Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Seven Clues to Winning You (20)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

This week, I am waiting on...
Seven Clues to Winning You
by Kristin Walker

Expected Publication Date: April 26, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
SynopsisWhen a humiliating picture of Blythe goes viral, she's instantly the target of ridicule at her new school. To salvage her reputation, Blythe teams up with Luke to win the Senior Scramble scavenger hunt. But Luke is an unlikely ally and potentially can't be trusted.
Hm. The synopsis used to be longer.... Nevertheless, doesn't this book just sound completely adorable? I'm not a huge fan of contemporaries, but this book sounds so cute and fun and light and AWESOME! :) I'm excited. Can you tell? 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? :)

Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig


Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: eGalley
Page Count: 236
Synopsis: High school sophomore Willa and her artist mother move to Arizona where Willa starts attending an elite prep school after her mother finally sells some paintings, and Willa attempts to even things out by stealing from the rich students and giving to the poor ones.

Review: How often do I wish that I could steal from the rich and give to the poor? Pretty darn often. Willa gets to do it in real life, which I thought was an awesome concept. Real life Robin Hood, right? Not only was the concept cool, but this book was pretty awesome, too. It wasn't exactly mind-blowing or particularly amazing, but it was an enjoyable read.

   I still don't know what I feel about Willa. Sometimes, I felt like she was jumping and prancing on my nerves, especially in one scene when she blows up at her mother, just because her mother told Willa that she shouldn't be wasting so much money on clothes. But then again, Willa was a really great person at heart. She was trying to do the right thing and I could really connect with her on that level. The supporting characters, on the other hand, weren't that great. They didn't leap off the page and fell sort of flat.

   It took me a little while to get in to the book, as it usually does with contemporaries, but I was easily sucked into Willa's life. I found myself rooting for Willa, thinking things like, "Yes! Go steal that girl's money! Buy Mary another dress!" which, if you couldn't tell, is not conventional. But as I was reading, I really couldn't help but understand Willa's intentions.

   The biggest thing that bothered me was the ending. I just... I can't... Uh... What? I'm sorry, did you just forget to attach the last twenty pages? Seriously! The plot picks up and Elisa Ludwig makes you think that you're going to get a huge answer... and then she changes directions and ends the book. Excuse me while I shoot myself in the foot. I hate these kinds of endings. I mean, yes I understand that there's a second book, but can't an author at least write something of a conclusion?

   Pretty Crooked is a refreshing and entertaining novel with dashes of humor and pop culture. I'm honestly wondering where Elisa Ludwig could possibly take the story in the sequel. Is there even more to write?

   4 keys.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman

Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Format: eGalley
Page Number: 208
SynopsisIt's the summer before senior year and the alluring Angel is ready to have fun. She's not like her best friend, Inggy, who has a steady boyfriend, good grades, and college plans. Angel isn't sure what she wants to do yet, but she has confidence and experience beyond her years. Still, her summer doesn't start out as planned. Her good friend Joey doesn't want to fool around anymore, he wants to be her boyfriend, while Angel doesn't want to be tied down. As Joey pulls away, and Inggy tours colleges, Angel finds herself  spending more time with Inggy's boyfriend, Cork. With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves.
Review: I will say immediately that I did not finish this book. I stopped on page 78 of 208 (38%). I always try my hardest to make it through books, even if I'm not enjoying it. However, this book just made me want to hurl my nook across the room.

   Take the last line of the synopsis. "With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves." Vivid and memorable characters? Not so much. Angel, our protagonist, was probably one of the most annoying, raunchy and superficial characters ever to be written about in literature. She had absolutely no morals and no ethics. She slept with her best friend's boyfriend for crying out loud! Without a trace of guilt. I had to put the book down then.

   The plot was going nowhere. The writing wasn't bad, but the author used Jersey slang, which I'm not at all familiar with. Everything was so stereotypical. From "Guidos" to having sex on a raft, this book was just so far out of my taste.

   I'm not sure who this book would appeal to. Personally, I would never recommend Jersey Angel because of the disgustingly raunchy themes, annoying characters and lack of redeeming qualities. HOWEVER, just because I did not enjoy this book doesn't it mean you won't. Who knows--this book may be for you!

   DNF: 1 key.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Publication Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Format: Hardcover
Page Number: 313
SynopsisDiagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. 

