What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Friday, August 31, 2012

Revived by Cat Patrick

I read Cat Patrick's Forgotten a while ago before my Dad's heart attack. Then, I was gone and didn't have a chance to write a review for it. After this much time, I couldn't write a review that would do it justice, but I do know that I enjoyed it. It was my enjoyment of Forgotten that led me to her newest book, Revived. I was a little hesitant to read Revived, because I was unsure about the topic of bringing people back to life, but I was very impressed by Miz Patrick's creativity in Forgotten so decided to give Revived a shot. Instead of reading it, I decided to experience this one as an audiobook.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life. A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency's true goals, she realizes she's at the center of something much larger -- and more sinister -- than she ever imagined.

What I Liked: 1) Daisy. As an MC, Daisy was incredibly personable and really came alive on the page. Her history was thoroughly explained and her actions and personality melded nicely. She is a great example of character development done well, and I loved watching her grow throughout the story and learn more about what her life really was about. 2) Audrey. What a refreshingly optimistic and charismatic person. We didn't get to know Audrey as well as some of the other characters, but she brought a smile to my face every time she entered a scene. While she is a secondary character, her influence on the other characters is strong and she will stay with you long after you close the book. 3) The concept. A drug tested on a group of kids that brought them back to life. Literally, they were dead, and it REVIVED them (duh). There are all kinds of rules and regulations to how and when the drug will work though, so it's pretty interesting to see how it all works. Also, the fact that this was a government sponsored program makes it even more complicated in how it all works. 4) Morality. This is where it gets a little sketchy, because morality, such as the decision of who lives and who dies, is wrapped up in religion to some and science to others (and crime and politics, I guess.) I loved the way that Miz Patrick handled the question of morality in this though. Religion was a bigger factor in the story than I initially realized it was going to when I realized that all of the people in the project had nicknames, including the creator of the drug whom Daisy, Mason, and the others involved in the project simply called "God." It wasn't meant disparagingly at all, but instead highlighted a strong morality issue. I loved this. 5) The message at the end of the story was a great one about love, loss, and moving on. If this was the intended message from the very beginning, major kudos to Miz Patrick on delivering it in a creative, fun, and unique way.

What I Didn't Like: I loved it all!

Overall Thoughts: I think everyone should check out this book. Not only is it completely unique with wonderful, personable characters who end up feeling like friends, but it ends with a beautiful and sustaining message that everyone can take to heart. Revived is going down as one of my favorite books!

 My Rating: 5 shots

PS, I'm hoping to be heading back from New Mexico today, so I should be back in Texas sometime late tonight! Hooray! Also, Happy Last Day of August! Autumn is just around the corner!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Second Book Trap

The Second Book Trap is something that you've probably seen me say here on Fuzzy.Coffee.Books. What exactly is it? Well, since I read a lot of series, I have started to recognize some of the signs of this plight I call the Second Book Trap.

The way I see it, there are tons of great series out there. The first book really pulls you in, and the final book wraps it up in a nice bow and leaves you feeling satisfied and complete. The problems I usually find always come back to book #2 (or a proverbial book #2 if it is more than a trilogy).

Sometimes, Book 2 is treated as a transition from Book 1 to Book 3.  I find that they will be missing the same elements that I loved about the first book. Less character development. Stale plot. Often there will be an introduction of a new character who is going to become a major player, and the book will focus more on this person than continue to develop the characters that we've gotten to know through the first book. Or the plot will have some action but it will bounce around so much that following the progression becomes difficult. Or, the worst is when nothing of interest happens at all. When the first book is so interesting, has lots of action, and evokes a lot of emotion from me as a reader, and then book 2 just falls flat because there is no emotional response that comes at all.

Am I the only one who finds that some book 2s are treated as such? What are y'all's thoughts on the Second Book Trap?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (45)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we are most eagerly anticipating! Oh, and greetings from Albuquerque, New Mexico this morning, as I am out here to help my sis move!

This week, my Waiting on Wednesday is............ 

Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien (Birthmarked, book 3) 
Release Date: October 2nd, 2012

Here's the summary from Goodreads: After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever. She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland. In Gaia's absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher. Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what--or whom--she loves most?

I've loved every bit of the Birthmarked series so far, check out my reviews of Birthmarked (book one) and Prized (book 2). If you haven't checked out this series, it comes highly recommended from me. I'm anxious to see how this story wraps up!

