Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

Normally, I toss angel-based books to the curb. There's no real reason, it's just not something that interests me. I don't do angels and fairies (Though there are always exceptions). My only reasoning for grabbing the advanced copy of Embrace from the bookstore was because of the purple cover, and the description was intriguing.

Embrace is about a girl named Violet. On her 17th birthday, she finds out that she is half angel, a Grigori. The Grigori protect humans from fallen angels. These angels blend in with normal people, but some of them want to punish humanity. Grigori can sense these angels and they have the power to strip away their powers or send them back for judgment.

All of this is understandably a lot for a teenage girl to process. What makes it all the worse is that Violet's friend, the guy she is pretty much in love with, Lincoln, is also a Grigori. He trained with her, spent practically every day with her, and never once let on that he knew who she really was. The betrayal makes Violet start spending time with her new friend Phoenix. He's one of the fallen angels, but he seems trustworthy. Phoenix actually tells Violet about herself and the whole Grigori situation, unlike Lincoln.

Meanwhile, the fallen angels have been working together to kill the Grigori. Violet didn't want to become a Grigori, but then Lincoln is injured. The only way to save him is for her to embrace, which is the angel transformation process and the title. I liked Embrace, but I expected it to be more. Violet starts out all about Lincoln, then she spends most of the book with Phoenix and Lincoln barely shows up. I ended up really liking Phoenix but kind of forgetting why I was supposed to like Lincoln. I liked that Violet was a strong character, but I thought she was a little too driven by the men in her life. In her home life, she sometimes never sees her father for days at a time...could this be related?

Sorry to go so deep into my Teen read. Something just bugged me a bit about this book and I'm trying to work out what it is. It's got the typical paranormal romance formula: supernatural element + love triangle= bestseller. The Grigori parts were actually awesome. It reminds me a lot of Season 4 of Supernatural, but I loved Castiel and all that angel stuff. I think the love triangle stuff was what brought things down a bit. Like I said, she spends the majority of time with Phoenix when Lincoln is supposed to be her one true love, and he is barely part of most of the book. Couldn't he have held a boombox over his head or punch Phoenix, be proactive at all? Despite a valiant effort, Embrace wasn't quite able to sway me completely on angel books. Maybe next time will be better.

I got my copy of Embrace courtesy of Sourcebooks. It's available for purchase now (The ebook is only $6.99 at B&N right now, though that probably won't last very long).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Life As I Blow It by Sarah Colonna

I honestly had no idea who Sarah Colonna was before I read this book. I referred to her as "friend of Chelsea Handler" and then "Sarah...something" before I finally remembered her name. The book appealed to me because I love a memoir, and I like the blue dress she's wearing on the cover. Besides, I enjoyed Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, so it was worth a try.

Life As I Blow It is the story of one woman chasing her dream of becoming famous. Along the way, she works at restaurants, drinks, dates, falls in love, has sex, and then drinks some more. There is a lot of drinking involved. I really like that even when Colonna isn't sure about her love life, she never gives up on pursuing her goal.

For good or bad, the book doesn't contain nearly as much depravity as those of Chelsea Handler. By which I mean that there are fewer midgets. Colonna still seems like she'd be a good time. The book is like hanging out with one of your friends, listening to stories of relationship hijinks. If nothing else, you have to admire the fortitude of the woman's liver. Because seriously, there is an abundance of drinking.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Oh my God, I hate this book. It's all about a woman with impulse control issues who keeps burying herself further and further in debt while refusing to take any sort of control or responsibility for her life. I suppose that I am supposed to find this all charming and whimsical, but I just don't see it.

Rebecca Bloomwood is the shopaholic in question. Every new chapter features a letter from her creditors. Neat! It's just like depressing real life. Unlike most sane adults, Becky chooses to ignore these letters. Her greatest wish is that someone else will receive her bills by mistake and just pay them for her. Until then, Becky just keeps buying crap and not making any payments.

In a truly shocking twist, Becky works as a journalist at Successful Savings magazine. A financial expert who is in extreme debt! Isn't it ironic? Don't you think? She schemes to fix her problems, from spending less to making more money. Lots of cringetastic shenanigans occur.

Then there is the boy. Luke Brandon is some big finance guy that seems all impressed with her for...some reason I don't know. It's the plot, I guess. Unfortunately, he's attached. She goes on a date with her roommate's cousin after, and only after finding out he's a millionaire. She wants to make herself fall in love with the guy to get out of debt, which is what prostitutes do.

Anyways, there is a typical happy ending. It's unearned. Some magical solution just shows up and solves all the problems. Plus, I know that she hasn't learned her lesson since there are a bunch of dumb Shopaholic sequels after this one, which I will not be reading unless I feel like raging against something. Same goes for the movie adaptation!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Partials by Dan Wells

We built the Partials to fight our wars. The Partials turned on us by unleashing RM, a highly contagious plague that wiped out 99% of the world's population. Now, despite the remaining humans' resistance, every baby born is killed by RM within days. The government passed the Hope Act mandating that every woman 18 and over must get pregnant and must keep getting pregnant until a baby is finally born immune.

Kira is a plague baby, as she was very young when the Partial War broke out. She's only 16, but she works in maternity at the hospital. After her best friend Madison becomes pregnant, Kira will do anything to save her baby. She gets the idea to study a Partial to find out why they are immune to RM and then apply it to the newborns. The Partial is named Samm. Kira is given five days to study him before the Senate will have him killed. During that time, she learns more about RM, the Partials, and a lot about what's really going on in the government.