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
Review: I need a second copy of this book, because I'm pretty sure my first one is ruined by all my tears. (That's a lie. As if I would be careless enough to let my tears spill onto this wonderful book. No, my pillow/shirt caught them all.)

   John Green. He knows how to write. But it's not like that was ever in question.

   To be truthful, I didn't know if I was going to like this book. I thought that my expectations were too high and that I'd end up being disappointed. It wasn't especially captivating, and things were kind of 2D for me. But then--BAM! John Green blows me away. He somehow makes me invested in his characters and before I know it, my eyes are so blurry, I can barely make out the words on the page.

   I liked Hazel a lot. She had every right to throw a pity party for herself, but she never did. She was real and raw and honest and I admired that. She had the right balance of selflessness and selfishness. Augustus Waters was also incredible. At first, I was hesitant with him. He seemed too cookie-cutter for me; good looking, romantic, and clever. But slowly, John Green convinces me that August Waters is so much more than that. By the end of the book, I was so in love with his amazing character.

   The plot was really well done. It had a great speed and I never felt like it dragged or anything. And, of course, because this is John Green, there were strong messages throughout the whole novel. My only complaint is the ending because omg the tears is the writing. I think this is John Green's first time writing in a girl's POV, and sometimes I felt like it was too forced. Like... I don't know. I sometimes felt he was trying to hard to make it sound like a girl. Maybe it's just me.

   John Green could be a warlock out to get tears because I cried hard. The Fault in Our Stars is one of those books that steals your heart before you know it and doesn't give it back until you're out of tears. I loved this book and I'm sure everyone--even non-YA readers--will love it too.

   4.5 keys.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The List (19)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week, I am waiting on...
The List by Siobhan Vivian

Expected Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
SynopsisAn intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them.It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.
I think this book has a ton of potential. Considering that this IS Siobhan Vivian we're talking about, I know that she'll probably execute this book perfectly with a strong message, while still having that entertaining factor. I'm so excited! The concept sounds horrifying, yet so completely intriguing.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? :)

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Release Date: October 1, 2008
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Format: Paperback
Page Number: 471
SynopsisKatsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.      

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
Review: High-fantasy is really not my thing, and when I started this book, I was reminded why. There were too many unfamiliar location names, the language was strange and it seemed like there wasn't anything interesting going on. It took me around 60 to 70 pages to actually get into this book, but I ended up enjoying it.

   My feelings for the book throughout my reading experience:
       /\        /\
___/   \___/  \____

   Strange, right?

   At first, Katsa was really awesome. She totally kicked butt and she was admirably independent. This book is written in third person, and as the case usually is in that kind of POV, I didn't particularly connect with Katsa, but I still liked her. I also really liked Raffin (Katsa's cousin and best friend) and Po. Po was an odd character. I loved him for the first half of the book. By the end of the book, he's transformed completely, and although I do understand how drastically things for him changed throughout the course of the book, I still wish he was more like he was in the beginning. I felt that he was too vulnerable and broken by the end.

   I had a love/hate relationship with the romance in this book. For the first half of the book, I adored Katsa and Po's friendly, yet flirty relationship. I even liked the angst in the midsection. But then... things got too... insta-intimate for me. I mean, (*slight spoiler*) their first kiss led immediately to their... erm, first time. I didn't like that abruptness. Afterwards, their relationship turned into more of a physical one, fueled by lust rather than love. There were still portions that convinced me they were truly in love, but there were also parts that kind of made me question it.

   The plot was slow, yet entertaining. Sometimes, I would get completely sucked into Kristin Cashore's world and I wouldn't be able to put the book down. But sometimes, mostly during Katsa and Bitterblue's journey together, I felt like things became too repetitive and dragged on. I think that the book could have been shorter. The climax was kind of anticlimatic, which I was disappointed by.

   Also, random note, this book's length is freaking strange. Like, seriously. I have no idea why, but it took me a long time to get through this book, and it's not because I was reading sporadically or anything. I think it was the formatting or maybe the font size... I don't really know, but usually, if reading one book for a whole day, I'd finish or at least be close to finishing. For this book, I read it for one whole day, and I was still only half way in.

