Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Alienated

Alienated
by Melissa Landers

When aliens from L'eihr showed up two years ago, Cara Sweeney had no idea that she'd be hosting one of them at her house for a year as part of a student exchange program.

While her brother goes to the L'eihr home planet, Aelyx comes to stay with Cara and her family. There are two other L'eihr students on Earth, as well, and all three have a mission from their home to be ambassadors for peace.

Of course, all three have a mission of their own, which is not in the plans for everyone else.

So, while Cara works to make Aelyx comfortable and help him adjust to life on Earth, Aelyx works to destroy the alliance that his Elders have worked so hard to create. He believes that the plan to eventually bring humans and L'eihrs together is one that is doomed to fail; he's just going to make sure it fails faster.

What Aelyx and Cara could never have imagined was finding true friendship in each other, even when all the other people around them begin to betray them. And love? That was never supposed to happen.

Final thoughts: Nice start to a trilogy with some solid relationship building between the characters. This is very good at show instead of tell and definitely has some real moments. There were a few points that seemed a little forced, but the overall message is clear and even a little relevant when it comes to discussing tolerance and extremism. I'm not sure that I'll go looking for the next book, but I don't think I'll ignore it if I see it.

Rating: 4/5


Anomaly

Anomaly
by Tonya Kuper

On the day Josie turns the same age that her brother was when he died, her boyfriend dumps her. She's also suffering from extreme nausea and headaches, so it's just been great day all around.

When a guy shows up on an amazing motorcycle, just feet from where she's sitting, Josie imagines him to have the perfect hair, perfect eyes, and a special tattoo. She's shocked when he takes off his helmet and looks exactly as she imagined.

Reid's pretty shocked, too, since that's not how he looked when he got up that morning.

It doesn't take long for Reid to find Josie and explain to her that she's an Anomaly: a person who can manipulate the reality around her. He also explains that she's in great danger because of who and what she is, and that he's got a very limited amount of time to train her before she's found by those who would either have her join them or die.

Now she has to master her abilities to change the world, while also trying to keep herself from losing her heart to Reid.

Final thoughts: Such a great premise and such a poor book for it. The rules keep changing. You can't Retract something that hasn't been Pushed into existence in the first place, but they keep Retracting things from nature (like sand, though the author says Josie Pushes a hole, rather than Retract the sand). Reid worries constantly that Josie will hate him when she discovers his true identity, but her reaction is the opposite. No, wait! She'll hate him when she finds out what he did before her brother was killed, but she eventually understands. No! Wait!!! She'll hate him when she finds out what he really did! Oh! And there's a tiny plot about handing off some amazing serum to the Vice President, and that ends up being just a setup for some strange plot manipulation that just comes off badly. There's also an error in the plot where Josie mentions something about going to something that Reid was at years before and this was mentioned before Reid revealed his true identity, so how would she know that??
Meh.

Rating: 2/5 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Guardian

Guardian
by A.J. Messenger

Declan's life has never been easy. Repeated panic attacks have made her life pretty hellish. Having a huge panic attack on her eighteenth birthday is definitely how she wanted to start the first day of her adulthood.

In walks Alexander Ronin. Tall, gorgeous, and strangely into her, he is everything she's never known that she's always wanted. She's drawn to him, as is every other girl in school. When she's near him, the panic attacks seem to magically go away. She feels calm and centered, and very much attracted to Alexander.

Over time, Alexander reveals that he's not your average guy. He's not even your average human. And he's definitely not the eighteen years of age that he pretends to be.

He's there to protect Declan because she's in real danger. And though he needs to stay close to her, he also needs to stay far away, because his attraction to her is as dangerous to her as the danger he was sent to protect her from.

Final thoughts: Decent read, though there are some story holes and a few issues with characterization. For the relationship, there's a lot of tell instead of show, but the overall story is interesting.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Something True

Something True
by Kieran Scott

It's time.

