"I spent my life folded between the pages of books." -Tahereh Mafi

Some of my reviews are normal non-spoilery reviews. But some of reviews contain lots and lots of spoilers to help you (and me!) remember what happened when the next book in the series finally comes out. Both review types are clearly marked.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Rite of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 4/5 stars

This was a refreshingly original dystopian. At first it seemed similar to others (in the beginning it reminded me of The Selection, Delirium, and Matched), but it quickly diverged and took its own path. I've gotten pretty good at figuring out the plots of YA novels, but this one had me guessing. Not that the plot was shocking, but it was relatively original. Rebecca is looking forward to her Acceptance ceremony and the ball that follows after she's been accepted into society. At the Acceptance ceremony, everyone goes through the Machine, which tells who will become criminals. Those people are removed from society and put in a prison camp. Of course Rebecca unexpectedly is deemed by the Machine to be a criminal. She's sent to the PIT, where the real story starts. 

There's some romance, but it's not quite the focus of the book the way I expected it would be. And the ending!! Ugh! Such a cliffhanger! I wanted to read the next book anyway, but now I can't wait!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Anomaly by Tonya Kuper

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 3/5 stars

This book had a unique, interesting premise. It's hard to find an original paranormal book anymore. Well, the paranormal ability is rather unique, but the plot isn't so much. It's not bad at all, but it follows the typical plot of random girl finds out she has special powers and that omg, she's like the best at the special powers and now she has to save everyone! 

Cute love interest, but nothing super swoon-worthy. This book is told mostly from Josie's POV, but also occasionally from Reid's POV. I think it would have been better if it had been all from Josie's POV. Reid is sweet, but his narrative doesn't add a whole lot.

The most annoying thing about this book for me is how Josie's nerdiness is played up so much. 
It had to be what it felt like to be zapped by Loki's specter.
My rib cage rattled as if my heard was demonstrating Newton's Law of Inertia.
My chest hurt, like the Hulk had my torso in a death squeeze.
And I latched onto that one morsel of good news like Thor's hammer, Mjolnir.
So I'd hopped in my car, my personal version of an X-wing, like when Anakin first embarked on his new life to train as a Jedi.
The weight of obligation settled on my shoulders with the force of a landing Y-wing.
All of this, only halfway through the book!! And don't even get me started on the number of times she says "thank Thor" or "by the USS Enterprise" or "dear Star Lord" or "thank the moon of Endor" or -- okay, I need to stop there before I end up rating this any lower. I get it, she's a geek. I'm a geek and I do not talk like this. I know lots and lots of geeks (it's pretty much a requirement for being my friend) and I don't know anyone who talks like this. It's just annoying. Once I was able to ignore that, this was an enjoyable book. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 4/5 stars

I liked this a lot more than I expected to - I normally don't read nonfiction for fun, but this read a lot like fiction. As a backpacker, I alternately laughed and cringed at how poorly prepared she was. 
What is hiking but walking, after all? I can walk! I'd argued when Paul had expressed his concern about my never actually having gone backpacking. I walked all the time. I walked for hours on end in my work as a waitress. I walked around the cities I lived in and visited. I walked for pleasure and purpose. All of these things were true. But after about fifteen minutes of walking on the PCT, it was clear that I had never walked into desert mountains in early June with a pack that weighed significantly more than half of what I did strapped onto my back.
As a waitress and a hiker, I can definitively say that hiking and walking at work are not the same thing! As I'm preparing for a 230 mile trip in the Spring, I keep telling myself that if this idiot could do 19 mile days, then I can too!

Lots of people don't like this book because the author did some awful things in her life - she cheated on her husband and used drugs. But I totally identified with her. I lost my mom at 29 and did some awful things as I worked through my grief. Luckily, I wasn't quite as horrible as her, but I understand how grief can make you self-destructive. But I also understand not liking a book because you don't like the main character - there's lots of books I don't like for that reason! But if you'e ever dealt with major grief, I think you'll get this book. This book is less about the trail and more about her finally working through her grief in a more productive way. 

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

This review is spoiler free!!!

My rating: 4/5 stars

Liz Emerson is an awful person. She's a bully. She bosses her friends around. She destroys people's lives just because she can. But the thing about Liz is that she knows she's an awful person and she hates herself for it. She hates herself so much that she attempts to kill herself. At first, I had a hard time caring if she died because she's so awful. But the further we got into her story, the more I identified with her. I'm not nearly as awful as Liz, but I've done bad things to people I care about and hated myself deeply afterward. So I was able to slightly understand Liz and empathize with her. She's not the kind of main character that you'll ever like, but at the end, I was rooting for her at least.