   Graceling has definitely changed my perspective of high-fantasy. I'm not exactly eager to read more of the genre, but Graceling is one of those great books that seem to defy my general reading rules. I think this book could've been a standalone. But there's a second and third book, so I'll have to pick those up soon.

   3.5 keys.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody

Release Date: June 7, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux (BYR)
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 320
SynopsisPLEASE READ THIS! MY LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!

Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I’m sorry, I’m feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment. 
Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.

 

But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else be the one to decide which book I read for English. Or whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich Maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: Chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!

Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever. 
But don’t take my word for it, read the book and decide for yourself. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream in frustration. Or maybe that’s just me. After all, it’s my life.
Review: Contemporaries are always hit-or-misses for me. I always either really love them or really hate them. This book was an exception. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it either. It annoyed me, but there were parts that really made me smile.

   It took me a long time to get into this book. Seriously. It wasn't until, like, page 200 that I actually got into the book. My main problem was--as usual--the main character. I really couldn't connect to Brooklyn at all. She didn't seem like a 15 year old girl at all. For the majority of the novel, she was so whiny and annoying, always pitying herself. I understand that Jessica Brody probably intended for Brooklyn to be that way, but still, Brooklyn made me want to pull my hair out. She was really ignorant and complained a lot. She did transform by the end of the novel, but I still did not like her.

   This book was pretty stereotypical. There was the popular girl, the insanely new hot guy, the feeling of invisibility. It was basically cookie-cutter YA high school material. There were things outside of the school that I really liked though. Such as the nursing home that Brooklyn volunteered at for community service. There, Brooklyn would read to a cranky old lady named Mrs. Moody, whom I really enjoyed. I also loved Brian, Brooklyn's new found friend when everyone abandons her. He was super sweet and totally adorable.

   Despite the fact that it took me forever to warm up to this book, I did end up liking some parts. This book was really not for me--the writing was definitely not my style, the concept was very far-fetched, and I couldn't relate or connect to the characters. But My Life Undecided was a nice read that I'm sure other YA readers will enjoy.

   2.5 keys.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Release Date: February 1, 2010
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: eBook
Number of Pages: 280
SynopsisMeghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.
Review: I think I deserve a pat on the back. I've been wanting to get to this series for so, so long and I finally got to the first book! Go me! However, I did have a few rough patches along the journey.

   I'm originally not a big fan of faeries, because, honestly, compared to the other mythical and paranormal creatures in the YA genre, faeries just pale in comparison. But everyone seems to love this series, so I really wanted to give it a try. Last year, I picked it up, finally. I was in about 100 pages when I put it down and forgot about it. That's not a good sign. I wasn't into the book. It wasn't very captivating and not much was happening.

   It is now 2012. I was like, "Hm. The Iron King... I should give this book another try." I'm glad I did, because once you get past the first 100 pages or so, it gets really interesting. I found myself enjoying the story and wanting to read more. Yes, it was entertaining. No, it was not perfect.

   The characters were lacking, in my opinion. I couldn't connect with Meghan at all. I felt like she was too passive, too nice, too... ethical. Haha, now normally, having good ethics is not a bad thing. In fact, it's a great thing! But when someone is trying to destroy Faeryland, ethics about killing can kind of go on the back burner, no? Anyway, so I couldn't really click with Meghan. Or any of the characters, really. I've seen tons of "TEAM ASH" buttons around the blogosphere. I have no idea why. He wasn't that appealing or charming, but somehow, him and Meghan end up falling in love... over the course of a couple weeks... with barely knowing each other... Their romance was very unbelievable. I guess if I had to pick a team, I'd go with Puck. He was a nice guy, a great friend, and wasn't afraid to be silly. Puck was definitely far more endearing than Ash.

   I really liked the plot, though. I must give Julie her props! She took the story in a really intriguing direction, although it took her quite a long time to get there. I have to admit that she made faerie lore pretty interesting, which is odd for me.

   I think I'll probably read the next book, not because I really want to know what happens next, but because I'd like to say that I've read the series. Is that wrong of me? Despite its slow start, The Iron King is a solid and fascinating start to a promising series.

   3.5 keys.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: A Want So Wicked (18)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

This week, I am waiting on...
A Want So Wicked (A Need So Beautiful #2)
by Suzanne Young

Expected Publication Date: June 26, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
SynopsisElise is a normal seventeen-year-old girl until the day she wakes up in a desert park, with no idea who she is. 