What are you waiting on this sunny Wednesday? (if it is sunny where you are?!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Serpent's Kiss by Melissa de la Cruz

I read the Witches of East End, the first book of the Beauchamp series last October during my Halloween event. You can read that review here. I was excited to get my hands on this book, because I had enjoyed the first book and was curious to see what was going to happen after the cliffhanger at the end.
Here's the summary from Goodreads: Joanna and her daughters, bookish Ingrid and wild-child Freya, are just settling into the newfound peace that has been cast over their small, off-the map town of North Hampton. With the centuries-old restriction against practicing magic lifted, casting spells, mixing potions, and curing troubled souls has never felt so good for the three witches. That is, until everything gets turned upside down--from Joanna's organized kitchen to Ingrid's previously nonexistent love life to Freya's once unshakeable faith in her sexy soul mate, Killian Gardiner. When Freya's twin brother, Freddie, suddenly returns, escaped from Limbo and professing innocence on a long-ago crime, Freya should be ecstatic. The golden boy can do no wrong. Or can he? Freddie blames no other than her fiance Killian for his downfall, and enlists Freya's help to prove it. Now Freya doesn't know who to believe or trust. And for the first time in--well, forever, really--Ingrid is also busy in love. Matt Noble, the handsome and charming police detective, has won her heart. But can romance work between a virgin witch and a mortal who doesn't believe in magic? Things get even more complicated when it appears Ingrid is harboring the prime suspects in Matt's police investigation. To add to the chaos, a dead spirit is attempting to make contact with Joanna--but does it mean to bring harm or help? Joanna asks her sort-of ex-husband Norman to help figure it out, only to accidentally invite him to a Thanksgiving dinner with a dapper gentleman she's recently begun dating. As the witches pull together to discover the serpent within their midst and the culprit behind Freddie's imprisonment, everything is thrown into peril. Will the discovery come too late to save those they love most?

What I Liked: 1) I still like the setting of this one. The tiny hamlet of North Hampton makes me think of Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls fans, anyone?) and I like the intimacy of it all. The small library where Ingrid works, and the local watering hole that Freya has made her own. It was comforting to go back to this setting. 2) Freddie was a neat addition to the mix. Because he's been in Limbo for a while he doesn't really know how to handle himself in their world anymore. There is a huge different between his maturity level and Freya's even though they are twins. But he brings some more chaos to their lives, and made the story interesting. 3) New humor. There was a lot of humor injected into this book with the addition of the pixies. They brought some much needed warmth to the rest of the story.

What I Didn't Like: Unfortunately, this book fell into the Book 2 trappings that I've warned against before. It seemed like the whole book was just to get us from book one to book three, without much substance. I'm afraid had it not been for watching Freddie's character develop, and the pixies, there wouldn't have been much of anything. The other characters didn't really pull me in very much, and the plot was a little stagnated.

Overall Thoughts: Serpent's Kiss struck me as more of a transition than anything. The plot was a little stale, and character development came to a near halt, other than the new character of Freddie. There was a lot of redeeming bits of humor though, and I absolutely love this setting, so I'm not giving up on this series. I'll be hoping for more from the next book, The Winds of Salem, set to release in June 2013.

 My Rating: 2 shots

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

I have always loved Shakespeare, so when I came across a review of this on another blog, I knew I had to read it.
Here's the summary from Goodreads: Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school's staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide. Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she'd like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he's a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England—the world Stephen's really from. He wants Miranda to use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lost its greatest playwright. Miranda isn't convinced she's the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it's her only chance of getting back to the present and her "real" life. What Miranda doesn't bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required.
What I Liked: 1) I was fully enamored by the characters in this book. Will(iam Shakespeare!!!) was exactly how I'd like to imagine him. Though maybe a bit more of a 16th century player. That was pretty funny. But I loved Stephen even more. He was so considerate and caring. It was easy to tell that pulling off a brother/sister relationship between Stephen and Miranda was going to be hard, no matter how good an actress she was. 2) I liked the historical accuracy I found in the book. And I'm not just talking about Shakespeare's history, I mean the activities and events of the time period. It made it very easy to become immersed in the story as I was reading because there was no deviation from the time period, whether we were in the past or the present. 3) Can Shakespeare be light? Would anyone ever describe his stuff as being light? Well, this wasn't a Shakepeare re-telling, but since he was the main subject, I think it worked. But this story was light enough to not make the reader feel bogged down by strange language (which was definitely a worry when you are reading something set partially in the 16th century). I was very pleased at how easy the story was to follow even when we were in the past (which was most of the time).

