Monday, September 30, 2013

Across a Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #2) by Diana Peterfreund

Across a Star-Swept Sea (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #2)Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In place of the Luddites and Posts, we’ve Regs and Aristos. In place of higher ups who fear the scientific, we’ve another type who has taken discovery and science to an unprecedented – almost frivolous- level. Clearly, this story isn’t happening in the same world as Elliot’s and Kai’s, maybe doing so has rendered all those icky (because they could be real) things, like Post-reduction, to engineer or not to engineer, and subsequent hierarchy less pressing… perhaps it’s the work that’s retold here that’s responsible for that: what with a lead who’s all flighty and flakey and another so utterly confounded by the first?

So, all those dark icky bits are present, the same take a back seat to the mess of two countries about to change; one is teetering on the edge of revolution; and the other seeing the changes their own has yielded. It could all get very big and political, but never boring. It’s in this aspect that some of the “dark” that characterized Luddite-Post interaction in the first book became felt here; there’s a clear division between the two places, in what’s perceived as deserved and just. Where one saw revolution, another saw a cycle where no one could win. It’s a division that’s made even clearer Persi and Justen: two people from either side coming together and each bearing secrets. Again, it’s could all get very political! Only not just that…

Scarlet of Pimpernel is retold thus: with Persi putting on a front as flakey the Lady Blake contrasted to Justen as medic, desperately in need of redeeming this undisclosed wrong doing. First impressions of one for the other made for some pretty interesting (read: frustrating) moments. There’s that an eventual (inevitable?) draw between them forced together as they were... but… but to be honest, I got a kick out of the set up. She’s too smart for her own good and hides the same; he’s too sympathetic for his own good, so he too disguises it. Her poking him with each word uttered, and him being too dismissive of her to take it for what it was. (Really, though- for such a smart guy, well, sometimes he really wasn’t.) Then layer on the complication of what she was doing and why and how – nobility of birth doesn’t confer nobility of character, except in her case, maybe… Yes, it did. Of course, it’s not all about the big guy saving the small people. That would be too simple, and this is anything but.

It’s not as dark as the first book, with reduction and science and hierarchy being the focus there -but it could get dark and icky on it’s own with moments of punishments and cycles of who deserves what and when and why. It’s the lightened some by the front she puts on and his reaction to her... Yup, another win for me.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Something RealSomething Real by Heather Demetrios

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Something Real. This is the third book about Reality TV in YA contemporary I’ve read this month alone. And while I may have been thinking it early on, NO, this is not instance of how to beat a dead horse deader.

We’ve a set of siblings who mark each moment in their life by the season or episode the same has taken place. We’ve characters whose names have that oddly annoying ™ attached after, oddly annoying in that the same felt disingenuous in getting its message across… because I kid you not, a message there is. I just didn’t see the point in all those extras.

Now, the lead in this one, Chloe/Bonnie  is tired of the life she’s been living. Thinking she’s finally free of it, she’s constructed a whole separate one from what’s been broadcast. The lies are bound to catch up, you say. They do. But let’s set that matter aside and take into account how she’s not the only feeling the pressure and how there’s this one awesome sibling who’s there for her but not voicing things out as loudly as she is. The Benny-Bonnie/Chloe dynamic in this one is refreshing. Why? Awesome siblings make for awesome reading, I say.  Except most of the drama that comes out of this is because of her family, her mother mainly… who’s depicted sadly in one way only. There were moments there when I would have bought it, what her mother was saying I mean. Except for the most part, we’ve a lady backed into a corner doing what she’s got to; only me not believing it. It’s very one dimensional in the “my problems are thus because another did (a) or didn’t do (b).” it felt way too simplistic.

There’s that inevitable love interest, too: The guy read almost too perfect. He’s what made SOMETHING REAL read almost like a Sarah Dessen novel: with the girl (partially) messed up  and the guy helping her figure things out. Was that necessary? No. Was it interesting? Maybe. The second string characters and each their respective dramas also felt too something: too sweet, too easy, too made for TV in the ending.

And that’s it, isn’t it? Most everything about this, despite the scary bits she’s to deal with, the issues brought out… it all ends like it’s been made for TV: the baddies are unmasked , the damsel is no longer in distress,  and the guy gets the girl… except what about the rest of her sibs? Yeah?

thank you net galley!

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff

Kinslayer (The Lotus War, #2)Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Damned flu’s kept me from speeding through this. So thank gods for antibiotics and ibuprofen else my head would have been too swimmy to get past even a page. Except… maybe slow and steady was a good pace for me to get through this one because there are so many complications that spring out of this sequel.

Don’t get me wrong I love each of them except at first I was who the hell is that? And who is this? And what the what now?! It’s not even the heavy descriptions that filled the first book that confused me: it’s the sheer number of players in this one and each little plot that they were part of.

One twist then another then another and then little discoveries of not so-little secrets! And do you know what? I think… No, I know that I loved this one more than first.  So how many people do we have to keep track of? There’s Yukiko and Burru (I loved every bit of them together. He’s a sarcastic Jiminy Cricket, only gryphon sized.) There’s all those people in kage with talk of secrets and secrets and secrets. There’s Kin and who is and what we find out (and I’m still picking up my jaw off of the floor after that one.) Then all those not so old players each given a bit more face time this time around: Michi, in particular, proves she’s got balls the size of Jupiter. The will she or won’t she thing she had me asking myself impressed me. Wait. I’m flashing back to Kin. Who am I kidding? it’s Kin who’s leaving me more speechless (if possible).