True only has one more couple to match up and she'll be free to return to Mount Olympus and become Eros again.

She'll also be able to have Orion back with her and his memory will be restored.

Of course, the last person to match is actually dating Orion right now, so she'll have to break them up first.

Additionally, Orion's last lover (and her brother) have been sent down to Earth and are now looking for both of them. 

They want Orion back and they want True dead.

So True must break up her boyfriend's relationship, get his soon-to-be-ex to fall in love with someone else, avoid a couple of ticked-off gods, and do it all before the sand runs out on the desktop timer.

Final thoughts: It's the final book in the trilogy and it's just as much cotton candy as the first two. The ending is a true deus ex machina and a little too easy, but it's still fun.

Rating: 3/5

The Fall

The Fall
by Bethany Griffin

All her life, Madeline Usher has lived within the manor that has been handed down through the family for generations. Every Usher who has lived there has been trapped there.

Once the House has you, it never lets you go.

And the House has Madeline.

Madeline is the House's favorite Usher. She's possibly the one that the House has loved more than any other. It has watched over her all her life and it has made sure she's never gotten far from it.

In the beginning, Madeline trusted the House and believed that it was watching out for her.

But now she knows better.

Now she knows how truly cursed she is and she must find a way to save herself and her brother before the House finds a way to trap them forever.

Final thoughts: This is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" told from Madeline's point of view. The entire story is told in short chapters that initially alternate the timeline of Madeline's childhood and teen years. The book and the short story mashed together right near the end, which made for some confusion since I've never read the short story. It felt like the finale was rushed because the author assumed that the readers would know how it ending. The story itself is fascinating, though a little ponderous. It drags in places and wanders a little, but it's overall a decent read and worth the effort.

Rating: 3/5


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Complete Nothing

Complete Nothing
by Kieran Scott

By some miracle, True Olympia (Eros) was actually successful at getting a couple to fall in love. Now she just needs to get two more couples to find true love before the sand in her hourglass runs out, then she can return to being Eros, return to Mount Olympus, and return to her own true love, Orion.

She knows that she can do this.

Then everything changes.

Orion shows up in front of her school. He's exactly the same in every way, except for the fact that he has absolutely no memory of the Greek gods or Eros herself. He doesn't remember her. He doesn't remember that he's in love with her. He doesn't even remember everything that she's given up to keep him alive.

So now True must not only figure out how to reunite a quarterback and his ex-girlfriend, she must figure out how to do that while watching the love of her life flirt with another girl.

On top of that, Apollo and Artemis have found out about Orion and are doing everything that they can to get to Earth, get Orion back, and get even with Eros for freeing him.

Life on Earth is definitely not as easy as True had once thought.

Final thoughts: A cotton candy sequel! Just as sweet and bad for you as the first one. Has plenty of cute moments and some tension. True's issues get a little petty and strange, but it all works out in the end. Nice book to free your brain from real thought.

Rating: 3/5

Only Everything

Only Everything
by Kieran Scott

Eros has always been a mischievous god. When she shot her arrows at the gorgeous Orion and the virgin goddess, Artemis, she had no idea what chaos would ensue. After Apollo tricked Artemis into killing Orion, Artemis hung his constellation in the sky to watch over everything.

Now, centuries later, Eros has accidentally freed Orion from his starry home and brought him back to life.

She's also fallen head over heels in love with him.

When she and Orion are discovered, Zeus decides that Eros must fight to prove that she truly loves Orion. In order to do that, she must go to Earth (New Jersey, to be precise) and form bonds of true love between three human couples WITHOUT her powers.

Exiled to Earth with her mother, Aphrodite, Eros must give herself an identity (True Olympia) and must find three couples to unite before the sand in her desktop hourglass runs out.

What's easy for a goddess is surprisingly difficult for a human who doesn't even know how to dress herself properly.

This will not be a walk in the park.

