Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Publisher: Delacorte Press (April 28, 2009)
It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.

For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.”

Flavia de Luce is a precocious eleven-year old living in jolly old England in the 1950's. She loves chemistry and most of all, the fabrication of poisons (which none of the surrounding adults tend to give a second thought). I was almost afraid the dear girl would truly poison someone! Well, even though she did put poison ivy extract in her sister's lipstick and face cream, that shouldn't really count.  So when this murdered man is found in a cucumber patch by none other than our lovely Flavia, she takes it upon herself to solve this case right under the Inspector's nose.

This book was everything I had hoped for and more. I enjoyed Flavia de Luce as a narrator. She is clever, witty, and fearless. It isn't difficult to forget that she is only eleven. The peripheral characters were fun as well. Especially, Mrs. Mullet and Dogger (the housekeeper and gardener, respectively) who seem to almost be more of a family to Flavia than her two sisters and somewhat distracted father.

The writing was superb. It was fast paced and kept me interested all the while. Never really a dull moment in the life of Flavia de Luce. I look forward to next installment The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Title: The Body Finder
Author: Kimberly Derting
Publisher: HarperTeen (March 16, 2010)

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.

I thought this was a very fun book. It combined a scary, mystery element with paranormal abilities and a very realistic romance.  I tend to enjoy the romantic struggle instead of actual relationships in YA novels because they are so cheesy! This one had the possible "unrequited love" and realistic teen angst and feelings. That made the eventual relationship that much more sweet. I didn't dread reading about their flirtations and the whispering of sweet nothings like I tend to to in other novels. It is currently one of the best romances in the YA books I have read so far.

The real meat of the book lies with Violets "ability" to sense dead bodies around her. They leave echos in the form of sounds or colors. She has always been drawn to them since she was a little girl. Mostly she has just found mauled wood animals, up until now that is. Once Violet realizes there is a serial killer in her small Washington town, she is determined to use her ability to stop this maniac before he kills any more innocent girls. The premise is very exciting and most of the time it keeps you on the edge of your seat guessing whats going to happen. Just when you think the mystery is solved, you get hit with something even more sinister.

There are random chapters where you read from the killer's perspective. I thought that was definitely enjoyable and added the to suspense of the novel. It was kind of creepy though, which some people might not  like. 

Bottom line is, Kimberly Derting was able to combine 3 great aspects into one remarkable novel. Readers who enjoy exciting romance, unique paranormal abilities, and a startling mystery should pick this one up. I, for one, am looking forward to reading the next in the series Desires of the Dead in hopes that it can live up to this one.

Top Ten Tuesday #2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It was originally started because of their love for lists. Who doesn't like making lists? I know I do, so I decided to join in this week.

This Week's Topic:
Top Ten Books on my TBR pile for this fall. I haven't been lucky enough to get any ARC's lately so I don't have anything super new on my shelves. However, I still have some oldies and (hopefully) goodies that I am looking forward to reading in the upcoming months.

1. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White - I'm picturing a female James Bond character who is surrounded by paranormal creatures (MERMAIDS TOO!!). Glad I broke down and got this one.2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - I am first and foremost an epic fantasy lover. I haven't had the time to get into another long series (especially one that isn't finished yet) but I really want to get to this one soon.

3. Looking for Alaska by John Green - I've heard great things about John Green's work, and this one in particular. I am excited to read a realistic YA book with a male perspective; not a common find.

4. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - I'm hoping for something light, funny, and unique. I have high hopes for this one.

5. Matched by Ally Condie - I want to read every dystopian I can. I am more likely to enjoy a non realistic/contemporary ya novel and this one has been calling to me for awhile now.

6. Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist - I won this ARC and not only do I need to read and review it, but I love these types of books too. Ever since Stieg Larsson and the Millennium trilogy exploded, the US has had an influx of Scandinavian authors making their way up the charts. I enjoy a good thriller any day.

7. Graceling by Kristin Cashore - I know, I know. How can I even be sitting here right now if I haven't read Graceling yet. I'm getting to it, I promise. 
8. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - Zombies!?!?! That is all.