But there are new players, too. Ooooh, Boy! A mysterious girl who’s a throw back to Yukiko in the first book, not the decidedly strong one she’d become here, but the one who wants to do the right thing and struggles at it. This girl! And her family… I knew… I  just knew she was going to be something special!

So we have Yukiko on one end, Kage and Kin on another; Hana and her ilk on another; the empire/guild… then the Oni, of course… Then finally a glimpse of gaijin and stuff See that? I’m reduced to using “stuff” because there’s A LOT to keep track of! How has Kristoff’s managed to tie ALLLLLL their stories together? I’m not even kidding because it’s not just Yukiko and her need to have Lotus Burn… that’s taken second place to the whole rebellion on one side as opposed to an empire almost in ruins, only not really, because of the Guild and all. Then skip back again to Yukiko and her growing abilities and questions and more questions leading her toward frigging books made of (view spoiler) And then more and more foolish decisions of whom to trust equals, you guessed it, more complications.

I can’t even come up with a decent way to sum it all up because, dude…  Dude! the sheer scope of what goes on in this one and what the very many players do (don’t do?) has me so effing happy that I got to read this so soon.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

Not a Drop to Drink Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not a Drop to Drink is ballsy… well, ballsy to an extent.  It’s taken a couple of familiar post apocalyptic themes and if possible made them less frou-frou than other YA books have. It’s stark in the manner of telling; there’s simplicity in the way the girl leads her life so that when all those changes happened things became –not urgent- but charged. Her reality is simple: What’s ours is ours is ours… so that even the makings of a romance did not stop the ugly here. Like, I said. Ballsy. And I liked it.

So, her reality: a simple one; her past simpler, if at all possible. Except not once did this become boring. The best part her and her mother together. Her “Mother”(and I’m still hearing it in my head in the same way Norman Bates would) raised her to be self reliant.... but it’s this that’s put to test time and time again as more and more people entered her world.

All these outside people with stories of cities and sickness and population control? I would have loved a bit more information on that end, except even without, the story is clear: she’s on the outskirts, surviving as she’s been taught… only to realize that she’s not as “alone” as first pegged. Yet, contrast what she’s told to how she’s living her life, and it almost doesn’t matter. The background of why the world is the way it is woven in cleverly, and just enough to have me picturing a highly structured/ controlled one, little else, but the same is almost immaterial to how she’s living hers. There are a couple of things touched upon early on, yet they’re dropped almost completely (see that man and Lucy and what they could do) but it’s the ending that makes up for it. The ending is so unexpectedly… unexpected. (Yes, I’m so very helpful, I know.) But really, I’m struggling not to spoil it because the ending is one of the most remarkably different things about this book.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh my face! The smiling won’t stop and my cheeks are going to pay the price later today, seeing that it’s 3:00 in the morning, and I’m still up thinking about Cath and her sister and her father and the boy (but not boy.)

Rowell writes the odd but endearing so well, doesn’t she? Cath is insecure and unsure and a little too attached to her twin sister. They drift and things shift then more and more people enter her life even if she’d like none of those to happen. And we see her change ever so slowly, but still remain her odd self. To start, there's her and her sister with a remarkable truth to who they are and were becoming for each other. Wren and her being her own person contrasted to Cath and her being happy in what they’ve got and feeling… ergh, abandoned, I suppose by the choices of the other. There’s this impression made of being pushed out despite feeling unprepared for what's to come-- something I totally got/ do get. But more than the sisters as sisters, there’s them as a unit… or not being much of one because there’s their father too and her need to be there for him crowding in with her memories of (not) picking sides. It’s this side of the story that’s leans toward the heavy with the father adding a touch of sad, to Cath who all alone was already such a sad figure (that is when she wasn’t being that awkwardly sweet-odd. And then she’d show the understandably hard side too… the bitter one, that’s totally spot on with the inability to let go.

I even enjoyed her building new connections when she’d expressly stated she wanted the exact opposite. Because to her odd quiet self, there’s the roommate with her worldly-wise, take no crap manner; taking Cath under her wing as she did just like those kids did in Perks Of. Though here the effect was less “after school special” in effect and more humorous thus more relateable as a consequence. In effect she had me wanting one my own Reagan’s. 

Then I swooned,  and am possibly still swooning (though perhaps, my current light-headed state may be on account of my lack of sleep,)  over her and the not-boy! Mainly because she could be so immersed in what she was doing, and she could also be so completely clueless about everything else so that when she wasn’t clueless anymore, well each moment spent with them together had a shiver running up my back. There’s a local term that escapes translation, but kilig is how things felt. Look it up, why don’t you, because right now, I’m still on a high over them and everything else in this book.


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Foreplay (The Ivy Chronicles, #1) by Sophie Jordan

Foreplay (The Ivy Chronicles, #1)Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sometimes something mindless is what works for me. Check reason in at the start, for in this we have a girl in love with her best friend’s brother, looking to gain some experience to better that relationship that she’s so sure is going to come to life. Enter hot bartender dude, who’s going to answer all those little questions she’s got. Queue the unexpected (but let’s face it, completely expected) rearing of true colors and falling for the most unlikely’s  for both of them. And this is me, not surprised by the turn oft events but still highly amused for a couple of hours. So despite the title “FOREPLAY” this was cute and funny more than it was sexy but it did get steamy for a couple of moments then reverted to being cute/funny and yes, a smidge frustrating too, but  hey… not bad for a read you can finish in one sitting.

