Sunday, March 31, 2013

Wild At Heart


Expected Publication:  May 28th, 2013
Wild Awake
By: Hilary T. Smith
Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN-13:  9780062184689

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.


Review
 
     Kiri Byrd is spending the summer alone at home, while her parents are away on their anniversary cruise and her older brother Denny stays at school for extra classes.  She counts on hanging out with her best friend Lukas and finally making him see her as more than just a friend.  Kiri expects to practice almost every waking second for the piano showcase that is supposed to change her life and secure her future - all while winning Battle of the Bands with Lukas and getting the acclaim they deserve.  She doesn't expect for things to come crashing down with just one phone call: it come from someone named Doug telling her to come pick up her dead sister Sukey's stuff before her old building is torn down for good.  After suppressing the pain and anger at her parents for Sukey's death, Kiri begins to break - especially once she learns that Sukey's death was no accident after all.  Can Kiri pick up the pieces with the help of an unusual new friend named Skunk, and turn her life into something worth living again?  Or will she let grief consume her until there's nothing left? 
     This book was about the pain of family, losing someone you love, growing up and falling in love for the first time.  Most of all, it was about learning to accept and express feelings, even negative ones, for what they are.  Kiri spends most of the book trying to numb herself with weed and alcohol, hoping to forget everything that's wrong with her life.  Kiri starts the novel as someone with no self-worth, who is living for other people.  I absolutely loved the way she grows and changes, but the best thing for me was relationship with Skunk, the guy who fixes her bike when she's in the city getting Sukey's things.  He is obviously in a bad place as well and the way they connect to each other is sweet and her acceptance of his crazy, messy existence speaks volumes for Kiri and the woman she's becoming.  I felt like the open ended way this book resolved went with the almost aimless wandering of the plot.  It wasn't meant to change the world, just to tell the story of Kiri Byrd and her dysfunctional family, trapped in their grief and trying to make their way out of it.  This reminded me a lot of a Sarah Dessen or Simone Elkeles book and the prose was beautiful.  The one thing that irked me was how little time was spent with the musical side of Kiri's life (except to show how badly she was screwing it up), when she's basically described as a prodigy.  It just felt like background noise to me, put there to fill in some vague character details.  Overall, an interesting and well written novel, but something was always keeping me from connecting to it with that last little thread.  Worth a read for anyone who enjoys contemporary YA fiction, with major family issues and some romance mixed in for good measure.

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It became available for purchase on May 28th, 2013.*

Friday, March 29, 2013

Might As Well Go Eat Brains


Published:  July 3rd, 2012
Even White Trash Zombies Get The Blues (White Trash Zombie # 2)
By: Diana Rowland
DAW
ISBN-13:  9780756407506

Angel Crawford is finally starting to get used to life as a brain-eating zombie, but her problems are far from over. Her felony record is coming back to haunt her, more zombie hunters are popping up, and she’s beginning to wonder if her hunky cop-boyfriend is involved with the zombie mafia. Yeah, that’s right—the zombie mafia.

Throw in a secret lab and a lot of conspiracy, and Angel’s going to need all of her brainpower—and maybe a brain smoothie as well—in order to get through it without falling apart.


Review
 
     The first book in this series, My Life As a White Trash Zombie, was one of my favorites of 2011.  I thought it was smart, had great characters and more emotion than a lot of other books I'd read - and that's saying a lot seeing as how I usually avoid books with zombies in them!  So when I realized that the sequel had been released, I definitely wanted to read it and see how our favorite white trash, zombie felon, Angel Crawford, was doing.  The book starts off a little bit slow, with Angel still adjusting to her Dad's attempts at getting sober, her own steady work at the morgue and dating her cop boyfriend - oh yeah, and being a zombie who eats brain smoothies for a snack!  Just when she thinks her life can't get any more complicated, Angel is forced by the terms of her probation to get her GED within a certain time-frame...or else.  And then a body is stolen from the morgue at gunpoint and on Angel's watch no less.  Determined to find out what's going on, Angel is led down a trail involving the zombie mafia, men who die twice and odd government experiments on the living dead.  Add in the fights with her boyfriend and there's never a dull moment for Angel.  But can she make it away from a truly psychotic and dangerous enemy with her undead life intact?  Or will she end up rotting away for good? 
    I liked how confident Angel became over the course of this book.  In the first book she basically values herself at '0' and it's pretty obvious she thinks she's dumb, trailer trash.  In this one, the first thing I noticed was when her boyfriend Marcus began coddling her and ignoring Angel's opinions completely, she called him on his shit and told him it was going to over if he didn't change.  The idea of Angel solving crimes was interesting, but I felt like where the first book was mostly uncharted territory, this one fell into a cozy mystery mold - only with triple the swearing, violence and sex due to the zombie presence.  My favorite scene in the book was after Angel and Marcus separated, and she was sitting in the dinner eating comfort food.  The plot about the experimentation and dead man who died twice was definitely confusing, but in a good way.  It kept me guessing the entire time as to what was really going on.  Overall, it wasn't as funny or innovative to me as the first book but for a second series book, it held up extremely well and I'd highly recommend it to fans of the first.  I'd recommend this to anyone who is hesitant about zombie tropes and wants something interesting and very different! :)
 
VERDICT:  4/5  Stars
 
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You Didn't Quite Measure Up

 

Published:  August 9th, 2012
Measuring Up
By: Nyrae Dawn
CreateSpace
ISBN-13:  9781470313235

Seventeen-year-old Annabel Conway is tired of the Hillcrest High School elite making her life miserable because she’s not a size two. This summer, she's hiring a personal trainer to help her lose weight.