After that episode, her life takes a bizarre turn. She’s experiencing unexpected flashes of insight into people’s lives—people she’s never met before. Strangers frighten her with warnings about the approaching Shadows. And although Elise has never had a boyfriend, she suddenly finds herself torn between two handsome but very different young men: Abe, the charming bad boy whose affect on her both seduces and frightens her, and the mysterious Harlin, who’s new to town but with whom Elise feels an urgent, elemental connection—almost as if they are soul mates. 

Now Elise begins to question everything about her life. Why do these guys both want her so desperately? What are the Shadows? Why does the name Charlotte inspire a terrifying familiarity? And who is Elise, really?

I loved the first book, A Need So Beautiful! It was so unique and really breathtaking. I can't wait to see how Suzanne Young takes the story with this new sequel. :) And isn't the cover so gorgeous?! I love it even more than the first one!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Books I'd Recommend to Non-YA Readers (12)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.


This week's topic is...
Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to Someone Who Doesn't Read YA

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - For me, THG was the book that opened me up to YA literature, and I know it did the same for a lot of the kids in my grade. So, I'd definitely start non-YA readers with this great book.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth - After reading THG, I'd let the non-YA reader try another book of the same genre, for a more elaborate taste.

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - I'd totally flip them over and force them upon a completely different type of YA book. Surely, they need some amazing contemporary in their life.

4. Heist Society by Ally Carter - Since they loved Anna (I'm assuming), I would then recommend Heist Society, because it's contemporary and extremely fun.

5. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen - I would then inform them about the YA superstar authors, such as Sarah Dessen. To me, this is Dessen's best book, so I'd start the reader off with her best work.

6. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - Just for a taste of urban fantasy and humor, I'd recommend the Mortal Instruments series.

7. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare - "Oh, you didn't like the Mortal Instruments? That's okay. You HAVE to read this series. It's so much better."

8. Delirium by Lauren Oliver - Prime example of gorgeous, gorgeous writing in YA literature.

9. Anything John Green - Come on. It's John Green. You have to read some John Green to satisfy your YA taste buds.

10. Anything Meg Cabot - She's kind of the queen of chick lit. Everyone should read something of hers.

That concludes my top ten! What's on your list? :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Legend by Marie Lu

Release Date: November 29, 2011
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 305
SynopsisWhat was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias' death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.
Review: Oh, hi, there! What am I doing? Why am I rubbing the cover so frequently? Because I love the cover. That's why. Oh, and the content is great, too. Legend was a very entertaining dystopian that I easily adored.

   The United States is now separated into two portions: the Republic and the Colonies. They're constantly at war with each other and the citizens of the Republic are infected with plagues often. June is from a rich and powerful military family, whereas Day is a wanted criminal. They meet, they fall for each other, but then June realizes who Day really is, and he's the one that murdered June's brother. Which sucks.

   Legend easily captivated me. It's one of those books that make me remember why I love dystopians so much. The careful and well created world building, the constant fear and rebellion in the air, and wonderful characters. To be completely honest, I did feel like it was too cookie-cutter dystopian at times, but in total, I really liked this book.

   I loved June because she was incredibly smart. She was totally book smart, but she was also street smart. She knew her strategies, how to plan, and what to analyze. June was really kick butt, too. Day was also a really nice character. He was compassionate and, like June, very smart. I love smart characters, haha.

   The book switches POVs for every chapter. While I really liked getting into both June's and Day's heads, I didn't like how Marie Lu would sometimes repeat the same thing, but in the different person's POV. It didn't happen often, but when it did, I felt it was a bit redundant.

   As a whole, the plot was great and absorbing. It was quick and easy to read. Sometimes, Marie Lu's writing would be a little dry and too straightforward, but the book itself was one that I highly enjoyed. It's filled with action and thrills, as well as murder mystery. Oh--and a totally cool romance.

   Legend is a thrilling, fast-paced, action-packed and entertaining novel that left me breathless when I turned the last page. I can't wait for the sequel! I want more Day and June.

   4.5 keys.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Format: ARC
Number of Pages: 375
SynopsisDying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever. 

BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally. 

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after. 

