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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Song of the Quarkbeast

The Song of the Quarkbeast
by Jasper Fforde

Jennifer Strange is a foundling who is running Kazam Mystical Arts Management, one of two groups who manage the magic in the Ununited Kingdom. The Great Zambini, the mage in charge, has gone missing and will only pop back for a few minutes at a time, though never in the same place.  The competing magic company is led by one of the most dangerous mages of all time.  A bridge needs extreme repairs, which requires more mages than Kazam currently has.  And the king doesn't really like Jennifer at all.

Now Jennifer has to keep Kazam running, get the magic sorted and organized, find the Great Zambini, stop iMagic and the mage in charge, Blix, from taking control of all magic, repair a bridge, and avoid angering the king.

If only mages weren't turning to stone left and right.  If only the most powerful magic wielder around hadn't given up magic forever.  If only the Great Zambini would stop disappearing.  If only the bridge repair hadn't become a contest that would determine the fate of Kazam and all magic in the Ununited Kingdom.

Jennifer is the only person who can stop it from getting out of control... more than it already has.

Final thoughts: Cute read meant for young adult readers, but it may be a bit too clever for many.  Fforde's Thursday Next series was amazing and fun to read, but that one was rich with in-jokes and puns that only bibliophiles would truly understand.  This current book is much the same with all the cleverness and in-jokes that many might not catch or understand.  The story itself is a little roundabout with small items placed early on in the book that are not referred to again until near the end of the book and those items turn out to be key pieces of the puzzle; that kind of foreshadowing may go over the heads of some.  Overall, this is a cute read and a lot of fun if you get the jokes.

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love

How I Got Skinny, Famous, and Fell Madly in Love
by Ken Baker

Angel is the darling of her parents' eyes.  She is perfect, skinny, popular, and basically everything a parent could ask for.

However, this book isn't about Angel.  

It's about Emery.

She's the second daughter.  She was named after an emery board after her mother got a manicure while pregnant.  (Angel was named so because she was a blessing from the angels above.)  Emery has always been a few sizes too large with a real addiction to fast food and snacks, which is a problem for the more health-conscious family.  As the child of a minor basketball player and a former professional cheerleader, Emery just doesn't fit into her assigned role.

When an opportunity comes for her to help make her family famous, kick-start her sister's career, become popular, and lose a few pounds, Emery's resistant, but signs the paperwork anyway in order to help save her family home from being taken back by the bank.

What follows is a reality show nightmare with hidden cameras, production teams, people who fake friendship to get some air time, and a weekly weigh-in during which Emery is forced to wear a bikini on live TV.

But we all know that reality TV isn't all that real and Emery discovers that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes than even she knew.

Final thoughts: This started off as a pretty decent read, though a little unrealistic when it came to her weight.  She's just under 200lbs but, for some unknown reason, she's so fat that her bikini completely disappears under her fat?  Ummm... no.  That's not happening at that weight.  The idea of losing 50 pounds in 50 days is unhealthy no matter what, but there's a portion in time when Emery cuts her calories down to around 800 a day, while also taking laxative tea and exercising way too much.  That's extremely unhealthy and there are no real consequences for Emery for those decisions, which sends the wrong message to girls who are reading this.  While Emery's YouTube rants are well done and make a great deal of sense, the ending is just a complete mess.  It didn't so much end as just drift off with no real resolution of the issues.  Additionally, there was no falling madly in love since she was already in love when the book started.  Overall, this just wasn't that great.

Rating: 2/5

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner

After waking in a dark, metal box, Thomas rises from the ground into The Glade, where dozens of boys have spent the last two years just trying to survive.

All Thomas knows is his name.  

All any of the boys really know is their names.

Surrounding the Glade is The Maze.  Every day, select boys go out in the morning to run and map the maze and then return before the doors close at night.

And it's very important that the doors close at night because the Grievers come out then.  Get stung by a Griever, and you may not survive.

Just as Thomas thinks he might be able to fit in, someone new comes to change everything that all the Gladers have ever known.

Now Thomas may be the one person who can solve the maze and they are running out of time for him to figure it all out.

Final thoughts:  I think I'm now out of love with dystopias, and it's not because of this particular book, but more because of the formula, especially when it comes to cliffhanger type endings and conspiracies.  I also think this is definitely a book for boys so I think middle school and early high school boys would really appreciate this book a lot more than I do.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crossing the Ice

Crossing the Ice
by Jennifer Comeaux

After failing in the one competition that would assure three US pairs teams could go to the Olympics, instead of just two, Courtney and Mark must return to the practice rink to prepare to take one of those slots when Nationals start in a few months.

Unfortunately for them, their bitterest rivals and the top contenders for one of the spots has just arrived at their rink and have signed with their same coaches to train for the same events.

It's easy to hate Stephanie, as she seems to hate everyone who crosses her path.  However, her brother and partner, Josh, may actually be a pretty decent guy.

As sparks fly from more than just blade metal, can Courtney keep her cool long enough to keep her eye on the Olympic prize?

