Thursday, June 30, 2011

"Angel" (Maximum Ride, #7) by James Patterson

Warning. This isn't really a proper review.
My opinions on this book are kind of confused. I'll talk about them.. and you know, the epic Maximum Ride series as whole (even with its flaws).

I love the Maximum Ride series. I've been reading them since the beginning and I REALLY loved the first three books... then along came the fourth book called "The Final Warning". Supposedly, this would be the end. I recall excitedly heading to the book store the day it came out. Upon picking up the book, I was confused. It was small-- first off. I finished it in a day and not simply because I devoured it but also because it was REALLY SHORT. The first three books were pretty long. I was so disappointed. It was short. It seemed like a novel written only to make teens aware of global warming, and in a kind of sneaky way.

Fast forward to Max (#5). I was apprehensive, but picked it up immediately. That was better. Much better. I still didn't feel it was as good as the first three but I was happy and began to feel that Maximum Ride was coming back; the way I remembered it.

And then Fang (#6). Again, happily going to the book store, less apprehensive as I enjoyed MAX. That book took all of my emotions and all of my opinions and ripped them into miniscule pieces. So began the issue of what I'm going to call confused-character-decision-making. In Fang, I felt the characters were all over the place. I don't know if you personally know, but a lot of people, upon finishing Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins said that Gale, Katniss, and many of the other characters just weren't behaving like themselves to the point of it making no sense. It was JUST LIKE THAT. My reactions: WHY? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME JAMES PATTERSON? THIS DOESN"T MAKE ANY SENSE. WHAT IS GOING ON?!? That was in-between all the tears at the end. Which ripped my heart out: Oh my gosh. Like whoa, what is going on *SNIFFLE*.

Now, to Angel. I did not pick up Angel when it came out in February. I didn't like the sound of the summary. I didn't like how Fang left off. I had a feeling I wouldn't like it. Another problem is that it was supposedly "THE END". I don't know if you all know, but apparently now the end is coming out next February. Also, the Maximum Ride books have been advertised as "THE END" since the third book. Yeah. Confused? Me too.
I was in the library the other day and saw Angel. I picked it up. I put it back. I finally decided that I needed to know what happened I wanted to see if it was any better than Fang.

It was better than Fang. It was not as good as the first three. It was better than the Final Warning. I'd probably put it at the same level as Max. I liked it the same way I've liked all the Maximum Ride books; for the breath-taking pace, the action, and Max's narrative which drips with brut honesty, sarcasm, and personality. I did feel that there was more character confusion. I like Dylan more than I liked him before. Really, I would've liked it a lot if it weren't for the character confusion/out-of-character-ness/whatever it's called. That, and there were plot issues because there was really no resolve at the end; and at the same time it didn't really feel like a cliffhanger, along with several other problems.

Supposedly THE END is next February. I'm sure I'll still probably read it. If it's better than this, it'd be quite good! I hope it's the actual end, because the series seems to have been seriously stretched out.

My consensus is that I highly recommend the Maximum Ride series-- just prepare for some turbulence around the 4th, 6th, and the 7th books. And yes, that was a bad, albeit unintentional pun. Turbulence. Flying kids? Yep. Hopefully, all the fans who have stuck with the series even if they weren't a fan of some of the books will be rewarded with an actual, ideally very GOOD ending to the series in February!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Blood Red Road" by Moira Young

"In a lawless future land, where life is cheap and survival is hard, Saba has been brought up in isolated Silverlake. She never sees the dangers of the destructive society outside. When her twin brother is snatched by mysterious black-robed riders, she sets outon an epic quest to rescue him. "-goodreads

If nothing else, Blood Red Road is incredibly unique and unlike anything that I can think of reading before. Fortunately, there's more to it. But, gosh, it's DIFFERENT. The inside of the jacket flap calls Moira Young's writing style 'poetic... minimal'. I whole-hearted-ly agree. It's poetic. It's unglorious in that it's simple, and very glorious in the way it flows. Which is like water. In a really smooth pipe? Wow. That was lame. Anyway, the point is, the pace is crazy fast and at times I wanted it to slow a bit so that I could soak it in and try to register what just happened-- but at the same time I was hungry for more and I didn't want it to slow down I just wanted to read it until it was over. At first, the writing style is startling. It's hard to get used to. There's no quotation words for talking, all of the speech and descriptions are crazy informal, it's improper, Sabba talks weird... but then all of a sudden that all falls away and you can see the story play out vividly and the writing begins to feel down home and informal but in the way that it's as if Sabba is sitting with you, recounting the story-- laying emphasize on parts that she felt important and glossing over some of the details, recounting like, 'and then he says', you know. That kind of feeling. 