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?
Review: There were a lot of ways Jess Rothenberg could have gone with this story. She could have taken a religious turn, because of the setting. Or maybe a science twist, with depth behind the actual broken heart. She took it in a unique direction that I ended up enjoying quite a lot, despite the fact that I wasn't too warm in the beginning.

   This book took a really interesting on the concept of afterlife. I've only read one other book on this topic, and that was Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, which I liked a lot. I also liked this book quite a lot, too.

   Brie literally dies of a broken heart--which isn't really possible, but it makes for an interesting story, so whatever. I had mixed feelings for Brie. At times, I felt like she was relatable and that she had a level mind. I felt so sorry for her throughout the first third or so. Everything was going so terribly back at Earth, and I couldn't help but feel Brie's pain and sadness. But then, at other times, I'd feel like she was just way too sensitive, over-the-top, and really, just a b...rat (*cough*). There's a section in the book where she gets revenge, and to me, she went too far. Brie was really not a nice girl for a part of this novel. However, she does transform a lot throughout the story, which I always love reading about. By the end, she does redeem herself, and I'm just neutral, I guess.

   Patrick was Brie's tour guide, I guess, but also her best friend in the afterlife. At first, I was hesitant about him, like everything else in this novel. He seemed really weird. He spoke strangely and the energy he gave off was odd. But as I got more absorbed into the story, and uncovered more backgrounds, I realized that Patrick was just like Brie--a heartbroken teen looking for love. He was always really sweet towards Brie and he was very compassionate.

   I loved the way the book was set up. It has six different parts, each about a different stage in Brie's afterlife, which was a really great way of organization. The plot was steady and easy to follow, as well as fascinating. I liked how well this was narrated. It made me feel like I was actually in Brie's mind. I also really liked how each chapter's title was a song lyric. It made me feel awesome when I knew what song the lyric was from.

   A thing that really bothered me was the dialogue. That sounds kind of random, but the dialogue was pretty bad. It wasn't cheesy or anything. It was just unrealistic. The jokes seemed out of date and the dialogue itself didn't really flow all that smoothly.

   Although it took me a while to get into and even longer to warm up to different aspects of this novel, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. The Catastrophic History of You and Me is a thoughtful and sweet story of self-discovery and acceptance, with an adorable romance.

   4 keys.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Unraveling (17)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week, I am waiting on...
Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
Expected release date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Synopsis: Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, Janelle knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her reincarnation, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI-agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl’s fight to save herself, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.
Ah! This book sounds freaking AMAZING. Exactly my type of book. From the action to the concept to the romance, Unraveling sounds perfect for me. The cover is pretty awesome, too.

What are you waiting on? :)

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Release Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Dutton
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 264
Synopsis: It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
Review: I feel breathless. This book was so good. It blew If I Stay away, which is saying something, considering how highly I thought of the first book. Although I tend to stray from male POVs, Gayle Forman is just such a fabulous writer, she can make me read anything.

   It's been three years since Adam and Mia last saw each other. Adam feels empty and I can't find it in me to blame him in the least, no matter how many times I was slightly reminded of Bella in New Moon. Mia just abruptly cut off all ways of communication, and no matter how awful that was, I couldn't find it in me to hate Mia either. I understood both of the protagonists completely, which I loved.

   Adam has changed. He's found nothing to live for. His one happiness--music--is no longer happiness, and really, I think he just felt lost without Mia. It was sad, to say the least, but also incredibly sweet, considering how much he cared for Mia. Adam is now a huge rock star, with paparazzi on his tail and a famous girlfriend whom he doesn't love. Mia, on the other hand, is famous in a totally different world. She's a well known cellist--a virtuoso! I loved how successful both Mia and Adam had gotten over the course of the three years.

   The plot in this book is amazing. It made me feel a roller coaster of emotions. On one page, I would be laughing and then by the next, I'd be sobbing so much, I wouldn't be able to see the words on the paper. Yes. I sobbed. Hard. This book was as heartbreaking as it was heart-mending. Does that make sense? No? Well, I don't care.

   Gayle Forman's writing is still as hypnotic and easy to read as ever. I loved where she took Mia and Adam's story. Where She Went is a truly brilliant sequel, filled with depth, romance, and wonderful prose.

