Tuesday, December 27, 2011

review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

pub date: January 3, 2012
publisher: Feiwel and Friends
pages: 387
source: NetGalley
appeals: scifi, fairy tale retelling, Cinderella, future, romance, techy stuff
content: nothing that could be offensive

I enjoyed this book a lot. It is supposedly a retelling of Cinderella, but only loosely. The world and characters and plot were so original and exciting and fun, that if I hadn't known it was supposed to be Cinderella, I don't know if I would've thought so just by reading it. But since I did know it was Cinderella, it was fun to pick out the similarities (I especially loved the foot), and I LOVED how it was scifi. Lots of fairy tale fantasys, but this is the only fairy tale science fiction that I know about. So cool!

I really liked this world that Meyer created. There was such depth, so much that was going on outside of the Cinderella-ish plot thread. It was done really well.

I am a sap for romance in my books, and this one did not disappoint. I really enjoyed the romance between Cinder, the cyborg, and Kai, the emperor of New Beijing's son.

And Cinder herself is a very sympathetic character. She's brave and humble and compassionate and strong and a dreamer. I could empathize with her plight and hated her step-mom.

A really enjoyable read.

However, I am noticing a trend in YA, and it's liable to drive me crazy. What is with not finishing a story?!?!? I get that it's a series, but please, give me an ending! Tie off some of the plot threads! It's like Meyer wrote a novel that was 1600 pages long (goodreads says there will be four books in the series) and randomly chopped it where it felt like a nice break in the ongoing plot. Lots of authors are doing this, and it's infuriating. I expect a conclusion when I begin a book and feel cheated when I don't get one. Especially if I won't ever get one until the fourth book comes out. Arg.

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Friday, December 23, 2011

review: Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

pub date: Jan 5, 2012
publisher: Penguin
pages: 416
source: LibraryThing Early Reviewer
appeals: dragons, fae, friendship, historical, romance
content: some sweet kisses

I have mixed feelings about this book. I thought Carey did a fantastic job creating this world with fairies and dragons and humans, and had a very compelling story arch. I thought it was well written and had a nice flow. Though some parts seemed to drag a tad, the plot was interesting.

However, I also thought it lacked a spark of life. I never found myself enthralled by the characaters or the story, or compelled to keep reading. When I put the book down, I didn't really think about until I picked it up again (and I'm someone who tends to obsess about a book between readings). The romance was also rather ho-hum. I didn't feel emotionally involved with the events or characters.

It definitely has a more serious tone, it is not a light or quick read. Maybe that has something to do with why I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would?

If you like high fantasy and a more serious tone, I think you'll like this one.
Wilde Island is in an uproar after the recent death of its king. The uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is fraying, and a bloodthirsty witch hunter with a hidden agenda whips villages into frenzies with wild accusations. Tess, a blacksmith’s daughter from a tiny hamlet near the mysterious Dragonswood, finds herself caught in the crosshairs of fate when she is accused of witchery and has to flee for her life along with her two best friends.

Not even Tess’s power to see the future can help the girls as they set off on their desperate journey, but she keeps having visions of a man wielding a sword. And when she finally meets him, Tess has no idea how to handle the magnetic attraction she feels for him, or the elusive call she hears from the heart of the Dragonswood.

In this epic romance, an ancient prophecy comes true in a way neither dragon, fairy, nor human would have predicted

Thursday, December 22, 2011

review: Ditched: A Love Story by Robin Mellom

pub date: January 10, 2012
publisher: Disney-Hyperion
pages: 288
source: NetGalley
appeals: prom, romance, high school
content: swearing, sexual reference, underage drinking, drugs

What a fun premise. Justine begins her story in a ditch the morning after prom, then spends the morning telling her new "friends" at the 7-11 how the night that was supposed to be amazing was anything but. For the most part, I enjoyed reading Justine's prom night adventures. It was cute and sweet and full of missed opportunities and misunderstandings.

Justina's voice was strong, appealing and had a lot of personality. At times she was annoying because she jumped to conclusions A Lot, which was one of the reasons her night didn't end up so great, but because of her strong voice, I was able to overlook this small annoyance. 

In the beginning I thought this would be a fun book for younger teens or tweens, but as the novel progressed, I changed my mind. There was a lot of swearing, sexual discussions, drinking, and drugs. All that content took away from the sweetness of the story. It also took away from my enjoyment. Without all that content, I would have loved this book. As it was, it was just enjoyable.

High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.

Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat handle first.

Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.

Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.

And then ditched her.

Now, as the sun rises over her small town, and with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven, Justina must piece together — stain by stain on her thrift-store dress — exactly how she ended up dateless. A three-legged Chihuahua was involved. Along with a demolition derby-ready Cadillac. And there was that incident at the tattoo parlor. Plus the flying leap from Brian Sontag's moving car...