9. Blood Red Road by Moira Young - Another dystopian that just came out. Can't wait to dive into this one. It has received many good reviews.

10. Soulless by Gail Carriger - This one has been hiding behind some other books and I forgot I had it. It happens I guess when you are always in book shopping spree mode.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In My Mailbox #3

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

I only got a few books in this week as I am trying to curb my spending habits. I got all these from bookswap.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Been excited to get my hands on a copy of this one. I have heard good things.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
I am always interested in dystopian books.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
 Miss America Pageant meets Lord of the Flies. Premise sounds fun. Hoping for a few laughs.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Blog Hops #1

New meme time! I used to do "In My Mailbox" on Fridays but that is now switched to Sunday.

The question of the week on Book Blogger Hop: Non-book related this week! Do you have any pets?

Why, yes I do!! I have 2 wonderful mutts. Riot (right) is 3 year old pit mix and Blitz is a 2 year old boston/jack russell. They like to chase each other around the house and the tiny one makes tough guy noises. It's hilarious! They are my furry children, and they are way too spoiled!

Follow my book blog Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. This week's question: In some books like the Sookie Stackhouse series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish this would happen with in real life?

Well I am definitely not going to say vampires. That's way too risky, because I bet most vampires just don't go around being sparkly all the time. Sticking with the animal theme today, I'm going to say shifters. Not were wolves, because I know I wouldn't want to be constricted to changing into only a wolf. But a shifter who can be any animal. Granted, I would then be a little concerned that my dogs would be keeping secrets from me, but I think they already do anyway.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fade by Lisa McMann

Title: Fade
Author: Lisa McMann
Publisher: Simon Pulse (February 10, 2009)
My Rating: 

This sequel to Wake (2008) follows dream-catcher Janie as she navigates the treacherous world of dreaming the dreams of others. Janie and her boyfriend, Cabel, use their skills to work undercover investigating teachers suspected of drugging and abusing students at class parties. Janie takes on more than she can handle in cracking the case, and Cabel is unable to intervene to his satisfaction, which strains their relationship. Janie also comes to understand more about her dream-catching ability and the consequences in store for her, most notably a heavy, irreversible physical toll. The series is moving in a darker, more dramatic direction, with Janie facing evil and needing to decide if she can sacrifice her own health for the greater good. Series of sentence fragments (“She scratches her head. Looks around. Laughs”) take some getting used to but keep the action firmly in the present tense and build suspense. A great blend of mystery, romance, and supernatural elements, and featuring a strong but vulnerable female protagonist, this episode ends with an irresistible hook for the final installment. 

Since this is a sequel, I will try not to go into too much detail as not to give anything away from this or the first book. You can go back and read my review of Wake for more info.

So, I had a few problems with this second installment. Firstly, what's with all the cuss words? Not that I am against them, but I feel when they are used in abundance, (and I mean abundance in this case) especially in a teen book, that's just saying that the author can't think of anything better for them to say. It makes the characters sound quite moronic, and I would rather read books about people who actually may be smarter than I am.

Aside from that, I felt like this book really didn't get good until about halfway. I think the thing that bugged me the most, in the beginning, Janie and Cabel are a happy couple. Tra-la-la. Boring and sappy. Not really romantic, and that could be attributed to the fact the book is so fast-paced, there isn't time to form a connection with them as a couple.

But on to the good part of this book. The case that Janie and Cabel are working on is about teachers at her school allegedly molesting students. Whoa. That is a touchy subject, but intensely real. Janie puts herself out there as bait and tries to find the culprit(s). To be honest, her dreamcatcher skill isn't used very much in this book, and rightly so. I don't see how it would be useful, and really, the fact that she seems to be around sleeping people so often can get old. This is the best book in the series by far, so I suggest to all who are interested, read only Wake and Fade. Do not bother with Gone. Trust me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Title: Hourglass
Author: Myra McEntire
Publisher: Egmont, USA (June 14, 2011)

One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

I regret putting this book off for as long as I have. It started off slow and I was sluggish to continue. Hourglass is another example of the duel-natured book. The first half required the setting up of the plot and introducing characters. I don't mind when books follow this common formula, but sometimes it is not entertaining to read, as in this case. In the beginning the main character of Emerson is not likable at all. She is extremely self-effacing and whiny. And don't even get me started on the first few times she met with the love interest, Michael. Every other sentence was Emerson's internal monologue of how hot he was and she wanted to touch his lips (?). And when she did:

"I was pretty sure I was on fire, and at that moment I would have sworn that bursting into flame was a glorious way to go."

