Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pawn

Pawn
by Aimée Carter

Kitty Doe has been raised to believe that everyone has an even chance.  With a simple test, every citizen can prove her worth and become a productive member of society.

One test leads to one tattoo and that tattoo means everything.  A II or III works menial labor.  A IV has a shot at mid-level jobs.  A V or VI can rise to the ranks of the powerful.  A I is removed from the population and sent "Elsewhere".  And a VII... a VII is the highest rank belonging only to the Prime Minister and his family.

When Kitty fails her test and ends up as a III, she knows that life will never be the same.

When Daxton Hart, the Prime Minister, shows up and offers her the chance to be a VII, Kitty realizes that it's her one chance to be more than just a number.  Or at least her one chance to be more than just Her number.

What Kitty doesn't realize is that she's going to have to be someone else and change everything about herself, whether she's willing or not.  And just days after she agrees, she becomes Lily Hart, niece of the Prime Minister, as she's been surgically changed to looked exactly like the murdered Hart girl.

Her job now is to end the rebellion that Lily started or more than just her life is at stake.

Final thoughts:  OK start to a dystopian plot even if it plods along a bit.  There are far too many twists and turns to keep them all straight easily and it's nearly impossible to figure out who is who or who is on who's side.  Some of the future described is actually fairly realistic, but it's not very engaging.  Decent, but not great.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lennon's Jinx

Lennon's Jinx
by Chris Myers

Lennon
  • Looks like the quintessential "bad boy with a heart of gold".  
  • Hooks up with girls because he can, but doesn't want to be tied down.
  • Famous parents who both have serious issues.
  • Adorable younger sister.
  • Uses music to get away from his problems.

Jinx
  • Afraid of men since an incident three years before.
  • Has an evil Step-Monster who rats her out to her mom on a regular basis.
  • Parties a little too hard.
  • Still in love with her ex.
  • Uses music to get away from her problems.

Together
  • They are able to bridge the gaps in their lives to find something real.
  • They take care of each other.
  • Find better futures.

Final thoughts:  Not very realistic for realistic fiction.  The situations are odd and I just can't understand why people would think Jinx is the "good girl/virgin" when she's such a heavy party-goer.  She regularly gets drunk and keeps a stash of "but it's medicinal" marijuana in her house.  The sheer amount of alcohol served to these seventeen year-olds is astounding.  Even the "responsible" adults let them drink wine.  And, I'm sorry, but there is NO WAY a doctor is going to let a 17-year-old make life or death medical decisions for his little sister when 1) the guy is NOT an emancipated minor, and 2) the birth parents are standing right there.  It's an interesting read while you're in it, but may not be worth the effort of reading the next ones.  Melodramatic and yet bland at the same time.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Break-Up Artist

The Break-Up Artist
by Philip Siegel

Ever since her older sister was left at the altar and her best friend left her for a guy, Becca has been on a mission to help girls avoid the "trap" of love.  A little writing on a bathroom wall for advertising and her career as The Break-Up Artist began.
 
For a hundred dollars, she'll break up almost any couple, usually with just a simple text or a simple plot to create misunderstanding.  Sometimes it's just too easy for her.

When Becca's hired to break up the premiere couple at her high school, which just happens to include her former BFF, it's a challenge she can't resist, especially since the person hiring her is paying much more money.

At the same time, Becca's falling in love, too, and her choice for a first boyfriend definitely breaks the rules.

Final thoughts:  Cute, cotton candy book, but not amazing.  It starts off pretty well, but there are so many characters and so many different couples referred to that it gets a little confusing.  Becca's first "love" is a fairly annoying part of the story and pretty unbelievable given her history.  Overall, it's a decent read and will be fun for many.

Access to this ARC provided by NetGalley.  Book scheduled to be released April 29, 2014.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Graveyard Shift

Graveyard Shift
by Angela Roquet

With three hundred years of reaping under her belt, Lana Harvey definitely feels like she deserves a vacation.  Unfortunately, Reapers, under the orders of the original Grim Reaper, don't get time off.  They were created to collect the souls of the dead and move them to their destinations, not to take vacations and slack off.