This book is told from the viewpoint of an unconventional narrator. But this narrator can be anywhere and see everything, so it isn't all that different from 3rd person. It was unique though. There's also a lot of time jumps - the book opens moments after the car crash and then jumps back months, then forward, then back - but not at predictable intervals. It can be a little difficult to keep up with, but it kept it more interesting than if it was told in a linear fashion. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Earth & Sky by Megan Crewe

This review is spoiler free!! 

My rating: 4/5 stars

This was a fun book about time travel. Time travel can get confusing and messy and just plain weird, but I think Megan Crewe handled it well. Her time travel rules made sense (as much as time travel can) and were pretty consistent. This book is lots of fun if you like history (I do!). They travel to several different times in the past.

I really liked the main character, Skylar. She's a bit OCD, but it just made her more real to me. She's not perfect. She's been able to sense the "wrongness" of changes that the aliens have made to our timeline. Win, one of the aliens, wants her help to find a weapon that can destroy the time field so that the aliens can't mess with Earth anymore. And (finally!!), a character in a young adult book reacts appropriately to being stalked by someone (no matter how cute he is!):

"I just want to talk to you. I'm sorry if I scared you earlier." He spreads his arms, I guess to show that his hands are empty. If the gesture was meant to reassure me, it's wasted. 
"You're scaring me now," I say. How did he know I'd be here? He must have been lurking around the school after practice and followed me. What does he want? 
My hand tightens around the phone. If you don't get out of here, I'm dialing 9-1-1. It'll only take a second."
Eventually, Skylar agrees to help Win, but it requires a lot of convincing and proof. 

The bonus about this book is that even though it's the beginning of a series, you could read it as a standalone. There's no crazy cliffhangers and while it's still open for more story (and I'm certainly going to read the next book), this book has a satisfying end.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bottled Up Secret by Brian McNamara

This review is spoiler free!!!

My rating: 3/5 stars

This was a sweet little book about first love. Like so many other ya lgbt books, the main conflict in the book is because one of the boys is (mostly) out, while the other is terrified of people finding out. I know that's a pretty common problem for gay teens, but I've read quite a few books like that already this year, so it's getting a bit old for me.

The main character Brendan is pretty lame - he doesn't drink, smoke, barely swears, and he's still a virgin and plans on staying that way. But I have to admit, he reminded me a lot of my high school self. Seriously, my reasoning for not drinking was exactly the same - it kills brain cells and I wanted to be as smart as possible! lol  

The book was written mostly as a rundown/recap of events, without really going into enough on the feeling behind the event. This seems to be a common new author thing. It's not exactly poorly written - it's just not quite well written. 

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

This review contains lots and lots of spoilers!!

This book opens with Cassie, Zombie/Ben and crew taking refuge at an abandoned hotel where they were supposed to meet Evan. Everyone pretty much assumes that Evan is dead, but Cassie won't give up hope. Ben sends Ringer off to look into another spot for them to hole up because winter is coming and they'll need better shelter. 

This book is also told from Ringer's POV (which is awesome because Ringer rocks). Teacup follows Ringer, but Ringer accidentally shoots her. Sad. And then they're discovered by the alien military people. Ringer could leave Teacup alone, but she decides to be caught too so Teacup doesn't have to face it alone. They put Ringer through all sorts of brainwashing, but she still doesn't give in. Eventually they implant her with the "hub," which augments her immune system and makes her even more badass. She develops feelings for the human military guy who's watching her - Razor/Alex. He helps her escape. But then he betrays her! *gasp* He was on Vosch's side the whole time - Vosch wanted to test the hub and her "escape" was the perfect way to do that. But maybe he's not totally on Vosch's side. He's left alone to guard her and tells her to run. She says she won't as long as Vosch has Teacup. When they get back to base, Razor shoots Teacup so she won't have any reason not to run. And she runs. 

Evan obviously is still alive. He runs into Grace, another alien like him. She beats him up pretty bad, but he escapes, although his super immune system has crashed. And meets up with Cassie and crew. But Grace follows. And the aliens find them. Instead of destroying them though, they deliver a little girl to them. Evan says she's been implanted with a bomb that will detonate when it comes into contact with CO2. That's the aliens new plan - send in children bombs that will detonate when they're in close contact with multiple humans. They're able to get the bomb out of the girl, but then Grace shows up. Evan tells them all to leave. They do, but Poundcake, who's been shot, goes back and detonates the bomb. Grace is probably killed, but Evan might be too! Except, at the very end, we're pretty sure that he finds Cassie et al. 