Over the top? Maybe just a tad. The romance was at best....meh. I was over it before it started. Like I said it was Emerson's constant internal monologue (even his muscles had muscles.....really?) Cheeseball city. Only when Kaleb came around and there was that little love triangle thing was I interested. However, neither of these gentlemen had any depth. They were 2 dimensional scratching posts for Emerson.

Luckily, the second half was like the other side of a coin. Emerson evolved into a more confident person even though she still shows her immature jealous/whiny side when it comes to Michael. But this half of the book is, of course, where all the action takes place. I original got the impression that this book was about ghosts, but I was very wrong. It is about time travel. Is your mind blown? Well, I haven't read a time travel book before so I was kind of surprised. My knowledge lies only in Back to the Future movies. I imagine it to be a difficult thing to write about, and I found that McEntire did have some inconsistencies here and there but I'm not really going to hold that against her. There were some twists and turns and unanswered questions in the end that were exciting. The plot definitely stands apart from other paranormal reads.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Preparing Yourself for a Hurricane

For those of you haven't heard, Hurricane Irene is barreling towards the east coast of the USA, predicted to hit sometime this weekend. I am not a stranger to hurricanes. I grew up on the Gulf Coast and have been through at least 2 major and some minor hurricanes before I was 18. Since I've been off on my own away from my father, I haven't had to prepare myself (and my home) for a hurricane to hit. And since I do live in Savannah, GA (aka the Lowcountry) I must make sure I have all the essentials in case we are out of power for an extended period of time. Am I missing anything?

Hurricane Preparedness Kit

Top Ten Tuesday #1

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It was originally started because of their love for lists. Who doesn't like making lists? I know I do, so I decided to join in this week.

This Week's Topic:
The Top 10 books you loved but never wrote a review for. I have only been blogging/reviewing for a couple months now so there are plenty of books out there that I never even considered writing a review on. Some are also too complicated to write spoiler free reviews and others I would have to reread to write a review properly. So here goes:
1. A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin - I read this a few years back and it was absolutely amazing. Even now I can't imagine writing a review on it because so much happens and there is a plethora of characters. I wrote a one sentence review on GR along the lines of "kick yourself if you haven't read this book." That about sums it up anyway.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - This was an English class assignment my junior year. At this time, I hated to idea of reading. I had way better things to do at 17. Or so I thought. This book is one of the greatest novels in American history (and it is even entertaining to read.)

3. Wit'ch Fire by James Clemens - The first time I decided to go to a bookstore, buy a book with more than 100 pages, AND spend my own money, this is what I picked. I think most people would say that they found their favorite author by word or mouth or perhaps even borrowing a book from someone. But me, I strolled in, laid down my dough and walked out a winner. Of course, I didn't know it until months later when I actually picked up this tome (Years later I would know the true meaning of this word. 448 pages is nothing.) This book got me interested in reading for fun and hooked me on the epic fantasy genre.

4.Mythology by Edith Hamilton - I'm a huge fan of Greek myths. So much so, that I took a college course on it. This books has pretty much all of the important myths in one place. I might actually have to buy this one again since it's still at my dad's house, but to write a review on it? I wouldn't know where to start. 

5. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote - My first true crime book. I've only read a few since then, because I have learned that none can compare with this masterpiece. It's difficult to write a review on a nonfiction work, and I haven't even considered putting a pen to paper (so to speak) regarding this one.

6. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - I want to re-read this one, so it may get a proper review from me sooner or later even though it's already over ten years old.

7. We the Living by Ayn Rand- I was and still not skillful enough to write a review on this one. It blew my mind.

8. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - Another high school book. This made me think pirates were awesome way before it was officially OK to think pirates were awesome. Thank you Disney for allowing me to come out of the pirate closet.

