Friday, May 22, 2015

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

"It's me in this body, thank you, snarled and screwed up and not going to make it; let's not go on about things we can't revise. I'm an edited version of a real live girl, or at least, that's what I say when I want to tell you something and I would rather not talk about it but have to get it out of the way so we can move on to better topics..."

Aza Ray has a "history of hospitals." She suffers from a rare lung disease, so rare that they named it after her. Despite all the hospital visits and new drugs and treatments, Aza is still dying, unable to breath properly.

Aza spends her days with her best friend Jason. They visit rare book galleries and watch videos of giant squids, normal teenager stuff. They are pretty adorable, and Jason obviously loves her, though she doesn't think it's possible.

Things take a turn for the weird when Aza sees a ship in the clouds. She thinks it's just hallucinations, that her brain is finally starting to fail. Jason tells her about Magonia, which is a legendary city in the clouds. There are stories of ships in the sky, sailors who drown on land.

Soon after, a bird flies down Aza's throat (I know, it sounds weird) and her lungs give out. During the ride to the hospital, a lot of action takes place. Icy roads, a helicopter crash, and then Aza dies...and she also doesn't. Jason and her family go through the process of burying Aza. Meanwhile, she wakes up in Magonia.

 The beginning of Magonia was fantastic. I love Aza and how cynical she is, and I really love Aza and Jason's relationship. After Aza dies, even though I knew we were going to hear more from her, I cried. I thought it was a really good choice to switch to Jason's perspective. It really broke my heart, especially his alligator suit. The Magonia stuff is a little weird for me so I didn't like it as much as the beginning and the Jason chapters. Aza was taken away from her mother years ago and placed on earth to die. Now that she is in her true home, Aza must fulfill her destiny by saving Magonia from starvation.

Despite that, Magonia is a great story. It's very The Fault in Our Stars with a fantasy twist. I have heard that there will be a sequel, and I am definitely curious to read about the further adventures of Aza and Jason. I am predicting another great story in their future. 

I received my copy of Magonia from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperCollins. It's available for purchase now.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

When they were younger, identical twins Lexi and Ava made Alicia up to get out of trouble. If something was broken, Alicia did it. As they got older, the girls used Alicia as sort of a safety net for dating wilder boys. Ava only dates boys with potential and money, while Lexi is too focused on school to date, but Alicia has less standards. 

One night, Lexi as Alicia goes on a date with a boy who Ava as Alicia has dated before. He tries to rape her, she fights him off and escapes. Just one day later, that boy turns up dead. It seems like just a meaningless tragedy, then other strange things start to happen. They get sent speeding tickets for Alicia, and receive phone calls for hair appointments for Alicia. Alicia's Facebook page is full of pictures that neither twin took. Someone ends up changing the password and locking them out. Then another of Alicia's dates ends up dead.

Police want to arrest both of the twins, but Lexi takes the blame. They still need to find the killer. Lexi starts to suspect that it might be Ava. After all, Alicia isn't real...or is she?

The Third Twin was a pretty exciting mystery. It's an intriguing concept that kept me guessing through the whole book. Part of me wanted to just flip ahead, but I managed to resist the urge and read the whole thing. It was a fast-paced thriller, and a nice change of pace from what I usually read.

I received my copy of The Third Twin from Netgalley, courtesy of Delacorte Books for Young Readers. It's available for purchase now.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Red by Alison Cherry

Red is set in the town of Scarletville. In the future, redheads have become incredibly rare because of genetics and stuff. Scarletville is a haven for carrot tops. Anyone with red hair is given preference over blondes and brunettes, even strawberry blondes ("Strawbies," as they call them).

Felicity St. John is one of the most popular redheads at her school. Her mom has been pushing her to win the Miss Scarlet pageant, in fact her family's financial future depends on it. But Felicity has a deep, dark secret. She is really...a strawbie! Her mom has been having her hair dyed at this secret underground salon since she was a toddler.

Her future is jeopardized when Gabby, outspoken brunette and daughter of Felicity's hairdresser, blackmails her. Gabby wants to shake up the ginger hierarchy, so her first demand is a nomination for prom queen. After everyone loses their mind, Gabby demands that Felicity's boyfriend take her instead.

Gabby isn't in the right by blackmailing Felicity, but Felicity is WAY out of line for her retaliation scheme. She plans to reveal the location of Gabby's mom's salon, just destroying her life and Gabby's entire family's lives, including that of Gabby's cute little sister who looks up to her. It's worth it if you win a pageant though, right?

There's also a little side plot where Felicity falls the brown-haired school newspaper editor. He takes her out of town and she sees that the rest of the world isn't like Scarletville, and that might not be a bad thing.

The premise of Red is interesting from a genetics standpoint. The story is really more about using rare hair color as an excuse to be jerks to other people. It's hard to dislike Gabby for what she does, and she is pretty annoying on her own. Felicity, again, really needed to get her priorities straight with what she was doing. It made me really hate her. Red seems as though it should have been fun and bubbly, but it was full of social injustice and inequality. At least it was something to think (and rage) about?