Final thoughts: Total cotton candy book. A few Greek myths are fiddled with, so pedants will probably get frustrated, but if you just sit back and enjoy the ride, you could really enjoy yourself.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, January 30, 2015

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
by John Green

Miles has never really fit in in Florida. He's gawky, skinny, and pale, so he's really the anti-Floridian. In the hopes of finding "The Great Perhaps" (and maybe a few friends), he asks to follow in his father's footstep and attend Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama.

Within moments of unpacking, Miles is introduced to Alaska, who is the epitome of The Great Perhaps. 

She is 100% authentic, 100% insane, and 100% what Miles never knew he always wanted.

So, as Miles is getting acclimated to boarding school and classes, Alaska and Miles's roommate, The Colonel, acclimate him to smoking, drinking, and pranks.

He's finally found friends who are more like family and he thinks he's on the way to finding The Great Perhaps.

But then something happens that changes everything that Miles ever knew, ever thought he knew, and ever thought he might know in the future. Can anyone make sense of the world again?

Final thoughts: I admit that I'm late to the party on this one. I could never keep it on the shelf in my last high school library, even though I had at least five copies at one point. It was the rare book with a large waiting list and students desperate to read it again and again and again. It's very well written and powerful, but it's biggest draw is the way it addresses some very deep topics. There's friendship, family, peer pressure, sex, drinking, smoking, cliques, and death. This is NOT a fluff book and it's definitely not cotton candy. This is full of angst and mature themes. It's powerful and worth the read for older teens and adults alike.

Rating: 5/5


Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Watchers

The Watchers
by Lynnie Purcell

I'm skipping the book talk on this one because it's just so very wrong in so many ways.

This book is basically Twilight but with the author addressing all the complaints that people had about Twilight.

So Clare's the daughter of a flighty human and a fallen angel. She's been stalked most of her life because she's not only different from humans, but also different from the other half-breeds out there. Like Bella in Twilight, her powers have come on strong long before they were supposed to, but the author wants to believe that she's not Bella because she's really graceful, instead of clumsy, and she has a snarky sense of humor.

Edward... umm.. sorry! Daniel is a half-breed who's killed quite a few bad guys in his long life (he's now 118 years old). He also goes to high school to keep up appearances and has been "adopted" by two other half-breeds who help him maintain his cover as well as the cover of two other half-breeds. One of those is a half-angel named Jackson who never feels major emotion. (As in Jackson Rathbone who plays Jasper, the empathic vamp who controlled emotions.)

Clare can read minds, while her destined love can not only read minds, but see the future. And he's perfect. He is also the anti-Edward because he doesn't stalk Bella... um, Clare... but instead waits for her to invite him to come into her bedroom whenever he wants, so it's not stalking anymore. He also doesn't force her to stay behind, but only because she'll do whatever she wants anyway. 

There are a ton of similar moments like her not waking up right away and Edw... Daniel... panicking. Enemies finding a way to get Bel... Clare... separated from the others in order to do whatever they wanted to do. Mike is there in this one, though he's a little more sinister and hard to dissuade, and he, too, has a girl who is jealous of Bel... Clare... because of Mike's attention. "Irrevocably" is used to describe their love. There are dog-like creatures that kill half-breeds until they get one that's on their side.

So much more. So much Twilight. So little of me wanting to read it again.

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Frozen

Frozen
by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston

The world has fallen apart. It's all ice, snow, and cold.

Nat is one of the Marked. She is among those who the government has deemed dangerous. Because of this, her life in on the line. If she is discovered, she'll be locked away for the good of the people and forced to do jobs for the very government that despises her.

To get away, she hires Wes, a runner, to get her as far from the ice as possible, to the mythical land known as The Blue. She has a map, some money, and voice in her head guiding her.

But she's not the only one heading to The Blue and the way there is less than safe.

