Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Pirate's Wish (The Assassin's Curse, #2)
Cassandra Rose Clarke creates a wonderful conclusion to her series The Assassin’s Curse.  In The Pirate’s Wish we catch up with Ananna and Naji.  Ananna is the daughter of a pirate and Naji is the assassin sent to kill her after she snubbed another pirate’s son’s proposal.  By some twist of fate Ananna ends up saving the assassin’s life, and a curse befalls him.  He cannot part with Ananna, for he must give a life for a life.  He must protect her or suffer physical pain.  Together they have stayed supporting each other.  In this book these two are on a journey to break Naji’s curse.  Before the curse can be broken Naji must do the following three impossible tasks: hold the princess’s starstones skin against stone, create life out of violence, and experience true love’s kiss.   If you read the exciting tale of The Assassin’s Curse (Book 1), then you are aware of Ananna’s feelings for Naji.  That being said, at least one of those tasks is plausible.

This story has the same hijinks as the first book, but with new characters.  A manticore is the new guiding character in this book, and unlike the last book where we had the witches out to get Naji the manticore helps further their journey.   Secrets, surprise appearances and swash buckling adventure waits in this book.  I am glad I didn’t miss it, make sure you don’t. 
 
4/5 stars!!!
Thanks Net Galley

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

The Summer I Became a Nerd
 
Being a nerd has never been a problem for me.  I read like it’s going out of style, even if not everyone can understand it.  In any case the idea of being a nerd or a geek has never made me feel insecure.  That is not the experience of Madelyne Jean Summers.  After a disastrous costume debacle in middle school, Maddie promises to hide her inner comic book geekiness.  So for the past few years Maddie has owned the title of “The Cheerleader.”   Her friends are popular, her boyfriend is the quarterback and everyone envies her, but what people do not know is that she follows comics with intense fierceness. 
It is the summer before senior year, and Maddie is waiting for issue #400 of her favorite comic book.  Usually she receives her comics through the mail so that no one will know her secret, but the problem this time is that there is a back order on her comic.  Maddie decides she cannot wait until August to read the comic and ventures to the local comic shop in disguise, but what she was not expecting to find there is Logan and for him to recognize her.  Now she is desperate to make sure that Logan does not out her.  With Eric, her boyfriend gone for vacation and a friendship with Logan that is built on her quirky likes, Maddie is in for one weird, nerdy and super crazy summer!
Fun light read! 3/5 stars.  Thanks Net Galley.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Gameboard of the Gods (Age of X, #1)

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead was nothing like what I was expecting.  For full disclosure, I should state that I have not read anything by Mead yet.  I selected this arc through the YA list; however, about 8% in I realized this is not exactly YA.   Trying to categorize this book as MYA or Adult FIC is difficult, because of the writing style.  You receive both MC’s point of view, but also Tessa who is about 16 years old.  In this dystopian world religion has been wiped out in this dystopian world, which leads to the perfect environment for gods to try to reclaim their existence. 
The book opens up with Mae, who is a Praetorian guard, an elite force for this dystopian society.  Praetorians are pumped with chemicals throughout the day for their entire career to make sure they maintain the lethal weapon status.  Mae’s ex-beau has been killed in action and she now has to attend his funeral.  During the funeral Mae get into a fight (where she breaks someone’s leg, no biggie) and has to report to her higher up.  Upon reporting she is told that she will be given an assignment (she thinks it is her punishment for the fight), so Mae gets ready for her new assignment.
Enter Dr. Justin March.  He used work for the government researching religious groups to maintain a balance.  People are still allowed to worship; however, the government controls how far they can go with their churches and meetings.  During one of his routine rounds something occurred that had him exiled to Panama.  Now he spends all his time drinking, getting high and going home with lovely ladies, including Mae (this is how I realized it was a little too descriptive and quick to be just YA).  March is being brought back to the folds of the society that exiled him, because there is murderer on the loose and March might be the right guy to solve this case.
What ensues is a crazy love/hate relationship between Justin and Mae, digging up past secrets, delving into the occult, oh and dealing with the supernatural.  You see Justin and Mae have been signaled out by gods to become the elite, but in a world that no longer believes in gods how can you convince either one of the importance of their roles?  The story was faced paced, and I loved Justin’s sister and Tessa, a girl from Panama who is the daughter of one of Justin’s friends.  He brought Tessa with him to give her a chance to become something in life, a chance she would not have gotten in Panama.  Definitely an engrossing read meant for mature YA and adults. 
3/5 stars.
Thanks Net Galley and Edelweiss.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)
Do you ever read about two characters and their relationship is a crazy rollercoaster of emotions, and you just can’t be okay with the choices they make in said relationship?  Well that is how I feel about the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry.  Dare You To is the second in the series.  At least McGarry is honest about the whole limits being pushed in the series.  The whole point of these stories is to point out that there is someone out there who might not be like you but will love you until the end of time.  I don’t know if I agree with that point, seeing as the characters have barely lived.  Granted the characters suffer some really hard times like abandonment and mental disorders in the family (which can harm), but still I fell too young for this kind of emotionally volatile behavior.  Am I wrong here?  I don’t know.

