Thursday, February 28, 2013

Catherine by April Lindner

Wuthering Heights was the last book I read in English class my senior year of high school. I formed an attachment to the book. I wasn't a huge fan of Catherine and Heathcliff and that big old mess they made. Cathy and Hareton, though, were sweet. I liked those two crazy kids, even if they were cousins. I have since read Jane Austen, I know that was a thing back then.

So, Chelsea/Young Cathy was told that her mother Catherine/Catherine is dead. She snoops in her father's closet and finds a letter from her at a place in New York called the Underground/Wuthering Heights. Believing that her mother is still alive, Chelsea sets off to find her. It bothers me that she would leave the father who raised her to hunt down a mother who abandoned her. I know the guy lied, but he still loves her. She doesn't even contact him again until the end of the book, which is sucky to do.

Anyways, at the Underground, Chelsea meets a dark and glowery stranger named Hence/Heathcliff. I know, Hence isn't a name, just go with it. He believes that Catherine must be dead because they are soul mates, blah, blah. Chelsea is undeterred. Hence lets her stay in Catherine's bedroom, where she finds her mother's journal. It's the story of how Catherine meets Hence and immediately decides that he is different from the other hopeful musicians looking to get in the Underground. She gets him a job, they fall in love, his band starts to come together. Life is really good for a while, but it doesn't last. Catherine's scary racist brother gets in the way. She has always dreamed of going to Harvard, but Hence is in New York. Tragedy ensues, and the two don't see each other for years.

Catherine wasn't bad, but I miss a lot of the crazy melodrama of the original book. I did get some solace in that the ending was sufficiently bananas, so I'm glad I stuck with it. It seems as though the story was more grounded here, with a negative effect. Catherine and Hence are not so much epic lovers as just a couple of kids in love. The mystery of Catherine's disappearance kept me reading, but it wasn't enough to keep me up late to finish the story. It could have been better, but it also could have been worse.

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

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Prodigy by Marie Lu

You can read my review of the first book in this series, Legend, here.

*Spoilers for people who haven't read Legend*
In Legend, we were introduced to June and Day. June was the Republic's darling, the only child to ever achieve a perfect score on her Trials. Day was a legendary criminal, known for superhuman feats. When June's brother is killed, it appears as though Day was the killer. She goes undercover to hunt the mastermind, who turns out to be a young man from a poor family. He had failed his Trials and was supposed to be killed, but he escaped. Now he's a vigilante just trying to protect his family. June met Day, they started to be friends and then they like liked each other. Then, June set Day up, he was arrested, and sentenced to death. But...June started to investigate her brother's death and the Trials. It turned out that Day didn't kill her brother, plus he had also gotten a perfect score on his Trials, and the Republic sucks and they purposely unleash diseases on poor people.

Prodigy starts out with June and Day on the run to Las Vegas. They are looking to meet up with the Patriots, a rebel group looking to overthrow the Republic and reunite them with the Eastern United States, known as the Colonies. The old Elector Primo dies, and his son succeeds him. The Patriots plan to assassinate the son, Anden. Despite the Republic's publicizing that Day is dead, the people believe that he is still alive. Day has become a symbol of resistance. Therefore, the Patriots want Day to kill Anden in order to lead the country to unite with the Colonies. Whew, and that's not even the end!

The Patriots send June to get close to Anden and make sure that he is in place for their plan. She has herself arrested, but she finds out that Anden is actually a nice guy. He wants to change the country, stop the Trials, and even plans to free Day's brother, who was the whole reason they were working with the Patriots. Anden wants June and Day on his side, because they will get the people on his side as well. June believes him, but how will she get Day to help stop the assassination?

Wow, this stuff is hard to explain! Anyways, that's the main plot. It's kind of sad in this book how both Day and June start to question their relationship. June was (indirectly) responsible for Day's mother dying. She was the reason that he was arrested and his brother was executed to save him. These are fairly healthy road blocks to have in a relationship. It would actually be weirder if they didn't fight about these things. Because of their different backgrounds, they start to worry that they don't have anything in common. June starts to feel guilty for her wealthy upbringing, Day feels resentful for being poor. Neither of them are completely wrong. Usually, you have the romantic leads just getting past everything because: love. Not here, though. This is a dystopian, for the love of ice cream, not some prissy paranormal romance! It does seem more realistic. Sometimes you love someone, but it isn't enough. All those things that you thought you could move past, thought you forgave, they're still there. It still makes me really sad inside, because I am their fangirl, apparently.

Prodigy definitely outperforms Legend story-wise. It was exciting, there was tons of action, it was phenomenal. I really liked the character of June in this book. She is so smart about everything, I just love a girl who could take care of herself in any situation. She was the same in Legend, I just feel as though it was emphasized more here. I like Day a lot, but he was very testy here. He'd keep thinking mean thoughts about June, and how little they have in common. I would have smacked him if he had cheated on her with Tess. Seeing as the second book improved so much on the first, I cannot wait for book number three. It will be literally mind blowing.