Final thoughts:  Cotton candy and not great, at that.  It's supposed to be romantic, but it just doesn't give that vibe well.  I think that what's really messing me up is an early quote from Stephanie about Josh just using Courtney to throw her off her game and then he'd dump her when he had her all off-balance.  There wasn't anything else done with that idea and I just kept expecting it to pop up somehow and create some sort of tension.  But... nothing.  Why include the quote and then never follow through with some sort of resolution to that idea? Also, Josh is just too perfect for words.  He's a nationally ranked pairs skater who somehow graduated from UCLA on time, while still skating daily, and now he's been accepted to their law school.  He also can play any song by ear after just hearing it once or twice. He can draw a bit and he's this amazing skate choreographer.  All this while Courtney skates and serves drinks and food at a local bar in order to pay for lessons and costumes.  Not the worst ever, but not amazing, either.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Broken Realms

Broken Realms
by D.W. Moneypenny

Things are pretty simple for Mara.  She's an only child of a mother who is very much into meditation and the power of the earth, but Mara's ok with that.  She's a gadget-guru who can basically fix anything that comes her way, so she works at the local repair shop to make a little money.  

Now she's on a flight that contains a teen boy running with a glowing orb being followed by Mara's doppelganger.

And then the back of the plane explodes.

Suddenly there are over 100 dead bodies, and yet no one is claiming them because they all think their loved ones miraculously survived, even if they did come back a little strange.

It turns out Mara accidentally opened portals between worlds and now doppelgangers of all of the passengers are wandering around causing problems.

So now Mara, a doppelganger named Ping, and Mara's brother from another reality must try and track down the other "passengers" and send them back to where they belong, while also keeping her alternate reality mother from getting through and destroying everything Mara loves.

Final thoughts:  Talking, talking... so much talking!  It's overwhelming how much talking there is.  I get that there is an entire system to explain, but it felt like I was trapped with a dull professor in a metaphysics course who just droned on and on.  I finished it because I wanted to see the plot through, but I really didn't enjoy myself doing it.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tortured Souls

Tortured Souls
by Kimber Leigh Wheaton

Kacie was born with the ability to see ghosts.  They've always been around and she's done her best to send them on their way to the great beyond even though she's had to hide what she's doing.  Her mother left her family years before because of this gift and her father has blamed her ever since.

Now it's time to stop hiding who she is and Logan, a gorgeous guy with similar gifts, is going to help her learn how to control her powers.  Then Logan introduces her to the Orion Circle, a group of people with talents ranging from empathy to the ability to read the history of objects with just a touch.

As she learns more about who she is, Kacie also learns more about the supernatural world around her. She also learns that there is a murderous spirit that has trapped the souls of thirteen children in a manor, and that spirit has set his sights on Kacie.

Now she must find a way to free those souls, while still keeping hers.

Final thoughts:  I like the premise and there were some good moments, but this was a little messy. There were some serious jumps in the story where things could really have been given some detail and there was an extremely annoying wink at Twilight with a mention of werewolves and the Native American reservations where they are kept safe.  This could be an interesting series if the author ups her game a little.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ghost House

Ghost House
by Alexandra Adornetto

Just days after her mother suddenly dies, Chloe's grandmother takes her and her brother away from their home and their father and brings them back with her to England.  They wind up in a renovated mansion in the English countryside, away from distractions, including WiFi.

Now Chloe has nothing much to pass the time except a few horses, helping around the house, and chatting with the ghosts that haunt the home.

Because suddenly, without her mother to give her the strength she needed, Chloe's "gift" for seeing the dead has come back full force.  

The good = Alexander Reade - 150-year-old ghost of a 23-year-old man who is very good looking and seems to really like Chloe.

The bad = Isobel Reade - 150-year-old ghost who was the wife of Alexander's brother and Alexander's secret lover in life.

The ugly = the story that lead to their deaths and Isobel's desire to destroy anyone who could come between her and Alexander.

If only Chloe could ignore the pull she feels to Alexander... 

Final thoughts: Adornetto just can't seem to get her writing up to snuff.  She interrupts a great story with information that comes out of the blue and is truly unnecessary.  There are errors everywhere. The characters are inane and unsympathetic.  Chloe turns 18, but often whines like she's 8. She's completely incompetent and does nothing to fight the events around her.  She doesn't even really talk a good game.  This could have been a fascinating and gripping story in almost anyone else's hands.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, July 21, 2014

Threats of Sky and Sea

Threats of Sky and Sea
by Jennifer Ellision

Bree Perdit had a pretty good life.  She helped her father run an inn in a tiny town at the northern end of the kingdom of Egria.  She chopped wood, watered ale, served patrons, and helped keep the bills paid.  To her, it was the perfect life.

When Bree accidentally overhears the conversation of Elemental Adepts in the forest outside her inn, she suddenly finds herself embroiled in politics she never knew existed.  She also finds out her father isn't who she thought he was.

Now Bree must survive court intrigues, political battles, and a king who is determined to conquer an island nation that controls the sea.  All he needs is the secret Bree's father has carried for years.  A secret even Bree will find impossible to believe.

Final thoughts: I was drawn into this one and kept reading, but part of the reason I did was simply because I was waiting and waiting for the very obvious secret to be revealed.  The "secret" was so obvious from very early in the book that it was difficult for me to understand how none of the characters could figure it out earlier.  I almost screamed at the book; it was so frustrating.  The romance between Bree and Caden seemed impossible, as well, since the author didn't really develop it so much as just declare late in the book that it was so.

Rating: 3/5

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