Monday, December 16, 2013

The Holders by Julianna Scott

The Holders (Holders, #1)The Holders by Julianna Scott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Holders... hmmm, I am not quite sure what to say.

I liked that we have a new spin on people with super powers. I liked that some of those super powers felt new and different (from mind reading, mind control, telekinesis and projection... Fun!)

I even liked the whole mystery school ala Mutant Academy/Hogwarts, but to be frank the whole soul mate/piece of my soul had me less than enthused.

Beyond that last thing, one is bound to get a kick out of her protective streak. One is also bound to like the powers and secrets and how-to's Alex lays out for her. I did... mostly.

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

She Is Not InvisibleShe Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So many things in this make it different: all those interesting tidbits on what coincidence is and what others had to say about it. Then the world as experienced by Laureth, her reality and how she perceives contrasted to how others do. Sprinkle on some of what's precocious in a kid brother who's not a spoiled brat! Plus a set of parents with a different tack on how to get things done.

But I feel let down...

... that ending especially had me wondering where all the awesome went. It could have been more; instead we're left with a character at first perceiving things as she had not before because of the journey her father had begun in his writing; and then... well, nothing. 

All's not lost though; I think my favorite thing here was the ideas of her father and how those opened her to all those something else's. Yet things stopped there; possibilities and thoughts and all these maybe-connections between what's mundane for one but deep and profound for another. So cool, I felt... but where'd all that go? From deep ruminations to the not deep at all  with an adventure that I still can't get behind.

Sure we could go back to this book being all about what's great for another not being the same for the rest, but really? It was like jumping back and forth between that Jim Carey movie (the scary one with the numbers) and Home Alone 2. And while I'm not exactly knocking the second one (it's a Christmas favorite, as all HA movies are over here,) it's just that the gap between the first and the second is almost impossible to bridge.  So, yes, 'let down' is precisely what I'm feeling.

Still, thank you, NG! 

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally

Racing SavannahRacing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Aha! Hundred Oaks has finally paid off! The first few books felt too much of something at one point or another (too preachy or too drama) and then less and less about girl and sports. But this pair had me coming back despite my lack of time (said lack a fact I foresee happening more and more with rhis year's end.)

So what'd with them? Her: all about the goal, with feet planted solidly on earth. But it's this same thing that had me wondering if I'd like her. Frankly, those moments of insecurity and what-for had me drawing back. Him: I still don't like it. That Kenneally us not shy about having her leads less than perfect should have me loving the same. Except... he could be such ab ass!

Beyond the two. we have the awesome bonus of their spares pairing up (kind of at least.) The others in this made reading RC more entertaining and funny. Because sure, both have that pair-unlikely thing going on, but for Star Wars blanket kid and Ms. Beautiful that wasn't all they were about.

Additional bonus: all thise characters of old popping in randomly. I just wosh they had made a stronger impression tje first tkme around because as they were mentioned or as they appeared all  I was thinking was 'that name sounds familiar.. But where?'

Being less preachy and not so much about the drama, I say HO has just gotten better!

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Secret (Elemental, #4) by Brigid Kemmerer

Secret (Elemental, #4)Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine. great. good. fine. great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine. great. good. fine. great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine. great. good. fine. great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine. great. good. fine. great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine. great. good. fine. great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine. great. good. fine. great. good. fine.  great. good. fine. great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.   great. good. fine.  great. good. fine.  great. good. fine. great. good. fine. GREAT

thank you, ng!

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Love the One You're With (Sex, Love & Stiletto, #2) by Lauren Layne

Love the One You're With (Sex, Love & Stiletto, #2)Love the One You're With by Lauren Layne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Love the One You’re With. So, recall Julie’s Dating, Love and Sex versus Mitchel’s Kiss, Cuddle, and Fuck? We’re on Love/Cuddle now, only now that’s not who Grace is, as she’s turning over a new leaf (for good reason.) Her little 1.0/2.0 split is hilarious because the changes? They’re drastic… plus, just to make things more interesting: she’s faced with a guy who goes against all the conclusions she’s made for herself about men. 2.0 is all about ball busting and cutting through BS, but the one she’s with is misunderstood.