Final thoughts: Messy. So very messy. This could have been amazing! But it's just a letdown. The premise is on the scale of Game of Thrones, but it's all handled badly. It's more like a really poorly edited epic story, shortened and abridged to take out all the details. It's a shorthand version of something that had the potential for greatness. Moments that could have been meaningful end up being chopped up and nearly impossible to understand. Ideas are made up and jammed in to explain the unexplainable and then are never mentioned again. So, while the basic plot is decent, the overall follow-through is horrendous.

Rating: 2/5


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Don't Touch

Don't Touch
by Rachel M. Wilson

Caddie has always had games that she would play with herself that she believed would keep her world in order. If she kept extremely clean and washed constantly, the world would make sense.

For a while, the games controlled her. But she got counseling and things got better. Things seemed to work out even without her games.

Now, however, her parents have suddenly separated and Caddie's games begin again. 

If no one touches her then her dad may come back. And she means that literally. No skin to skin contact whatsoever. She avoids all touching at all costs. If she gets touched, that means she has to go back to washing again to scrub off everything that might stop her dad from coming home.

High school is difficult enough to get through with her games, but she's now been cast in the school's production of Hamlet and she's Ophelia. 

Acting means trust. 

Acting means sharing. 

Acting means touching.

And touching means that her father will never come home.

Final thoughts: Great story about OCD and how it affects not only the person afflicted, but all those around her. Three-quarters of the book is really amazing and draws the reader in. Unfortunately, the last quarter is a little messy. The book feels realistic and the author has end notes that include her own struggles with OCD, so there's definitely a feeling of honesty in the pages. Great book for those who suffer from or know people who have OCD.

Rating: 4/5


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Infandous

Infandous
by Elana K. Arnold

Sephora's life has never been easy, but she's always had her mother to love her and she's had art to keep her sane. As long as she has both, she can make it through anything, even the secret she's kept for the last few months.

Her mother's beauty is so amazing and enthralling that Sephora often compares her to a mermaid and focuses much of her art on recreating the emotions she and others feel when they look on her almost mythological beauty.

She's also fascinated by the grittier stories of fairy tales and mythology. The version that she loves best of Sleeping Beauty is harsh and filled with cruelty. It's truth feels more real to her than much of her own life. 

Now she must face the summer before her senior year and find her way past her secret because there is no way she will share it with anyone.

Final thoughts: This is a good companion to Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, though aimed at a more mature audience. The fairy tales and myths are told using the original, non-Disneyfied, versions with all the rape and cruelty shared by the Grimm Brothers and Bulfinch. The story itself really has no plot and is more of a coming of age tale as the reader is slowly immersed in Sephora's world and given insights into her reasoning. I have two real issues with this book: 1) is the focus on her mother's beauty. It's repeated over and over that her mother makes all heads turn, that she'd been a supermodel before she had gotten pregnant, and that it was her pregnancy that ruined her career. However, there are many models out there who've had families and then have successfully returned to their careers, so why couldn't Sephora's mom? Especially if she's such a head-turner? The second issue I have is the author's writing style with almost never using capital letters. It's so frustrating that there aren't even capital I's. I get that this is a choice that has been made, but when things like acronyms come up and the first letter is lowercase, but the next two are upper, it's annoying. Sephora's story is powerful, but it does get a little lost.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Faerie Guardian

The Faerie Guardian 
by Rachel Morgan

Violet Fairdale is poised to graduate at the top of the Guardian class and may even be the best Guardian to come from the Fae Realm in years. Everything is going perfectly for her until her latest rescue not only sees her, despite her glamour, but also hitches a ride from the human world into her world.

Now that she's accidentally broken rule number one, she decides to go ahead and break a few more rules on purpose. She repeatedly goes to see her new human boyfriend and even brings him back to the Realm a few times.

Unfortunately, other faeries and fae have found out about Violet's friend and a few other secrets that lead to even more secrets and more intrigue.

It seems halflings and fae are being sought for their special gifts and Violet's high on the list of targets.