Beyond the voice of the book, it was brilliant as well. It's post-apocalyptic. While most post-apocalyptic line up well with dystopias because the fact that it's post-apocalypse creates a world that IS a dystopia, I'd struggle to call Blood Red Road a dystopia, and if I did call it a dystopia, I'd envision all of the normal dystopias that seem like they're dystopias sitting in a room looking normal and Blood Red Road wearing striped pajamas and singing or doing something else to stand out. Anyway, the world that Moira Young creates is very interesting. It's clearly sometime in the future, the characters often point out things that are 'post-wrecker' and from what they describe we're left to assume they're talking about the current world, now. Yet, the world seems old. The horses, the lack of electronics, the deserts, and the wildnerness; they all yield the impression that you're reading something about the ancient times.

The characters were complex. I didn't like Sabba at first and for her, Blood Red Road is rather a coming of age novel, she grows so much. The other characters were very interesting as well, although we don't see much of most of them and sometimes I wished I could get to know them all more. 

So, overall, Moira Young is a creative genius. If you want a post-apocalyptic novel that wears striped pajamas and sings when it hangs out with the dystopian crowd; with complex characters, a brilliantly weaved world, and writing like nothing you've read, pick up Blood Red Road.
Thank you S&S for giving me the opportunity to review this book. Readers: As always, I promise receiving books for review in no way alters my opinion, and my reviews are honest (sometimes brutally). :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"Uncommon Criminals" by Ally Carter

"Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life: Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.
There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long — and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous, and that is . . . the emerald is cursed.
Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all, she has her best friend — the gorgeous Hale — and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses and realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.
Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules."-goodreads
Uncommon Criminals is my favorite book that I’ve read by Ally Carter so far! It was thrilling, captivating, witty, and interesting sequel to Heist Society! While you could probably read Uncommon Criminals without having read Heist Society-- I definitely recommend that you do though, it was amazing as well!

One of my favorite things about both Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals is that they’re very intelligent books. All of the characters are rather witty, especially Kat. There’s random facts and bits of trivial information scattered over each page, which helps to make everything so interesting.  The settings of Uncommon Criminals (as well as its predecessor) are impeccable. The book takes place all over the world, and it’s written so that you can see all in brilliant depth in your mind.

The voice is amazing. The writing flows at a perfect pace, never a dull moment or a slow spot-- but never so fast that you miss anything major. The characters are great (again)! Kat is very relatable and a grand heroine for the books. Hale is still… HALE. J Very likeable and loyal to Kat and the gang. There are so many surprising elements to the story, and there are even bits toward the end where you, the reader, feels as though they’re being conned-- but not in a bad way-- because everything is not what it seems.

Overall, if you liked Heist Society you absolutely must read Uncommon Criminals. If you haven’t read Heist yet, you have to do that. Now. These books are awesome! I really, REALLY hope that there is a third (or 10. Never enough heists, you know.)  book.

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Red Glove" (Curseworkers, #2) by Holly Black

**I will not be including a summary with this review. The official one, as well as any I can think to make up are very SPOILER-Y for those who have not read “White Cat”. This review will also be slightly spoiler-y as many sequel reviews are at least tiny bit, and one of the main characters existing is a spoiler to White Cat. If you haven’t read White Cat read that review and I suggest you skip this one! You‘ve been WARNED.**

I was very excited to finally read Red Glove after enjoying White Cat so much. Part of me thought that White Cat couldn’t possibly have a sequel that came close to its awesomeness, but I was wrong. I did prefer White Cat, actually, but not because there is anything wrong with Red Glove-- it was great.