Annabel doesn’t expect her trainer to be a gorgeous guy around her age. Boys like Tegan are jerks. They pretend to like girls like her so they can make an idiot out of them. Been there, done that. Totally not going there again. She kind of hates him on principal. Blond. Muscular. Funny. It doesn’t help that he knows her measurements!

Soon, Tegan's so much more than that. He’s the boy who teaches her to box when she has a bad day. Who jogs with her and lets her set the pace. Who kisses her until she melts. He makes her feel beautiful regardless of what the scale says. Unlike her mom, he doesn’t expect perfection, and he doesn't try to shield her from the world like her dad and best friend. Tegan likes her the way she is.

But what happens when he’s not there? He can’t always be there…

Will Annabel be able to stand on her own and learn that she already measures up? That her worth
doesn’t lie in what the world thinks, the scale says, or even what Tegan tells her—but in herself?


Review
 
     Annabel has been uncomfortable with her weight and has despised the way she's been treated because of it for a long time.   But when a humiliating incident with a boy at school makes her feel like she has nothing left to lose, Annabel becomes determined to lose weight and shock everyone at school - so she can be the one doing the rejecting for a change.  Maybe prove to her hypercritical Mother that she is a worthy daughter after all.  Hiring a personal trainer for the summer seemed like a smart idea - until she found out he was a hot guy only a couple years older than her!  Tegan is everything that Annabel could ever want in a boyfriend, so of course he must be too good to be true, right?  Vowing not to trust him, Annabel can only watch helplessly as he breaks through every last one of her defenses.  But Tegan has some serious issues of his own and his guilt over something in the past just might keep them apart from each other.  Can Annabel gain the confidence to love everything about herself, for who she is and not depend on the opinions of others - even Tegan?  And will Tegan finally let go of the past and create a future with Annabel?  Read and find out if love triumphs in the end...
     I have read a few books in the New Adult category so far and this was not my favorite, but from what I've gathered it showcases one of the few semi-healthy relationships in the entire genre (which favors extremely damaged protagonists who tend to inflict serious emotional abuse on each other).  Annabel is definitely NOT the perfect in every way (plus a tortured past) heroine of so many novels.  She's smart, prickly and vulnerable.  Tegan is charming, loyal and has a wonderful sense of humor.  But I didn't enjoy their interactions in the first half of the book, mainly because Annabel had a very bad habit of making the same snap judgments as her tormentors and she treated him like dirt.  As their friendship develops and then becomes something more though, it was very realistic and I appreciated the distinct lack of insta-love.  I honestly love gradual gain of confidence on Annabel's part and the deep relationship between Tegan and his Mom and younger brother.  Overall though, the angst between Annabel and Tegan in their romantic relationship just seemed drawn out and exhausted me as a reader with its repetitiveness after awhile.  Plus, her personal dramas and family issues where about half as interesting to me as Tegan's.  I liked the idea of Annabel better than her actual character which was extremely bland in my opinion.  I wish the book had been mostly about Tegan, instead of mostly about Annabel.  I would have most likely been giving it five stars instead of three.  I do give major props to the author for portraying one of the least fucked up New Adult relationships in the genre as a standard.  Thank you for the respect you've shown to your readers and their thirst for something to break the mold!  Not a bad read, but not quite what I wanted either.

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Monday, March 25, 2013

Your Spell Is Weak


Expected Publication:  April 1st, 2013
Spellbinding
By: Maya Gold
Scholastic Point
ISBN-13:  9780545433808

There's more than one way to be powerful . . .

It is during a routine school project that Abby Silva--sixteen and nearly friendless--makes a startling discovery: She is descended from women who were accused of witchcraft back in 1600s Salem. And when Abby visits nearby Salem, strange, inexplicable events start to unfold. Objects move when she wills them to. Candles burst into sudden flame. And an ancient spell book somehow winds up in her possession.

Trying to harness her newfound power, Abby concocts a love potion to win over her longtime crush--and exact revenge upon his cruel, bullying girlfriend. But old magic is not to be trifled with. Soon, Abby is thrust headlong into a world of hexes, secrets, and danger. And then there's Rem Anders, the beautiful, mysterious Salem boy who seems to know more about Abby than he first lets on.

A reckoning is coming, and Abby will have to make sense of her history--and her heart--before she can face the powerful truth.


Review
 
     Abby Silva thinks that she is the average, boring member of her family compared to her sports star younger brother and with a Father who treats her like she's invisible, there's not much to prove her wrong.  So when doing an extra credit project for history class on her ancestors, Abby is surprised to find out that she is descended from one of the women accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s.  Curious to learn more, Abby goes to the Salem archives and a mysterious spell book ends up going home with her.  Trying to get something good to happen to her for once, Abby enacts one of the spells in the book - and realizes that she really does have magic powers.  With the help of mysterious Rem Anders, who is definitely keeping secrets, and some beautifying charms can Abby get everything she's ever wanted?  When evil comes to town Abby finds out just how true it is that magic comes with a price.  Will that price be too high to pay?  This book reminded me A LOT of the movie Teen Witch from the 1980s, where the main character finds out she has powers and uses them for selfish, stupid reasons.  It's the tried and true, nerd becomes irresistible with the help of magic plot device and it wasn't even very well executed.  Abby's usage of the love spell against Travis, the very popular (and mean) Megan's boyfriend, who she has been crushing on forever.  I mean, why even bother if the feelings aren't going to be real?  What the eff is the POINT?  HUH???  I just don't get it...  Also, she meets Rem and feels an instant connection and is very attracted to him - but she still goes after Travis!  She also basically ditches her one friend, Rachel after she finds out about her magic.  Like, since she's cool now why bother with the geek who was nice to her when no one else was?  *GAG ME.*  The writing in this book wasn't that bad, but I honestly felt like I was watching a bad, made for T.V. movie with how awful the plot/execution happened to be.  The whole evil villain attacking Abby at the prom and trying to steal her power was laughable at best and cringeworthy at worst.  So played out.  I give it 2 stars for amusing me and for actually keeping me reading (even if just out of hilarity) - plus the writing was fairly good.  It just needed a major shot of originality.  Which with this plot, is practically impossible.  I was disappointed, because I have a major thing for Salem Witch books and have been jonesing something fierce from a lack of them.
 