It was OK.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Unteachable by Leah Raeder

UnteachableUnteachable by Leah Raeder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maise owns everything and everyone in this one. If this is the direction that NA is taking, I’m all for it. None of that girl who knows nothing business, we’ve got the antithesis to that. There’s an awareness on her part on who she is and what she does though not necessarily a consciousness of the outcome of either. There’s an honesty to why she does things and to an extent, there’s also an honesty to the guy… (I repeat: to an extent.)  Both of them own what they’re doing… they both acknowledge the screwed up place their starting things/ bringing things.

I’m still unclear on some things: pegging her victim/non-victim, pegging him the seduced/seducer… Should we? Shouldn’t we? Still, take the take the two as is, and it’s clear that they’re not just that/ not any of those at all... sometimes. She’s NOT just young girl eyes opened by him. He’s not the good guy led astray. They’re their own people, each with a past that murked up how I saw them together then separately.

So they have forbidden connection that’s described quite explicitly. Raeder doesn’t shy away from how that aspect makes their connection stronger. It’s clearly one of the things that draws both two each together; yet, it’s equally clear that their connection doesn’t stop at the physical. Her pondering on their what-after, makes that crystal too. Basically, beyond the physical, we’ve an actual connection that had me wondering so many things. The fact revealed about E particularly… has me wondering. Is he that simple? There’s that ending too, going a direction that felt almost too happy, in contrast to everything else in UNTEACHABLE… it’s about the only thing that felt out of place in this one.

well done, leah raeder!

your maise owns absolutely everything in this one.

and i still don't know where to begin or what to say...o.O

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just One Year (Just One Day, #2) by Gayle Forman

Just One Year (Just One Day, #2)Just One Year by Gayle Forman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The romantic in me let out a deep sigh after all JUST ONE YEAR was over. Recall, Before Sunset when the reporters were peppering Hawke with those questions of did they/didn’t they. As in did they meet up? Was there a Happily Ever After? Then fast forward to him making that painful-sad revelation of he did, but she couldn’t. God, heart-clutch moment, yes? Or was it just me? Thus, I hope it's not a stretch, but this whole book had me imagining the time in between Sunrise and Sunset… and if Hawke’s character were richer, ballsier, or whatever  “er”, well, said character would have likely been doing exactly what Willem was … pulling me in deeper with each page!

And it’s not like this is a romance, though Just One Day had me fooled into thinking that that was what I was going to get. This is all Willem. The mystery of who he could be for her/ who he really was for her took a back seat to revealing WHO he was.  Each place visited, each moment of him thinking of who/where/why Lulu was… it’s all just him. Forman so cleverly puts him in these places with the idea that it’s Lulu spurring him on… but bit by bit it’s made clear things become about who he was, is, and could be.  

So, no,  JUST ONE YEAR is not a love story or not just a love story. Willem is a little bit of Tom then Adam all over again, where Forman, cleverly pieces together a story of him finding his place, looking all over for it, ending up in so many situations unfathomable; of him digging in deep, finding parallels, and finally him settling and making his own way.

I love that the story takes him every where; that he hasn’t been and isn’t always the best guy; and that it’s about all these people and how they all link up somehow… and that they all matter in some manner to him and him to them.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Antigoddess (Goddess War, #1)Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The gods are at each others throats; we just don’t know why that’s the case and while that’s unfolding, we’ve a more human drama of a couple being in love, one of them being psychic: Cassandra knows she special, her friends know she’s special, but there’s an easy acceptance here that allows for her end of the story to take on that ordinary feel. It’s a fact that may have contributed to me not being that into her at first. But Blake cleverly weaves the god’s past into the girls present and then things went from feeling ordinary to anything but - because gods at war, right?

I love the personality the gods had in this. The story begins with all of them being less than god like, not being all knowing, being flawed and… almost desperate. They’re all a far cry form the gods/goddesses we’d recognize. Hermes and Athena then later Athena and Ody together made it perfectly clear that god or not… there’s some thing bigger and badder than them somewhere. The question’s why. And what now. The set up had the lot of them being less and less god-like; a fact that sucked me in.

Then the there’s neat way Blake took each thread of the god’s past, Cassandra’s own and then both their presents. Impressive. There’s also the horror show of what her visions permitted as well as the action movie sequences that followed with each coming together. Again:  SO. MUCH. FUN. But it isn’t just all those explosive moments of buildings blowing up and mad-crazy ancient gods doing most ungodly things; it’s the weaving of the story, of who they were with what they’ve become to  come up with something new and, at times, unexpectedly emotional

So, we started with a pair of gods whose pasts have come back to bite them in the ass, then we shifted to a pair of not quite ordinary kids, then there there’s that crazy past that some may or may not be aware of thrown in, as well as some other crazier gods a might bit more desperate than the  key players here; plus a horror sequence here and mad-dash-action sequence there, and we have Anti Goddess. I bow to Kendare Blake’s story telling prowess. Old stuff with a twist? Not at all… she’s taken these characters made them more human than the gods they are but made them feel and seem MORE in doing so. She’s also taken these kids with a little something speshul and brought into focus just how special they all really are.

i bow to kendare blake's story telling prowess. shocks and twists, there may have been many, but neither of those cancel out the effing great story this one became. SO. MUCH. FUN.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Art Girls Are Easy by Julie Klausner

Art Girls Are EasyArt Girls Are Easy by Julie Klausner

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It’s trying to be so many things all at once, but fails so miserably at whatever it was gunning for. Because what was this about really? The blurb says something, something or other on being best friends. So, now we have the best friend but not friends thing that Lucy and Indy are going through. Indy is talented protégé to Lucy’s beautiful girl role.

