Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thanks, But I'd Rather NOT Catch Jordan

Published: December 1st, 2011
Catching Jordan
By: Miranda Kenneally
Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN-13: 9781402262272


What girl doesn't want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn't just surrounded by hot guys, though - she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that's just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there's a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team... and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.



Review

   Jordan Woods is the star quarterback of her high school football team and in the South that's an accomlishment.  The girl's got major skills and is banking on a scholarship to her dream school in Alabama, even though her famous NFL star Dad doesn't approve AT ALL.  So of course she feels like it's all slipping away when Ty (who was a quarterback in his hometown) moves to town and joins the team.  Jordan's caught between wanting to get his attention off the field romantically and wanting to show him up out on the football field.  She has major support from her best friends J.J., Carter and Henry who have always treated her like one of the guys.  But things start to get weird with Henry (who's first name is Sam) and Jordan doesn't get why.  Plus it looks more and more like Alabama is only interested in Jordan because of her Dad and has no intention to actually use her on the field if she goes there.  When she finally gets a relationship with Ty will it be enough or is something missing?  What's the deal with Henry and will they be able to fix their problems?  Can Jordan finally get her Dad to accept that she loves football and is going to play with or without his approval?  I was into the main plot of the book.  I thought all of the side characters, while not exactly 3-dimensional, were still engaging and well written.  I loved J.J. and Carter, plus the cheerleaders that teach Jordan girls can be good people too.  Henry was too good to be believed, but her wasn't perfect.  His imperfections are what made me truly adore him.  I, however, was not so impressed with Jordan.  It felt like she was trying too hard to convince herself that she could be the quarterback and still like being a girl too.  Plus, she was so FREAKING BLIND when it came to Henry's feelings for her!!!  I was annoyed by how long that situation was dragged out.  A major complaint is all of the casual sex going on in this book.  It was off-putting and made me seriously want to scream.  The family relationships were interesting but not quite so realistic as the friendships were.  Jordan's brother was awesome, but her parents were background figures masquerading as side characters.  Her "romance" with Ty was so unbearably shallow I wouldn't even use that word to describe the relationship.  My favorite part was the class project with the mechanical baby - so funny.  On the upside, this book did a good job of making me understand football better without boring me to tears!  This book was okay, but not highly recommended by me. 

VERDICT:  2.5/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

If You're In My Future, That's Okay By Me...

Published: November 21st, 2011
The Future of Us
By: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Razorbill
ISBN-13: 9781595144911


It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.


Review

   Emma's life is okay, but her Father just moved away with her Stepmom and half sister to another state.  Now she's stuck with her Mother and her third husband, a guy Emma thinks is a complete dork.  She's also no longer really talking to her former best friend Josh, because of something that happened between them last November.  So when Josh's Mom has him bring over the AOL cd they got in the mail for Emma to use on the computer her Dad bought her (guilt gift), things are awkward.  Imagine their shock when they are connected to Facebook, a thing that shows them their future!  Of course, things get even worse when Emma doesn't like the looks of her future and realizes that by changing her actions now, her future changes.  In the course of a week, Facebook changes both Josh and Emmas' future and present realities.  While coming to terms with the uncertainty of the future, Emma also comes to terms with the fact that everything changes and sometimes you just have to leap in without assurance.  Will Emma admit her feelings for Josh are romantic, or will she continue to deny it and destroy what connection they have left to each other.  I liked the alternate viewpoints in this book, because with a male and female author it turned out more realistically than one author writing two people's minds usually does.  Emma was a average teenage girl, but she had so many layers.  Her parents' divorce and her Mom's subsequent dysfunctional relationships have changed her more than she realizes.  Emma goes out with guys she knows won't last, because she's too afraid of getting her heart broken.  Josh loves Emma, but he's just about given up on her due to her lack of initiative.  I also liked their best friends Kellan and Tyson, who have such an on-off relationship that you never know where they stand.  Part of the plot is Emma trying to stop Kellan from getting pregnant as a teenager, because she learns on Facebook that Kella has a fourteen year old daughter, which means Tyson is most likely the Father.  I thought that sub-plot was realistic and finished well.  I liked that Josh and Emma were confused teens.  One or the other wasn't the victim, they were both to blame for their fights and misunderstandings.  The ending wasn't exactly unpredictable, but the book was so enjoyable I didn't mind at all.  Not perfect, but close.

VERDICT:  4.25/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox # 12


   In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that I picked up from The Story Siren's blog. If you don't know what this is, it is a way for us bloggers to show our followers what books we've received this week in the mail, bought somewhere or gotten from the library or elsewhere! :)

   So people, I skipped this post last week because I was busy drinking nasty stuff to clear my system and get ready for my procedure at the hospital.  I therefore have two weeks worth of books to tell you all about in this week's IMM!  I got a lot of good books this week and I'm ahead on my reading so I have quite a few reviews ready to go out for your enjoyment.  But enough of that, here are the books:

