Thursday, December 27, 2012

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz

I want to start by saying, nay, exclaiming, that Colin Fischer was an incredible treat to read. It was a book that left me with a great big stupid grin on my face. This book is so different from the usual teen books, but I loved it almost more than any other I've read this year.

The titular Colin Fischer is a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome. Colin doesn't care for the color blue. He dislikes when anyone touches him. Emotions are so difficult for him to decipher that he carries a chart to inform him what people are feeling. He makes up for this with a keen deductive mind. Colin retains volumes of information and can use it, plus his sometimes hilarious lack of social skills and tact, to solve all sorts of mysteries around his high school.

The big mystery comes in the form of a smoking gun in the cafeteria. The school bully, Wayne Connelly, is fingered as the suspect and expelled. Despite the fact that Colin was on the receiving end of much of Wayne's bullying, Colin is determined to prove that he didn't bring the gun to school. He just has to figure out who did.

I was drawn to this book because of comparisons of Colin to Sherlock Holmes. I've read stories about how Sherlock (From the television show Sherlock, I'm not sure if the novel version is the same) seems to have a highly functioning version of Asperger's that allows him to make such keen deductions. It also explains his lack of social graces. Colin Fischer is very much a teenaged Sherlock Holmes. He even speaks of earlier cases involving his own version of Moriarty. Needless to say, but I'm saying it anyways, I would love to have more adventures featuring Colin Fischer.

I received my copy of Colin Fischer from Edelweiss, courtesy of Razorbill. It's available for purchase now.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Katharine is a young woman who has been living as a ward of her aunt. She has been penniless since her parents died, so she is completely reliant upon her aunt, and her cousin in the future. Aunt Tulman demands that Katherine travel to the family estate in order to check on her Uncle, the current head of the estate. Rumor has it that he is not of sound mind, and he has been squandering the family money. Katherine's assignment is to have her uncle committed to an assignment, otherwise she will be turned out on the streets.

Her reception at the estate is less than friendly. All of the servants know why she is there, and they don't want to lose their jobs or have poor Uncle Tully sent to an asylum. Katharine puts up with a bit of abuse, but eventually makes an agreement that she will observe the estate and Uncle Tully for a month. Though she will still face the same dilemma, Katherine actually loosens up and starts to enjoy herself. She grows to care for her Uncle, a man who lives by a rigid set of rules and builds wonderful clockwork figures. He would obviously never survive in an asylum. She also learns that the estate employs hundreds of people rescued from dangerous factories. Unfortunately, she still has to think of herself. Her aunt and cousin could still end up seizing the estate and firing everyone, then casting her out.

As soon as she arrives at the estate, Katharine is plagued by strange experiences. She hears phantom laughter in the hallways. She ends up losing consciousness randomly. She sleepwalks and harms herself in her sleep. Katharine soon starts to wonder if maybe she is the one who should be institutionalized.

The Dark Unwinding started out a bit slow for me, but once I got into it I loved it. I've read some very good stories this year, tales of young women in a historical context. I really liked Katharine. It's easy to sympathize with her situation, and to feel just as much excitement with the freedom she is allowed when she arrives at Uncle Tully's. I also love the relationship between Katharine and the servant Lane. The ending comes together almost too perfectly, but I've always been a sucker for a happy ending.

I received my copy of The Dark Unwinding from Netgalley, courtesy of Scholastic Press. It's available for purchase now.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

More zombies, this time the necromancer-controlled zombies. A group of the undead swarm and attack a town, leaving nobody alive. Three unlikely companions work together to stop any more attacks.

Jett is a girl who passes herself as a boy. She is searching for her brother, who has been missing since the end of the Civil War. Jett has some hostility towards the North, whom she blames for ruining her family and her brother's disappearance.

Honoria Gibbons, who goes by Gibbons, travels the country to investigate paranormal occurrences for her father. Gibbons believes in science and she is an avid feminist. I really loved her. Jett and Gibbons have a few fights, but they end up almost friends.

Finally, White Fox was raised by Native Americans. He serves as a scout for the U.S. Army. Gibbons and White Fox are investigating the disappearances that have plagued the area. Gibbons is checking for signs of alien abduction, while White Fox is searching for connections to his missing tribe.

The zombies lead to a strange commune in the desert. They talk of "angels" who will rid the land of the unrighteous. It's obvious how they are involved with the zombies, but why are they doing it?

Again, another not-really-zombie zombie book. My favorite part of this story was the characters. As I said, I love Gibbons. I love her suffragette pantaloons and her crazy horseless wagon. Jett is stubborn, and a wee bit racist, but I like her strength. It's also impressive how far she goes to pass as a sharpshooter. I didn't feel much either way for White Fox, though he seemed like a nice enough guy. Anyways, if you're looking for a story of zombies in the wild west, look no further.

I received a copy of Dead Reckoning from Netgalley, courtesy of Bloomsbury. It's available for purchase now.

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Alice always thought that her father was crazy. All the locks on their doors. Never going out after dark. He spoke of monsters, monsters that eat people alive. It all sounded like the raving of a lunatic, until the night Alice's family dies. She watches a monster eating her father and she knows that he was right all along. The monsters are real, and Alice will do everything in her powers to destroy them all.

Now living with her grandparents, Alice starts at a new school. She is soon intrigued by bad boy Cole. Intrigued as in she keeps having steamy visions of smooching him, and Cole seems to be sharing the visions. Cole hangs out with a strange group, a group that shows up sporting strange injuries. Two members of the group died from a strange blood disease last year. Not to spoil too much, but Cole and company are hunting the monsters: zombies.

These aren't your typical zombies, though. They cannot be killed on the mortal plane, you have to fight them with your spirit, outside your body. It's a little weird. Alice joins the group, and trains to further the lessons that her father had taught her. It's all about getting revenge for her family and protecting her new friends and grandparents.

I was a little bummed at yet another variation of zombies. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned brain eating zombies? Nevertheless, I liked Alice in Zombieland. Alice is kind of like Buffy, except Alice the Zombie Slayer. She trains to hunt the zombies, her grades fall and she ditches her obligations. Her grandparents worry about what is going on with her. Also like Buffy, there's lots of good action scenes. I'm excited for the second book in this series: Through the Zombie Glass, obviously.

Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Velvet Jones was killed when she was sixteen years old. Now, she is stuck in Purgatory, unable to move on to the other side. Velvet leads the best team in Purgatory. They travel through cracks to earth in order to flush out evil spirits who are raising havoc. Lately, Purgatory has been falling apart. People are protesting because they want out and feel that they shouldn't have to wait for their sentence. One particular group has been creating chaos that is threatening all the souls coming in and out of Purgatory.

Then there is Velvet's awful secret. She has been using a secret crack in order to visit her killer. The Bonesaw Killer is still taking, torturing, and killing girls. Velvet has been haunting him, helping girls escape, and trying to get her ultimate revenge by killing him. Hauntings are strictly forbidden. Any ghost who participates in unauthorized haunting risks never moving on from Purgatory. Velvet knows the risks, but she is still haunted by her memories of Bonesaw, which drives her to break the rules.

Finally, there is the love interest. Velvet's team finds Nick during one of their missions. He is tall and attractive and sensitive. To Velvet's surprise, he also likes her. Before much of a relationship can form, he is assigned to their team. Dating is forbidden between coworkers, but Velvet starts to really like Nick, and he likes her back. It's relatively mild compared to the destruction of a world and a scary serial killer, but it's still an important part of the story.

Velvet was a fairly dark book. Some parts were very graphic, especially those concerning Bonesaw. Personally, I am a bit squeamish about violence and gore. There's more than you would expect, but I found it to be the right amount for my sensibilities. I really ended up liking Velvet a lot. She's tough and snarky, but she's also very vulnerable. The story wouldn't have been nearly as good if Velvet wasn't so complex. It's a unique story, sort of The Lovely Bones with more edge. Honestly, that was what drew me towards the book, and overall I'm pleased with my choice.