There’s a change in who they are for each other and the reactions that Lucy has to that change are sad and depressing… with her doing all the wrong things. So where was Lucy in all of this? No where really. There one minute then gone a for a whole long stretch whilst Indy’s manipulated by others, allowed to believe some other things, and the end result? Some pretty destructive things. Yet, opportunity is allowed to slide by here with a conclusion that has their pairing righting itself almost TOO EASILY! Is it that your best friend loves you is enough to gloss over the destructive things a girl is capable of? That seems to be what this book is saying.

Then there are all the things INDY herself wanted to say: from commercialism, to a lack of connection, to knowing what you have to say, and then working whatever that is out for yourself? Again, is it enough that your best friend loves you for these things to resolve themselves? It seems the case here. Except the book doesn’t really “say” anything does it? It wants to… but doesn’t. Not really.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Finding It by Cora Carmack

Finding It (Losing It, #3)Finding It by Cora Carmack

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hey! I actually liked this one. No joke. I’ve read it twice already… except why? I’m not quite sure because frankly, not a lot of brain juice is required to piece her secret together. Neither is much needed in figuring out what his “secret” is. And truth be told, the lead girl could infuriating (instead of endearing) in using her “feminine wiles” on the guy. But darn it! She’s rich girl with sad past she’d like to outrun (or drink under, I guess) and then along comes hot-army guy who “doesn’t care what she needs.” There’s a lot of forceful making here, but there’s also a lot of humor. Eventually, there’s also a lot of sexy. Over all this one makes my favorite out of the three where LOSING IT was not believable given the girl with zero experience turning sexy vixen (but it was funny, I will give it that!) and where FAKING IT was just too “so the drama” for me. This one manages to be spot on. It’s takes turns being darkly-sad (her), funny-sexy (them), then scorching (them, again.)


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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than ThisMore Than This by Patrick Ness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seth’s personal landscape has been given physical translation; there is a continuity he’d rather not have because there’s that sad realization that feelings of his being alone…  are not entirely baseless.

Or is it?

And for a good long while this was all heavy on the emotion because of that. Then right quick, MORE THAN THIS takes a sharp turn into the different- where not much is explained… or a lot is only half-explained. Except it’s his reaction to all of it that made it feel hilarious/REAL.

It was his skepticism that dragged me further; all his “you not real”-ing had me loving him, moving me beyond the feels he was dredging up in me to liking him because the self-contained boy had me doubting along with him. His emotions made sense to me but it’s what he was doing because of what’s revealed that settle things. So, he’s got me feeling then thinking… except sometimes thinking the wrong thing.Then things went back again! Back to the feels of me feeling betrayed for him and just wanting to hug him!

So, we went from a PRESENT that makes no sense to a PAST that broke my heart… and *tada* its new world but the typical product of the usual big explosions or deadly viral infections, but one made of choice… and this made everything else in this cold in a scary kind of way. All the discoveries made had me feeling a combination of the things that NEVER LET ME GO and UNWIND had me experiencing. Except all this is/was more personal…  Again, it’s everything he was feeling but set up in a world for him to live it.

It’s apt... the title, I mean, “MORE THAN THIS” because it isn’t just his, or Regine’s, or Tomasz’s. They’re all being called out on being the hero/victim/martyr of their own stories… but there’s a shift FROM all the calling out of the me-myself-my suffering they had going for them TO them seeing that all their individual stories happen along side someone else’s.

Or maybe not…

Because when things shifted and took on a broader scope with the Driver and the Prison and choices already made. And Mind Fuck, I say. Because this has everything I love. Sure, a lot of the separate aspects aren’t anything new, but here they’re put together in such a way… going back then forward then somewhere else… and left me so very, very  impressed.

read this... decent review in  a bit... but read this...

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Leap of Faith by Jamie Blair

Leap of FaithLeap of Faith by Jamie  Blair

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This could have been more. What we do have is simply a girl playing house. She may seem like she’s doing the brave thing but it’s clear that things do not start out that way. What I liked most is that she’s honest (to an extent) about what she doing and why she's doing it to herself. Of course, to the rest of the world, she’s lying her ass off. Still, I like this not-good but eventually good path the story gets on.

Of course, there's the requisite love interest… and may be we could have done with out that? Was the boy and his own family drama necessary for her to see that where she was wasn’t the right place? Need we the good grandmotherly type or the sad father and the even sadder son to get her to un-stick here head from the sand? In this instance maybe we did, because for  a good long while at the beginning its her being what she claims not to be: callous and uncaring, her mother’s kid.

Then things change; she changes be it because of the kid or the other people she’s so conveniently found herself with… but she does change and more drama ensues with her trying to do the right thing and breaking hearts while doing the same As well as of her doing the hard thing then coming to see that there are even more difficult things to follow. I still think this could have been more though.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2)Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Confession: I am a Rusty fan. The guy says he’s a charming mofo… and he is. He really is. In fact I’m in love with a good portion of the supporting cast in this one. In her father for instance we see where Kami gets her snark from.  In her friends, we see how the love among them does not go one way. This one’s not all about HER being the good girl/smart girl/ snarky one, either. They all fit… and I simply love them together.