   5 keys.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Release Date: October 19, 2010
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 454
SynopsisCalla is the alpha female of a shape-shifting wolf pack. She is destined to marry Ren Laroche, the pack's alpha male. Together, they would rule their pack together, guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But then, Calla saves a beautiful human boy, who captures her heart. Calla begins to question everything - her fate, her existence, and her world and the orders the Keepers have asked her to follow. She will have to make a choice. But will she follow her heart if it means losing everything, including her own life?
Review: Maybe it's because the amount of stress I've been having lately, or maybe it's because some books just honestly aren't very good, but I've been really critical with books lately. Recently, I've either really liked a book (ex. Catching Jordan) or really hated a book (Shadow Hills). Nightshade happens to be on the unfortunate side.

   As usual with my "negative" reviews, I'll start off with my biggest problem, which is always the main character(s). Characters are just such a humongous deal for me. I either like them or I hate them. Calla was just annoying. She was so wishy-washy, it drove me bananas! Calla is the alpha of her wolf pack, and so I expected her to be a strong leader. Instead, she was passive--especially when it came to Shay. I felt like she let Shay walk all over her! Focusing back on Calla, her inner thoughts also bothered me. She was almost obsessed with boys touching her, whether it be Ren or Shay. It was almost laughable.

   On to the boys and the love triangle... Ren is fine. He loves Calla, which was really sweet. On the other hand, Shay was the most annoying male lead I have ever read about. I do not see what Calla saw in him. He was whiny and obsessive. The love triangle in this book is a prime example of the kind of love triangle I hate in YA literature. The boys were just willing to kill for this girl. This girl who can't even take off her own dress. Also, it was far too much like Matched by Allie Condie: supposed to be with one guy, but another guy comes along who's actually not all that great, but somehow the main characters falls in love with him anyway. SPOILER from Bloodrose (Nightshade #3) (highlight to read): I'm Team Ren. ALL THE WAY. Unfortunately, I'm a loser and I read a spoiler for Bloodrose. Ren dies. No point in me continuing the series.

   What I did really like about this book was the concept. I loved the werewolves and the witches, as well as the prophecy. Totally my type of thing in the book! Although the book kind of dragged throughout the middle portion, the last few chapters were just like, "WHAZZAM!" It was surprising with lots of twists and turns. I loved it! The book itself was also easy to read, because the chapters were short. Short chapters make me feel like I've accomplished more, so I prefer them, haha.

   Now, because I was so bothered by the characters, I don't think I'll pick up the next book, even though there's a huge cliffhanger at the end of this book. Andrea Cremer crafts a layered paranormal story with dashes of originality and a romance I'm sure a lot of YA readers will love. It's a shame I wasn't one of them. It seemed to me that the negative aspects of this book eclipsed the positive ones.

   2.5 keys.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Release Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: HarperTEEN
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 435
Synopsis: In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Review: If I were to describe this book in one word, it'd be: amazing. Despite the many rave reviews I read for this book, I didn't expect much from it. What I got from it completely blew my mind. Unearthly is not your average angel story.

   The main thing that I found completely unique in this story was that the roles seemed to be reversed, meaning Clara is an angel. Usually, in YA angel books, there's a regular girl and a super hot angel boy. I guess, to an extent, that the second part is true, but Clara's not a regular girl. She's an angel. And she has a mission.

   At first, I was really hesitant when reading. The writing style didn't suit me and the dialogue was really... um... old-school, I suppose. It seemed sort of out-dated, especially the insults. But it didn't take me long to warm up to this book! After the first three or so chapters, I was completely absorbed into the story.

   Clara wasn't my favorite protagonist, but I didn't dislike her. She was just average. The characters and the development were really nice. Especially when it came to Tucker. *sighs, places hand over heart* Oh, Tucker. He is just such a sweetie. At first, he comes off a bit rude, but that quickly dissipates. Instead, it's replaced by a good, honest and sweet boy whom I fell in love with.

   To put it simply, this book was just addicting. The plot kept me guessing and wondering where Cynthia Hand would take it. I'd ask myself, "Is this the climax of the book?" Then, later, I'd think, "No, this must be the climax of the book!" The plot and pacing were fabulous, as were the characters and the concept.

   Utterly captivating and beautiful, Unearthly is an addicting book that pulled on my heartstrings and kept me tearing through the pages. I can't wait to see what Hallowed has in store!

   4.5 keys.

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