But while Lana may do her job, she does it barely well with barely any effort and barely anything to show for it.  Why should she cozy up to the bigwigs, get more schooling, and try for promotions when she's never going to truly be free?

Life's pretty good without having to strain, stress, or study.

Of course, Lana's plans go out the proverbial window when she's given an unwanted and unasked for promotion to find a special soul.  And when demons decide to also go after that soul, Lana has a LOT more problems than she ever thought she'd have.

Final thoughts:  Cutesy.  No big deal.  Kind of bland.  It felt like the author was determined to show off how much she knew about all the different religions, their gods, and their beliefs about heaven and hell.  Maybe this started as a final project for a religions course? While the philosophy behind post-life existence and the creation of the deities was interesting, it's not the story and the story got bogged down by the philosophy.  Glad I got it free for my Kindle on Amazon because it means I don't have to worry that I paid for it.  And I definitely don't need the next two books.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Out of the Easy

Out of the Easy
by Ruth Sepetys

Josie Moraine was named after a famous whore by her whore of a mother; but Josie is no whore.  And while she does work as a housemaid at a brothel, she doesn't want to be one of the girls who works in the upstairs rooms.

Josie's got plans.

If she can save up enough, she can get out of New Orleans and up to a private college where she'll finally get away from her mother's reputation.

But things are never easy in the Big Easy and Josie's got more trouble than she can handle.

Final thoughts: Historical fiction set in 1950's New Orleans, but that was sometimes hard to remember.  The tone and language often felt much older, as if it was set a hundred years before.  Josie is an interesting character who has read much, but is still a little naïve. I loved Willie, the madam of the brothel Josie cleans.  Cokie and Jesse are pretty great, too.  Some of the story felt a little forced, as if designed to create conflict, but not really desired as part of the overall by the author.  A good story with some well-written "real" moments.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Goodbye, Rebel Blue

Goodbye, Rebel Blue
by Shelley Coriell

Rebel Blue is aptly named.  She's never been one to follow rules.  As a child, she and her mother traveled the world, went barefoot, and went wherever they wanted to go.  Her life was rebellious from birth.

When her mother died in a tragic car accident, Rebel was forced to move into her uncle's home, where she was regularly told that she must conform to the rules.  She needed to participate in activities.  She needed to meet people.  She needed to wear shoes.

And while wearing shoes and playing soccer may not seem like a big deal, to Rebel they were confusing and frightening.

So Rebel shut everyone out.  She became the person she thought everyone expected her to be.  She says what she wants to say when she wants to say it.  She goes where she wants to go.  And she takes off her shoes whenever she can.  She only has one friend, and even that girl only came into her life after they shared so many detentions together.

But when Rebel Blue meets Kennedy Green in detention, she begins a journey to find out who she really is and she's not anyone she ever thought she'd be.

Final thoughts:  Nice little read.  It's a little formulaic at points and I kept feeling like Kennedy's "speech" in the first chapter was just a collection of lines that the author would use later on in the story.  It was forced and somewhat unrealistic.  Rebel's evolution is genuinely written, though, and comes with a few surprises.  There is one major moment of conflict that happens so fast, it's almost missed and then it's never really mentioned again; that disappointed me.  I really think there should have been something done with that scene to continue that point.  Overall, it's a decent bit of realistic fiction.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gorgeous

Gorgeous
by Paul Rudnick

Becky Randle has always been fairly average.  She's gone to school.  She's taken care of her mother.  She's been a good best friend.  But she's nothing really special.

When her mother dies and leaves her with nothing but a condemned trailer and a phone number, Becky takes the chance and calls.  And that call takes her further than she ever could have imagined.

Now she gets to move to New York, live in luxury, and be the muse of Tom Kelly himself!  The great Tom Kelly!  The master of design!  The couturier of all couturiers!  There is nothing better.

And when Tom Kelly offers you three dresses that are guaranteed to make you the most beautiful woman in the world, you take them and all that comes with them.  This includes Hollywood, the best parties, and even royalty.

