Friday, June 28, 2013

Follow Me Friday #21


     
     So, Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee andAlisonCanRead. 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! :)

   **Also on a side not guys, GFC is going to be obsolete starting next week!!!  So if you are following me via GFC or are a new visitor, I am switching to Bloglovin' with the side options of Linky! and Networked Blogs.  That would be highly preferable to me.  Thanks in advance guys, you're awesome and I'm glad you chose to visit!


Q: What is your preferred reading format? Hardcover, eBooks, paperback etc?


    A:  My answer is kind of a mix, because I carry a purse that is big enough to fit a couple harbacks, a paperback AND my Kindle (and it usually does)! LOL  But if I had to say what I prefer, I think there's nothing quite like a Hardcover book.  I think that my purse transport is too hard on paperbacks and they usually get bent or slightly beat up in some way.  Also, I do love my Kindle.  It saves me on space in my bedroom which is already overrun and is the only way I know of to carry 600 books at once!  What about you guys, what's your fave type of reading format?

Teen Movie Review #1: Valley Girl (1983)


     Hey guys!  Since it's Friday and i feel like I haven't been updating this blog nearly enough, I decided to throw in a movie review.  I still haven't watched Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters or Jack The Giant Slayer (even though both are sitting on my shelf waiting).  So I'm going back to a favorite of mine, which is what we YA nerds like to call a 'teen' movie! :)  I'm coming up with the criteria for this review kind of on the fly so please bear with me!  Plus it's really early in the morning and almost bedtime for me.  Cause as my friends and family will tell you, I stay up about three or four hours past everyone else's normal bedtimes.  Without Further adieu, here is one of the five (maybe six) Nic Cage movies I can stand at all: Valley Girl.


Availability:  DVDYouTubeNetflix
Reason:  To See Yet Another Star-Crossed Couple Find Love (Old Friends or New Ones)

The Low Down According to IMDB:  

Julie, a girl from the Valley, meets Randy, a punk from the city.  They are from different worlds and find love.  Somehow they need to stay together in spite of her trendy, shallow friends.

My Take On Things: 

Randy and Julie are two teens from different worlds - or at least their zip codes make it seem like that's how it is.  But when they meet its instant attraction.  Can they overcome her snobby friends and expectations of how things are 'supposed to be' or are they doomed from the start?  Also, Julie's hippie parents and douchebag, wannabe ex-boyfriend provide some serious entertainment value along the way.  Plus there is a skeevy subplot about one of Julie's friends, Suzi, competing for the romantic attentions of her friend Skip with her young stepmother.  All in all, about what you'd expect from an 80's film - especially one mostly cribbed off of Romeo and Juliet! 

The Cast:

Nicolas Cage as Randy

This has the distinction of being the only movie in which I ever though Nic Cage was hot.  The chemistry between him and Deborah Foreman is OFF THE CHARTS.  He makes a very convincing punk and yet has an underlying sweetness that lets you know he's just a big ball of fluff inside - even with the leather and crazy hair.  Plus, bonus is that he has hair in this - with no signs of balding.  Ahhh, for the days of youth! :)

Deborah Foreman as Julie

I don't know what happened to her acting career over the years after this movie, but maybe staying out of the spotlight isn't such a bad thing if being in it means you make horrendous movies like some of the ones Cage has been in!  She has such a sweet spark in this movie and her smile is absolutely GORGEOUS.  Yes, the feathered hair is questionable and she does go to the prom with Tommy instead of Randy (which is seriously insane people!).  But Julie also happens to be a teenager and for her age she does a decent job of being true to herself and I wouldn't mind go shopping for an afternoon with her.  Plus, there is always the adorableness of this:


I REST MY CASE.

Michael Bowen as Tommy

His clothing alone and it's preppiness makes it obvious that he's a) A complete douchebag, and b) The enemy in every way.  He's no Hardy Jenns but he plays a good enough sleazebag that you want to punch him in the face.  Plus, apparently someone thinks he's a pretty good actor cause IMDB informs me that he was in Beverly Hills Cop III, seven episodes of LOST, some really random one episode parts on lots of TV shows, and most recently (and notably) was in an episode of Breaking Bad, along with a small role in Django Unchained.  

Elizabeth Daily as Loryn

The most gullible of Julie's friends and is known as the group slut.  Immediately falls into Tommy's web of bullshit after Julie dumps him and allows him to go almost all the way, only stopping short of the one last event.  Watching the movie you can't help but feel bad for her, cause it's obvious that all she wants is desperately to be liked.  The outfits are atrocious and the actions are worse, but the heart's in the right place.  And she went on to be Dottie in Pee Wee's Big Adventure.  After that it was all voice work, most famously Tommy on Rugrats and Buttercup on Powerpuff Girls.  I know, right? :)

Frederic Forrest as Steve Richman (Julie's Dad)

He is absolutely hilarious as one half of a hippie relationship, whose parenting style towards Julie is so out of touch with the times.  The health food store scene when she's 'working' is a really great example of this.  But he's just uncool because he's a Dad.  He still loves her though and is definitely one of the less cookie cutter teen movie parents in existence.  In the picture above he's supposed to be getting the camera for Prom pictures...he's smoking weed instead.  IT beats shining a shotgun I guess!

*I did not spotlight Julie's friend Stacy or Randy's friend Fred, mainly because Fred is somewhat of a clueless creep (even if he is somewhat funny) and Stacey spends all her screen time complaining (and not in a humorous way either).  Neither of them are very interesting characters in my opinion when up against the others in the movie.


Romance Rating Scale:  5/10 (Sweet, with an edge)

There is too much dithering and wishy washy behavior on Julie's behalf while trying to follow the pack for this to be truly swoonworthy.  There are a couple hot makeout sessions, but mostly its just beautiful smiles and angst (the best way to mirror R&J, anyways).