The big bombshell that Ringer finds out is that the aliens aren't actually aliens. They don't have alien consciousnesses downloaded into them. They had something implanted that made them think they did! OMG  But Vosch is something else. Is he an alien?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

First of all, let me apologize for not posting a lot lately. I had this annoying respiratory virus for like two weeks. It was bad enough that I didn't even want to read! *gasp* But I'm feeling relatively healthy now! :)

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 3/5 stars

So I pretty much loved the beginning of this book because I just loved Charlie so much. I mean, he's just so perfectly geeky. 

Results from my personal experimentation in this realm would suggest pop culture is stupid. Or it could be that my methodology is flawed. When an experiment's results are unexpected, the scientist must go back and look at the methods to determine the point at which an error occurred. I'm pretty sure I'm the error in each failed attempt at getting a girl's attention. Scientifically, I should have removed myself from the equation, but instead, I kept changing the girl.

I'm a sucker for methodology talk. :) Sure, not very realistic, but I still love it. I started this book for a nice, light, fun, contemporary read. And the first half was. And then it took a serious turn. And it just didn't seem to fit this book. Some books should just stay light. It was hard for me to really feel the emotions that I know I was supposed to feel. I'm not going to go what exactly changed because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone.

Regardless, decent book. Adorable main character. And lots of people might like the second half a lot more than I did. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My True Love Gave to Me

This book is a collection of Christmas love stories by an awesome group of ya writers. Obviously, with any collection, some stories will be better than others, but the majority of these were really enjoyable.

Rainbow Rowell's story was just adorable. Of course. Because everything she writes is adorable. It was about 2 best friends falling in love over the course of several New Year's Eves.

Kelly Link's story was okay, although anything will be just okay coming after Rainbow. It's slightly paranormal and has insta-love.

Matt de la Pena's story was great. Shy is on full scholarship to NYU and not going home to CA for xmas because he can't afford the ticket. He's cat/apartment-sitting for his boss over break during a huge blizzard. He meets a cute rich girl who lives in the same apartment complex. They get to know each other and it's really sweet.

Jenny Han's story is just...weird. Natty (short for Natalie) was adopted by Santa as a baby. Now she's a teenager with a crush on an elf, but elves only date other elves. Natty is whiny and annoying and I finished the story wondering what the point of it was.

Stephanie Perkins' story was very cute. I usually like her books, but at least one character bugs the crap out of me. But I actually liked the characters in this one. Even though it was short, it still felt well-developed.

David Levithan's was sweet, but just so damn short. A boy dresses up as Santa so his new-ish boyfriend's little sister keeps believing. It was like the middle of a story and I wanted to know the beginning and the end too. The little bit we got just wasn't enough.

Holly Black's was okay, but it was a little too strange for me.

I liked Gayle Forman's story - about a Jewish city girl who goes to a college in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest. She feels like an outsider, but then randomly finds a kindred spirit. I didn't like how unrealistic the portrayal of Midwesterners was - a lot of us know about Judaism, we don't usually wear Christmas sweaters (okay, a lot of older people do, but not teenagers!), and I've never heard of putting cheese on pie! There are some Midwesterners who are like that, but not a whole college's worth. But besides that, it was a good read.

I did not like Myra McEntire's story mostly because I really didn't like the main character (a guy who always screws up, bummed because he has to do community service and cancel his trip to Florida because he 'accidentally' set fire to a church's shed). But beyond that, it was also pretty boring.

Kiersten White's story was sweet - about a girl learning to love her life and her town.

Ally Carter's story was good enough. A girl makes a split decision to switch plan tickets with another girl.

Laini Taylor's story was awesome. It was beautifully written and very original.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 3/5 stars

This book was an important look at bullying. Ashley is bullied by almost everyone at school. Her best friend Matt is usually able to offer a refuge, but even he doesn't believe her half the time. Her mom is awful and just wants Ashley to be "normal." There's a bit of a paranormal aspect to this book: Ashley sees a future version of herself in the mirror. This Older Ashley offers her guidance so that the younger Ashley's life doesn't turn out the same. 

I was really looking forward to this book, but it just kinda fell flat. I know that Ashley was going through a lot of emotional stuff, but I just didn't feel all that much emotion from her. 

But there just aren't enough books that address bullying as well as this book does. So I'd definitely still recommend it, especially for anyone that happens to be going through this type of thing.