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

Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

One night, Liza goes to bed. When she wakes up, her brother Patrick is gone. Her parents don't notice, but Liza can tell the difference between her annoying little brother and the strange, wooden, glassy-eyed replacement. She knows that he was taken by the Spindlers, giant spider creatures who steal childrens' souls and leave empty husks behind, husks that eventually wither into dust.

It's up to Liza to travel into the world Below in order to rescue her brother. On the way, Liza encounters strange creatures both good and bad. She makes friends with a rat who wears makeup and a dress. She finds out that there is a market that sells items that people lose in the world above (That makes a lot of sense). I definitely admire Liza for her courage in the face of things that would probably have sent me running away if I was her age.

I appreciate the detail of the world of Below, but I found Spindlers to be a little underwhelming. It's a fairly short book, but maybe a little more detail could have helped the book? I don't know, it just wasn't quite there for me. It's still not a bad read for a kid looking for a book similar to Coraline, just a little bit of a scare.

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

The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini

One Peregrine "Perry" Eckert is one of those young teenagers who spends his time playing the role-playing game Creatures & Caverns. His parents, of which he has four because of divorces, two of whom are the lawyers who sued for divorce, would prefer he spent time on more social, typical teenage pursuits. They decide to send him away to summer camp to get C&C out of his system.

At first, camp seems like a disaster. He strikes out with cute girl Anna. His secret C&C friend pretends he doesn't even know him. Plus, he gets on the bad side of some majorly tough gang members. Then, he encounters Mortin Enaw, magical creature and co-author of Creatures & Caverns. Perry follows him into the world of the Other Normals, a place inhabited by fauns and dog-headed men. Everyone has an equivalent in the normal world, and every action Perry takes changes the normal world. For instance, when Mortin's brother decides to give up smoking rocks, Perry's brother (His equivalent) is no longer in rehab for his drug problem.

Perry ends up visiting the world of the Other Normals a couple times, using it to clean up some humiliating moments between him and Anna (There is one particularly cringe-worthy and hilarious moment at the camp dance). He's going to need as much help as he can get, because his ultimate goal is to get a kiss from Anna. Her equivalent is the Princess, who has been kidnapped. It seems easy enough, but the plan gets more complicated when Perry starts to fall for a girl from the Other World.

I have never played any RPG, and I'm not a boy, which are two strikes against me liking this book. In any case, I love books about nerdiness and coming of age and all those good things, and I liked The Other Normals a lot. Perry was a very funny narrator, and I laughed out loud several times while reading. It's a fun story and there's a good amount of action. Read this and learn about what it takes to become a man. Hint: it's more than just a couple pubic hairs.

I received my copy of The Other Normals from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer + Bray. It's available for purchase now.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

Confession: this book made me have to sleep with my light on. One part just freaked me out so badly that I couldn't bear to turn my light off, for fear that a creepy fairy man would sneak around my bed as well. I don't know whether the children this book is intended for are braver than I am. It wasn't too scary otherwise

The Peculiar is the story of Bartholomew Kettle, a changeling, which is a half-fairy, half-human. He is forced to stay inside all the time, along with his sister Hettie. Both normal people and fairies dislike Peculiars like them. Bartholomew witnesses the changeling boy across the street being abducted by a strange woman in purple with a second face on the back of her head. The face sees Bartholomew and marks him as number 10. Nine changelings were found dead in the river, their bodies drained of blood. Bartholomew is next.

Meanwhile, a man named Mr. Jelliby accidentally stumbles into this plot. He is a politician who works with a fairy by the name of Mr. Lickerish. Jelliby encounters the woman in purple, who pleas for his help. A mechanical sparrow leads him to realize that Lickerish is up to something incredibly evil, something that could destroy the entire world if he doesn't put a stop to it.

Jelliby ends up teaming with Bartholomew, and the two are adorable together. I found Jelliby to be very entertaining, though I like the befuddled type. I was attracted to the book by a comparison to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I definitely see the resemblance. Just today, I learned that the author, Stefan Bachmann, is only a teenager. I am impressed, and I look forward to the sequel to The Peculiar.

I received my copy of The Peculiar from Edelweiss, courtesy of Greenwillow Books. It is available for purchase now.

Nerve by Jeanne Ryan

(I just accidentally cut-and-pasted my entire review away, and I am perturbed and I am going to make this fast)

Vee is a girl who live in the shadow of her best friend. It's self-imposed exile, but she still resents it. Vee sort of sucks. After suffering from what she considers betrayal from her bestie, Vee performs a dare from NERVE. NERVE is an online game that challenges people to perform increasingly risky dares to earn bigger and bigger rewards, all tailored to their exact desires thanks to social media. Vee starts out wanting to stop after one dare, but finds herself tempted by each new prize.

Soon, Vee is stuck in a room with a group of contestants, all of whom are in it to win. Even if it means taking her out. She finally realizes that she is in danger and it's not really a game anymore.

First of all, I wasn't a big fan of Vee. She was a bit annoying, and her problems seemed like something she could have solved with a bit of self reflection, rather than an online dare competition. Overall, Nerve was thrilling and compulsively readable, flying by much faster than I expected. If you're looking for a fast-paced young adult thriller that shows how Society is cruel with their pleasure in cruelty and Kardashians, look no further than Nerve.

I received my copy of Nerve from Edelweiss, courtesy of Dial Books. It's available for purchase now.

Hanging By a Thread by Sophie Littlefield

I was excited by Hanging By a Thread because I loved the idea of a girl with psychic powers that stem from touching clothes. Clare also loves vintage clothing, and has a business selling her upcycled creations. I was hoping for lots of clothing descriptions, but I came away a little disappointed.

Anyways, Clare has just moved back to Winston, California, a town she has not lived in since she was very young. Poor Clare feels like an outsider, her only friend being the popular Rachel, who she used to have play dates with long ago. In order to survive the move and stigma of being the new girl, Clare follows along with whatever plans Rachel and her group concoct, sometimes ill-advisedly. Clare eventually meets a boy to crush on, Jack with his mysterious secrets connected to a missing persons case.

Last Fourth of July, a teenage girl went missing. The year before, a young boy's body was found near some cliffs. The town is worried that whomever committed these crimes will strike again. Clare ends up finding a jacket that belonged to the second victim, and she has a vision. Her visions lead her to a horrible plot, and the truth that her hometown is a bit of a scary place.

Once again, I solved the mystery in this book way before it ended. I'm just awesome at that. All in all, I really wanted more fashion and clothes descriptions in this book. As it is, the mystery ends up being really sad, a bit of a bummer. It's not the worst thing ever, but not the best either.

I received my copy of Hanging By a Thread from Edelweiss, courtesy of Delacorte Books for Young Readers. It is available for purchase now.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

“Let me tell you something straight off. This is a love story, but not like any you've ever heard. The boy and the girl are far from innocent. Dear lives are lost. And good doesn't win.”
Tiger Lily is a beautifully written story of the minor character of Tiger Lily from Peter Pan, told by the fairy Tinkerbell. Tiger Lily was a member of the tribes on Never Land. She never fit in with her people, people who mostly feared her and the death she seemed to bring to those around her, a fear supported by the ravens that seemed to be in her power. The tribe also feared the island's other residents, the Lost Boys.

At first, Tiger Lily also feared the Lost Boys, and especially their leader Peter Pan. Once she meets them, Tiger Lily finds out that they are just a group of normal, messy and unruly boys. With them, Tiger Lily doesn't have to play at being the proper young maiden she is expected to be in her village. She runs and plays and hunts just as well as the boys. Soon, she starts to fall in love with Peter, and he falls in love with her. Then a new visitor to the island disturbs their relationship.

