Monday, February 28, 2011

First Book Blogger Book Club: Slam by Nick Hornby


[description from goodreads]

Bestselling author Nick Hornby delivers his first novel for young adults.

For 16-year-old Sam, life is about to get extremely complicated. He and his girlfriend—make that ex-girlfriend— Alicia have gotten themselves into a bit of trouble. Sam is suddenly forced to grow up and struggle with the familiar fears and inclinations t
hat haunt us all.

Nick Hornby’s poignant and witty novel shows a rare and impressive understanding of human relationships and what it really means to be a man.

Review:

I had heard of Nick Hornby prior to picking up Slam, but my encounters with his work were limited to my viewing of the film adaptation of About a Boy. But, because I had seen his name all over the place, I was eager to begin this book, and found it good even though I'm was not blown away.

I appreciate the summary's attempt to disguise the trouble Sam and Alicia get themselves into, even though I felt it was painfully obvious, even before I began reading, what happens, which is why I was a bit bored in the beginning. My boredom was increased because of the major info-dump in the beginning, in which Sam basically tells his life story in about 65 pages. Good for character development and background, sure, but annoying for me. Luckily, once I got passed the big reveal, the book was much more attention grabbing. It was extremely bizarre and slightly confusing at parts because of some dreams Sam describes, but most of the book was quite nice in terms of action, the number of debacles that occur, etc. I enjoyed the unpredictability of some of Sam's actions, however stupid they were, because they added quite a bit of excitement to the book.

However, this book focuses more on characters than on exciting events. Sam, the narrator, has a very distinct manner of telling his story. He speaks directly to the reader and uses rather a rather simple vocabulary and writing style. However, with his distinct storytelling comes plenty of humor, even when he does not intend to be funny. I loved reading about his adventures with others because he always describes them in depth, with plenty of his personal feelings included. Though some of the characters seem to serve little purpose other than to provide humor or another thing for Sam to be angsty about, most of the characters were at the very least realistic. I enjoyed seeing Sam's preconceived notions of them turn upside down as he interacted with them and discussed life with his poster of Tony Hawk (which, I must say, I thought was an amusing quirk of his and said a lot about the state of his relationships with his family).

Slam was not a standout read for me, but I still found it to be funny, realistic, and delightfully British, despite some flat characters and a slow beginning.

This review part of First Book's new Blogger Book Club feature. First Book is a charity organization that provides new books for children in need. To date, they have distributed over 80 million books. For more info on their mission, how to donate, or how to get books for the low-income children in your community, check out firstbook.org. For more reviews of Slam, check out the First Book blog.


Book details: Putnam/Hardcover/$19.99

Source: library

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. Descriptions and such from goodreads!

Just got one book this week, for review from Teen Voices:

Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control....

---I like that this summary doesn't give too much away, but I can still tell that it will be super intense.

And now I shall go collapse in front of my biology textbooks. Have a nice day, all!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Most Read Authors

I saw that Nicole from WORD for Teens did a post about her most read authors (as did Kristi from The Story Siren), because goodreads has a feature that allows you to easily see that category. Out of curiosity, I went to see my list and discovered it is full of people I hardly ever get to fangirl on this here blog. Therefore, this post exists.

1. Gordon Korman, with 18 books read.

It wasn't until I was working on this post that I realized I did not have ANY Gordon Korman books marked on goodreads. What the heck, self? I went through and added all the ones I read and it turns out he is #1! Which is actually not a big surprise because I read the Dive, Everest, Island, On the Run, and Kidnapped series many many times as a child. Those books are awesome and I wish I still owned them because I would love to reread, but alas, they are not in this house. But I still love them and they totally filled my childhood need for adventure-y books.

2. Lemony Snicket, with 16 books read.

GUYS I LOVE LEMONY SNICKET. As a child, I spent so long devouring A Series of Unfortunate Events. I have not been able to reread the series in forever, sadly, but I remember them well and love them still, even though the thirteenth book was...yeah.

Fun fact: I think Lemony Snicket and Gordon Korman would have to duke it out for the award of King of My Childhood, because I can't even decide who I've read the longest or who I like more.

3. Scott Westerfeld and Kathryn Lasky with 12 books read.

GUYS I ALSO LOVE SCOTT WESTERFELD. There isn't a book of his
(that I've read) that I don't like. I usually can't decide if the Midnighters or Peeps series are my favorite, but if forced I would probably gave to go with Peeps and its companion The Last Days. Although I also love the Uglies series, and once dressed up with things from the book for Halloween. And I can never eat SpagBol without thinking of Tally.

I have not read a Kathryn Lasky books in years, but she is so high on this list because of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series (you know, the books with the owls). I read these books devotedly as a child, and yet I still have not managed to read book #13 in the series, because I did not realize it was the last one when it first came out. I'll have to do that one day.

Fun fact: I can only stand talking animals if Soren and the gang are involved.

4. Holly Black, Garth Nix, and Margaret Peterson Haddix, with 10 books read.

Holly Black is a boss, as you all know. I've read her Modern Faerie Tales series a million times, and I've read the Spiderwick books as well as some other random books she has been a part of. Her books are totally dark and awesome, as well as being one of the paranormal/fantasy series I just can't break up with.

There are many authors who would have to fight for the title of King of My Childhood, but Garth Nix takes the title of King of My Early Tween years hands down. The Keys to the Kingdom series is so unique and wonderful and I kind of hate myself for STILL not reading Lord Sunday. I also love the Abhorsen series oh so very much.

Fun fact: The only reason I know what the seven deadly sins are is because of the Keys to the Kingdom series, which is kind of sad considering I've gone to a religious school since 6th grade, and kind of awesome considering they ~taught me things.~

Margaret Peterson Haddix is also an author I haven't read any books from in a while but love nonetheless. I've read a few of her standalones but whenever I see her name I automatically think of the Shadow Children series first. Now that I think about it, those books are probably the first dystopian-y ones I've ever read. They are AWESOME.