Time is running out, not only for Violet, but for everyone she knows.

Final thoughts: Meh. Not fabulous and not awful. I found myself putting the book down repeatedly and then delaying picking it up again. Overall, it was decent, but I really didn't care about any of the characters that much. I definitely can't believe that Violet was so amazing since the only reason the reader knows that she may be is because everyone in the story keeps saying that she is, with little to no evidence that it's true. There's more to the story, but I don't think I'll follow through with reading those books.

Rating: 3/5


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Rose Master

The Rose Master
by Valentina Cano

When Anne Tinning turned seventeen, birds fell from the sky. A murder of crows simply passed some line and dropped to the ground.

That should have tipped her off that something was very wrong.

When she is called to see the lady of the house, she is informed that she is to move to a new home and a new job in two days.

Something was definitely wrong.

At her new home, there are no visitors, no leaving once in, almost no staff, and the master of the house is rarely out of his rooms.

It's also the middle of winter and roses are in bloom all over, completely surrounding the manor.

The freezing cold that permeates every inch of the home guarantees that something is wrong.

Anne must make the decision to stay and try to stop the evil that is everywhere or leave before that evil destroys her.

Final thoughts: Nice little mystery, but nothing wow-worthy. It does have a few haunting moments, but it's all pretty generic. This will add to a collection and tide over young adults if they need something with a bit of spookiness that's not really scary.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This Is Your Afterlife

This Is Your Afterlife
by Vanessa Barneveld

It's only been a few months since her beloved grandmother passed away and Keira would give almost anything to see her again, but she wasn't born with the gift to see the dead.

Or so she thought.

When star football player Jimmy Hawkins disappears, the whole town hopes to see him again, but only Keira can.  He popped up in her bedroom with no knowledge of how he died and no idea where his body lies.

Now Keira must find help him find his body, find his killer, and find his peace.

Thank goodness Jimmy's brother, Dan, is around to help.

Final thoughts: Decent read. It reminds me a bit of The Body Finder series by Derting. The story flows pretty well and there are some good moments. The mystery is a little predictable and there are a few eye-rolling moments, but it's light and easy.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fairy Tale Reform School : Flunked

Fairy Tale Reform School : Flunked
by Jen Calonita

She's lived in a shoe her entire life. In the beginning, life was good and Gilly's family thrived. Unfortunately, when a fairy godmother figured out how to replicate the glass shoe that was designed by her father, business went bust and now they live hand to mouth.

To make ends meet and keep her siblings fed, Gilly becomes a pretty good petty thief. She has gotten caught occasionally, but she's also helped keep her family from starving, so she figures that feeding them is worth the danger.

However, when she steals a hair clip from a royal and gifts it to her sister instead of pawning it, the evidence is literally right in front of the guard who comes to confront her and now she's on her way to Fairy Tale Reform School or FTRS.  She's got a three-month sentence under the care of the Wicked Stepmother from Cinderella's story (now Princess Ella).  She'll be taught by the wolf from Red Riding Hood, the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid, and Snow White's Evil Stepmother.

But Gilly soon finds that FTRS isn't what everyone thinks it is and there is definitely something villainous going on in a place meant to reform villains.

Final thoughts: Fun little read with a few cute things going on. It's the start of a series and it seems like one that will get a decent following. I liked Gilly and Jax quite a bit. The teachers were pretty interesting, as well. My only real issue was Gilly's sister and her sudden change of behavior and attitude at the end. It felt strange and forced, like it's designed to be an issue in the future and this was a set up for that.

Rating: 4/5

ARC from NetGalley

The Screaming Staircase

The Screaming Staircase
by Jonathan Stroud

It's been over 50 years since the Problem arrived.

There had always been ghost stories around the world, but a sudden increase in paranormal activity has changed everything. Now adults come in at sunset, line their doorways and windows with salt and iron, and send children out to get rid of the spirits that haunt the land.