Books I Bought or Got Free On Amazon

Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block (Goodreads / Amazon)
Reveal by Brina Courtney (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Strangers Outside by Vanessa Morgan (Goodreads / Amazon)
Sleepers by Megg Jensen (Goodreads / Amazon)
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (Goodreads / Amazon)
Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens (Goodreads / Amazon)
Moon Spell (Tale of Lunarmorte #1) by Samantha Young (Goodreads / Amazon)
Zombies Don't Cry: A Living Dead Love Story by Rusty Fischer (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Mind Readers by Lori Brighton (Goodreads / Amazon )
Meeting Destiny by Nancy Straight (Goodreads / Amazon)
Mortal Obligation by Nichole Chase (Goodreads / Amazon)
Laney (The Brookehaven Vampires) by Joann I. Martin Sowles (Goodreads / Amazon)

Books I Got From NetGalley

Midnight In Austenland by Shannon Hale (Goodreads / Amazon)
I Am (Not) The Walrus by Ed Briant (Goodreads / Amazon )
Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter (Goodreads / Amazon)

Books I Got From the Library

A Million Suns by Beth Revis (Goodreads / Amazon )
Don't Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough (Goodreads / Amazon )
Switched by Amanda Hocking (Goodreads / Amazon )
Dragonswood by Janet Carey Lee (Goodreads / Amazon )
Vanish by Sophie Jordan (Goodreads / Amazon)

That's all for this weeks edition of In My Mailbox fellow book minions! Quite a haul and I definitely will be busy for a long time. I have upcoming reviews The Future of Us, Catching Jordan, Breadcrumbs, Shut Out, Every Boy's Got One, and Bloodlines.  Told ya I've been reading a lot!!! :)  Happy reading y'all.

And the Winners are.....



So, I don't know how many of you entered my New Year's giveaway.  But it is now over and the winners are chosen! 

First Prize: Alexis
Books Chosen: Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando and Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber

Second Prize: Haley
Book Chosen: A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

Congratulations ladies, I hope you enjoy your books!  To everyone who didn't win this time around, don't worry.  You will have more chances at winning some good prizes.  Just keep a lookout and enter when there's a contest! :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nothing Good Is Unleashed.....

Published: November 22nd, 2011
Unleashed: Wolf Springs Chronicles #1
By: Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 9780385740982


Katelyn McBride’s life changed in an instant when her mother died. Uprooted from her California home, Katelyn was shipped to the middle of nowhere, Arkansas, to her only living relative, her grandfather. And now she has to start over in Wolf Springs, a tiny village in the Ozark Mountains. Like any small town, Wolf Springs has secrets. But the secrets hidden here are more sinister than Katelyn could ever imagine. It’s a town with a history that reaches back centuries, spans continents, and conceals terrifying truths. And Katelyn McBride is about to change everything.

Broken families, ageless grudges, forced alliances, and love that blooms in the darkest night—welcome to Wolf Springs.


Review

   Katelyn McBride is forced to move from California to Arkansas to live with her Grandpa, when her Mom dies unexpectedly in an earthquake.  Kat has basically given up on continuing her dance and gymnastics aspirations until she goes away to school after finishing her senior year in Wolf Springs.  She dreams of being a trapeze artist for Cirque de Soleil and wants it more than anything.  When she gets to Wolf Springs she soon gets swept away with the mysterious death of a young girl right before Kat got there.  Becoming friends with Cordelia, a girl who has a very complicated family situation and being torn between two guys only makes things even worse.  Katelynis attracted to Justin but he's already in a serious relationship, even though he's kissed her into confusion.  Also there's Trick, a social outcast who is friends with Kat's Grandpa and keeps playing hot and cold on her.  What lurks in the woods of Wolf Springs and how will it change Kat's life forever?  This was an interesting book at first and had some promise.  I really did like Kat and her ambitious nature.  But then she just completely quits thinking an talking about her love for dance/gymnastics.  It made me think it couldn't have been that important to her.  Cordelia was basically a character who seems to exist only to move along the plot.  She has moments of good humor and I like that she's such an awesome friend to Kat - at least until it becomes a little too complicated.  Then she starts to act like her spine is made of jelly and Kat is a major nuisance.  The whole love triangle thing is so played out and it dragged, really grating on my nerves.  Both the guys were major assholes in my honest opinion, not that Kat wasn't a total moron also by that point.  The werewolve mythology in the book was underdeveloped, although intriguing.  It was the main reason I finished the book.  I definitely won't be reading the next one, as this was a major disappointment.

VERDICT:  1.5/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Not Quite Epic, But Plenty of Fun

Published: August 2nd, 2011
Epic Fail
By: Claire LaZebnik
HarperTeen
ISBN-13: 9780061921261


Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail?
At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:
As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.
As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.
When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.

Review

  Elise Benton has just been moved from a perfectly average life in Massachusetts with her parents and three sisters, to California.  She is living among children of movie stars and going to school with them because of her parents' jobs as Principal and a teacher at the exclusive private school.  Immediately her older sister Julianna starts crushing on popular Chase and Elise is forced to spend lots of time with him and his best friend Derek.  She mistakes Derek's hesitance to trust people for snobbishness and the belief that he's above everyone else.  This leads Elise to get involved with social pariah Webster Grant, who knows all the right things to say, but may not be all that he seems.  All the while, she's trying to corral her younger sister Layla and stop her reckless behavior.  Will Elise be able to set aside her first impressions and realize that Derek is not as bad as he seems?  Can there be more than friendship blooming between them if she allows it to happen?  I went into this book not realizing that it was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  But the minute I realized this I was taken in completely.  I love Austen retellings, and devour them like no other!  This book was no exception to that hunger.  I loved Elise's playful humor, but her density when realizing Webster's true colors and Derek's good nature was slightly annoying at times.  It felt like it took to long at times and was unnecessarily dragged out.  But I adored the interactions between Elise and Julianna, they were like real sisters in the way the talked to each other.  Their relationship wasn't overly idealized.  Layla was just as bratty in this book as Lydia in the original, but there was more of a cause for it.  You could tell that she felt left out and stuck in the middle of her older sisters and the little sister, Kaitlin (who in the original is much closer to her in age).  It was a cute book and I enjoyed the romance and all of its minor obstacles.   But I wouldn't suggest it to people who are looking for a deep book to read.  This is more of a fluffy book, for fans of the original or those who can look on it as its own book.