VERDICT:  2/5  Stars
 
**I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It became available for purchase on April 1st, 2013.**

Thursday, March 21, 2013

I Spy With My Little Eye

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)
 

Published:  February 5th, 2013
Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School # 1)
By: Gail Carriger
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13:  9780316190084

It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners—and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail Carriger's legions of fans have come to adore.


Review
 
     The last thing Sophronia wants is to become a proper, Victorian lady like her Mother and older sisters.  But she may not have a choice, after one too many tomboyish escapades send her Mother over the edge, and land her in finishing school.  On the journey to school Sophronia learns that things aren't always what they appear, after her carriage is attacked and she is forced to save the day.  Once at the school (which just happens to float and constantly be on the move!) she and her friends uncover a plot by evildoers to steal a mysterious prototype.  When it seems like none of the teachers will believe anything they say, it is up to Sophronia and her friends to outwit mean-girl Monique and pull of the mission of a lifetime, using all of the unusual talents they possess.  But can they obtain the prototype before the villains do?  And will Sophronia learn how to act civilized before her sister's coming-out ball?  Only time will tell...
     So, I have never read the author's adult series The Parasol Protectorate.  I seem to be one of the few who read this book that can claim such a thing!  That said, I'm kind of glad that I went into it with fresh eyes.  Sophronia was a funny, if somewhat stereotypical heroine going against the grain of average society.  There was a lot of talk about her not conforming, but I think a lot of it had to do with her wanting to do the opposite of her sisters and Mother - which is a normal teenage attitude.  The inclusion of steampunk into the Victorian world isn't anything new, but I liked that it existed as a sort of secret society, in conjunction with the history that we are already familiar with.  The school and it's use of robotic servants, crazy architecture and wonderful engine room was a great place for a story to be set.  All the same, the continuous girl-drama did get annoying to me after awhile.  I mean, I definitely expected this to be more of an adventure book than a Victorian Mean Girls send off.  The beginning and end were all constant action and fast paced fun, while the middle sort of stagnated with the obvious world building and character placements/minor character developments.  Overall it was a fun romp and I'm interested to see where the series goes.  I'd recommend it to fans of paranormal, YA adventure if they don't mind zero romantic presence and lite steampunk.
 
 VERDICT:  4/5  Stars
 
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Colorless and Fading Away...


A Corner of White


Expected Publication:  April 1st, 2013'
A Corner of White (The Colors of Madeleine # 1)
By: Jaclyn Moriarty
Arthur A. Levine Books
ISBN-13:  9780545397360

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses...

Review
 
     Madeleine and her Mom have moved away from her Dad, to a new life in Cambridge.  Everything is strange and colorless to her, and her Mom is acting sick and lost, sewing for a living when her only job used to living as a rich socialite with no worries.  Elliot has been searching for his Father for almost a year - ever since him, and a female teacher from Elliot's school went missing.  That happened the same day that Elliot's Uncle John died under mysterious circumstances.  Both of the teenagers are dealing with family issues and complicated friendships, but there is one big difference between them - Madeleine is living in the 'real' world and Elliot is living in Cello, a magical kingdom where colors are dangerous and there are hostile, anti-royalists causing major problems.  When Madeleine discovers a letter crammed into a parking meter and responds on a whim (not believing anything Elliot says, of course) they inadvertently become pen pals.  Carrying each other through some of their most difficult times, Madeleine and Elliot learn the true definitions of friends, family, life, and love.  But when each of them are in mortal danger, can the other find a way to come to the rescue from the other side of the barrier?  I felt like this book was a really odd patchwork of things that didn't quite fit together the right way.  Moriarty's Ashbury/Brookfield series is one of the few Australian teen writings that I can read through, let along like - and I love it very much! But this felt like she was trying to merge the wonderfulness of her realistic, contemporary books written in correspondence, with some very innovative magical world building/writing.  It did not work AT ALL for me as a reader.  It took forever for anything to happen to Madeleine, because it seemed like the majority of the action and focus was going on in Cello, where Elliot was living.  Madeleine's bratty and totally unsympathetic attitude didn't help.  The revelations about her Father and her friends came a little too late for me to connect with her sympathetically as a character.  Elliot was the one I connected with most, but I never felt like I had a good grasp on what was going on in his world.  The color attacks still baffle me and make absolutely no sense whatsoever.  By the time I reached the end of this novel (it took me 3 weeks to slog my way through, when my average is a couple of days!) I was completely disgusted, bored and just glad to be done with it.  I think a lot of people will really like it, needless to say it but I wasn't one of them.  I can't in good conscience completely bomb its rating, when the world building for Cello was halfway decent.
 
VERDICT:  1/5 Stars
 
*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is April 1st, 2013.*

Not Freaky In The Right Way




Freaks


Published: March 1st, 2013
Freaks
By: Kieran Larwood
Chicken House
ISBN-13:  9780545474245

Weirdest. Crime Fighters. Ever.