The one thing that had me (almost) pulling my hair out was how the two main players heard then went with half the truth. They had me begging someone, somewhere, some to spit the whole truth out to set them straight! In the mean time, we’ve the story picking up for all of them. With Kami it was that unvoiced heartbreak she was feeling that had me likewise feeling all those feels on her behalf (but also frustrated by that same “true but not totally” thing going on between her and Jared.)

So speak of Jared. Oh, Jared, Jared…  Jared. Were we speaking of the romantic link that’s no more, I was of half a mind to drop something heavy on the kid. Yet, were we speaking of other things about him… Well, I liked what I got: there are new discoveries for the guy and countless truths revealed by him then to him. Better were all those moments on moments of him proving in spades that he’s more than just the scary young Lynburn. In doing all that, he made me happy; not to say that that he didn’t have my frustration level rising because he did. In fact… they all did. And that’s where their charm is that they made something that’s supposed to be really easy, so darned hard. Entertaining, yes… but frustrating, too.  God love ‘em.

But back to the supporting cast. (Rusty!) I love how they all do something here; they don’t just prop her story up; they’ve each got something going for them. Rusty (!) for all his easy go with the flow thang wasn’t just that. The protective serious bit that came from out of nowhere had me (has me) goofy-smiling. Or Angela and her figuring her things out all the while the not forcing things but taking them on solo?   Even Holly and those snippets of her side that she’s not just pretty girl but one loaded down as well. Then her father  (next to Rusty, he is my new favorite) and her family, how we see more of where she gets her sass,  but more the fact that her family demonstrates exactly what’s going on with the rest in the Vale. Not everyone is clueless, and those who aren’t are running scared, just not obviously. All that? All that was good (except, maybe, I’d have loved more of the last.)

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Outside (The Hallowed Ones, #2) by Laura Bickle

The Outside (The Hallowed Ones, #2)The Outside by Laura Bickle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Most of this reads different with its combination of Amish girl in the outside world that’s been knocked down by some mysterious vampire making pathogen. But OUTSIDE’s whole thing is actually faith, yet not one bit of it had me feeling ‘preached at.’ It’s this that had me enjoying the story more.  It’s dark, for sure, with them cast out as they were, struggling to find a safe place, and them encountering the odd, the miraculous, the maybe insane, and the obviously dangerous.

So I enjoyed this mainly because in the face of all that, there he was with each bit of knowledge shared about this religion or that article of faith or that particular belief/ myth/ notion, to which his Bonnet Girl was questioning things, wondering over things, and how they’d compare toher truth. So that I came away with one clear thing: the girl’s an absolute rock. At least for the most part especially about who she is, what she wants to be, and where she wants to be. Her world’s gone insane, but not her.

Now, there’s a cutesy bonus of animal sidekick here… a bonus that I, maybe, could have done without because it felt almost trite to me. But darn it, this was a good story over all. The mismatched pair that she and her anthropologist made: him doubting the role he was to perform, and her weighing things and seeing things through (though, maybe they weren’t completely mismatched?) Each thing/ person they’d encounter as well as and each place they’d make a stop in had them seeing who they were to each other and what they brought to the table. And I liked them both even more because there’s a truthful way to the way they see each other. It’s not a love conquer all thing between them but a connection borne out of necessity. And while there’s truth to that last, it’s happily not the only thing between them. Point is I like that they’re not blind to anything about the person they’re with.

Then the whole end of the world thing… it doesn’t change them… or does it? Heh. The way things are resolved felt almost easy. Only as I later saw, nothing comes easy in this one.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

The Coldest Girl in ColdtownThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A great deal of effort is put into making it clear that the vampires in this one are not romantic. They’re different… and not in a good way. We do see a whole different breed of in-betweens. You get bit and you’re Cold (unless you’re dead of course). It’s the drinking blood that turns the Cold into the monsters. I got it. The whole bad ass girl, can take anything on (even the ass** boyfriend, I even kind of dug.) because, if anything, at least she wasn’t another one of those too pretty/too good/ too something else that YA heroines tend to be (only in her case, perhaps, she’s trying too hard to be very bad? OK, perhaps.)

So did I like this?
I’m not quite sure.
I am sure that the ending took something away for me.

But allow me to back track: The start was interesting. The lead girl is bad ass but not completely. Having survived an vampire attack when younger, she’s doing the right thing by her father and sister; she’s also got a great best friend who’s out of the picture (mostly). It’s with her (ex) boyfriend that things get muddled. Now enter Gavriel (the name itself clues you in on who/ what he is) and lead girl proves that she isn’t as bad ass as she’s like to think.

So now we have a girl, her ex, and a sexy vampire. Me thinks this combo calls for a… road trip? Egh… not quite. Somehow she’s on the run en route to Cold Town (in essence, vampire territory) and all the while links are forged and adventure is had. During which the girl proves herself more; the boy proves himself less. And you get it. Well, more or less.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma

HurtHurt by Tabitha Suzuma

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m struggling to separate HURT from her FORBIDDEN, but it’s hard especially since a good bulk of this felt similar, yet sadly, not once as "big" in impact the latter. It’s a shadow of the first, I suppose. There’s also a touchy subject that I wasn’t quite sure I wanted revealed, yet it’s a reveal that had me thinking so many things: Did he do it? He did what? Was it bad? Then feeling like it was probably something bad… or not because I just wasn’t sure. Eventually, I’d switch to my more a more controlled voice in my head feeling like maybe it wasn’t that big a deal. 