The Soundtrack:  

Not really sure how to grade this, other than on personal enjoyment.  Martha Coolidge definitely has an ear for music and the stuff that's played for Julie and her freinds fits them to a tee.  It's the same for when they're cruising Hollywood on Randy's side of things.  My favorite usage of a song in this though would be Modern English "I Melt With You" being played during the Julie/Randy montage and then the end credits.  It fits the spirit of the movie and the whirlwind, consuming romance that the two become involved in.  Also liked Josie Cotton's "Johnny Are You Queer?" and The Plimsouls "A Million Miles Away."  The whole soundtrack is killer though and deserves a listen.

Recommended Viewing:

If you're in the mood for a sweet romance, some smiles and tears involved, this would be the one for you.  With punk-boy Cage, a pint of your favorite ice cream and comfy pair of PJs this is great Saturday night viewing for a relaxed night in.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Young and Beautiful, Nothing Left But My Aching Soul


Published:  April 30th, 2013
Gorgeous
By: Paul Rudnick
Scholastic Press
ISBN-13:  9780545464260

Inner beauty wants out.

When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s summoned from her Missouri trailer park to meet Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer. He makes her an impossible offer: He’ll create three dresses to transform Becky from a nothing special girl into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, or that he’s producing a hidden camera show called World’s Most Gullible Poor People. But she accepts, and she’s remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself – an awkward mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see pure five-alarm hotness.

Soon Rebecca is on the cover of Vogue, the new Hollywood darling, and dating celebrities. Then Becky meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But to love her back, Gregory would have to look past the blinding Rebecca to see the real girl inside. And Becky knows there’s not enough magic in the world.


Review
 
     All Becky Randle has ever been sure of in her eighteen years was that she loved her Mom, and that she was nothing special and out of the ordinary.  Becky definitely wasn't going to be winning any beauty contests in the future.  Then when her Mom dies, she finds a phone number for Tom Kelly.  Curious, Becky calls the number and is invited to New York where she is given a startling offer: let Tom make her into the most beautiful girl in the world with three one-of-a-kind dresses.  Becky thinks that he's using her for some sort of joke, but goes along with it anyways.  Soon enough she's a famous actress, dating a secretly gay teen idol and on the cover of Vogue - she's transformed into 'Rebecca'.  Then she meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and wants to marry him more than anything.   But is it true love, for unselfish reasons?  If Becky wants to keep her beauty it has to be, because unless she's married a year after becoming Rebecca she'll be transformed into her ordinary self again.  Can Becky keep the beauty that has been given to her through mysterious, magical means or will she become ordinary once more?   And either way, can she hang onto true love once she's found it?
     I love fairy tales in any form, retold and originals are all beautiful in my opinion.  So I went into this Cinderella story a little apprehensive, as it's written by a man and the synopsis makes it sound like a Hollywood Report on William and Kate, or something like that.  But what I got was a smart, witty, emotional novel about a young woman's journey of self-discovery - with a romance thrown in for good measure, in an entirely plausible way!  Becky Randle has lived with a morbidly obese Mom for her entire life, in an East Trawley trailer park in the backwoods of Missouri.  She's been passed over and left out her entire life, because while not horrendously ugly she is unfailingly ordinary.  But Becky has a wonderful sense of humor and I especially loved the dynamic between her best friend, fellow supermarket cashier Rocher (pronounced Ro-share and named for the chocolates) and herself.  Rocher has an especially wild and colorful personality and a fiercely loyal heart that makes for a nice contrast to Becky's, sensible and somewhat cautious nature.  The interactions with Tom Kelly were interesting and I enjoyed his no-nonsense attitude.  And unlike many other readers who were confused about the slightly murky, ambiguous nature of the magic that transforms Becky I thought it was a nice touch.  Sometimes magic can just be magic and skate by unexplained.
     The romance with Prince Gregory did fall somewhat flat to me when reading.  I feel like the start of their connection was entirely superficial on Becky's side and the marriage stipulation caused her to chase him for his title.  The main reason she seems to want to marry him at first is for all of the good and charitable things she could do as a Princess.  Becky wants to make a difference and use her beauty for the good of the world.  But does she love him?  I didn't think so.  Even after the disastrous wedding when Becky becomes herself again, I felt like her feelings weren't entirely true.  I loved the way she just falls into a job as a hotel concierge with all the celebrity and royalty info she gained while beautiful making her perfect for the job.  I did like the conclusion of the book.  My favorite thing was the scene where the Queen is sizing up Becky as a possible Granddaughter-In-Law and having full conversations with her animals about her.  There is some wonderful description in this novel, but the truly witty dialogue and one-liners are definitely the shining crown atop its head.  The revelation of Becky's Mom's past and Tom's true intentions/life experiences I did feel were a little over the top.  Also, this book is definitely older YA with it's allusions to sex, drugs, and other more mature content.  Overall this book was a surprisingly great read with a huge heart and a sharp tongue, that definitely made me both laugh and cry quite a bit.  Recommended for fans of fairy tales, who would like a little more edge in their retellings.
 
VERDICT:  4.85/5  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, June 26, 2013

Wishin' and Hopin', Thinkin' and Prayin'.....


Published:  June 18th, 2013
The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse # 2)
By: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Strange Chemistry
ISBN-13:  9781908844286

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.