I love that they both start with preconceptions (some spot on, others not even close.) Better is how they work with what they think is coming and manipulate the situations, themselves or each other. It’s all a game… till it isn’t, then things become more for each of them… despite them insisting that nothing of that sort is happening. They’re all so reluctant about where things were going… very “I like you… Maybe? Not?”

Basically, that shift FROM them thinking they both know how things are going to go TO the both of them being so turned around about what was happening. So. Cute.

Thank you, Net Galley!

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One & Only (Canton, #1) by Viv Daniels (Goodreads Author), Diana Peterfreund

One & Only (Canton, #1)One & Only by Viv Daniels

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So here’s a statement that merits both boldface and all caps in the typing:


Not one moment in this is annoying or over the top. Rather we’ve a girl exploring who she is what she wants. Plus, a boy doing the same. Sure, there are some messed up family connections, but wait for it… it’s not dramatically done!

I enjoyed how there’s a past that we start with linked to a present that she’s working through. But mostly, I loved the absence of clich├ęs: no bestie pushing her into unlikely situations or heroine who’s clueless about everything and nary an alpha type in sight! All of them are simply regular people figuring out what it is they want while being certain about what they don’t want:

What they don’t want:  not to hurt anyone, not to repeat the mistakes of others.

And what they do: their place, their choice… EACH OTHER! *sigh*

It’s an intense connection that they find plus an almost too-perfect matching up of interests and goals that should have felt unreal… but there’s no denying the way they clicked and the way their chemistry just sucked me in. Yet, it’s each one’s actions and the other’s reactions that made it clear: matching up wasn’t all there was to them.

And OK, so maybe there was drama: but it’s not overdone; what’s here is presented in a way that’s plausible but still had me feeling for her and the set up of things. The conflicn, especially, on her part on whether she should or shouldn’t do something or how she’d see parallels between her choices and actions versus those of another… all proof positive that she’s more than the typical NA heroine.  Plus, the emotion of it all, that ‘you can’t pick who you love’ thing is especially felt here, but beyond that it’s the realizations on all parties involved that you do get to choose what you do about the same.

Oh, next one, please.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Isn't She Lovely by Lauren Layne

Isn't She LovelyIsn't She Lovely by Lauren Layne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Isn’t She Lovely. Every time I think of the title, the song of the same name plays in my head! This pays homage to every single romantic comedy you have ever seen and or will see. What’s cute is how the characters both incorporate what they do know of that story type into what they’re doing WHILE simultaneously partaking in their own romance (intentionally at first, and then later…not.)

But more than the initially manufactured romance, there’s how things progress for them. Particularly, how they’re aware of things shifting for themselves but unsure about how things are going for the other. Things go from ‘Meet-Cute‘ to ‘I Love Him/Her… Maybe?’ That insecurity is what took the “manufactured” out of the mix, making the connection between the two all the more entertaining to witness. And sure, it’s unbelievable the things that they got themselves into, but still this does prove that the extent to which one is able to suspend disbelief is directly related to how entertaining things become. Because I didn’t quite believe all of it, but  bought was rooting for them.

So what I liked:

>That awareness on both their parts that they’re playing at something.

>That despite said awareness, a shift to the real

>The family and how non-drama things could be

>In fact, that may be the best thing in this one: the over-all non-drama-ness of things.

>Well, that and all nods to ROM COM made time and again:

So let’s start with a Boy Meets Girl by way of the Meet-Cute via a Crash Into… Hello. Then them Literally Loving the Neighbor plus all those excruciating complications of the She’s Not My Girlfriend. Then questions of Will They or Won’t They (that’s still got me grinning) because there’s one, their False Start. Two, the Held Gaze  and their Almost Kiss. And three, (oh three!) the Convenient Slow Dance as well as the whole She Cleans Up Nicely. 

All the while we’ve Sexual Tension  up the wazoo going from Unresolved to Belligerent. Eventually, there’s how Nothing Is the Same Anymore  mixed in with all those Aborted Declarations of Love, first, with his Green Eyed- Epiphany then second,  with her Maybe Ever After/  Maybe Never. Things pick up again with their Relationship Upgrade, not a Falling In Love for Cripes sake, but a starting toward it, with the First Kiss of  Slap-Slap- Kiss variety (verbal slap-slap, of course) plus the I Got you a Drawer combo.