Fun fact: I once had a dream that involved Twilight and the Shadow Children series, and it is one of the only dreams I can still remember.

I shall stop this post here because going to #5 on the list would bring another 5 authors and I think this post is long enough already.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A thing I forgot to tell you

I am going to be posting at the Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken fansite, brightlywovenfan.com, and tweeting at the site's twitter, @BWFansite.

So you should follow those if you are a Brightly Woven fan, WHICH YOU SHOULD BE.

Also, Alexandra Bracken sold a new series this week! I seriously cannot wait to read it-- it sounds like it shall be awesome.

Except I realized that the first book in her new series will come out in Spring 2013, when I will be a college freshman. (I'm a high school junior at the moment, in case you did not gather that.) YIKES WHY MUST I BE GETTING OLD.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Doubles Giveaway


Every so often, I get multiple copies of books from publishers. Since I have no use for two, I thought I would give my extra ones to some of you.

Up for grabs are:

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?
What Happened to Goodbye will be released on May 10.

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.

Imaginary Girls will be released on June 14.

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

Wither will be released on March 22.

I'm also giving away Where She Went by Gayle Forman, but because its summary contains spoilers for If I Stay, I'm not posting it here. Feel free to read it here, though, if you wish. Where She Went will be released on April 5.

Giveaway details and such are on the form!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: My Life

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. Descriptions and such from goodreads.

Today, I'm waiting on two books with summaries that apply to my life.


What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez

"“Another day finished, gracias a Dios."

Seventeen-year-old Marisa's mother has been saying this
for as long as Marisa can remember. Her parents came to Houston from Mexico. They work hard, and they expect Marisa to help her familia. And they expect her to marry a boy from the neighborhood, to settle down, and to have grandbabies. If she wants a job, she could always be an assistant manager at the local grocery store.

At school, it's another story. Marisa's calc teacher expects her to ace the AP test and to get into an engineering program in Austin—a city that seems unimaginably far away. When her home life becomes unbearable, Marisa seeks comfort elsewhere—and suddenly neither her best friend nor boyfriend can get through to her. Caught between the expectations of two different worlds, Marisa isn't sure what she wants—other than a life w
here she doesn't end each day thanking God it's over.

What Can't Wait—the gripping debut novel from Ashley Hope PĂ©rez—tells the story of one girl's survival in a world in which family needs trump individual success, and self-reliance the only key that can unlock the door to the future.

---

This book applies to my life mainly because of the AP test mention. I'm not taking AP calc until next year, but I'm taking three this year and I'm already going into a panic because my teachers are slowly telling us more about the test, what to expec
t, etc., and they're making us do even more timed writings. AHH.

So the AP test pressure? Marisa, I sympathize.

Released March 28.

---
Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon

I shall not post this summary because it contains mild spoilers for the totally awesome Silver Phoenix (which you should read like now) but if you wish to read it, click here.

This book applies to my life in a much more indirect way. I mean, I don't live in ancient China and fight monsters. The only thing Ai Ling and I really have in common is that we both like food. Fury of the Phoenix applies to my life because me and my friend have been waiting for it to come out for FOREVER. She sits in front of me in math now, and we bring up our excitement for it often. I'm sure that the week after its release and our reading will be filled with fangirling.


Released March 29.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper


[description from goodreads]

Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.

Review:

My interest in Fallen Grace stemmed from its historical setting and the summary's promises of excitement. And while I got the history, I didn't always get the excitement.

What prevented me from truly enjoying this book was the horribly slow beginning. The book begins with Grace's journey to the cemetery to bury her child, but once she returns home, she does not do anything. It isn't until about 100 pages in that a plot is even introduced; before that, it's just Grace and her sister, Lily, trying to survive. It isn't until about 200 pages in that the fraud and fortune mentioned in the summary come into play. The lack of anything occurring before 200 pages makes for an exciting end, but man was it a frustrating journey to get there. Perhaps it would have been more bearable if the characters were better developed, but the villains were more the mustache-twirling type rather than the intimidating type. Lily too suffers from lack of development, but luckily her relationship with Grace and Grace herself were much more believable. It was easy to see the love between the two, and I enjoyed seeing Grace's determination to better their situation.

Fallen Grace did succeed more consistently in other aspects, though. It is informative without being overbearing, or worse, boring. I feel like most YA historical fiction novels take place in the Victorian era, like this book does, but this book still has a unique setting in the funeral business. I enjoyed learning about how the mourning process and often corrupt funeral business occurred, as it made this book more interesting to read, especially in the dull parts. The book was also very well-written; the writing was not overly flowery, but it sounded nice aloud, and it fit with the time period in which it is set.

As far as historical fiction goes, I've read better than Fallen Grace, but this book still manages to be informative, well-written, and exciting near the end, despite its unbearably slow beginning.

Book details: Bloomsbury/Hardcover/$16.99

Source: sent by publisher for review

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney

[description from goodreads]

Some vampires are good. Some are evil. Some are faking it to get girls.

Awkward and allergic to the sun, sixteen-year-old Finbar Frame never gets the girl. But when he notices that all the female students at his school are obsessed with a vampire romance novel called Bloodthirsty, Finbar decides to boldly go where no sane guy has gone before-he becomes a vampire, minus the whole blood sucking part.

With his brooding nature and weirdly pale skin, it's surprisingly easy for Finbar to pretend to be paranormal. But, when he meets the one girl who just might like him for who he really is, he discovers that his life as a pseudo-vampire is more complicated than he expected.

This hilarious debut novel is for anyone who believes that sometimes even nice guys-without sharp teeth or sparkly skin-- can get the girl.