Yet with each moment of him falling apart with the reason still unclear, I confess, I felt myself getting less and less interested. Truth: I was never really invested in this. My need to know waned with each on-off moment he had. First all normal, then all broken, then back again… it lost me along the way so that I was simply clicking for the next portion:

Perhaps because of the poor little rich boy’s got problems feel that I thought the story was going with. Only the reveals- and there were two major ones here- proved me wrong. Yet even after those reveals, I predictably found myself shocked and angry and host of all other feelings for him, EXCEPT (and this matters) those feelings were all fleeting. Past a certain page, the emotion likewise evaporated.

There’s something I read recently that rings true for HURT. Perhaps like other things, YA is stuck “on the tired old rubric that which shocks automatically confers value.” It doesn’t.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shooting Scars by Karina Halle

Shooting Scars (The Artists Trilogy, #2)Shooting Scars by Karina Halle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m in love with one aspect of this book: how it’s not a straight bad girl turns good tale, but of one of a bad girl trying to be less bad and often times failing.

Beyond that, it gets pretty typical: him saving her or wanting to save her. And him wondering at the notion of her “being a different sort of woman” a notion that’s cut short by his realization that she’s exactly like all the other women in his life… out to screw him over. It’s so bitter sweet… how he loves her and he thinks he’s screwed him over. Actually no, it’s totally bitter.

I’m intrigued by one thing: Javier. Not a new thing I am sure. Who else gets a kick out of the bad guy being The Bad Guy?  Who else loved there being no redeeming thing in the guy: he isn’t actually mobster but all softy goo inside. The things he does and the thing she has her do all make that plain…yet there’s something that begs a closer look. His why… it’s all in her. And yet another aspect that begs a closer look! She’s bad girl, scarred past, doing all manner of things… but is she just?

The strength of these books is that not one of them is simple…that not one of them is just the good guy or the bad guy.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey

Ashes on the WavesAshes on the Waves by Mary Lindsey

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ashes on the waves…this author and I must part ways. Her Shattered Dreams book had me more than disappointed, and it seems this to shall disappoint me. There’s a whole range of things that I couldn’t stomach.

Let’s start with how typically typical it all is:
-Odd one out living the simple life.
-New one coming in and falling head over heels for god knows what reason with the former.
-Odd one wanting to protect, but new one being blind to everything but their new found love.
-Then the mystery of there being someone out to kill another.

With the oddness of bean sidhes and Nir Na what’s it, I might have liked this more except for the unfortunate contradiction the male protagonist presented:

He is the typical YA heroine. Yes, heroine. Any complaint you have of YA heroines… unaware, innocent, too good too talented… too something, it’s in him. So yes, he is typical YA heroine. And it’s all made worse by the old ways he lives and talks and of him being unaware of the new fangled what’s its of our day and age DESPITE him being almost stalkerish in keeping tabs on a certain someone.

I didn’t buy him… or any of it actually, and that’s when I gave up.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Forgive Me, Leonard PeacockForgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is straightforward and weighty, yet often funny quite unexpectedly. Does Leonard justify the actions he’s to make? Does he reason it away with an ‘ I’m this was because you’re that way’ thing? I suppose he does, but it isn’t that simple. Nothing in this is simple (despite me describing it as straightforward.)

What it is is something that makes you think, but more, it’s something that makes you feel. It’s him on the day of, telling what he’s to do and WHY he’s to do it. It’s him (re)connecting with the people who’ve been part of his making. Some of them are good, a whole lot of them not so good. It’s these connections that make it clear that the kid isn’t just a bad kid or just a good kid; scrap all that and it’s clear: he is just a kid, feeling all these things, not knowing what to do, and finally choosing the only thing he can think of.

There’s an odd feel here, particularly in the people he’s surrounded himself with. In Sort of Like  Rockstar, it’s the girl holding everyone else up. Her endless positive perspective can be contrasted to the lead in this one as he’s definitely not optimistic. Here, it’s the lead barely touching on anyone else life but it’s those lives that feel pivotal to the decision his already made.

All these connections seem unimportant, superficial even, yet at times they can be and sometimes are vital to someone else- his own. The more remarkable one is his music connection; so utterly connectionless in the social aspect, it’s a surprise how he manages to forge a link to another one who could be him. But the two split up at some point, where the other kid moves on… Leonard is stuck. And that’s the problem: he’s stuck with his past, with memories of things done by him, and worse done to him. The source of all this (the ultimate source of all this,) has me asking more questions still. And that’s what this book has me do: feel, think, ASK

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Fire and Ash (Benny Imura, #4) by Jonathan Maberry

Fire and Ash (Benny Imura, #4)Fire and Ash by Jonathan Maberry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fire and Ash. This latest installment is feeling both new and old to me. Old, because it’s basically the same thing happening… or at least a variation of the same thing they’d previously faced…hell, a continuation? Yes that’s it. It feels like there’s little growth that’s taken place. it just picks right up from where Brother John’s left things.

