalf. Point is it’s funny in a smart subtle way perhaps because the funny isn’t laid on too thick as tends to happen with other lead similarly situated to Clara. In fact, not one thing one breaches my “too much” limit:

Take how those bits of funny pepper a book that’s full of feels that vary, from the sweet, the expectant, then the bitter. Basically there’s heavy then the not so heavy stuff, but there’s a mixing of things in just the right quantity that it all comes out feeling just right for me. Yes, sure there are moments that had me choking up (most especially in the book’s second half and where Christian then Tucker.. heck where all of them were concerned,) but there were points too that weren’t all about who was with whom and why. The part that’s about them getting to be their age, figuring things out, and and not so much about the life-death direness of things? That bit had things feeling lighter, and more real and grounded somehow.

Solid end here, with a girl who starts out funny and awkward and now this: strong but not afraid to be unsure. She’s part angel, part Buffy so bad ass in one big way, that is not backing down even in moments that have her doubting herself all the while wanting what’s best for those around her.  And yes, admittedly I was a bit iffy on my stand on Unearthly, but swayed by Hallowed and by this ending as well, I do have to say: this has been one of the better angel stories I’ve come across. Perhaps because they aren’t justangels stories..

..with more than one smart lead all of whom are authentically likeable especially as none of them behave in perfect a manner
…in a story that’s got angels and prophecies but doesn’t limit itself to those things
… as well as a romance that’s not simplified but delves into who they all are making clear to all that there are choice available to them an not just on this front either.


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Monday, January 28, 2013

So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

So Much Closer
Good Reads Summary
So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

Another contemporary thought-provoking romance from Susane Colasanti!

When Brooke discovers that the love of her life, Scott Abrams, is moving from their New Jersey suburb to New York City for senior year, she decides to follow hime there. Living with her estranged father and adjusting to a whole new school are challenging--and things get even worse when she finds out that Scott already has a girlfriend. But as she learns to navigate the big city, she starts to discover a whole new side of herself, and realizes that sometimes love can find you even when you're not looking for it.(less)

My Thoughts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hmmm.. I keep thinking that inspiration will strike and I will finally have something to say about this.. except... honestly? I feel like I've been waiting forever now. This isn't a bad book, far from it for in this, we have a smart girl, doing what she wants by taking things in her hands and seeing where things go.

That said, things do progress predictably, and this isn't just coming from one who's read tons and tons of reads just like this either! Read the blurb, I tell you and then take a guess about what's likely to happen. Whatever it is you throw out there, you're probably on the right track. So why did I bother at all? There were points that were interesting especially with the girl who's a study in contrast: she's smart then not so smart; she's insensitive then suddenly oh-so sensitive... but beyond these things were the realizations that things are not always as they seem as well as the knowing on her part that what you want and what's good for you are rarely the same thing are what saved this.

Because truly? This particular read progressing then ending as it did, would definitely fall in its lead's "Of course!" shelves. Oh the lead! For such a brilliant one (no kidding as the words genius and so on and so forth are used in conjunction to her,) she certainly did the opposite. Initially she came off as braver than the rest... only you figure her out and see that's she's not really all that. And that's fine. It's OK if she's not perfect and it's OK if she's flawed but add some life to her, why don't you? There's was nothing about her I could cheer for.... selfish, self involved and wanting too much from everybody else and at the same time not wanting enough out of herself? Aggravating!

That little quirk of hers and her Knowing stuff then her doing something about it... these things set her apart, certainly, but  still... they didn't ring true to me. She didn't ring true to me, Now the eventual things of admitting things as well as seeing things for what they were? Those were good developments, but... as said: predictable.

It's an OK story. A tad too sweet that it's almost 'duh' at times, but nothing more. Really. All her asides about knowing this and feeling that then belonging together? Cute, a bit out-there and cutesy odd, but the things going on at the same time? How could she not have had a clue? Again, for such a brill girl, this girl is... well, you get my drift.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Crash by Lisa McMann

Crash (Visions, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Crash by Lisa McMann

If what you see is what you get, Jules is in serious trouble. The suspenseful first of four books from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wake trilogy.

Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that.

What she can’t handle is the recurring vision that haunts her. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode...and nine body bags in the snow.

The vision is everywhere—on billboards, television screens, windows—and she’s the only one who sees it. And the more she sees it, the more she sees. The vision is giving her clues, and soon Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it’s someone she knows. Someone she has been in love with for as long as she can remember.

In this riveting start to a gripping series from New York Times bestselling author Lisa McMann, Jules has to act—and act fast—to keep her vision from becoming reality.

My Thoughts
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

CRASH falls on the younger side of the YA spectrum and this is what might account for the unfailing willingness on her part to put herself out there for him… and embarrass herself in doing so. “Ayayay” is all I can say, with the unabashed declarations she kept making; the same had me cringing on her behalf, worse they simply had me doubting the authenticity of her feelings. It seemed highly unlike these statements from her especially with the background she’s so clearly laid out. Was the desperation pouring out of her? It seemed like it to me. With him in her mind, I found myself liking her less and less.

However, were one to put blinkers on over that, well, you just might enjoy this. Well, a little at least. The mysterious thing she’s to deal with is semi different of girl and visions of explosions and body bags. Different? Why not. It’s been ages since I’ve read one of these. So, yes, it was different.

Now, it’s too bad that’s about the only that’s different here. Otherwise, we’ve a rather average story of a girl who’s painfully awkward and saying some of the oddest things.  But she’s sweet girl despite; sweet on account of how she is in her family that’s just as odd as she is. And all that’s OK, too, because each their oddities is one they all embraced or at least let slide by. Take the mother who’s all smiles all the time even when not need be or the father who’s sad and bitter and even less adjusted than the girl lead. Their oddness is there, true… and even embraced, yup… but sadly, they’re all caricatures of what they could be. Trey who’s the sweet and present and funny brother is just that and nothing more; then good ole’ little sister who’s almost perfect when contrasted to Jules is just that and nothing more. There’s nothing more to any of them… when you can tell there could be more. It’s even hinted at with the siblings together, but those moments get subsumed under visions and Jules need to do something about the visions. This so, even when her “who” read like a waste of space. Why bother at all? When she’d so clearly laid out the what-of and who, how and when, and still the pining?! Seriously, it boils down to holding a torch for douchy kind of guy, even though said douchy dude was being douchy for a reason… it’s what you do and not why you do it that counts for me, but that’s me… and this girl… well, this girl, is, apparently, not of the same philosophy. 