Wendy Darling kind of ruins everything. Poor Tiger Lily is already engaged to a horrible man in her tribe, and now some little blonde interloper is stealing away her guy. I won't reveal anything major, but I can't blame Tiger Lily for going a little evil in this case.

I enjoy additions to classic stories, so I loved this book. Taking a minor character and flipping a story to their perspective brings a fresh point of view to any story. Besides, this is the only book I've read that is narrated by a fairy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Josie Griffin Is Not a Vampire by Heather Swain

Josie Griffin used to be a good girl, until she found her boyfriend cheating on her with her best friend. After that, she stopped wearing pink and quit cheerleading. To make matters worse, she took a bat to her ex-boyfriend's vintage car, and that is why we open on Josie Griffin's court hearing, in which she is sentenced to community service and anger management classes.

The anger management group she is assigned to turns out to be a little different, to say the least. It's a group attended by a vampire, a werewolf, a fairy, and a Greek god. Yes, it's somewhat of a supernatural Breakfast Club. It takes Josie a while to figure out exactly what is different about her new friends, but by that time she is already a part of their group. Unfortunately, her ex-boyfriend is one of those crazy paranormal investigating people who could end up endangering the lives of her new friends and their efforts to remain undetected by humans.

Something strange is also going on at her volunteering gig. She is assigned to a shelter for teenage girls, but the girls keep disappearing under mysterious circumstances. Thankfully, Josie Griffin is on the case, along with her newfound friends.

Okay, this book is full of whimsy and goofiness, but I sort of really like it anyways. It's a bit predictable. Josie was a little annoying sometimes, with her pointless rebellion and angsty blog, but that's what teenagers are like, isn't it? It's just a fluffy cotton candy read, and I happen to be a fan of occasional fluffiness.

I received my copy of Josie Griffin Is Not a Vampire from Edelweiss, courtesy of Speak. It's available now, in paperback.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman opens with a story of her thirteenth birthday, when she was chased down by a group of boys who did not recognize her as a girl. They threw rocks at her and called her names. Moran escaped and sought solace from her German Shepard. With a few tweaks, this story could have been about me when I was 13.

I was initially drawn to this book because the author's name is also Caitlin and because I love a good memoir/essay book. While it turns out that Caitlin isn't Moran's actual first name, I will forgive her because 1) Everyone wants a name this awesome and 2) I really liked this book. The major difference between me and Moran is that she is way more comfortable with sharing about private parts and situations. She would talk about things with her sister that made me squirm a little, but I'm a bit embarrassed about buying underwear in public, so I'm not really normal either.

How to Be a Woman covers the gamut of feminine topics, from fashion to periods to abortion. The earlier chapters are Moran's accounts of becoming a woman, stories of puberty and falling in love, told with little regard for her own cringe-worthy moments. Again, most of it sounds like it could have happened in my own awkward ascent to womanhood. Later on, we get into marriage and children, and the account of her abortion, which she had after already mothering two baby girls. One part of me was a little saddened by the story, but I firmly believe in her right to make that decision and I appreciate her reasons behind it.

Moran really captures being a woman for me. There are so many familiar moments regarding fashion, how it's almost impossible to find clothes that fit because clothes are not made specifically for you, and how you can own so many shoes that you never wear because they are implements of torture. She is also behind my new desire for a pair of yellow shoes. Moran even hangs out with new feminist icon Lady Gaga, a story that makes me appreciate Gaga more.

In conclusion, I liked How to Be a Woman. For me, it demonstrated so many of the good and bad bits of being a woman, and a feminist. I'd recommend a bit of caution if you are squeamish or easily offended, but otherwise I'd recommend this book for all women and even men.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon

In the strain of my last couple books, by which I mean the main characters waking up in strange circumstances. In Don't Turn Around, Noa wakes up surrounded by bright lights and connected to a series of tubes. She doesn't know what they did to her, but she has to escape.

Noa is a bit of a lost child, having escaped from the foster care system using her mad hacking skills to forge documents of fake foster parents. This mini Lisbeth Salander is one of the biggest participants in Alliance, a website where hackers work together to bust down firewalls and punish big evil companies.

Meanwhile, Peter is the teenaged son of a wealthy family. Peter runs the Alliance website, seemingly as a form of rebellion against his father, a big fancy person at a powerful medical company. When home alone one night, he decides to hack into his father's company website. Soon after, a group of company thugs break down the door and take his computer and phone. He doesn't know the full story, but he sees that they are trying to protect something called Project Persephone.

Peter and Noa are already tied through Alliance, and Peter asks Noa to check into the files of Project Persephone, where she finds one with her name. Soon, they are both on the run, as they try to find the truth and the goons try everything in their power to stop them and recapture Noa.

I will admit here and now that I am terrible with computers. I prefer to think of anything having to do with them as magic on the Harry Potter end and therefore something unattainable to a muggle like me. So, the hacking stuff went right over my head. Don't Turn Around still offers a thrilling story, full of lots of suspense and action. It's a breath of fresh air in a genre full of dystopian thrillers and paranormal romances (Not that I don't love those too, it's just nice for some variety).

I received my copy of Don't Turn Around from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperCollins. It is available for purchase now.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Every Day by David Levithan

If you stare at the center of the universe, there is a coldness there. A blankness.
Ultimately, the Universe doesn't care about us. Time doesn't care about us.
That's why we have to care about each other.

I will just let loose with my geeking out now: I love, love, loved this book! It was so weird and amazing, and I love David Levithan's writing.

Every Day is the story of A. A wakes up every day in a different body. A can be a boy or a girl, gay or straight, rich or poor. A has been like this ever since he was born, waking up in a new body every morning. He easily makes no ties and leaves everyone behind until he meets Rhiannon.

He immediately loves Rhiannon, so much so that he reveals who and what he is to her. They start a relationship together. She loves him, but it is difficult for her to love someone who never stays the same. He is always the same person on the inside, where it's supposed to matter the most. It shouldn't matter what he looks like on the outside. But it does.

If you didn't get it in the first sentence, I loved this book. David Levithan has a way with words that made me want to highlight so many quotes. Every Day made me laugh and it made me cry and I just loved it. I know I said that before, but it bears repeating.

I received my copy of Every Day from Edelweiss, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers. It's available for purchase now.

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

Imagine waking up not knowing who you are. You are in a park, surrounded by dead people. Then you find the letters in your pockets, letters from the person you don't remember being. That is the situation faced by Myfanwy (The name frightened me at first, but they tell you that it rhymes with Tiffany. I don't think I would have known how to pronounce it otherwise, in my head) Thomas in The Rook.

As it turns out, Myfanwy is part of a secret English organization called the Chequy (It's French, so "shek-eh;" pronunciation is very important to me) that protects the country from the supernatural threats to its security. Myfawny is one of the youngest rooks in the organization, having moved through the ranks because of her fantastic administrative skills. The old Myfanwy is also rather timid and shy, and she doesn't command much respect in the Chequy. Despite having a potentially great power, she never uses it and doesn't know how to access it. She is known for staying about the office and filling out paperwork, and needing a bag for when she becomes sick during medical examinations.

It turns out that amnesia is just the solution Myfanwy needs, and the new Rook Thomas isn't playing the quiet little mouse. Someone inside the organization caused her amnesia, someone who may attack her again when she finds out the truth.

I highly enjoyed this book. It's sort of a British X-Men story. The letters that Rook Thomas wrote for herself are a good technique for the exposition that is required for the story. And because I suck at ending these things, I'm just going to include the book trailer here:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weepers: The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker

It has been over three years since Sherry and her family moved into their bomb shelter. In that time, their grandfather passed away. They put him in the freezer. It took them three years, one month, one week, and six days to finally run out of food. That is when Sherry and her father finally venture outside and see what the world has become.