Dare You To dealt with abandonment issues and the whole child being the parent syndrome.  Beth is the female MC, who is best friends with Noah, the male MC from book #1.  She’s tough as nails, does drugs and takes care of her alcoholic mother, who has an abusive boyfriend.  On the other side of the coin there is Ryan, the male MC.  He comes from the wealthy side of town and has a bright future in baseball ahead of him.  Ryan is dealing with abandonment issues as well.  Together they learn to trust and love someone else, in light of all the bad relationships with friends, family members and significant others. There is too much that happens in this book to summarize it in this review.  The story is likable and some might down right love it, but what is certain is that there will not be a dull moment in store for you.

3/5 stars.  Thank you Net Galley

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler


The Book of Broken Hearts


I would like to accuse The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler of false advertisement. Don’t worry lovers of this book or author, this accusation is done in happiness. Ockler’s novel is advertised as a coming of age story of love and heart break. Jude is the last Hernandez sibling in the house. Growing up she witnessed the many heart breaks her 3 sisters endured, and most of those incidents were caused by the Vargas brothers. After a final heart break, one to go in the record books, the Hernandez sisters decide to create a book of broken hearts, in which they record all the guys that ever stomped on their hearts and wishes. Once the book is all set, they also make poor Jude (she’s about 12 years old during this and if you ask me I am shocked she isn’t more traumatized by love after what her sisters tell her) do a blood pack promising to never, ever be involved with a Vargas brother for any reason, because they are all “dark hearts, every one.”

This all sounds very sisterly and girl bonding-ish, but enter Emilio. Emilio Vargas is the answer to Jude’s prayers but a constant nightmare as well. See, here is the reason why I believe this book was falsely advertised. This isn’t about just love; this is about Jude trying to keep hold of her family as they are faced with Bear Hernandez’s Alzheimer’s. After Jude’s father Bear recognizes his old motorcycle and starts remembering the old days, before he started a family, she latches on to the hope that this restoration of the motorcycle will be the cure for him. Hence the desperate act of hiring a Vargas brother. What ensues is plenty of grease head speak, memories of her father, keeping Emilio a secret from her sisters and figuring out why Emilio makes her shiver at every turn.

I loved it. Emilio was a great character with depth; he wasn’t just a pretty face or just another Vargas brother. He helped in the development of Jude’s character as well, which is always nice to see. Alzheimer’s is also done tastefully in this book. At no point did I think, “Wow, this author is reaching.” I understood the illness in its infancy and could see the pain behind each character that this illness touched. Lovely story, lovely characters and lovely messages were threaded in this big fat falsely advertised book!




Monday, May 6, 2013

Screwed by Laurie Plissner


Screwed

In Screwed a seemingly innocent girl, who comes from a perfect family, leads a perfect life and gets the perfect grades all of a sudden, becomes pregnant.  Okay, obviously it was not all of a sudden. So the author wanted to tell the story of teen pregnancy from the perspective of a girl who would not fall under the norm of teen pregnancy.  Apparently, teen pregnancy does not happen to smart girls (this was a underlying message reiterated constantly by a few major characters).  Smart girls are immune to life… right.  Also, this book is full of the most extreme cases of self absorption.  You have a baby daddy that cannot give up his playa status, parents who would rather have their daughter have an abortion to save face with the church community (okay I do like how they portray this end of the spectrum because often times it is those who preach that commit the worse sins… also I don’t think abortion is a sin, but that is a moot point), and a best friend who is just… not a nice person.
The only redeeming quality of this story was Helen, the next door neighbor that picked up Grace from the streets after her parents threw her out.  Actually anyone associated with Helen and her good deeds were the best characters of this whole book.  That is all I can say about this book.  I don’t know if I wanted to like it but I wanted to try it, especially because as someone who deals with teens all day this is a prominent issue in the inner city.  This book however, does not speak to inner city kids, kids who don’t have an heiress as a next door neighbor that will help house them and pay for their needs including college.  That just doesn’t happen in our neighborhood, and I could not see a connection to any of the teens I see every day.

