Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Pub: 9/15/2015
Pgs: 384
ARC Received by Edelweiss

I loved. loved. loved Dumplin' . First, the main character's name is Willowdean, that's just precious, and then she's a self proclaimed fat girl. Secondly, even though she does proclaim herself to be fat, she's not bounded by that. If she wants to go swimming, she puts on a bikini and goes. Sure she has an inner monologue about how her thighs are dimply, and that she hates that she has these bad thoughts about her body because others are uncomfortable with her body. She's actually a really strong and correct depiction of what it is to be a fat girl (anyone who doesn't fit in Hollister or Abercrombie)and go to high school in America. Some of us "fat girls" will develop issues, but most of us are just trying to have a body positive attitude because frankly there are just some things we can never change about our selves, or hey, we work out and eat healthy but can't seem to fit in size 2, which is okay. I just loved Will and her attitude about life, love, and being yourself.

Not only did I like the voice coming forth from this book, but the minute Will started to talk about Private School Bo I instantly knew he was amazing. When Will felt giddy, I felt giddy; when Bo brushed her hand I felt excited; and when she was having a hard time deciding what she wanted, I also felt that way. Bo isn't perfect but he's an amazing addition to YA boyfriends.

The last thing I wanted to comment on was how natural this story progressed. Will didn't want to be in a pageant because she's not allowed to or even to make a statement. She did it because, why not. The pageant wasn't the main theme of the story, so it didn't make the message superficial, if anything it went with the theme of "why can't I" and "only you can stop yourself."

4 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

One by Sarah Crossan

OneOne by Sarah Crossan
Pub: 9/15/2015
Pgs: 400
ARC Received Through Edelweiss

"You See,
Tippi & I are not what you'd call normal-
not what you see everyday
or any day
for that matter.
Anyone with a jot of good manners
calls us "conjoined"
though we've been dubbed other things, too:
freaks, fiends,
monsters, mutants,
and even a two-headed demon once,
which made me cry so hard
I had puffy eyes for a week."

This was an awesome read. I like variety and I also like publishers/authors/books that include many facets and experiences... and this book did just that. For once we are given a YA book about conjoined twins. I am not sure how accurately it depicts growing up as a conjoined twin, but the effort alone is great. Another note worthy point is that I never felt as though this book was making fun of conjoined twins or even exploit such a situation.

Besides its originality the main character, Grace, has a remarkably insightful voice, but of course that is something you would expect from someone who has lived on the outskirts of the norm. While she is the relaxed and quiet one, Tippi is the loud and usually dominate one. They have 4 arms, 2 heads, 2 hearts, 2 legs, and fused intestines (and lady parts). Her parents have homeschooled them since they were little, but times are changing, and they will soon be in a regular high school with regular kids, like their little sister "Dragon".

Unfortunately for the twins, life is just getting started and it's getting harder. Now they will navigate the outside world, alone (obviously together), meet new friends, feel the stirrings of first loves, and eventually have to deal with the health complications that come with being a conjoined twin. The characters are endearing, the laughter is great, and the pain is just bittersweet.

4 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The Rest of Us Just Live Here
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Pub: 8/27/2015
Pgs: 352
ARC Received through Edelweiss

Patrick Ness is amazing, and this book just proved it. The Rest of Us Just Live Here is about ordinary teenagers that live in an extraordinary world. Where all their "indie" classmates have destinies of fighting darkness, some of them are decedents of gods, and others... much like Mikey are just plan ordinary kids trying to get by.

This is the story of Mikey and his friends trying to survive high school, fall in love, and deal with the next stage in their life, all along dealing with the fall out of the Chosen Ones and their destines. The concept is pretty simple but pretty ingenious. I have found myself wondering about the rest of the population in the books that bring fantasy, paranormal, and supernatural stories tied to the main characters. How do those other people get by? Are they in the know of what's going on? Is this a syndrome only teenagers seem to be able to see and not the adults? Did the adults ever encounter spectacular happenings when they were teens, and did their encounters cause issues for the next generation?