Some people have become monsters, nicknamed weepers because of the silvery streaks coming from their eyes. The weepers hunt, kill, and devour what used to be their fellow humans. If anyone is bitten by a weeper, they turn into a weeper themselves. On their very first excursion out of the bomb shelter, Sherry and her father run into a group of weepers. Sherry is rescued, but her father is taken by the monsters.

Sherry and the rest of her family are taken in by a group of surviving humans, including the dreamy Joshua. Because she holds herself responsible for losing her father, Sherry becomes focused on getting him back. Plans and escapades ensue, and we find out that some strange things are afoot regarding the weepers and the government.

It was difficult for me to figure out if I like this book. First of all, it's very short. This may just be me, but it felt like there wasn't a lot happening and then it was over. It's also another one where I pegged it as a zombie book. It came close, but they're not quite zombies. It's not a bad book by any means, but it's also not one of my favorites.

I received my copy of Weepers: The Other Life from Netgalley, courtesy of Usborne. It's available for purchase now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thumped by Megan McCafferty

The review for the first book in this series, Bumped is here.

I really enjoyed Bumped and its humorous treatment of a serious dystopian subject. Everyone eventually becomes infertile at around age 18. Because of this, teenagers hold massive amounts of power, and especially teenage girls. We were introduced to reunited twin sisters Melody and Harmony in the first book. Melody was raised to "preg for profit," as they would say in the books. Harmony was raised with a more religious background, but she runs away from her new husband to meet and then save her sister. Warning: I will be revealing some spoilers from Bumped.

At the end of book one, Harmony fell in love with Johndoe, the hot stud who was supposed to impregnate Melody. They got it on, and Harmony is now pregnant with his baby. BUT...she is actually married and back in Goodside pretending that it is her husband's. Melody is also pregnant, except not so much. The twins scored a major endorsement deal based on their twin pregnancies and twin deliveries. Harmony uses her new fame to help with her ministry, but she can't get Johndoe out of her head. When she finds out that the elders in Goodside plan to take her child when it's born, Harmony reaches out to her sister for help.

Melody has been faking her pregnancy to help prove that the entire pro-teen pregnancy system is messed up. She only starts to think about the repercussions of this when she actually meets the couple who is expecting to adopt her babies.

There are a lot of issues presented in both of Megan McCafferty's books, but they don't come of as "issues" books in spite of it all. The series is wrapped up very neatly with the second book, maybe a little too neatly. All in all, I enjoy the series for its humor, though it may be better suited for someone younger but mature enough to handle sexual content.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Undead by Kirsty McKay

Why did I want to read this book? Just take a quick look at the picture to the left. That cover, the cheerleader wielding an ax. That's my reason. I have been on a serious zombie kick, but I have come to realize that zombie books are varied. There are necromancer-controlled zombies and normal zombies and zombies who are just really angry and violent people. Undead features some fairly straight-forward zombies, and I for one appreciated it for that. Sometimes I just want a normal zombie story with the perfect amount of suspense and gore. Here, the suspense and gore was a little less than I'd prefer, but I've seen worse and I rather liked the book despite it all.

Roberta (Bobby) is an outsider in her school and in her country. She was born in England, but her parents moved her to the United States as a child. Now she is back in England and she doesn't fit in at her new school. Her accent is some strange combination of English and American, and she constantly uses American terms. To save herself further aggravation from having the cool girls laugh at her, Bobby opts to stay on the bus during the school ski trip. Everyone else trudges into the restaurant for lunch, and everyone else ends up dead.

But, they do not stay dead for long. The former classmates and teachers soon rise and start attacking Bobby, rebel Smitty, popular Alice, and geeky Peter. The teenagers must put aside their differences and learn new things about each other in order to escape the threat and survive. The book cover has a comparison to The Breakfast Club, which is definitely apt. The Breakfast Club set in England plus zombies equals Undead. It's fun and funny, and I highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys teen comedies with a helping of zombies.

I received a copy of The Undead from Netgalley, courtesy of Chicken House. It's available for purchase now.

P.S. Sorry that I haven't been reviewing as many books as I used to lately. I have been having issues with my laptop- first, the screen was broken. Then, I contracted an awful virus. I have actually surpassed my Cannonball Read goal, I just have to catch up on my reviews.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

The one complaint that I have about Something Strange and Deadly is that for a zombie book, it has surprisingly little of the zombie horror and violence that I am used to in my zombie books. However, the zombies in this book are under the control of a necromancer which makes them much less bitey than normal zombies. Besides that one little detail, there is very little to complain about in this great first book.

Eleanor Fitt is the daughter of an upper class family that is in decline. Her father has passed, and her brother has been away with the army when he goes missing. In order to escape financial ruin, Eleanor's mother tries anything in her power to get her married to a rich man.

It's pretty much a fact of life that the undead roam the streets, under the control of the aforementioned necromancer. Eleanor received a letter from her brother, via a zombie and she knows that the necromancer must be behind her brother's disappearance. So she goes to the exhibition hall (For the centennial, as it's 1876) and visits the Spirit-Hunters. They have inventions to repel the undead, and they know secrets to fight them off.

I really loved this book. I love how Eleanor is stuck in place with her corsets and proper manners befitting a girl of her station, but she still kicks some zombie butt when the time comes. I love Daniel and his gruffness and teasing, and how you knew Daniel and Eleanor were totally in love. Daniel was almost too mean at times though, with all his Empress stuff. I definitely love that there are going to be more books in this series.

I also love this rather minimalistic trailer for the book.

I received my copy of Something Strange and Deadly from Edelweiss, courtesy of Harper Teen. It's available for purchase now.

The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman

I don't know what it is, but I really like stories about characters at boarding schools. I requested this one because it sounded intriguing. Calista (Cally) transfers to the St. Bede's boarding school. Her older sister disappeared from the school years earlier, and they never found her body. Cally wants to find the truth.

If a mystery wasn't enough to deal with, her new school proves to be challenging, in more ways than one. The school work is much more difficult than at her old school. The other students present a problem as well. Cally moves into the room of Iris, who went missing and was also never found. There are lots of rumors, many surrounding Helen, Iris' beautiful and rich roommate. She is invited into the inner circle with Helen, Helen's sister Noel, and class president Freddy. The deeper she delves into the truth, the more secrets come out into the open.

Ultimately, I was underwhelmed by this mystery. The solution was a bit too predictable for my taste. The story wasn't terrible- I liked Cally, a tough punk rock chick who infiltrates the cool girls and dates a cool guy. I almost wanted an over the top, what the hell just happened kind of solution to the whole mystery. It's fine for what it is, and it's a perfectly good book for any young adult readers searching for a mystery.

I received my copy of The Little Woods from Edelweiss, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade. It's available for purchase now.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stunning by Sara Shepard

Here be spoilers for the previous Pretty Little Liars books (Mostly the newer ones, 9 and 10)

This next installment of Pretty Little Liars focuses on Emily's summer, which involved having a secret baby and almost selling it to a crazy lady. She was seduced by the money and privilege that her baby could have had, but then she takes the baby away at the last second once she realizes that the woman is nutso. In this installment, crazy lady has somehow made her way into the girls' lives. She finds out Emily's real name, and Emily worries that it's just a matter of time until everyone finds out about her pregnancy. Everyone thinks crazy lady is the new A. In other matters, she reconnects with Issac, her baby's father. Since Emily never told him that she was pregnant, that relationship is one secret away from combusting.

Hanna is working on her dad's campaign, which gets a bit tricky when it turns out the crazy lady is one of his wealthy sponsors. Other than that, she works to destroy some nice girl that her ex-boyfriend Mike is now dating. It's really annoying and horrible.