But Tom reveals to Becky, a.k.a. Rebecca, that she has exactly one year to find true love and get married or it all disappears.

What's a trailer park girl to do?

Final thoughts:  The premise in interesting.  It's a lot Cinderella with a little My Fair Lady mixed in (with an obvious reference in case the reader didn't get it).  Instead of midnight to find her Prince Charming, she has a year, but it's really hard to care.  All of the characters are without any depth at all.  Most are shallow beyond reason.  Prince Gregory is almost literally Prince William and every other royal in the book has a real life counterpart.  Even Diana is mentioned repeatedly (as Princess Alicia).  It is so very frustrating!  It felt like some teen girl's fantasy about Prince William.  "Oh, la! If only P.W. knew me, he'd totally fall in love with me and want to marry me right away.  But I'd never even get to meet him if I weren't one of the pretty people.  ::sigh::  Maybe there's some magic that can make me super, freakin' beautiful so that I can meet him, he'll fall in love with me, and then when the magic fades, he'll still see how awesome I am."  If Rudnick were female, I'd be 100% certain this was the motive for the book.  As it is, it feels like a story he was telling a female relative.  Additionally, the magic is never really explained, though Becky seems to accept it as if were nothing new.  There's a ridiculous scene where Becky fights an actual terrorist and wins.  There's all the insults to everyone out there from the English population being ugly (yes, the entire population), to how pretty people are super shallow.  And all the explaining... So much explaining!!!  CONSTANT EXPLAINING!!!!  Page after page about things the reader doesn't need to know.  There were also tons of made-up product names, like a person couldn't just use toothpaste; he had to use this special brand of toothpaste.  There's no consistency and Becky constantly runs away from her problems, making her a horrible role model in so very many ways.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, March 17, 2014

Priceless

Priceless 
by Shannon Mayer

Ten years after her sister was kidnapped and was never heard from again, Rylee is still searching for her... or at least her body.  

Ten years after that girl disappeared, Liam O'Shea is still trying to find a way to prove that Rylee killed her.

Ten years after it happened, another girl is kidnapped from the same park, on the same day, at the same time, and even from the same swing.

For ten years, Rylee has made it her job to find the missing children as penance for losing her sister; now, with this new case, she has more reason than ever to succeed.

Of course, it's difficult to succeed when there's an FBI agent who won't leave you alone, a werewolf with a pack that's hunting him down, a BFF witch who has just broken all ties, and any number of other supernatural beings just getting in her way.

Final thoughts:  Oh, Amazon!  Why do I trust you with my recommendations?  Why do I keep going back again and again, thinking this time it will be different?  This book is a mess of ideas and a mish-mash of a plot.  There's no consistency in the story.  There's no consistency with the main characters. There's really just no consistency at all.  Sometimes it felt like this was the third or fourth book in the series, because things would happen or characters would say something and I was just supposed to get it, like an in-joke.  Other times it felt like some sort of strange supernatural encyclopedia as certain aspects were over-defined. Maybe Mayer was just using this book to set up plot points for future books, since so many questions were unanswered in this one.  I am not a fan.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey

"1st Wave: lights out. 2nd Wave: surf's up. 3rd Wave: pestilence. 4th Wave: Silencer. What's next, Evan? What's the 5th Wave?" (pg. 351)

When the alien mothership showed up above Earth, no one knew exactly what to think.  It just hovered there.  It did nothing.

And then the power went out.

With that EMP, hundreds of thousands of people died in plane crashes and effects of electrical failures like elevators dropping and cars losing control.

When the mothership dropped a large pike into the earthquake fault, those along the coasts who didn't die from the earthquake were killed by the resulting tsunamis.

The survivors of that tragedy were then attacked by a plague carried by birds.

By this point, 97% of the population was gone.  Those who were left tried to band together only to be attacked by the aliens themselves.  Now, the few who remain have no one to trust.

Because the aliens don't just look like us... they ARE us.  And there is no way to truly know who is who.