Review
 
     Ananna and Naji are trapped on a misty island, and stuck together with a curse that is nearly impossible to break.  But unless they do, Naji's well being is dependent on Ananna's safety.  To break the curse that ties them together, Naji will have to accomplish three 'impossible' tasks.  Number 1: Experience true love's kiss.  Number two: hold a princess' starstones in his hands.  Number three: create life out of violence.  While still on the island, their Wizard ally is killed by a manticore that he has been keeping captive.  Ananna makes a deal with the manticore, who accompanies them on the ship her pirate friend Marjani brings to rescue them.  Once off the island, they set about completing the tasks, all while trying to avoid the attentions of those in the Mists that want to kill Naji and trying to come to terms with who they are/their feelings for each other.  Will Ananna's love for Naji stay unrequited?  Can they break the curse and lead separate lives ever again?  And will they both make it out alive after confronting their enemies?
     I was impressed with The Assassin's Curse, the first book in the series.  That said, I think that I enjoyed this one even more which is a rare thing in a sequel!  It starts where the previous novel left off, with Ananna and Naji stuck on the island and trying to find a way off so they can break the curse.  So, they are surprised when Ananna finds the dead body of the wizard who lives there and the manticore that killed him.  Being who she is (someone who isn't necessarily careful of consequences) Ananna makes a deal with the manticore.  Ongraygeeomryn (the manticore) is a bad influence on Ananna and an absolutely hilarious character in her own right!  It's her that convinces Ananna to kiss Naji while he's sleeping and fulfill the first task.  This makes things twice as awkward between the assassin and the pirate girl, because now she has to work even more at hiding the fact that she's in love with him.  This book has plenty of adventure with battle not being an out of place occurrence.  It definitely wasn't just another romance masquerading as a high fantasy novel. 
     I loved the additions of Marjani as a more important character in this one and her backstory, along with her lost love.  Queen (nee Princess) Saida was definitely not your average royal and the quest to get to her starstones (along with the revelation of who had stolen them) was a nice touch.  The growing relationship between Naji and Ananna was well done and unlike a lot of the people who complain that he never actually tells her that he likes/loves her, (or that he was wrong) I felt like it was very true to his character for him to behave that way.  For him to just start kissing her and decide to be with her and not actually make the decision out loud was so 'Naji' that I could really picture it happening that way.  The ongoing conflict with the Mists and the Hariri clan are resolved and the battle scenes are epic.  Also the visit to the King of Salt and Foam (and his underwater kingdom) were completely epic!  Talking SHARKS YOU GUYS!!! :)  I liked the way this book ended and thought that it had pretty great resolution for the situations of the different characters and that Clarke avoided a lot of the awkward maneuvering we normally see in second books with her decision to make this a duology instead of a trilogy.  The angst was a bit overdone sometimes, but with romances that begin one-sided that's kind of a given.  Overall, highly recommended for fans of high fantasy who would like to read something out of the normal direction for the genre.  It does read a little mature, so I would say it's a cross between adult and YA in its content. 

VERDICT:  4.75/5  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 on June 18th, 2013.*

Monday, June 24, 2013

Where There Are Sparks, Electricity Follows

 
Expected Publication:  September 24th, 2013
A Spark Unseen (The Dark Unwinding # 2)
By: Sharon Cameron
Scholastic Press
ISBN-13:  9780545328135
 
When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. And with unexpected enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust--if anyone--to protect her uncle from danger once and for all.
 
Review
 
     Katherine Tulman has recently been through quite a lot: she has gained an eccentric Uncle, foiled an attempt by opposing governments to use one of her Uncle Tully's toy designs as a weapon of war, and fallen in love with a young man who is involved in espionage.  Oh, and she has also become an independent heiress in her own right!  But the governments haven't given up quite yet and when strange men break into the estate and attempt to kidnap her Uncle Tully, Katherine is forced into drastic measures.  After faking Tully's death and fleeing to Paris to avoid England's grasping hands, Katherine finds herself dealing with another set of dangers, including figuring out what has really happened to Lane, her Uncle's former assistant and the young man she loves, who has gone missing.  Can she figure out a way to get them all safely out of Paris and uncover the plot to steal her Uncle in a way that will end things once and for all?
      I read the previous book in the series warily, for I am by no means a fan of the steampunk genre and it is marketed as falling under that title.  As with the first book, this one proves that really the only steampunk thing about this book is the mentions of Uncle Tully's unique inventions.  I enjoyed the mystery of the first book, uncovering all of the characters' individual motivations and schemes.  This book felt like it was trying very hard to capture the espionage feeling of the previous novel, but never quite made it into that sphere.  It dealt with espionage of the international sort to a much greater extent, but I felt disconnected from Katherine and her troubles as an individual.  I did admire the ingenious way that she protects her Uncle (the mode of his transport to France was absolutely inspired!) but the quest to find Lane, the boy she supposedly loves fell extremely flat.  His mysterious disappearance felt like it was only included in the novel as a way to further along the kidnapping plot of the book.  Also, their interactions once she found him felt very formal and wooden to me as a reader.  I just didn't believe they were a great romance, and honestly would have preferred if the book had focused more on the espionage side of things and developed that storyline more than just 'We're on the run from the bad guys, we're hiding out from the bad guys.  We're confronting the bad guys, we're moving on with life.'  Easy peasy sure, but kind of vanilla and on the boring side of the line.  The side characters didn't provide any relief, as they were majorly two-dimensional.  And I am NOT a fan of anything to do with spies so my stance on this even surprised me!  The 'resolution' of the novel's plot(s) leaves things somewhat open for a third book, but also hints that this was possibly the series conclusion.  If that's the case, it was a cute series but somewhat underdeveloped and with the promise it showed, that was quite disappointing.  I won't so anymore so as not to spoil, but it's recommended more for fans of 19th Century Gothic romance books than steampunk adventures.
 
VERDICT:  3.5/5  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. This book's expected publication is September 24th, 2013.**

Friday, June 21, 2013

Follow Me Friday #20


    
     So, Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly 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: Share your favorite literary quote!

A:  I have so many favorite quotes from books that it's almost impossible to choose just one!  :o  But here are a couple that I really love:
    
     "Life is worth living as long as there's a laugh in it." - Anne of Green Gables (L.M.    Montgomery)
    
     "Like all magnificent things, it's very simple." - Tuck Everlasting (Natalie Babbitt)

What about you guys?  What kind of quotes stuck with you when you were reading over the years?  I will say that part of the reason I love these ones is that these books are two of my absolute favorites.  I can't wait to read all the answers that you come up with!  Happy Friday and thanks for stopping in to hang out with me! :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Vow That Can't Be Kept


Expected Publication:  October 15th, 2013
The Vow
By: Jessica Martinez
Simon Pulse
ISBN-13:  9781442458642

No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him.

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?