Review:

This book has one of the most hilarious premises I have ever read. Luckily, its ridiculous nature and hilarity are in the actual book as well. However, it's not always in the best way.

This premise makes for some absolutely hysterical moments. Finbar gets his awkward, vampiric self in some huge predicaments, whether they involve conventions or his classmates. I loved reading about all the silly situations he got caught in, because they occurred often and were consistently funny. However, sometimes I seriously could not believe that anyone could be so stupid as to believe he was actually a vampire. Most everyone who believed him was so flat and stupid that it often made me shake my head. I really wish there were more about the people who believed him-- and heck, even the people who didn't, like his family-- because they were so frustratingly one-dimensional, but I suppose that if they were realistic, they wouldn't have done such bizarre, funny things when they thought he was a vampire.

Luckily, Finbar was a much more realistic character, even though he often slipped out of the vampire persona he was trying so hard to cultivate, making some of his actions a bit inconsistent. He was funny, even though he sometimes tried too hard with immature and juvenile jokes, but he was also adorably awkward. I enjoyed seeing the growth he experienced as a result of his actions, because it made the book seem like it had a bigger purpose than just being funny. I also liked reading about him try to juggle being a vampire with his budding romance with one of the girls at school. Like the other characters, I wish there was a bit more about her that didn't rely on one of the book's twists, but I at least found their romance to be cute.

This book definitely requires some suspension of disbelief and some overlooking of the one-dimensional nature of most of the characters, but I still found it to be a quick, hilarious, and ridiculous (in a good way) read.

Book details: Poppy/Paperback/$9.99

Source: BEA

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors


[description from goodreads]

When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast.

That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.

Review:

Having read and adored Coffeehouse Angel by the same author, I was eager to begin Mad Love. And, despite my excitement to read it, I was surprised to discover just how much I enjoyed it.

I love how Selfors manages to take seemingly predictable story lines and completely turn them around. I mean, I went in to this book thinking, "oh gosh, if she falls in love with Errol while writing an awesome version of his story and having her mothers' publishers love it, I will hit something." Luckily, none of those things happened-- at least, not in the ways I expected. I wish I could be specific, but I don't want to ruin the surprises. Just know that some absolutely hilarious, unexpected things go on between Alice and Errol, as well as Alice and her quest to find a publishable story. I especially enjoyed the twists that started to unravel near the end, because they were much darker than one might expect from a story largely based in love. I wish some of the twists near the end happened earlier, though, because the end was almost overwhelmingly packed with action, in contrast to the often slow beginning. The beginning is occasionally dull to read, despite the hilarious moments, because Alice takes a while to believe Errol. Which is realistic and therefore appreciated, but I wish there was more happening before she believed him.

I also enjoyed the characterization in this book because each of the characters brought humor and a lovely sense of realism. I wish there was more from Alice's Potential Boy, Tony, because he appeared often and yet had no real personality, but at least the two weren't ~so in love~ after five seconds. Similarly, I wish there was more from Alice's many neighbors, even though I did like all of them. For example, Realm, Alice's cranky emo-hipster neighbor, was funny and her confrontations with Alice added another element of excitement to the plot, but I wish there was more about her past and why she was so mean, even though those things were touched upon. Luckily, Alice and Errol, the stars of the book, were much better developed. I loved learning about Errol from his adventures with Psyche and with Alice, because it allowed me to see how his past affected his present. I also liked seeing Alice being affected by him and the other characters, because she experiences some positively lovely growth.

Mad Love is a funny, unexpectedly exciting book, despite some dragging near the beginning and the lapse in development of some of the minor characters.

Book details: Walker/Hardcover/$16.99

Source: sent by publisher for review

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. Descriptions and such from goodreads!

A while back, I won a 2011 Debut Preorder Contest (from Kelsey at The Book Scout, I believe), and my prize came this week:

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
This debut, the first novel in a trilogy, is achingly romantic, terrifying, and filled with blistering action.

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul.

A mysterious b
oy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once.

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.
I've heard excellent things about this book and am super excited to read it. I think it shall be full of action and SWORDS, based on the cover alone.

From the library, I got:

Slam by Nick Hornby

For 16-year-old Sam, life is about to get extremely complicated. He and his girlfriend—make that ex-girlfriend— Alicia have gotten themselves into a bit of trouble. Sam is suddenly forced to grow up and struggle with the familiar fears and inclinations that haunt us all.

Nick Hornby’s poignant and witty novel shows a rare and impressive understanding of human relationships and what it really means to be a man.

This book is for a special blog tour near the end of the month. It sounds like it will be good, but if my prediction about the "trouble" mentioned in the summary I may be a bit annoyed.

I also got a few books for review this week, but they are books I already have, so I will be giving them away either this upcoming week or the week after that. I shall not tell you what they are, but I will tell you they are very highly anticipated and you will definitely want to enter the giveaway whenever I put it up.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I love pretty things.

Two of my favorite new pretty things:


Supernaturally by Kiersten White

Coming home to find a new cover reveal is always exciting, especially when the cover is so pretty! I am glad that this cover goes well with the cover of its predesscessor, Paranormalcy, but has a much more spooky, atmospheric vibe.


So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev

OOH HOW I LOVE THIS COVER. I saw it last night and not two minutes later I sent the link to my friend so we could fangirl it. I love everything about it-- the dress, the faeries, the curtains. Everything is so nice!

And now that my fangirling is out of the way, regular blogging shall resume tomorrow.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I found a fifth feeling!

Last week, I posted some of my favorite bookish feelings. Because I like lists of five, I made that post have five points, but I actually couldn't think of a fifth thing. However, yesterday I thought of one. Huzzah!

