Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wicked by Sara Shepard

When we last left our Pretty Little Liars, Hanna's BFF Mona turned out to be A. Then Spencer had memory flashbacks of Alison going off with Ian just before getting all murdered. Jenna revealed that she was in on the plan that blinded her. Everyone believes that it's all over and they are safe now...but come on, this is only number five out of an eight book series (With a ninth being released this summer).

Ian's trial is a big plot in this book. He is arraigned and pleads not guilty. Gasps and fainting all around, of course. They weren't going to allow him the opportunity to post bail because he was considered a flight risk. His mother ends up coming down with a case of "My-son-was-accused-of-murder" cancer and her dying wish is to spend her last days with him. He is placed under house arrest. When the PLLs start getting more texts from A, they immediately suspect Ian.

Everyone is up to more trouble in this book. Hanna's mom moved away last book. Her dad is moving in, bringing annoying future stepmother Isabelle and her daughter Kate. Hanna still resents Kate for tattling when she left the daddy-daughter(-future stepmother-stepsister) weekend for Foxy back in book two. Eventually, Hanna befriends Kate, as well as former rivals Riley and Naomi. She enjoys being part of a clique again, but spending time with them leads to her neglecting boyfriend Lucas. She's also still incredibly paranoid about Kate. At the big party at the end of the book, Hanna makes a move to destroy her stepsister. Unfortunately, she ends up losing Lucas. Her father punishes her by forcing her to interact with nobody but Kate in the future.

There's part of me that thinks that Hanna is right to be cautious with Kate. Still, what she did really sucked. It's getting hard to like Hanna at all.

Emily is kind of adorable in this book. She broke up with Maya last time, though her family accepted her for being gay. She goes to a church event with her mother and ends up falling in like, with a guy. It's kind of funny how she is worrying about what people will think of her all over again. She worries about telling on A because she doesn't want the boy, Issac, to know about her past and hate her. Everything comes out in the end, and Issac still hearts Emily anyways.

Aria meets some older guy at an art gallery, but the guy ends up being her mom's blind date. Their relationship is still rocky, so Aria tries her best not to cause any trouble. Unfortunately, Xavier keeps hitting on her, kisses her, then threatens her in an incredibly pervy-rapey way. Aria decides she has no choice but to move back in with her father and his pregnant mistress. It's kind of dumb that she doesn't just tell her mom, but after the woman practically kicked Aria out for not telling her about her cheating husband, I think keeping quiet might be better.

There's a big deal made in this book about a past memory before the PLLs became friends. Ali was bragging about some time capsule flag. Each PLL swore to steal Ali's flag. It turns out that Aria is the one who ended up with the flag, though she never turned it back in.

Spencer is dealing with backlash from her plagiarized Golden Orchid essay. Her parents are the most awful people in the world. Rosewood Day has kicked her out of her clubs, and there is even doubt about whether her testimony against Ian is valid. Because none of this is bad enough, Spencer's grandma dies. In her will, grandma leaves money to all her grandchildren...except for Spencer. Sister Melissa convinces Spencer that this means she might be adopted.

One night, Spencer encounters Ian in her backyard, even though he is supposed to be under house arrest. She doesn't tell anyone. Ian never shows up to the trial. The PLLs are convinced that he will be after them, that he has to be the new A. The book ends with Ian's body found in the woods behind Spencer's house. We've got dead body #3, folks, and the series is far from over.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Unbelievable by Sara Shepard

Okay, so Book 4 in the Pretty Little Liars series. They're still pretty, they're still little, and they're still liars. Seriously, though, some major stuff happens in this book. I kind of love it.

When we last left our PLLs, pretty much all the secrets got revealed. Aria was exiled from her mom's house because of her dad's adulterating, then kicked to the curb by her boyfriend because she was hot for her English teacher. I just sounded like Gossip Girl in that last sentence and I'm torn between whether I should feel pride or shame. Spencer stole her sister's essay and qualified for a big essay award. She also pushed her sister down some stairs and may have killed Ali in a rage blackout. Emily was outed to the school. The kids accepted her, but her family forces her into gay rehab or Iowa. Finally, after a humiliating time at her friend Mona's party, Hanna figures out who the mysterious A is, then she's run over by an SUV.

Aria moves in with her dad and his now-girlfriend Meredith. Meredith has "stomach flu" which everyone automatically knows means preggo, pregnant, with child. All she really does in this book is take a Mindless Art class...oh, and also kind of mess everything up for everyone. She tells the Rosewood police all about A. Then she confesses the PLL's part in Jenna's blinding to Jenna. In a bit of a twist, Jenna already knew and set the entire thing up with Alison.