Review
 
     So, the two main characters in this book are best friends and have been for about seven or eight years, ever since the boy (Mo) moved from Jordan to America.  The girl (Annie) is dealing with heartbroken parents who have been distant and yet overprotective ever since her older sister was murdered and Mo is dealing with being an Arab teenager in southern Kentucky (which sucks).  But he wants nothing more than to get into Harvard or Yale, play basketball and be a normal, American teenager.  So when Mo's Dad loses his job and the whole family is about to be deported to Jordan, the two friends decide to get married, keeping it a secret, so that Mo can stay in America.  Then Annie starts to fall in love with another boy and things may not be as simple as they were when the lie began.  Can she save Mo and still follow her heart?  And will Mo come to terms with the fact that going back to Jordan doesn't change who he really is?
     I have majorly mixed feelings about this book.  I didn't really like Annie or Mo all that much, to be honest.  I felt like yes, they were friends but most of that friendship was based on the fact that they needed each other (not that they actually had things in common).  She saved him from a bully and he's the only one who 'gets' her.  It's a really selfish relationship on both of their parts.  If Annie had proposed marriage as a way to keep Mo in the country solely for his benefit, I might have been behind the decision.  But she does it because she panics at the thought of losing her only friend.  Also, they have ZERO romantic feelings for each other and Annie has a major crush on Reed, a boy at work.  After they get married, she starts to date Reed anyway because they keep the marriage a secret from everyone - including her parents.  The fact that they act like 10 year old brats half of the time does nothing to endear them to me as characters. 
     Maybe if they made responsible decisions that they didn't feel like they had to hide, it wouldn't have been such a burr in my backside.  But lies always blow up in your face eventually, and the fact that they naively expected things to be just fine and dandy, despite the fact that they're doing something highly illegal and could go to prison if found out, really made me pissed off as a reader.  For an issue book, it was well written and the look into immigration laws, visas and marriages for green cards was an interesting if intense snapshot.  That said, I hated the characters and found myself skimming my way through the last half of the book.  I seem to be in the minority with this feeling, so if the concept appeals to you I would encourage you to test it out.  Otherwise, avoid it as a lengthy timewaster.  Also, the subplot with Annie's strained relationship with her parents is left hanging loosely at the end of the book with no attempt at resolution.  Seeing as this is a major part of her character's issues and is something that defines her, I found it seriously disappointing.
 
VERDICT:  2.75/5
 
**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. This book's expected publication is October 15th, 2013.**

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Can I Have a Shaman Panda?


Expected Publication:  July 11th, 2013
The Theory of Everything
By: Kari Luna
Philomel
ISBN-13:  9780399256264

Sophie Sophia is obsessed with music from the late eighties. She also has an eccentric physicist father who sometimes vanishes for days and sees things other people don’t see. But when he disappears for good and Sophie’s mom moves them from Brooklyn, New York, to Havencrest, Illinois, for a fresh start, things take a turn for the weird. Sophie starts seeing things, like marching band pandas, just like her dad.

Guided by Walt, her shaman panda, and her new (human) friend named Finny, Sophie is determined to find her father and figure out her visions, once and for all. So she travels back to where it began—New York City and NYU’s physics department. As she discovers more about her dad’s research on M-theory and her father himself, Sophie opens her eyes to the world’s infinite possibilities—and her heart to love.


Review
 
     Sophie Sophia sees some pretty wonderful things: shaman pandas in marching bands, lunch ladies singing 'Rock 'n Roll High School' complete with dance moves and famous rockers that give advice.  But these things don't exist in quite the same time/place as Sophie, so sometimes they cause her to do stuff that makes other people think she's crazy (like crowd-diving onto the popular girls at her new schools).  These are the kinds of things Sophie's scientist Dad used to do and the reason that she and her Mom left him, moving away from his episodes.  Now her Mom is getting scared that Sophie might have inherited a mental illness from her Dad.  When she is guided by her shaman panda Walt to seek out her Dad in New York, to try and get some answers, things might never be the same again.  With her friend Finny along for the ride and her Dad's book to give her some clues Sophie just might transform her own life, even if she can't save her Dad from himself.
     This whole book is built on a premise of whether or not the episodes are mental illness or Sophie and her Dad are slipping into alternate universes.  It's a really intriguing concept for a YA novel to try to navigate, especially when there isn't any other paranormal/sci-fi aspect involved and it's just straight contemporary fiction!  Sophie is an interesting girl, with unique fashion sense, a love of mix-tapes (anything analog, nothing digital with the Walkman to back it up!), and how-to lists for every event in life you could imagine.  But I feel like I spent the whole book thinking about how cool she was and not really connecting to her until the ending.  It's like when you meet up with some hipsters in a coffee shop and think they're interesting, but have no clue who they really are as a person.  I did like that she was only fourteen and did act her age for the most part with the romance including a cute boy and a first kiss, instead of the prevalent epidemic of 'virginity loss' making an appearance as in many YA contemps.
     I liked the souvenirs as proof that Sophie really wasn't imagining the episodes, but at the same time they were things so generic that it still left you wondering as a reader.  One of my favorite things about this book was Sophie's relationship with her best friend Finny, who is one of the first people she meets in her new town.  He is understanding, has an awesome sense of style, loves the same stuff as Sophie and goes with her on the quest to find her Dad.  Not to mention he helps her fix things with her cute, almost-boyfriend Drew after an episode almost ruins them.  I want a Finny of my own!  But the best thing for me in this book was shaman panda Walt.  He is wise, hilarious, a great musician and truly wants to guide Sophie the best way possible.  Plus hugging a panda after having an existential discussion with them just makes me want to find a portal into this book so I can do it too.  I did feel like it overreached sometimes, and it definitely wasn't a perfect read.  I felt too disconnected at the end to say that I truly loved it.  Plus Sophie's still unresolved situation with her Dad at the end and her disappointing 'choice' in regards to the inter-universe travelling was disappointing.  It was like when you ditch your imaginary friend because you're too old for them! :(  All in all though, I did enjoy it and would recommend it to people really longing for something different, that don't mind baby-hipster main characters.  Oh and props to Luna for the reference to Noah and the Whale! :)
 
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. This book's expected publication is July 11th, 2013.*

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just the Way You Are


Expected Publication:  July 11th, 2013
45 Pounds (More or Less)
By: K.A. Barson
Viking Juvenile
ISBN-13:  9780670784820

Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of informercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!