Spencer is really accepted into Princeton and everything seems good...until her family starts hounding her about joining an eating club (I don't know, I'm going to Google it- yes, it's actually a thing). So Spencer, being the uptight girl of breeding and refinement that she is, immediately starts wooing some clubs. She fits in well with the girls in the club, but does the typical uptight Spencer shenanigans. Then some minsunderstandings result in her feeding people pot brownies, which- it happens. If I only had a dime!

Finally, the best goes last! Aria sees her boyfriend's father at Whole Foods wearing women's clothing. She is understandably weirded out, and she tries her best to hide the secret from Noel, which is convenient because they had just had a conversation about not keeping secrets from each other. It's an awkward situation all around.

So, in the end it turns out that Noel knows about his dad's cross-dressing. Spencer fed everyone pot brownies, so she's not in the eating club. She might have a new stoner boyfriend, though. Hanna's ickiness actually wins over Mike. It's gross. It turns out that crazy lady might not actually have been crazy after all. She was grieving the death of her stepdaughter, TABITHA. Crazy lady thought that the girls were taking her money and cheating her out of the baby, hence the crazy. She's not A because she's all shot and dead and stuff.

Messy by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

You can read my review for the Fug Girls' first book, Spoiled, here.

Spoiled was a story of an ordinary girl whose mother dies and then she finds out that her father is a movie story, the famous action hero Brick Berlin. The girl moves to Los Angeles and has trouble getting along with her newly acquired sister and the world of the rich and famous.

Messy leaves that ordinary girl on the sidelines and puts the focus on Max, the Principal's daughter and Molly's friend. Max dreams of a summer writing program in New York, but she doesn't have the money to pay for it. She answers an ad to write a blog for an up and coming starlet. She couldn't be more surprised when the starlet turns out to be Molly's sister, Brooke Berlin.

Brooke is trying to get noticed in the acting world, but for something other than being Brick's daughter. She thinks that a blog could give her that extra little edge. turns out to be a massive hit, but Brooke has trouble living up to the words, and Max grows tired of seeing someone else take credit for her work.

In conclusion, I love Go Fug Yourself, I love the Fug Girls, and I love these books. It's just a fun series, and sometimes it's nice to read something that isn't all about the end of the world. Plus, it feels a bit more highbrow than all those Pretty Little Liars novels I am addicted to. I loved getting more from Max, who is probably my favorite character from these books. Highly recommended for all GFY fans, young adult fans, and anyone who would like a nice read for the beach (I actually read it at the beach, while feeling superior and judgmental towards a neighboring woman who was reading Fifty Shades of Grey or a lazy fall weekend, winter holiday, whatever the occasion, really.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

This was one of those books that attracted me with the cover and the title. I read that it was a retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion, except with a mixture of science fiction. That is actually something I would really enjoy, so I decided to read the book.

For those who don't know, Persuasion is the story of old maid Anne Elliot (She's 27). She had been romantically involved with a man named Frederick Wentworth years previously, but she broke off their engagement because of a friend's advise. Now, she lives with her father and sister, their finances are in ruins, and Wentworth comes back as a celebrated Captain. He isn't very nice to Anne and flirts with a bunch of girls in front of her. Though (Spoiler) things end up okay because the one girl he led on gets some head injury and falls in love with another dude, and Wentworth confesses that he loved Anne all along. I'd be mad at him, though his letter to her is one of the sweetest things I've ever read.

For Darkness Shows the Stars changes the setting a bit. It's almost dystopian, set after an event called the Reduction devastated the planet and killed off most of the population. Now, a group of rich people called Luddites are in charge. They believe that the Reduction was caused by people messing with science, trying to make themselves into gods. Elliot North (Our Anne) fears that the genetically modified crops she creates will bring the wrath of God upon her farm, but her family is so poor that she has to try something so they won't starve.

Just as in Persuasion, the Norths are visited by a group of shipbuilders and one, Captain Malakai Wentworth, Kai, was once a worker on their farm and very close with Elliot. Now, he is newly rich and successful, and he wants absolutely nothing to do with her.

As far as Jane Austen retellings go, I liked this one. It had the same characters, but the story ventured far enough away that it wasn't just Jane Austen with a couple steamships thrown in to liven things up a bit. Persuasion was the last Austen novel I read, and I always enjoyed the story of longing and regret. I think that the added conflict of belief between the characters augments the story. Elliot dabbles in science, but she fears the consequences. Kai travelled the world and used technology to make his fortune. Having read Persuasion, I wasn't surprised by the ending of the book, but I still enjoyed the slight twist on the same story.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves

So, I finally got around to reading The Fault in Our Stars. It was everything that everyone has already said it is. I was worried that I would cry, because I am already a crier and lately I have started to tear up pretty much every time I finish a book. Ho boy, did this book ever make me cry! I cried at the sad moments and the happy moments and the bittersweet moments. Since it is still John Green, it's not one of those mushy tearjerker cancer books. It's funny and sweet and just read it because I love it, okay?

The plot centers around a teenage girl named Hazel. She was diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer when she was 13, but an experimental treatment actually beat the odds and shrunk her tumors. She still has to undergo chemical treatments and she still can't walk very far without her oxygen tank, but the cancer is at bay for a while. At her cancer support group, Hazel meets a new boy named Augustus Waters. He is in remission, having lost a leg to his cancer. Augustus is handsome and funny, and Hazel falls for him right away. Surprisingly, to her anyways, Augustus falls for her right back.

So begins a story that teaches us that pain demands to be felt, and some infinities are bigger than others. Some may live longer than others, but in the end we are all going to die. It's actually not as depressing as it sounds. Two great characters meet and interact, they bond and have adventures involving a fictional book that I would love to read. The book is about a girl with cancer, but it's not a cancer book.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pure by Julianna Baggott

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters.
We will, one day, emerge from the Dome to join you in peace.
For now, we watch from afar, benevolently.

The Detonations changed everything. Everyone inside the Dome was protected, Pure. But everyone outside the Dome was mutilated. People were fused together, fused to objects. Pressia is forever holding the doll's head she was clutching that day. Now that her sixteenth birthday has come, she has to turn herself in to the militia, where she will be trained or used as target practice. She makes the choice to run, where she meets a revolutionary young man with birds fused to his back, a young man who is organizing a group of rebels to take down the militia.

Partridge lives in the Dome with his father. His brother killed himself years ago (He is considered heroic for making that sacrifice, weeding out the weakness of the population), and his mother never made it into the Dome. After a clue that his mother might still be alive, Partridge escapes the Dome. Partridge's path intersects with Pressia's, then the action really starts.

This was definitely one of the most unique books I have ever read. It was difficult to read about some of the fused people outside of the Dome, and many of the people were savage and frightening. The people inside the Dome ended up being just as savage and frightening, just in a less obvious way. Pure was memorable, both the characters and the story. At times it was difficult to take, but it was thrilling and engrossing at the same time. I'm incredibly excited to have the chance to read the sequel, Fuse, which comes out February 19, 2013.

I received my copy of Pure from Netgalley, courtesy of Grand Central Publishing. It is available now, in paperback.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen

I requested this book solely because of the Erin Morgenstern blurb on the cover. Honestly, it leaves me with mixed feelings. It was like one of those artier movies that I want to like, but I can't seem to appreciate it as much as others. It's not that I dislike it, I just don't like it much either.

The Vanishing Act is the tale of a young girl named Minou who lives on a very remote island with her father. Her mother vanished years ago, and everyone assumes that she drowned along the shores. Minou uses the philosophical lessons that her father taught her in order to solve the mystery of what happened to her mother.

Meanwhile, a dead boy washes up on the shore. Minou and her father keep the body until the delivery boat can come and take it away. To Minou, the dead boy must possess an answer to her mother's disappearance.