Sheba, the fur-faced Wolfgirl, can sniff out a threat from miles away. Monkeyboy clambers up buildings in the blink of an eye -- then drops deadly stink bombs of his own making (yes, THAT kind)! Sister Moon sees in the dark, and moves at the speed of light. Born with weird abnormalities that make them misfits, these FREAKS spend their nights on public display, trapped in a traveling Victorian sideshow. But during the day, they put their strange talents to use: They solve the most sinister crimes. And in a dank, desperate world of crooks and child-snatchers, they're determined to defend London's most innocent victims: the street urchins disappearing from the city's streets.

Review
 
     In the book world, this was to me what Hotel Transylvania was in the movie world - a gigantic disappointment.  I went into this book wanting so much for it to be something that I could enjoy, with character development and interesting, fresh plot executions.  That is not what I got.  The main character Sheba is a wolf-girl, longing for a family but who can only remember a life of being passed from one freak show to another - being someone's property.  It is different this time, with her new owner possessing more freaks than Sheba has ever before been in contact with - this time she might be part of a ragtag family.  But with something stealing street children and sinister goings on, can Sheba and the other freaks figure out what's going on and put a stop to it before it's too late?  Also, will Sheba figure out who she really is and where her family went after they left her?  I am not a huge fan of steampunk, which usually makes or breaks a book for me when it's involved in the plot.  This was book that it helped along, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to save it.  The constant throwing of poop by Monkeyboy was a bit much for me as a reader.  Alongside the usage of tried and true villains and predictable twists, this was boring and disgusting.  The only freak that even really caught my attention was Sister Moon, but she was such a stereotypically drawn Asian character that I cringed when she was speaking, or you were learning new things about her.  The eventual revelation of the mechanical monsters stealing the street children was a very 'meh' moment.  Sheba was a cute girl, with a raw deal but as much as I sympathized, she didn't really appeal to me as a character all that much.  I was skimming pages about halfway through, all the way to the end.  This book might appeal to children who are reluctant readers, but ones with any sense of good books will probably not choose this one.  And I definitely don't blame them.  But props to the author for keeping me reading to the end...or maybe that was just because it was a review book.

VERDICT:  1.5/5  Stars

*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published March 1st, 2013.*

Monday, March 18, 2013

Never Happily Ever After

Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1
 
Expected Publication:  October 6th, 2009
Fables: The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 1 (Fables Deluxe Editions #1)
By: Bill Willingham
Vertigo
ISBN-13:  9781401224271
 
 
When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile.

Disguised among the normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters created their own secret society-within an exclusive luxury apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side-called Fabletown. But when Snow White's party-girl sister, Rose Red, is apparently murdered, it is up to Bigby, Fabletown's sheriff, and a reformed and pardoned Big Bad Wolf, to determine if the culprit is Bluebeard, Rose's ex-lover and notorious wife killer, or Jack, her current live-in boyfriend and former beanstalk-climber.
 
 
Review
 
     Snow White is the Deputy Mayor of Fabletown, a community made up of the fairy tale creatures and people, who were driven into our world from their own by a great, destructive evil force (the Adversary).  Not all of the Fables are happy with this arrangement and its up to Snow White and Old King Cole (mayor) to keep the peace, whatever that entails.  But when it appears that her wild younger sister Rose Red may have been murdered, Snow will do anything to find out what really happened.  When it leads to some unexpected answers, what will Snow do with the truth?  Also, can she prevent a rather violent uprising of Fables out on the farm, where they keep their less townspeople?  Can everyone make it out of the situation alive, or will someone have to pay the price?  This was definitely up my alley from the start.  A graphic novel retelling of fairy tales, fables and folklore?  Count me in!  The artwork was wonderfully detailed and very dark, which made it more interesting than the average bubblegum fairy tale comics, etc.  I liked the complexities of the relationship between Snow and her sister, Red.  There was general feeling of an old film noir during the first story arc, and Bigby Wolf acting as detective for the fables was an interesting twist on perspectives of good vs. evil.  The second story arc, with rebellion on the farm, was very much like Animal Farm by George Orwell (the book it was modeled after).  The politics and usage of Goldilocks' relationship with the three bears was kind of disgusting, but a well drawn plot device.  The plots weren't necessarily unpredictable, but I very much enjoyed them all the same.   Highly recommended to fans of fairy tales, myths, legends and fables who don't mind a little bit of mature content.
 
VERDICT:  4/5  Stars
 
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

Friday, March 15, 2013

Follow Me Friday #16

8474595901 873f4993f4 Feature & Follow #140
 
 
     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, helping to support out endeavors as a community. Also, do it just because it's fun! :)
 
Q:  Activity! Hopefully warm weather for most of us is here soon…so tell us about your favorite outdoor reading spot. Or take a picture.
 
A:  Taking a picture right now wouldn't do my one and only reading spot outside any real justice (considering that it's still deciding between Winter and Spring in my part of Michigan).  I have a park right up the road from my house, with these two huge, wide open meadows that they usually use as soccer fields for local league games.  But in the middle of the day when I used to get off work a couple years ago, I started going there for a couple hours and spreading out a quilt in the sunniest spot I could find.  And then I would mostly read childhood favorites (Bridge to Terabithia, Tuck Everlasting, etc.) with a new book mixed in for good measure.  What about you guys?  What are your favorite outside reading spots? :)

Of All the Witches Working, I'm the Worst


Published:  March 5th, 2013
Spellcaster (Spellcaster # 1)
By: Claudia Gray
HarperTeen
ISBN-13:  9780061961205

When Nadia’s family moves to Captive’s Sound, she instantly realizes there’s more to it than meets the eye. Descended from witches, Nadia senses a dark and powerful magic at work in her new town. Mateo has lived in Captive’s Sound his entire life, trying to dodge the local legend that his family is cursed - and that curse will cause him to believe he’s seeing the future … until it drives him mad. When the strange dreams Mateo has been having of rescuing a beautiful girl—Nadia—from a car accident come true, he knows he’s doomed. 