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 5/5 stars

This was awesome! Sarah was an awesome heroine and part of me wishes this was a series so I could read more about her! (but standalones are so rare that I'm happy when I see one!)

In the beginning the premise reminded me a lot of Slated - a young female criminal is stripped of her memories in order to reform her. But this book went in a very different (and better) direction than Slated. Sarah has had her memories stripped and is still at the experimental hospital. And then soldiers come, shooting people. They're looking for someone - her! (obviously)

This book is action-packed! And it's very well-written action, which is pretty rare. There's also lots of twists, which were fun to try to figure out. And there was just enough romance - it wasn't the focus, but it was a nice complement to the story. And this sweet line: 

"Listen, I know all about you," he says. "You just meet me." "Maybe, but I still know something special when I see it."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 5/5 stars

I thought this would just be some fluffy ya contemporary. Holy fuck was I wrong! This book was so much better than I expected. So much more powerful and emotional. This book deals with so many issues. Popularity, bigotry, abuse. And it still manages to be mostly funny because Anika is funny. 

Anika is the third most popular girl at school. Her best friend Shelli is second most popular and her frenemy Becky is the most popular girl. Becky is a bitch. She's a bully just because she can be. Why would Anika and Shelli stay friends with her? Well, because if they're friends with her, they're not the ones getting bullied. 
"Look, if we cross Becky, forget it. She'll turn on us and it'll be, like, vicious. You know it will. It'll be like two seconds before I'm a total prostitute and you're like . . . the n-word."  
" The n-word?"
"Yup, the n-word. And she'll, like, add something. Like she'll call you a . . . a vampire n-word." 
See, the reason Anika can never be most popular is because she's half-Romanian. And the reason Shelli can't be is because she's a slut. 

On the first day of school, nerd Logan comes back with a hot new look. Anika is intrigued, but he's still a nerd. They end up kind of seeing each other, but no one can know or Becky would kill her. And then enter the popular guy, who Anika doesn't like as much as Logan, but who would ensure her popularity and safety from Becky. The plot seems predictable, but it's really not. I'm not going to give anything away, but I did not see the end coming. It just hit me with bunches of feels out of nowhere!!

I admit that I got a little freaked out in the beginning when Anika referred to Shelli as a slut. I hate slut-shaming. But there's really not any shaming. Anika and Shelli's friendship was awesome. They truly care for each other and support each other.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Liebster Award!!

Thanks to Benni at Benni's Book Biters, I have been nominated for a Liebster Award, a fun way to discover new blogs and connect with other bloggers.

The Liebster rules are thus:
  • Link and thank those who nominated you.
  • Answer the 11 questions posed to you.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers with fewer than 200 followers and ask them 11 questions. (I'm only nominating 7 because I didn't want to re-nominate people)
  • Inform them of nomination by commenting on one of their posts.

Questions Answered

Here are my answers to the 11 questions asked.

1. If you had to live in a book universe, which book’s universe would it be?

I read lots of dystopian and post-apocalyptic, so I definitely would not want to live in my favorite books!!
I would love to live in Wide Awake by David Levithan. It's a future America that's gotten through all the tough stuff that usually turns a society into a dystopian, but instead, this society has gotten better. Gay people are totally accepted (one's just been elected President!), people shop at malls and then donate all the money to charities. Totally a world I would want to live in!

2. Which two book characters would you choose to fight over your heart?

Warner from Shatter Me and Augustus from TFIOS. 
Warner is my ultimate book boyfriend. I mean, how can you not be in love with him?? There's this:
"I want want to be the friend you fall hopelessly in love with. The one you take into your arms and into your bed and into the private world you keep trapped in your head. I want to be that kind of friend. The one who will memorize the things you say as well as the shape of your lips when you say them. I want to know every curve, every freckle, every shiver of your body. I want to know where to touch you. I want to know how to touch you. I want to convince you to design a smile just for me. Yes, I do want to be your friend. I want to be your best friend in the entire world."

Warner. Swoon.
And Gus. Well, Gus is just so damn sweet. And pretentious, which I kinda find adorable.

Of course, Warner would probably kill Gus and that would be sad. But that's part of the danger of falling in love with a murderer. 

3. Which book character would you choose as your best friend?

Kenji from Shatter Me!! 
He's hilarious, supportive, and honest. He never hesitates to tell Juliette the truth, even when she doesn't want to hear it.