The characters were also great, and extraordinary, even if they were not indie kids themselves. They still dealt with all issues that come up in high school, and before you graduate. I fell in love with most of them except Henna, she was kind of a jerk, but oh well, no one is perfect. I was delighted to read something new from Ness, but I was more delighted about how the story played out.

4 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano

Diary of a HauntingDiary of a Haunting by M. Verano
Pub: 8/25/2015
Pg: 288
ARC Received through Edelweiss

When the reader first cracks open the spine of this book, they are given an introduction from the author/professor in this book, M. Verano. The purpose of the introduction is to give validity to the "true story" the reader will embark on, but it also gives an eerie start to this story.

Paige and her family move to Idaho after a really messy divorce in the spotlight. The story is given in diary entries from Paige's perspective. Initially all that is wrong with her new home is that it's in Idaho, away from civilization. Soon Paige starts experiencing a ridiculous amount of flies in her house, unexplainable issues with her phone, and her brother begins to act differently. All along her mother acknowledges the situation and weird goings on but to her these are friendly spirits.

An outcast, Chloe, befriends Paige. Chloe is this "emo" dark girl who is into the supernatural. She being fascinated by the supernatural asks to sleepover one night because it is said that Paige's house used to be a hospital and the basement was the morgue. The girls begin to investigate and stumble on a boy in the basement, Ralph. Apparently he lives down there and is pretty much alive, so it seems. His mother owns the house and he rents the basement, while Paige's mother rents the whole house.

It will be up to Paige to figure out what is going on in her new home, and save her family from becoming a victim to an occult group from the past. But what do you do when you become the thing that bumps in the night?

I'm not sure if I liked this book completely. It definitely had a creepy atmosphere, intense emotions from the main character and unexplained happenings throughout the story. What I did like most and makes all the small issues and shortcomings seem not so bad is the way we are given an unreliable narrator. This haunting is happening to the main character's family home and sometimes that can cloud reality and perceptions. THe reader is left questioning what is real and what is perceived as reality by the narrator. Also, the reader is given a limited view of what is truly taking place. This technique gives an eerie tone to the whole story, especially by the end.

3 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy

The CreepingThe Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
Pub: 8/18/2015
Pgs: 400
ARC Received from Edelweiss

"I'm the lucky one; or at least that's what they say.  I'm here to squint up at Independence Day fireworks under an orangehued moon; to fidget in the violet organza of my junior prom dress; to toast under the Midwestern sun while sipping peach fizzies lakeside.  But sometimes the luck is harder to see."

17 year old Stella cannot remember what happened on the day that Jeanie was abducted. Stella was only 5, but it has been the most significant thing that has happened to her, because she was with Jeanie and she was the only one that made it home that day. Since then everything has changed, Stella is a popular girl in her high school, the guys fawn over her, and she has a great group of friends. On the anniversary of Jeanie's disappearance another little girl, with red hair like Jeanie, is found dead and mutilated at the cemetery. Is this a coincidence or a link to Jeanie's disappearance? With the discovery of a new body, people begin to come back to Stella's town, people that were there and were connected to Jeanie and Stella before Jeanie disappeared. And there is a haunting past to Jeanie's town, one that could also explain what happened, because people have been disappearing throughout history in this sleepy town in Minnesota.

Stella decides she needs to find out what happened to Jeanie, she needs to find out what happened or else she will forever be living in this volatile existence of the survivor. With the help of her uber-controlling and uber-popular best friend, and an old and pretty cute best friend Stella goes in search for answers that seem to have been buried for a reason. Will she be able to figure out who took Jeanie? Will the myth of The Creeping be proven to be truth? How far will these teens go to find the answers no one is willing to seek?

I really liked how this book started out with inclinations of the supernatural or some otherness, but in the end monsters are explained much differently. The elements of suspicion and treachery are a big component to what made this novel so enticing. I wanted to tell Stella to stop looking (actually I wanted Stella to stop being a jerk most of the time, but hey people come in all different manners, cannot judge this book on just her character because there are so many redeeming characters within the book), I wanted Sam to stop encouraging the investigation, and I definitely wanted Shane to be told more from the beginning. The ending really did not disappoint and I kind of didn't really think it a possible ending because the supernatural was so prominent and I don't think most people's minds go right to that anyway (I don't want to say too much on what was so shocking in the end.)