Lucy Carlyle comes to London after a disastrous ghostly encounter. She wants to get away from the bad vibes and get a job with a company that will respect her talents and instincts.

She finds what she's looking for with Lockwood & Co.. Most of their jobs are pretty small and easy, but they occasionally get a tough one that requires a firm hand. One of those jobs goes more than a little sour and now Lockwood & Co. needs a small miracle to stay in business.

With the necklace of a dead girl in her possession (that happens to be possessed), a ghost head in a jar, a murder mystery to solve, and a big payday on the way, Lucy and her colleagues have one night to clear a manor of some of the most dangerous ghosts ever located... and they also have to survive where no one else has.

Final thoughts: Cute mystery book probably aimed at upper elementary and middle school kids. Has a few great moments, a few good ones, and only a few bad ones.  Nice read. Recommend for preteens.

Rating: 4/5

The One

The One
by Kiera Cass

It's down to the final four. America knows that Maxon loves her and that he wants her to be his queen... or does he?  Every time she thinks they are truly meant to be together, something happens to tear them apart.

The rebels are getting more rebellious. The king is pushing to get her out of the competition as soon as possible. And the other girls are spending more and more time with Maxon.

With everything going on, can America turn the tide of the polling that shows her in last place, prove to the king that she'd be good for the country, and finally get the proof she needs that she and Maxon are meant to be?

Final thoughts: The first was good. The second was decent. This third book just got to be annoying. The only thing stopping America from being happy is her own stubbornness regarding admitting her love to Maxon.  They are both idiots in this book by both insisting the other one declare love first. While the conclusion is foregone, it's also a bit too easy.  The last couple of chapters fly by and are filled with all the right deaths to make America's ascension quick and pretty painless.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, November 28, 2014

Monster

Monster
by Carmen Caine

Cassidy Edwards was born when she shouldn't have been. Her mother was pregnant with her when she was changed into a vampire, which should have meant that Cassidy died before she had a chance to be born. Instead, Cassidy was not only born, but she was born a monster.

She doesn't crave blood. She can barely tolerate human food. She only really feeds off the mana that every person carries around. Luckily for her, she only needs a brief contact to get the sustenance she needs.

Unluckily for her, she tried to feed off the wrong man.

Now she's been forced into a contract with that man to search for a dangerous vampire with a werewolf, a demon, and an addicted imp.

Maybe she can do this, but it would really help if she knew what the hell she was supposed to do.

Final thoughts: Interesting story with a few good parts.  I can see a lot of potential here, but Cassidy's naivete about her own existence and life is frustrating, as is her single-mindedness about revenge.  There's a soap opera quality to the story that gets a little strange. I'm interested in the next one, but I may not even remember that I wanted to read it when it does come out.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sweet Oblivion

Sweet Oblivion
by Bailey Ardisone

No book talk... just venting.

I have waited two days to review this because I felt like I needed some space, but this was just awful and time isn't helping.  I just don't understand the ratings on this one.  There are so very many corny cliches, as well as obvious discrepancies that this book is just really predictable and fairly bad. Nariella was fostered by a wonderful woman and an abusive man.  When the woman dies, Nari is left with the abusive guy and forced into a Cinderella-like life of keeping the house spotless, even when he destroys it, or she can't go to the bal... umm... the willow tree to meet her BFF. Just before she turns 18, she meets a mysterious guy with mysterious powers who has mysterious people following him looking for a mysterious place. 

ooookaaaayyy... 

There are so many plot holes and issues here including having no friends all her life, but suddenly having a pair of fraternal twins move to town who both think she's super cool. And the boy she's rejected, who moved away, has also moved back, so now she's got a whole clique going.