What I Didn't Like: There wasn't really a happy ending for Miranda. That bothered me the most. I had enjoyed myself throughout the entire book, and then came to "The End." And I was thinking, really?! That's how you're going to end it for her!? How sad!

Overall Thoughts: Kissing Shakespeare was a sweet, light-hearted time-travel story set mostly in the 16th century when one of the most prolific playwrights in the world is in his 20s. Miranda's job is to make sure his life stays on course so his work isn't lost forever. I loved the main characters and thought the part of the story set in the 16th century was both accurate and entertaining. Nothing was hard to follow (which is always a worry when Shakespeare is involved). The only thing that disappointed me was the bittersweet ending. I thought Miranda deserved better!

My Rating: 4 shots

Friday, August 24, 2012

Once by Anna Carey

I wasn't sure I was going to read Once, after reading Eve. I thought it was well written, but it just wasn't for me. You can see that review here. But I couldn't resist the cover, so I picked it up a few days ago.
Here's the summary from Goodreads: When you're being hunted, who can you trust? For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She's living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America. But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America. Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past--and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together--but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever.
What I Liked: 1) Whoa! I was not expecting the twist that came in this book. What an interesting place to take this book. Eve's life was changed when she leaves Califia in search of Caleb and stumbled upon some news about her past. Miz Carey gets props for surprising me so thoroughly! 2) Eve - I mentioned in the first book that she didn't have much of a personality. That has been fixed very well in Once. She really comes alive as she learns more about herself and realizes that she is stronger than she once thought. *NAILED IT* 3) A more solid villain. In the first book, Eve and Arden were on the run, hiding from an unknown threat. Well, he was "The King" but he was completely faceless, and so the fear was more about the unknown and the assumptions of what was to come. But in this one, the villain gets a face and a name. It's so much easier to root for the good guys when you know who the bad guys are. 4) Caleb. There are many, many good things about this guy. He's so determined, and also very faithful to Eve, and it really made me like him. Caleb is different than other male MCs. Mostly I find that you like male MCs from the beginning. But with Caleb, I slowly warmed up to him. It wasn't that I disliked him in the beginning, but he definitely had to grow on me.

What I Didn't Like: There was more in Once that pulled me into the story, though I am still missing a little of the emotional connection that I usually get when I really fall in love with a story. But I get more into it with each new book, so I'm hoping that the next book will be even better.

Overall Thoughts: Once was a really good continuation of Eve's story. The characters seemed to be more in sync with the plot, and the action is at a good pace. I like the appearance of the King so the good and bad guys are more easily defined. The books in this series seem to each be better than the first, so I'm expecting Rise, the final book of this trilogy (releasing April 2013) to be even better.

My Rating: 4 shots

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

It's hard to know what to expect going into Monument 14. The summary gives very little away, but just enough to make someone like me curious!
Here's the summary from Goodreads: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner. Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus. But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran. Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.
What I Liked: 1) A bunch of kids trapped overnight in a superstore? I was imagining a Super Target as I was reading this. Makes sense in my head. Anyway, there are about a million ways this could go. And the direction this one took was fabulous. Taking charge to take care of young kids who of course wanted their parents when something bad happens is naturally going to cause a lot of drama. I loved the way some of the older kids really took charge. 2) There were some more realistic aspects of this book that I appreciated seeing. Teenagers trapped in a super store? We'd be crazy not to expect them to take advantage of some of the things that they probably didn't need (and definitely didn't need in some cases). I really liked that Miz Laybourne pulled some of that into the story. 3) Lots of action. There was a ton of action in this book, starting from almost the first page. It really drives this story forward, because there is hardly a minute of peace for these poor kids. But as a reader, it's so exciting to not know what's coming from page to page. 4) Dean - the MC. It was interesting to see this character as an MC. Instead of jumping in head first to what was going on, he spent a lot of time held back, observing. So we, in turn, were also playing observer to the mass chaos that was going on. It was refreshing to read it from that point of view.

What I Didn't Like: Confusingly enough, it took me until page 20 to figure out if our MC was a girl or a guy. I even went back to see what I was missing. His name isn't mentioned, for a while.

Overall thoughts: Monument 14 was unlike anything I've read recently. It was action-packed but not exhaustive because our MC was a quiet observer of the action. The story has a great way of keeping a reader interested from page one. I'll be interested to see if the story is going to continue!

My Rating: 4 shots

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (44)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we are most anxiously awaiting!