5. Withdrawal.

My initial reasoning for this point is that I miss the Ruby Oliver series* like whoa. I thought about the series when I was doing English homework, because I used footnotes, and all of a sudden I missed Ruby SO MUCH. She's one of my favorite characters ever. I miss being able to read new Roo adventures. I loved Real Live Boyfriends and thought it ended perfectly, but oh how I wish there were more Ruby in the future. However, I love knowing that I can return to the books whenever and help prevent some of my Ruby withdrawal. I love wanting to go back to revisit the books, because I love them so very much.

Similarly, as much as I hate not being able to read, like, ever because of all my schoolwork, there's a sweet side to it. Because I never really have a chance to read, especially during the week, whenever a spare half hour or even just a few minutes shows up, I always want to spend it reading. I'm always more excited to get back to a book because of how little I'm able to do it. It's quite lovely, though I would still prefer having time to read whenever.


*The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live Boyfriends, by E. Lockhart.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Recommended

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. Descriptions and such from goodreads.

For today's post, I am waiting to read two books that come recommended from certain people.


Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

The football field is a battlefield.

There’s an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on—and off—the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy—including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.

---

This book has the most terrifying cover I have ever seen. I despite it with every fiber of my being. It makes me want to hide. The summary, however, sounds awesome. Anything that has football in the description makes me think of Friday Night Lights, which is ALWAYS good. This sounds like it will be super intense.

Jordyn from & story rated this five stars on goodreads, and Jordyn has most excellent taste, so I will give it a shot!

Released February 17-- oh hey that's tomorrow, fancy that.

---


Where She Went by Gayle Forman

The summary has spoilers for If I Stay, this book's predecessor, so I will not post it, but if you wish to read it, go here.

The aforementioned Jordyn is also a fan of this book, but the person who really recommended this book is my mom. My mom doesn't have the chance to read all that often but she loved If I Stay (she even reviewed it!) and this book, so I think it shall be good. I already own this book, but because school eats my soul and my time, I have not had a chance to read it yet, but I am very eager to. If it's even half as good as If I Stay, it will be amazing.

Released April 5.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Iron Queen winner!

The winner of my giveaway for The Iron Queen is Lena (addicted2novels). Either I will email you when I get home or you email me, if you see this. (khyrinthia@gmail.com) Congrats!

On the giveaway form, I asked whether everyone whether they were Team Puck or Team Ash, just because I was curious. Eighteen people said Ash, seven people said Puck, and I don't feel like counting the number of people who didn't answer.

Those seven of you who voted Puck? I love you. The rest of you...I love you slightly less because Puck > Ash, foreva.

Although I will admit that Ash has the advantage of looking like Ben Barnes in my head:

And, on an unrelated, note, this song:



MY JAM.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love, Love, Love by Deborah Reber and Caroline Goode

[description from goodreads]

Two sweet stories about finding your one true love.

In Language of Love, Janna is quickly adapting to life in Seattle as a high school exchange student from Hungary. Or at least Julian, the cute boy she met in a coffee shop, thinks she is. The truth is, he overheard Janna using a phony accent, and now she’s stuck playing the part….Will Julian want to be with the real Janna? Or will she discover that lies don’t always translate to love?

In Cupidity, high school is the single worst place to find a boyfriend. And Laura Sweeney is no exception. She hasn't had a date since...well, ever. So Laura needs guidance. A proven "get the guy" strategy. Luckily she knows exactly the expert to call. He's a matchmaking mastermind who actually has the bow and arrow to prove it. Let's just call him...Cupid.

Review:

Because this book is actually two books in one volume, I'm splitting this review into two parts.

Upon starting, Language of Love, I was afraid I would not enjoy it because of the many cliches it includes. Two of my least favorite cliches make appearances: the hot best friend and the boy best friend who is obviously in love with the main character. Because of their inclusion, I thought I had this book figured out. For the most part, I did, but I was proven wrong more than once. Some of the things I mispredicted I very much liked, and others I was skeptical of because I felt that with those twists, certain things should not have been included at all.* Luckily, the main storyline involving Janna's fake identity was always fun to read. Her fake-Hungarian self got into plenty of trouble and mischief, and each new predicament was funnier than the last. I enjoyed seeing Janna learn from her fake self, especially when she least expected it. Her growth allowed her to be the best developed character of all, even though her friends, while cliche, were realistic as well. Her Potential Boy was also at the very least realistic, even though there was nothing about him that really stood out.

Despite its cliches and predictable moments, Language of Love is a hilarious, fun, cute read.

Cupidity was a bit more hit-or-miss for me. I loved that it included moments with Roman gods**, where they got to speak and interact with the heroine, because even though their dialogue was unrealistic, they were quite humorous. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of Cupid, because he was integrated into the story in a way I did not see coming. The rest of the book was a bit bizarre because of all the mayhem that occurs; it is funny, but sometimes I did not really understand how the whole Cupid-induced-love worked. Maybe I would have understood more if the characters were better developed. Most of them were totally flat, probably because they were stuck in love dazes, but even before their lovin', they seemed nothing but cliche. Not even Laura, the main character, felt realistic to me, because the third person narrative felt disconnected and because she was often running around confused.

Cupidity was a sadly underdeveloped and occasionally confusing read, but I still found it funny and different than I had anticipated (even though some things that happened were way obvious from the beginning).

*I feel like I'm speaking in code. Avoiding spoilers is hard sometimes.

**Even though Greek gods > Roman gods.

Book details: Simon Pulse/Paperback/$9.99

Source: sent by publisher for review on behalf of the author

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. Descriptions and such from goodreads!

For review:

Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

16-year-old Molly Dix loves her ordinary life in suburban Indiana, so when her single mother passes away, she is shocked to discover that her biological father is Brick Berlin, world famous movie star and red carpet regular.

Equally intrigued and terrified by her Hollywood lineage, Molly moves to Southern California and plunges head-first into the deep end of Beverly Hills celebrity life. Just as Molly thinks her new life and family couldn't get any stranger, she meets Brooke Berlin, her gorgeous and spoiled half-sister whom welcomes Molly to la-la land with a healthy dose of passive-aggressive "sisterly love."