Thanks Net Galley!
2/5 stars.

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

School Spirits (School Spirits, #1)

The world that Rachel Hawkins created in the Hex Halls series is back in this new book School Spirits!  This time the tables are switch, and instead following a Prodigium (magically inclined person) we are following a Brannick, Isolde Brannick to be exact.  Isolde is the youngest Brannick and cousin to Sophie (from the Hex Hall series).  At this point it is just Isolde and her mother, because the oldest Brannick daughter has gone missing.  On top of her missing sister, Isolde’s mother is becoming more and more of a pain.  All this culminates into an assignment that her mother gives her, to become a regular teenager, go to school and eliminate a ghost that has been terrorizing people of Mary Evans High School.
Izzy slowly integrates herself into regular life, which is pretty cool to see since she has never really interacted with the outside world. To add to the fun, she also joins a club at school that is already investigating the supernatural occurrences happening at the school.  This clubs moniker is P.M.S: also known Paranormal Management Society.  While her new friends and she investigate what is going on at MEHS, there are plenty of red flags been thrown up.  Is her new friend Dex a Prodigium?  What about Romy, did she conjure up a spell strong enough to tether to a ghost?  Perhaps it is just a ghost with a vendetta. 
This was a cute book, and I don’t mean cute in a mean way.  I think that people who love Hex Hall and the many characters will love this new series.  Torin is also a character in this book (he was the guy in the mirror).  It was fun and light, a good read for middle school students and everyone else!

Thanks Net Galley!
4/5 stars

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

Invisibility

“I am not solid to the world, but the world is solid to me.  The curse is its own intricately woven, often contradictory web, and I was born into it.  I am an unknowing slave to its design… It isn’t loneliness really.  Because loneliness comes from thinking you can be involved in the world, but aren’t.  Being invisible is being solitary without the potential of being anything but solitary.  So after a while, you step aside from the world.  It’s like you’re in a theater, alone in the audience, and everything else is happening on stage.”
In Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan, Stephen has been cursed to a life of invisibility.  He was born that way and most likely he will die that way.  Why Stephen is invisible is completely hidden from him.  He has learned to accept this and after his mother’s passing he continues to go with the motion that has become his life that is until Elizabeth enters the picture.  Elizabeth Josephine is new to New York.  Leaving behind her old life is both bitter and sweet for her.  You see Elizabeth left her home town with her mother and brother, after her brother was attacked back home.  Once her father split, so did they and into the world of curses and spell seekers. Elizabeth can see Stephen.  She is the only one that has ever laid eyes on him, and there is a good reason why: she is a spell-seeker. 
Here is my problem with this book: did it seem like my first paragraph was confusing?  There is a good reason for that, this book is confusing.  At first I thought it was just this story that flip flops from Stephen and Elizabeth’s perspectives, but then magic was introduced.  Don’t get me wrong, you really can’t have an invisible character without a little Sci-Fi or supernatural, but really?  Nothing about this book explained that magic existed.  I feel like the world this book was surrounded in was not very well fleshed out.  Perhaps fleshing this out would have created more pages to read, but really I think it was necessary.  On top of being confused about this world in this book, Elizabeth is perhaps the most annoying character in the whole book.  This would be fine, because there is always one in every book, but she makes for almost 50% of the perspective of this book. 
I really wanted to like this book, because I really like Levithan, I just couldn’t.  It was okay and I liked Stephen (he was a deeper character than Elizabeth).  I really did not like the end; it felt like there could be a second book if the authors choose to do one.  It just felt as though nothing was really resolved. 
Thanks Edelweiss!
2/5 stars.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

