Sunday, November 30, 2014

Rebel by Amy Tintera

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

There will be some spoilers for the ending to Reboot.

At the end of Reboot, Wren successfully broke into the Austin compound to save Callum and also free every single Reboot. She even managed to get the serum to cure him of the disease that HARC (The bad government guys) gave him, the one that made him want to eat everyone. In the final scene, Wren, Callum, and a bunch of other Reboots arrive at the entrance to the Reboot territory.

They are welcomed by Micah, the leader. He is immediately impressed by Wren, who is the only one with a number higher than his (Micah is at 160 or so). As they spend more time there, it becomes clear that being at the Reboot camp isn't much different from being in the compound. They are still seen as a number rather than a person.

The last straw is when Micah comes up with a plan for the Reboots to overthrow Austin. Because Wren and Addie freed all the Reboots, the city has very little HARC presence left. It's now a simple matter of marching in and killing every human on sight. Yeah, Micah is pretty awful. He believes that the humans would attack Reboots eventually, so he may as well attack first.

Wren has never spared any love for humans. She doesn't want to destroy them, but she also doesn't want to fight for them. Callum still has a human family, plus he feels closer to humans because of his lower number. He actually grows into his own in this book, coming up with plans to overthrow Micah and help the humans in Austin get rid of HARC.

I really wish that I had taken the time to re-read Reboot before reading the sequel, because it was hard to remember a lot of little details. I do enjoy that a lot of books are sticking with duologies instead of trilogies. Rebel was a great conclusion to Reboot. I liked the first book better, but mostly because of all the sweet first love stuff with Wren and Callum. Reboot was also action-packed and had a satisfying ending.

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

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

"We make music to- to find each other in the dark. And I have to believe the point is that we don't- we don't ever stop calling out..."

Minnie went to the Bellweather for the first time for her sister's wedding. She was a bridesmaid, concerned with her too-tight shoes, when she stumbled upon a grisly scene. On the wrong floor, she came across a newly married couple. The groom was slumped in the hall, blood soaking his shirt. The bride was standing on a chair, a noose around her neck. "Come here little girl," she beckoned.

Minnie ran then, but the memories chased her. She has nightmares, she is afraid to leave the house. Now, fifteen years later, Minnnie returns to the Bellweather to put her ghosts to rest.

The same weekend that Minnie revisits her past, the Bellweather is hosting Statewide. Statewide is a high school music festival that invites only the very best musicians. Twins Alice and Rabbit will be attending. Alice is a diva singer. Rabbit is a shy bassoonist. Alice ends up staying in the same room where the murder-suicide occurred. Alice finds her famous flautist roommate, Jill, (Whose awful stage mother shanghaied Statewide) hanging in their room, then the body disappears. Alice then meets (And is abducted by) Minnie.

Rabbit hopes to use the weekend to tell his sister that he is gay. He also ends up building a reputation as a rebel with the other orchestra students. Their chaperone, Natalie Wilson, encounters a familiar face. Jill's mother, Viola, was her music teacher. She was the one who stole her love of music, turned it into a chore to be endured, and told her she wasn't special. I know this doesn't sound too bad, and she was probably right, but Viola was a giant witch so we hate her.

Everyone is observed by Harold Hastings. He has been concierge of the Bellweather for forty-six years. He witnessed the event years ago, and he takes it upon himself to figure out what is going on after Jill disappears.

Bellweather Rhapsody is a character-driven story. I really enjoyed seeing how the characters were connected and seeing them interact. It's a bit difficult to categorize. It borrows a lot from The Shining, but it's not exactly horror. It's somewhat funny, but not exactly a comedy. There are some very major turns that occur at the end of the story that make it very fun. You could imagine this as a movie; it would fit right in with Wes Anderson's stuff.

I received my copy of Bellweather Rhapsody from Edelweiss and through the Goodreads First Reads program. It's available for purchase now.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

"The four of us Liars, we have always been.
We always will be..."

We Were Liars was billed as the YA book of the summer. Even I found it impossible to resist. A John Green blurb plus the description "If anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE." I am so there.

This really was a short book, but it packs a big punch. I'm going to try not to give too much away, but it's difficult to balance telling too much versus having a coherent review. There is a big, spoilery twist, and it's hard to know how much to talk about because a lot of it ends up being clues to the big secret.

The book is about the Sinclairs, one of those big, rich, Kennedy-esque families. They summer on Beachwood Island, a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Golden retrievers run around, tennis is played, and crabs are boiled. It's rich people paradise.