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Listen Closely Wednesdays # 6


   Hi everyone! As my followers have by now learned, I am passionate about Young Adult books. But I also love many other forms of expression, including music. I truly believe in the quote that is pictured above and as such have decided to create a weekly meme that is dedicated to sharing music that I believe in, music that has touched me, made me laugh/cry or just plain feel something more. Every week, Listen Closely Wednesdays will talk about five songs that have been important to me that week, why they made the list and I will post all pertinent info about the song itself as well. If you wish to do this on your own blog, please credit me. It is something that I would love to share but I do want to be recognized as this having been my own, original idea. On that note, feel free to comment about the things I share with you or about the music that's on your mind at the time. I'd love to hear all about it! Without further adieu, let's kick off this week's Listen Closely Wednesday!

Five Songs That Took Me Back To The 1990s This Week

1.  'Iris' sung by: The Goo Goo Dolls
- This song is available on the album, "Dizzy Up the Girl" (1998) and can be found on iTunes, Amazon, and many other places. 

- Reason Behind It:  This song is just so ingrained in the 90s for me it isn't funny.  They played this on the radio A LOT when I was a kid and I loved the Goo Goo Dolls then - I still do.  It's just a good song.


2.  'Bitch' sung by: Meredith Brooks
- This song is available on the album, "Blurring The Edges" (1997) and can be found on iTunes, Amazon, and many other outlets that distribute music as digital files or hard copies.  Not a hard song to locate! :)

- Reason Behind It:  This song makes me mellow out, believe it or not.  It also makes me confident in who I am, ready to tell someone to shove it if they don't like me.  I am perfect just the way I am, even if that means I'm full of contradictions.


3.  'One of Us' sung by: Joan Osborne
- This song is available on the album, "Relish" (1995) which can be found on iTunes, Amazon and just about anywhere older music is available for sale (I recently saw it on Salvation Army shelves).

- Reason Behind It:  In the 1990s everyone thought they were SO original and philisophical.  But Joan Osborne is just asking a question people have always asked: what would God be like if he was just another person?  That's the reason you still hear this on the radio occasionally.  Because it's an ages old question we all wonder about.


4.  'I Don't Want To Wait' sung by: Paula Cole
- This song is available on the album, "This Fire" (1996) and can be found on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube and many other places.  Plus, I'm sure many of you recognize it from a certain TV show...

- Reason Behind It:  When I think of the 90s, I inevitably think about Dawson's Creek.  That leads me to this song, which was the theme song for the first year and a half of the song.  When they switched theme songs I WAS PISSED OFF.  This is still the theme to me and they used it on the series finale.  Therefore, it is one of my quintessential 90s songs.


5.  'Sunny Came Home' sung by: Shawn Colvin
- This song is available on the album, "A Few Small Repairs" (1996) and can be found on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, etc.  It's an easy find! :)

- Reason Behind It:  This song is one that I was obsessed with as a kid.  I got a Walkman for Christmas in 1997 and this is one of the first cassette tapes I owned (this and the Backstreet Boys' first album).  I played this so much you'd think it was the only song in existence.  Plus, I heard it on the radio quite a bit as well.  This song just got into me and I still sing along every time I hear it.


   That's all for this weeks edition of Listen Closely Wednesdays. I'm honored if you decided to read this post and I would love to hear your thoughts. Happy listening my friends! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

Published: January 3rd, 2012
Cinder
By: Marissa Meyer
Feiwel & Friends
ISBN-13: 9780312641894


Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.


Review

   Cinder is a teenage girl who only dreams of escape from the virtual enslavement of her stepmother.  The only bright spots are the family android Iko, whose broken personality chip makes her one of a kind, and her stepsister Peony who is a sweet girl who loves her.  Cinder is her stepmother's property because she is 36.8 percent not human (a.k.a. a cyborg).  When she fixes an android for Prince Kai and becomes embroiled in Palace life, she learns that things are not always as they seem.  She is immune to the plague that is besetting the city, but not for any reason she ever would have guessed.  There is romance brewing between Prince Kai and herself, but it is complicated because she is a second-class citizen.  The country is almost at war with the Lunars because of the cruelty and scheming of their ruler, Queen Levana.  She wants to become empress of the country and destroy the rest of the planet.  How can one cyborg girl be important enough to stand in her way?  What revelation will shock even Cinder when it comes to light.  This was such a science-fictionally based book that at first I was hesistant.  But I love fairy tales and their retellings, so I gave it a shot.  I loved Cinder because of her feistiness.  And the royalty with their political problems and looming war were interesting as well.  I was happy that Meyer didn't overshoot with the romance.  The main object of the book was always Cinder and her quest to find out who she was, where she fit in.  I can't say the 'shocking twist' was something I didn't see coming a mile away.  But I didn't mind, which says something good about the quality of this book. 