    So there isn't really another two I can add to this list, but these 8 are a good representation of the things I've read before I started doing reviews. I'm sure there are more, but these are the most impacting ones for me.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

    Title: Guilty Pleasures
    Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
    Publisher: Berkley Trade
    Anita Blake may be small and young, but vampires call her the Executioner. Anita is a necromancer and vampire hunter in a time when vampires are protected by law--as long as they don't get too nasty. Now someone's killing innocent vampires and Anita agrees--with a bit of vampiric arm-twisting--to help figure out who and why.
    Trust is a luxury Anita can't afford when her allies aren't human. The city's most powerful vampire, Nikolaos, is 1,000 years old and looks like a 10-year-old girl. The second most powerful vampire, Jean-Claude, is interested in more than just Anita's professional talents, but the feisty necromancer isn't playing along--yet. This popular series has a wild energy and humor, and some very appealing characters--both dead and alive.

    Guilty Pleasures is the first book in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. This is my first foray into the adult paranormal romance genre. In the beginning of the book, I found myself losing track of all the characters. Who is and isn't a vampire. All of a sudden, names would pop up and I wasn't sure where they came from. I kept having to reread sections to make sure I knew what was going on. This is a very short book, yet somehow, I often felt bored. At the same time, the story was elaborate and went too quickly. But once I got to the second half of the book, things really picked up. I found myself rooting for Anita, the kick-ass and witty heroine, and desperately wanting to know more about Jean-Claude. (Sexy, mysterious night club owner. Where have I seen this guy before? go team eric).

    To be honest, I kind of expected some romance or maybe even *gasp!* sex in this book. I was left disappointed because I'm not even sure who was supposedly Anita's love interest (Isn't this supposed to be a romance?) I was a also a little confused about Phillip. Even though Anita is a very tough chick, she became smitten/drawn to this vampire junkie? Come on, I get the feeling if Anita was dead set against falling for his charms she would have resisted a bit harder. Even though it went no where, I felt that relationship made Anita seem a tad weak.

    Luckily, Anita is such an intriguing character, I find myself wan't to find out what other trouble is going to land on her doorstep.

    Rating: 3/5

    Wake by Lisa McMann

    Title: Wake
    Author: Lisa McMann
    Publisher: Simon Pulse

    Not all dreams are sweet. 
    For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody- notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.
     She can't tell anybody about what she does -- they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control.
    Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant....

    Wake is about a girl, Janie, who has the uncontrollable ability to enter people's dreams when they fall asleep in her vicinity. Growing up, this ability really hindered her having normal relationships. She couldn't attend sleepovers, and always dreaded the days when her classmates fell asleep during school. Janie doesn't want to know what her friends dream about. She hasn't been able to tell anyone her secret, especially not her alcholic mother who could care less, or even her best friend. The bulk of the story takes place during Janie's senior year at high school. Janie gets involved with brooding (yet once geeky outcast) Cabel, but things take a turn when she inadvertanly wanders into Cabel's horrible nightmare.

    I felt that Wake had a good mix of the paranormal aspect and romance. The writing style is very unique; it is present tense, third person, and set up with dates and time stamps. It can take some getting used to. The book progressed at a speedy pace and was extremely short (took me about 3 hours to read.) Janie and Cabel's relationship was better than the normal ones we see in today's young adult books, but the fact that other kids in school weren't recognizing Cabel and calling him "the hot new guy" because he cut his hair and dressed differently, was a little silly.

    On the upside, Lisa McMann wasn't afraid to be real. Teenage life isn't butterflies and sexy vampires all the time! There was mention of drugs, underage drinking and the like which some people may not find appealing, but come on....that's reality. Well not the going into people's dreams part, but you know what I mean.

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Book Slump

    I haven't been able to get into reading lately. I feel like I'm doing it because I have to, not because I enjoy it. I have obtained a lot of books over the past couple of months and I am constantly reminded that I haven't read them when I look up above me as I sit here and type. Even now I am taunted by their shiny covers. I think the constant choice of what to read next is killing me. I need some sort of system.

    So I made this list. to the rescue.

