Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

     The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2)           The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson is the second book in the Shades of London series.  The first book dealt with a Ripper copycat and our main character, Aurora/Rory, defeated said copycat.  Rory is an American who is at boarding school in London.  There she has a regular time of getting used to a new school, making friends and even finding time for romance.  The only issue that occurs is that Rory has a near death experience (she chokes at dinner) and can now see ghosts.  Not so weird… until it becomes evident that this handy dandy new ability will help defeat the one responsible for the Ripper murders.  While trying to investigate this (luckily London has cameras everywhere) with her friends Rory stumbles upon a group of paranormal investigators that can also see the dead. 
                The Madness Underneath picks up right where the first book ends.  Rory is outside of London, living with her parents.  She has been told to stay away from London, and her team of paranormal investigators.  Rory is also seeing a pyschiatrist, which is ridiculous because she signed a “gag order” stating she would never reveal this particular company of the British police.  Even though she was pushed away, at some point it is decided to bring her back.  The reason why she was brought back to London is because there is a new killer in town and Rory has aquired a new skill, with one touch she can destroy ghosts.
                I have to say that at first I was really excited but this book lacked crime… weird right?  There were approximately 3 kills, they were kind of cool but call me crazy for wanting more.  Unfortuantely this time Rory is not battling a killer but a weird cult of people who also see ghosts.  I want to say it wasn’t terrible because there were moments that I really did like, especially towards the end.  With an ending like the one in The Madness Underneath Iwill definitely be reading the third book to find out what happens next. Suggested audience would be middle to high school grades, and those that read the first book.
Thanks NetGalley!
3/5 stars

Friday, February 22, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park

“He’d stopped trying to bring her back.
                She only came back when she felt like it, in dreams and lies and broken-down déjà vu. 
Like, he’d be driving to work, and he’d see a girl with red hair standing on the corner—and he’d swear, for half a chocking moment, that it was her.
                Then he’d see that the girl’s hair was more blond than red. 
                And that she was holding a cigarette… And wearing a Sex Pistols T-shirt. 
                Eleanor hated the Sex Pistols.
                Standing behind him until he turned his head.  Lying next to him just before he woke up.  Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough.
                Eleanor ruining everything.
                Eleanor, gone.
                He’d stopped trying to bring her back.”- Eleanor & Park, P.  1

                When I first read the introduction to Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (awesome name, fyi) I immediately concluded that Eleanor was a jerk and that this story was about how Park, our male protagonist, has to deal with first love.  Mind you, this was not necessarily a bad conclusion, but alas I was wrong.  This story is so much deeper and at the same time so much more frivolous because it is a first love story involving two human teens who have to deal with very human issues, in 1986. 

                Eleanor is new, she has just moved back with her mother after being away for a year.  We later find out that the reason behind this is her stepfather and the abuse relationship her mother has with him.  Eleanor is nicked named Big Red because she is busty and she has extremely red hair, also this is not a good nickname, she is being bullied.  She will be bullied from the moment she walks on the bus right down to gym class.  At first the only reprieve she has is sitting on the bus with Park.

                Park is your typical American high school student, except that he is half Korean and half Irish, something that is not widely accepted without some jokes during the 1980’s.  He isn’t unpopular but everyone sees him as an “other.”  He also seems to have is stuff together intellectually and maturity wise compared to the kids in the bus.  That is, until he meets Eleanor and figures he might be just as shallow as everyone else.

                As time progresses the two, very slowly, start to communicate.  First through comics then through music.  As slow as that started, the hand holding, thinking of each other, professing love comes even quicker.  All the while Eleanor deals with being bullied and keeping Park a secret, because her stepfather is obsessive about her, in all the wrong ways.  This is a love story that will remind you of your first like, about the boy/girl that you talked to for hours on the phone/aim/notes and make you remember why that particular person was better than everyone else.  Most of all it reminds you of the splendid innocence of first love and the biting ache of your first heartbreak. 

Fuse (Pure #2) by Julianna Baggot

Fuse by Julianna Baggott
“When the world ended, those who dwelled within the Dome were safe. Inside their glass world the Pures live on unscarred, while those outside—the Wretches—struggle to survive amidst the smoke and ash.

Believing his mother was living among the Wretches, Partridge escaped from the Dome to find her. Determined to regain control over his son, Willux, the leader of the Pures, unleashes a violent new attack on the Wretches. It’s up to Pressia Belze, a young woman with her own mysterious past, to decode a set of cryptic clues from the past to set the Wretches free.