Review
 
     Ann feels good about herself as a person, but is ashamed of her weight most of the time.  Clothes shopping with her size 6 Mom who is obsessed with food and being thin does nothing good for her self-esteem either.  Ann is super excited when her Aunt Jackie wants her to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, but feels like now she has to lose the weight.  Can she lose 45 pounds in 2 1/2 months?  Learning some important things about herself through a journey of infomercial diets, cute guys, a job at the mall's pretzel shop and disappointing family members, will Ann realize her dream?   This book seemingly is fairly superficial, with the generic fat girl looking to lose some pounds so she can fit in better with her family/be accepted by people and wear 'thin' clothes.  Underneath the surface this book contains so much more than that!  Ann is so achingly real that it makes your heart hurt.  A lot of people (myself included) can identify with the struggle of dieting and losing weight.  On top of that Ann's brother has cut himself off from the rest of the family (including her for some reason), her Dad has a new family and so does her Mom - neither of which seems to have a place for Ann.  Also, her Mom is really critical and obsessed with food, weight and the like.  With the constant pressure to be more like her it's a wonder Ann isn't even more screwed up. 
     And I read another person's review that said the author should have made Ann get more pleasure from food, not portraying it as just mindless binge-eating.  Barson is really realistic in this aspect to me anyways, because when you're an emotional eater you might enjoy the food, but just as often you can be crying in despair as you consume it.  As a former and sometimes still upset eater, it makes you feel even worse when you eat to fill an empty place or to comfort yourself from another unpleasant emotion.  Food doesn't fill the spaces, it just gives a temporary fix and makes you feel worse in the end for your weight problems.  So to me it wasn't mindless binge-eating, there was a very real context to it.  Ann's decision to do it to be healthy, to please herself and in spite of her Mom, not because of her, was a tough one and she does slip occasionally. 
   But  seeing her come to realizations about who she is, what she wants and that her life is only hers is very beautiful.  Also the terrifying realization of how her and her Mom's very opposite approaches are negatively affecting her younger sister (not even school-age yet) and her perception of food acts as a wakeup call.  It also brings to light things Ann never knew about her Mom's past.  I loved the side characters, Aunt Jackie and her wife nee fiancĂ© are two of my favorites.  I feel like the romance with Ann and Jon was really cute, but pretty much background noise.  It was fairly underdeveloped enough for me to not be able to use it as a major grading factor for this book.  The whole debacle with Ann's job at the pretzel store in the mall was painfully realistic and it made me cringe with the way her boss treated her when it came down to the wire.  The mean girls in the book were about the same as every other YA mean girl, and I did like that Ann became friends with one of them towards the end of the book.  This book also shows the perils of using those infomercial diets and how they can be worse for you than overeating/bad eating.  I only wish that the conflict with Ann's brother Tony and his disconnect had actually had some more attention/resolution.  This book was thought-provoking, heartbreaking and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a book that will stay with them long after it ends.
 
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. This book's expected publication is July 11th, 2013.*

Monday, June 17, 2013

That's The Beat of a Heart


Expected Publication:  January 10th, 2014
Heartbeat
By: Elizabeth Scott
Harlequin Teen
ISBN-13:  9780373210961

Life. Death. And...Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

 Review

      Just a quick disclaimer: the cover hasn't been revealed as of yet, so I was forced to get creative with clip-art/internet pictures.  Okay now on to the review! :)  The reason the premise of this book intrigued me from the start, was the resemblance to a plot that Jodi Picoult might tackle in one of her books.  Not an 'issue' novel in the direct sense or the traditional one, but technically that's the classification.  This book was extremely difficult to read and not let myself make judgments on the characters until the end.  Emma's Mom is dead and she will never be able to ask her advice on boys, tell her about school or speak to her at all and get an answer back.  But even though she's dead, her Mom is hooked up to machines and turned into a living incubator to try and keep Emma's unborn brother alive long enough to make it when he's actually born.  Emma is horrified by this and thinks that her Mom would hate what Dan, her husband (Em's stepdad), has done to her.  And Emma is almost certain that her Mom only got pregnant to please Dan and was terrified to have a baby - that she never wanted one at all.  As Emma exists in a haze of anger and loneliness that is eating her up inside she makes friends with Caleb who is the school degenerate.  He is dealing with his own grief, which stems from something worse than Em ever imagined.  With him and her best friend Olivia to support her, Emma thinks she just might make it through.  But then Dan actually asks for her opinion and Emma is forced to make the hardest choice of her life.  Is it the right one and is it a choice she can live with?  Also, can Emma let go of her deep anger and open herself up to love in all its forms?
     I definitely sympathized with Emma.  She has not only lost her Mom, a vibrant and important person but is forced to see her barely existing all for a baby that isn't even for sure going to make it.  Something like that is bound to create resentment, anger and horror in a teenage girl.  Also, I loved that Scott showed that Emma was angry with Dan mostly for not even asking her opinion about continuing life support and his sudden focus on the baby, ignoring her almost completely.  She basically loses both her parents at the same time.  But for all that, Emma really grated on my nerves with her constant vilification of an unborn baby and her seeming determination to wipe it from her life.  Plus the insistence that just because her Mom felt afraid, that she hadn't wanted the baby, etc. got on my nerves.  Just because she is Emma's Mom doesn't mean that Em knows every little thing about her, as much as Em thinks it does!  She is a teenager and is inferring all this from her limited observances of her Mom's pregnancy.  All the whining/observation/anger about this supposed fact did begin to grate on me and make Emma seem like she had the reasoning capabilities of an 8 year old, rather than a 16 year old!  Urghhh!  Was her Stepdad supposed to just let the baby die out of respect for his wife and lose the only child he would ever have with her - all due to what Emma believes?
     That said, the situation did tear at my heartstrings.  The subplot with the accident that is still tearing Caleb's family apart years later was so real that it made me physically ache for the family's suffering.  The ending of this book was far from neat and tidy but it fit the story and was believable in regards to the different characters and their personalities, etc.  I liked the romance as the light in the storm, but also felt like it was almost entirely unnecessary to the book.  They did fix each other though and did it in a beautiful way.  I can't say it was the best book I've ever read, but I did enjoy it and it was certainly thought-provoking.  That said, I would only recommend this to readers who don't shy away from controversial issues.  Otherwise don't even bother.