I appreciated the writing, though it was strange that the book was so short. I liked Minou as a character and a narrator. It kind of weirded me out how the truth was revealed, though I did see that coming. There is a lot of potential for a great book here, but it's not quite there yet.

I received my copy of The Vanishing Act from Edelweiss, courtesy of W.W. Norton & Company. It is available now.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Despite my plethora of reading materials on my nook, not too long ago I found myself scanning my bookshelves for something to read. I came across a copy of An Abundance of Katherines that I had purchased long ago when there was a special $3.99 edition. I figured it would be a good lead-in for when I finally tackled The Fault in Our Stars. An Abundance of Katherines is fantastic. I'm going to start with a list of my favorite quotes, completely out of context and in no particular order:

* "He liked all books, because he liked the mere act of reading, the magic of turning scratches on a page into words inside his head."

* "What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable? How very odd, to believe God gave you life, and yet not think that life asks more of you than watching TV."

* "And the moral of the story is that you don't remember what happened. What you remember becomes what happened."

* "And so we all matter- maybe less than a lot, but always more than none."

So, let me just say that An Abundance of Katherines was just as amazing as John Green's other books. It's about a child prodigy and anagram enthusiast named Colin who has only ever dated girls named Katherine. After Katherine XIX dumps him, Colin decides to embark upon a road trip with his best friend Hassan. They visit Franz Ferdinand's gravesite in Gutshot, Tennessee and meet a girl named Lindsey Lee Wells (I was worried for another Alaska or Margo Roth Spiegelman, but I really liked Lindsey's spunk). So they stay a while, work on an oral history project, and Colin creates a mathematical theory to predict how every relationship will play out. Just your typical summer road trip, with mathematics.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot.
Everyone knows the peels are the best part.

The cover of this book pulled me in from the moment I saw it at my bookstore. I read the description over and over, and I teared up every time. When the library acquired the ebook, I absolutely had to read it.

Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a roadside mall, and he is telling us his story. I assume that the book takes place in the 1950s or 1960s, because there don't seem to be very many rules for keeping exotic animals in malls. The whole thing is a bit depressing. There aren't very many visitors to the mall anymore, and the owner has been sad since his wife died. Ivan's closest friends are an old elephant with a bad leg, Stella, and a stray dog, Bob. Ivan loves to draw and paint, he has since he was a baby in the jungle. His paintings are sold in the gift shop, but it's not enough.

In order to drum up business, the mall buys a baby elephant named Ruby. She is cute and inquisitive and absolutely miserable living in a tiny enclosure and learning tricks. Stella's leg gets worse, and she eventually passes away. Her final wish is for Ivan to get Ruby out of the mall, to a zoo where she can be with other elephants. The only question is how one gorilla can accomplish this fairly massive feat.

I'm just a teensy bit older than the intended audience, but I really enjoyed the book. I've always had a soft spot for animals, so I am sure I would have cried as much when I was still a kid as I cried now. It's also interesting how Ivan was based on a real gorilla, also named Ivan. This is the only book I've ever read with a gorilla as the narrator. The story can be heartbreaking, but Ivan adds a lot of humor as well. Ivan's story isn't one you can soon forget.

Here is the fantastic book trailer, featuring a lot of the fantastic illustrations.

Arise by Tara Hudson

I read Hereafter last year. It wasn't awful, just a nice tale of a dead girl and the living boy with whom she falls in love (On the next Maury...sorry, couldn't help myself. Actually, I'd really like to see that show). My review from the first installment is here. I have seen a lot of sequels on Netgalley and Edelweiss, and it bums me out when they are for series that I haven't read (Though even more when I acquire them and then find out that they are part of a series I haven't read). When I saw Arise, I was just excited that I'd read the first one. Happily, I like the second book even better.

In Hereafter, Amelia was a wandering spirit, all alone until the day she saw Joshua fall into the same river in which she died. She helps save him, he can see her, they fall in love. Throughout the book, he helps her to remember who she was, and at the end they figure out the truth about her death, and who killed her. In Arise, Amelia is still spending a lot of time with Joshua, but she is starting to worry. He has been avoiding his living friends and spends all his time with her. As much as she wishes things were different, Amelia knows that they can't have a future. It becomes even more apparent when she finds out that the evil spirits of the bridge (where she died) have been looking for her. They will use Joshua and his family to get Amelia to join the dark side.

All that, plus Amelia has been dematerializing randomly. She cannot control when she leaves or where she goes. Joshua and his family are taking a vacation to New Orleans for the holidays. It looks like Amelia will be able to escape the baddies and maybe find some ghostly answers. Plus she plans on leaving Joshua forever. Let's just say that New Orleans brings some changes. It gets interesting.

I received my copy of Arise from Edelweiss, courtesy of Harper Collins. It's available now.

Legend by Marie Lu

They are practically polar opposites. June was born to a rich family and got the only perfect score ever on her test. Day is a legendary criminal, infamous for his anti-Republic actions. In reality, he is a poor young man trying to care for his family. His younger brother falls ill from the plague, so Day breaks into a hospital for the cure.

By the time the dust settles, June's brother was killed while trying to stop Day. She will do everything in her power to hunt this legend down. She leaves her privileged life and goes undercover on the streets. She soon befriends a young man, a young man who turns out to be Day.

That's when things get complicated. June is only looking to avenge her brother, but Day is only looking to help his family. And, as always, there are yet more secrets and lies hidden underneath the surface. Maybe Day isn't the villain that June should be stopping.

I was really excited to read this book, but I ended up a bit disappointed for two reasons. First, because it's part of a series. Yes, everything is, but I still don't have to like it. I want more story and I want it now. Second, I felt that the Day legend was a little over hyped. I know June is some super soldier genius, but it seemed way to easy for her to find, and then manipulate, Day. Maybe that's less a flaw and more of a statement on how Day is really just a boy and not a legend. Part of me wishes that instead of alternating June/Day narrative, we just got June's point of view. Then we would have heard of this mythic boy, and when we met him, we wouldn't know whether to trust him or not. Both sides is almost revealing too much to make a compelling story. Sorry, just a random thought. I really don't believe that I know better than the actual author. I really did like Legend and I want to continue with the series when the next books finally come out.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

It's not really a new story. The girl falls for the guy. She hangs on his every word, supports him through good times and bad times, all of his relationships and break-ups. She knows that if she just stays by his side, one day he will wake up and see that she is the one, the one true love of his life.

So the story begins with Sadie and her best friend, the titular Garrett Delaney. They both like the same movies (Foreign, art house, Criterion stuff) and laugh at silly peppy people like Sadie's ex-best-friend Kayla. There is nothing that Sadie likes that isn't Garrett-approved.

Over the summer, Garrett is away at writing camp. Sadie hopes that this will be when he realizes that what he's been looking for has been in front of him the whole time. Sure enough, Garrett calls and tells her that he is in love...but, he's not in love with her.

What follows is a girl picking herself up after a breakup that never actually happened. Sadie has been so obsessed with Garrett for so long, that it's hard to tell where he ends and she begins. With the help of Kayla and some new friends from her summer job, Sadie starts to figure out how to be Sadie, and how to finally get over Garrett Delaney.

I wanted to read this book because the Fug Girls really liked it on Go Fug Yourself. At first, I was worried that it would be some communication gaff, that Garrett was in love with Sadie and she assumed otherwise. Then she would spend all that time "getting over" him, but they would end up together in the end. I really loved that they didn't do that. This book is fantastic, a perfect summer read in my book. I love that it combines self actualization with makeovers and teen movie fests. The dialogue is so funny that I actually laughed while reading, out in public and everything.