In the first three books, its all Benny and Nix and, even, Chong… seeing the world through older eyes; here, they’re definitely older and making not one or two preachy statements of if I were in charge, easy statements to make but lacking in something more substantial for me. There’s that thing where fault is laid elsewhere and it’s simply them dealing with the outcome. I liked that and didn’t. It’s an obvious feeling to be rooting for the good guys coming out on top given the bad bad situations they’re all in, but it’s the same that had me wondering if that was all there was to it: older people screwing things up for the younger people to get through? It’s stated over and over, I tell you. 

Now, it’s the smaller relationships in this one that had me continuing. I looked forward to every bit of Benny and Nix seeing more of who they were for each other. I especially loved Chong and his unconventional girl. (though if one thinks more on them, there’s really not that much unconventional to geeky kid and tough girl falling for each other. That’s been done to death as well, no?) But it was cute and added the needed humor without which this installment may have become a rehash, a been there and done that of book three.

Also, am I the only one feeling let down on the path that Tom Imura’s memory has gone? The first book had me and the rest of the people in the book hero-worshipping the guy. Because he simply was that good. Second book, and I’m a little fuzzy on the time line here folks, had me DEVASTATED over events relating to him. The third book had me happy for mentions of him… then wondering where the author was bringing things. But this one has me slightly upset, because there’s a new Tom Imura feeling character in town… and I thought it was going to be Benny. Only not. So now… I’m bummed out.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between, #1)Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The writing is the biggest positive here because without it, we’d have a whole lot of nothing happening to characters we’re all likely to have come across in a couple of books prior. Certain passages conjure very vivid images of an old house and odder-feeling occupants plus a guy with an old-worldly (other worldly?) appeal.

It’s a writing that intrigued and puzzled because what was she going on about? It’s the writing that had me overlooking discoveries that should have had the MC running the other way. It’s the writing that had me swallowing each moment of friends not being friends; her connections to them made little sense to me, yet despite all these I was sucked in.

Still when the nothing was over, and something was finallyhappening, what we got:  a variation of same old-same old of the new guy - odd girl combination equals odd happenings that start up with the former so obviously involved (somehow.) Still, I continued. Mainly, it was all those odd –supposedly scary- occurrences that made for a different read: odd because things didn’t get scary instead became confusing in an Alice in Wonderland way (except, confession time: that cat and its grin still is the stuff of my nightmares.) Sooo… there’s a combination of things here that kept at me… what those are, I still can’t say.

Perhaps, it’s how there’s an ordinary feel to all the events as told from the girl's POV despite the carefully chosen words and specific phrasing in every other moment? It really all should have been a bit more terrifying. It should all have driven her to do something… and it did, eventually; but in the meant time, we simply had a girl puzzling over why she’s feeling the why she was. And there I was with her.

So, again, why the love? The writing lays out events that felt half unreal and then later too real with the details. I mean nothing’s happening and when something was happening I disagreed… yet, each bit depicted had me coming away with a shadow of what I felt with Dark Side and Children of… (and yup, Alice, too.) This book and those just mentioned have scary odd scenes that could scare me shitless when I was younger, but don’t have not quite the same effect now.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Liberator by Victoria Scott

The Liberator (Dante Walker, #2)The Liberator by Victoria Scott

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Liberator… the one thing I loved about the first book was how UNAPOLOGETIC Dante could be. He’d say something so obviously wrong, while wasn’t OK, it was sure hell funny. There were fewer and fewer bits of those and I missed them. The other thing I was looking forward to was a new thing between him and Charlie. We get that but not enough because this time around, Dante’s to try out his new function and ‘liberate’ a new player. This new player I loved… perhaps because she was Dante in a skirt (though who’s to say Dante’s never worn a skirt? He’d pull it off, maybe?) 

So new people and old people and all these connections. Good story in the making, RIGHT? Sometimes, for a good long while in reading this in fact, I just wanted it to be over. It’s obvious from the start that people were going to pair up; a fact I’d normally be over the moon for, but as I’ve read more and more of these things, it’s painfully obvious to me that a good book needs more than multiple couples and their respective love stories coming to fruition. All the pent up lovey dovey ness didn’t compensate for the lack of goings-on. There was nothing actually happening. And that? that was sad. And painful.

do you know that feeling when you're just reading just to say say you're done with something? me... all. through out. this book. I liked some of it though....

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Friday, September 6, 2013

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I shouldn’t love any of them: Gansey and his absolute perfection; Ronan and all his tortured soul self; Noah and his there but not there moments; or even Adam and his choices(s). But like Blue I couldn’t get enough of them. I loved them for all those very reasons but mainly because MS has me impressed over her skill in taking typical little set ups and making them all “more.”

Again with the writing… it’s what has me drunk in the outcome. I shouldn’t have loved any of them. Because strip them all down, we have a hot head, a rich kid, and another out of his element (well, two actually). Plus one girl looking in. Yet the way she writes them has them clicking perfectly, that what one lacked the others made up for (and sometimes brought out). The playfulness I wanted has become more obvious; more tender feelings as well as the opposite dark ones have come out, too. And I’m feeling slightly giddy that I just read all of it.

MS has upped the ante here. It all felt bigger somehow. Bigger in what they’re all feeling; more dire in the consequences… of everything; and simply, darker and moodier overall. Darker elements of what haunt Ronan takes up a good portion in this one, but another aspect is darkness as it related to Adam and what drove him is here, too. So, while all the boys have defined roles to play, while all are very “Individual”; here it’s made clear that not one of them has the market cornered on what’s dark.  Bottom line: with Ronan and Adam at the front, this book’s taken on a darker vibe.  And I loved every bit of it!  From the romance (but not quite), to  Blue and decisions in the making. From Ronan and how not “nice” he could be, to Adam and Gansey and their particular connection, it all just worked.

