Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hard to Get

Hard to Get
by Emma Carlson Berne

Val thought she had the perfect boyfriend in Dave.  After all, it was definitely the longest she'd gone out with one guy, so that must mean it's special.  And it was... until she caught Dave making out with another girl in the parking lot of her high school.

Now "available", Val is suddenly bombarded with date offers from guys around the school, many of whom she doesn't even know.  When her friends point out that this is because she's suddenly "on the market", which has never been true for her for more than a week, Val realizes she's been a bit too focused on being a girlfriend and hasn't focused enough on being herself.

She decides to swear off boys for the next month, and her friends make it "interesting" by making it a bet.  Winner gets to wear real diamonds to prom; loser has to wear the ugliest purple prom dress and matching heels ever made.

Unfortunately, it all gets way too complicated when Val meets Adam.  He's "arty" and normally not her type, but there's definite chemistry there.  

So what's more important?  The possibility of true love or avoiding having to wear the nastiest dress on the planet?

Final thoughts:  I grabbed this paperback from the giveaway pile at work.  It's obvious cotton candy and has no literary merit whatsoever.  However, it's fluffy and light on the brain.  There are a few problems with pacing and time seems to speed up and slow down without making much sense, but it's easy to read and a good brain cleanser, especially when I've got a few paranormal and dystopia novels on my to-read list.  Think of this book as a light sorbet for the brain.

Rating: 3/5

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Funny? Or just plain sad...

Making its way around the Twitter-verse and Blog-o-Sphere right now is the book review and ensuing comments on Big Al's Books and Pals for The Greek Seaman by Jacqueline Howett.  Now, normally I stick to book talks and reviews, but this is one I had to share.  If you haven't seen it yet, please take a few minutes to go to and browse the comments.  Beware: eating and/or drinking while reading the author's responses could cause you to choke from laughter and/or surprise.

Back now?


For me, this kind of publicity for a blog is a God-send.  Who knows how many readers Al just added to his feed (I know I'm one of them).  His simple, honest review, has gone viral because of the overreaction of the author and her complete disdain for social norms.  I could only wish for this kind of publicity for my small, lightly read blog.

Of course, for Ms. Howett, this publicity is both good and bad.  There has surely been an up-tic in the number of books sold, just because people wanted to read the bad grammar for themselves and see if it was as bad as it looked in the blog and comments from Ms. Howett herself.  In the mid-run, this kind of publicity will surely hurt sales for a while. In the long-run, despite people proclaiming that they will never read any of her books, this kind of thing is likely to wear out in a few days/weeks. It's possible that if she keeps her head down for a bit and stops responding to comments, Ms. Howett could get out of this relatively unscathed.

I hope she (and other authors) learn something from this because it's a great lesson in publicity one-oh-one.

For more information on Ms. Howett, here's her blog:

Love, Inc.

Love, Inc.
by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout

Zahra's life has always been a little different than everyone else's.  Her father is Scottish and her mother is Pakistani, which makes Zahra a red-headed, curry-hating, pastry-cooking, half-Pakistani with a love of baking and a penchant for making cursed cookies that doom her relationships at the first taste.

Now that her grandparents have moved in and taken over her room and her parents have separated leaving Zahra with two half-homes and a pair of parents who never talk, Zahra wants to make things right.

Her first attempt at improving her life leads to accidentally setting the kitchen on fire, and that leads her to group therapy, which then leads her to Syd and Kali.  In normal times, these three girls would probably never become friends, but things are definitely not normal, especially when they discover that they haven't just been two-timed; they've been three-timed.  Eric/Rick/Rico has conned them all and now it's payback time.

But what started out as a simple case of revenge turns into a business opportunity for the girls.  They create Love, Inc. to help mediate hook-ups and break-ups, make matches, find cheaters, save relationships, and plot revenge.

While they fix everyone else's love life, can they fix their own?

Final thoughts:  This is a basic book with a basic plot.  It's not particularly engaging.  I often put the book down and forgot about it, which is never a good sign in my opinion.  I struggled with the concept that Eric would be cheating with three girls who just happen to be forced into the exact same group therapy session, meeting at the same place, at the same time, in a large city.  It strained the bounds of logic.  Once past that, the rest of the story has promise and Zahra's voice is nice.  Not a book to strongly recommend, but definitely something to hand to girls of mixed heritage who struggle to figure out where they fit.