4. What would you choose as your one superpower?

My favorite TV show of all time is Stargate SG-1. If you've never watched it, you should. Like immediately. It's awesome. In one episode, the team get these bracelets that give them super-speed and super-strength. The whole team is excited because with this extra power they'll be able to defeat the Goa'uld (the bad aliens). And Dr. Daniel Jackson is just so incredibly excited because this means he can read really fast.

So yeah, that's what I would choose. Dr. Jackson can read super fast and Major Carter is able to write a physics book in a couple hours. Who wouldn't want that superpower??

5. Is there an upcoming title/ARC that you want to read so badly you’d gladly embarrass yourself to get a copy now? What book, and how would you be willing to embarrass yourself?

There's several books I'm dying to come out. Like Dead of WinterThe Retribution of Mara DyerWinterThe Ruby Circle, and whatever the next Immortals After Dark book will be.

But embarrass myself to get it? Um... I think I can just wait patiently! lol

6. Would you name your children after your favorite book characters? If so, please divulge—at least one name for a girl, and one for a boy.

I don't think so. I don't want a name that too pop culture. Although I might do something a little less mainstream, like Eowyn (from LOTR). 

7. If you were forced to burn a book, which book would it be?

Burning a book?? I don't know if I could!! 

8. What book character would you bring back from the dead?

Spoiler if you haven't read Allegiant!!!!

Tris. I was sad for weeks after reading her death. My favorite books are my favorites because I can totally connect with the main character. And I totally connected with Tris. And then she dies. :(

9. What are your book faction allegiances? (E.g., Gryffindor, House Stark, Dauntless)

I know they were the enemy in the Divergent series, but I'd totally be Erudite. Getting to learn things all day?!?! Sign me up!!!

10. What book do you wish you wrote?

Well I don't write fiction. I am, however, finishing up my PhD in Political Science. I can only hope to write something as influential as The American Voter or Who Governs.

11. What has been your all-time most viewed blog post?

My very spoilery review/recap of Insurgent

My Nominees

  1. Lauren @ A Blonde Librarian
  2. Naban @ The Literary Oracle
  3. Lina @ bibliophilic geek
  4. czai @ The Blacksheep Project
  5. Jessica @ The Psychotic Nerd
  6. Ashley @ Books To The Tea
  7. Britnee @ Brittnee Bryan

My Eleven Questions

Finally, here are my 11 questions for my 11 nominees:
  1. What three books would you bring to a deserted island with you?

  2. What's your favorite genre?
  3. What’s your least favorite genre?

  4. Do you judge a book by its cover?

  5. What is your favorite time of day to read?

  6. Have you ever visited a book con or a book signing?

  7. Do you ever write in a book?

  8. Paperback or hardback or e-book?

  9. Buy books or library?
  10. Do you have a favorite villain?
  11. Who is your favorite book character and why?

Please comment below and link to your answers when you’re done! Would love to see them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

California by Edan Lepucki

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 2/5 stars

This book was difficult for me. I considered quitting a couple times. This book takes place in what is basically a post-apocalyptic America. When things started getting really bad, Cal and Frida left LA and made their home in the wilderness. They've been making a decent life for a couple years, but then Frida becomes pregnant and wants to find something better.

Bottom line: I hated Frida. Just hated her. She was such a worthless person. She suspects she's pregnant and yet still takes Vicodin when its offered because the apocalypse is depressing and she wants to escape. Seriously?? Could she be a shittier person? She tries to act like she's this enlightened, independent woman (by not taking her husband's last name or by complaining about how sexist the division of labor is in the apocalypse), but then she spouts shit like this:
Even when things got difficult between them, doing Cal's laundry made Frida feel a love so tender she could weep.
WTF? I love my husband and I occasionally do his laundry (we take turns like any good little feminist family), but I generally don't think about how much I love him while washing his damn clothes. My thoughts are usually more along the lines of "omg, am I done yet?" or "god, this sucks" or "seriously, everyone in this laundromat is fucking weird." And then there's stuff like this:
That first summer, a porcupine had walked into her path, quills up, and Frida sucked in her breath and turned around, ran back to the shed crying like a kid. She imagined coming upon a bigger, more dangerous animal, being eaten alive. 
Seriously, could Frida be more annoying? Oh yes, she actually can be! Instead of growing, she just gets worse as the book progresses. Often female characters aren't physically strong, but they're emotionally strong. Frida is neither. She's totally worthless. Why does Cal love her? Seriously, I have no idea. I spent the whole book trying to figure it out because Cal is a pretty decent guy.