Despite the forces pulling them apart, Nadia and Mateo must work together to break the chains of his family’s terrible curse, and to prevent a disaster that threatens the lives of everyone around them. Shimmering with magic and mystery, New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray’s new novel is sure to draw fans of the Hex Hall and Caster Chronicles series, and fans of the hit CW TV show The Secret Circle.
 
Review
 
     Nadia only wants a fresh start for her broken family, so that maybe they can start to mend again.  So when they move to Captive's Sound, she wants to be excited and like her new town.  But there is an aura of darkness and sickness that can't be ignored and it has infected the entire town.  With the help of Mateo, a boy drowning under the weight of a multi-generational family curse, and another unexpected friend, Nadia will need to use all her training as a witch (however little training that really is) to defeat a great evil that could wipe the entire town off the face of the Earth.  Can they break Mateo's curse and leave him free to love Nadia completely or are they doomed to be kept apart by madness and grief?  I have read the first book of the author's other series, Evernight, and could not keep reading the series after that.  But I really loved her stand alone novel Fateful, so the chances were 50/50 that I would like it.  My feelings now that I have read it are mediocre at best.  It was a well-paced novel, with an interesting premise for a plot but the characters were sort of flat without the omniscient point of view from ANY of them at all.  I would have liked to get a true look inside their thoughts and feelings.  I don't feel like I got that from any of them.  There were some interesting character types, but it felt like the actual personalities were more fill in the blanks than anything else, especially Nadia's. 
     Every time someone freaked out and the danger of death/personal loss was highlighted, I honestly didn't really care.  But the plot was decent enough to keep me going, even if it was extremely predictable.  The one thing I was unsure about was what Elizabeth's (the villain) plan was for whatever was underneath the chemistry lab.  Didn't expect it to be quite as evil as it was!  The idea that spells are created using moments and feelings from your own life, was interesting and new.  But at first I didn't even realize what was going on with the 'random flashbacks' every time Nadia went to cast a spell.  It was confusing.  Then it dawned on me what was happening.  I wish that Gray would have gone more into Verlaine's background and not left things so vague, even after you find out her parents were murdered.  This was a paint by numbers paranormal, teen romance and with the good construction of the prose, it could have been a lot more.  Very disappointing to a reader who is tired of mediocre books.
 
VERDICT:  2.5/5  Stars
 
**I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It became available for purchase March 5th, 2013.*


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Alone and Dancing, You Know It Baby...

Things I Can't Forget (Hundred Oaks, #3)
 
Published: March 1st, 2013
Things I Can't Forget (Hundred Oaks # 3)
By: Miranda Kenneally
Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN-13: 978140227
 
 
Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt…with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…
 
Review
 
     Kate has always done the right things and kept a close relationship with God.  But she has done something that she isn't sure she can ever forgive herself for, let alone ask God to forgive her.  When she goes to be a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, Kate is feeling lonelier than ever after losing her best friend and having her beliefs put into question.  But when she meets Matt, another counselor she used to know as a kid, things start looking up.  Kate just might be falling in love for the first time.  While desperately trying to make up for what she did, Kate just might learn that it's okay if others believe differently than you, it's a part of life.  Can she keep her relationship with Matt, even when he wants to go faster than she does?  And can she make it up to all the people she's hurt in the past?  Either way it will be a summer to remember...
     I went into this one kind of wary, because while I didn't hate Catching Jordan, I didn't love it either.  Stealing Parker read a lot better for me, and I went into this with some hope I could maybe love it.  This book came awful close to accomplishing its goal!  Kate, while religious to a fault, was nothing but sincere even when she was wrong.  And that made a serious difference.  Kate is na├»ve, kind, funny and thoughtful.  She just has a hard time realizing that its okay for people to have beliefs that are different from hers, because she's been taught otherwise her whole life.  She has a big problem with hypocrisy and with the amount of it going on at camp, I totally sympathize with her.  I personally don't believe in abortion, but do believe in a woman's right to choose so I could understand the agony of helping another person get the procedure, especially when you believe it's against you God's wishes.  The romance with Matt was sweet and they had so many 'awwww' moments that I was in danger of smiling my face off.  Even though I wasn't super in love with Miranda's previous books, I did enjoy the candid and realistic way she dealt with sex and love and what it means to teenagers.  This book was no different, except she finally portrayed a girl who decided to wait instead of giving herself to the boy (which was a change for me in YA fiction as I don't read much Christian YA where it occurs more often).  I liked the way Kate managed to slowly win Parker's trust and become friends, when previously she had stayed away from her (scared her 'sin' would cause Kate herself to stray) and Parker thought she was being a judgmental bitch.  They still were two very different girls at the end of the book, but their friendship was a nice fit.  My least favorite thing was how Kate treated the friend who had the abortion (not that the friend was very understanding either).  But I understood how she could originally go in that direction, believing as she did.  Overall, a really good contemporary YA novel that deal with romance, belief, friendship and the difficulties of growing up.  I highly recommend it.
 