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. This book's expected publication is August 27th, 2013.*

Friday, June 14, 2013

Follow Me Friday #19


     So, Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly 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: Spine Poetry. Create a line of poetry with your book spines (take a picture). Not feeling creative? Tell us about your favorite poem.

 

In case it's too dark for you guys to read:

All-American Girl,
she went all the way
AWKWARD.
feeling sorry for celia,
The Statistical Probability of LOVE at First Sight.

Super excited to see what y'all chose on your own blogs and it's been a couple months since I participated with this meme.  Happy readings guys, and happy poetry (which I am a softie for)! :) Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Borderlands of Death and Life


Published:  October 9th, 2012
The Unfailing Light (Katerina # 2)
By: Robin Bridges
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13:  9780385908306

Having had no choice but to use her power has a necromancer to save Russia from dark forces, Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, now wants to forget that she ever used her special powers. She's about to set off to pursue her lifelong dream of attending medical school when she discovers that Russia's arch nemesis--who she thought she'd destroyed--is still alive. So on imperial orders, Katerina remains at her old finishing school. She'll be safe there, because the empress has cast a potent spell to protect it against the vampires and revenants who are bent on toppling the tsar and using Katerina for their own gains. But to Katerina's horror, the spell unleashes a vengeful ghost within the school, a ghost more dangerous than any creature trying to get in.

Review
 
     Katerina, Duchess of Oldenburg has used her necromancy to save all of Russia and the Tsar in particular.  But now she just wants to put it aside and go to medical school like she's always dreamed of, becoming a Doctor like her Father.  Katiya is forced to put her plans on hold when she finds out that Lich Tsar, Konstantin, is still alive and after the Tsar.  She is forced to return to the Smolny School and the Empress casts a spell to protect the school and keep all the girls from being able to leave without her say so.  The spell awakens something that has been dormant in the school for the better part of a century.  Now Katiya not only has to deal with the court intrigues and threat of Konstantin, but also the machinations of a violent spirit, who will stop at nothing to get what they want.  Even if that means murder is carried out.  Can Katiya find a way to save all the girls in the school, uncover the secret of the mysterious Germanic Princess Alix and protect the Tsar?  And what secrets are those closest to her keeping that have the power to destroy them all?
     I had absolutely loved the original premise of the first book in this series.  It was doing something that nothing else I've read recently in YA has gone in the direction of.  It combined Russian history with paranormal elements, but went further back past the Romanov dynasty.  The happenings of the this story are set about 20 years before the downfall of Imperial Russia and the line of Tsars.  But mostly its about a teenage girl, trying to find her place in a world of political intrigues, while struggling to come to terms with the dark powers within herself.  This sequel expands upon the first book, with a leisurely plot that stops just short of being meandering.  Katiya is vacationing in Greece with her Mother, Cousin and Aunt before going off to medical school in Zurich.  But a disturbing encounter with the Lich Tsar in the caves leads to her plans being put aside and being forced to return to her finishing school. 
      After the events of the previous book, we are told by Katiya that George (the son of the Tsar) has proposed to her a couple of times but she has refused him because of their opposite positions on the Light and Dark Courts.  I feel like the reasons for this and the differences between the types of vampires, fae and the existences of werewolves/shapeshifters were far more expanded and clarified in this book than the first one.  There was some play on the love triangle between Vampire Prince Danilo, George and Katiya but the majority of this book was centered around the struggles of the side characters like Princess Alix, Katiya's Brother Piotr and George himself with his descent into a secret order that might actually be treasonous and evil.  The storyline with the ghost in Smolny was a slow burn and for me it was pretty obvious as to her identity, but I did enjoy the exposition as to her motives/fate at the end of the book.  Also, the aspect of Katiya being able to pass into the land between life and death was really well drawn and interesting to me as a reader.  The revelation about her Mother was definitely NOT what I expected and I'm curious to see what Bridges does with it.  I do feel like there wasn't enough action to really know the direction book three will take, but I liked the easy pace of this one (I'm not in the majority here though I would assume).  Not a perfect sequel, but it keeps up the momentum of the series, if slightly directionless.  And I'll be reading the third one to see how it all ends!  Recommended for those looking for something completely different from the average YA paranormal read, historical or otherwise.
 
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, June 12, 2013

If I Was Invisible...Wait, I Already Am


Expected Publication:  August 1st, 2013
Invisible
By: Marni Bates
K-Teen
ISBN-13:  9780758269386

Jane Smith has survived three years of high school without making a single enemy, all by keeping a low profile. Not even her three best friends, Kenzie, Corey and Isobel, can say the same. But with Corey dating the lead singer from ReadySet and Kenzie in a relationship too, being invisible tends to be lonely. But now she's written an article for her school newspaper that has accidentally snagged the attention of some celebrities. Turns out, people get really upset when their innermost secrets are splashed all over the front page. And new her well-ordered life is being blasted to hell, with results that are wildly unexpected.