Frida and Cal's relationship is strange. Sometimes they're depicted as being totally in love, but then other times they seem miserable. They constantly lie and keep things from each other. I imagine if it wasn't the apocalypse, they would have been divorced pretty early on. Mostly because Frida is not emotionally mature enough for a successful marriage.

The flashbacks in this book are really scattered and there were just too many of them. I'm fine with flashing back to the past - it's usually necessary in dystopians - but this was extreme. The first quarter of the book is basically Cal and Frida doing basic chores while thinking about past events. And just when you think something would actually happen, there's another flashback.

That being said, I actually did like the world building. And eventually some interesting things happen. But I'm not sure all of that was worth putting up with Frida.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Playing with Matches by Suri Rosen

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 3/5 stars

This book was cute. It was very rooted in Jewish culture which was interesting. Even though there's lots of matchmaking, the main character doesn't have to bother with her own love interest. It's kind of refreshing to read a ya book that's not all about the MC hooking up with a guy (not that I don't like that too! But this is a nice change!).

There's some strange word play at times, which I actually kind of enjoyed. But I doubt everyone will. Example:
Thanks to the internet, we swam the waters of bridal magazines, wedding gowns, and floral arrangements like pros - we were like the sockeye salmon of wedding planning. 
Huh? Weird, but I like it.

My only real problems with this book are that most of the characters are unlikable and that everyone is so desperate and obsessed with getting married! I know, what else did I expect from a book about matchmaking? I just have a hard time understanding why being single at 28 is that big of a deal. I know it is for some people though. And apparently it is in the Jewish community.

I honestly didn't really like Raina. She's obsessed with the Red Sox. I guess it's supposed to give her personality or something, but she will just not shut up about the damn Red Sox. I know some pretty hardcore Cardinals fans, but none of them talk about it as much as she talks about the Red Sox. Too much!! She also constantly criticizes the appearance of all other women. Everyone. The popular girl at school, the random woman on the bus, the nerdy girl at school, the teachers, the principal. And she's generally not nice to people, unless she's making a match.

The rest of her family is pretty awful too. Her sister blames her for breaking up her engagement to a total douche. He broke off the engagement because Raina got kicked out of school and he decided he didn't want to be a part of her family because of it. Seriously? If I was engaged to a dude who said that about my little sister, I would have been glad to see him go! What a douche!

Overall it's cute, but I spent a lot of my time angry at most of the characters.

link to Goodreads

Sunday, September 7, 2014

After the End by Demitria Lunetta

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 3/5 stars

I liked this book, despite the plot holes and the half-hearted love triangle. First problem: There was almost no recap of the previous book, which made things a bit difficult for me to follow at first. Things came back to me eventually, but it would have been nice to have a little more of a recap of the first book.

The good: I love Amy! I love how much ass she can kick and I love how compassionate and rational she is. She doesn't get easily distracted by cute guys like most ya heroines. Although she does occasionally make some questionable choices (like walking into a compound that obviously treats women like property or running around alone while she knows a brutal man is after her.), but what ya heroine doesn't??

I won't go much into the plot holes at the end because spoilers! But towards the end a couple things happen that just don't really make sense and seem to happen only because it's plot convenient or more interesting. But this book was enjoyable enough that I mostly found myself ignoring these plot holes so I could keep enjoying it!

The end was also really rushed, which I've been seeing a lot lately. Everything shouldn't be able to be fixed in two pages. It's like authors get tired and just want to wrap it all up as fast as possible!

link to Goodreads

Monday, September 1, 2014

Everything Changes by Samantha Hale

This review is spoiler free!!!

My rating: 3/5 stars

This was a cute little coming-out/first love story. It wasn't very original - girl meets girl, starts to question her sexuality, starts dating girl, girlfriend wants her to come out, girl is afraid of what her friends will think. But despite its unoriginality, it was still cute and enjoyable.

My one issue with the book comes after when a boy kisses Raven at a party. Morgan gets upset and assumes that Raven was doing something to lead him on. It is not a girl's fault if a guy kisses her without consent. She was talking to him, which everyone in the book believes is her leading him on. Uh, I have friends that are men that I talk to for long periods of time and they don't try to kiss me. Talking is not flirting and is not an invitation for a kiss.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

This review is spoiler free!!! 

My rating: 4/5 stars

Not a Drop to Drink was a great book, so I was excited to see a sequel. But I was also a bit apprehensive because it hadn't really left much for a sequel. My fears were unnecessary - this book was a completely new story.

It is probably not necessary to read Not a Drop to Drink first, but you should, because it's a good book. But be warned - the rest of this review does contain some spoilers for Not a Drop to Drink.