Rating: 3/5

Friday, March 18, 2011


by Lauren Oliver

Lena remembers her mother distinctly, even though she was a just a child when her mother jumped to her death. She remembers the dancing. She remembers the singing. She remembers the hugging.  And she remembers her mother's final words, "I love you. Remember. They cannot take it."
Now Lena is looking forward to the day when they will take it.  When the government will perform the procedure that will take away her fear, her doubts, her pain, her memories, and her love.  Because in Lena's world, love is a diagnosable disease. Deliria nervosa.

It's the reason the world got so bad.  It's the reason for hate and war. It's the reason for jealousy and envy. And it's now curable. A simple procedure and it's all gone. The day she turns eighteen, Lena will be free.

And then she meets Alex...

Final thoughts: Dystopian novels can really drag a person down.  This one is yet another great one like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Across the Universe, and Matched, but it's the first in another trilogy and it's a cliffhanger.  It's a GOOD cliffhanger... but it's a cliffhanger nonetheless.  I love Lena and her path of self-discovery.  I love Hana and her zest for life. Most of all I love Alex and his bravery. I can't wait for the next one, but I have to because 1) it's not out for a while and 2) this one just drained me completely.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

  "Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"

Personally, I really can't "read" two books at once.  I usually have one that I focus on and will occasionally have a "back-up" book around if my mood changes or if I left my main one somewhere out of reach.  The second one is usually a re-read, though, so I almost never count is as reading more than one at a time.

I'm currently reading Delirium, by Lauren Oliver, and while I'm loving the idea of it, it's hard to read another dystopian novel.  This one is good, but so many before have also been good.  Why are dystopias so draining on the soul?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Small Persons with Wings

Small Persons with Wings
by Ellen Booraem

When she was just five, Mellie Turpin lost her small person with wings (NEVER call them fairies).  Well, she didn't really lose him, she just accidentally angered him so much that he left her.  She didn't know that he was a secret.  She didn't know she wasn't supposed to tell.  And she certainly didn't know that she wasn't supposed to offer to bring him to school for show-and-tell like one might bring a pet.
Now he's gone.

The other kids think she lied.  The school psychologist thinks she needs help.  The bullies think she's easy prey.  And she's made a real enemy in one girl who now insists on tormenting her and calling her "Fairy Fat".

Soon, Mellie comes to realize that her small person with wings wasn't real and she throws herself into logic and science.  Anything having to do with creativity and imagination is just plain dangerous in her mind.

Now it's the end of seventh grade and word comes that her grandfather has died.

Mellie couldn't be happier.

Her grandfather was an angry drunk who used to insult her and her family and then throw liquor bottles at them, so she doesn't really miss him.  She also won't miss the relentless name-calling and teasing because now she gets to move with her parents to take over her grandfather's inn and start a new life.

But there's a catch...

It turns out that her grandfather's house is the home of another small person with wings, as well as a family heirloom and history that Mellie would never have believed if she hadn't seen proof with her own eyes.

Now someone, or something, wants the magic for him/her/itself and Mellie may be the only one to protect it.

Final thoughts:  Cute, fun read with a few interesting ideas.  I enjoyed the small persons with wings when they interacted one on one with Mellie.  It's just a little over-complicated with the three different kinds of magic and the family history.  Booraem seemed to have gotten a little involved in her own cleverness at times, so some things that may have been witty or funny, just come off as overdone.  Mellie is also hard to classify.  She's supposed to be thirteen, but often the story seems like it's told from an 8 year old instead of a soon-to-be 8th grader.  Also a few of the things like the grandfather never ever being nice to her (and even regularly calling her fat) and the last couple of pages  just didn't sit right.  I liked the overall plot, but the details just needed work.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


by Heather Dixon

Legend has it that generations before, the High King had been a villainous man who had magicked the castle and trapped the souls of his victims in mirrors where they would slowly freeze to death.  Now, in Azalea's time, remnants of the High King's magic linger in the occasional tea set and carpet.  It also lingers in the hidden passages, including the one in Azalea's room.

Now that her mother has passed away, Azalea is in charge of her eleven sisters and must keep their spirits up even while the king has gone into mourning and shut the girls away in the palace.  They are forbidden every joy, even dancing.

But at night, the girls take their secret passage to the silver forest where they happily dance until their dancing slippers fall apart.