Diving back into the seamlessly built word where ‘curseworking’ is the ultimate crime and having bare hands (as in not wearing gloves) is basically equivalent to running around naked, is an epic experience. I love the world that Holly Black has created. It’s magic in a very modern setting, where it’s crime and not whimsy. I loved that in White Cat and it’s just as epic in Red Glove. That being said, world-building is my favorite part of this series so far.

The crime families continue to get more complicated; the death of a patriarch included and the rising of Lila upon her return. Cassel continues to get himself into more problems than he can take bets on. The character development is still quite good and the story still almost seems real. The twists and turns come with every fast-paced page just like in White Cat, with no slow times. Cassel and Lila both make choices regarding their futures that you probably didn’t see coming-- I know I didn’t. Characters are not who they say they are and plans that were working are quick to crumble. It’s one of those books that you don’t want to put down. If you liked White Cat I definitely recommend you continue the series, I highly doubt you’ll be let down.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"The Adoration of Jenna Fox" by Mary E. Pearson

"Seventeen-year-old Jenna Fox has just awoken from a year-long coma — so she’s been told — and she is still recovering from the terrible accident that caused it. But what happened before that? She’s been given home movies chronicling her entire life, which spark memories to surface. But are the memories really hers? And why won’t anyone in her family talk about the accident? Jenna is becoming more curious. But she is also afraid of what she might find out if she ever gets up the courage to ask her questions. What happened to Jenna Fox? And who is she really?"-goodreads

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a really addictive read. There are constant new developments, character depth always increasing, suspense building, and the all-around mystery entices you to read one more page.... another page... just one more, until you've finished the book. It's not broken up into your average chapters but into parts. Some sections are interrupted by gray pages with free-verse sort of poems by Jenna, which really show her feelings and deepen the connection that the reader automatically has with her. It's brilliant.

Jenna is a really fascinating character. What I felt was probably the greatest aspect of the whole book is that since you only know the story as she figures it out --although sometimes there are hints along the way that she doesn't pick up on and you probably will-- there's a whole air of suspense. WHO is Jenna? WHAT is Jenna? WHY is Jenna? Those are all questions that will keep drifting through your head as you read it. It's another one of those *dundundun* books that make you think. The whole book is basically about her, and gosh I've never thought a character could make up most of the plot successfully, but it did. I felt a real connection with Jenna the whole time as well.

The other characters were also good, well-developed as they could be. Another fascinating aspect was the changing of views of the parents. Throughout the book I saw them as normal, controlling, mean, evil, good, considerate, and caring; some of those at the same time and not in that order. 

The whole aspect of what Jenna was and leaving it for you to decide just as it was for her to decide whether it was 'right' or not was really good. The ending wrapped things up in a way you wouldn't expect, not a cliffhanger. One of those ones where you kind of make your own mind up about whether it was right/wrong/whatever. The whole consideration of science vs. natural order of things is just intelligent in the book. I didn't think this book was a series and I guess it wasn't going to be but there's a sequel, "The Fox Inheritance" coming out in August which I really look forward to!

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Side Effects" by Amy Goldman Koss

I'd left my notebook and everything in the car, or I might have done a drawing of that weird wire thing with the colored beads, which exists only in doctor's waiting rooms. I wondered what was supposed to be fun about it. All I'd ever want4ed to do was get the beads off the damn thing so I could play with them.
Izzy can't find a single book where the person lives. The person with cancer. The patient. In every single one she finds, they all die at the end. The best she's found is one where the kid gets super powers from the cure.
This is a problem.
Because Izzy has cancer.
After waking up one morning to find that she still has swollen glands from her flu, her world turns upside down. She's rushed to the hospital, and stabbed with a bunch of needles. She's soon part of another world, with it's own slang, with it's own people.
This is her book. Her book about traveling down that path to hell, and then traveling back.

Ah! I thought, This must be the mental illness bonus for kids with chemo cards! Feeling the pain before the stab!

I really liked this book. It was funny, well written, and Izzy had her own voice. She seemed very human, and I could find myself believing that this could actually happen.