This book takes place about 10 or so years after Not a Drop to Drink. Lucy is a teenager and has been raised by Lynn after her own mom dies. Lucy, Lynn, Vera, and Stebbs have created a little town that functions pretty well. Lucy's starting to fall for her friend Carter when people start getting sick. It's polio and since no one (but Vera and Stebbs) has been vaccinated, it spreads quickly. Vera figures out that either Lucy or Carter are the carriers and they are both banished from the town. Lynn's not about to let Lucy wander off into the world without her. Eli once told Lynn that he heard that California has operational desalinization plants and so they head off to California. From Ohio. On foot.  

So obviously they run into a bit of danger. It's pretty common in post-apocalyptic books for characters to travel across the country on some kind of mission, running into all sorts of trouble along the way. And it's so overdone that it often gets really boring. This one isn't. They run into people that they have to decide whether to trust or not. They run into really nice people and they run into total weirdos. And a lot of the time they're just alone. 

The best thing about the book is the mother/daughter relationship between Lynn and Lucy. Lynn isn't Lucy's biological mom, but she's raised her since she was pretty young. It's so obvious that they care deeply for one another. Lucy hasn't grown up to be a clone of Lynn. And motherhood hasn't softened Lynn much at all. They are both strong women, but they are strong in their own, different ways. Lynn is the typical badass, but Lucy has an emotional strength that Lynn doesn't.

The end was a little abrupt. I would have liked to see a bit more about how they are doing or maybe a longer epilogue.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Young World by Chris Weitz

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 5/5 stars

How could you not love a book with a line like this?
I hose down Babies R Us with the .50 cal.

This book is told in alternating POV between Donna and Jefferson. It's been about 2 years since all adults and small children died from The Sickness. The remaining teens in NYC are getting by as best they can - most have banded together into small groups. One of the members of Donna and Jefferson's group wants to go in search of information that he believes could lead to a cure. A crazy adventure ensues.

Both Jefferson and Donna are really likable and relatable characters. Jefferson's this calm scholar type and Donna's just an adorable badass.
I inquire after his reasoning, diplomatically."So what the fuck was that, dude?" 
Yes, very diplomatic! lol  They're very different from each other which makes their relationship awesome and also makes their narration styles very distinctive (you'll never be confused as to whose chapter you're reading!).
Jefferson and I have been engaged in friendly trench warfare since we were in kindergarten. He's, like, the Guy Who Talks in Complete Sentences. He gives me shit for swearing too much and saying "like" all the time.

I also really liked the writing style - there were bunches of lines that made me snort-laugh.
He bows, then starts intoning a speech like he's wandered in from Game of Thrones.
I do a people check. We've got:
Brainbox (evil genius)
Donna (slightly unhinged girl-power chick)
Peter (gay Christian adrenaline junky)
And me (nerd philosopher king)
Not exactly the Fellowship of the Ring, but not too shabby either, when you think about it. I can't say the selection committee did such a great job at the Council of Elrond.
Four hobbits? Seriously? Out of nine people? I know it all worked out, but - questionable management.
In real life, there are no evil witches, no wise mentors, no fairy godmothers, no evil empires. Everything is shades of gray.
Ugh, I can't believe such a
 useful phrase got hijacked by those fricking books.

There's also a small section that addresses slut shaming that made me so happy. Donna feels threatened by the presence of a new hot girl and is afraid this will ruin her chances with Jefferson. And she's having all these slut-shaming thoughts and has a whole convo with herself about how completely unfair that is. It's the first time I've actually seen slut-shaming so openly addressed and called out in a YA book.

Lots of crazy stuff happens at the end so the next book better get here ASAP or I'm going to freak out!!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner


This review is spoiler free!!

I think I might have enjoyed this book if I didn't hate the main character so much. She is just completely worthless. She's the star of a fashion/beauty vlog. Which means she has to comment on what everyone else is wearing. For example, when her dad takes her to a psychologist: 
She has on ugly black comfortable shows. I instantly think of tweeting a picture of the skirt and the shoes as an example of a fashion DON'T.
Because everyone else must care as much about fashion as she does, right? Or maybe the psychologist has slightly more important shit on her mind?

And she's obsessed with popularity. As everyone should be, amiright? 