They've taken an oath and cannot tell the king, but he is determined to find out where they go.  He sets up a contest for the eligible gentlemen to solve the riddle of the damaged slippers.

Could it all be too late?

Final thoughts: A retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale "12 Dancing Princesses", this one is slow to start, but really gets rolling about a quarter of the way through.  The king's bad temper is very difficult to fathom in the beginning, but his change of heart seems well written.  Some of the story's points seemed obvious, but older girls and young teens, especially those who haven't read the story before, will enjoy discovering the secrets.  I loved Lord Bradford and really wish I could have seen more of him.  Azalea was strong and clever, so I never got tired of reading from her point of view.  I only wish the time period had been a little more detailed.  It felt like it was supposed to be set during a kind of industrial revolution for this fairy tale land, but I had a difficult time relating to it because I just couldn't picture it.  Of course, that may be my fault since I kept picturing stone castles and the author referred to new and improved steam train technology.

Rating: 4/5

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Touch Mortal

A Touch Mortal
by Leah Clifford

Eden has made the choice.  She's decided that since life hasn't been very good to her, she's going to leave it.  But the moment she decides, Az walks into her life and everything changes.

Az is more special than Eden could ever have thought.  He's an angel caught between worlds.  He left "Upstairs", but still hasn't completely fallen "Downstairs".  He has more free will than most angels, but is always in danger of coming one of the Fallen.

Eden keeps him from Falling, but now she's in danger.

A choice must be made.

Final thoughts:  An absolute mess of a book with moments of greatness hidden in the pages.  The author seems to have some sort of logic in her head about what's going on, but she's very bad at conveying it.  I constantly found myself questioning things, especially those things having to do with suicide.  In Clifford's world, once a person commits suicide, she disappears quite literally from the lives of the people she left.  Parents and friends forget about you. Your room is magically converted to an office. Your social security number disappears. All evidence that you existed is gone.
REALLY!?!?!  Because that's NOT how it works in the real world.  Eventually, most people move on, but the initial impact of a suicide is horrendous and gut-wrenching to those who knew the person. No one just disappears within days of dying. I really don't like the message conveyed with this concept. Kids thinking of killing themselves already believe that no one will care if they live or die; did we really need a book that encourages that opinion???
Eden herself is a massive ball of contradictions.  She's strong when the author needs her to be, but weak when the author needs it. It's not character-driven personality, but plot-driven.
And can someone explain to me why suiciders (Siders), suddenly return from death and wander the Earth only in the last hundred years or so and why the powers that be above really have no idea what's going on? No logic at all.
Again... moments of greatness surrounded by mounds of trash.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dead Is Just a Rumor

Dead Is Just a Rumor
by Marlene Perez

The town of Nightshade has never been what one might call "normal".  In fact, it's really more para-normal.  With ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches, telepaths, an invisible man, and an allegedly haunted jukebox, there's not much normal about Nightshade at all.
Now in her senior year, with her father recently returned from years of being held prisoner by the anti-paranormal group, the Scourge, and her boyfriend coming to grips with his own wolfy behavior once every 28 days or so, Daisy is finally coming into her own.

Of course, now that her father is home, he seems to be smothering her with over-protectiveness, partially brought about by the fact that he hasn't seen her since she was 12.  And she seems to have somehow made an enemy of a friend without knowing how she did it.  And there's the chef that she's won cooking lessons with who appears to want a servant instead of a student.  And there's the chef's pig, who seems smarter than the average pig (with a full head of hair, no less).  AND there's the new guidance counselor who seems to have it out for her.

Yeah.  Senior year's going to be a breeze.

Final thoughts:  I enjoyed this quick read.  It wasn't too straining on the brain and Daisy always has a fun attitude to read.  It's in keeping with the previous three books in the series, so there's nothing out of the ordinary.  My only problem has more to do with the fact that I was obviously not the intended audience, which isn't so much a problem with the book, really.  I figured out from the early chapters where everything was going, so the "mystery" element just wasn't that mysterious.  I mean, the chef's name is CIRCE and she has a pet PIG.  Come on!  Does no one in Nightshade read Greek Mythology and see a connection here???  The ending felt a bit rushed, too.  It was like, "Oh no!  Daisy's in danger!  Go get some hel... Oops!  Nevermind.  Everything's ok."  And then it ended.  Still, I'm looking forward to reading the 5th and final installment.  (Note to Marlene: MORE RYAN!!!)

Rating: 4/5


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