I don't have a lot to say on this book (don't hate! It's only 143 pages long!), but I'd definitely recommend it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"The Fallen" (Nine Lives of Chloe King, #1) by Celia Thomson

"Chloe King was a normal sixteen-year-old girl.
She did her homework and got good grades, but she wasn't afraid to ditch class sometimes to hang out with her best friends. She slept at home, but otherwise avoided all human contact with her mom. The usual stuff.
Then she fell from San Francisco's highest tower, and her life changed. For starters, she died. And then, she woke up.
Now Chloe's life is anything but normal: Suddenly guys are prowling around her, she's growing claws, and someone's trying to kill her.
Luckily for Chloe, she still has eight lives to go."-goodreads

I picked up The Nine Lives of Chloe King series at my library because of the upcoming show on ABC family. I saw a promo for the show and thought it looked good so I figured I’d give the first book a try. I still plan on catching the premiere on a re-run and trying the show, but I don’t plan on continuing the book series. It didn’t really work for me, but I’ll say why because what didn’t work for me might not bother you. I also realize that if I pushed through the whole series I might have a better over-all view because of what I had a problem with.

The writing wasn’t bad. It wasn’t slow. I didn’t hate any of the characters. I liked Chloe although she got on my nerves once in a while… My problem was that I feel the main plot that was portrayed by the title and the summary, about Chloe being, well, part cat or however that works…. Nothing really happened with that in “The Fallen”. Chloe experiences weird things, but she doesn’t really get to the even vague root of what was actually going on until towards the end of the book. Considering how often we get to see the whole nine lives/cat thing going on and the way it’s wrapped up at the end, it almost seems like an emerging sub-plot. Maybe that was what it was supposed to be, but it’s not what I expected. The last few pages seemed more like the climax. I don’t know how the second book goes, but maybe it seemed like it shouldn’t have been split up like it was. The three books are not that long individually though, I know, so maybe I would have liked it better as one or two books? Anyway. I don’t know. A lot of it was just playing at my nerves. Seriously though, I’ll be giving the show a try because it was interesting. I also might read the next two books, just not right now. The whole book actually almost seemed like a movie in my head, so I imagine it translates really well to screen.

If a book that’s about a girl that might be part feline and is also just dealing with normal 16-year-old stuff even more so, and that doesn’t bother you at all, you might like it! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

"The Goddess Test" by Aimee Carter

"It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.
If she fails..."-goodreads

I love, love, LOVE mythology. (Of all kinds!) I also love modern stories with a lot of involvement of mythology. Then, as I keep mentioning, it’s very important to me to feel connected to the main character and (hopefully) like them as well. The Goddess Test had all of the those elements going strong. It was also a fascinating story that had unexpected twists, and other great characters as well. It also has a lot of detailed writing without it seeming like the whole thing is being dragged out. The beginning of the book is a lot of setup for the rest of the story, but I thought it was necessary, and I also thought it was nice to get a bit of background before the story really got going.

While it’s a book pertaining majorly to mythology as you would expect by the title/summary, Aimee Carter did a really good job of almost having you believe the whole thing, making it all seem real, which is really great-- I read a lot of paranormal books that are good but they don’t even come close to ‘seeming real’. The portrayal of the greek gods, especially Henry as Hades was fascinating and really well done.

Kate’s character was great. She was relatable, and also a strong heroine. She’s a character that has been through a lot through her mother’s illness and trying to be strong the whole time while feeling the world on her shoulders and never getting to feel like a real teenager. Henry was very interesting. The relationship of Kate and Henry was really nice, and something I admired greatly was that there was no ‘insta-love’ factor that I see so often. The whole cast of characters was really well developed for me; I felt that I knew a lot of the side characters really well which doesn’t always happen for me, sometimes it just seems like I only really know one or two main characters.

All in all, it was a fascinating book that packed a punch of mythology and awesomeness. I look forward to Goddess Interrupted which comes out in January 2012!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Paranormalcy" (#1) by Kiersten White

"Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal."-goodreads

I enjoyed Paranormalcy immensely. It was funny, the characters were great (especially Evie), and the writing was both fast-paced and easy to connect to. Almost immediately after starting it, I was hooked. It was a really quick read, probably because I didn’t want to put it down but also because it was fairly fast-paced (I don’t recall a single slow part), which I enjoyed, and it was just generally easy to read.