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars


*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Monday, January 23, 2012

Everything's Shiny...

Published: December 8th, 2011
Illuminated
By: Erica Orloff
Speak
ISBN-13: 9780142413760


Some loves are not made to last . . . Like Romeo and Juliet, Heloise and Abelard were doomed from the start, and their romance was destined to pass into history. Yet when sixteen-year-old Callie Martin discovers a diary hidden within an antique book, their story - and hers - takes on another life. For the diary leads Callie to the brilliant and handsome August, who is just as mysterious as the secret the diary hides. Their attraction is undeniable. As the two hunt down the truth behind the diary - and that of Heloise and Abelard's ancient romance - their romance becomes all-consuming. But Callie knows it can't last . . . love never does. Will their love that burns as bright as a shooting star flame out, or will these star-crossed lovers be able to defy history?

Review

   Callie lives with her Uncle Harry and his partner Gabe every summer and this one is no exception.  Except her Uncle has gotten a rare book to sell from a client and thinks it might be the discovery of a lifetime: a palimpset (a book where there are two layers of writing).  Enter August and his Father, who have a family business of rare books.  Since his Dad has agoraphobia, August and Callie are the ones invesitgating the book and trying to figure out who wrote it.  They are also immediately attracted to each other and begin to fall in love.  The book might belong to the son of tragic lovers Heloise and Abelard.  Will Callie and August's story end tragicly too?  This was an interesting book.  While romance was a big part of it, the book would have been better off without it.  Callie was presented initially as a smart, level-headed young girl.  Then her brain turns to mush in the presence of August.  It kind of disgusted me quite a bit.  The mystery was pretty interesting, since I kind of love history and legends that are slightly beyond historical fact.  I would not recommend this too highly though unless you're really into love at first sight.  Not for me, most definitely.

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How To Save Yourself

Published: October 18th, 2011
How To Save A Life
By: Sara Zarr
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 9780316036061


Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she's somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.
Mandy Kalinowski understands what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she's sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It's harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?
As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy--or as difficult--as it seems.
Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about the many roads that can lead us home.

Review

   Jill MacSweeney is still grieving hard for her Father, who died very recently in a car accident.  So she is resentful when her Mother decides to adopt a baby, because she feels like she's trying to replace him.  Mandy Kalinowski just wants a way out of her messed up life.  She doesn't know if the baby is a result of a one-night stand at the county fair or the product of sexual abuse by her Mom's boyfriend.  Either way, she knows she can't take care of it and Robin MacSweeney seems like a good person to entrust the baby to.  When Mandy comes to stay with Jill and Robin for the last month of her pregnancy, will they manage to keep each other from breaking down or will they all fall apart completely?  Mandy begins to have second thoughts about the adoption, but will she keep her promise?  This book was heartwrenchingly beautiful.  I am not a huge Sara Zarr fan and I could take or leave her other books.  But this one was love at first sight.  I was glad that it was from Mandy and Jill's points of view alternately.  I really sypmathized with Jill's problems and she was a great girl at heart.  But being from the wrong side of the tracks myself, Mandy really tugged at my heart.  By my Aunt's husband I was voted most likely to be a teen Mom and I always wondered what my decision would be if I did become one (I never did BTW).  I loved the realistic relationships between the characters and the ending was awesome, but I'm not gonna say anymore for fear of spoilers.  I couldn't put it down and it's the best contemporary fiction book I've read so far this year! :)

VERDICT:  5/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Friday, January 20, 2012

Melody, Please Burn to Death (Pretty PLEASE!!!)

Published: December 6th, 2011
Melody Burning
By: Whitley Strieber
Henry Holt and Co.
ISBN-13: 9780805093278


Beresford doesn’t remember much about his past or how he came to live in the chutes and crawl spaces of the posh high-rise that shares his name. But when rock star and teen sensation Melody McGrath moves to an apartment on the fiftieth floor, he knows he has to be near her. Although she doesn’t realize it, Melody is threatened by more dangerous forces than her manipulative stage mom and the pressures of life in the spotlight. The owner of the glamorous building has been hiding a fatal secret within its walls, and Beresford puts all his plans at risk. Will Beresford and Melody be able to escape with their lives (and love) intact?


Review

   The book starts off with a prologue of little Robbie and his Dad being held at gunpoint on a work elevator in an apartment building that's under construction.  Dad ends up dying and having his body dumped down the elevator shaft, while Robbie has to hide from the psycho named Luther, who has the gun.  Flash forward about ten or eleven years, where everything is all suddenly about teen pop star Melody McGrath, who has moved into the Beresford apartment complex.  She is almost certain that someone is inside the walls, spying on her.  Her Mom thinks she's having a psychotic break, but Melody is right.  Robbie is still in the walls, living in the vent/duct system and sneaking things necessary to his survival from people's apartments.  Only, he doesn't remember his name (so he calls himself Beresford) or how old he is, but he's figured out how to DVR the T.V. show Melody is on and is obsessed with her.   The owner of the complex wants a hit man to find and get rid of the boy, because he plans to burn down the place for the insurance money.  He even built it with code-breaking constructions so the fire would spread faster!  Melody discovers Beresford, but he gets taken away.  Without him there to protect her, will Melody survive?  This book had a promising prologue and I got interested at first.  Then it developed a split personality, unable to figure out who was the main character and what the plot was trying to accomplish.  I get sick inside when I think about how good this book could've been and wasn't, because Mr. Strieber unsuccessfully tried to write romance between a wild child, with the mind of a preschooler and a mature teenage girl.  It sickened me and I wished for the answers to the mystery to be fleshed out - I got crumbs instead of cornbread.  Don't read this unless you want to read something that NEVER should have made it past the press, onto the shelves.  Waste of ink, sadly enough.