    The next book to boost my spirits will get a rave review from me.

    For now, I iz sad.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    In My Mailbox #2

    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren

    It's Friday, so that means it is time to see what came in my mailbox this week. I got some interesting books this week that I am looking forward to. Quite a few are book one in a series that I have yet to read. Hopefully I will like them enough to continue it.

    can't wait to read this one

    Won Harbor from Goodreads First Reads Giveaway
    P.s. No, I don't get books on netgalley because I don't have an e-reader and hate reading on computer/phone. I like books with pages, guess that makes me old school.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

    Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
    Author: Jay Asher
    Publisher: Razorbill (October 18, 2007)
    My Rating: 
    Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
    On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.
    Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.

    I have a couple issues with this book. Firstly, the supposed reasons Hannah has for killing herself....ridiculous. Wow, I was expecting something a bit more...deep or traumatizing. The two most affecting stories she had to tell, (and I truly HATE to say this) she really got into them herself, almost as if she knew what was going to happen. If you read it, I think you would see what I am referring to. Hannah really wasn't even likable either because of what she was doing to the people who really hadn't done anything wrong to her (Clay and Tony). As I was reading it I could definitely see that this is what a grown man felt a teenage girl would apparently kill herself over. I understand the need to warn kids about the pressures of high school and harm of bullying or creating rumors, but this particular instance was not really an enjoyable piece of writing. And like I said before, that is the reason for reading fiction books.

    Secondly, the simultaneous narration of Clay and Hannah was hard to follow. I would say I read at a fairly moderate pace and since every other sentence was another narrator, I became confused quite easily and had to go back and reread to make sure I knew what was happening with each one of them. I understand the necessity for it and I can't say that it was done poorly, but it wasn't something I personally enjoyed.

    I don't think this book would really help anyone in anyway if that was an underlying goal. It is just another piece of fluff in a genre that already has too much.

    The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

    Title: The Language of Flowers
    Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
    Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 23, 2011)
    My Rating: 

    Victoria Jones, abandoned by her birth mother at only 3 weeks old, has been tossed around from foster home to foster home. She wasn't born an angry child, but she could not catch a break so she began to act out. Then, at the age of nine, she is placed with Elizabeth, a vineyard owner who desperately wants a child. It is with her that Victoria learns the almost extinct language of flowers, in which every flower has a distinct meaning. In the Victorian era, people would use the language of flowers to send secret messages to one another. Unfortunately, things don't turn out the way Victoria wanted them to with Elizabeth and now she has burned all her bridges. She is sent back to finish her childhood in a group home until she is tossed out at 18 to live on the streets in San Francisco. The only thing she has is her language of flowers, but is that enough to survive?

    There is so much that happens in this book. It is all so beautifully written that I didn't want to put it down. This will easily be in my top ten of 2011 list. I loved learning the meanings of flowers (and the inclusion of Victoria's Dictionary in the back of the book) and I can really understand the joy that Victoria got from the work she does with flowers. All of the characters were extremely well-developed and likable. The romance is believable instead of feeling forced. I can't stress that point enough. An actual realistic type of relationship is a breath of fresh air. Victoria Jones is a character that stole my heart from page one and would not let go until I finished her story.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Bossypants by Tina Fey

    I had high expectations of this book. And in no way was I disappointed. I picked up this book early in the afternoon and finished in the evening. I laughed out loud multiple times at Tina Fey's hilarity. If you are a fan of hers, then you will most definitely enjoy this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the behind the scenes look at SNLand 30 Rock (which was a majority of the book), but the best part was learning about Tina Fey growing up in Pennsylvania; to living in Chicago and working in improv; and then finally her big break in NYC writing for SNL. Tina really embraces who she is and how she became the boss in a man's world. It is a must read for any Tina Fey fan just to find out all the funny things she has to say (and to learn the story of her meeting Sarah Palin).

    From when Tina was doing a photo shoot:

    "Do I worry about overly retouched photos giving women unrealistic expectations and body image issues? I do. I think that we will soon see a rise in anorexia in women over seventy. Because only people over seventy are fooled by Photoshop."