I received my copy of Prodigy from Edelweiss, courtesy of Putnam Juvenile. It's available for purchase now.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Burned by Sara Shepard

In the twelfth installment of Pretty Little Liars, the girls are hitting the high seas for an eco cruise, which is apparently a thing. We open the book with some insight into Hanna's terrible secret. She played designated driver for a girl named Madison. The car was run off the road, and Hanna had the other Liars come and help move Madison to the driver's seat and flee the scene. They possibly killed or grievously injured the poor girl, all so Hanna didn't get in trouble or ruin her father's campaign. It's getting hard to side with these girls when they keep doing these things! It's almost like a hipper version of Aesop's Fables.

Moving on to the nautical nonsense, there were two subplots involving possible A's, and two that didn't really have anything to do with A. I'm going to talk about some of the events in the previous books, so be warned if spoilers matter to you.

Emily told her parents about her baby, and they reacted badly. This isn't really surprising given the time that they sent her away to her religious cousins to pray the gay out. Emily meets a beautiful stowaway. It turns out that she is a fugitive known as the Posh Bandit. That might seem like a spoiler, but it's very obvious. Other than that, Emily keeps thinking that she sees Alison everywhere, and she admits to everyone how she left the door open before that house exploded that one time, so Ali might have escaped.

Spencer is still in touch with Reefer, the lovable stoner she met while trying to get in that Stanford Eating Club. She is hoping to get some smooches and hand holding and all that smooshy stuff, but she has some difficulties. Naomi (Former member of Ali's clique, enemy of the PLLs) is also into Reefer. After a series of unfortunate events, Spencer starts to suspect that Naomi may be deliberately sabotaging her. The girls even suspect that she may be A.

This theory has some merit because Hanna is rooming with Naomi. The former enemies get along quite well. Then, she finds out that Naomi is Madison's cousin! It seems as though Naomi is trying to find out who hurt her cousin, and enacting revenge upon them.

Aria is a little bummed to spend most of the cruise apart from Noel. She meets a nice guy named Graham while doing an eco scavenger hunt. It turns out that Graham was Tabitha's boyfriend. Tabitha being the girl that Aria accidentally pushed off a roof while they were in Jamaica. It's a small world, after all! Obviously, Graham sounds like a likely suspect for A. Thankfully, Aria is tired of A and all the threats and secrets. She wants to confess about her part in pushing Tabitha as soon as they return home. I was impressed that one of these girls finally did something reasonable, but it never plays out (Obviously).

We get more reasons why these girls should stay in and watch TV more. Seriously, is A going to text you and threaten to reveal that you like Two and a Half Men? (Although that would be a terrible thing for ANYONE to think of you.) Two more As are brought up, then quickly found not guilty. We end on the revelation that someone else may have killed Tabitha, possibly the very A that is stalking our Liars. Since these books are my literary crack, I will be tuning in to see what new messes are made in the 13th installment. Hopefully we will find out what the deal was with Aria and Iceland.

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

This was a super weird book. Seriously, that's all I can say about it. Fortunately, I am a weird person. I really kind of loved this story. Because "it was weird" is not a proper review, I will also elaborate.

Rudy and his family moved to a small island, packed up and disrupted their entire lives. The island is home to the Enki fish, a magic fish that cures illness and extends life. Rudy's younger brother had been afflicted with cystic fibrosis. The fish saved his life, but now they are stuck there. There isn't a lot of time left until he leaves for college, but until then Rudy is bored.

At first Rudy believes that he is the only teenager on the island. Then he meets Diana and Teeth. Diana is the shut-in daughter of the richest woman on the island. She spends all of her time reading and doesn't really know how to act like a human, instead coming off as a talking text book. Still, the two bond over their love of reading.

Teeth is a merman, who is actually Diana's brother. Everyone knows that he is there, but they mostly ignore him. Rudy hears him screaming at night, a result of the abuse from local fishermen. It's a difficult situation, because the fishermen are the only ones who know how to catch the life-saving Enki fish, but Rudy still wants to save his new friend. Teeth wants the people to stop catching the fish. He sees himself as their protector, all of them his brothers and sisters. Rudy helps Teeth, but it turns out that he may be hurting his brother at the same time.

Teeth was a very dark story. There's a lot of swearing and adult themes. It definitely has its own unique charm. I never thought I'd be rooting for a romance between a boy and a merman, but that happened. Ultimately, this is a heartbreaking book, but it's also very uplifting. That doesn't really make sense, but again, it's fitting here. This book may be hard for me to describe, but it was still a great read.

I received my copy of Teeth from Edelweiss, courtesy of Simon Pulse. It's available now for anyone else who likes weird stories.