Set against the backdrop of a sparkling and fashion-filled Los Angeles, this deliciously dysfunctional family soap opera will satisfy every reader looking for their next lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous beach read.

Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan are fashion writers in Los Angeles California. Their blog www.gofugyourself.com draws an average of four million readers a month, and their dispatches from the front rows of Fashion Week are routinely the most-read stories on New York magazine's web site. Heather and Jessica have been called "fashion assassins" by Joan Rivers and "a viciously funny duo" by the Hollywood Reporter. Spoiled is their first novel for young adults.

I got this book randomly in the mail and had not even heard of it before it arrived. It sounds good, though, and (unfortunately?) anything with the words "soap opera" in the description gets my attention. Except for actual soap operas.

Spinning Out by David Stahler Jr.
High school senior Frenchy has little ambition beyond hanging out at the smoking rock until his best friend, the ever-witty and conniving Stewart, gets him to try out for Man of la Mancha. To everyone's surprise, the guys are a hit. But when Stewart's antics begin to grow more obsessive—he wears his costume 24/7, freaks out about little details, and displays an incessant hatred of the high-tech windmills outside of town—Frenchy worries that there's something deeper going on. Is Stewart spiraling into madness, just like Don Quixote? And can Frenchy battle through his own demons in time to save his friend from self-destruction before it's too late?
I love theater books! I'm thinking this one will be good, even though it does remind me of Spanish class. *shudder*

How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain
David Gershwin's summer is about to take a turn for the weird. When his dad's new patient Zelda tells him she's from outer space and on a quest to take Johnny Depp back to her planet, he knows he should run away screaming. But with one look from her mean, green eyes, David's hooked, and soon he's leaping across rooftops, running from police, and stealing cars just to stay by her side. He might not be a typical hero, but David's going to get the girl even if it takes him to the ends of the earth—or beyond.

Best title ever. Also, I have been hoping for a book with aliens that isn't I Am Number Four (because of that whole fiction factory debacle) to come out, and here it is!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I have feelings, you know.

A list of some of my favorite bookish feelings:

1. I love it when I am in the middle of a book and figure out what will happen in the end but convince myself that it won't happen. The best example is Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead. I figured out THE THING that happened about a hundred pages before the end, but I kept thinking "No, Mead can't do that. No. That's not going to happen. No WAY." But then IT HAPPENED! And even though I saw it coming, I was still blown away because IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED! Ah, craziness.

2. I love it when a book is so easy to relate to that it's uncomfortable. I love when I think, "Um this character is crazy and occasionally scary and stupid BUT THIS PERSON IS TOTALLY ME."

3. I love it when cool things happen to authors I love. For example, I usually think that Barnes and Noble's Teen Section on their website sucks because they feature the most obvious choices, but I checked it out the other day and what is in the "Edgy Stories for Teens" section? Hate List by Jennifer Brown! I have not fangirled that book in forever but oh my love for it is still strong.

4. I love it when the New York Times bestseller list is populated by AWESOME. For example, The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa is on the children's paperback list for the second week in a row. Yay! I remember when the first book in the series, The Iron King, wasn't even out yet. And look how the series has grown. *sniff*

5. I love it when other people share their favorite bookish feelings, because apparently I have so few emotions that I can't think of a fifth item for this list.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Spoliers for the Iron Fey series ahead! You can read my review of book one, The Iron King, here, or my review of book two, The Iron Daughter, here. No spoilers for this book.

[description from goodreads]

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

Review:

Despite my love for the first two books in this series, I was incredibly nervous to read this first installment because of my intense dislike for the paranormal/fantasy novels I have read recently. Luckily, The Iron Queen was as lovely as I expected.

However, it did not always seem like it was going to be as great as it ended up. Like the previous installments, the book is separated into three parts. I found part one to be far less exciting than I am used to from the beginning of the books of this series. Not that it was boring, but because Meghan, Ash, and Puck were still in the relatively early stage of their exile, there was not as much for them to do. I at the very least enjoyed the first part because of the new situations it put the characters in and the set-up it brought for the rest of the book, but I definitely preferred parts two and three. Both of those parts were full of action, fighting, and excitement, most of it unpredictable, expect one thing near the end. However, although I figured said thing out, I never thought it would actually happen, which made it all the more awesome.

I also enjoyed the characters in parts two and three more, even though, like all things, it could have benefited from MORE PUCK. Ash has always bugged me because he is so overdramatic, especially compared to the wondrous free spirit that is Puck. His melodrama began to affect Meghan more in this book, I noticed, and occasionally I was bothered by her. But, as soon as she started wanting to fight again and ignored Ash a bit, I remembered why I like her. I also liked the new and might-as-well-be-new-because-they-were-hardly-in-the-other-books characters because of the fun new information and adventure they brought with them.

Once I got past the somewhat shaky part one, I loved The Iron Queen. It was incredibly exciting, action-packed, and full of the usually awesome cast of characters. Also, it totally broke my heart at the end. I cannot wait for The Iron Knight to come out, even though it is about Ash.

(Team Puck forever and always.)

Book details: Harlequin Teen/Paperback/$9.99

Source: sent by publicist for review

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Life of a Writer

Today, I have a guest blog from the lovely Sarwat Chadda. Sarwat Chadda is the author of the Billi SanGreal series. You can read my review of the first book in the series, Devil's Kiss, here, if you wish. But, if not, here is the summary of the book for you, straight from goodreads:

Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she would have to make sacrifices to be in the Knights Templar. Sacrifices like losing her mother to the Templar's ongoing battle against the Unholy; sacrifices like trading her childhood in for relentless training; sacrifices that keep her completely isolated from the world of a normal teen girl.