    "I feel about Photoshop the way some people feel about abortion. It is appalling and a tragic reflection on the moral decay of our society…unless I need it, in which case, everybody be cool."

    The quote that pretty much sums up most of the book:

    "By the way, when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your fucking life."

    Rating: 5/5

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    If I Stay by Gayle Forman

    Let me start off by saying that I haven't experienced a loss even remotely close to what happens in this book. It was honestly hard for me to relate to that. In addition, I am not an overly emotional person, especially when watching a movie or reading a book (since I know its not real and always have a skeptical view of things that happen). I want a book to entertain me. Whether that is to make me laugh, or excited with its action or make me cry because it is so sad (which there is so very few that make this list.) This book does none of those things except in the very beginning.

    Synopsis: As Mia lies in between life and death, she has an out of body experience that enables her to see how people are reacting and listen to what they are saying to her. She has a difficult choice to make. She must go back and examine her past and decide if she wants to have a future.

    Have you ever thought about what you would choose?

    I liked the conjunction of music and family in the book. These two things are most important in Mia's life. As she recalls past events, both aspects take center stage in her tales. I thought the relationship with Adam was a bit pedantic and undeveloped. As I feel with most YA books, the romance aspect was thrown in just because. The author assumed Mia had to have a boyfriend because there had to be someone close to her at her side. I 
    really got no sense of Adam as a person. 

    It's a solid edition to the YA genre but not a real favorite of mine.

    Rating: 3/5

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    It's Hard Not to Hate You by Valerie Frankel

    I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First reads for review.

    I really enjoyed Valerie Frankel's new memoir. I don't know why, but I enjoy reading stories of others' real-life woes. I suppose it is because it makes me forget about my own. Thumbs up for that!

    Valerie Frankel decided that, at age twelve, she was not going to let anyone see the hurt and pain that was her life. Give the proverbial "poker face" to the world. She soon finds out that bottling these emotions has turned her into a stressed out, internal rage-aholic. Well, no longer, she says! She has earned her right to be ANGRY!!

    She discusses her life in the publishing world, family, and friends (or lack thereof), and all the gripes she has. She chides herself on feeling these emotions so strongly, but over the course of time learns that it is ok. Everyone has these feelings and letting them out is what keeps us (women) sane.

    Rating: 3/5

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    In My Mailbox #1

    In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren

    So I got some books in the mail this week, and as usual, it feels like Christmas. I love getting packages and flipping through the new books, and finding a place for them on my already packed bookshelves. Unfortunately, I am behind the times on YA releases so some of these might be a few years old, but I am still uber excited to read them.

    Got most from bookswap except I won The Hypnotist and Lights out in Wonderland from Goodreads First Reads program.

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Clarity by Kim Harrington

    Title: Clarity
    Author: Kim Harrington
    Publisher:  Scholastic Point (March 1, 2011)
    My Rating: 
    When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth?This paranormal murder mystery will have teens reading on the edge of their seats.
    Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.
    And a curse.
    When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case--but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother--who has supernatural gifts of his own--becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

    The book stars off with a bang. The first page shows Clarity "Clare" Fern looking down the barrel of a gun held by her would-be-killer. A body of a boy is lying next to her. The killer cocks the gun....fade to black.

    That certainly piqued my interest!

    The main story starts nine days earlier. Clare, her brother Perry, and their mother, Starla, all have some form of psychic abilities. Clare is labeled a "freak" while her brother is a real womanizer (which doesn't seem to fit, but I don't dwell on it). When a murder occurs in their little tourist town of Eastport, MA, Clare is called upon by the mayor to help solve the case. She is forced to work with her cheating ex-boyfriend and the sexy newcomer detective's son from NYC in order to solve the case.

    I would call this a paranormal murder mystery. I haven't read anything like this before in the young adult genre and it certainly was a great read. It is a wonderful debut novel by Kim Harrington. It is well written, realistic, and has a fluidity that is superior to many other "popular" young adult writers. I really loved the character of Clare right from the start. She's got an attitude and isn't afraid to say what's on her mind. I felt like she was a real person that I would know from school. I also really enjoyed Clare's mother. Perhaps because she was almost more of a friend/older sister instead of the typical mom. She can read minds so she is always popping up and talking to Clare about what she's thinking which is actually kind of funny.