And then there’s more on the family aspect, too. Their odd ball nature took an even odder hue with the Romeo-Juliet style family feud going on. And it’s that bit that pushed this story into the “too young to be taken seriously kind of story” category for me. Read it for the fun of it and not for the deep, deep thoughts you’re unlikely to have while doing so it. Of course, there’s also a why that revealed here, making less squinty –say-what as I was reading it but, still family feud? That’s one drama too many!

I did like that this was funny though… her alone with her thoughts and her lists then her with her brother and sister… she could be a funny kid who sticks out whilst driving with a pair of giant meat balls on her truck. So, funny? Yup. But it’s also a bit too obvious at times… yes, that too. I liked some of it, then disliked some other parts of it.

Also that ending has me thinking of that really sucky Lohan movie years back, the one with all the kissing and the swapping of fates. And I don’t know what to think of that parallel. No, wait! I do! That is, I didn’t like it.

It was funny when it counted, but otherwise so-so…


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Friday, January 25, 2013

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3)
Good Reads Summary
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

The final book in the  New York Times bestselling trilogy, perfect for fans of Battlestar Galactica and Prometheus!

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.


My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Very cool. The different direction they took and those different sides they showed themselves capable of had them seeming more interesting to me, had the story go from interesting then frustrating then interesting again.

Elder is no longer leader-confused, nor leader-determined, here he is who is, except it’s the same thing that had me feeling sad for him… sad for so many, many reasons, too. Amy about being gung ho then spunky and ready then questioning was only those things much later in this one… and that surprised me.

Poor them, was what I was feeling. Poor Elder and the second fiddle feeling I was getting for him. Poor Elder, as he should have paid better attention to all those Orion warnings. Poor Elder, and the hand his dealt with Amy… And then Amy! Where’d she go to in this one? With daddy and mommy in the picture she’s all ‘Daddy does no wrong’ and blablabla. Frustrating and more than a little disappointing, that is 'till a sliver of her old questioning, suspicious, independent-self would peep through, but in the mean time Elder’s left feeling unsure and showing more and more of his old insecurities. All made slightly worse with the presence of Chris and the unexpected/unwanted development he played in their love lives. Oh, Chris, of the ‘where the hell did he come from variety?’  Seriously, though… him and her together, added an unnecessary complication.

Unneeded, in the face of everything else Elder and Amy had to contend with already:

-Questions of new world with would-be-monsters versus walls and known limitations.
-Then puzzles of slaves or soldiers.
-Or even then issues on parental approval and then insecurity of who/where/when for people in the grand scheme of things.

Complicated, no? Love triangles, just don’t factor… and thank the stars, the book agreed, because the love thing might have been there, but it didn’t detract much from what mattered. What mattered? New world, unknown threat(s) and more than one impressive twist in the story.

With them having reached their goal, that question this one starts with, that question of MONSTERS por WALLS sounded the beginning of what was obviously going to be a conflict riddled story. It didn’t disappoint. And as usual, I loved that… that there’s something to settle, but that it’s not just one person telling all of them to do one certain thing, but him doing as he’d set out from the get: think and choose then do what feels right for you… and they do/did. Even more lovely? Their decision isn’t the endas it’s followed up with more and more things happening to them/because of them… and then more and more questions/then doubts are heaped on one, two… all of them.

Really though, it’s the start that was the strongest moment in this one. MONSTERS OR WALLS? Bottom line (again?) I enjoyed this, how it’s not just me on this side and you on the other for them, but more like them surrounded. Unsure of who to trust of what to do and for whom…simply, their reality is there’s more than one threat to pay attention to.

It’s most true where Elder’s concerned as it’s him standing between his people and a new authority, him in said position in an unknown place… then him in the more personal realm, questioning what he and Amy have, which was sweet/annoying/sad all in one… he’s not at all simple lead at all. Start aside, he is the biggest positive in this one which is sadly not what I’ve to say for his counterpart. Where, oh, where had spunky Amy gone? Except if you consider that there’s more than one wrong choice made, a couple of missed calls, and then some staggering loses then betrayals that have them all blind sided. Well, it balances out.

All of it’s so very cleverly laid out and not always easy to figure out. Except one wonders, if those dead staying dead would have been the wiser more honest way to go? The ending simply has me split… on one hand surely some smile-y moments  were called for, on the other… no way could things have been that easy!


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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Then You Were Gone by Lauren Strasnick

Then You Were Gone
Good Reads Summary
Then You Were Gone by Lauren Strasnick

In the tradition of 13 Reasons Why, a suspenseful and heart-wrenching novel from the author of Nothing Like You and Her and Me and You.Two years ago, Adrienne’s best friend walked out of her life. One week ago, she left Adrienne a desperate, muffled voicemail. Adrienne never called back.

Now Dakota is missing. She left behind a string of broken hearts, a flurry of rumors, and a suicide note.

Adrienne can’t stop obsessing over what might have happened if she’d answered Dakota’s call. And she’s increasingly convinced that Dakota must still be alive.

Maybe finding and saving Dakota is the only way Adrienne can save herself.

Or maybe it’s too late for them both.

My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The girl’s life is shaken up by a certain someone’s absence.  It shakes up all aspects of the lead’s life, touching a little on BFF who read smart and funny and not at all lacking in personality… as well as affecting the romance she was having with a boyfriend who in turn read like a puppy too loyal for its own good. Or maybe that’s Adrienne? Puppy dog loyal even when she’s aware of how and who Dakota was/is/could be?