Partials was fantastic and it really threw me for a loop with all the ways it defied my expectations. There was a ton of action, which was awesome, but there's also lots of scientific research and experiments. It's a nice balance. I thought Kira would end up dumping her slightly goofy but endearing boyfriend Marcus for either soldier Jayden or Samm, but romance didn't figure into the story at all. I did guess a big plot point early on in the book, but that may just be my psychic tendencies rather than any fault of the story.

There's so much more to talk about with this book! Dan Wells created a very detailed world in which to set his story. It was very difficult to stop reading because every chapter ends with something that made me have to immediately continue to the next chapter and find out what happens next. I am very excited for the sequel to be published. The ending was satisfying, but there's so many plots left to complete and questions left to answer that I can't wait to see what happens next.

I received my copy of Partials from Netgalley courtesy of HarperCollins. It's available for purchase now.

P.S. Here is the trailerfor Partials.
I LOVE this. The fictional subject matter in a real context just gives me chills.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Twisted by Sara Shepard

Remember that bad Pretty Little Liars binge that I went on last Cannonball Read? How I just couldn't stop reading even though they are trashy books full of people doing deplorable things? Oh, I was so excited when I finished the eighth book and I could read things I was actually proud to be seen with in public. Then before I knew it, Sara Shepard, that demonic book pied piper, released two more Pretty Little Liars books. Here we go again.

Twisted takes place after the events of all the other books, and I am liberal with the spoilers. After a big fire that killed Alison, who had actually been her twin sister Courtney when they knew her, until she had been killed by Alison, the PLLs are understandably in need of some R&R, so they head to Jamaica. Since they are who they are, something unspeakably awful takes place and the girls aren't even friends anymore after it all goes down.

Spencer's mom is dating a super-rich man with a cute son. She's super into him, but he's kind of hot and cold, then he reveals that he's gay. Which is pretty confusing when he starts to kiss her in a dressing room. There's a hint that Spencer did something horrible to get early admission to Princeton, which is something to look forward to in later books.

Hanna's dad is running for state senator, but she's still a spoiled brat. I really can't stand her childishness. She throws a fit over everything and her dad constantly gives in to her. Some photographer convinces Hanna that she should be a model, one photo shoot where her boob falls out of her dress later, and the guy is blackmailing her.

Aria is still dating Noel, but she's starting to feel the differences between them, the differences that usually make her run after the nearest English teacher. He's got a foreign exchange student staying at his house, and it turns out to be a hot girl. Aria is jealous at first, then she starts to relate with Klaudia over their shared outsider status. Then Aria reads a text message that lets her know Klaudia is after Noel.

Finally, Emily took an unexplained hiatus from swimming. She is desperately trying to get a swimming scholarship. New girl Chloe has Emily meet her dad about the scholarship, but he ends up coming on to Emily. The poor girl is just trying to make a new friend and get a college education, but now she has to deal with a gross old man. Also, we find out that the reason Emily quit swimming was because she had a baby from when she had sex with Issac.

Now to the juicy Jamaica stuff. A keeps texting all the PLLs with taunting messages about Jamaica, you know that usual stalker stuff. We find out that they met a girl named Tabitha, a young lady who bears a resemblance to Alison, but covered with burn marks and scars, like the kind you'd get from a fire set to kill your best friends that trapped you instead. The PLLs meet her on the roof-top deck at the hotel, she gets aggressive, they push her off the deck. Nobody found the body, and they just kept it a secret. In the end, a teenage girl's body is found in Jamaica. They expect the body to be identified as Alison DiLaurentis, but it turns out that the girl really was Tabitha. The Pretty Little Liars are now Pretty Little Murderers (Though it was self defense!).

The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

Jocey's twin brother Jack died in a car accident. Then she received a letter from him using his old code name, Jason December. The letter sends her on a scavenger hunt to visit their past, a past that wasn't always pleasant.

In order to solve the clues and find Jack, Jocey enlists their childhood friend Noah. He immediately tries to strangle her, so we know that they didn't part amicably. All three kids lived in a foster home called Seale House. The negligent and drug-addled foster mother would lock them in the cellar when they misbehaved. The story unravels slowly, how Jocey and Jack ended up at Seale House, their encounters with the other foster children.

In the present, Jack's clues lead Jocey back to Seale House and to visit the people she lived with there. Strange things happen. She is also being followed by someone out to hurt her. They steal her car, they set off bombs in order to stop her. It's like a thriller, but there's also a strange sensation throughout the book that everything isn't quite right. It makes more sense in the context of the big twist at the end.

Ultimately, it's a story about a girl who went through a lot of sucky things in her life. Her mom was horrible, Seale House was awful, and then her twin brother died. Every one of Jack's clues took Jocey to a moment in her past, let her relive the memories of being best friends with Jack and Noah, and let her get over the Seale House memories. A twist ending could easily have ruined the effectiveness of the rest of the story, but I actually liked it. The surreal feeling of the rest of the books makes the ending almost a natural conclusion, though it's no less effective of a twist. M. Night Shaymalan could take some pointers for his next movie.

I received my copy of The Vanishing Game from Netgalley. It's available for purchase now.