I received my copy of Red from Netgalley, courtesy of Delacorte Books for Young Readers. It's available for purchase now.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Brief Interruption...

A brief interruption from book reviews to post some pictures of my cats with books:
Miss Gypsy

Mr. Tiger

That concludes this interruption. Thank you. You may proceed with your regularly scheduled business.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

"Imagine knowing everyone in your life would one day have to stop calling you by your name and honor you as their sovereign. It's impossible for that not to erect walls, even subconsciously. But with me that wasn't an issue, and I enjoyed letting Nick be- for perhaps the first time in his life- unremarkable..."

Marrying the prince and living happily ever after seems like a dream. In reality, a relationship with royalty is far more complicated. The Royal We opens on the day before the wedding between ordinary American Rebecca and Prince Nicholas, future King of Great Britain. Our main character, Rebecca, or Bex as she prefers, is being harassed by threatening messages. Her twin sister Lacey bursts in to confess to a mistake, then we flash back to the beginning.

Bex first met Nick when he opened the door for her at Oxford. She left Cornell and her family to study art. She is immediately a part of Nick's circle of friends, but they aren't very close at first. Nick and Bex bond when they run into each other early one morning. Before you know it, they start spending time together in her dorm room, eating Twinkies and Cracker Jacks and watching the American TV show Devour (It sounds like Passions meets Vampire Diaries). They become really close friends, then Bex starts to realize that she actually likes him more than that.

It seems impossible that Nick, future sovereign of Great Britain, could like her back. His ex-girlfriends, and possibly not-so-ex-girlfriends are gorgeous and put together, and everything Bex isn't. His father, Richard, is scary and withholding, and his grandmother is the reigning Queen. Yet, it turns out that he does reciprocate her feelings. Unfortunately, relationships with princes aren't easy. He isn't allowed to tell anyone about their relationship, so they can't be seen together in public. There are still cameras tracking Nick everywhere, and soon tracking Bex too. It only gets worse when Lacey moves to England, supposedly to support Bex. She takes up with Nick's brother Freddie, who never met a girl he didn't want to shag. At first, private moments are enough, but all the tabloid stories, paparazzi, and pictures with old girlfriends make Bex insecure. They are unhappy and they break up.

Bex doesn't react well. She spirals out of control, partying, drinking, and general debauchery. It culminates with her waking up in Paris with her ex-boyfriend Clive, and realizing that she has to get herself together. Bex throws herself into her job, creating a program for underprivileged children called Paint Britain. There's no more late nights out, instead real dates with respectable men. Still, deep down, Bex misses Nick. Maybe, after all this time, Nick is ready to actually be with her.

I love reading Go Fug Yourself and the Fug Girls' books. There are so many shout-outs and inside jokes that it feels like you are in a super special club. The Royal We is (of course) inspired by the courtship of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It provided a lot of insight into what such a high profile relationship must be like. (I don't think that I would be able to take all the scrutiny, but I am always up for a challenge, eligible princes!) Of course, the book is very funny, entertaining, romantic, fun, and all the good things a book like this should be, but it also has some serious moments. It made me cry a lot, but also laugh and squeal in delight. It's just a really good book, it would be a great summer read or beach book, and I hope there's a sequel, maybe with a royal baby?    

I received my copy of The Royal We from Edelweiss, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing. It's available for purchase now.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis

"The truth is like the waiting jaws of a monster, a more menacing monster than I'll ever be. It yawns beneath your feet, and you can't escape it, and as soon as you drop it chews you to pieces..."

Bones & All tells the story of a very different young woman. When Maren gets close to someone, she gets the overwhelming urge to eat them. The first time was when she was too young to remember and ate her babysitter. Over the years, there were many boys and young men. After every time, Maren's mother packed their things and they moved away. She had to protect her daughter from what she did, what she was.

The day after Maren turned 16, her mother left. The note read: "I'm your mother and I love you but I can't do this anymore." Maren packed up only her things, took the money her mother left her, and set off to try to find her father. She's never met him. Her mother never talked about him, but Maren has a strong feeling that he shares her secret.

On her journey, she meets people like her. There is an old man named Sully who only eats dead people. She also meets Lee, a young man who helps her, protects her, and also eats anyone who offends him. It's about being on your own for the first time, about finding out that you aren't as alone as you thought you were, and about figuring out who you can trust.

I was a little afraid to read Bones & All, but it turned out to be surprisingly free of blood and gore given the subject matter. I liked Maren. Any girl who liked books as much as her can't be all bad. I can see how you can form a lot of metaphors and such from the book, but I'm really not in a philosophical mood at the moment. Maybe a girl who eats anyone who gets too close is exploring the power of her sexuality, or maybe she's just a really hungry girl. I'd like to just see it as a book about a girl who sometimes eats people. It really is a good book. In fact, I ate it right up. (It's okay, I'll see myself out)

I was invited to be a part of the Bones & All Street Team on the Goodreads website. I received an ARC and tote bag from St. Martin's Press. The book will be available for purchase March 10, 2015.