It’s Adrienne’s eventual frank recognition of where she’d fallen short as well as her (not so easy) acceptance of the consequences of those things that mark her truly different. In this lead is no ‘woe is me/pity me’ lead rather she knows what’s up and deals… except her manner of dealing has her behaving bat shit crazy. It’s the why (or more apt, the who) behind this that confused me (just as it confused boy-lead) the most.

It’s Dakota. She’s different and with this ineffable quality drawing others in. There’s this odd fascination people have for her… that in her eyes borders on pathetic because while they’re watching/wanting her, she knows it but doesn’t care. For her they’re malleable boys? Funnily enough there’s truth there, even when it’s hurtful. Hurtful truths, that’s what this girl embodies. And for some reason, I feel there could have been more to her (for all the characters in fact.)

The writing in this one, of Adrienne’s voice specifically, is different and at times even disconcerting. She’s in your face and factual about the day to day of her life; there’s a presentation of teen girl’s life of hooking up and getting smashed, hanging out and being an ass) peppered with said teen girl’s confused/confusing thoughts. I thought it all different as it’s not filled with bubble gum-pop niceties (though there are those, too.)

So her voice was interesting a bit confusing but definitely different EXCEPT I do feel TYWG could have been more emotionally intense. The turn out is almost a let down the way it stands.  Would it have been more interesting to let things continue on with the idea of the other being gone? I think so. Why? It’s the in-between Adrienne’s finding out then later knowing the facts where a lot of the crazy true emotion happened. There she was: reacting and slowly driving herself (and all others) bat shit crazy. And I loved it… because I saw her becoming this person she didn’t like.

Instead of that, here there’s a return to the before. And I’m stuck wondering if a ‘return to the before’ was really possible with everything else that had happened. More than the neat pairing offs, I’d have preferred more emotional confrontation and recognition that you so and so behaved the way they did because… because of … something more. And see, this is my problem: for such an confusing emotion heavy progression in the story, that ending felt way too neat; it’s the ending that’s almost too happy (save the lack of consequence for key people, of course.)


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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden (The Coincidence, #1)
Good Reads Summary
The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen
There are those who don’t get luck handed to them on a shiny platter, who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, who don’t get saved.

Luck was not on Callie’s side the day of her twelfth birthday when everything was stolen from her. After it’s all over, she locks up her feelings and vows never to tell anyone what happened. Six years later her painful past consumes her life and most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.

For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence was the only way to survive life. As long as he did what he was told, everything was okay. One night, after making a terrible mistake, it seems like his life might be over. Luck was on his side, though, when Callie coincidentally is in the right place at the right time and saves him.

Now he can’t stop thinking about the girl he saw at school, but never really knew. When he ends up at the same college as Callie, he does everything he can to try to get to know her. But Callie is reserved and closed off. The more he tries to be part of her life, the more he realizes Callie might need to be saved

My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

That ending is so unfair! Just when I was a catching a glimpse of whatever it was that was wowing people in this, it ended…and so brutally at that. For a good part of the book, I felt there was nothing new in this one:

-What with the leads both messed up and coping as well as wanting more for the other and then with neither one perfect in acting/ reacting the way they did.
-Nor was there anything spectacularly new about the sidekicks. One the gay one and the other smart but smart enough about other things.
-Nothing new either in either one of them running away from some big, bad and scary emotional moment, (though frankly I feared this bit a little too much, bordering on over the top…)

AND YET, here I am shaky over the prospect of having to wait God knows how long for the sequel. Why you may ask, a it’s a combination of the switching POV’s, remarkable “normal” sounding characters and the very last portion of the book that had everything come together- all tense then intense, but only to be cut short by the most _____ thing ever: a cliffhanger!

So, here's the Good:

That switch in POV from her to him allowed a clear view why they acted the way they did… even when what they were doing didn’t sound the right thing to do. There’s not a perfect character in sight in this one. In fact, they’re perfectly imperfect. And perfect for each other, as it turns out. Plus, it’s dark, these two with their past and their memories.

Maybe even too dark? Because like other books of this type (TAKING CHANCES … any Glines’ book out there…. or a Rhinehardt (sp) book, too) have proven: there is such a thing as TOO MUCH drama. Except in this case, in all that drama, we’ve two people not necessarily facing up to their past, but not always being held back by it either... well more so for him than her. There’s more to them than there past even if said past makes up a big part of what makes them them. I'm rambling, aren't I? My point? They’ve got a past that’s not so wonderful, but they're each living as best they could.. or trying to at least.

Now what was truly great about this book? Those moments right before that cliffy. (And yes, maybe even that cliffy... because it's still got me all riled up!) Anyway the moments preceding that? They're what had me drawn tight and scared for him/her and wondering for him/her… intense moments that impressed me. truth be told, I wasn’t expecting much from this save a swoony moment or two…and then I got this. Dark. Tense. Heavy thing that could have gone soap opera dramatic but was prevented from becoming thus with leads whose voices rang clear and whose pasts explain a lot of why they are the way they are. And OK there’s those sexy moments, too.


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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blink Once by Cylin Busby

Blink Once
Good Reads Summary
Blink Once by Cylin Busby
West is a high school senior who has everything going for him until an accident leaves him paralyzed. Strapped down in his hospital bed, slipping in and out of consciousness, West is terrified and alone. Until he meets Olivia. 
She's the girl next door-sort of. A patient in the room next to his, only Olivia can tell what West is thinking, and only Olivia seems to know that the terrible dreams he's been having are not just a result of his medication. Yet as West comes to rely on Olivia-to love her, even-certain questions pull at him: Why has Olivia been in the hospital for so long? And what does it mean that she is at the center of his nightmares? But the biggest question of all comes when West begins to recover and learns that the mysterious girl he's fallen in love with has a secret he could never have seen coming.