Final thoughts: Alien apocalypse??  Didn't think I'd like it, but it pulled me in and wouldn't let me go.  Told from the points of view of two primary characters and two minor ones, the story flows well and does a good job creating a freaky and freaked out mood.  Excellent story with a solid ending that feels like it could lead to a sequel, but doesn't have to have one.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Night Broken

Night Broken
by Patricia Briggs

For once in her adult life, things are finally working out for Mercy.  Her marriage is solid. There aren't any supernatural creatures out to kill her. She doesn't have any major injuries requiring hospitalization.  It's all happiness and even a little domesticity.

Until the ex shows up.

Adam's ex, to be exact.

It seems the ex has a stalker and the only place she feels truly safe is at Adam's house, surrounded by werewolves, most of whom want to protect her from every evil.  And some still think that Mercy is evil.

So now Mercy must play the supportive, non-jealous current wife as Adam's ex seeks to get back into his life, while running from a man who may not be so human after all.

Add in a fae who wants his father's walking stick back, a walking stick that Mercy gave away, and someone committing ritual murders around town, and things go absolutely crazy right on schedule.

Final thoughts:  Book 8?  Really?  We're already at book 8?  Wow.  That's kind of cool, especially since I can't seem to get tired of Mercy and her crew.  We had a few missing this time.  Gabriel was mentioned once, but never seen.  Ben is in for a heartbeat or two.  Zee is absent.  But we do get plenty of wolves we've never really seen before and a little more depth for ones we have.  I hated Christy with a passion, but loved how Mercy and Adam dealt with it all.  It's a fine line being the current wife and dealing with the ex who wants back in, but Mercy treads it well.  Gary was a cool addition to the universe; I hope we see him more.  I'm glad Briggs went back to the single POV.  The last book gotten a little wonky with Adam's view in there... of course, saying that, I wish we HAD Adam's POV for the final conflict and the aftermath.  Maybe Briggs will do what other authors have started doing and post a small short story on her site for Adam's side of things.  (PPLLLLEEAAASSSEEEE!!!!)  Solid addition to the series.  And... THE WALKING STICK IS BACK!  YEAH!  Who knew an inanimate object could be so awesome?!!?

Rating: 4/5
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Friday, March 7, 2014

Openly Straight

Openly Straight
by Bill Konigsberg

Rafe has never really been ashamed of being gay.  He came out when he was in 8th grade and his parents have supported him every step of the way.

The problem is that now, wherever he goes in his home town, he's the "gay kid".  No matter what he does, people relate it to him being gay.  His mom has pushed him to become a public speaker even has she has become the president of the local PFLAG chapter.

He doesn't want to be Rafe, the gay kid; he just wants to be Rafe, the teenaged boy.

So when Rafe gets the opportunity to go to an all-boys boarding school across the country, he takes it and he reinvents himself.  He pretends to be straight and finally finds out what it's like to hang out with the jocks and just be himself.

But being Rafe, the straight kid, is much harder than he ever thought, especially when he finally finds the guy who may be "the one".

Final thoughts:  LGBTQ novel with an interesting question about how much our sexual identity and preferences really tell us about who we are.  There's quite a bit of self-reflection by Rafe as he struggles to figure out how much of his identity is made up of his being gay.  Rafe's parents are a little odd, but I love his best friend in his home town; I wish she'd been in there more.  The English teacher in me kept getting distracted by Rafe's teacher's comments after each journal entry.  Overall, a good read.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Living with Jackie Chan

Living with Jackie Chan
by Jo Knowles

It's his senior year of high school and Josh isn't spending it with his best friends.  Instead, he's moved four hours away to live with his karate teaching uncle.

He has to get away.  Far away.

He has to get away from the rumors, the stories, the looks, and, especially, her.

He has to get away from the girl he got pregnant because he can't stand thinking of that night, what he did, and what he shouldn't have done.

So now he's four hours away, living with his uncle, and sleeping under a poster of Jackie Chan.