It's clear Huntsville High School is like any other high school. There are three main groups. The popular group, the semipopular group, and the want-to-be popular group. Some people might claim there is a fourth group of Goths and all the self-styled freaks who don't care about high school high society, but I lump them in with the want-to-bes. I mean, black lipstick and all that eyeliner? It's about attention, and that's really what being popular is anyway, right?
Uh, as one of the "self-styled freaks" in high school, I can definitely attest to the fact that there are some people in high school who simply do not give a fuck about being popular! I had a few more important things on my mind, like getting into a good college with a fucking scholarship.

She's so obsessed with popularity that she totally disses the cute, very nice boy who she's interested in, because he's not popular! Gasp! Seriously, why would this guy even like her? She's totally shallow and uninteresting.

I think this book is supposed to be about the main character dealing with the deal of her sister, but she spends more time thinking about how her sister's death is affecting her vlog and her popularity at her new school than actually mourning the death of her sister.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Talented by Sophie Davis


This review is spoiler free!!

This book finally got me out of my dystopian funk!! I love dystopian - it's definitely my favorite genre but for the past month I've just felt meh about every dystopian I've picked up until I just stopped picking them up. But this one was sitting in my "currently reading" shelf for too long so I had to give it a go. And it was really good! Like so good that I had to immediately buy the rest of the series the second I finished this.

Okay, so first, the bad: This book is pretty cliched. There's all the common plot points: a super special girl (who even has purple eyes because of course); the parents who were murdered when she was young; the perfect boyfriend who she's known forever; the super hot guy who she feels a spark with; the evil government that might not be so evil after all; and the good government that might not be so good after all.  It's all there. But somehow, I just didn't mind. The story was still just so damn enjoyable!

So the world got pretty messed up by some big nuclear thing and as a result, a bunch of people now have "Talents," which basically means they have superpowers. There's a bunch of different types and she details each. Talia can manipulate people's minds and also has telekinsis and telepathy. She's super powerful. She's in her last year at school which means she's assigned to a Hunting team on a trial basis. If she does good, she's in. She has to become a Hunter so that she can get revenge on the guy who killed her parents - well, the guy who ordered it at least - the leader of the rebel government. The rebel government doesn't trust Talents and is against mandotory testing of children to determine who might be Talented. 

I really liked Talia. Sure, she's super powerful and "special," but she's also relatable. She has the same emotions as any other girl and that's what really made this book so great. It's less about the dystopian world and more about her growing up, dealing with betrayal, trying to figure out the kind of person she wants to be. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

This review is spoiler free!!

Ever since I finished the Shiver trilogy ages ago, I wanted more Cole and more Isabel. I never thought it would actually happen!! Cole is so delightfully crazy/quirky/neurotic. And Isabel is just so perfectly bitchy. 

I love Cole, but I loooove Isabel! Seriously, she's so awesome:

I didn't want to feel like I was the only person in the world who hated people.

Sofia began to cry which was exactly why I generally tried to avoid being a human. 

"Chop-chop," Isabel suggested, her voice so cool that a nearby semitropical plant dropped dead.

Okay, I guess this is the part where I admit that I love her so much because I can totally identify - I tend to be a tad unemotional and people are generally annoying. Anyway, Isabel is the best! 

It is not necessary to know or remember much from the Shiver trilogy. Some things are referenced, but not many specific events. Sam and Grace make brief phone appearances. I think you could read this book without even having read the trilogy.  

While this book is technically paranormal (since Cole is a werewolf), it reads much more like a ya contemporary. Which is exactly what I've been in the mood for lately. It's less about werewolves, and a lot more about how damaged both Cole and Isabel are and whether or not they're too damaged to be together. Cole loves Isabel but he's struggling with his sobriety. Isabel loves Cole, but she's not convinced that love ever lasts. The book is told in alternating POVs, which is done very well - there's no way you'll get confused as to who is narrating a chapter. And it's lovely to see inside both their heads. 

(note: quotes were taken from an arc and may have changed in the final printing)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Half a King

This review is spoiler free!!

This is definitely not my type of book. I decided to read it because Joe Abercrombie is one of my husband's favorite authors and I thought I'd prefer his ya to his adult series. That being said, I actually enjoyed this. I wish the names were easier to pronounce (I know it's silly, but that's one of my major problems with fantasy) and it's a little grittier than I prefer.

But the characters are likable and funny. Even the villains are enjoyable. And there's a lot of character growth, some for the better and some for the worse. And the growth isn't reserved just for the mc - most of the characters are well-developed and grow throughout the book. 

There's a lot of action. Seriously, so much stuff is packed into this book. It's never boring. And it's not predictable. Since I mostly read ya dystopian (which has become incredibly predictable), this was a pleasant surprise.