VERDICT:  4.5/5  Stars
 
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It became available for purchase March 1st, 2013.*

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Walk Right In, Sit Right Down


Expected Publication:  May 14th, 2013
The Rules for Disappearing
By: Ashley Elston
Disney-Hyperion
ISBN-13:  9781423168973

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

Review

     Megan Jones is not always the same person - in fact her real name is not Megan Jones and she's still not sure exactly the reason why this is happening to her family.  What do they need the Witness Protection Program to keep them safe from?  Now, Meg is on her sixth identity and is determined that it will be the last one before she returns to who she used to be before this nightmare.  All she has to do is keep herself away from everyone and not get attached to their new home.  Oh yeah, and she has to get her Dad to tell her what exactly he did to get them in this mess.  With her Mom drowning her problems in alcohol, her little sister becoming terrified of getting left behind and the cute farm boy at school (Ethan) refusing to leave her alone how will she ever save her family?  When the shocking truth is revealed, what can Meg do to set things right and can she keep everyone alive through the crisis that ensues?  This book was like reading a very amusing movie of the week.  A cross between Hallmark/Lifetime's over-dramatic plots and the Disney Channel's tween humor and innocence.  Yes, the heroine is in the witness protection program.  But this book is really about the devastation that it has caused her family and the destruction to her own personal and romantic life. I really loved her little sister Mary.  I understood Meg's need to protect her family, but felt like her constant need to be in charge was annoying at times to me as reader.  The romance with Ethan develops at a believable pace, with sweet moments and angsty ones too, due to Meg's insecurities and refusal to trust in anyone to help her find the truth.  The humor and character flaws keep this book from being totally depressing but they also keep me from taking it 100% seriously - and the cover's attempt to look serious doesn't do it any favors.  The plot unfolded fairly unrealistically, but most of it was easily overlooked until near the end, when it truly does become a movie of the week, wrapped up with a neat little bow and a killer just letting the go free for no apparent reason.  Meg and her family read more real than a lot of characters I've had the displeasure of meeting and the consistency of the writing's quality was a pleasant surprise for me after a long line of mediocre books so far this year.  Well written and thoroughly enjoyable, if you can suspend your disbelief for a few hours.  

VERDICT:  3.75/5  Stars

**I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It will be available for purchase on May 14th, 2013.**

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You Have Drawn Me In


Published:  March 5th, 2013
Infatuate (Gilded Wings # 2)
By: Aimee Agresti
Harcourt Children's Books
ISBN-13:  9780547626154

Haven Terra is still recovering from an internship that brought her literally to the brink of hell when a trip to New Orleans leads to more trouble. Graduating early from high school leaves the spring semester free, so Haven and her friends Dante and Lance head to the Big Easy to volunteer with community service projects. But their true mission becomes clear when they run across an enclave of devils known as the Krewe. New Orleans is a free-for-all for these shape-shifting devils, who are more reckless and vicious than any Haven, Lance, and Dante have encountered. 

And they soon discover their French Quarter housemates are also angels-in-training, and together they must face off with the Krewe in their quest for wings. But Haven’s resolve is tested when Lucian, the repentant devil with whom she was infatuated, resurfaces and asks her for help escaping the underworld. Can he be trusted? Or will aiding him cost Haven her angel wings—and her life? Thrilling, romantic, and full of surprises, this gripping sequel to Illuminate takes the battle of good and evil to the next level.

Review

     Haven Terra and her friends want nothing more than a stress free trip to New Orleans, where they will spend their time volunteering on community service projects and enjoying the local history and attractions.  In other words, voluntourism.  Haven leaves thinking that after everything at the Hotel she and Lance will be closer than ever in their relationship.  She and Dante will be rock solid.  The second assertion yes, the first one not so much.  Lance and Haven are drifting further away from each other than they ever expected and with the demons actively campaigning for their souls, now is not the time to be divided.  Also, their pretty and emotionally wounded housemate Sabine's attention focused on Lance, Haven just might lose him for good.  But when all of the housemates learn they are participating in a secret bootcamp to train as angels, the threat becomes all too real.  As the Krewe, a group of seductive demons, rampages on a murder spree through New Orleans can Haven and her friends come together long enough to defeat them once and for all?  Will all of them still be alive when the dust settles?
     I really enjoyed the first book and it's retelling of The Picture of Dorian Gray in a completely new and interesting way I had never encountered before.  This book doesn't manage quite the same feat for Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but it is still well crafted and easy to immerse yourself in while reading.  Haven was still too good for me in this one - even when she's jealous of Sabine and Lance she never once lashes out.  She basically just gives up and doesn't fight for what she wants.  Plus her continued communication with Lucian, who is reaching out from the Underworld just strikes me a s stupid after the experience that she Lance and Dante has at the Hotel during their internships.  I thought that the undercover voluntourism was a nice touch, but I didn't necessarily buy the sudden surge of Haven's powers and the ease with which all the teens learned what they could do.  The idea of Dante as the sage adviser was fun and well written.  He's still Haven's BFF, but has an extra dimension with his very happy romance and place at the head of the class.  I loved his interactions with Voodoo Queen he's apprenticing for as well.  
      The Krewe as the villain seemed very obvious, but at the same time extremely disjointed and I had a difficult time keeping track of who knew what and whether or not someone was really evil.  All of the human sacrifice and murders became repetitive to me as a reader and therefore less effective as plot devices the more they were used.  The final battle seemed kind of played out, but maybe that was because of the way the plot began to drag near the end.  I kept waiting for something to happen and when it did, it was somewhat anticlimactic.  There was some awesome character development and the reconstructing of the relationship between Lance and Haven after it crumbles was very nicely done.  I am interested to read the next book in the series.  I want to know how it will end for the gang, especially after they've suffered so much.  The world building had just enough detail mixed in with mystery to keep me hooked.  Also, Agresti's prose is fairly gorgeous.  Overall, if you're not such a fan of the angel trend (as I am not) I would recommend this book to you as it happens to be mostly character driven, with a pretty well constructed plot.  Not too much religion or flying around talking about Heaven and/or Hell to be interesting.