But the Complications! Of which there are many, mainly lots of the That Didn’t Happen’s. And then Boy Loses Girl (or could that be the other way around?)  given all those questions Was It a Lie? But then yes, the Boy Finds Girl Again. Layne’s play on Closed Door Rapport,  and predictably The Grovel/ Anguished Declaration of Love,  by the way? So. Effing. Cute. Hint: it involves LEATHER PANTS. So, Exit Point? Well, sure, but only after That Big Damned Kiss and the I Uh You Too… only they don’t say “Uh.”

I really enjoyed this one.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

After the Kiss (Sex, Love & Stiletto, #1) by Lauren Layne

After the Kiss (Sex, Love & Stiletto, #1)After the Kiss by Lauren Layne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wasn’t this a movie… only in reverse?

I kind of loved it… all her plotting and him in the not knowing. Plus him and a very She’s All That set up… dude, it was so cute... both of them were! I enjoyed the little nods to Romantic Comedy (have I told you all how much I like them?) Because again thins in this one? TOO. CUTE. but sexy too.

The whole going against the grain and taking things a step further for the dating guru made for some uncomfortable situations, but it’s Wall Street and The Bet that make it all even more interesting, They’ve both got an agenda… and find themselves being swept up  in everything. So. Hot.

Give me the next one, please.

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Great by Sara Benincasa

GreatGreat by Sara Benincasa

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I finally read the inspiration for this book. And yeah, I stand by my original assessment. GREAT is… not so great. I do appreciate the way the things have been made more accessible and young and ‘now.’ Hell, there are CUPCAKES. What’s more ‘now’ than cupcakes?

That aside, I thought it all too simple: the connections, easily seen and the twists, not that difficult to foretell (and this from one who had not read the original!)

It’s an OK story. The girl who sees all and how this connects to that and so o and so forth, initially living a life foreign to how she’s lived it so far. But it’s not juts about the cool kids and her looking in. No, not at all… because she’s part of it, and if a bit disdainful of things at first, things change with each thing cropping up.

So that the way she sees herself, as really being a part of things, and consequently, being able to see the bigger picture that others couldn’t… well, that initial distance that she’d put between herself and everything… events in this have that distance growing smaller and smaller. That the picture isn’t the big one anymore, but more detailed. The specifics are what make for the interesting, and yet there was still something lacking here. (Upon reading the original, perhaps this updated version just lacks heart… it mimics and makes parallels, but lacks that ineffable extra.)

Thank you, Edelweiss!

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Night of Cake & Puppets (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2.5) by Laini Taylor

Night of Cake & Puppets (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2.5)Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

And now my head feels full of moonlight or starlight or something. Or snow. My head feels like a snow globe that's been shaken, and the glitter is swirling around it like unmoored stars.

I love that they're both so in love... this was most awesome and adorable.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Openly StraightOpenly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hollaback Girl and Boy Scouts will never be the same for me again.

Openly Straight is funny and smart; Rafe and the people around him quirky yet solid. But more than the quirks they offer and the so-awesome one-liners that had me laughing that my sides hurt, there’s the deeper point from which things start: explorations of who a person is beyond him being out.

Beyond the label, there’s that whole budding friendship then shift that takes place. It’s sweet then sweeter, till’ it, understandably, wasn’t anymore. That one part of the book has got me wanting more because its outcome is not surprisingly heart-breaking at all. Still, it’s their ‘what’s next’ that’s got me pondering.

Things make clearer sense with each moment of him recalling through his writing the numerous instances where his interactions and conversations revolve around what it’s like or not like to be out as he was, so I got it; the thing about how “exhausting” it must have been.

And I bought it, too except things took unnecessarily long in the exposition when the whole point of this is about self; not about tolerating, or accepting, or even celebrating, but merely owning who you are then opening up to see that these facets that make you up, do make you up rather than accessorize.