But to get the whole story, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. And discover if losing out at prom can ultimately lead to true love.

Filled with humor, charm, and romance, Ditched: A Love Story by debut novelist Robin Mellom will have readers dreaming of love on their own prom nights.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith

pub date: January 2, 2012
publisher: Poppy
pages: 256
source: publisher
appeals: romance, London, divorce, travel, family
content: clean

Really fun book. I love teen books that involve travel and love. So this was a perfect book for me.

I liked Hadley. She's going to her father's marriage and she's angry and bitter and I totally would have been, too. Even in such a short time as a day, she grows as a character and her view of her world changes. And I love that.  

I also liked Oliver. First, the name. Isn't Oliver such a cool name? Love it. Also, his accent. How I wish I could've heard it instead of read it. He was also sweet and funny and gentlemanly (most of the time). And he can draw ducks, which would make any woman swoon.

Hadley and Oliver's relationship developed very nicely and believabley. It was cute and sweet, but it also delved a lot deeper than just surface stuff. Only half of the book took place on the plane, the other half was on land while they were both in London, and that was a lot of fun, too.

I wanted more. I liked Hadley and Oliver, and I just wanted more. The book felt really short.

I must say that it was a little jarring because the bulk of the book was written in present tense, with interspersed memories in past tense. I find present tense jarring anyway, but when I was reading a memory I got used to past, then all the sudden it was in present. Didn't effect my opinion of the book, still enjoyed it, but I would've liked if it had been all past instead. Just not a fan of present tense in general.

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

review: Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

pub date: August 2, 2011
publisher: HarperTeen
pages: 288
appeals: Mr Darcy!, Austen read-a-like, romance, high school, family
content: some swearing

I don't think I'll ever get tired of Pride and Prejudice retellings. This one was fun. So much fun. And LaZebnik didn't stick exactly to the story, as so many others do. She gave herself wiggle room in the plot which made it that much more fun.

Her mother is unbareably embarrassing, her father is very nonparental. Her elder sister is sweet, and her younger sister out of control. And then Derek (aka Darcy) is very much a grouch, but a very sweet one.

Of course I loved the development of the romance. After I finished the book I had to go back and reread the best parts. A true sign of an enjoyable book.

Overall, a fun, light-hearted, sweet, and romantic teen romance. I recommend.

Will Elise’s love life be an epic win or an epic fail?

At Coral Tree Prep in Los Angeles, who your parents are can make or break you. Case in point:

As the son of Hollywood royalty, Derek Edwards is pretty much prince of the school—not that he deigns to acknowledge many of his loyal subjects.

As the daughter of the new principal, Elise Benton isn’t exactly on everyone’s must-sit-next-to-at-lunch list.

When Elise’s beautiful sister catches the eye of the prince’s best friend, Elise gets to spend a lot of time with Derek, making her the envy of every girl on campus. Except she refuses to fall for any of his rare smiles and instead warms up to his enemy, the surprisingly charming social outcast Webster Grant. But in this hilarious tale of fitting in and flirting, not all snubs are undeserved, not all celebrity brats are bratty, and pride and prejudice can get in the way of true love for only so long.

Friday, December 9, 2011

review: Bright Young Thing by Anna Godbersen

pub date: October 12, 2010
publisher: HarperCollins
pages: 389
appeals: speakeasies, historical, flappers, romance, friendship
content: Cordelia sleeps with a few boys, but nothing is described. Some violence.

I picked this book up at a librarian conference I attended last year and meant to read it since then, but it was a promise to review this book for a coworker that finally got me to pick it up. And to keep picking it up, each time I put it down. Every time I put the book down, I didn't want to pick it back up. It took me almost two weeks to get through the almost 400 pages, and it felt like so much longer. The story didn't compel me to keep reading.

In short, it's about three girls who are more worried about their clothes and cars then they are about morals. And the adults in the book aren't much better.

I was giving a quick synopsis of the book to a friend and as I was talking I realized not much did happen, actually. Especially Astrid's part of the story. What actually did she do besides go back and forth between Charlie and her mother? Nothing. In response to my summarizing, my friend said, "Are you sure it isn't called 'Dumb Young Things?'" I thought that was pretty funny. Harsh, I know, but it just wasn't all that appealing for me.

So overall, not my kind of book.

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star…

Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

review: Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

pub date: December 27, 2011
publisher: EgmontUSA 
pages: 352
source: NetGalley
format: digital
appeals: vampires
content: a lot of good stuff

Loved it!