The quest for the kings not over, yet they’re each de-railed somehow. And with a hit man who’s not shy about what he does as well as Blue’s family that’s always been out there, this group of kids who’re being looked on even as they look in on thing s they don’t have … all of them have each their individual stories woven together in this odd-but not odd, scary-but not really read. And man… it’s all in the writing! This was simply delicious to read.

I want to make movie comparison to how the odd-scary is made plausible and never once never boring. But I’m coming up blank. It’s far fetched in conception but otherwise real in the emotion with connections propelling things on. Because that’s this book: the far fetched made real, of boys and their quests that they all should be too old for; and of girls and boys and the places they have for each other.  I think the best things here is how it isn’t a love story for her, well, not mainly, at least. It’s more the friendship as well as the outside looking in thing that’s here.

So, Ms. Maggie Stiefvater, have I said I love you yet? Because I do. Your writing especially.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price

Zoe Letting GoZoe Letting Go by Nora Price

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Zoe Letting Go.  The slow realizations here coupled with a very detailed description of her mundane day-to-day are overtaken by how on her side the writing manages to make me feel. Zoe sounds so utterly reasonable and rational while everyone else so decidedly not, her mother included.

It’s the adults in her life and the girls she finds herself living with that make for the mystery. At first, it’s ‘where am I?’ Then it’s’ why am I here?’ Eventually, there’s a line drawn with her on one side and the rest on the other that had me wondering if there was more to it than just a teenage girl not owning her reality. Could it really be a conspiracy that included her isolated school for the different? Could it be something more than the sad girl with a sad past she’s running away from? Yes and no… ok, not really.

One aspect, the weightier one, is how the girls in this have their own story. How they all have their own start yet they’ve all found themselves in the same spot; all of them, dealing with their reasons, not and dealing with their truths, and scarily enough, sharing tips and how-to’s.  The detail that’s put in describing what they experience and how they come out of it… all reads new to me. Yet despite the individual stories they have there’s an almost too simple manner they’re all treated. Yest, individualized is what said, but that’s not necessarily what we get. Yet despite the simplified version of things, bits of this felt unexpectedly real. Another aspect, yet equally weighty, is her owning what she’s suffering and figuring things out. It’s not as mysterious as I was thinking, but it’s not as cut and dried either. Not bad.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

The Infinite Moment of UsThe Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yeesh, the real miracle is in me actually finishing this one. I feel like I’ve read a variations of this story lot’s of times already. She’s the good girl trying to find her own way. He’s the good guy with a shitty past, trying to be the good guy. They’re made for each other but doubting the same. So many doubts along the lines of:

She’s too good for him or him for her, at least that’s what they both say; She’s bound to let him down, he thinks… and so does she; She’s got her future before her… and maybe he doesn’t.

But the bottom line is how there’s a too intense, too needy relationship between the two. Does the fact that they’re young explain that? Maybe… yet It’s a neediness that bothered me most because the both of them are catches in their own right:

She really is good girl. She really does have a good future ahead of her. And so does he. Yet they see the other in slightly different ways; he sees her as PERFECT. She sees him likewise but for completely different reasons. There’s a NEGATION of each others worth in the face of their comparison. It’s sad in a way because they’re each others’ “better than me.” Romantic as heck, but there’s something that felt off to me.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reality Boy by A.S. King

Reality BoyReality Boy by A.S. King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Years after having reached infamy as the boy who crapped everywhere, the kid is still known as the Crapper... and he doesn’t want to be, given him being in high school, him having no friends to speak of, and him being in love with the girl on register #1.

So, it’s a love story; only not just because it’s mostly him (trying) to cope with who he is and how others perceive him, as well as how he perceives himself. He lives a life a governed by rules meant to manage the anger he has; anger directed at himself, at others, but mostly anger directed at a family that has less than zero expectations of him. Thing go from frustrating to angry to sometimes funny then painfully real, as little secrets then not so little secrets are unearthed: especially how he may be messed up, but he isn’t alone in that respect, and he isn’t the worse for that matter.

It’s mainly a story of family except theirs is not the typical sort (at all). There’s the usual antagonism between siblings that’s taken a life of its own. More than sister-brother hair pulling and shoving or what not, here we’ve got certain members doubting safety and security that most of us take for granted. The rest of the world sees him as The Crapper, the unmanageable one, screwed up and in the place he ought to be. But what the rest of the world fails to see is the rest of the story; the picture presented of Reality Boy is decidedly incomplete and far from what’s actually real. Is that a given? That reality entertainment is worlds away from what’s real. Perhaps.

On to the love angle: they make another odd pair of not the popular ones; and thinking thus, you’d expect them a match made in heaven, only with each their baggage said outcome, well, highly unlikely is what you get. The notions he has of relationships and girls are more than slightly skewed, but perhaps that’s to be expected given the skewed notions others have of him.

It’s obvious some of the places this story takes us, but when it’s not obvious and it’s not about how under the microscope his life was rather more about what’s not shown and what he’s holding back… things do get real. The quirky set up could have made things less, but when you go beyond “Reality” in Reality Boy, this does get authentic and yes… real.

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