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


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

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Different Girl

The Different Girl
by Gordon Dahlquist

Veronica is trying to remember her past before she loses it all.  While she tells her story, more and more strange things about her come to light.

Veronica is learning about the world on her small island, bit by bit.  With three other girls who are identical to her in every way except for their hair, she studies her area, her home, the weather patterns, the insects, and more.

While it may seem dull to some, for Veronica and the other girls, this is what they do every day.  They observe and then report their observations to Robbert and Irene, who take note of their observations and keep an eye on them.

The first real moment where Veronica and the girls are revealed to be more than they seem is when Irene presses a button to put them to sleep.  When May arrives on the island, having washed ashore after her uncle's boat sank, the girls realize just how different they are.

Can they figure out the secrets of their own creation and the world around them before it's too late?

Final thoughts:  No.  No they can't.  And that's the failing of this book.  While the premise is interesting, it's too ambiguous overall and there's just not enough details where they're needed.  It's never revealed why the girls are there, what they were created for, or why they're in danger.  There's really no plot to this at all.  Is this just a VERY long exposition for a future book?  Who knows.  Who cares?  Not me.

Rating: 2/5

Saturday, January 11, 2014


by Sarah Aronson

At just six years old, Janine Friedman became the most famous girl in the world, all because she was the lone survivor of a suicide bomber's blast.  She was labeled the "Soul Survivor" and believed to be a miracle.

Now, ten years later, on the anniversary of the event, which included the deaths of both of her parents, she's in the spotlight again, begin followed by reporters just like her mom had been, all seeking a story from the miracle girl.

All her life she has had to dodge the paparazzi who want to get the exclusive pics and interviews.  She has a very small group of friends that she can trust and a desire to be famous because of what she can do instead of how she survived.

But things become much more complicated when she gets chased from her own parents' graves and events lead to Janine having to question her own personal beliefs and faith.

Final thoughts:  The beginning was good and I really felt for Janine, but things got strange fast.  She's repeatedly accused of being selfish and a bad friend even though there's really no evidence of that.  Janine's not very sympathetic and her "friends" are just horrible.  Over and over they want to use her and her fame for their own personal issues and pet projects, but when she says no, they call her selfish.  She's accused of constantly reminding people who she is, even though she's just trying to live her own life.  No one is well written here and the story devolves into a big mess at the end.  Bland and dull.

Rating: 2/5

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
by April Genevieve Tucholke

Violet White and her twin brother, Luke, have been on their own for a while even though they aren't yet seniors in high school.  Their parents have gone off to be artists in Europe.  Their grandmother died a few years back.  And while their family used to be the second richest in town, they are now barely holding on to their dilapidated mansion and looking for someone to rent their guesthouse just so that they can afford groceries.

In walks River West.

He's got money.  He's got a good story.  And he's everything Violet never knew she always wanted.

He's also very dangerous.

He has secrets and those secrets are deadly.

Violet must decide how far she's willing to go to find out the truth before the truth finds her.

Final thoughts:  This thing is messy.  The cover is really the only thing that it all has going for it.  River is just a horrible, horrible person and the fact that Violet can't seem to decide how she feels about him is just annoying.  There is a complete lack of plot here and a number of things that don't add up.  Tucholke has all these characters who just happened to be linked in funky ways and those ways are revealed with stupid contrivances.  Hidden letters?  Really?  Ugh.  Yet another first in a series that I won't be reading the rest of.

Rating: 1/5

Monday, January 6, 2014


by Amanda Sun

When Katie Greene's mom died suddenly, leaving her an orphan, Katie was forced to move to Japan to live with an aunt she barely knew.  As the months have gone by, she's learned the culture and the basics of the language, but she still hasn't learned how to fit in.

When she meets Yuu Tomohiro, she finally finds her voice and a possible connection, but it's short-lived.  Tomo is a Kami, a descendent of the former Japanese emperor's family and even one of the Japanese gods.  His gift is creating life from ink and that life doesn't always follow his directions.

Now that Katie's in his life, the ink starts to become more dangerous, as do the people around Tomo, including his friend who has ties to the Yakuza. 

Are they meant to be together or does the world need them to stay apart?

Final thoughts: This started off well, but began sinking into the realm of Twilight, including all the bad boy/shy girl plot points of Meyer's book.  He's not really human.  She's not safe with him, but she can't stay away.  There's a few background friends and a second love interest.  It's kind of messy and a few people are only brought in for moments just to forward the plot, not to really be part of the book.  What really annoyed me was the constant use of Japanese words.  It makes sense in the beginning, especially as she's learning the language, but later it's just THERE.  If she's become fluent in Japanese and they are all speaking in Japanese, but it's translated into English for our benefit, why keep using a couple of words again and again?  Prime Example: Keitai.  That's the Japanese word for cell phone, but "cell phone" is NEVER used except in the glossary at the back.  If everything else can be translated into English, why not "cell phone"?  Why keep saying keitai over and over and over again?  First in a series and there's a prequel novella out there somewhere, but I don't much care and won't search it out to read it.

Rating: 2/5

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Crash Into You

Crash Into You
by Katie McGarry

All her life, Rachel Young has been the perfect daughter.  Born to replace a sister who died from leukemia long before she was born, Rachel's job is to make sure her mother is happy, especially around Christmas.  For years, Rachel has lived with panic attacks that have sometimes even sent her to the hospital, all because she's been living a lie.  She's not perfect.  She's not her sister.  She's not girly.  She hates dresses and she LOVES cars.

For most of his life, Isaiah Walker has been on his own. Even when he lived in foster care and group homes, he had to learn how to be strong for himself and not care about others. His only love in life is cars because most of the girls he's met are nothing but trouble.  All he wants now is to pass his certification test and log enough hours to become a certified mechanic and get his own garage.

When Rachel stumbles into Isaiah's life during a street race, Isaiah suddenly falls head over heels for the shy rich girl.  He starts off feeling like he needs to protect her, only to find that she's stronger than anyone he's ever met.

Now they must work together and save each other before a street race bookie destroys them both.

Final thoughts: This is book three in a series from McGarry, but I actually didn't know that until I was preparing this review/booktalk.  It's a book that stands alone despite being the third book with already established characters.  I really enjoyed Rachel and Isaiah.  They were a good couple together and they were also great alone.  Rachel's family dynamic was a little odd at times and some of the problems seemed forced, but her brothers were well written and interesting.  I can see teens devouring this read quickly and then begging for more.  Girls will like the romance and guys will love the street racing.

Rating: 4/5


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