I wasn't sure about this book when I first read the summary. I thought it sounded somewhat interesting, but mostly odd. I'm not sure why I decided to request it from NetGalley, except that I enjoy Jennifer Lynn Barnes' other novels.

Whatever the reason behind requesting the book, I was amazed just how wonderful this book was. I loved it!

I definitely wasn't wrong about the oddness of the story, but that was one of the things I loved so much. It's odd in the oddest, coolest, funnest way imaginable. It takes place in the alternate existence of our world in 2011 (or there abouts) where all the creatures, and then some, that exist in our imaginations are real. That cool guy Darwin discovered their existence and since then scientists have been fascinated by them. The plot was surprising and oh-so-much fun.

All the characters were great, but I especially loved Kali. Her growth as a "human" and as a "predator" was believable (in the paranormal way such things are believable), and I really cared about what she did and how she did it.

Things I loved:
all the creatures Kali hunts.
interesting people Kali meets in school and outside of school.twists and turns in Kali's story that I was not expecting at all.
world building!
the excitement.
Kali's romantic entanglement.

I usually dislike romance in books where the relationship is instant. I want development! The (slight) romance in this novel was quick, but it was so artfully done. Even though their attraction went deep fast, it was done in such a way that it was believable and it made sense. And it was fun.

Another book I can't recommend highly enough.

Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.

And then every day in between . . .She's something else entirely.

Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

When Kali notices a mark on the lower back of a popular girl at school, she knows instantly that the girl is marked for death by one of these creatures. Kali has twenty-four hours to save her and, unfortunately, she'll have to do it as a human. With the help of a few new friends, Kali takes a risk that her human body might not survive. . .and learns the secrets of her mysterious condition in the process

Friday, December 2, 2011

review: Reckless by Cornelia Funke

pub date: September 14, 2010
publisher: Little Brown Books 
appeals: fairy tales, adventure, family
content: some violence and a lot of harsh stuff happens to the protagonists

I listened to this book immediately after reading Cloaked by Alex Flinn. Both books have many fairy tales meshed into one story. Both have contemporary characters dealing with fantasy creatures that they didn't know existed. And yet these two books were completely different in their execution. I just found the juxstiposion interesting in reading them back to back.

Anyway, I enjoyed this book. I picked it up for the first time last summer (I had an ARC from ALA), but didn't get past the second chapter. At the time, I just wasn't interested. I decided to give it another shot and I'm really glad I did because it was so interesting!

Funke is great at creating these alternate worlds where her everyday, modern characters escape to or have to deal with. The Mirrorworld is so cool! I loved how she revealed things about the world as the story went along. The characters are so original and interesting. The adventure is very exciting.


Funke is not a very happy writer. There is always great loss to the main character, horrible sacrifice, and her endings don't end very happy. This book had a somewhat happy ending, the ties were mostly all tied, but it was still somber and sad in several instances. I cannot pick up the next in the series because I know that though the situation these characters are left in isn't the best, it will only get worse in the next installment. And I would rather leave them where they are now then have to watch them go through worse.

For years, Jacob Reckless has enjoyed the Mirrorworld’s secrets and treasures.

Not anymore.

His younger brother has followed him.

Now dark magic will turn the boy to beast, break the heart of the girl he loves, and destroy everything Jacob holds most dear. . . .

Unless he can find a way to stop it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

review: Cloaked by Alex Flinn

pub date: February 8, 2011
publisher: HarperCollins
pages: 342
source: library
appeals: fairy tale retelling, contemporary, romance, male protagonist,
content: none that I remember

This is only the second book I've ready by Alex Flinn, the first being Beastly, and that was many years ago. I remember enjoying Beastly, so I had hopes for this one. Hopes that were not realized.

I think Flinn does a good job of taking fairy tales and updating them to our modern times. It's great world building and entertaining. In Cloaked, I thought all of the fairy tales she brought in to this one story were fun and I enjoyed how they all entertwined.

However, I kind of thought seventeen-year-old Johnny was an idiot. Sorry, kind of harsh, but I really started to dislike him A LOT by the middle of the book. He lied, he stole, he was extremely dim-witted, and not a hero at all. He did such stupid things and got in such lame situations because of stupid decisions, that I had a hard time liking him, or even rooting for him to come out on top. I saw the consequences of his choices LOOOOONG before he did, as well as how to get out of situations he got himself into when he didn't, and it was annoying. I kept thinking, "this is who the princess chose to help her? She's just as dumb as he is." He was also extremely shallow.

At the end when they were praising how honest and upright Johnny was, I had to laugh. If that is the definition of honest and upright then the world is in a lot of trouble.

Overall, not a recommend.

I'm not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.

It all started with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.

There wasn't a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I've ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.

Don't believe me? I didn't believe it either. But you'll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.