    The best part is that the "whodunit" will keep you guessing until the very end; something that is hard to find these days, especially in your typical teen book.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    August TBR Pile

    Since I just started this blog, I thought I would share a sneak peek of what some of the upcoming books I will be reading this month. I read all sorts of books these days so you will sometimes see some old stuff on my "currently-reading" shelf, but I'll only post reviews of current (within last couple years) or pre-release reviews on here. For all of my reviews check out my goodreads page

    Look for my reviews soon on the following titles:

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Across the Universe by Beth Revis

    Title: Across the Universe
    Author: Beth Revis
    Publisher: Razorbill

    I loved this book. Sure, some parts were flawed and the writing was rather amateurish in some instances, but at its core this book was fully entertaining. Granted, I haven't read too much dystopian books except for The Hunger Games trilogy and The Sparrow, and it is unfair to compare it to either of them. Across the Universe really had that extra special something that I find lacking in other pieces of young adult literature. Imagination.

    The first chapter paints a picture of a future where, apparently, people are choosing to become cryogenically frozen for 300 years aboard a space vessel headed towards a new planet. Amy's parents are very important to the terraforming of the new planet so they must go, but they allow Amy to make her own choice. It puts her in a difficult situation of having to choose between her parents and everything else she has ever known. The reader is immediately drawn to Amy's emotionally turmoil and makes a connection with her. The scenes described of the freezing process is somewhat disturbing, yet amazingly vivid and really sets the reader up for a crazy ride.

    Cut to an indeterminate number of years later. Elder, a sixteen year old boy, who has grown up only on the ship Godspeed, is destined to become the next leader of the people of the ship. He is being taught by Eldest, the current leader, but Elder feels that he is being deceived. He finds maps withe parts of the ship he has never seen before, and the fact that Eldest is hiding the "stars" from him makes him question Eldest's motives. Elder is unaware of the frozen bodies in a secret section of the ship, but when he finds his way there using an old map, someone is mysteriously unfreezing these people. Killing them one by one unless they can be saved in time. What is the killer's motives? And who is the beautiful redheaded girl that was unfrozen first?

    This is one of the few YA books I have read lately that wasn't the same old pathetic characters. Amy and Elder really are people who stand for something bigger than themselves.

    Forgotten by Cat Patrick

    Title: Forgotten
    Author: Cat Patrick
    Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

    Each night at precisely 4:33 am, while sixteen-year-old London Lane is asleep, her memory of that day is erased. In the morning, all she can "remember" are events from her future. London is used to relying on reminder notes and a trusted friend to get through the day, but things get complicated when a new boy at school enters the picture. Luke Henry is not someone you'd easily forget, yet try as she might, London can't find him in her memories of things to come. 

    When London starts experiencing disturbing flashbacks, or flash-forwards, as the case may be, she realizes it's time to learn about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

    The beginning of this book was one of the most confusing I have ever read.

    Apparently, this girl, London, can "remember" the future. After she lives each day, she forgets the events of that day at 4:33 am. She is able to function by writing herself notes to remind herself of important past events that she has to read about every morning when she wakes up.

    The part that bugged me the most was that her problem was referred to as "remembering" or having memories of the future, instead of something like future telling or seeing the future. So London would always say something like "I know, because I remembered it" referring to something that hasn't happened yet. It just sounds weird and is very confusing at the beginning because the author just dives into her life with no explanations or set-ups.

    I did enjoy the 50 First Dates scenario that took place between London and Luke. She wouldn't remember him except from her notes everyday, yet when she sees him she instantly falls in love again. It is kind of cute, but mostly ridiculous. The second-half took a fairly dark turn when she has "memories" of someone dying and she can't seem to figure out who and how. At the same time, she attempts tracking down her father and her grandmother that she saw in her memory, but doesn't have any recollection of from her past.

    You, later, do find out a potential reason for London's condition but it is sort of just thrown in there and then forgotten about. I had high hopes for the premise, but I don't feel like it was executed well. That's how I feel about most YA novels these days.