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published February 5th, 2013.*

Stay In The Shadows, Where You Belong


Published: February 12th, 2013
Dance of Shadows (Dance of Shadows # 1)
By: Yelena Black
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
ISBN-13:  9781599909400

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .

Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . . 

Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed . . .

Review

     Being a completely uncoordinated, average schmuck I have a secret addiction to books or movies involving ballet - especially teen ones!  Center Stage and Save The Last Dance are my life's blood people (especially the soundtracks, which are awesome!) and I revel in them! :)  So I went into this thinking that it would be a dark, paranormal version of one of my favorite movies.  I was wrong in the extreme.  The book started out promisingly creepy and devolved very obviously into something subpar and disappointing.  The main character, Vanessa, is dealing with disappearance of her sister Margaret from her ballet academy months earlier, after which Vanessa vowed to find her - which she spends the book not really doing at all.  The idea that a demon could literally be abducting ballerinas and stealing their souls is a very interesting and original one, but when done with someone as bland as Vanessa being the searchlight it died for me.  She makes pretty much no attempt to find her sister (even though it's what she's supposedly there for) and is described as dancing with supernatural ability and being almost perfect.  Yet she never PRACTICES and shows some serious disinterest in dancing!  When girls start to disappear, one of them being a girl Vanessa is friends with, no one ever calls her parents to find out if the school's story about her going home is true.  Vanessa's two guys, Zep a.k.a Zeppelin Black and Justin, were both paint by numbers and the ways the author described them read like something out of a twelve year old's Twilight fan fiction story - only less believable at times.  The plot dragged because it was predictable to the very last 'twist' at the end.  All of the side characters were cardboard cutouts.  Their personalities were waiting to be delivered and never arrived.  I was unimpressed with the constant stupidity of everyone in the book (especially Vanessa) to see what was right in front of them.  Seriously, I knew who the villain(s) were less that halfway into the book and the constant overlooking of something smacking these people right in their faces just made me mad.  Just because they're teens doesn't mean they're complete and total oblivious morons!  I will say that in the last 15% or so the author redeemed it a little bit for me and I did like the ending.  But I won't be moving on to the next one because I'm sure that it will be just as badly written.  And a cliffhanger is not a good enough reason to read a sequel no matter what anyone says...  Not recommended to anyone except possibly fans of the Tiger's Curse series by Colleen Houck, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer and Fallen by Lauren Kate.  In other words, just say no.

VERDICT:  1.25/5  Stars

**received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published February 12th, 2013.**

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

You Break It, You Buy It


Expected Publication:  May 21st, 2013
The Book of Broken Hearts
By: Sarah Ockler
Simon Pulse
ISBN-13:  9781442430389
 
Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking

Review
 
     Jude is the youngest of four sisters and after watching two of the others get their hearts broken by Vargas boys, she swears an oath that she will never date a Vargas boy!  Now in the summer before her freshman year of college, romance is the farthest thing from her mind when she crosses paths with Emilio Vargas at the motorcycle shop.  Jude knows it's probably not a smart idea to hire him to fix her ailing Father's vintage bike.  But as she gets to know him better, Jude begins to think that maybe he's different from his brothers and cousins - maybe a romance with a Vargas can last.  Jude's Father steadily declines and when a particularly bad episode brings home her sisters to help make a tough decision, will Jude fall in line and let them decide her heart or will she start making her own choices for once in her life?  I think when I went into this book I expected the normal 60/40 balance of family/romance that is present in Ockler's last two books.  But honestly, I kind of wanted her to just drop the romance and focus on the family story unfolding!  I really loved the relationship between Jude and Papi.  They had something special and I understood Jude's need to have that with her Dad, especially since his mind was detriorating and her older sisters had way more time with him to make memories.  Early onset Alzheimer's is a sad and horrific disease to witness, and even more heartbreaking through the eyes of a family member being affected.  The romantic will-they/won't-they between Jude and Emilio did serve as a tension release I suppose, but it unfolded in a very cliched and predictable way.  The personality of her sister Mari (short for Mariposa) was the most present in the actual plot, other than brief mentions.  And she was least hurt by the Vargas boys, so maybe that's why I couldn't get behind the vague family feud.  Also, Emilio's semi-tragic history gave him some depth, but I never felt like I had enough of an idea about who he was to root for him to get the girl.  The way he treated Papi was bautiful though and that alone would make him my dream guy.  By the time Jude finally decided that her sisters couldn't make all her decisions and decided to be with him, I just didn't care anymore.  But I cried when Jude and Papi were talking during one of his lucid moments about why she needed to let the family put him in a care facility.  Also the scene with Papi's motorcycle ride smashed my heart to pieces.  Jude's loyalty to her family, mixed with the desire to be her own person is extremely relatable and I enjoyed this book a lot.  However, it would have been even better without the lukewarm romantic encounters.  I'd recommend this to fans of Ockler's previous books for sure, but expect something slightly different than usual.
 
VERDICT:  4/5  Stars
 
**I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via Edelweiss. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is May 21st, 2013.**

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet


Published:  January 1st, 2013
The History of Sonic the Hedgehog
By: William Audureau
Udon Entertainment
ISBN-13: 

Celebrating over 20 years as SEGA's official mascot, The History of Sonic the Hedgehog is the ultimate guide to SEGA's spiky blue speedster! This hefty 300-page hardcover volume covers in detail every 2D and 3D Sonic game, plus spinoffs and crossovers. You'll also find character profiles, promotional artwork, rare concept art, and a detailed look at the origins of the "Blue Blur".

