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.