My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

BLINK ONCE is story of a kid who finds himself in a situation he’d never considered, in it his growing closer to a person so different from those who are supposed to be close to him So it goes from him and the girl to him and his memories (some sweet, mother bittersweet) then to him and his nightmares. Now were we to take those separately, this more than likely could have taken a turn toward boring, it’s how those mesh (collide, actually) that things start to get interesting.

Then question of how, what and why spring forth. And the answers in this one, they might just surprise you. It’s just that I wish I were surprised a little more.) Then there’s the ending that takes things non traditional… who needs HEA’s anyway, give me something different, why don’t you?

And different this was… as it put everything set forth in the first half under a different light in the second. That one sided thank-you-for-picking-me vibe I was feeling with him and Mike turned out to be so much more, as it becomes evident that there’s need for the other on both their ends. And that relationship with Allie whose actions have her seeming heartless and spineless and lacking somehow, are in later moments proven not quite right. It’s in the last bits that the two of them are capable of being much more just not in the way he was used to.

Too bad that it’s not him and these people that this story focuses on; rather it’s him and mystery girl (who felt odd and different and distant but vibrant and strong and independent) that’s the major draw. How she appears suddenly then becomes more for him than everyone else; how there’s a closeness that’s made between them because of how similar they are? Then there’s moments where he (I) just had to draw back wondering how it was all possible.

This was a love story that felt odd to m, but that’s a curious sort-of odd. On one hand, I felt the knowing was too brief between the two for declarations of a certain sort be made, but when considering their circumstance I could see why and how. In the mean time, there’s the fact the girl has a starring role in his nightmares or how there are more than a few people figuring prominently in them (in surprisingly scary scary detail) … And it all raised more questions in me but the good kind of questions, not the ones brought forth by being confused about why things were going on as they were.


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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2) by Katie McGarry

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)
Good Reads Summary
Dare You To by Katie McGarry

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...

My Thoughts
My rating:  A high 2.5of 5 stars

DARE YOU TO was… was… wasn’t as bad as the first one; I admit I I enjoyed it at points. I say so mainly because it’s not as trite and over dramatic as PUSHING THE LIMITS (which is worlds away from saying it wasn’t trite and over dramatic.)

Ryan is golden boy and Beth… isn’t. An initial meeting that has them pegging the other as a certain thing and then the both of them proving each other right. One’s got to respect how easy it is to label the both of them with each living up to said labels. OK.. ok so the start was a bumpy one, and hey, so was the middle, and yes so was the ending, but why say I liked this better than the first at all? It’s a different kind of drama: both of them surviving dysfunctional families.  Except where she’s hell bent on saving this one, he’s hell bent on not being like a certain other. The drama ups a notch with complications of who others think they are and who they are for those same.. . and thing almost breached the point of too much, please stop. However, when she finds herself in a town she thought she’d never see again, and he finds himself faced with a  chance to right things as he saw them… well one can imagine were things were heading. 

And here’s the good (till it wasn’t, anymore): it’s not just a her and him story, though because for Beth, there’s her mother and friends –turned-family to think about and of course, old connections turning up when you least expect them. How things mesh on her side? Not too badly done. Her feeling s of not being good enough and knee jerk reaction to the same, well… it could have gotten old, except there are other in the picture: Ryan for instance. His part of it is a kid who knows what he wants and what he can do.. . but is conflicted on what matters. Less drama, more real; I was into this part of the story as well. till mentions of overbearing fathers and perfectionist mothers took that good feeling away. There’s only so much drama I can handle you know?

This was a better read than the first, but has the same problems the former had as well. Too many things  going on at once, too many missed chances where something could have been deeper revealed and other aspects could have been set aside… but OK, I liked it some of it.


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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine
Good Reads Summary
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Paper Valentine is a hauntingly poetic tale of love and death by the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between.

My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

So what do a girl and her dead best friend, mysterious dying birds and a string of grisly deaths make? One awesome read… well, it would be if someone could please explain the significance of the dying birds. That aside PAPER VALENTINE made sense every way for me; it pulled me in too. There’s plenty going on: part mystery, part ghost story, then a little romance and then a string of grisly murders and mayhem. What better is how (most) those elements were woven together with writing that’s both engaging and haunting, but it’s not so lyrical to have the story (stories?) itself feel distant to me.

Surprisingly enough, even with mentions of mysterious deaths and ghost haunting, it’s the other kind of haunting that kept me reading. With her friend dead, the lead’s opposing feeling about it are what I bought completely. Her going from being angry about what’s (not) done to being sad over missing her, and then knowing the lack of balance in what was their relationship , but being happy enough in the set up… had the girl reading unlike any other lead I’d come across before.

For her with her best friend gone, she’s left feeling complicated opposing things… her reactions weren’t weak ones from angry to sad… but it’s all under this “I’m happy with the way things are” face. She’s different in facing her world. And I was sitting here attempting to understand if she was faking through life or if there was something deeper going on. It got only more complicated with others, the growing presence of best friend who happened to be dead, the growing presence of bad boy but not quite bad boy, and the growing number of dead bodies in what she’d thought (what they’d all thought) to be safe-quiet town.  How she gets involved in the last at all was interesting because the question of is she crazy or is she haunted was still left up in the air.

As to the mystery, often do I complain over too obvious answers and too easy connections being made. Hold my hand through not so complicated plot threads or lead me along to follow so obvious a sequence of events and I get pissy. I wasn’t thus here. Though it’s not that hard to figure things out, it’s not all laid out for us to immediately pick up on either..There’s a sophistication in how she places her people in certain situations and then when the threads do come together, with you thinking you know who’s behind it all (well maybe) plus the reveals upon you… and well, I appreciated the way things came together in this one:  not  too out there, but not too simple either.

But still, I’ve questions about those birds, man.


