Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me by Brian Rowe

 Happy Birthday to Me (Birthday Trilogy, #1)
Happy Birthday to Me by Brian Rowe is one of those books you pick up at the library or at the book store for guilty pleasure reading.  Sure it’s not Fifty Shades of Gray guilty reading (p.s. I am not a fan of that series for the record), but it is definitely fun and sure maybe we learn the lifelong lesson that the world does not revolve around us.  There are no deaths of important characters, there is no bullying beyond belief and it isn’t a change-of life story.  What it is, is a novel about a boy named Cameron who has had it good for far too long.  The world revolves around Cameron, and normally these people exist in our world, but unfortunately for Cameron a young witch lives in his.  Liesel, our young witch, has been observing Cameron all throughout high school pining for him, but when he comes in drunk and hanging all over his girlfriend and to top it off telling her for the second time in a couple of weeks it his birthday, so that he can receive the free desert, Liesel cannot take his arrogant ways any longer.  So what she does is casts a spell during the “Happy Birthday” song making Cameron age a year every day.
Of course Cameron does not realize what has happened, all he knows is that he is getting facial hair—score!  Now he’s more mature looking and his girlfriend definitely will want to sleep with him, right?  But what about that beer gut?!  And that salt and pepper hair?!  What is Cameron to do?  With only a few weeks before graduation, Cameron might not make it to see his big day because at that point he will be too old to leave the hospital.  Cameron needs to figure out what happened and fast, he also needs to figure out who that cute mysterious girl is that is constantly popping up.  She looks mighty familiar, and she might be the only person who has answers for Cameron.
This was such a fun book.  Even though I gave it only 3/5 stars, I still bought the next 2 books in the series.  I usually try to only blog about new books, but when I requested this book through Net Galley I did not realize it was published in 2011.  It was a good thing, because now I have 2 more books to journey onward with Cameron and Liesel.
Side Note:  To each his own and all that jazz, but really?  Do you really want to date the girl that cursed you but is really in love with you?  So awkward. 

Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend by Louise Rozett

Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend (Confessions, #2)
Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend by Louise Rozett, is the second book over her Confessions series.  This series is focused on Rose Zarelli.  We first met Rose as a freshman in high school.  Her father, an engineer, had died in Afghanistan prior to her first year of high school.  Rose is angry, sad, and just too focused on the death of her father.  In school she meets Jamie Forta, a trouble maker who likes to get into fights, and who all the girls want.  Jamie is an old friend of her brother Peter, who asked him to watch over Rose in school since she was having such a bad time with the death of her father.   What ends up happening is a lot of stolen kisses, fights with Regina (Jamie’s on/off girlfriend), and eventually prom being cut short for Rose because Jamie gets arrested.  What this book focuses on is Rose’s second year in high school and dealing with her feelings for Jamie, along with everyone else in her life, including the death of her father.
Rose has grown up a little and I love her for it.  I mean she does the regular teenage things that make readers roll their eyes but she is a very intuitive person who knows what she is doing (good or bad).  It is hard to hate someone who thinks logically (even if that ruins some outcomes for her).  She’s done being pushed around, figuratively, by Jaime, she will not take down her memorial website of her father for her mother’s sake, and she’s done dealing with Regina.  This year is a brand new, new start for Rose… until she goes to a beginning of the year pool party at her friend’s ex-boyfriend’s house.  Rose was going to be out of sight/out of mind this year, until the swim thugs (swim team) decide to haze their newbies and one of the newbies is Conrad, Regina’s brother.  Because of his sexual orientation the swim team goes hard on him and since Regina or no one else wants to save the poor boy from drowning, Rose kind of falls into the role and also the pool.  In enters Jaime.  After not seeing him since he got arrested, Rose gets saved by Jaime and then he bails. 
Jaime… Jaime… Jaime.  Yes, I love Jaime, but boy does that boy need work.  He is hot and cold, noble but a jerk and he just can’t seem to do the right thing at the right time, but boy does he try.  Still with the hero complex, he has decided to be a hero for Regina (did I mention he went to jail… and did I mention it was because Regina sent him there?) and Conrad.  This creates so many complications for Rose and him that even though he pulls her to him he is pushing her away as well.  If I was Rose I probably would tell him off, and as a 15 year old she is doing a mighty good job of growing some guts when it comes to him.  She realizes that if Jaime cannot put the effort in to whatever it is that they have, then that is his loss.
That is what I loved about this book.  Rose grows up so quickly at the end.  She figures thing out about herself and in the process she learns new things about her brother, mother, and best friend Tracy.  Granted this is done without some serious push backs from Rose, but that is the beauty of growing up.  I also don’t think she is that angry.  She’s a teenager, and she is person.  Everyone is always telling her what she needs to feel or do and frankly that would make me cranky.  I cannot wait for the next book, I want to hear her tell Jaime off some more, it does create great tension (admit it Jaime lovers). 