About 3/4 of the way through, someone seems to have told Ardisone that the plot holes were a little too massive, so she drops in some things to explain stuff like why Nari would still be at the home of a foster parent after the wife died. With or without the abuse, someone would have come to check up on her from time to time since she was a foster and not formally adopted. But let's just drop in a page or two to say that she was a foundling who was never reported and therefore never really a foster child. Oh! And Nari's BFF is discovered to be an amazing archer at pretty much the exact same time, so you know that that will be important later.

Nari is also fascinated by twins, not just her new friends, but she makes a comment early on about how she wished she had one, and, of course, there's a parallel story with Namine, who you just KNOW is Nari's long-lost twin (though that's not revealed here, it surely will be in the second book).

There's a simple saying that what you don't know can hurt you and yet, Nari is kept in the dark by her mysterious stranger over and over again even when she's in the most dangerous situations.  People tell her nothing and she seems to be OK with that. She also can't keep her own mouth shut and tells people all kinds of things that probably shouldn't be said, which means that will probably come back to haunt her in the future.

This is bad with tons of talking and sudden emoting with no real explanation or development. It's just not well-written and I have no need to read anymore.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Elite

The Elite
by Kiera Cass

America has made it past the initial eliminations of the 35 who started and is now one of the final six: one of the Elite.

As the competition gets down to its last weeks, America must make a decision about her future.  

She must choose between the boy she always thought she would marry and the man who has captured her heart.

She must figure out if she could make a good queen or if she would do more harm to the kingdom than good.

And she must decide which life she really wants before it's too late to decide anything.

Final thoughts: I'm wishing I re-read the first one because I felt like I was missing a few things; however, I still really liked this one once I got into it.  There are some very interesting ideas about politics and our country's possible future, which really sparks some thoughts.  I liked the development of the relationship between Maxon and America, though I really wanted to shake them at times.  Maxon's justifications for some of his decisions are poor and America's acceptance of one of them is frustrating.  Overall though, the story is well done and I look forward to reading the final book of this trilogy.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Taking

The Taking 
by Kimberly Derting 

Kyra Agnew was the best softball player her town had ever seen. She was on the road to earning a scholarship to pretty much any college she wanted. But she didn't want just any college; she wanted the college that her boyfriend, Austin, was going to go to. Her dad, however, thinks her decision shouldn't be made just because of her boyfriend's location. And that's the argument they're having when everything changes. 

That's when the fireflies surround her and a bright light beams. 

Moments later, Kyra wakes behind a gas station dumpster miles from home, with no memory of how she got there. She heads to her home only to find a stranger at her door. She runs to her boyfriend's house across the street only to find his little brother who isn't so little anymore. And she finds out that it wasn't just a moment between the light and her appearance behind the dumpster. 

It was five years. 

And, boy, have things changed! Her parents divorced after her dad became obsessed with fireflies. Her mother remarried and now has a young brother for Kyra. Her boyfriend is dating her best friend and they're at college following Kyra's dream. And her boyfriend's brother is very much in love with her. 

If all that wasn't enough, government agents are tracking her and a strange boy keeps following her. 

Which makes Kyra wonder, what really happened that night five years ago? 

Final thoughts: Meh. Interesting read and I finished it quickly, but I wasn't fully engaged. Things happened really quickly and sometimes felt like they were on hyper-drive. The relationship with Tyler was odd, confusing, and really out of nowhere (plus a little skeevy because he'd been 12 the last time she'd seen him and now they're in love?). Derting's Body Finder series was much better. Maybe I'll go reread that... 

Rating: 3/5

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

When Jacob was little, his grandfather would tell him fantastical tales of children who were invisible, or could light fires with their bare hands, or float, or lift large boulders with no effort, or do so many other peculiar things.  As he grew, Jake realized that his grandfather was just making things up and that the monsters he sometimes talked about were just stories designed to scare a child.

But when Jake's grandfather is murdered in his backyard, and Jake sees what he thinks is a terrible, tentacled creature, the grandson starts to believe that maybe his grandfather was telling the truth.