Evie was awesome. She kicked those Paranormal’s butts when she needed to and was a strong lead heroine. She was also relatable and funny. As I’ve mentioned before, connecting to the main character is important for me and that happened right away with Evie. The other characters were good too.. Lend was really awesome and sweet. Lish was really funny and a good friend. Lend’s family was very interesting.

The Paranormals were portrayed interestingly in general. They were never what they seemed in small details and big most of the time. I found that whole element really interesting because of the way Evie was with paranormals and the relationships of the paranormals in the book being almost jesting was amusing. The making fun of the stereotypes and such was great. It was interesting to see everyone (except the faeries!) to be cast a different and either loyal or amusing light on. Also, the vampires didn’t sparkle. Points there.

The ending was surprising and an all-around good cliffhanger, and I do look forward to Supernaturally, the sequel, when it comes out in July (hey, can that be moved to tomorrow? Please and thank you!). If you’re looking for a very different kind of paranormal book that’s funny and has a great lead character, then Paranormalcy would be great for you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"The Compound" by S.A. Bodeen

"Eli and his family have lived in the underground Compound for six years. The world they knew is gone, and they've become accustomed to their new life. Accustomed, but not happy.
For Eli, no amount of luxury can stifle the dull routine of living in the same place. with only his two sisters, only his father and mother, doing the same thing day after day after day.
As problems with their carefully planned existence threaten to destroy their sanctuary - and their sanity - Eli can't help but wonder if he's rather take his chances outside.
Eli's father built the Compound to keep them safe. But are they safe - or sorry?"

When I started this book, and until I was about half way through the book, I didn’t like it very much. I found the main character, Eli, rather complain-y. I had no connection with him. The whole story was going kind of slow for me. It wasn’t one of those ‘I have to keep reading this or else I will possibly die’ books. I questioned the writing, although it did seem to be specific to Eli, because it seemed like the way he would think, which is why it went back and forth some, I figured.

Once the story picked up, though, a bit past halfway through, IT PICKED UP. It got a lot more fast-paced for me, much more interesting, and I started to connect more with Eli. As it developed, The Compound turned less into some post-apocalyptic situation with an enclosing compound to an all out thriller of a sadistic story.

There were some horrifying things going on in the book, including the all-around-seeming psychological deterioration and the original mental state of the father, later revealed. Nothing was what you thought, and seeing it from Eli’s point of view helped that because you only knew what he knew with maybe some inklings of your own. The ending was satisfying, and especially the last bit before the end, you just couldn’t stop reading. The characters were interesting and they all had mysteries to uncover of their own, especially the completely psychotic dad.

Really, the book was kind of a dystopian bit of psychological thriller book. I can’t really say why without spoiling the thing. I’d really just go with psychological thriller with some real ‘woah’s of topics. I ended up real enjoying the book and it haunts me as I write this review because it’s another type of story where you go, what the heck would I do? Would I go to see them (can‘t say who ‘them‘ are)? Would I live there? Would I kill myself? What WOULD I DO? Anyway, if you’re into psychological thriller sorts of books or you’re a die-hard dystopian fan, you’ll probably enjoy The Compound!

Friday, June 10, 2011

"The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks" by E. Lockhart

"Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:Debate Club.
Her father's "bunny rabbit."
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.
Frankie Landau-Banks. No longer the kind of girl to take "no" for an answer.
Especially when "no" means she's excluded from her boyfriend's all-male secret society.
Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she's smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew's lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.
Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:Possibly a criminal mastermind.
This is the story of how she got that way."-goodreads

I mean, READ THE DESCRIPTION. Read it. Doesn't that sound witty/epic/amazing? This book is just plain LEGIT. I couldn’t think of a better word for it. I loved pretty much everything about it, and wish I had read it before-- if only because by now I would’ve been on my billionth or so re-read. The characters, the story, and the voice… Just amazing!

The voice. This has to be my favorite thing about the book. It was different than anything else I’ve ever read, so extremely unique. Words! There were word-plays, grammar geeking out, a copy-editor boyfriend, and even out of the story, just the narration, WORDS were used. When I say words I mean peculiar words that you don’t use often, advanced words, whatever you like but the way they were used was awesome. The book was just plain intelligent, without being overly so like it was unrealistic or you have to look up words or something.