This week, my WoW is.........

Gravity by Melissa West 
Release Date: October 16th, 2012 

Here is the summary from Goodreads: In the future, only one rule will matter: Don’t. Ever. Peek. Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed — arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die. Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know — especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? I think so, and I'm looking forward to October so I can get a chance to read it! What are y'all waiting on today?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Merpeople. It isn't a new topic, but it's one that authors can take in so many different directions that every story seems new and fresh. That was my initial thought when I came across Anne Greenwood Brown's Lies Beneath.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans and absorb their positive energy. Usually, they select their victims at random, but this time around, the underwater clan chooses its target for a reason: revenge. They want to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother's death. It's going to take a concerted effort to lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the water. Calder's job is to gain Hancock's trust by getting close to his family. Relying on his irresistible good looks and charm, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter Lily. Easy enough, but Calder screws everything up by falling in love--just as Lily starts to suspect there's more to the monster-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined, and just as the mermaids threaten to take matters into their own hands, forcing Calder to choose between them and the girl he loves. One thing's for sure: whatever Calder decides, the outcome won't be pretty.

What I Liked: 1) I liked the story. The idea that these merpeople have this strong familial bond and have to get revenge for their mother's death. The circumstances are kept very ambiguous, however, even at the end of the book I still didn't understand exactly how she died. But that just adds to the mystery. 2) Loved the idea about the merpeople and their propensity for killing. Sounds weird to say, and I can't say anything else without giving something away, but I did think their need was quite creative. 3) The ending. I was kind of expecting it, but all in all, I was mostly pleased with how it was resolved.

What I Didn't: 1) I didn't really get into this book over all. There was all of the potential to make it very interesting. The idea was interesting, but everything just felt, watered down. (Oooo, let the puns begin). So much potential but everything stayed surface level. I don't have a problem with light and fluffies. I love them. But this one wasn't a light and fluffy. At points I felt as if I was literally begging for more from the story. 2) The characters weren't as multi dimensional as I wanted. There was something holding you back from getting to know them. We were just told their character traits, instead of shown how they fit into their lives. That's something that I just didn't like.

Overall Thoughts: As far as mermaid books go, this one wasn't for me. It had so much potential but nothing about it just grabbed me as a reader. Miz Brown is obviously very creative and is a very talented writer, but this book just needed a little more substance to make a lasting impression.

My Rating: 2 shots

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rift by Andrea Cremer

Rift. This was a highly anticipated book for me, because of how much I loved the Nightshade trilogy. I was definitely curious about how this whole world came to be, so I eagerly dove into it. By the way, if you have not read the Nightshade trilogy, don't worry if you want to read this one first. It won't confuse anything for you, because it's a completely different story. (Here are my reviews for Nightshade (book 1 of Nightshade tril) and Bloodrose (book 3) - I never reviewed book 2 (Wolfsbane) on FBC).

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer's internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy! Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother's life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.

I held Andrea Cremer to pretty high standards with this book because of how well written I thought the Nightshade books were. Probably unfair, but...it happens.

What I liked: 1) Ember. True to form, Ms. Cremer created another strong female MC who I definitely wanted to root for. Though Ember's strength can almost make you believe she doesn't need anyone to root for her. This girl can take care of herself. She's taught herself seemingly her whole life to be strong and independent, knowing that her life has been pledged to Conatus and she doesn't know what that life will entail. But it's refreshing to watch her accept things that she doesn't know or understand. She's comfortable when being a warrior, but less so when she has other emotions, like falling in love. Completely likeable and believeable, Ember is an MC everyone can get behind. 2) Barrow. How can you not fall for this guy? Talk about the epitome of the strong, silent type. His demeanor prevents you from getting to know him as well as I would have liked, but it works for him. You start to get the sense that until Ember came along, Barrow's life was The Guard and his loyalty to Conatus. Like I said, it works for him. He reminded me a little of Four, from Divergent. Biggest question: How old is this guy? Since this book is set in the past, their language and speech patterns are (different, but match the time period very well) and it's harder to distinguish an age. 3) Action. There is a lot of action going on in this book, and that moves the story forward. You can't help but be swept up in those scenes.