After months of psychotherapy and medication to convince him that was a just seeing things, Jake finally gets the chance to find out the truth.  He gets to go the island his grandfather had told him about and look to see if he can find the mysterious Miss Peregrine and her home for peculiar children.

At first, all Jake finds is a bombed out house with no living creatures nearby.  However, after a second visit to the decayed and devastated building, Jake encounters the children his grandfather had told him about, along with a portal back in time to a loop that repeated the same day in September 1940, over and over again.

Unfortunately, Jake didn't come to the island alone and now he has to make a decision: go home to a life and a world of people who think he's insane, or stay with his new family of peculiars and defend them from the monsters that only he can see.

Final thoughts: Okay.  I'm struggling here because this was so very popular and it even became a best seller.  My problem comes from the fact that this book is almost entirely exposition.  It's like Twilight in the sense that the only real plot comes near the end and only after a very long set-up.  I was often bored and put the book down for long periods of time.  The pictures are fascinating, but they're just not enough to hold my attention and, now that the plot has finally started at the end of the book, I just don't care to continue reading.  There were many things going for this, but not enough to keep me interested.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Unbreakable

Unbreakable
by Kami Garcia

One month after Kennedy's mother dies of a supposed heart attack, Kennedy is herself attacked by a vengeance ghost and nearly killed.

"Nearly killed" because just as her breath is being stolen away, two boys show up and get rid of the ghost.  They then whisk Kennedy away just as a demon destroys her home and everything she's ever known.

On the run from ghosts, a demon, and the police who've put out an Amber Alert on her, Kennedy must face a few facts about her own heritage and the world around her.

With the help of the twin brothers who rescued her, a young genius, and a snarky teen girl, Kennedy is on a quest to find a way to destroy the demon who killed her mom and with all the guardians and loved ones of her companions.

But the demon knows who they are now and they are running out of time to get him before he gets them.

Final thoughts: Looking at other reviews, most comments are that this is pretty much a Supernatural fanfic written by a respected YA author.  I don't know about all of that, but I do know that this book is full of a few hits and a whole lotta misses.  There are too many moments where things just happen suddenly and I found that I had to go back an reread paragraphs to see if I missed something.  Sometimes I had missed something, and I'll admit that.  Other times, it was the author who missed something and just made a sudden left turn with no warning.  I did like a few things and was pleasantly surprised at times, but it just wasn't consistent.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, October 6, 2014

Princess of Thorns

Princess of Thorns
by Stacey Jay

As a child, Aurora's kingdom is overrun by ogres who are set on consuming the souls of humans and taking over the world.  In order to protect her children, Aurora's mother bequeaths her fairy gifts upon her daughter as she dies.  Now an orphan, Aurora and her brother run to the fairies to grow and train.

Now ten years later, Aurora's brother has been captured by the ogres and she is running out of time to save him.  Unfortunately, she's can't do it on her own and she sometimes rushes into bad decisions, so she walks right into a trap.

Luckily for her, she's rescued by a prince on a quest for a princess.  Unluckily for her, he's actually looking for her because he needs to get married, and quickly.

In order to rescue her brother and stop the prophecy from coming true, Aurora must disguise herself as her own brother and keep her rescuer from suspecting anything.  That means lying to him, even when he earns the truth, and keeping her own feelings to herself in order to protect him.

Her only hope now is that she's not too late.

Final thoughts:  Interesting story that combines a few fairy tales into one.  This is not strictly a retelling of a fairy tale since it's Sleeping Beauty's daughter who is the main character, but it does have some nice moments.  We also see the eleventh prince from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Wild Swans" and we get a few moments with Little Red Riding Hood.  The romance is a little odd mostly because of the way the two characters often seem to just anger each other and lie all the time, but it does make a bit of sense.  In the end, it's a cotton candy book that's mostly fluff, with no real depth, but still some fun nonetheless.

Rating: 3/5

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