The characters. Frankie is awesome. She’s probably my new favorite female protagonist in YA, as well as one I could really identify it. She was sarcastic, intelligent, and ambitious. There are lots of sarcastic/smart/whatever characters in the world but Frankie’s character development was pretty much flawless and I think it was also very realistic. She was very smart but she also seemed like a normal teenager. The other characters were fabulous too, Trisha, Frankie’s roommate was likeable and had a personality although we didn’t see that much of her. When she was around in the story she was really epic because her mom was a psychologist, so whenever she was giving Frankie advice and such she always did everything with psychological stuff and it was fascinating. The boys, the bassets, the dogs, whatever you’d like to call them were great too, all in their own ways.

The story of the bassets and the secret societies and the story of the school was great as well. The school being designed the way it was with its traditions and suitably its secrets or ‘secret organizations’ were good too. All very interesting.

Anyway. Sorry for the huge review but I just didn’t know how else to do this book justice. It was so legitimate. Intelligent, humorous, fascinating, very quirky, just all around a great book!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Never Slow Dance with a Zombie" by E. Van Lowe

"Principal Taft's 3 Simple Rules for Surviving a Zombie Uprising:
Rule #1: While in the halls, walk slowly and wear a vacant expression on your face. Zombies won't attack other zombies.
Rule #2: Never travel alone. Move in packs. Follow the crowd. Zombies detest blatant displays of individuality.
Rule #3: If a zombie should attack, do not run. Instead, throw raw steak at to him. Zombies love raw meat. This display of kindness will go a long way.
On the night of her middle school graduation, Margot Jean Johnson wrote a high school manifesto detailing her goals for what she was sure would be a most excellent high school career. She and her best friend, Sybil, would be popular and, most important, have boyfriends. Three years later, they haven't accomplished a thing!
Then Margot and Sybil arrive at school one day to find that most of the student body has been turned into flesh-eating zombies. When kooky Principal Taft asks the girls to coexist with the zombies until the end of the semester, they realize that this is the perfect opportunity to live out their high school dreams. All they have to do is stay alive...."-goodreads

This book was very peculiar. If I was required to give my opinion of it in three words I would say "Surprisingly, bizarrely epic!". I had no expectations whatsoever of this book (nothing against the author or anything, I don't mean it like that); I'd never seen or heard of it before the book fair where I picked it up at and the description reads like a middle-grade geek to popular and all of a sudden it's perfect world type of book. So often when I have pre-conceived ideas about books (or anything, really, I suppose) I am wrong. This one, I was wrong simply because I underestimated it.

Never Slow Dance with a zombie starts out and basically the main character just wants to be popular and she has one of those super nice, very sensible, best friends. I kind of went... oh... no.... but then, on top of the lessons you would think would come along with a book like this, it was sooo funny. At the beginning I was just like... how could that happen? With the zombies taking over the school and everything and no one even knows why/how/etc...? But then I went... duh. I'm over thinking this. Of course I'm not supposed to believe it, this book is supposed to be fun and funny, regardless of its plausibility!

That being said, Never Slow Dance with A Zombie was hilarious! It was very peculiar (I don't want to call it weird. I've been calling a lot of really dark books weird and this one is anything but). I thought it would be very gory because it's about zombies and it wasn't (not that I would have minded, heh heh). The whole situation the school was in was really amusing. The characters were good, as I said, I really liked Sybil. The geeks were funny. Also, that ONE girl that wasn't really a zombie... I saw that coming. In a good way.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"A Touch Mortal" by Leah Clifford

"Eden didn’t expect Az.
Not his saunter down the beach toward her. Not his unbelievable pick up line. Not the instant, undeniable connection. And not his wings.
So long happily-ever-after.
Now trapped between life and death, cursed to spread chaos with her every touch, Eden could be the key in the eternal struggle between heaven and hell. All because she gave her heart to one of the Fallen, an angel cast out of heaven.
She may lose everything she ever had. She may be betrayed by those she loves most. But Eden will not be a pawn in anyone else’s game. Her heart is her own.
And that’s only the beginning of the end."-goodreads

I've somehow read a lot of rather dark books in a row as of late, and A Touch Mortal is no exception (I'm now reading something rather fluffy, you need that once in a while). That being said, it was a good dark book. 