Review
 
     Jane Smith has managed to fly under the radar for her entire time in high school and she liked it that way because she still had the support of her truly awesome best friends.  But than Cory started dating a famous lead singer and Kenzie became America's Most Awkward Girl AND got the guy.  Now they never have any time for her and are always going places/doing things that they don't invite Jane along for.  Not to mention they take her for granted any time the opportunity arises. This does nothing for her already non-existent self-esteem.  Than she punches school bully Scott in the lunchroom and gets forcibly teamed up with Scott, a boy she can't stand (because of a perceived snub) for a front page article in the school newspaper that she never even wanted.  All Jane wanted was for someone to let her add a fiction page into the paper - quietly!  Now she's breaking rules, making changes and forcing everyone to actually look at her for once.  But not everything that happens as a result is good and Jane ends up hurting the people she cares for most unintentionally.  Can she fix things before she really does end up invisible and alone?
     To be quite honest, if you have read the first book with Kenzie you may be kind of wary of this one like I was.  And the synopsis is really misleading, because the blow-up with the article doesn't even happen until the last 25% or so of the book.  The main focus is Jane learning to stand up for herself and assert her own needs to the other people in her life.  Also, learning that we can't choose who we have romantic feelings for and that you shouldn't be a douchebag because of it (that last part is something she's REALLY slow at learning, but having Scott on the other end does nothing to help the point across!!!).  Jane got on my nerves for a good majority of the book and that's putting it mildly and politely.  She was one of the most milquetoast 'heroines' that I've read so far this year in the realm of YA.  Yes, teens are not a species of perfection which is perfectly okay.  But she has no self-respect, which kind of detracts from when she does something really awesome (like punching Scott in the face or...yeah can't think of anything else right now).  The whole book is spent with her whining about how no one sees her and her friends are ditching her.  Of course she does NOTHING about it until she blows up at Kenzie closer to the end of the book.  Also, there's something borderline call-the-suicide-prevention-hotline about coming up with ways to die when you're bored, etc.  It kind of creeped me out.  I loved Isobel and honestly thought a book with a romance between her and the girl in the baking club would have been lots more interesting and majorly cute (Mabye I'm inferring something there, but that's what I saw anyways).
   The romance with Scott wasn't swoonworthy at all.  He spent most of the book acting like a complete manipulative, blackmailing douchebag to Jane (who spent the whole book being an a-hole to him cause she wanted to pretend she didn't like him).  Scott crashes her first date, provides the pictures for the ruinous article and goes to a horrible family dinner at Jane's being her fake 'boyfriend.'  All while doing his best to be an arrogant jerk and make her life a living Hell!  And this is supposed to make me root for them as a couple?  WTH???  Their whole dynamic is borderline abusive and after spending the whole book just wanting him to jump off a cliff and with the meanest interactions possible, they suddenly like like each other?  A world of no!  Just not a thing I could get behind.  I did like Jane's crazy old lady, bookstore boss who wanted them to take a picture in the makeout section.  She was hilarious.  The real highlight character-wise for me though was the nice side of somewhat mean-girl Chelsea.  At times she was a better person than Jane's supposed best friends.  By the time the story broke, I had already started skimming through it because this book was boring me and making me cringe.  Some may identify with this book and really like it.  They may even find it somewhat funny and cute.  I just really didn't and wouldn't really recommend it to anyone.  Just re-read Awkward instead, it'll be a much more satisfying experience!
 
VERDICT:  2.25/5  Stars
 
*received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, via NetGalley. No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book's expected publication is August 1st, 2013.*

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hell Yeah, Bring It On!

 
Published:  October 16th, 2012
Hell Yeah!  Volume 1: Last Days On Earth

By: Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz (Illustrator)
Image Comics
ISBN-13:  9781607066071
 
Today is the worst day of Benjamin Day's life. He's the poster child for the first generation raised in a world where superheroes exist, but he wants nothing to do with super-anything. When versions of himself from throughout the multiverse show up dead, this one-man crisis of infinite selves tears open twenty-year-old secrets. Ben's now forced into the super-society he's long denied. Eisner award-winner and writer Joe Keatinge and illustrator Andre Szymanowicz team to bring the comic described by Third Eye Comics' Steve Anderson as "Watchmen for the Kick-Ass Generation." Features an introduction by the acclaimed creator of Madman and iZOMBIE, Michael Allred.
 
Review
 
     Benjamin Day has grown up in a world where superheroes and villains are a reality.  All he wants is to lead a normal existence as a regular guy/college student.  But when he goes out with his best friend and is hijacked by the band they saw play, things turn really weird.  One of the girls in the band has dated Ben - just in an alternate universe!  That Ben Day was murdered and someone is killing off all of Ben's alternate reality counterparts.  Can he help figure out why and stop the killer before he's next?  And is the answer closer to home than Ben ever could have imagined?
     So, this comic had lots of my favorite things in it - alternate dimensions, parallel selves and the like.  I adore things like that in a book, comic or not.  Ben Day is seemingly nothing special and while nothing was ever concretely nailed down as to why he's so special, there were some hints.  It was basically his origin story and that's a concept that I am familiar with and when done right, it's what I enjoy the most about comics in general (especially superhero ones).  The people coming through from other dimensions, all looking for Ben Day, created some hilarious situations and some rather horrifying ones too.  My favorite character besides Ben was actually one of the superheroes from another dimension, a woman who is on a mission to find and kill Ben (being away from her wife and kids to do it).  She was a bad-ass with a seemingly harsh view of things.  But there were moments, especially with her fellow superheroes, that you could see something more.  The change in Ben by the end of the comic was an interesting one and with the way things ended I'm eager to see where the author takes the story.  I did enjoy the artwork, but while it was good I did feel like it was a little too classic comic mashed together with a noir-esque graphic novel.  It was a little stylistically confused to my eyes, but what do I know?  All in all, a good origin story and I would recommend it to fans of superhero comics looking for a new mythology to deconstruct and analyze.  A good read that I don't regret spending time with, if a little incoherent at times.
 
VERDICT:  4.25/5  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 October 16th, 2012.*

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Snatched Up By POD People


Published: June 4th, 2013
PODs (Pods # 1)
By: Michelle Pickett
Spencer Hill Press
ISBN-13:  9781937053284

Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it's in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it's a balm for the broken soul.

After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating... monsters.

Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.