4/5 stars!  Thanks NetGalley!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Far Far Away By Tom McNeal

Far Far Away

"What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl and a ghost.  The boy possessed uncommon qualities, the girl was winsome and daring, and the ancient ghost... well, let it only be said that his intentions were good.

If more heavily seasoned with romance, this might have made a tender tale, but there was yet another player in the cast, the Finder of Occasions, someone who moved freely about the village, someone who watched and waited, someone with tendencies so tortured and malignant that I could scarcely bring myself to see them, and even now can scarcely bring myself to reveal them to you.

I will, though.  It is a promise.  I will."--Far Far Away.

And so begins our tale of Far Far Away.  McNeal's novel is narrative by Jacob Grimm, our ghost in the tale.  Jeremy is our boy and Ginger is our girl.  Together they all live in this tiny town that you can almost miss if you don't know what you are looking for.  The descriptions cast the town to be a small town where everyone knows each other and almost picturesque.  The main element in this story is fairy tales.  Jeremy is all about fairy tales (because the connection to his mother) and Jacob is a brother Grimm so of course being Jeremy's guiding spirit he also infuses the tale with other stories.  Perhaps that is one of my favorite parts of this novel, the connection to Grimm and also the way fairy tales are threaded to enhance the morals in the story. 

Far Far Away is adventurous, romantic, sad, and down right morally linked.  Jeremy learns to be something other than what he has been for the past 5 years.  Ginger learns that bringing yourself on an adventure might not be so bad.  Finally, Jacob learns to love and let go.  How these lessons are learned is the best part.  Beware the Finder of Occasions and remember everyone is suspect in this tale.  You will not be disappointed, even if at first it seems if it's not as interesting as I am making it out to be it really does get good and it really is a mysteriously amazing story.

4 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Net Galley

Linked By Imogen Howson


Linked by Imogen Howson was not terribly convincing.  Usually I have a pretty open mind about YA now, since the whole paranormal/sci-fi movement has mass produced stories that can sometimes be identical to other stories.  I won’t say that Linked was identical to other stories, even though it did have pieces of other stories here and there. What I will say is that it was disappointing.  It took too long to get into Elissa’s world and understand that this was dystopian. 

When beginning this story I was under the impression that Elissa was sick (like terminally ill, maybe) and she needed a cure.  Come to find out the girl is suffering from hallucinations, as she thinks.  What in reality is happening is that she is linked to another person.  She doesn’t know who this person is, all she knows is that this person is tortured regularly and her hallucinations feel as if she were “linked” to someone and seeing things through their eyes.  Also, come to find out that this story takes place in the future, on a different planet, one that does not recognize twins. 

I would say that the author needed to work on a couple of things for me to have just liked it:  first, she should have done a better job of world building.  Secondly, I really did not appreciate the rushed sentiment of humanity.  Sure the whole premise is about what being human truly means, but the overall way it was conveyed in the story lacked conviction.  The world building would have helped with understanding what the hell was happening from the start but instead we find out about a third into the novel what kind of alternative universe the book was set in.

Overall I give this book 2/5 stars. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay is a story of acceptance, love, and finding self-worth.  Told in the perspective of two main charaters, Nastya and Josh, this book keeps the reader actively engaged.  What I really feel like saying when describing this book is that it was amazing.  That is it.  I hate to be so simplistic about it, but really it was just an amazing, remarkable, noteworthy, outstanding, supercalifragilistic… well you get the point.  The Sea of Tranquility definitely had me staring blankly at nothing for a good 2 minutes after I finished, I mean that ending was just beautiful.  Not many YA novels can do that, heck not many Adult novel can do that.  It is hard to find a book full of love, tragedy, redemption and good word-smithing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love angel and vampires as much as the next person but sometimes books can touch your soul better than anything else in this world; it can fill you with hope and humanity.  That is exactly what this book was like.