Our narrator is Cadence, the eldest grandchild and great hope of the future. She spends her summers at Beachwood Island with the Liars. The Liars are her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and Gat, the son of her aunt's boyfriend. They are a close group, and Cadence and Gat form a particularly strong bond.

Two years ago, there was an accident. Nobody talks about it. Cadence suffers terrible headaches and blackouts as a result. She ends up spending the next summer with her father. She writes to the Liars, but doesn't hear back. The following year, Cadence begs to go back to Beachwood. Once there, everything seems different. Her grandfather's old summer house is replaced with a fancy modern one. The Liars are acting strange. Cadence has to try to put the pieces of her lost memories back.

This book really is gorgeous. The writing has a dream-like quality, keeping the reader as confused as Cadence. I didn't predict the twist, but in retrospect there are a lot of hints. It's still very effective, and left me with many feels. I highly recommend this book, if only so that you can lie to all your friends about the ending.

I received my copy of We Were Liars from Netgalley and Edelweiss, courtesy of Delacorte Press. It's available for purchase now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano

"I wasn't nearly, I was enough..."

Nearly Boswell lives with her mother in a trailer park. Her dad abandoned them years ago, so mom has to dance at the local strip club to make rent. Thankfully, Nearly is super smart. She is competing to be the top student in her physics class so she can earn a huge scholarship and get out of the trailer park. He only competition is her best friend Anh.

Years ago, Nearly read an ad in the classifieds that she is certain was from her father. Now, she steals from her mom's tip money to buy newspapers in hopes that he will contact her again. She spots an ad that sounds like it's meant for her, telling her to look under the bleachers at school. The cheerleader that she tutors is found, naked and unconscious, under the bleachers. A second ad follows. By the time Nearly figures it out, she is too late to save another student she tutors.

It's at about this point that Nearly goes to the police. She shows them the ads, but they are dismissive of her claims. After a third ad and the murder of another student she tutored, they start to see the connection. Unfortunately, they decide that the connection means that Nearly is the murderer. To keep tabs on her, they enlist the help of bad boy turned informant Reece. They have one of those prickly relationships where they hate each other until they inevitably fall in love.

Nearly Gone is an intriguing mystery. I didn't even figure out who did it until really close to the end. I almost forgot the whole semi-paranormal touching thing that Nearly does where she can read people's emotions, but it really doesn't matter to the plot anyways. I liked Nearly, she was smart and had a tough attitude and drive. Reese was okay, but not good enough for my collection of YA boyfriends. The story gets a little gory at times, but I enjoyed that aspect. It is nice to have another book for the fairly rare YA mystery genre.

I received my copy of Nearly Gone from Netgalley and Edelweiss, courtesy of Kathy Dawson Books. It's available for purchase now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

"What if the future doesn't want to be changed? What if it wants what it wants? What if it makes no difference what any of us do, whether we are heroes or cowards?"
"The future doesn't want anything...We're the ones who make the future..."

Prenna moved to New York five years ago, but it wasn't a typical move. It's not about where she moved, but when. In 2090, the world is being ravaged by a blood plague that kills the majority of the population. In order to survive, Prenna and several others emigrate to their past, our present.

The travelers, as they call themselves, must live by strict rules. They have to fit in with normal people, time natives, as they call them. They must limit contact with the time natives. Travelers could expose them to any number of diseases, and vice versa. Most important of all, travelers cannot be intimate or fall in love with a time native. This sounds like a rule waiting to be defied by a teenage couple in love!

When Prenna first arrived in the past, she became disoriented. A young man named Ethan saw her arrival. Now, as a teenager, she walks into his classroom. He recognizes her right away. They form a friendship and then a romantic relationship, rules be damned. Ethan is also friends with a homeless man. They discuss philosophy together, as teenaged boys and vagrants do. The man startles Prenna by telling her about a murder that will occur May 17th, 2014, a pivotal moment that she must stop.

Of course, travelers are not supposed to change the course of events. It's just time travel basics, people. When the homeless man's true identity is revealed, Prenna is determined to change history, even if she has to go against her mother and the other travelers to do it.

 The Here and Now was a solid book. It had a lot of romance, and I loved the time travel stuff. It falls apart a little at the end, but it's overall pretty good.

I received my copy of The Here and Now from Netgalley, courtesy of Delacorte Press. It's available for purchase now.