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Monday, January 14, 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Just One Day by Gayle Forman

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just One Day is a little like If I Stay and Where She Went. Each these stories have a sweet start only to get’s heavier and heavier with the emotion. It’s a fact that does not always stem from romantic complications either. So on the one hand, it read emotion plenty and introspective heavy, but it could also be sweet then romantic, too.

We’ve two stories here:

*The first of a girl falling in love the first time, stepping out of her comfort zone (literally).
*Then a second one of her facing the consequences of that and growing up and then owning the fact that she’s no longer a child.

That first half? Sweet, Willem had me swaying from in love with him but doubtfully suspicious as well. I love that she didn’t swoon for him from moment one, rather we’ve these wild imaginings with have her questioning things (and, well she really should have,) but there’s also another part of me that’s pumped with the way things began, and hoping for the best for the both of them, because you know, in love and all that, right? But then there’s the second half to contend with… and … well, here goes:

I didn’t like ‘the why’ behind things happening the way they did, but get this: I liked the where things went because of the same. The why, (view spoiler)[concussed and what not? (hide spoiler)] read too close to day time soap opera for me. But then there’s the what then... I mean the what then, before she knewthe why. Well, it’s that aspect that had me seeing more of the girl and, consequently, buying  more into her drama.  Because their aftermath, it’s turned things into a messy mix of the true then the heartbreaking then the depressing and the frustrating only to lean toward the uplifting and the right.. at least eventually. And I say ’right’ because if the first half has her reading too young, too sheltered and sometimes lacking in life (‘til he’s in the picture) she’s not that in the second half. It’s her feeling all these things, recognizing things for what they were as well as people for who they truly were, and most important owning the fact that she’s no longer anybody’s little girl that struck home for me.

The first bit is for the romantic at heart. It’s on the sweet side with boys who come in and sweep girls off their feet, except it’s the second bit that I loved more… as it had me thinking of what might have happened in the between Before Sunrise and After Sunset. Heck even my frequently alluded to ‘first half’ in this one has me thinking of the movies! What with Willem’s knowledge and her lack of information. Think of it this way, she’s Ethan Hawke and he’s the French girl… except neither of them are as philosophically inclined. Well not all the time at least. Then all those revelations of the guy who’s mysterious and knowledgeable, then further realizations on both their parts that they each might be falling of the other? And gosh golly... this one was every bit as wonderful as I was hoping it was going to be.

A w

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The Farm (The Farm, #1) by Emily McKay

The Farm (The Farm, #1)
Good Reads Summary
The Farm by Emily McKay

Life was different in the Before: before vampires began devouring humans in a swarm across America; before the surviving young people were rounded up and quarantined. These days, we know what those quarantines are—holding pens where human blood is turned into more food for the undead monsters, known as Ticks. Surrounded by electrical fences, most kids try to survive the Farms by turning on each other…

And when trust is a thing of the past, escape is nearly impossible.

Lily and her twin sister Mel have a plan. Though Mel can barely communicate, her autism helps her notice things no one else notices—like the portion of electrical fence that gets turned off every night. Getting across won’t be easy, but as Lily gathers what they need to escape, a familiar face appears out of nowhere, offering to help…

Carter was a schoolmate of Lily’s in the Before. Managing to evade capture until now, he has valuable knowledge of the outside world. But like everyone on the Farm, Carter has his own agenda, and he knows that behind the Ticks is an even more dangerous threat to the human race...

My Thoughts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I feel tricked.

I went into this thinking I’d get an fashioned horror read only to come away with another paranormal. This is another  case of ‘this could have been so much more.’ Had it stuck to path it was on in the first third, I’d likely have loved this.

In that first third, we’re introduced to Lily, a girl who’s suspicious and guarded and protective. Mostly, she’s in turns stick in the mud then super smart and can-make Molotov cocktails (because she and her sister had so conveniently holed herself in a science building.) So, she’s a little Miss MacGuyver, with only one goal of protecting her sister. It’s the sister, in fact, who’s the most interesting (well, her and Sebastian.)

So, the sister… It’s her voice that’s of a different sort. You have to work her meaning out and still come away unsure about what she’s saying because you’re sure that there’s something deeper in there. The closest comparison I can make is SHATTER ME. She talks in images and sounds… and it could have been over the top and flowery and out of place, but her voice pops up in so few instances that it’s what becomes cause of excitement in this otherwise old hat story of boy-saves-girl-but-boy-has-secret-that’s-bound-to-have-said- girl-turn-on-him.

Even the addition of the bloodthirsty baddies became less for me somehow when it jumped in on the bandwagon of let’s poke fun at vamps that sparkle. (God, when will people grow tired of that comparison?) Otherwise, the baddies are baddies indeed and coming at them from more than one side, too. Yet on this aspect again I’m undecided because yes, things did get interesting but that’s in the midst of other aspects being merely ‘blegh’.

The biggest disappointment though is thinking the baddies in this one would be something else. I picked this up feeling a touch nostalgic over being scared by things that shouldn’t really be scary. I have the Amazing Tales (?) to thank for that. (Remember the killer wig? Who else recalls being creeped out by that toupee crawling across the floor then disappearing somewhere just beyond your line of sight?) Back on track, for some reason I was thinking this would run along those lines. I was wrong. Here we have boy loves girl and boy saves girl and girl misunderstand boy and bla bla bla.  Really, though how could I not have had those expectations with declarations of KILLER ticks made then that cover that’s all broody and dark?

So here I was, all excited till’ I wasn’t anymore.

Sure, my interest was again piqued with their labels. Clever little things if not a little obvious, so obvious in fact, I should have taken them as hints as they related to what disappointed me the most in this one (see above). We’ve the bad guys, the not so good guys and  then the hapless nitwits who can’t do anything about anything; Collabs, Breeders and Greens, respectively. Clever... but not quite. Moreover, doesn’t KILLER TICK sound much more interesting than killer vampires, right? The second one’s been done to death already and far better too in other books. Plus, the one here is reminiscent of the psychic ones in a book whose title I cannot recall. Only this little book’s like that book’s little brother: trying too hard, only to prove: it’s a different thing (mostly) and not as interesting either.