Billi's lone wolf status is challenged when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from his psychic training in Jerusalem. Kay manages to stir things up quickly -- he's gorgeous, arrogant, and wants to slide right back into his old place in Billi's life. Billi is skeptical, but interested, until she meets Michael -- an ethereally handsome guy who seems to understand her like no one before him, and effortlessly stakes a claim in her heart.

Just as Billi's starting to enjoy this pleasant new twist to her life, Kay ruins everything. In a moment of bravado, Kay uses the last of the Templar's treasures, King Solomon's cursed mirror, drawing the attention of one of the most dangerous of the Templars' enemies -- The Angel of Death.

Only with the mirror can the dark angel unleash his full powers, and now that he's heard the call of the mirror, he'll stop at nothing to get it. To save London from catastrophe, Billi will have to make sacrifices greater than she'd ever imagined.

And without further ado, here is Sarwat Chadda talking about the life of a writer:

"The life of a writer? One of parties, literary lunches, long afternoon rests and martinis and leisurely walks along the beach, searching the horizon for inspiration?

Er, nothing like that. At all.

The life of a writer is immensely dull, dull dull! It’s just like any other job, one of routine, repetitive, and with a tendency to become very antisocial. You spend an awfully long time inside your own head. It can also be pretty unhealthy since all you do is sit on your bum day in, day out, only exercising your fingertips.

But you tell stories. It may not be the oldest profession in the world, but probably runs a close second or third. I love story-telling. If you’re doing something you love, then it’s never boring.

The writing day is controlled by the school run. I’ve two young daughters and my wife works, so the morning is the usual domestic mad rush of getting the girls dressed, fed washed and ready. The school’s an easy walk so I’ve dropped them off and ready by 9.30am.

I spend the mornings in the cafe with my laptop. I’ve written two books here and countless redrafts. Breakfast is a croissant and a latte with a quick flick through the newspapers.

While I have an office in our home, the cafe has no internet access. Writing is my job. I am self-employed so have no boss standing over my shoulder making me work. I have to discipline myself and the best way to do that is avoid the internet. Twitter, Facebook, checking emails, browsing over Wikipedia may seem like work, but they’re not.

So, mornings are quality writing time. I’ve always worked in an open-plan office so have no problem tuning out background noise. In fact, it helps. The general hub-bub makes me feel less isolated, which is an occupational hazard as a writer.

Typically I set myself writing targets. Right now it’s 20,000 words a month, so that breaks down to 1,000 words a day. This should be a minimum, I know a lot of writers that hit the 2-4,000 word mark every day. Maybe my stories just come out more slowly.

I try and be disciplined over all the other errands. I go to the post-office once a week, saving up all my letters and parcels and prizes until then. I try not to be distracted by lunches with friends, or trips to the cinema, or days out visiting bookshops. I even control the amount of reading I do. I try and make sure I read at least 50 pages a day. Reading is part of the job. There’s reading for work, which includes other children’s and YA authors, then there’s reading for pleasure and learning. I love history so there’s always some non-fiction history book on my desk. Right now it’s on the Tudors. I try to read as much outside my genre and age group as possible. It keeps me fresh and prevents recycling. Genres risk becoming insular and stale, it’s down to authors to keep themselves sharp by reading well outside their own genre, plus you never know where the next great idea may come from.

Stuff like bills and filing and all that boring paperwork is done once a week, usually late Sunday night so my desk is clear Monday morning. This may slip to once a fortnight, it depends on how high my filing pile becomes!

Afternoon is kids. Collect them, feed them, get them bathed and ready for bed. My wife comes home from work around 6.30pm so she does the bedtime routine. By now I’m back in the home office so will be checking emails and using the internet. I give myself an hour only so keep the browsing on YouTube to a minimum.

Since my market is both UK and US there’s a curious time zone issue. I switch off the computer for the next few hours for time with my wife but as luck would have it she’s an early bird and I’m a night owl. But eleven she’s in bed and I’m working again. This is when I check out what my American mates are up to, via email, Twitter or whatever. Any calls to my US publishers tend to happen around this time too. I wrap up about midnight, potter a little and spend a little time reading something.

Apart from the Sunday night paperwork I keep weekends free. For the first year as a writer I let my writing take over everything. Weekends and holidays. My home life suffered. I try hard to make sure I spend quality time with the girls and my wife. In the end, they’re what matters. Life is short and you can’t take your relationships for granted. I’m incredibly lucky to have the job I have but one of the biggest benefits is the time it gives me with my family. I have to make sure that time is spent with them, not daydreaming about the next story."

Facebook and Wikipedia don't count as work? I've been doing school wrong this whole year. I mean...what?

Thanks for the wonderful guest blog, Sarwat!

Devil's Kiss and recently released sequel, Dark Goddess, are currently available in bookshops all over the land (and the internet). For more on the series or Sarwat, you may check out his website, blog, or twitter.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Movie news!

Greetings, Internet. Last night, I heard of two new YA novels-to-screen adaptations. I thought we would discuss them today.

The first bit of news I heard is that the CW has picked up The Secret Circle pilot. The CW is the home of The Vampire Diaries, which was based on the books by L.J. Smith. L.J. Smith also wrote The Secret Circle, but I do believe The Secret Circle is about witches, not vampires. I have had it in my to-be-read pile for literally years and have never picked it up. I will have to soon! Have you read it? Good or bad?

The second bit of news is that Thirteen Reasons Why has been acquired as a vehicle for Selena Gomez.

ARGH.

I have nothing against Selena Gomez. I'm sure she's a lovely person. She seems more tolerable than some of her fellow Disney stars. But her as HANNAH? WHAT? From the (admittedly very little acting) I have seen of hers, I am not sure she can pull off the ~serious business~ of the role. And since it's been acquired as a vehicle for her, I'm terrified that they are going to change everything about the book and make it younger and not as intense and make Selena the only star, and ugh, where am I going with this? I don't know.