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Oh, silly teenagers, you are so dumb. I get it, I was a dumb teenager once. I thought that my stretchy elastic-waist pants made me look okay and my Beanie Baby collection would bring me popularity. I was not cool, if that had to be clarified at all.

In Nobody But Us, we have two dumb teenagers. Both are damaged in their own way. Will is a foster kid who has just turned 18. He is running away with his underage girlfriend, Zoe, who is a victim of her father's alcoholism and temper. They have big plans for the future, to go to Las Vegas and have Zoe go to college and be a nurse. They have plans to stay together forever.

It's sort of sweet, their naivete and their love for each other. Then the pitfalls come. Will stole some money in order to fund their new life. They end up committing a couple crimes along the way, not to mention the fact that Will is basically kidnapping his girlfriend. There is absolutely no way that this will end well.

I almost would have preferred for this to have been about two teenagers deliberately going on a crime spree. Zoe and Will are kind of sweet, but they are also so young and inexperienced. If their plans had worked out, you can easily imagine them ending in a divorce, her stuck with their five children. That or they would have been some of those scary people on Jerry Springer. In spite of the obvious facts, Zoe and Will seemed like good kids. Deep down in the very squishiest depths of my heart, I kind of wished that they could have their happy ending. I admit that the book moved me to tears a couple times, but it used very cheap tactics for that. Not cool, book. I might have been more moved if I had been an actual teenager, more able to buy into this obviously doomed relationship. Alas, I am far too jaded and the story ended up only so-so for me.

I received my copy of Nobody But Us from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperTeen. It's available for purchase now.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

I know that a review of this book was featured in Cannonball Read IV (Here), and pretty much every Pajiban has or will end up reading it. In Cannonball Reads past, this may have made me avoid reading this book. Now, what the hell? I love me some memoirs, and I can feel like I'm one of the cool kids for once (It's okay, I don't expect to be invited to your lunch table or pizza parties or anything).

So, I really hated this book and didn't get it at all...except the opposite. See, that was me making a joke to try to be different. With that awkward attempt at humor, can you see why I related to Let's Pretend This Never Happened? I loved Ms. Lawson's stories, and all the accompanying pictures, especially the pictures. It's one thing to read about baby raccoons wearing jam pants, but it makes the store so much better to see the evidence.

For one fleeting second, I worried that this book would be too much for me. I saw people label it as "not for the easily offended." I don't really consider myself as such, but maybe I am and don't know? Luckily, I didn't see much to be offended about. Instead, I read a story that made me laugh, sometimes cry (Poor Barnaby Pickles), feel a sense of understanding because I'm not the only weird person in the world, and laugh some more. Seriously, it's really funny.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

"The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces."

Ruby's tenth birthday was ruined when her own parents didn't recognize her. They locked her in the garage and she was picked up by government agents. Most of the kids her age have died of a sudden, mysterious illness. The ones still living develop supernatural powers. Agencies are formed to lock the kids up, for the safety of the country. The camps are supposed to take care of the children and study them to find a cure.

In reality, the camps are cruel and inhumane. The children with the strongest powers, classified as Yellows, Oranges, and Reds, are destroyed. Ruby is actually an Orange (They can make people do things). Unlike most kids who share her powers, Ruby doesn't like to manipulate people. She fears her powers and can't even use them intentionally. Still, she manages to convince the guards that she is actually a Green, one of the safer levels.

Ruby is eventually rescued by an organization called the Children's League. After accidentally seeing the memories of one of the members, she realizes that they are bad news. She escapes with a trio of young refugees, Liam, Zu, and Chubs. Liam is their leader and protector. He's a Blue who broke their group out of their respective camp. His goal is to get to East River, which is supposed to be a haven for other children with powers, run by the legendary Skip Kid. Chubs is his smart, suspicious second hand man. Zu is a younger girl, a Yellow who can manipulate electricity. She is unable to speak because of the experiments performed on her at her camp.

The character of Rudy is a big highlight of the book. Despite how powerful she could be, Ruby isn't corrupted by her abilities. The romance with her and Liam is very sweet. I'm also a huge fan of the uncertain friendship she forges with Chubs, and I love her bonding with Zu over sparkly dresses at Wal-Mart. In spite of all their problems, there is something very appealing about how these children and young adults band together to take care of each other and make their own families.

I'm not going to lie to you, this is a super-long book. Fortunately, the story doesn't drag at all. There have been some first books where it feels as though the story is too short or incomplete. Here, the length of the book helps to give The Darkest Minds a satisfying story that could actually stand on its own.

I received my copy of The Darkest Minds from Netgalley, courtesy of Disney Hyperion. It's available for purchase now.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Sheperd

The Madman's, this book was fantastic. It kind of scared me and made me a little queasy at times, sort of like a roller coaster. Juliet is the daughter of the infamous Dr. Moreau. There was some scandal about him, rumors of the horrible and ungodly experiments he performed. That's all in the past. It's unkind to speak ill of dead men, except it turns out that Dr. Moreau isn't actually dead.