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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Requiem (Delirium, #3)
Good Reads Summary
Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancĂ©e of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge

My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s unavoidable these talks on teams, of Julian or Alex? Alex or Julian. So, I’m more than relieved about where the author took things, but a little lost about the alternate point of view chosen in this one. When I read book two, I was fuzzy on the details but jumped in anyway. No surprise, I did the same here… and since I’d not bothered with either of the novellas I struggled in placing who Hana was and why she mattered. One thing is certain, she’s different from Lena. It’s a difference that made her sometimes more interesting than the other lead.

In book one, Lena had me thinking love struck girl. In book two, she had me confused with her girl unsure of what she'd gotten herself in to. Adjusting, if you will. Here, there’s an insistence of being a different girl completely; she’s understandably tougher, but with moments of vulnerability too.

The Good:

*Oliver doesn’t take the obvious path by settling questions on who the girl’s going to end up with because really isn’t there so much more in this one?   Instead she takes her time on that aspect, and allows for more things to come about. As said, she’s new girl in new world, but getting used to it (a little,) and doing that she separates old Lean from present one.

*There’s a different sort of urgency from the first with their new love and us against the world thing. There’s also a different feel from the adjustment that Lena was going through in the second or even the back and forth going on in that one, the one between her past and her present. Here’s it’s all new Lena feels like a new girl; it’s a fact she insists on herself. Plus it’s true, for which I’m very appreciative. Because less girl on cloud nine, all in love and follow the boy, she’s not that here at all.

*Love interests. Does it matter? I mean, really? The second book had me feeling “Unnecessary complication, my friend.” Did it not suffice to be in a world where love’s a disease and those who disagreed with no choice but opt out of society escaping to the wild? The love complication felt a trifle.. ergh, triflein the face of all that. And then that ending happened. That one had me flashing back to all the YA’s I’d read over the years. Oh noes, LOVED TRIANGLE. Except the way it worked out here, well… it wasn’t badly done at all. Instead of going the obvious route, here she shows people change in the good and the bad, and it’s that bit I bought out of this aspect of the story.

*All the people Lena’s life coming out bringing a little bit then a little more, making the world more balanced in view. There’s Bee, Raven, Pippa and whole slew of character who are of a certain opinion. But zero in on Lena on one side and we see Hana on the other. Or are they? On the opposite sides, that is?  The doubts that surfaced had me buying into both their stories more and more. That there’s an uncertainty in their positions … it’s an uncertainty that made the both of them more believable.

The Not so Good (or maybe not)

Having not read the novellas, then having picked the first up oh so long ago, and then with the second one having little mention of Hana, maybe sticking an unexpected alternate voice here wasn’t so good. I was unclear on how important she was and how big a role she’d play in things. That said, I have to admit it clever.  Choosing her, I mean as a balance is allowed by her voice. It’s not all the cure is a bad bad thing now. There’s basis and what feels like a choice because for her it’s numbing things instead of being drowned in emotion.

Also, I’m still not sure about bits of this… like the cure numbing things down to a certain level, removing a certain emotion with instances in this a showing key player with rather strong moments, Fred in particular. ) Or why the ‘zombies’ were capable of disgust (hate?) and yet not the opposite.  I mean, there’s that thin line and all that jazz, right? But hey, this made for an interesting read.
OK way to answer the love question, but outside that there’s an even more interesting bridging of views that balanced out the story.


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Friday, January 11, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter, #1)
Good Reads Summary
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect.

My Thoughts
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The first third? It was all kinds of awesome. It pieces together creepy places with people doing dumb things despite knowing better; plus laboratories and scary, scary moments with furry little things. This is all beside, creepy men and younger boys who really should know better. It was almost too much! Except I wish I hadn’t said so because in came the second part… which had me wondering, WHY? Love triangles have gotten so dull! However, set it aside as I did and accept it for what it was then read on because things do get interesting, with a girl and her secrets and love interests with secrets of their own.  It’s the last third part when the living are getting torn to bits by god knows what. That and the big twist in the end upped my rating two stars over. Yes, the ending was just that good.

Things start all angsty and sad with her living as she was, remembering things in the best possible light, recalling the positive and the good that there was and trying to set aside the less than savory details. But beyond her memories, there’s her day to day as well. Alongside, we’ve got Montgomery, the boy who knew her and more plus Edward, the mysterious one. So you can probably tell with that set up: love triangle, right?  Them vying for her attention and snarling at each other over her (in a respectable gentlemanly way, of course) I could have done without ... especially with Juliet starting strong and smart and aware then going on to this person swinging from one boy to the other in her head with little time to pause in between.

Beyond the three, we’ve got her father and host of other secondary characters who bring home the point that things in this tale could get dark and twisted, and thus fantastic. Who they were? How’s they come to be? I was with Juliet: aware of the answer but unsure if I wanted to go there, but when there, slightly repulsed, but hesitantly awed.

Clever twists fill this one, too Sure you can predict them, but most of them are handled all so…cleverly that you let slide the things that mark them for what they are… and get carried along anyway, that ending especially!

Thank you Edelweiss!
Start: 4
Middle: 2-3
End: 4.5

And since I suck at math… 4.5/5 it is!

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

The Darkest Minds
Good Reads Summary
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

My Thoughts
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

In this one, we piece Ruby together but only when she wants us to; made slightly more difficult because this girl really doesn’t want anyone to know anything about her. So, for a good long while there, she’s a mystery to us and the world she's living in is with only slightly more clear with some details. There’s enough detail to snag you and wonder about how that could be, but not enough as it seems I was perpetually unsure if what I was picturing was accurate, wondering for instance why a teacher would go on about having more swings for the rest of them.