VERDICT:  1/5  Stars and my true revulsion at it's lack of realistic decency (this from someone who used to LOVE Flowers In The Attic as a teenager, which I think says a lot!)

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Follow Me Friday # 7




   So, Follow my Blog Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and AlisonCanRead. It's where you answer the weekly question and then link yourself and you go and check out other blogs of your interest.

Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get your hands on any particular book?

A:  So, I am NOT AT ALL crazy!  I have never done anything the slightest bit out there to get a particular book.  I will say that I'm persistent and will continue submitting requests if I don't get my way the first time on NetGalley.  I get something of a murderous shine to my eye and become really stubborn about it.  Other than that, I am deathly boring! :)

We Have No Stars That Last Forever

Published: January 10th, 2012
The Fault In Our Stars
By: John Green
Dutton Juvenile
ISBN-13: 9780525478812


Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.


Review

   Hazel being alive is a miracle in and of itself, after being diagnosed with stage four cancer.  Gus is also lucky to be alive after losing a leg to osteosarcoma.  The two of them meet at cancer support group and there is an immediate connection, although Hazel is reluctant to make any friends at all because of her tenuous hold on her health.  But when they exchange books, Hazel's favorite book about a teenage girl with cancer strikes a chord with Gus.  Determined to have all the unaswered questions at the end of the book resolved, Gus uses his wish from the 'Genies' at the Make A Wish Foundation to arrange a trip to Amsterdam for him, Hazel and her Mom (because she used her wish on Disneyworld).  Through the disappointments of the author Peter Van Houten and everything that comes, Hazel and Gus manage to forge a strong relationship.  All of that comes crashing down in the shocking aftermath of a relapse of the health of one of them.  Who will live and who will die?  And what does it really mean to live on after you die, to make a difference with a life that meant something?  I loved this book quite a lot.  Hazel is a witty main character, who knows what to expect for the rest of her life and how she wants to live it.  I also adore Gus who likes the sunny side of things, but is also a stark realist with his feet on the ground.  The side characters are wonderfully written, with a plot that never goes stale or cliched.  There was not a single instance when I was disappointed with this book and it produced a beautiful ache in me that only the best books can give.  As my first John Green book, I am happy to say that I was not let down.  It was everything it promised and more.  I found myself truly angry whenever I had to put it down and go back to life.  Highly recommended for those who like books with heart to them.

VERDICT:  5/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Unfurl Blog Tour: Guest Post and Giveaway With Cidney Swanson!!!

Please enjoy the following guest interview of Samantha Ruiz, the main character from Cidney Swanson's RIPPLE TRILOGY. Plus, there's a great giveaway at the bottom!






1.  If you could choose to change whether or not you could ripple, would you get rid of the ability?
Honestly, no, I wouldn’t. I know that might sound crazy considering that my life could be all safe and normal if I didn’t have Rippler’s Syndrome. But think of it this way: how cool is it to be able to be invisible? And here’s the thing. It’s even more cool than it sounds. Um, that came out weird. I guess what I mean is that the being-invisible isn’t necessarily even the coolest part. Walking through a plate glass window? Hello! Now that is some crazy kind of wonderful.

2.  Sir Walter is a very interesting person to be around.  What era would you want him to give you a history lesson on?
 I don’t know anything about the era he was born into. Like, at all. Our French teacher says she’s going to tell us all about Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Proven├žal minstrels and how French cooking really came from Italy in the 14th century, but she hasn’t done it yet. The 14th century just sounds like it was a pretty cool time to be born. Well, except for the Black Plague. And all the wars. And no indoor plumbing. Okay, okay, maybe it wasn’t all that great to live in it, but I’d like to hear about it.

3.  If you and Will were a famous couple from literature, who would you be?
In my English class, we just read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen which totally rocked, BTW. Even better than the movie although Matthew McFadyen looked good. For an old dude. Will would be Darcy and I would be Elizabeth. Except, really, I’d probably have to be Darcy (a girl version) because he was lots friendlier than me at the beginning. But Will and I have the whole “miscommunication” thing going on like they did.

4.  What would you do if you could spend one more day with your Mother?
Oh. Wow. I’d spend it in Yosemite, on a sunny day, watching her paint the Merced River or Half Dome or anything, really. I loved to watch her paint. There was just something so peaceful about seeing her face change expression from frustrated to satisfied and back again. And of course seeing the canvas come alive with color. We would eat dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel dining room. We would drive home and get Foster’s Freeze soft serve in a regular cone. Then she would read to me from Little Women until I fell asleep.