I received my copy of Getting Over Garrett Delaney from Netgalley, courtesy of Candlewick Press. It has been out for a long time now, but it took me a while to read it and even longer to review it. You can still pick it up before the summer ends, for all your beach reading needs :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was my favorite movie of 2010. It's funny and quirky and I just love it. I always wanted to read the graphic novels that inspired the movie, so when the new full-color version of Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life was available on Netgalley, I jumped at the chance.

Basically, the graphic novel and the movie are practically identical. I felt a little disappointed because I already knew the jokes and stuff. It wasn't too bad because I like the jokes. Scott is 22 and in the band Sex Bob-omb. He is dating a 17-year-old, but then he meets Ramona Flowers, the girl of his dreams. Ramona comes with baggage in the form of seven evil exes. In order to date Ramona, Scott will have to battle them to the death.

Precious Little Life introduces the story and shows the battle with the first ex. It was a very fast read. I find graphic novels to breeze by, and they almost feel more like watching a movie than actually reading to me. So, that is my theory for why the book and movie seem so identical. I highly recommend both the Scott Pilgrim movie and the books. I plan to read further into the series myself.

I received my full-color ebook of Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life from Netgalley, courtesy of Oni Press. It will be available August 8th.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Mother may I go out to swim?
Yes, my darling daughter.
Fold your clothes up neat and trim,
But don't go near the water.

You may think you know mermaids. These are not your typical mermaids, these aren't your little mermaids or Ariels. These mermaids will hold you underwater while they devour the life force from your body. These mermaids hold a grudge and they will make you pay.

Calder White is the sole merman in his family. His three sisters call him home to Lake Superior with news that Jason Hancock has returned. Jason Hancock is the man they have been hunting for years. His father promised him as payment when their mother saved his life. Now Calder and his sisters are going to collect that debt by killing Jason Hancock.

They plan to get close to him through his daughters. Unfortunately, the older daughter, Lily, gets to Calder. Soon enough, they are bonding through Tennyson and Bronte poems (I love when characters fall in love over poetry!). Then Calder is in a real bind. He has to consider his loyalty to his mother and his family, plus he will finally be free from his sisters once they kill Jason Hancock. Yet he loves Lily and knows that she will be devastated if he kills her father.

The premise of this book was what initially intrigued me. I don't know of any other mermaid books out there yet. Killer mermaids are indeed a scary concept. The book had me from that starting point. They almost lost me at a couple points along the way, but overall I enjoyed this story. Scary mermaids, vendettas, mythology, (love) poetry, and sooo many secrets and lies, this book basically has everything. Imagine what a great beach read it would make, though it might make you a little skittish about taking a swim.

I received my copy of Lies Beneath from Netgalley, courtesy of Delacorte Books. It will be available June 12th.

Bad Hair Day by Carrie Harris

Kate's back after just defeating the zombie apocalypse through the use of SCIENCE! Now, she is taking a special program that allows students to shadow doctors and surgeons at the local hospital. Kate is assigned to work in the morgue, but soon after her mentor is arrested for murder. Dun dun dun.

Someone, or something, mauled a man to death. Soon after, a young woman is killed the same way. Then Kate's best friend's boyfriend is attacked. He lost a lot of blood, and whoever attacked him was very strong, and very hairy. The football team just turned into zombies, but could these murders be the work of werewolves? Yes, well, sort of...

It's pretty cool how these books have very scientific explanations for seemingly supernatural problems. I wanted to read this right after I read Bad Taste in Boys, just to be able to stay in the same universe. I think I like this book even better than the first one. Kate ends up having to deal with her internship, a charity event she keeps having to bail on, jealousy because Aaron (Now her boyfriend, score one for us nerdy girls!) is being pursued by his buxom classmate at his internship, and then the whole werewolf issue. Yet again, this book was short and incredibly fun and funny. Please, Carrie Harris, keep writing more books in this series.

I received my copy of Bad Hair Day from Edelweiss, courtesy of Delacorte Press. It will be available November 13th, 2012.

Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris

Kate's just your typical high school nerd. She is an aspiring doctor who helps monitor the football team. A football team which happens to su-uck. Her number one crush, Aaron, plays as quarterback, but Kate is too much of a nerd to even form a coherent sentence around him.

One day, Kate finds some strange vials in the Coach's office. It appears as though he might be juicing his players in order to win a couple games. For those with less football knowledge than I, which seems impossible, juicing refers to using steroids as an unfair advantage. These aren't your typical steroids, however. Football players are soon throwing up thick black goo, they have sickly grayish complexions, and oh yeah, they want to eat their fellow classmates.

It's up to Kate to save Aaron and the rest of her classmates! This book is actually a whole lot of fun to read. It's short and silly, though there are some very gory moments. Some of Kate's laments could get a bit grating at times, but overall I like a smart heroine who can still kick zombie behind.

Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

I feel that Hemlock can be best described as Veronica Mars, except with werewolves. Mac's best friend Amy was killed by a werewolf. They found her mangled body in an alley with a clump of white hair in her hand. Their group had been inseparable, Amy and her boyfriend Jason, Mac and Kyle. After the attack, Kyle was the one who ignored Amy's calls. Jason was the boyfriend who left her to walk home. Mac has dreams about that night, and she imagines seeing Amy all the time.

The government has officially acknowledged the existence of lupine syndrome. Werewolves are taken to concentration camps and forced to live the rest of their lives behind a fence. Amy's grandfather had been lobbying for greater rights for werewolves. Understandably, after his granddaughter was murdered, he takes a different stance. He invites Trackers into town to find and kill the white wolf. Jason starts hanging out with the Trackers, who are awful, racist, right-wing southern people. In the meantime, Mac and Kyle grow closer together. Mac starts to investigate Amy's murder herself. As the truth comes out, it's a drama bomb exploding all over the place.

I really enjoyed the premise of the book, especially the real world setting and how a very supernatural issue was dealt with in the setting. It's awesome how there's no indication of who's a werewolf until you actually see them transform. Even I imagined pretty much every character as being a werewolf. It really adds an air of mystery to the book.

Anyways, back to my Veronica Mars comparison, Mac wasn't nearly as awesome as Veronica. I actually read this a while ago, but I don't have much of a lasting impression of her either way. She had some cool moments, but she was a little bland. Amy really fits as the Lilly Kane character. She seems like she was a lot of fun. Jason would be the Logan Ecchols, and he is an arrogant jerkhole. The only difference is that I liked Logan Ecchols but Jason sucked. Darned werewolf racist. Kyle is too awesome to be Duncan, plus he's not really Amy's brother and the Mac/Kyle story line doesn't fit. So, three out of four (Technically four out of five because the other-side-of-the-tracks bad boy makes a perfect Weevil) isn't too bad. Yes, I am concluding with a paragraph comparing the characters to TV characters. No, there isn't anything you can do about. Because I am the reviewer and you are not, and I need some way to finally end this freaking review.

I received my copy of Hemlock from Edelweiss, courtesy of Katherine Tegen books. It's available for purchase now.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Yes, I finally got around to reading what was one of the most popular books of last year. You know, only after borrowing it from the library ebook website about three separate times. Finally, I am victorious!

Divergent tells the story of a world where everyone is divided into factions to create order among chaos. Beatrice was born into Abnegation, a faction of modest and selfless people. She never felt as though she completely fit in her faction. All of the 16-year-olds take an aptitude test to determine what faction would be the best fit. Beatrice doesn't completely fit with only one faction, therefore she is divergent. She doesn't quite understand what this means for her, but she is told that she must not tell anyone her results. It could put her in danger, though she doesn't know how.

At her choosing ceremony, Beatrice joins the Dauntless faction. They are the brave and daring ones, the ones she admires as they jump off trains at school. It is the first time she has been away from her family, the first time she spends time with people not from Abnegation. She renames herself as Tris. Dauntless is a very challenging faction, especially for someone not born into the faction, for someone small and so used to selfless and kind people.