They’ve lost their kids with those left labeled and separated or worse. In this, Ruby’s world is small because what she doesn’t know is things are just as bad (worse?) else where. The iffy bit for me is rather than go with the way things were going, in this aspect of the story we’re told (or at least she is) of an outside world that’s destroyed. And it started off so well, too! Save this bit, I was sucked into her world. The smaller one at least, of her and those like her (the rest of the world, it all just felt vague and too “what now” at times. Think of it this way, anything bad that’s to happen at the end of the world… I think it all might have happened here.)

So on the one had we’re told the world’s gone to shit, then on the other Ruby is proof positive of one aspect of that…except that there’s too few details regarding that (initially.) So, here I am sorting through my feelings of “I like this but I don’t like that… but I sort of like that bit.” Consequence: I’m just not sure. Because while I disliked the lack of detail and the telling about the overall condition of the world, I also enjoyed the lack of detail for her and the necessity that made to piece things together myself! Yes, I am a contrary person. Perhaps, that there’s little to go on that I ended up imagining scarier and scarier things for them to suffer? But it’s not all in my imagination as this one’s filled with scary things of the personal then the real sort. Personal, with her secrets and her memories and sharing then being vulnerable; but the scary, too with the mind control and picking sides and maybe being wrong about that.

Overall, I enjoyed this one. I mean sure there’s a romance, but it’s one that doesn’t drown out everything else. You’ve got to love how the two aren’t each others’ everything; they don’t live in each others pocket and are each concerned about something outside the other given all other around them: Chubs and Zu specifically who both added a dash of real then sweet respectively. The two tempered the too scary moments, Chubs with his real but solid friend vibe, and then Zu with a presence that allowed for the sweet in all of them to shine through.

That said, it’s this that I felt the weakest in the story. Were I to compare the growing bond between the Lee and Ruby versus those connections between Lee and Chubs or even Lee and Zu or even Chubs and Zu, I’d say  the romance was ‘meh’ compared to the stronger, more real connections  of the three. At least there, there’s a history. The romance was simply… well… I’ve been there and back again so many times before. Not to mention the odd sudden slips of his darlin’s every now and then. I mean, really?

Those are minor though as I was heartbroken over the outcome. It is in fact what’s got me more excited for what’s coming.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter
Good Reads Summary
The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is the heartbreaking story of the journey from childhood to adulthood, with an intriguing science fictional twist.

There’s never been anyone - or anything - quite like Finn.
He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is to tutor Cat.
When the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.

My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not often am I glad to find myself mistaken in my assumptions; I’d assumed, having read this author’s debut, that this would run along the same lines as that: you know, a different sort of YA? And for some reason I’d also assumed it would be some sort of retelling. I was wrong on both counts. I didn’t even bother to read the blurb. What with the author’s name stamped across it? What with that very catchy title? Easy sell that I am, I was stoked to see I’d been approved. Anyway, reading this proves yet again that I really must at least glance at the blurb… though that blurb too does little for this one.

So, I read YA. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is most definitely not YA. Cat’s story is split into the three parts of her as child, then teenager, and finally adult… but even in the childhood portion of things, things felt weighed, heavy somehow (read as slightly off, somehow icky sometimes.) Perhaps like me, you’d be surprised that this is more a love story than anything else. But under that too, there’s a tale of a girl/woman who grows over time, stumbles, and makes mistakes, proves herself selfish… but redeems herself in the end.

Love story? Deep questions of humanity, consciousness and servitude aside, this one is a love story that was sometimes long and painful to witness; painful given the two of them being less than stellar. I mean, the woman alone is selfish, cold, manipulative… and bottom line? Her choices made it very difficult to like her. The man-android’s presence isn’t as strongly felt as the woman’s till’ the last third at least. At which point, well… only more pain, as it’s obvious that his experience is not easy either! So, we witness Cat do some terribly selfish things, and therefore dumb things, but for both of them, there’s a lot of emotion, of her recognizing those emotions for what they were… and him recognizing then voicing out the same.

It’s a long book, starting with a young Cat, who lives isolated and happy to be wrapped up in her world of stories…slowly (and slowly it did) progressed to her a young adult to an adult. She confused me more than once. How she could feel the way she did, but she had me hooked too, mainly because I wanted to understand exactly what was going on and why and what was to come.

Why I liked this: she may have been selfish, she might have been flawed... but in the end she redeemed herself.

Thank you Net galley!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1) by Morgan Rhodes

Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:

Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct.

Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword...

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

"Falling Kingdoms will gut you emotionally. It will make you ache, cry, and beg for the sequel as you turn the last page. I absolutely loved it."--Julie Kagawa, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Queen

"This triple-layered tale of bloodshed, heartbreak, and tangled court intrigue kept me turning pages very late into the night."--Lesley Livingston, award-winning author of Wondrous Strange

My Thoughts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Were I to piece FALLING KINGDOMS apart, I’d likely be more than impressed than I am right now. I mean, what’s not to love when there’s more than one person doing exactly what they say they’re going to do? Plus, blood thirsty… have I failed to mention the bloodthirsty bits? Some people in this are blood thirsty and perhaps more than slightly crazy because of it. The second certainly made for some exciting/ is this YA moments? (mere moments though!) However, when we put them all together: Lucia, Magnus, Jonas, Cleo and some mysterious Watcher voice that popped up randomly… well, they all fell short of what they could have/should have been.

Roll call!
…Jonas (read too simple in wanting vengeance. ) 

 …Cleo (read too simple in her, “I’ll do what I want when I want to” (she says those very words too, at least once if I recall.) Not to mention the brief “I’ve read this before” moment with the whole guard-sort of /kind of exiled queen that had me asking, “Rissa, is that you?” )

…Magnus (read simple as well in being conflicted; all his should I/ I mustn’t /It’s wrong moments felt so blergh to me.)