Spencer's sister is okay after her fall down the stairs. Her parents are making her keep pretending that Melissa's essay is hers. She ends up winning the Golden Orchid, but apparently confesses that she stole her sister's essay (She calls the committee at the end of the book, but we don't know for sure).

Emily is exiled to Iowa, but soon learns that her uber-religious cousins aren't as innocent as they seem. They take her partying and then blame her when they get caught. She runs away for home, but her parents think she's just plain missing and take that as a chance to accept her for being gay. It's almost sweet (Sarcasm!). The catch is that now that her parents are accepting of Maya, Emily isn't as into her. She also met a girl in Iowa named Trista. Emily's just really confused.

Hanna doesn't remember the party or anything that came after. Mona is pretending they are BFFs just as if nothing happened. Lucas, the unpopular guy who came to her rescue last book, is telling her not to trust Mona. Unfortunately, Hanna doesn't really listen to him. She manipulates her father into spoiling her and whines a lot about all the scars on her face from getting run over. She's really just a pain.

Mona and Spencer had been planning a candlelight vigil for when Hanna was in a coma, but they change it to a party. Mona gets closer to Spencer while planning the party. She reveals that she has also been getting texts from A. It seems as though Mona is now part of the group. At the party, Spencer has a confrontation with her sister. She finds a picture of Ali and Melissa's boyfriend Ian in her purse and becomes convinced that Melissa put it there. Melissa must have killed Alison, Melissa must be A.

Throughout the book, Hanna slowly regains her memories. She eventually remembers that A slipped up and texted her from a number she knew: Mona's. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Mona is A. Unfortunately, nobody realizes this until Spencer is already driving off to the police station with her to turn in Melissa. Because they couldn't call the police for...some reason.

The other PLLs start texting Spencer all, "Mona's dangerous!" They keep texting her, lots of times. If your friend is in a car with a psychopath, but the psycho doesn't know that she knows that they are a psycho, why let the psycho know? Do you want your friend to die?!? Mona thought they were just going to the police to turn in Melissa, maybe flash some rugby players, call it a day. But, no, now Mona has taken Spencer hostage.

We find out that Mona salvaged Alison's diary and learned everyone's secrets. Though...Alison didn't know about Mr. Fitz or Maya or Spencer stealing Melissa's essay. So I guess Mona was just a creepy sneaky stalker? Why would she exploit these girls? Well, Mona was also there for the Jenna Incident (Good band name, but seriously, there was Toby, Ali, Jenna, Aria, now Mona; they should have just sold tickets) and she got burned on her tummy. This horrible disfigurement that nobody frickin' knows about motivated her to seek her revenge.

So, the book ends with Mona falling down a quarry and dying. The PLLs figure out that Melissa's (and Ali's) boyfriend Ian must have killed Alison. We end with his arraignment. Alas, it seems as though the next book comes with a new A. Because when you are super special snowflakes like our girls, one stalker won't do.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt

My bookstore was sent a sample of Patton Oswalt's Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. It was an extremely thin book with only the intro and a couple chapters. I've always enjoyed reading memoirs and essays, so I grabbed the sample. I read it and decided to purchase the book when it came out.

I'm not uber-familiar with a lot of Mr. Oswalt's work, probably just Ratatouille, which I found a little unbelievable (I don't care how good a cook it is, I'm not eating rat food), and his guest spots on Community ("Did I accidentally tell you that you have AIDS, because I do that sometimes"). I also looked him up on IMDB and found out that he is the voice of boy genius Tobey on PBS Kids show Word Girl, which is awesome and features a monkey named Captain Huggy Face. Okay, back to the book...

Zombie Spaceship Wasteland mixes personal stories with shorter humorous chapters. The stories are about Oswalt growing up, his love of reading, and his fairly nerdy life. Ah, a man after my own heart. The title comes from a chapter where he describes zombie, spaceship, and wasteland as three distinct personality types. The zombie is about simplifying their world. The spaceship wants to leave their world. The wasteland wants to destroy their world. Highlights are a recount of his time headlining at a horrible comedy club outside Vancouver (Which has the BEST ending- seriously, I thought it was going on too long, but it was worth it) and a chapter of explanations behind gifts from his grandmother. There's also a surprisingly touching story about his mentally ill uncle.

The shorter chapters are more jokey, things such as a wine list with very specific descriptions, illustrations of greeting cards with the fairly horrible history behind the pictures, and a comic about two vampires. There's lots of little details that made me laugh out loud.

In conclusion, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is an incredibly worthwhile read. My only complaint is that it's a bit short. I want more Patton Oswalt.