He's also living a floor below a couple who have a baby that cries at 2 a.m. like clockwork.  And he's living in the same building as fellow high school senior, Stella.

Now he has a routine each day and a plan to just get through his last year of high school before moving far away from the life he thought he didn't want anymore.

Final thoughts:  I only found out after that this was the sequel to Jumping Off Swings, but that doesn't mean I was lost.  I wish now that I'd read the other book in order to understand Josh's friends a bit more, but the story still reads well.  The thing that actually bugged me most of Josh's uncle, Larry.  He just seemed like an ADHD teen hyped up on sugar... all... the... time.  He had a few moments of great restraint and insight, but he was mostly bouncing off the walls, showing off his karate skills, and acting like a little kid.  But I liked Josh's story and his friendship with Stella. Nice story.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Fever

The Fever
by Megan Abbott

Deenie lives in a small town with her brother and her dad.  Her mother left years ago after having an affair.  In addition to her family, Deenie has her best friend, Lise, and a couple of other girls with whom she spends her time.

One day, Lise has a violent attack in the middle of class and collapses.  She ends up in a coma in the hospital.

When another friend suffers an attack, parents become worried.  As a third girl falls, the one thing that connects them all is Deenie.

As the panic grows, Deenie searches for clues to find out what is really going on.

Final thoughts:  Bland and confusing.  There are multiple points of view, a couple of which are just unnecessary.  The author goes out of her way to misdirect the reader, with no real purpose for doing so.  There's also a preachy quality, as if Abbott is very anti-vaccine and uses the HPV vaccine as the prime suspect in all of the attacks.  The real reason for the hysteria is never really explained at all even after the initial cause is revealed.  Maybe there was an attempt being made to explain the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials, but that never really worked, either.  Blah.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, February 7, 2014

Promise Me Something

Promise Me Something
by Sara Kocek

Reyna Fey just can't seem to get a break.  Her mother died when Reyna was just seven years old. Her father was in a near-tragic accident that put him in a coma from which he's just starting to recover.  And she's been forced to go to a different high school from all of her middle school friends due to a redrawing of the district lines.

She's alone on the first day of school.  Until Olive Barton shows up in her life.

Olive is different from anyone she's ever known.  She's brash, loud, and speaks her mind no matter what.  She's also gay and Reyna's never known someone who was gay before.

Reyna was raised Catholic, so she has a difficult time dealing with Olive's admissions.

When a train accident changes Reyna's world, she must face many questions in her life head on.

Final thoughts:  Started one way and ended another, with a winding story that touched on many issues, but never settled any of them.  Reyna's Catholic and hates foul language in the beginning of the book, but her religious issues don't even come up with Olive's admission. Everything deals with how Reyna is trying to fit in with the crowd, but even that is barely covered.  Could have been so much more.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant
by Joanna Wiebe

Anne Merchant is used to living near the very rich.  Her dad is the mortician in a small, wealthy community and Anne is his "weird" daughter with the crazy, bipolar, dead-by-suicide mom.

Two years after her mother's death, Anne is sent to Cania Christy, a boarding school on a small island, dedicated to the education of the children of the ultra-wealthy.  Anne has no idea how her father can afford the tuition, considering his lack of funds, and she has no idea what the tuition would even be for a school where the students all wear the most trendy clothes from the choicest of designers.

What Anne does know is that there are secrets at Cania Christy.  Every student has a guardian who watches them 24/7, grading them on every tiny decision and mistake.  Every student has a PT, or "theme" that guides them through all of their classes.  The student who succeeds the best at achieving his or her PT is the Valedictorian of the class.  And being Valedictorian is what everyone wants... everyone.

So Anne must now find out the truths that everyone else seems to know, before she gets expelled from what could be her last chance.

Final thoughts: I liked it as I read it, but now have questions after it's done.  Some of those questions are spoiler-ish, so I won't go into them here, but they are bugging me.  It also ended on a kind of cliffhanger that felt kind of forced and like the author wants a guarantee that the reader will be back, instead of making the reader want to come back with an excellent story.  Anne was OK.  Ben was a snooze.  Villius was evil incarnate.  And the rest of the students were caricatures and stereotypes.  The mystery itself was actually quite mysterious, though.  Don't look deep at this one as you read and you could really have a good time.