The two main characters were possibly the best two characters written in the past year.  Nastya is a sultry girl, who uses outrageously exposing clothes and make up, rude attitude and the silent treatment as ways to hide who she is; to hide the girl that died.  The reader does not get a real explanation as to what happened to Nastya, but what we get is a true sense of the deep desperation that has built up around her.  Too tired to be what everyone needs, Nastya will not love anyone including herself.  You see she died when she was 15 (not literally because this is not a PARAROMANCE) everything she is no longer in existence and she doesn’t know how to go about life this way other than to cut everyone off from her.

Josh is almost opposite.  He’s been beaten up by life, so not quite dead yet.  He has lost those he loves since he was 8.  His life is one death after another and frankly he cannot let anyone in anymore.  He is tired of losing people, he is tired of being left behind, and he is utterly tired of being around people.  He is alone at school (no one dares to break through his barriers), he is alone in his head and most importantly he is alone at home in his garage tinkering with multiple wooden furniture projects.  The last thing he needs is to become friends with the new girl in town, Nastya; it’s bad enough he can’t get the boy who played little league with, Drew, out of his life.  What he doesn’t know is that Nastya is everything he might need and he might be everything she is missing, but that doesn’t mean either one has to come to this realization willingly.

Filled with deep romance and even deeper pain, The Sea of Tranquility is a perfect story that illustrates how life can knock you down, no air in your lungs, blood running down your face, vision blurred and there is still hope.  The hope might be bleak but as soon as you let the vision become focused you will find that the hope is enough for one more day, for a brand new life, and for forgiveness of those that trespassed against you, including yourself.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Outcast by Adrienne Kress

In Outcast by Adrienne Kress “they come out of the sky and take you.  Everyone Knows that.”  For six years angels have been swooping down and taking one person from town.  Same night every year.  Riley, our female lead, has grown up with this reality; however, this reality has now taken away her best friend Chris.  Riley and Chris shared a kiss and the next day he was taken, during the fifth year.  On the sixth year, Riley has “shot an angel in the face.”  And there our story opens.

A shady town, with Pastor Warren as a leader, is the back drop of this southern tale.  Riley has attacked and trapped an angel, Gabe, in her shed.  Gabe cannot remember he’s life as an angel, but he remembers that he is a teenager that lives in the same town, just 60 years before.  Riley has a bone-fied greaser tied up in her shed.  Still not deterred by his memory loss, together they will search for answers.  Is it a blessing to have the angels select a person from town?  What happens to the people that are selected?

What I didn’t expect from this book was the genuine layering of the story.  I won’t say the story was completely original but there were plenty of moments were I wouldn’t have been able to guess the next steps or the outcome.  The love story between Gabe and Riley is wonderful, but the ending… really Riley?  Sometimes I cannot stand when characters go back to normal, you know, after dealing with multiple hundreds of pages of supernatural BS.  This book is a definite worthy read, especially the kindle sale price.  Enjoy this summer outside; I just wanted to be outside the whole time. 


3/5 stars.

Thanks Net Galley!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dance of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Dance of the Red Death (Masque of the Red Death, #2)
Dance of the Red Death is the second and final book in Bethany Griffin’s Masque of the Red Death series.  I would first like to tip my hat to Griffin for her nod to Edgar Allan Poe.  I also enjoyed the devestation in her world; it was more believable than some other dystopian settings, where it is an intrinsic darkness that spreads throughout the world.  This is a very real virus and it is really morphing into a deadlier version.

We last left Araby, Will, April, Elliot, and Kent in the sky, trying to escape the city that is now in ruins.  Araby has discovered that her father was the cause of the virus and she is really hasn’t accepted it yet.  She has also not accepted Will’s betrayal or that April might be dying from the viruse.  Elliot’s affections are also something she isn’t completely willing to accept, but she cannot find a way of ignoring their similarities. 

Much of this book centered on acceptance and also action.  Elliot need to take action of the city to defeat his uncle and his father (who he doesn’t realize is still alive).  Will has accepted that Araby might love Elliot but he is also now willing to put himself at risk and work alongside of Elliot for Araby’s sake.  Araby needs to accept what has happened and find a way to save her best friend April.

I want to say that I loved this story more than the first book but I just could not stand Araby and she imposed triangle.  It almost seemed as if the author didn’t want the triangle but Araby had a mind of her own and that mind was slightly dumb.  She knew she didn’t feel love for Elliot but at the same time she didn’t want to forgive Will, I just don’t appreciate teases and this girl was all about the teasing.  Also, people are dying, can we take a break from this stupidity and try to accomplish want needs to be done without  having to deal with a relationship that doesn’t even exist and never will?

3/5 stars.  Thanks Edelweiss!