5.   How old would you choose to be for the longest if you decided to let rippling slow down your aging process?
This is really, really hard to answer. I mean, it would be a lot simpler if I could take all my family members along with me. But life isn’t like that, is it? Will and I have talked about this a little bit. It seems like Sir Walter has really enjoyed living his six hundred-ish years, so maybe about that long? If I remember right from Harry Potter, I think Nicholas Flamel and his wife lived around that long and then they were good with just finishing out an ordinary lifespan. So, yeah, maybe six hundred-ish.



No Continental Drift...

Published: December 25th, 2011
Unfurl
By: Cidney Swanson
Williams Press
ASIN: B006Q5TTNC


Against all expectations, Samantha Ruiz has survived attacks by two of Helmann’s deadliest assassins. She’s alive, but she’s far from safe. Helmann is planning a second Holocaust and wants Sam to play a starring role. Will, meanwhile, separated from Sam by an ocean, seeks a way to prevent Helmann’s apocalypse. Along with Sir Walter and Mickie, Will plays a deadly game sneaking into Geneses’ facilities, discovering unsettling clues as to Helmann’s plans. The clock ticks down as Will and Sam discover just how much they must be willing to sacrifice to stop Helmann. UNFURL, the powerful conclusion to The Ripple Series, will leave fans breathless.


Review

   Unfurl picks up right where Chameleon left off: Sam going back to California and Will staying in France with Micke and Sir Walter.  Sam makes her way back to the States in the company of Christian, the son of Sir Walter, who has promised to act as her bodyguard.  Meanwhile, in France Sir Walter, Mickie and Will are trying to find out why Geneses has been buying random warehouses near the demographics they despise, while keeping them seemingly unused.  Hans manages to kidnap Sam and take something from her that could allow Helmann to clone her infinitely.  It turns out that Helmann has been experimenting with new results from his 'children' - he wants them to be the ones to play savior when he unleashes his planned devastations.  Will Sam and her family be able to come out unscathed from Hans' wrath when she escapes from him, yet again?  Can they all find a way to defeat Helmann and save the millions of people he is planning genocide for?  I loved this book!  It was extremely fast-paced and actiony which made it an awesome conclusion to the series.  Not once did I get bored or annoyed with the characters or the plot.  Cidney has amazed me with her ability to keep me riveted through the entire series, where as some trilogies die painful deaths at the end of the second book.  Sam and Will's longing for each other was not overdone in my opinion - it was very tasteful and true to the way teens are.  Plus, my favorite part of the book is at the end when Sam tells him, "You are my Africa."  That is such a cute ending scene for such a beautiful series.  I liked the fact that no unnecessary character death was thrown in as a plot device and I am completely exicted to see what Cidney writes next! :)

VERDICT:  5/5 Stars  Plus my eternal friendship and lots of hugs

*I was given an ebook copy of this book by the author herself (who is awesome), in exchange only for an honest review.  This book was published December 25th, 2011.*

Listen Closely Wednesdays # 5



   Hi everyone! As my followers have by now learned, I am passionate about Young Adult books. But I also love many other forms of expression, including music. I truly believe in the quote that is pictured above and as such have decided to create a weekly meme that is dedicated to sharing music that I believe in, music that has touched me, made me laugh/cry or just plain feel something more. Every week, Listen Closely Wednesdays will talk about five songs that have been important to me that week, why they made the list and I will post all pertinent info about the song itself as well. If you wish to do this on your own blog, please credit me. It is something that I would love to share but I do want to be recognized as this having been my own, original idea. On that note, feel free to comment about the things I share with you or about the music that's on your mind at the time. I'd love to hear all about it! Without further adieu, let's kick off this week's Listen Closely Wednesday!

Five Songs That Have Helped Me Feel Good About Myself and My Life

1.  'Tonight' sung by: Seether
- This song is available on their album "Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray" which was released in 2011.  It should be fairly easy to find! :)

- Reason Behind It:  I LOVE the lyrics of the first verse of this song.  They remind me that I have it a lot better than I think sometimes, when I'm feeling down.  It reminds me to smile and be grateful for the general ease of my life.  My favorite verse:

"I'm not gonna waste this
This opportunity's mine
I'm sick of complaining
About a beautiful life."

Who else is so totally sick of complaining about a beautiful life?  Because it IS beautiful you guys, more than we ever realize.


2.  'Pop! Goes My Heart' sung by: Hugh Grant
- This song is available on the soundtrack to the film "Music and Lyrics."  It's a few years old and easy to find in America at least.  Don't know how the movie did in other countries! :)

- Reason Behind It:  This song makes you sing along, mimicking the ridiculous dance moves from the movie.  The whole idea is for it to mirror an 80s Pop song - the music video is TOTALLY HILARIOUS.  Not even kidding.  The movie is cute but this song is def my favorite part of it! :)


3.  'Manic Monday' sung by: Relient K
- This song is a remake of a Bangles song from the 80s.  It is on an album on American iTunes called "Punk Goes 80s" and I don't think it's particularly widespread.