What I Didn't Like: 1) The parts without Ember or Barrow. Wow. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually had to push myself to get through the parts without Barrow and Ember. It was like, those scenes just hadn't been as well thought out or developed. It was a little disappointing. 2) The other thing I didn't like as well was that there was a lack of a defined setting. Because of the ambiguity of it, I wasn't able to sink down as deep into it as I like to. Usually, I'm so into a story that pulling myself out of it is almost physical. I have to blink and readjust my eyes to my real surroundings, realizing that I am not (for example) in the Pit of Dauntless Headquarters with Tris and Four (okay, I just re-read Divergent, so it's fresh). This wasn't the case in Rift, and I was a little disappointed in that.

Overall Thoughts: Ember and Barrow have jetted near the top of my favorite MCs. Their chemistry is amazing, and the character development was just great. They are what keep Rift interesting and moving forward. Additionally, the action that is presented is different that other books, and really help get you into the story. It could have used some more development on the other parts of the story, the ones that were only indirectly related to Ember and Barrow. Those parts without these characters got to be a little tedious. Likewise, the setting could have used some more detail. But Andrea Cremer knows how to weave a story, and she's certainly done a number with this one. Fans of the Nightshade series won't be disappointed, but for me it was curiosity about this series is going to answer questions from the Nightshade series. Miz Cremer's creative imagination provides an interesting story, but I'm hoping for more depth in Rise.

My Rating: 4 shots

Friday, August 17, 2012

Belles by Jen Calonita

In my never-ending quest to expand my contemporary YA lit library, I decided to check out Jen Calonita's Belles. It sounded interesting, though possibly a tad predictable (which I tend to find most contemp fic).  

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she's ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn't go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn't thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates' Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls' lives forever.

What I Liked: 1) I really liked Isabelle. I thought she was grounded and realistic, and very easy to like. Miz Calonita did a great job in building her up to be a likeable person who also grows as a person and tries, though struggles to keep her beliefs intact no matter how much her world changes. She captured a teen's struggle very well. 2) The setting. I don't just mean the physical places they are visiting. But I guess it was the details that made the setting jump off the page. Everything was described to an extent that it should have been too much, but it wasn't. In fact, it highlighted ever more succinctly the polar opposites from Isabelle and Mirabelle's worlds. 3) I loved hating Savannah. You're supposed to hate this girl, it's pretty obvious with the way that she's written. She's a witch, she knows it, and doesn't care. She was a well-written villain. She goes a little over the top sometimes, but because Isabelle was so normal, Savannah and even Mirabelle had to be over the top to counterbalance that. 4) The finale. I liked the big reveal at the end. It was what needed to happen, and I couldn't see it ending any other way. Of course, I also saw it coming.

What I Didn't Like: 1) I was disappointed in Mirabelle. She was just kind of wishy-washy. Not a leader, not the true opposite of Isabelle, and I think we needed to see more of that. Of course as one of the dual MCs, she had to come around and be likeable, but she was just kind of...plain. A mindless follower for most of the story. Not great in an MC. 2) There were also some love stories going on that never fully came to be. They were hinted at and then were all of a sudden happening. It wasn't even really like insta-love. It was more like, "did I miss a few pages, love."

Overall Thoughts: Belles was a predictable little contemporary story with one strong lead MC, and one meh MC. There are things to be enjoyed in this story by any lover of contemporary fiction, and the ending will leave you satisfied. Get immersed in the details of the polar opposite worlds these girls come from and watch as they try to navigate a new life. Belles is for anyone who likes fluffy contemporary fiction with little to no edge, and typical "mean girls" antics.

 My Rating: 3 shots

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Red Glove by Holly Black

A few months ago I read the first book of this series, White Cat. I was completely surprised by how much I had enjoyed it, so I was glad to get my hands on the second book, Red Glove. Check out my review of White Cat here.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth — he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything — or anyone — into something else. That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion-worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does. When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue — crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too — they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone — least of all, himself? Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

What I Liked: 1) There was more humor in this book than in the first one, and most of that revolved around Lila's love for Cassel. It wouldn't have been as funny had she not been cursed to love him, but because you know that, it just makes it pretty funny. 2) Cassel. I liked him in the first one, and I like him even more in this book. There are some tough decisions that he has to make after everything that happened in White Cat, and I really felt for him. The character development progresses really nicely with Cassel and some of the other characters. 3) One of the biggest surprises was Sam and Daneca. I won't tell you what the surprise it is, but it's definitely a big one that comes near the end of this book. 4) The plot moved seamlessly and was easy to follow.

What I Didn't Like: There was less action in this book, less keeping me interested. I liked the characters, but most of them weren't growing as I thought characters should in a second book of a trilogy. They had been pretty well-developed in the first book, and that development moved along a bit, but after a while, everything was at a standstill. I'll be looking for more intrigue and excitement in the next book.