The majority of the book details Tris' struggles with her new faction and her fellow inductees. She makes some slightly two-faced friends and clashes with some horrible human beings, and she becomes a romantic interest for her slightly older trainer. Soon enough, the big plot change occurs that sets up the sequel and gets everything in motion for what will inevitably be a war, as you do when you're in a dystopian universe.

So there it is, I finally read it. I actually feel incomplete because now I have to read the recently-released sequel, Insurgent. Sigh, a young adult loving reader's work is never done. Was the book everything I had hoped? Honestly, the summary on the book jacket doesn't really tell me what to expect, which is probably a positive. A lot of what happened made me angry or uncomfortable or sad, but there were some great moments as well. Overall, I'm willing to continue with the series. I'm always up for a fight.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

It seems so unassuming at the beginning. Janelle is just walking home from her shift as a lifeguard...then she is hit by a truck...and she dies. Then she is brought back to life by Ben, a boy from school who she has never even talked to. Then things just get weirder and weirder.

Janelle's dad works with the FBI and they are investigating strange occurrences all over town. People show up with radiation burns. Unidentifiable people show up, even a phone booth just springs up out of nowhere. Then there is the countdown. It points to the detonation of a bomb of sorts, but then it turns out to be connected to something so massive that it may end our world as we know it. The countdown, the strange radiation, and Janelle's resurrection are all connected, but in a way that nobody could ever imagine.

I admit that I wasn't sure about this book when I first started. Then it got all intriguing with the mysteries. After that, it got incredibly complicated and a bit confusing. I won't say anything spoilery, but it was a lot more than I was expecting. Though I also didn't expect to end up sobbing from this book, and that happened. I'll just say that this is a very surprising book and leave it at that.

I received my copy of Unraveling from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer + Brey. It's available now.

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

"...And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all..."

In a far-off dystopian future, the world has been decimated by the Red Death. This contagious plague means certain death for those who contract the disease. Protection is available in the form of the masks, but (obviously evil) Prince Prospero sells them at such a price that only the rich can afford such a necessity. So the poor will eventually contract the disease and die, while the rich go about their lives, all safe and secure.

Araby is one such rich girl. She spends her nights at the Debauchery Club with her best friend April, looking to score drugs so that she can stop feeling for a while. Araby's father invented the masks, the masks that saved humanity. It was too late to save her twin brother Finn. Which is why Araby tries to forget, why she doesn't let herself kiss, date, or do anything Finn will never be able to do.

Araby becomes entangled in a plot by April and her brother Elliot to kill Prince Prospero, their uncle. She has to pose as Elliot's girlfriend. He's obviously unstable, and he constantly tells her how much he doesn't really like her. Honestly, he's a little hot anyways. Then there's sweet bartender/security guard of Debauchery Club, Will. He takes care of Araby, even when he thinks she's just another shallow club girl. He is working and sacrificing everything to take care of his younger brother and sister, saving up to buy them masks so they can finally attend school. Between the loose cannon bad boy and the devoted older brother, the choice should be obvious. Yet there are lots of twists in those relationships and throughout Masque of the Red Death.

It's about the rich versus the poor, the inhumanity of denying an essential for survival just to make a profit. It's about the tragedy of losing the person closest to you, which becomes even worse when we learn the details behind the event. It's about the Red Death, the bodies, so many bodies, in the streets and gathered in carts. I wasn't sure how Edgar Allen Poe's story would fare as a young adult novel, but I enjoyed this expansion of the story.

I received my copy of Masque of the Red Death from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperCollins. It's available now.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Starters by Lissa Price

If you believe that Grandma has a sinsiter motive for offering you that so-called Worther's original, this is your book.

In the world of Starters, a massive plague swept throughout the world. It killed everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. The really old and really young were the ones vaccinated and therefore the ones who lived. Now, the older folks, or Enders, have taken over the country. Young people, Starters, are not allowed to work. This makes life very hard for those Starters without grandparents. Callie is one such teenager. She has to take care of her younger brother Tyler, who has a lung disorder and requires expensive medicine. They get by squatting in abandoned buildings, but times are tough.

Callie turns to Prime Destinations for help. They are a business that rents out teenagers to Enders so that they can relive their youth. After just three rentals, Callie will end up with enough money to get an apartment and take better care of Tyler. Prime Destinations has a contract forbidding the Enders from doing anything dangerous or illegal, so there is no downside. On her third and final rental, she finds herself waking up during the procedure. She lives at the client's fancy house and drives the client's fancy cars. Then after blacking out again, Callie wakes up with a gun in her hand. Something has gone very wrong with her rental. She'd go back to Prime Destinations, but a voice keeps telling her to stay away.

Some of the background details were a little vague in this book. They mentioned that a lot of the Enders were over 100 years old, some even 200. I wanted to know how that was possible, but it was never mentioned. I'm also a little suspicious that not a single person between the ages of twenty and sixty received a vaccine, but that might have another explanation altogether.

Ultimately, I really liked Starters. First of all, I really cared about Callie and Tyler. They just got to me. Second, I have met a fair share of awful old people (As well as lots of delightful old people). It's not difficult to imagine them being the opressive jerks in this book. It's an exciting adventure story, and a fairly compelling dystopian tale, though I'm hoping that the sequel will clarify the questions I have left.

I received a copy of Starters from Edelweiss first, Netgalley second, and then I ended up reading a hard copy that was sent to the bookstore. They are courtesy of Random House. The book is available now.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

I initially rejected The Girl of Fire and Thorns. It was the bit about the jewel in her navel. "I used to have a Treasure Troll when I was a kid! That sounds la-ame." Later, I suddenly decided that I had to read the book. A plus-sized princess turns into a warrior? Sign me up for that!

Elisa is the younger of two princesses, and she feels that she is the lesser of the two because she is fat and less adept at politics. She is also the chosen one, the bearer of the Godstone. Her destiny is to perform a great act of service. In the past, the great act of service involved the early death of the bearer.

On her sixteenth birthday, Elisa is married off to the king of a faraway land. It's basically a political deal between her father and King Alejandro. Alejandro is kind but he doesn't take her seriously, and he doesn't love her. Not a lot of people see her worth, including Elisa herself.

I liked the concept of a plus-sized heroine. Honestly, I was a little disappointed that Elisa would stuff herself at emotional moments and constantly ate sweet foods. Then she gets a little self confidence, drops some weight, and doesn't eat anymore. It's not a very good lesson. Overall, I enjoyed the story. The Godstone was very compelling. Elisa sometimes annoyed me, but I liked having a weak character grow stronger throughout the book.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Life Is But a Dream by Brian James

The last time I read a book from the point of view of a young woman with a psychological disorder, the story veered in a strange way. (Ultraviolet, reviewed here). Now, we get the real deal.

Sabrina is our narrator. She is in an institution, supposedly because she suffers from schizophrenia. One day, a new boy is admitted, Alec. Sabrina feels as though she already knows him, and they hit it off instantly. Alec believes that he and Sabrina are the only normal people at the institution. He convinces her that she doesn't need her medications, that she is okay the way she is.

It's a little bit discomforting to hear everything in Sabrina's voice, because the reader can easily see that Sabrina is anything but fine. We get Sabrina's childhood memories and memories of the events that lead to her being institutionalized. At the extreme, Sabrina's mind gets to be a very scary place.

I'm having a difficult time deciding how exactly I feel about this book. I'm definitely siding towards positive, but it was a very difficult subject and an intense read. Seeing everything from her point of view gives a great insight into the character. By the end, I really cared about Sabrina and I wanted her to have a happy ending.

I received my copy of Life Is But a Dream from Netgalley by way of Feiwel & Friends. It's available now.