Juliet heads to the Island where her father has been living all these years. She rekindles a friendship, possibly more, with childhood companion Montgomery. There is also a connection with handsome castaway Edward Prince, whom they rescue at sea. Love triangles aren't even the worst of Juliet's problems once she reaches the island. It turns out that all those rumors about her father are true.

I greatly enjoyed the Gothic feeling to this book. It's incredibly dark, sort of a Jane Eyre or Northanger Abbey, except with more evil scientist. It really feels like it could be the alternate view to the original science fiction story. As a quick disclaimer, I did have some trouble with the scenes of animal cruelty and descriptions of animal suffering. It was a bit difficult for me to get through those parts, and there were some tears. I do love my girls-in-corsets stories. Juliet was pretty cool, especially because she was a proper young lady who was interested in science and not as squeamish as most of her peers. I definitely admire the girl when she defends herself against a would-be rapist near the beginning of the book (In an awesome way). The ending was sufficiently dramatic for me to hope for a sequel very soon.

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

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day is the story of a girl who lets other people control her life. Allyson is taking a tour of Europe, a graduation present before heading off to college and medical school, the life she has had planned for years. In England, her plans change when she attends a Guerrilla Shakespeare performance of Twelfth Night, and falls for the guy playing Sebastian. Willem is Dutch and alluring. He takes her to Paris and they spend a lovely day together before he disappears into thin air.

Willem's disappearance breaks her. Allyson does poorly at college. She doesn't connect with her roommates, she does terribly at her classes, and she doesn't keep up with her parents or former best friend. The first part of the book was really difficult to read. I wanted to like Allyson, but it was very difficult. She was so bad that part of me wanted to stop reading the book. The girl was stuck in a plan she made when she was 12 or something, pining over some guy that she knew for one day and didn't even learn his last name!

Thankfully, Allyson eventually moves out of her rut. I'm always a sucker for a good girl empowerment story. Despite the excruciating beginning, I'm going to come down on the positive side here. I greatly empathize with the difficulty of growing up. It's hard to figure out what to do with your life and who you want to be. Lord knows that I haven't figured everything out yet. What we get here is a girl who figures out that she doesn't want what she thought she wanted. By the end, she has moved in a direction to find out what she actually wants. It seems as though there will be a sequel from Willem's point of view. I almost don't want to hear from him, as he comes off as a bit of a dog. I'll probably still end up reading it when it comes out.

I received my copy of Through the Ever Night from Edelweiss, courtesy of Dutton Juvenile. It's available for purchase now.

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

I reviewed the first book in this series, Under the Never Sky, here. Be careful, as there are some minor spoilers in my review.

Previously on Under the Never Sky, a girl who lived in a protective dome and a savage boy from the outside fell in love while escaping danger at every turn. Now, Aria and Perry are separated. After killing his brother in the last book (I know, right?!?), Perry is the new Blood Lord of his tribe. He is having some minor issues with getting the people to respect him. It's also difficult for him to get used to having people rely on him. Perry is very impulsive, and has to learn that he can't just think of himself, but of his people as well.

Aria must find the Still Blue, a promised land where there are no aether storms, in order to get Perry's nephew, Talon, back from the dwellers. The people of Reverie have been attacked from the aether storms on the outside, and from residents suffering from a disease called DLS that makes them crazy from spending too much time inside. Perry decides to introduce her to his tribe, but only as a friend, so they can acclimate them before finding out that the Blood Lord is hooking up with a dweller. The tribe hates her, even though she isn't a dweller anymore, even though she is an audile (She has super-hearing because her father was an outsider). The poor girl even saves a lost baby and people still hate her!

There's actually a lot of developments in this installment. We get lots more Roar, and we get to meet Liv (Perry's sister, and the love of Roar's life). We get some surprises from Soren, the instigator of the events that started Under the Never Sky and son of Consul Hess from Reverie. He still has a tiny scar from that night, which is enough to ostracize him in a society where everyone is perfect. Soren communicates with Aria through her Smarteye (A device that people use in Reverie to escape the real world, like the internet in your head), except he tells her the truth while his father just threatens her.

I love these books. Aria and Perry are some of my favorite young adult characters, and their story is always exciting. Perry is amazing because he can and will straight-up murder someone to protect the people he loves, but he's also very sweet and kind. Aria is one of the awesome and tough female characters. I feel really bad because my words might do a disservice to how amazing this series is. Even if you can't follow my rambling attempts to describe the plot, just understand that this is a book series that you should be reading.

I received my copy of Through the Ever Night from Edelweiss, courtesy of HarperCollins. It's available for purchase now.