Read this. It’s a laugh-think-smile book.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1) by Anne Blankman

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1)Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The relationships they all have, and no, not the Forbidden Love angle either (what do you take me for?) It’s that between her and her family. It’s that between her and Hitler himself. No, make that especially, that between her and Hitler. I once saw a History channel special on Hitler and his women; this book skims on some of what that revealed. And yes, the research is remarkable. If only. If only more of it were revealed… mainly because it is what made reading this veer unexpectedly toward the skeevy and creepy. 

Surprising, considering the title truly had me expectant of beautiful prose and mysterious situations combo like that in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Blame my expectations of that sort on the title and my having skipped the synopsis again. Not to say that this wasn’t beautifully written, its elements are cleverly woven together and despite the varied things covered it all works quite well. So many aspects together, including the historical (may be) facts made more intriguing given a mysterious death then made even more complicated with hints of forbidden love AND all those exchanges within her  messed up family plus the idol worship that’d be inconceivable today.

The way things have been put together in this one, we end up with a murder-mystery set in a period when most everyone knows something or at least someone in it (Hitler, yeah?) But the questions become not about him, but about who she is to him, who her family is to him and why that’s the case. So that it’s how her own history plays a big part, how that history may have been retooled so that she’s not sure about what’s true and what’s not. There are questions on roles and perceptions that shift unexpectedly because all of it has her peeling back layers of people and time to confront the possibility that her truth isn’t the truth at all. 

The makings of a psychopath.
(view spoiler)

Forbidden Love...
...Done right.
But more than just them  it’s truth in general. That slow realization on her part that the truths she’d been raised on are not truths at all; slow recognition by her own action of her peeling things back, and letting herself piece her past together and see the horrible possibilities coming their way.

Thank you, Edelweiss!

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the DeadLove Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

She read almost too young; and I think that that’s the bottom line: she’s too young to be dealing with all that she had to. Then what she’s dealing, how it’s slowly and painfully revealed was done in a way that me even more shocked and pissed on her behalf.

That hero-worship, idealized vision she had of who her sister was is made complicated by the darker feelings she holds, those of anger and guilt and betrayal all made LETTERS a compelling read. Despite the narrator’s young voice, there’s still truth to all she’s feeling. The connections as sisters; the changes to that brought forth by the other one growing up; the roles they’d assign themselves and the shifts there because of outside factors… then a tragedy that’s left her struggling to deal with a matter she’s so obviously ill-equipped to deal with.

New day, new school; aunt instead of mother; father instead of mother and only part time at that; then out-there girls instead of the sister she’d come to count on: everything’s was changing at a point when the worst thing had just happened, so that the newness of things for her is colored by this nostalgia for what things were like with her sister in the picture and notions of what could have been for her had she stayed in said picture.

Some parts in LETTERS worked for me; yet a lot more didn’t. The letters to those she picked were yet another link to her idolized sister. Yet in the latter’s absence there’s growth in that world making it clear she’s trying to be her own person… and eventually she does become her own person. But in the meantime, it’s that the younger couldn’t be her own person and WHY that was which sort of broke my heart. Yet, it’s in seeing parallels with the lives of the rich and broken that felt a touch to precocious and precious and there fore unreal to me.

I too liked the boy because he’s not perfect; that imperfection had him reading MOST REAL to me. The imperfection of all their reactions, in fact, is what made them all real for me.  It’s each their imperfect (re)actions that hit hardest.

Thank you, Net Galley!

im split on this... on one hand a couple of the 'deeper' moments read too profound and written in purposefully to pull the heart strings, but then there were other instances, too...

review in a bit

much thanks, netgalley!

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

Maybe One DayMaybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s a relatively quick read with maybe one or two moments that I felt authentic rather than not prompted out of me given the subject matter. Overall, though I was waiting for that moment where I would stop asking ‘is this where I cry now?’ Going into it I knew there would be some sad moments, but I kept waiting for That Moment. But that’s fine, despite that waiting, the narrator is not hard to like, and her story easy to connect with.