- Reason Behind It:  I love the original, but this one a has a certain crazed energy to it that makes you want to run around the room, dancing like a crazy person.  Plus, remakes are seldom that great.  This happens to be an exception.  It's worth checking out! :)



4.  'Determinate' sung by: Lemonade Mouth
- This song is a product of a fictional band from a Disney Channel original movie, based on a truly AWESOME YA book of the same name.  It is available on the soundtrack.  Very easy to find! :)

- Reason Behind It:  I love the fact that Disney did not totally wreck the heart of the book.  And the music is so very catchy and danceable it isn't funny.  These kids can actually sing, which is a rarity for Disney Channel stars.  That justifies my love for this song, if nothing else does.


5.  'Wonderman' sung by: Tinie Tempah ft. Ellie Goulding
- This song is available as a single on iTunes and on the album "Disc-Overy" released in 2011.  This is recent and he is a pretty big rapper in Britain I believe, so it shouldn't be hard to find! :)

- Reason Behind It:  I love this song because of the awesome lyrics that are relevant to my world and the great beat/back-up singing by Ellie Goulding (who I am obsessed with)!  It just makes me feel good! :)


   That's all for this weeks edition of Listen Closely Wednesdays. I'm honored if you decided to read this post and I would love to hear your thoughts. Happy listening my friends! :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Pledge Allegiance, Not To You

Published: November 15th, 2011
The Pledge
By: Kimberly Derting
Margaret K. McElderry
ISBN-13: 9781442422018


In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.


Review

   Charlie has grown up in a society that has been rebuilt from ruin, using a caste system that separates the people cruelly.  No one is allowed to speak any language than the one of their station and Englaise, the common tongue.  If they even look at another person while they speak their class' language, they will be executed.  Charlie has a secret: she can understand any language that is spoken, no matter whether she's heard it before or not.  One night while she's at a club with her friend Brooklyn, Charlie hears someone speak in a tongue she doesn't recognize.  Intrigued, she becomes involved in a power struggle she never imagined.  One that will put Charlie, her parents, and her little sister Angelina's lives at risk.  Max knows something about Charlie that will question everything she has ever believed to be true.  Can she save herself and everyone else in the kingdom from the tyranny of the monarchy?  Or will her very soul be a casualty of war?  This was a truly interesting novel.  I liked the concept of language and caste systems being the true barrier in a dystopian society.  Charlie is such a strong female heroine that I couldn't help but like her.  That said, the Queen (as the villain of the story) was way too one-dimensional.  It was like she was evil for no reason at all, other than power had driven her mad.  The plot could have benefited from far more backstory than it was given.  The romance between Max and Charlie was sweet, but not exactly probable.  At times it was slightly Twilight-y and that did nothing to improve upon it for me.  I loved little Angelina, who has a gift and strength of spirit all her own.  Brooklyn and Aron could've been so much more - alas they were merely plot devices as was Xander, Max's cousin and leader of the resistance.  Unfortunately, it was quite predictable and not thorough enough for my enjoyment.  I was expecting the harsh beauty of The Girl of Fire and Thorns - I got weak writing instead.  I thought the epilogue left way too much to be desired.

VERDICT:  2/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mindy Kicks Metaphorical Butt, While Jessica Rules

Published: January 10th, 2012
Jessica Rules the Dark Side
By: Beth Fantaskey
Harcourt Children's Books
ISBN-13: 9780547393094


It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?

Review

   Jessica and Lucius are married and living in Romania.  While she's trying to learn how to rule the vampire population with confidence, Jess is suffering from a serious lack of belief in herself - and a squeamishness of drinking blood.  Also, none of the Elders seem to think that an alliance between an American-raised Dragomir princess and a Vladescu was a good idea.  Mindy is stuck in community college, wishing that things had worked out with Raniero, the hot surfer cousin of Lucius she met at his and Jess' wedding.  When she starts failing out of her classes, she makes plans to visit Romania and stay for winter break.  Of course right before she arrives someone murders Lucius' Uncle Claudiu, right after he stands up and states treasonus thoughts about Lucius.  Then there's also the blood on the tip of Lucius' stake and the hallucinations Jessica seems to be undergoing.  The Elders agree to put Lucius in the dungeon while they investigate, but how long will he survive without blood?  Will the real killer be brought to justice?  And what will happen between Mindy and Raniero?  I liked this book and it kept me reading to the end, curious to know what would happen.  I loved the fact that the book was a combination of letters/e-mails between Raniero and Lucius, plus Jessica and Mindy's points of view alternately.  Mindy is so entertaining and true to herself, that I can't help but laugh at her ditzy version of practicality.  Raniero is such a complex character and his obsession with surfing and tacos is wonderful!  But I will say, this would have been a much stronger book if it had just been about them.  Jessica was a far weaker character in this book, so unsure of herself that I almost didn't recognize her as the same girl.  Jess' family, her cousin Ylenia and her Uncle were really under-used and underdeveloped characters.  The "mystery" of who killed Claudiu was painfully easy to solve and the hints dropped were about as subtle as an anvil in an Acme cartoon.  That said, this book was worth reading for Mindy and Raniero alone!  If you find yourself almost wanting to skip the scenes with Jess and Lucius to get to the good stuff faster, don't see it as a bad thing.  Be happy that there was something to hold this book together!  I only suggest this for very big fans of the first book.