The plot moved just fast enough that I never felt like I was stuck anywhere or it was moving to slow; it was a rather quick read. The whole book has enough tension so that you always feel like something big is just around the corner (and half the time, there is) which keeps you going, 'one more page. one more chapter. 50 pages, and I'm going to bed, darnit.', and then you finish the book.

The whole plot and concept were complex. The idea of the fallen angels, the bound, and the ones without paths, siders. That was intriguing, I haven't read a lot of angel books, so that kept me interested as well. Eden and Az had a very interesting relationship, and I don't want to say they were cute together-- that just seems lame-- but they were. At the beginning I wasn't buying it (love at first sight? what? huh?) but then it just seemed right for them.

All of the characters were quite interesting, all of their problems, histories, and abilities. There were surprises, and most things weren't at all what you expected them to be. As has happened a few times for me lately, I never felt like I connected with the main character, Eden. It wasn't that I didn't like her, and it wasn't that she was underdeveloped... I don't know, it just didn't click. That didn't hinder me from enjoying the story though, so it's fine.

Anyway, overall, A Touch Mortal is a very dark, interesting, complex, and enjoyable read, so long as you like that kind of thing (which I do). It's very unique as well. I look forward to the next one, A Touch Morbid, when it comes out!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"Aphrodite's Blessings; Love Stories From the Greek Myths" by Clemence McLaren

"If I were racing against someone as handsome as Milanion," Filomena said, "I'd let him win... by just a little." She gestured with thumb and index finger.

Atalanta, princess, has been brought up to be an athlete. When her father and his advisers decide, however, that she must get married, she is terrified. The fate of married women is clear- to be kept inside all the time, except with their husband.
But it gets worse.
Her father decrees that if any man can win a race against Atalanta, they will be her husband, and rule over Arcadia. But if they lose? Death.
Atalanta doesn't want the men to die... But which is worse? To marry away your life... Or to destroy someone else's?
Everyone knows not to boast too much. Say the wrong thing, and the gods will punish you thoroughly.
Maybe not everyone.
Andromeda's mother is beautiful... And boastful. When she says that she and her daughter are more beautiful than all the daughters of Poseidon, everyone is worried, except for her. Andromeda is engaged to a wealthy (if short and old) man, she's still beautiful, and the gods never really pay attention to mortals... do they?
But, if the myths are true, and the queen is wrong... How are they to be punished?
Psyche has been gifted with amazing beauty, but it seems like it won't do her any good. When a message from a god comes, however, telling Psyche's family to wed her to a mysterious "Lord of the Hidden Valley", Psyche is hopeful.
But even when all seems well, trouble comes in the form of a jealous sister. When Psyche unknowingly ruins her happiness, how far is she willing to go to get it, and the man she loves, back?

Everyone admired my courage, yet it wasn't really courage. I simply wasn't as frightened as they expected me to be. I was actually relieved that I would not have to look at my father's solemn face, or listen to my sisters whispering about me any longer. Even in a wealthy family, an unmarried girl is a burden, because of the shame she brings. I was ready to remove that burden.

I quite liked this book. Greek myths fascinate me (heck, all myths fascinate me), and it was interesting seeing them written out in this way, from the girl's point of view. I found a lot of them to be much more emotional this way, and the characters were interesting.

However. The problem I had with this book was mostly about the last story, of Psyche. I like the story, but I did not like how things just seemed to happen in her favor, with no explanation. I know this isn't the author's fault, but what I do credit the author with is saying something along the lines of "I wouldn't know why until later", and then just not explaining it after all.

Besides that, though, I did like this book, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes the stories anyway.