I will try to keep an open mind about it. ("Try" being the key word in that sentence.) Assuming the movie even moves forward and gets made.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan


[description from goodreads]

A sweet and touching modern love story, told through dictionary entries

basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you're in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn't pass, that's it--you're done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it's even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover's face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan's The Lover's Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

Review:

Reading a new David Levithan book is one of my absolute favorite things. I love each of his books with an almost alarming ferocity, and The Lover's Dictionary is certainly no exception. It's original, beautiful, smart, sad, funny, lovely, and simply amazing.

The dictionary and non-linear structure definitely prevents some character development and whatnot from occurring, but do I care? No. Not really. I didn't mind that I didn't know the narrator's name, or the lover's name, or the lover's gender, or any of the information that is often shared first in other novels. The lack of information about the characters' lives, especially of the lover, sometimes made the book feel a bit impersonal, but not so impersonal that it could not be enjoyed. The impersonality worked for this book because while each entry is specific to the couple's relationship, the emotion behinds the words are very much universal. Each entry is beautifully written, powerful, and oh so smart. I loved seeing how all sorts of different words were used, because even the words that seemed to have no business being in the book were given poetic, sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, always fantastic entries.

The Lover's Dictionary is the type of book I'll keep within reach so that I can read my favorite definitions over and over. It's going on my "favorites" shelf, right next to David Levithan's other works.

Book details: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux/Hardcover/$18.00

Source: bought

A short review? I KNOW RIGHT! It's a very short book, so I thought a short review was ~fitting.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin


[description from goodreads]

Fans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers—known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbors flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country. The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on. . . . Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.

Review:

Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance is by no means a groundbreaking read. I knew where it was going before I even finished reading the summary, I predicted many of the developments in the actual book, and most the characters were annoyingly flat. However, it's a cute, fun, light read if that's what you're looking for.

As you may have been able to guess form the summary, this book primarily focuses on the romance between Charlie and Fielding. Because that was the main focus, I was anticipating plenty of development of their relationship, enough to make me believe that they actually liked each other. I very much enjoyed the initial portrayal of their relationship, while they were still in the public eye and still hated each other. Both were so obnoxious that I could easily see why they disliked each other, but each still had qualities redeeming enough to make me see past their annoying sides. However, I grew more skeptical of their relationship as more time went by. Once they were out the public eye, they started liking each other so fast and so much that it was almost a wonder they ever disliked each other at all. The "twist" in the middle was random and did not help their relationship much because once it occurs, they spend less time together and yet still manage to like-like each other. Luckily, I was not as bothered by their often underdeveloped relationship because all stages of the book take place in not exactly unique settings, but ones that are at least fun and add a little something extra to the book.

The characterization of the two leads separately was better than that of their relationship, even though each of them had qualities or likes that were random and totally expected. I especially liked Fielding; there is more to him than meets the eye and I enjoyed reading about the differences between the real Fielding and the manufactured one. Charlie can be overbearing at times, and she never seems as passionate as she claims, but she has some of the better one-liners of the book and provides much-needed humor. Unfortunately, the minor characters in this book are not as appealing as the main characters, mainly because they are never around for long. Once they serve their purpose, there is not another word heard from them, even though they are usually the ones moving the plot along. They are by no means unlikeable, but so unremarkable that I can't even remember their names.

Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance is a simple "love" story, and I'm not sure it's supposed to be more. It's a cute and fast read, but I've read better books that can have those labels applied to them. But, hey, if you're looking for a light, romantic read, perhaps Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance is the book for you.

Book details: Walker/Paperback/$9.99

Source: sent by publisher for review

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In My Mailbox: Fun Packaging

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. Descriptions and such from goodreads!

I got three books for review this week, two of which came in fun packaging.

But first, the lovely sounding book that came in regular packaging:

Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby
My life seriously couldn’t get any worse.

First, my rightful designation of dragon slayer is STOLEN right out from under me by Curtis Green. Sure, he’s really cute, but that doesn’t give him an excuse.

On top of that, I am assigned to slay fairies. I know what you’re thinking—how hard could it be, right? Wrong! These menacing beasts with their tiny hipster clothes and mocking sarcasm love taunting me. And they won’t STOP!

But the thing that tops my list of stuff to ruin my day? That would be the GIANT KILLER FAIRY that I have to hunt down and slay because I am the only one who can see it. There is someone who can help me. Unfortunately…it’s Curtis.

It’s going to be a fairy bad day.
Slayers? I am sold.

And now for fun boxes!

Box number one came from Penguin and features The Dark City by Catherine Fisher, the beginning of the new Relic Master series.


Inside the box was the book, some crinkly paper things, and a map.


Box number two contained Wither by Lauren DeStefano.

The box says "No Girl Has Escaped." DUN DUN DUN.


Inside was a postcard-ish thing, a book, a letter from the publisher, and vial of June beans (aka chocolate covered sunflower seeds).

Close up:

Bizarrely, the two boxes came from different publishers but were in the same type of box (but in different colors) and had books sitting in the same type of crinkly papers (but in different colors).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

in which I go off topic.

I had some scheduling post issues and whatnot this week for various reasons, so now I find myself post-less for today. Because I am too tired to write something that requires thought, let's talk about TELEVISION!

1. I am watching the second episode of [UK] Skins right now and I quite like it! This whole deaf thing in this episode is bizarre and vaguely creepy but I like this generation more than the second generation. I LOVE GRACE.

(That whole tidbit probably made no sense to you if you do not watch the show.)

2. Speaking of Skins, US Skins? UGH. I watched the pilot and it was absolutely terrible. Even if I wasn't annoyed that they just copied the original UK pilot, I would have disliked it because it was so painfully acted, written, etc.