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores and online.*

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In My Mailbox # 11



   In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that I picked up from The Story Siren's blog. If you don't know what this is, it is a way for us bloggers to show our followers what books we've received this week in the mail, bought somewhere or gotten from the library or elsewhere! :)

   I am on A ROLL with NetGalley!  But the one that I'm coveting hasn't come through yet - maybe next week.  In the meantime I got like a bajillion books this week!  I am so excited that I have all these great books to read, it is awesome (especially after the time about 2 months ago when my pile was dangerously low).  I have over a hundred followers now!!!  I am grateful to all of you guys for listening to my ramblings and hopefully the reviews help you out in some way, shape or form.  Now onto the books:

Books I Got For Free On Amazon

All's Fair In Love and Words by Ann Herrick (Goodreads / Amazon)
Immortal Embrace by Charlotte Blackwell (Goodreads / Amazon)

Books I Got From NetGalley

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown (Goodreads / Amazon)
Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel (Goodreads / Amazon)
Centauriad #1: Daughter of the Centaurs by Kate Klimo (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman (Goodreads / Amazon)

Books I Got From The Library

Betrayed by Morgan Rice (ebook) (Goodreads / Amazon )
Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson (ebook) (Goodreads / Amazon)
Crossed by Ally Condie (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff (Goodreads / Amazon)
Death Watch by Ari Berk (Goodreads / Amazon)
Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot (Goodreads / Amazon)
Gwyneth and the Thief by Margaret Moore (Goodreads / Amazon )
Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade (Goodreads / Amazon)
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (Goodreads / Amazon)
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (Goodreads / Amazon )
Dark Souls by Paula Morris (Goodreads / Amazon )
Unleashed by Nancy Holder (Goodreads / Amazon )
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (Goodreads / Amazon)
Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (Goodreads / Amazon )


That's all for this weeks edition of In My Mailbox fellow book minions! Quite a haul and I definitely will be busy for a long time. I have upcoming reviews for Unfurl (I postponed so it would be closer to Sydney's guest post), Jessica Rules the Dark Side, and The Fault In Our Stars.  School is off for the day on Monday because of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.  And next Monday might be pretty barren because I'm undergoing a procedure at the hospital and will be under the haze of anesthesia most of that day.  So enjoy the rest of the week and if I write anything crazy on January 23rd, you'll now why! :)  Happy reading y'all.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Follow Me Friday # 6


   So, Follow my Blog Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee and AlisonCanRead. It's where you answer the weekly question and then link yourself and you go and check out other blogs of your interest.

Q: Many readers/bloggers are also big music fans. Tell us about a few of your favorite bands/singers that we should listen to in 2012.

A:  Really?  Just a few?  *Laughs*  No, I seriously love music and I don't know what's in the water, but it's like the British Invasion in my iTunes library this year already! :)  Here are a few old favorites and new ones:

Old School Bands/Artists:  Sam Cooke, Everclear, Jimmy Eat World, Within Temptation, KORN, The Verve Pipe, Spin Doctors

New Bands/Artists:  Ellie Goulding, Pixie Lott, Safetysuit, Eliza Doolittle, Adele, Florence + The Machine, The Pretty Reckless

I hope you guys check some of them out, because they are all AWESOME. 

We're Running These Streets...


Expected Publication: March 15th, 2012
Dark Eyes
Razorbill
ISBN-13: 9781595144577


Wally was adopted from a Russian orphanage as a child and grew up in a wealthy New York City family. At fifteen, her obsessive need to rebel led her to life on the streets.
Now the sixteen-year-old is beautiful and hardened, and she's just stumbled across the possibility of discovering who she really is. She'll stop at nothing to find her birth mother before Klesko - her darkeyed father - finds her. Because Klesko will stop at nothing to reclaim the fortune Wally's mother stole from him long ago. Even if that means murdering his own blood. But Wally's had her own killer training, and she's hungry for justice.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens, this debut thriller introduces our next big series heroine!

Review

   Wally (Valentina) was born in Russia and lived in an orphanage for the first five years of her life.  Then she was adopted by a rich American couple and grew up in comfort, but with huge attitude problems that led her to live on the streets when she turned fifteen and her parents divorced.  Wally has been on the streets for almost three years and has a group of friends that she crashes with, who have each other's backs.  But she stumbles onto something big when one of her former friends is killed while carrying Wally's fake Driver's License.  It leads her on a quest to find her birth mother, who it turns out is in America watching over her under an assumed identity.  She has never contacted Wally because she ripped off Klesko, a Russian mafioso and Wally's Father, to finance her escape.  Will Wally be able to find her birth mother and get answers before Klesko does?  And who will die before it's all over?  I honestly enjoyed this book quite a bit.  I liked how tough and collected Wally was, even when her day-to-day was fairly uncertain.  I also loved the 3-Dimensionality of all the side characters and the double plotline that was working its way to the ending.  You can tell Richter is a screenwriter and it worked out in a good way.  That said, I always felt that Wally was kind of a brat for not appreciating what she had until it was really gone and not just waiting for her to come back.  How many homeless people have a home that they just refuse to live in, but occasionally do laundry at?  She came across as a fake on quite a few levels, pretending that she had it as tough as her friends kind of rubbed me the wrong way.  But I loved the mystery and the ending was so shocking, I NEVER saw it coming!  If you're into action and crime, this is the book for you (as long as you can suspend your disbelief).

VERDICT:  3.75/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading Copy from the publisher, via LibraryThing. No money was exchanged for this review. The expected publication date is March 15th, 2012.*