…Then there’s the biggest draw for me: Lucia, with a past shrouded in history… but not shrouded enough for my liking because it’s all laid out and all that was left was the making of connections. I wish things were left out so that discoveries for them were discoveries for the reader as well. But nope. So here I’m touching on one thing I disliked: it’s all very simple, to an extent at least because at one point you see where they’re all coming from, grasping the why behind their actions.

And yet there I was still expecting more out of all of them! So that when they did finally act outside the boxes I’d built around them in my head, I had a hard time recognizing them. They’re so clearly described at first, that I could see them one way and but with the new things introduced and them forced to act differently, well: the newness of their behavior felt totally foreign from the people I’d been reading.

Their stories could have/ would have been an OK fantasy read, but they’re lacking in something. Whatever that is, I’m still not sure. Maybe there’s the fact that there were so many people in it that it’s almost impossible to connect to any one character in particular? Their alternating points of view had me seeing them first in a certain light… the later they’d be thinking/saying /doing something out of character. Not a bad thing … if taken as development on their part, but so many people, so many POV’s and things got missed and opportunities to explain something or lay something out set aside as well.

I mean I get it, ask one person and the other guys is the baddy, but ask said baddy and you’ve got the opposite. Obviously! Right? Yet, even from the point of view of one person about who he or she was, well one would still have a difficult time pinning said person down! Was this person good? Bad? Misguided? Or all three at once? Normally were I to go with that last, I’d be more than ecstatic! As then there would be a NON simple character, but the people in this one are not “non simple”! (See above: on how simple they each seemed initially and a good long while there after!)

So given all that nitpicking there’s nobody more surprised than I over the act that I am actually looking forward to the next installment. It seems the changes in all of them that so slowly came about have me more than interested about what’s follow for all of them.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Quicksilver (Ultraviolet #2) by R.J. Anderson

Quicksilver (Ultraviolet, #2)
Good Reads Summary
Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson

Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it.

Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual... talents.

Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab.

She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she’s always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.

My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy awesome wows... this is possibly just as good as the first novel! where Allison was all color and impressions, Tori's more straightforward. Well, as straightforward as one in her position could get. I am struggling to serve up an accurate description of the lead in this one without giving anything major away, so I'll go all broad strokes on what I did like:

1. It's s very different from the first book without it being totally new. Erg, what? How do I put this? the two leads are different from each other but have something in common: they're both different for one reason or another and them coping with that difference is half the story. I like that they hold themselves distant from all others because there they were doing the exact same thing for different reasons.

2. The outcome of their choices. First you think it's one thing that that drives them. But dig deeper and all this noble self sacrificing thing has been going on... and you're (I was actually) not completely blindsided by it but impressed. Tori is not Miss Popularity... or not just Miss Popularity, she is who she is and acts the way she does for reasons made clear with each page. Which brings me to the third item...

3. Things escalating the way they did. For tori if it wasn't one thing it was another then another then yet another thing! nothing came easy for her, or anyone for that matter, in this one.

4.  An 'It's complicated' applies her. No doubt especially with the connection made. Milo. (And I smile simply recalling the kid.) I enjoyed the developments this side of the story perhaps just as much as I did in the first book. Them starting at one point and going on as they did? Atypical is what comes to mind of not just the girl seeing the boy then swooning because the girl in this one? As said, she's different... and it's mainly because of her that things are never easy, get complicated then become mind-blowing-wow in a split.

Yes, it is impressed I am.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ultraviolet (Ultraviolet, #1) by R.J. Anderson

Ultraviolet (Ultraviolet, #1)
Good Reads Summary
Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson
Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori—the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?

My Thoughts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought I knew where things were going. And boy, was I wrong! Except damn me, if I am not impressed! Ultraviolet was different and takes things to such a different place from whence it began, that I could not believe the turns it took.

First off, her condition and the way bits of it are worked into the story? The whole tasting words and seeing sounds? All that's put forth in such a different way that things are surprisingly... beautiful. Yes, I say 'beautiful' as there's no other way to put it. Her world and it truly is her world is different; filled to the limit with the remarkably unique.

Second, she's not alone... the people she finds herself surrounded with each have a story unshared. It's exactly as Faraday says it: they've all a story their own. stories that once shared adds some much needed clarity to who they are. Like Kirk whi isn't just the kid with an unreliable 'R' in the middle of his name or like her mother who isn't just the cold heartless b**** we all take her for. They all act the way they do for one reason or another (granted some reasons/backstories make more sense than others.)

Then Faraday... I like how the girl does not hold back on certain things here (him) because from the start her self control and her hiding are what's evident about her, but with him in the picture there's none of that. And it's surprising but not completely so. A Favorite moment in this one is her waxing poetic about him narrating the rest of her life simply because his voice was so delicious. A far cry from the girl who thinks herself  (not) crazy and trying to fly under the radar, yes?

Now, goodness me! But the writing in this one! The story too!  I love, I love. the fact that Ultraviolet is likely the last book I read this year!


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Friday, January 4, 2013

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Good Reads Summary
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever

My Thoughts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

HOPELESS. Hoover’s got the market cornered on made up words that are meant to elicit an “Aaaw” from out of my mouth but fail to do so. Her Butterfly You in her earlier duet was cute the first time around, but lost its charm somewhere around the third time I’d heard it. Here it’s the cute (but not so cute) hybrid of I like/love you or as they so quaintly put it, “I live you.” Gah. It was too much some times.

Those bits aside, this was not that bad: there’s a girl with dark secret and boy who knows too much. As well as a history that meshes unknown to one of them.  So this is big, this story was an interesting mix of sweet and sad and odd. Sweet because she goes through so many things with him. Sad because he has his own baggage too, but odd because we don’t quite know why things were happening as they were and I for one was never quite sure what to make of the both of them.

The whole don’t judge me and I won’t judge thing going on early on was true, but his bursting her ego time and again was sweet and funny and worked. Till it got to the point of one or two of them saying too sweet things like “I live you.”  Gah… too much some times.

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