An epic quest that sweeps readers into a world of beautiful brutality, Fuse continues the story of two people fighting to save their futures—and change the fate of the world

Fuse is the second book in the Pure trilogy by Julianna Baggot.  The premise behind this trilogy is that there was a nuclear explosion of epic proportions.  To explain better the story here is the goodreads.com summary of Pure:
We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .
There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it's his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.
Our main characters are Pressia (wretch), Bradwell (wretch), El Capitan and Helmod (wretches), Partridge (Pure), and Lyda (Pure).  There are many other important characters but these particular characters, minus Bradwell, all have a written point of view.  Each chapter alternates most of the time between each character.  It is not written in first person so sometimes this can cause some issues with fluently reading the novel.  When I first started to read this book I was excited to continue this series but also I was downright disappointed.  My main disappointment, I later realized, had to do with Lyda.  She is an awful character in this book, not the series.  I don’t like her indecisiveness and also the fact that she flip flops on her loyalty to Partridge. 
What makes up for the first 20% of the book?  Well, the craziness brought on by Willux, Partridge’s father, leader of the Pures and also the man responsible for the Detonations and the abandonment of the wretches.  Willux is your typical Dr. Evil.  Partridge will have to fit for his life and his memories if he wishes to defeat his father and save humanity (no big deal.)
While Partridge is dealing with that, Lyda must face the facts the Mothers will stop at nothing to kill Partridge because he is a Death (these ladies are really feminist, like beyond burning bras… which incidentally only gives men more to ogle at perpetuating the objectification of women, not the intended message but I digress).  These Mothers would like to make an example by using a powerful man’s son as their first kill.  Of course something happens between Lyda and Partridge that serves as an excuse to the Mothers.
That’s just half of the story.  The other half involves Pressia (Partridge’s half-sister), Bradwell and El Capitan/Helmod.  They are in search for the truth that will ultimately lead to the down fall of life as they know it, which is a good thing in their cases since they are wretches.  At some point they get to fly too! 
It is hard not to give everything away in an explanation because when I finished the book… no scratch that, when I finished Partridge’s last chapter I couldn’t contain myself: “You are my son,” he says. “You are mine.”  These are Willux’s last words to Partridge and frankly I was stunned and excited by what transpired between father and son in this book.  What I will say is that so far this series is sad, terrifying, joyful, inspirational, and thought provoking.  I don’t think you can read these books and have a superficial thought about it.  Like I said I started off hating Lyda for dumb things but then bigger things transpired, more important things that ultimately decide the future for everyone involved.  You cannot get hung up on the romance because the tempo is set to real life, there is no moment to worry about love and when they do worry about it they decide it is not the most important thing at the moment. I like the wisdom in that.  I recommend this book highly! Thanks Net Galley.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington

The Dead and Buried

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington is a great ghost story.  As predictable as the story was (don’t worry it takes a minute or two to figure out the clue that leads to the actual killer) this ghost story was much better than other stories I have read in YA.  Set in Massachusetts, which is a creepy state to begin with, Jade has just moved to a nice suburban town with her family.  This has been her dream ever since she was little and now as a high school senior she gets to revel in the enjoyment of a new scene, but something isn’t right.

At first her little brother Colby tells Jade about this girl that is in their home.  He describes her as glimmery and cannot speak, though she tries.  As Colby is 5 yrs. old, Jade tries to reason that he has an over active imagination, but as she starts school she hears about the girl who once lived in her new home, Kayla, who died the summer before after falling down the stairs.  Not only does Jade find this out, but the guy she has the hot’s for is none other than Donovan, Kayla’s ex-boyfriend and also suspect in her unnatural death. 

Kayla decides to threaten Colby’s life in order to make Jade find the person who killed her, once and for all.  Now Jade must navigate through high school hierarchy, and what she discovers is that there are plenty of people who would have wanted the beautiful, smart, vindictive social queen to die.  Who can she trust and is Donovan really innocent?

What I liked about this book is that not only is Harrington’s main character and love interest likable but she included diary entries from Kayla’s life.  Also a great point, Kayla does not use names in her entries but has referred to everyone as a number.  Once you realize who is number what and meet other characters as Kayla describes them, you figure out who killed her and then you second guess yourself.

3 stars out of 5, could have been better but still creepy and worth the read!