The backdrop of them as dancers and them as more sisters than best friends made it perfectly clear:  Zoe’s not just some bystander. The addition too of that romantic development for her made things even better because clearly: even with all the sads happening, life goes on. While you could argue that things stopped at the point of them finding out what’s wrong (and for a long while that’s what seemed to be happening,) the good thing is while it seemed that way, it’s really not the case. Things were still happening, and people and perception of the same shifting … despite what they all wanted, needed even.

The new discoveries for her: that what she wanted and what’s meant doesn’t always line up; that she’s not just Liv’s best friend; that certain others could form part of her life in the most unexpected ways. It’s all realistically depicted and not over the top; in fact, that shared history between them had everything else that followed feel most authentic:

It’s their friendship that felt most real; that there’s up’s and down’s linking the two; there’s an extension of self for the two of them in the other, and I just loved that. Yet, it’s not just that they’re an extension of each other either; because there’s growth that’s basically forced to happen. Separated as they are, Zoe learns exactly what being Zoe means (the Funny one? the Nice one? Undecided? Committed or Complicated?) There’s all those facets tot her that’s explored, and I also liked that. Except of course I kept waiting for that moment: where I’d stopped thinking ‘Stop teaching me things, and just tell me the story. Now, the romance was at best predictable, and the developments because of it likewise; still… that the book isn’t just about that One Thing makes the addition of that love connection a good one.

Thank you, Edelweiss!

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Plus OnePlus One by Elizabeth Fama

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Plus One

This makes five in a series of books I’ve read over the last couple of days that’s made reference to someone’s too intimate use of tu over the more usual (and possibly more formal)  use of  vous. Granted the first four books were actually a part of series revolving foodie romances set in France. Perhaps it’s me encountering the very same thing here, that’s got me remarking on it... because really, those four foodie romances are leaps to this particular YA post apoca.. dystopia.. urban fanta.. read… well, whatever this was, it’s got elements of all those things but without any being the main thing in it. I confess I loved almost everything in this (most everything because there were those disconcerting moments of Gigi as Noma and how unexpected almost vulgar the confrontations with her could get.) 

It’s very cleverly fleshed out this alternative path the world would have gone post-Spanish Flu. That little bit of truth and how far Fama’s imagination has taken things allows us a world that’s not totally implausible as a result… but scary still… scary in the same vein as Offred’s world was (Hello, Handmaiden’s Tale.) It’s Night and Day and the why that is that creates a fascinating romp that covers alt history and speculation on what could be…  though ‘lite’ on both aspects, as mostly this is about a girl and the choices she’s to make. Plus there’s a romance that’s based on a connection not wholly unexpected.

Perhaps it’s that last bit that works best; the way most developments in this are ‘not wholly unexpected.’ Fama’s laid the groundwork for everything so that whatever eventually did happen was not that much of a stretch; yet at the same, despite the laying down of things, not once did anything get boring.

The start alone and the description of her day-to-day (night-to-night? heh.) makes it clear that she’s more than poor girl growing up on the wrong side of things. There’s a standard-feel to her at first, sure; but I mean that in the least negative way: she’s standard YA heroine: kick ass and smarter than she let’s on but wait a blink and she’s all heart on sleeve AND fly by seat of. In short: she’s a mess of a lead, but an endearing one because while there’s no perfection to her makes it’s that fact that had me rooting for her even more.

I have to point out the neat way the world is built up; no info-dumping here, instead there’s a clever meshing of personal histories and present realities that paints a vivid picture of a world divided and people with their places. Day on one had; Night on the other… then this third group that doesn’t fit in either of the first completely, Noma. It’s in these distinctions that some of the darker come out. The shocking exchanges shouldn’t have been so shocking but they still were… but those were side events, ‘exclamation points’ even, because mostly the story was of a girl trying to do right by that she loved; then the same girl opening herself up to possibilities unforeseen.

I enjoyed the more personal aspects too. Her and her family and the little dramas she’s working through. Memories of how things were and how different things had become total throat lump moments there; and even the boy... No, I am not going to go into that and spoil it… needless, there’s a sweetness between then that’s incomprehensible at first as in where did this start again, but eventual connections and well, it worked for me. Hell even the call for change and clamoring for their ‘truth’ worked me.

Thank you, Net Galley!

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