The S-Word

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher is not the best or worst book of all time.  It had a great premise and potential; however, the execution was not amazing.  First, I would like to take a second to thank the author for putting herself out there and also trying to accomplish a good book.  This book is not going to go into the cannon of literature, but it still is a good book.  Angie our protagonist is out to figure out who to blame for her best friend’s suicide; the problem is that Angie is one of the many students who gave a hand (even if it was through inaction) in the bullying of Lizzie Hart.  Lizzie was caught in a compromising situation with Angie’s boyfriend on prom night, after that the word “Slut” is scribbled on her locker and soon the snow ball effect is initiated until Lizzie takes her own life. 
So you figure, this is a regular old book about suicide and the effects of bullying, right? NO! This is not true, at least not completely.  What Pitcher tried and was pretty successful for the most part was to create a detective story out of this.  We follow Angie as she is questioning the cheer captain, the thespians, the weird creepy neighbor boy and finally Drake (the cheating ex).  All this time there are pieces of Lizzie’s diary being shoved into lockers with specific dates for specific people.  There is this picture of what occurred between prom and Lizzie’s suicide in the readers mind and every now and then, BAM! something happens to change that picture just a little bit.  These changes are so subtle that it’s almost unnoticeable; however, the picture at the beginning of the novel is completely different than that at the end. 
What I liked:  Lizzie is never present, present.  Whenever Lizzie interacts with characters in the story it is through memories; however, she was a full blown active character.  Nothing was meant to be supernatural in this story but the diary entries, the reactions of students and also Angie’s behavior make Lizzie an almost tangible presence that can sometimes be stifling for the characters. That part of the book was cool; kudos Pitcher for creating a creepy “Rebecca” persona but with a heart (everyone who doesn’t know what I am referring to please look up Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier). 
What needs more work: the writing was not amazing; however, with above mentioned techniques this writer has the potential to eventually write great books.  It takes practice people, and I find that if I can read what you wrote and understand the message(s), motifs, themes, language, and everything else that comes with literature then you are close to getting better.  Sometimes I wish that some negative reviewers would try and sit in front of a computer and be creative.  I don’t mean talk about your opinion, I mean disguise your opinion so much that it is completely embedded in a story to the point of being hidden.  It is not easy and I will not pretend it is.  Again, I stress.  For her debut novel I think she did great and if I were 10 years younger I probably wouldn’t have cared if her writing was terrible as long as the story wasn’t. 
Thanks NetGalley!
3/5 stars

Loki's Woloves by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr


Loki's Wolves (The Blackwell Pages, #1)
Ragnork is coming.  The myths have described this apocalypse and only the gods can stop it.  These Norse gods are dead.  Enter our main characters Matt Thorsen and Fen and Laurie Brekke.  Matt has grown up with the knowledge of these myths, because Matt is a descendent of Thor.  That’s right!  He also knows the identity of the Brekke cousins; however, he is under the impression that desendents of Loki do not know their lineage.
Told in all 3 perspectives, this book immediately captivates you.  For a moment I thought I was reading a really good mature YA novel, but then I realized it was middle school.  This book being a middle school book was not even an issue, because the characters are so smart (they are also not dealing with the crazy hormones that create love triangles… yet, it’s always a possibility in the next book) and the writers did a wonderful job weaving the legend into the story without being confusing.  The only other author I enjoy reading Norse Mythologies or anything close to it is Maggie Stiefvater.
Matt is the hero, Fen is a wolf (one of the shape shifting attributes of the trickster god Loki) and Laurie is completely unaware of her lineage, but not for long.  Having these three degrees of separation was really enjoyable reading.  The reader is able to know important things but not completely overwhelmed.  I think the most enjoyable part of this book is the fact that all the descendents that are found along the way in the journey to save the world, do not want to emulate their descendent.  This is especially true with Fen, who has to deal with being the bad apple from the rotten apple tree.  All he thinks he can be is bad because that is what others see; however, Laurie tries to show him that he isn’t bad at all.  Fen happens to start believing this which sets a whole new course for our characters, one of teamwork and overall kicking butt.  The characters are well balanced out and at the end I was really dreading things dissolving, but do not fret readers!  If you read this book and are discourage by some actions that take place at the end, know this: that cliff hanger is one the nicest (I don’t want to yell at the author) cliffhangers ever!
4/5 stars.
Thanks Edelweiss!