 Review
 
     Eva is sixteen and just wants to live in peace with her parents and maybe grow up to do something that makes her happy.  But than an unknown virus starts breaking out across the country and the government takes action that will changer her life forever.  Unsure how the virus is even transmitted, the government decides to have a lottery to decide who will live protected for a year in underground PODs, that will support life and keep them safe.  But is the lottery really fair?  Eva is chosen and goes into her POD not knowing what to expect.  A year later when she comes out, she's in love with David and ready to start a new life in a society different from what she left behind.  The virus may not be destroyed like they thought, and when things take a turn for the worst Eva and David may be forced to retreat into the PODs once again for safety.  Can they make it long enough for a cure to be found or will they be killed by the infected who are hunting them relentlessly?
     This book is scary in way that I haven't felt since watching that movie Contagion a few years ago.  How easily this could actually happen in the reality of the world we live in makes it downright terrifying to me!  And to be honest, as horrible as it was that the government only chose people between ages 12-24 for the POD lottery, it made sense on a certain level.  They needed people young enough and healthy enough to survive and rebuild a broken society.  They needed to be able to be taught and molded into certain career/societal roles and they also needed to be self-sufficient and not dependent on an adult for survival.  With only 70,000 spots in the PODs, it makes sense.  But it would still be extremely agonizing to know that everyone you left behind is almost assuredly dead and they died in a painful way.
     Eva is a strong, admirable girl but she is unsure how she can make it without her parents.  Living with 10 strangers for a year isn't her idea of fun, but somehow they start to get close to each other and make their own family.  Especially after delivering her fellow POD survivor's baby and falling in love with another PODmate, David.  But when the doors open a year and a half later and they are all separated into different 'village' assignments, Eva and the others have no real hope of seeing each other again.  The relationships between all of them were really realistic, not perfect because they were all basically scared teenagers.  But they managed to prop each other up and survive for their time in the PODs.  Also, other people are complaining about insta-love between David and Eva, but to me it just seemed like instant attraction.  The will-they/won't-they dynamic and their attempts to 'protect' each other DID start to annoy me.  But the romances in this book were very sweet and had some great chemistry.  I won't tell you what happens after they leave the PODs, but this book was full of action, romance and truly great character interactions and growing maturity on the part of Eva especially.  It was a wonderful book and one of the best I've read so far this year.  It could stand alone, so I'm interested to see if the next one is a sequel or a companion novel.  I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great dystopian read, and happening to be sick of the same old stories.

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. This book was published June 4th, 2013.*

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Bermuda Triangle Is NOT a Vacation Spot!


Expected Publication:  June 18th, 2013
Triangles
By: Kimberly Ann Miller
Spencer Hill Press
ISBN-13:  9781937053369

A cruise ship. A beautiful island. Two sexy guys. What could possibly go wrong?

In the Bermuda Triangle—a lot.

Hoping to leave behind the reminders of her crappy life--her father's death years ago, her mother's medical problems, and the loser who’s practically stalking her--seventeen-year-old Autumn Taylor hops on a ship with her sister for a little distraction. When she wakes up in the Bermuda Triangle, she fears she's gone nuts for more than one reason: that loser’s suddenly claiming they're a happy couple... a hot guy is wrapping his arms around her and saying "Happy Anniversary"... and suddenly, she’s full of bruises, losing her hair, and getting IV medication. Autumn visits the ship's doctor, hoping for a pill or a shot to make the craziness go away. Instead, she's warned that these "alternate realities" could become permanent.

She just has to ask herself one question—how the hell is she going to get out of this mess?


Review
 
     Autumn Taylor's life completely sucks.  She works at an auto-mechanic shop with a guy who is practically stalking her, her Mom is in a coma that she's pretty sure is her fault, her sister has decided that she's in charge of Autumn's every move and she's pretty sure she'll never save up enough money to leave New Jersey for good.  She's excited when her sister tells her that they're going on a cruise their Mom had planned before her accident.  Maybe Autumn can get away from Joey (stalker-boy), her crazy & depressing life and let herself relax for a change.  But when Joey and hot, local playboy Marcus are both on the ship with her things are bound to get crazy - especially when they're passing through the Bermuda Triangle!  Each day in the triangle has Autumn living an alternate reality and trying to figure out the meaning of her real life in comparison.  Can she get back to her own reality or will she be trapped in another version of her life?
     From the synopsis, I expected a little more mystery about the Bermuda Triangle and it's strange effects to be present.  If that's what you're looking for TURN BACK WHILE YOU STIILL CAN!!!  What I got instead was a book full of rom-com fluff (if you can call man-whore playboys and stalkers romantic), mixed with some moments trying to emotionally heavy and 'important' to character development.  The feel of this book is distinctly New Adult hormones/actions/language, mixed with middle-grade maturity levels.  In other words, at times it is a serious train wreck.  Autumn has had a lot of bad stuff happen in her life and I can understand how that might make her unreceptive to other peoples' attempts to connect with her.  But other than when she wants something from others, Autumn is a complete and total rude, unfeeling, manipulative, spoiled, selfish, little bitch to everyone.  Including her sister, who is doing her best to take care of an uncooperative teenager who refuses to act like a human being.  And yes Joey was pretty much the epitome of a creepy stalker, but Autumn uses him when she feels like it and treats him like dirt while she's doing it!  Then when she wants him to go away, Autumn completely ignores him!
     The alternate realities are an interesting idea and the fact that they take place in the Bermuda Triangle is a fresh concept for a YA book.  The first alternate universe had Autumn with playboy Marcus, in a 'committed' relationship and Joey doesn't even know who she is, plus her dead Dad is alive.  The next time Autumn is married to Joey, has an infant daughter and her sister is with Marcus.  The third time Autumn is sick with cancer and dying (Joey is her step-brother).  As she goes through the different realities, Autumn learns to appreciate the things she has in life, the people around her and everything else she's taken for granted.  That said, I feel like even being guided by the mysterious ship's Doctor (who is otherworldly in some way...) that Autumn still didn't understand the fact that the entire universe didn't center around herself by the time the end of the book rolls around.  I enjoyed this book overall, but in spite of the main character and not because of her like I would have preferred.  As a character driven reader, this book's extremely unlikeable characters were a letdown.  But the plot kept me going, even though the ending was a little too clichĂ©d for my tastes.  I would have preferred more scientifically-supernatural material to be included based on the Bermuda Triangle connection.  The fantasy execution of that plot point is respectable but not anything new or extremely interesting.  Overall, not something I will read again and I might recommend it but only to very specific people. 

VERDICT:  2.25/5 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. This book's expected publication date is June 18th, 2013.*