Rating: 3/5  (4/5 as a read it... but the questions... the many questions...)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Spellbinding

Spellbinding
by Maya Gold

Abby has spend her entire life being invisible.  No one notices her and that's OK.  The only person she wants to notice her is the cutest, most popular guy in school, but being ignored by him only helps Abby because there is no way she wants to get noticed by his girlfriend and mean girl of the school.

Suddenly though, things are changing.  Things happen around Abby just because she thinks them, even if she doesn't really mean them.  And things really start to go her way when she turns sixteen and finally gets her license.

With her license, she now has some freedom.  Like the freedom to drive over to Salem and see the cute coffee-shop guy, Remy.  And the freedom to get a job near the coffee shop, making it a guarantee she'll see him often.

But Salem has a history, and Abby is about to find out how much that history means to her.

Final thoughts:  Meh.  So much awkwardness.  Too many standard "moments".  Too many unanswered questions.  And too strange an end resolution.  The story just flips around in the timeline with flashbacks occurring with no warning, and changes in time and location occurring between one paragraph and the next.  Abby is all over the place being a good girl when required and then planning revenge spells and love spells in cruel ways.  She gets one guy to fall in love with her and then basically ignores him except when at school or if it's needed in the story.  The mean girl thing goes really far and then flips it by making the reader feel almost sorry for them.  Abby isn't really sympathetic and there just is no real reason to care about her, Remy, or the story in general.  And what's with the dad's girlfriend?  What is the point of having her there at all?  I kept expecting her to be a part of the evil plotters but she's just a nobody who takes up space on the page.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Throne

The Throne
by Beth Goobie

It's the first day of 10th grade and Meredith Polk has decided she doesn't want to wait to "make it".  She wants to be at the top of the social pyramid now and the best way she knows how is to take the literal top seat in her first class.  So on day one, she's the first to arrive and she claims her new seat.

However, the heir to the chair had waited for that spot for three years and he is not happy she's in it.

Suddenly, Meredith finds herself on the receiving end of a series of gum attacks and it looks like things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

Final thoughts:  It may be set in high school, but it feels like middle school.  Maybe it's because of the teens I see every day, but the teens in many novels just don't feel like they're written well.  They often don't feel like they're in high school and this is no exception.  There's also a secondary story with Meredith finding out the truth behind her parents, their deaths, and her entire family line.  That whole thing felt odd and more like filler than anything else.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, January 27, 2014

House of Cards

House of Cards
by Ilana Waters

Sherry has been living on her own in Paris, France, for a few months now.  She's busking with other fortune tellers on the streets, hoping to get a few tourists to pay a few Euros for her predictions.  When she's approached by a mysterious man, she tells his fortune and he leaves, presumably never to be seen again.

But that's not the way the story ever goes.

The man's "friends" take an opportunity in a dark alley to kidnap her and take her as a meal to their vampire Master.  The only thing that can save her is her frighteningly accurate tarot predictions.

Unfortunately, she's now trapped, and finds that her mysterious man is, as well.  They are both prisoners in a vampire world led by a power-hungry man who is more than a little unstable.

Final thoughts:  Really?  The vampire craze needs to end with this book.  It's messy and melodramatic.  The language is stilted and unrealistic.  The characters aren't built well and the ending is just kind of there.  And please clarify how a girl on a tight budget, even with an "allowance" from her parents, can afford the amazing view described in the book.  Or how she's a prisoner, but allowed to walk around all over, even outside, immediately after capture?  It all felt strange and awkward. 

Rating: 2/5

Friday, January 24, 2014

When We Were Good

When We Were Good
by Suzanne Sutherland

Katherine is facing her final year of school without her best friend: her grandmother.  Her grandmother had always been there even when her overly busy parents weren't, so when she passes away from a heart attack on New Year's Eve, it means that Kathy doesn't have her most important person anymore.