"Nevermore" by Kelly Creagh

"At once an homage to one of America's greatest writers and a page-turning psychological mystery that is equal parts horror, humor, and romance, NEVERMORE is the story of Varen -- a Poe-fan and goth -- and Isobel -- a cheerleader and unlikely heroine. When a Lit. project pairs the two together, Isobel finds herself steadily swept into Varen's world, one that he has created in his notebook and in his mind, one where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life. Isobel slowly learns that dreams can be much more powerful than she'd ever expected, and that pain and despair come in all sorts of shades. As labels of "goth" and "cheerleader" fade away, she sees more in Varen than a tall, pale outcast, and a consuming romance is braced against the ever-clearer horror that the most terrifying realities are those within our own minds.
When Isobel has a single chance to rescue Varen from the shadows of his own nightmares, will she be able to save him -- and herself?"-goodreads

I am a Poe enthusiast! I have been meaning to read this book for quite a while because of that. Several people recommended this book to me because I like the Edgar Allan Poe stuff I've read, as in, really like it! Thus, I was extremely excited to read Nevermore. I was not disappointed by the Poe element at all-- there were quotes, it was a totally gothic book, they talked about Poe, the project was on Poe, and you know, it turned out everything had more to do with Poe than it seemed. *queue the spooky music*

This is a very LONG book. It's over 500 pages. That doesn't deter me, I don't care about the length of a book as long as it's a good book. This was a good book. It wasn't the BEST BOOK EVER (which I kind of hoped it would be...). It was a good book. I do think it could've been shorter--I felt like it spent a lot of time building up to what was going to happen, and then when stuff actually started happening, it felt kind of rushed (which might've just been the contrast of the pace moving rather slowly and then all of  a sudden we were getting places, figuring things out, etc...).

I liked Varen as a character... I wasn't a huge fan of Isabel. She kind of reminded me of a certain other Bella that is part of a popular YA series... and not in a very good way. That and I just never really connected with her as a character, I never really felt any sympathy or otherwise for her.

I did like how the story unfolded, the Poe element, and the writing was gothic and beautiful. It was awesomely psychological and creepy. I'll definitely be picking up the sequel when it comes out next year (I thought it was supposed to be a stand-alone, but BAM, CLIFFHANGER.) but it just wasn't overall my thing. But if you enjoy gothic types of books, Edgar Allan Poe, paranormal, and aren't afraid of a big book-- give it a try, you might think it's the best book ever. :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

"Peak" by Roland Smith

"You messed up, Pete."
"Peak," I said.
"Like in 'mountain peak'?"
"Weird name."
"Weird parents."

Peak Marcello, as his name suggests, is a climber. His mom and dad, both mountain climbers, started him climbing at an early age, and his mom has encouraged him his whole life.
Climbing is about to get him in trouble though.
Peak has climbers itch- the climbing wall at the gym isn't big enough anymore- so he finds bigger things.
Like skyscrapers.
When Peak is busted climbing the Woolworth Building, he knows he's in trouble. But how much? The court wants to sentence him to three years in jail, but his mom and stepfather, Rolf, aren't about to let that happen.
When Peak's long lost father, Joshua, shows up unexpectedly, Peak is offered a deal by the court. He can disappear off radar for several years, or he could go to jail.
Peak chooses to disappear.
His father takes him to Tibet, where he springs a surprise on fourteen-year-old Peak: Peak is going to try to be the youngest person to ever climb Everest.
With the help of Sun-jo, Peak's new friend; Zopa, a mysterious monk from Joshua's past; Joshua himself; and a whole bunch of other characters, Peak attempts the climb.
But is he willing to put everyone's safety at risk to reach the top?

Yash helped Sun-jo set his rig, and when he got it on we looked at each other and started laughing.
We were going to live.

I liked this book. No. I really really liked this book. I found myself wanting to just read the book, no matter what. My copy got returned to the library in much worse condition than when I checked it out, and I can confidentially say that this is one of the best books I've read in the past two or three months.

The thing that I really liked about this book were the characters. They were well developed, and interesting. I found myself sympathizing with Peak during his experiences... I think the author did a very good job of making Peak human, so you could really get inside his head. On the other hand, he also definitely had his very own voice and personality. I can't think of too many fourteen-year-olds who would be happy to share their birthday with their twin half-sisters.
Besides Peak, the characters I liked the most were Rolf, Peak's stepfather, and the characters who make up the film crew.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books with tough moral decisions, but who don't mind having adventure in there as well.