Review
 
    
If you are a fan of Sega, or Sonic the Hedgehog (their most popular creation) at all this is definitely an interesting history of the development and evolution of Sonic over the years since his birth. I loved all the full color illustrations and diagrams, with the art from each respective video game that he was a character in. It managed to show just how much he really has changed since he began his journey as an just an idea. The scope of this book was impressive to say the least and very detailed, which was nice for a change.  I was disappointed with Netgalley not having this available to be sent to my Kindle and having to download it for Adobe on my computer. This format doesn't really allow for me to actually read most of the text of the book, as I can't make it large enough to be visible. So I got the general idea, but was left with mostly only being able to see the pictures. And speaking as someone who LOVES trivia or knowledged related to the entertainment industry, or the arts this was a disappointment. Overall though, it was an enjoyable and well thought out celebration of one of my favorite video game characters ever. Well done Diamond Books, for this awesome coffee table tome! :)

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

**I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book was published January 1st, 2013.*

How To Survive Fairyland


Expected Publication:  April 23rd, 2013
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True
By: Sarah Strohmeyer
Balzar + Bray/Harper Teen
ISBN-13: 9780062187451


When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?


Review

     Zoe is excited to be a summer intern at Fairyland Kingdom theme park with her cousin Jess, competing for scholarship that could mean the difference between either of them going to college or not.  Zoe is confused when the assignments are passed out and she isn't listed yet.  But after being sent to the Queen, things become hellishly clear - Zoe has been chosen to be her personal assistant for the summer!  Between getting her breakfast order exactly right, taking care of her spoiled dog and trying to figure out what cast member is breaking the rules not-so-covertly, Zoe has her work cut out for her.  Oh yeah, and there are plenty of Prince Charmings to confuse things romantically for everyone...along with a Puss in Boots, who may be a Prince in disguise.  Can Zoe figure out who to trust and what the right thing to do is when a very important decision is hers to make?  Or will she be going home without a scholarship and a broken heart dragging behind her?  The idea behind this book, all of the inner workings and dealings of an amusement park staff, is one of my very favorites.  I was hoping this would become a favorite like Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler.  I really liked it, but in a very different way from the aforementioned book.  This book had a very fluffy heart, but with a solid structure that made me admire Strohmeyer's writing skills.  She managed to keep me laughing at Zoe's antics, but sympathizing with the still aching and recent loss of her Mom.  I also found myself rooting for her to get the scholarship, but feeling bad for her cousin Jess who was equally likeable and needed it just as badly.  All the crazy stuff the Queen says and does drives the plot in some way or another and is absolutely funny.  There was a decent mystery over who was sneaking into the forbidden zone of the park, one that kept the reader guessing for quite awhile.  The addition of a tween sensation a la Justin Bieber was a great comedic plot device as well.  The last twist I didn't see coming, but I should have which is the mark of a truly good writer.  This book has heart, humor, well drawn characters and a good plot.  I think that while it was definitely still a fluff read for about 98%, the other 2% is the reason I liked this as much as I did.  Highly recommended to anyone obsessed with theme parks or just in need of a good laugh, with some likeable characters.

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

**I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via Edelweiss. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication date is April 23rd, 2013.*

Monday, March 4, 2013

You Better Apply Yourself Quickly


Expected Publication:  April 30th, 2013
The Boyfriend App
By: Katie Sise
Balzar + Bray
ISBN-13: 9780062195265


In The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise, super-smart, somewhat geeky Audrey McCarthy can’t wait to get out of high school. Her father’s death and the transformation of her one-time BFF, Blake Dawkins, into her worst nightmare have her longing for the new start college will bring.

But college takes money. So Audrey decides she has to win the competition for the best app designed by a high schooler—and the $200,000 that comes with it. She develops something she calls the Boyfriend App, and suddenly she’s the talk of the school and getting kissed by the hottest boys around. But can the Boyfriend App bring Audrey true love?



Review

     Audrey just wants for her high school days to be a thing of the past.  Perfectly content with her geek status, Audrey is only envious of one thing - how easy it is for the popular girls to get a guy's attention.  So when a contest is announced by the biggest technology corporation Public, for a scholarship awarded to whoever creates the most popular/innovative app, Audrey gets an idea - the Boyfriend App.  It's like a cross between Match.com and instant love radar.  With the help of her cousin Lindsey, some really awesome friends and Aiden, the guy who might be something more, can she win the scholarship money?  Or will it even matter when Audrey finds out a very sinister thing happening under the surface of Public's company?  Will they be exposed or will they get away with corrupting the youth of the world through subliminal messages?  Audrey was an interesting heroine for me, because she was not AT ALL predictable for the first half of the book.  She had personality, her own sense of self and definite strength against all the bad stuff aimed at her by her former best friend.  The boy confusion was understandable at first, but got old when her confusion turned into super-unrealistic naivete.   The battle between Public and their rival, along with Public's sinister use of subliminal frequencies to extract certain behaviors from people reminded me surprisingly enough of the Josie and the Pussycats movie from 2001 with Rachel Leigh Cook.  It made me laugh inside my head for most of the book.  A lot of the plot was horribly contrived and nowhere near the realm of believability. but I absolutely adored the humor of this book and the fact that the heroine is using her smarts toward a goal other than a boy (but capitalizing on her classmates hormones at the same time).  It was hilarious to read about Lindsey (her fashion diva cousin) and nerdy friend Nigit's unexpected relationship, in which he begins dressing like Michael Jackson...WTF?  My main complaint would be the completely unbelievable, weird science type plot events, the resolution and the overall devolving of the characters.  It was a cute fluff read, but not much else and it tried too hard to be taken seriously.  The constant, obvious satire of Apple became too much even for me.

VERDICT:  2.5/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It will be available for purchase on April 30th, 2013.*