And that's when Marie walks into her life.  Marie's a straight-edge, no booze, no drugs, no filter-on-her-mouth, kind of girl.  She talks and talks, filling in the silence in Kathy's life with words and with amazing music.

Together, they face their final days in school, as well as the anger of former friends.  Kathy learns more about herself in these months than she ever knew before.

Final thoughts: Decent read about self-discovery and personal relationships.  It's LGBTQ only in the vaguest sense, since it's not the real focus of the story, but it does impact it.  Nothing really stands out as either good or bad.  It's OK.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Unfed

Unfed
by Kirsty McKay

After six weeks in a coma, Roberta "Bobby" wakes up to find that not only did the zombies not get stopped, they've multiplied.  A LOT.  In fact, Scotland is now completely quarantined.  Yes, the entire country has been cut off from everyone else.  It's every man, woman, and child for him- or herself.

Even the military hospital she's in isn't safe.  When little children zoms break into her room, Bobby's time to recover is officially over.  On her way out, she finds Alice and Pete, as well as a new guy, Russ.

Together, they must follow her mother's clues and try to track Smitty, Bobby's on-again/off-again something-ish, and then track down mom herself.  

However, there's a very powerful, very well-funded, and very well-armed group who want them alive, though they won't be too sad about dead, and Bobby's group is running out of options.

Final thoughts: Missed the first book, Undead, so much of this lacked depth for me since the characters had basically been established beforehand.  However, McKay does a good job keeping the reader in on the most important information without drowning in back story.  Unfortunately, it doesn't always hold up when "villains" from the previous book appear and there's no way to know why we're supposed to hate them.  Ok for what it was, but I don't really need to go back and read the first one.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Out of This Place

Out of This Place
by Emma Cameron

When you're almost an adult, but you still have to follow the rules of the real adults, life can be difficult.  They make the decisions.  They tell you what to do.  They are in control.

For three teens who are getting ready to head out into the world, there are big decisions to be made.

Luke has no idea what to do with his future; he just knows that he doesn't want to stay where he is.

Casey has a father who is over-controlling and who has always behaved like Casey was the reason he never got further in life.

David, a.k.a. "Bongo", has an addict for a mother, an abuser for a stepfather, and a brother who's being adopted by a family who don't want him around.

None of them feel like they belong where they are.  And all of them just want out of this place.

Final thoughts: Super quick read since it's a novel-in-verse. The stories are interesting and the way they overlap is creative.  Unfortunately, some of it just felt forced and I was often confused by the schooling issue.  The novel is set in Australia, which functions on a different type of education program than here in the states, so I was really struggling to figure out how people could leave school and move on without graduation, while others keep studying and choose their classes to prepare them for university or careers.  I was also frustrated by the end with how the people merged and the decisions that were made.  However, for those who are straining to get through life while they wait to become adults, this is a sympathetic story.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Fat Angie

Fat Angie
by E.E. Charlton-Trujillo

After Angie's sister was captured during the war in Iraq, her family became famous... or infamous.  They were interviewed and followed everywhere.  When Angie couldn't take it anymore, she had a nervous breakdown and tried to kill herself in the middle of the high school gym.

Time has gone by and she's back at school to repeat her failed freshman year, only to find that things haven't really changed.  To everyone at school, she's still "Fat Angie".  To the bullies who taunt her wherever she goes, she's still "Fat Angie".  Even in her own mind, she's "Fat Angie".  And to her couldn't-be-bothered mother, she's just a fat disappointment.

But Angie's world changes when she meets the new student, KC Romance.  She's a girl who may be as messed up as Angie; and she may be the only person who really sees Angie for who she is.  When Angie's with KC, she's no longer "Fat Angie".  She doesn't have to try and be something she's not.  And she doesn't have to pretend... even to herself.