4 out of 5 stars. Thanks Edelweiss.

Reawakened by Colleen Houck

Reawakened (Reawakened, #1)Reawakened by Colleen Houck
Pub: 8/11/2015
Pgs: 400
ARC received through Edelweiss

"I need sustenance, Young Lily...Without my jars I must share your life force."

"Share my... Well, see, that's the thing, I'm using mine just now, thank you. Really wish I could help you, I do."

Lilliana Young is a 17 year old, who lives the comfortable life in New York City. On her spring break she decides to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and enjoy sometime to herself while sketching. Because Lily is known at the museum and she is part of the 1%, she gets special treatment and asks to go into one of the closed off sections of the library for some privacy. There is a new Egyptian exhibit coming along and hasn't opened yet, this is where Lily's life completely changes from sturdy and predictable to adventurous and h.o.t. As Lily is sketching she hears a noise and after investigating she finds herself face to face with a young and very attractive guy who is wearing a pleated white skirt and pretty much nothing else. This piece of eye candy is Amon, and he is definitely not from NYC or this century.

Amon is an ancient prince from Egypt, who has come back to life to complete a sacred ritual that will protect the world from chaos. He wakes up somewhere he has never woken up before, he doesn't know where his brothers are, and they need to complete the ritual before the next full moon, which is coming up soon. Not only does he have all this going on but it seems that when his coffin was moved to NYC they forgot his life force, or the jars containing his organs. He must convince Lily to help him in more ways than she can fathom, and he must link Lily to him so that he can stay alive without his jars.

Lily would like nothing more than to run away from Amon but soon she realizes they are connected in multiple ways and she's done being Lilliana Young, the perfect daughter. She gathers up her courage and sets off on an adventure of a life time with really hot mummies/princes, crazy cults, unearthing thousand year old secrets, and a flame that has begun to consume her every time she thinks of Amon. Will Lily be able to help Amon and his brothers before time runs out, or will she lose her heart and her life?

I am in love! Colleen Houck introduced readers to exotic settings, love like no other, and crazy curses in her last series; now she has created another enchanting series that could very well rival her last one. The story telling is still really great and attention grabbing, the main character is still kind of annoying (I am sorry! It's so true, it's my only issue every time), and the guys... well the guys are definitely note worthy and just *drool* . I cannot wait to find out what happens next because that prince sure knew what he was doing in the end.

5 stars all the way! Thanks Edelweiss.

Gidion's Hunt by Bill Blume

Gidion's Hunt

Gidion's Hunt by Bill Blume
Pub: 8/11/2015
Pgs: 296
ARC received through NetGalley

Gidion Keep isn't your average sophomore in high school; not after his grandfather let him on the family secret. The Keeps know something everyone else doesn't know; Vampires are real and the Keeps hunt them down. Gidion now hunts vampires and when the job is done he notifies his grandfather, who owns a funeral home with its own incinerator. The only problem Gidion faces is his father finding out. His father is an ex-cop we works for the dispatching unit now, and once hunted vampires but after a death close to home he stopped and focused on Gidion. Gidion constantly has to come up with plausible stories for his father, and this might not seem like a lot of trouble, but for a son of an ex-cop it's pretty tough. Besides this, Gidion is your average teen looking for some action whether it's fighting vampires or you know... girls. That is, until Gidion saves someone he knows from a vampire, alerting that person to what he does. Not only does this happen once but twice, and soon Gidion realizes the vampires are contracting hits against these two people. Now Gidion must figure out who is involved, where to locate the vampire leader, stop being tongue tied in front of the hot senior girl he saved, and figure out what's going on with his best friend all before it's too late.

I really liked Gidion as a character. First, he's a guy... yay! for a guy MC. Second, the humor was spot on. Most of the interactions between characters were funny and moved the story along quickly. This was a quick read because it kept me engaged one moved along so quickly I couldn't stop if I wanted to. I also really liked the relationship between Gidion, his father, and his grandfather. All three guys are there for each other in many different manners, and each one has their own secret that they are keeping from each other.

4 out of 5 stars. Thanks NetGalley.