3. Another thing I will be watching this weekend is the end of David Tennant's last season of Doctor Who. I have been putting it off for months but I will finally get around to it. Do you recommend I keep tissues nearby?

4. Apparently Glee is back on tomorrow after the Super Bowl? I did not know this, but then again I didn't even find out that the Super Bowl is tomorrow until yesterday. And I do not know if I will watch it. Well, actually, I probably will but I don't know why. I'm so close to dropping Glee because it is really not that good but I still watch every week. WHY?

5. I am like five episodes behind in both Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries. How are they this season?

6. WHAT WILL I DO WHEN FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS IS OVER? I have not watched any of season 5 because I do not have DirectTV and I have enough willpower to not watch online, but still. When it ends, I shall be a mess.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian


[description from goodreads]

Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things.

But life is messy, and it's very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they're no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you wants to sleep with yourself - but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out.

Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices - and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.

Review:

I had heard good things about this book before reading, and even though it sounded like my thing, I didn't think I would like it very much. But I was utterly wrong. I love, love, love this book and just thinking about it makes me want to type nothing but exclamation points.

Natalie definitely will not appeal to everyone-- in fact, I'm sure many will hate her-- but I love her. I always appreciate smart YA protagonists, especially those who are so smart that they can't always figure out problems outside of school work. I loved seeing her dominate her school but get mad whenever someone tried to take power from her or try to put her in an emotional or social situation. She is hilariously stubborn and uptight, but she does have good intentions, even if her means of carrying out those intentions are sometimes questionable.

The secondary characters are just as wonderful, maybe even more so since they aren't so frighteningly driven. Spencer, one of the freshmen mentioned in the summary, is a great addition to the novel. Not only does she provide some much-needed humor, but she also is a delightful contrast to Natalie's sometimes manic side. If she were real, I don't think we would ever speak, let alone be friends, but I can admire her bold attitude when I'm not rolling my eyes at her. I also liked the relationship between Natalie and her best friend Autumn, because Natalie is so intelligent that it's fun to see her try to act normally in social situations, where she doesn't have a textbook to guide her. Autumn was a much appreciated character amidst all the bold personalities in this book; I liked reading about someone not as loud every once in a while, because Natalie and Spencer occasionally took their message into preachy territory.

And, of course, we have the Boy. While I feel Connor and Natalie's relationship was delightfully realistic, especially near the end, I wish there was more of him. He's so quiet, and their relationship so offbeat, that it's often difficult to really understand him. But, still, I love him because he works on a Christmas tree farm. It doesn't get much better than that.

And my first 5/5 star rating of the year goes to Not That Kind of Girl. I can't deny a book that makes me cry five stars. This book is sometimes sad, sometimes funny, but always smart, and always awesome.

Book details: Push/Hardcover/$17.99

Source: gift

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

[description from goodreads]

Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she would have to make sacrifices to be in the Knights Templar. Sacrifices like losing her mother to the Templar's ongoing battle against the Unholy; sacrifices like trading her childhood in for relentless training; sacrifices that keep her completely isolated from the world of a normal teen girl.

Billi's lone wolf status is challenged when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from his psychic training in Jerusalem. Kay manages to stir things up quickly -- he's gorgeous, arrogant, and wants to slide right back into his old place in Billi's life. Billi is skeptical, but interested, until she meets Michael -- an ethereally handsome guy who seems to understand her like no one before him, and effortlessly stakes a claim in her heart.

Just as Billi's starting to enjoy this pleasant new twist to her life, Kay ruins everything. In a moment of bravado, Kay uses the last of the Templar's treasures, King Solomon's cursed mirror, drawing the attention of one of the most dangerous of the Templars' enemies -- The Angel of Death.

Only with the mirror can the dark angel unleash his full powers, and now that he's heard the call of the mirror, he'll stop at nothing to get it. To save London from catastrophe, Billi will have to make sacrifices greater than she'd ever imagined.

Review:

Devil's Kiss is a delightfully original novel, full of action and twists, though it had a few moments that nearly made me roll my eyes.

The thing that makes Devil's Kiss stand out is its originality. The story of the Angel of Death, among other Biblical stories and references included in the novel, is definitely one my Catholic-school-going self is familiar with, which I think gave me a leg up in understand some of the things going on. However, this book turns the story, and others, into one that I can actually manage to pay attention to, which my religion classes never manage to do and which I've never seen another book attempt. The setting, world-building, whatever you want to call it, is absolutely fabulous and makes so much sense. The monsters and villains and the Knights Templar itself all fit seamlessly into the myths and real world of the novel.

The monsters, villains, and Knights Templar also bring about some amazingly exciting action scenes. While the book does take a long time to get to the most thrilling parts, it is worth the long wait. The fight scenes are described well, and there are constantly new details about the villains appearing, filling the book with twists as well. However, even with all the twists, I consistently felt like the villain was so evil that it was funny. The villain's motivation was somewhat clear but he was often predictable and so melodramatic that I couldn't help but giggle.

Luckily, the other characters do not suffer from the lack of personality development that the villain does. Some of the minor characters, members of the Knights Templar that don't say much, are interchangeable to me, but Billi, her father, and her kind-of Potential Boy, Kay, are wonderful. I enjoyed seeing Billi's relationship with her father and Kay develop over the book, because I thought I had them figured out at the beginning, but they definitely turned out different than I expected. The unexpected developments were not always ones I liked, particularly with Kay, but I can't go into that because of ~spoilers. Billi, however, is rightfully the star of the novel. She's fierce, can hold her own, and determined, but she also had a vulnerable side that made it easy to sympathize with her.

Once Devil's Kiss gets going, it really gets going. It's action-packed, original, and full of unexpected twists and turns.

Book details: Hyperion/Paperback/$8.99

Source: sent by publisher for review