Final thoughts:  While I was bugged by the fact that she is referred to as Fat Angie throughout almost the entire book, except for obvious plot points and whenever she's talking to KC, I get what the author was going for.  However, I really wanted to yet at the characters for constantly using that phrase.  Angie is well-written as a character and the reader can really get into her head, especially if you can relate to any of her issues, from an MIA sister, to being overweight, to the jerk brother and/or uncaring mother, to the budding understanding of her own sexuality.  I liked Angie's growth, but was a little disappointed in some of the weird conversations.  KC's own "lingo" is odd and can be difficult to follow.  Overall, a good read, though.

Rating: 4/5


Friday, January 17, 2014

All the Truth That's in Me

All the Truth That's in Me
by Julie Berry

Four years ago, two teen girls disappeared.  Days afterwards, the body of one of them was found.  Two years after that, Judith finally came home, though she wasn't whole.

For two years, Judith lived with her captor, unable to escape until he set her free after cutting off most of her tongue to make sure she couldn't talk.

Now Judith is more reviled than pitied.  Her mother has forbidden her to even attempt to speak, even to tell her own story. So people assume that she was raped and that her maidenhood has been taken, making her a burden on society because no one would ever want to marry someone who was impure. 

But there is one person who inspires Judith and makes her want to share her story.  He's the boy she's known all her life.  He's the one she watches.  And he watches her.

When their small town is attacked, Judith must seek out the one person she should avoid and she must either learn to speak or watch everything be destroyed.

Final thoughts: OK.  Let's start off with the cover, because this is what is messing with how I feel about the entire book.  The cover is amazing, but it has pretty much NOTHING to do with the story.  The cover shows a girl with a modern hairstyle and a TON of eyeliner.  The book is about a Puritan girl and an early settlement.  She wouldn't have shown her hair, let alone had that style, nor would she have worn make-up.  So the reader opens this book expecting one story and ends up in a completely different time period, which made it a shock to read and distracted during much of the first part of the book.  HOWEVER, the book is amazing!  Written in first person and addressed entirely as if she was speaking to the boy she loves, the initial few pages take some getting used to, but are completely worthwhile to read.  Judith is well-written, caring, selfless, and honest.  Her story is compelling and her love feels real.  A beautiful tale.

Rating: 5/5

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop


Today's Question:


Do you blog for a living or for fun? 

My answer:

Both... kind of.  I like posting my reviews and leaving my thoughts about books, especially since I often forget them over time and now I've got a great place to go back and remind myself.  But I started this blog as an announcement page for the school library in which I used to work, and I've got it linked on the home page of my current school library, so it's also a work-related thing.

However, if is the question is more geared to the "do you make money off of it" type of thing, then the answer is "no".  I've never monetized the page, mostly because with only 55 followers and not that many views when considering how long I've had this thing up and running, I'd probably end up owing people instead of getting any cash.  ;-) 

 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Paper Valentine

Paper Valentine
by Brenna Yovanoff

In January, Lillian died from starvation as a result of anorexia.  It's July and she's still around, haunting her best friend, Hannah.

It's the hottest summer on record and death is everywhere.  Dead birds line the streets and dead bodies are starting to appear.  Young girls aren't making it home alive and they need Hannah to find their killer.

Leaving behind paper valentine hearts and children's toys at each crime scene, the killer is leaving clues though the cops have no leads.  But Hannah has something the police don't: witnesses.  The girls themselves are reaching out to Hannah and begging her to stop the murders.

When the killer gets too close, Hannah runs out of time.

Final thoughts: This was OK.  There was a lot to offer with this story, but I finished it and felt unfulfilled.  I wish that things had been more fleshed out.  I wish the haunting was more explained, especially since it felt like it wasn't even real for so long.  I kept expecting Hannah to realize that there weren't really ghosts and that she was a little crazy.  Maybe some of this was because Hannah kept reading like she was a child herself instead of the high school student she was supposed to be. It wasn't just that she came off as naive; she also seemed childlike in her words, her emotions, and her overall demeanor.  Her younger sister behaved as if she was older.  There were also unanswered questions like the birds and why Finny had such a terrible reputation.  Decent book, but not great.

Rating: 3/5

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