Overall Thoughts: I haven't read the last book of this trilogy yet, but I'm thinking that Red Glove fell into that second book trap, where the first and last books are great, but the second is treated more of a transition to get you from one to three. I wish I had felt as compelled to keep turning the pages as I had with the first. That being said, it remained true to characters and true to story, so it was still enjoyable.

My Rating: 3.5 shots

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (43)

Waiting on Wednesday has become one of my favorite memes to follow. I like participating in it just fine, and letting y'all know what it is I'm looking forward to. But I especially like bouncing around to everyone else's and learning about new books that are coming out. My TBR list grows exponentially every Wednesday! Anyway, WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that highlights the books we are most anxiously awaiting!

So this week my WoW is........... 

Reached by Ally Condie 
Release Date: November 13th, 2012 

The Matched series has been one of my favorites ever since it first came out. It's one of those series that I stalk my mail carrier when I'm waiting for the new book to come in the mail. And I'm so excited because Ally is going to be at Austin Teen Book Festival this year! *massive freak out* I'm so excited to get to meet Ally!

So what are y'all waiting on this LOVELY WEDNESDAY?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday

After enjoying the Nancy Drew-esque feel of the first book of this series, Deadly Cool, (see my review here) I felt sure that Social Suicide would be just as exciting.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Twittercide: the killing of one human being by another while the victim is in the act of tweeting. Call me crazy, but I figured writing for the "Herbert Hoover High Homepage" would be a pretty sweet gig. Pad the resume for college applications, get a first look at the gossip column, spend some time ogling the paper's brooding bad-boy editor, Chase Erikson. But on my first big story, things went . . . a little south. What should have been a normal interview with Sydney Sanders turned into me discovering the homecoming queen-hopeful dead in her pool. Electrocuted while Tweeting. Now, in addition to developing a reputation as HHH's resident body finder, I'm stuck trying to prove that Sydney's death wasn't suicide. I'm starting to long for the days when my biggest worry was whether the cafeteria was serving pizza sticks or Tuesday Tacos. . . .

Pizza sticks or Tuesday Tacos...lol! I don't know, Hartley, school cafeteria lunches can be as scary as anything, in my opinion!

What I Liked: 1) Miz Halliday has found that fine line between normal teen vernacular and immaturity. I feel like some authors assume that teens have a very immature vocabulary, and since I read a lot of YA books, this is one of my biggest pet peeves! But the teens in this books seemed to be at an appropriate maturity level, and I was really grateful for that. 2) I feel like this one was a little more focused than Deadly Cool was. Not that I'm just going to sit here and compare them, but Hartley now has a different reason for investigating the death of Sydney. It made it a little more realistic to me. 3) The mystery. The storyline was very interesting, and kept me intrigued the whole time, though I figured it out before the end. Well, I take that back. I was about 80% sure I knew who the Big Bad was, and was happy when I turned out to be correct. 4) This was a lighter story, despite the subject, and perfect for summer when you aren't looking for something heavy. It's a fun and funny mystery with just the tiniest bit of an edge.

What I Didn't Like: The only thing I'll say is that it followed a very similar pattern as Deadly Cool. The events that happened in this one were a little to similar to the things that happened in Deadly Cool, so it was a little predictable.

Overall Thoughts: For a lighthearted mystery, I'd definitely recommend Gemma Halliday's Deadly Cool series. Social Suicide was the second book of the series. Hartley is a funny and intelligent main character, and the plot drives the story forward. Many will enjoy this.

My Rating: 4 shots

Monday, August 13, 2012

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray

There's something rotten in the state of Denmark! Hamlet has been one of my favorite stories ever since I had to read it in high school. Sounds strange, doesn't it? We spent a lot of time on it, so I grew to like it a lot. I read a few reviews about Falling for Hamlet and decided to give it a shot, and see how well the original plot was followed.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Meet Ophelia: a blonde, beautiful high-school senior and long-time girlfriend of Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Her life is dominated not only by her boyfriend's fame and his overbearing family, but also by the paparazzi who hound them wherever they go. As the devastatingly handsome Hamlet spirals into madness after the mysterious death of his father, the King, Ophelia rides out his crazy roller coaster life, and lives to tell about it. In live television interviews, of course.

What I Liked: 1) I was impressed at how true to the original play the story remained. Since I've read Hamlet more than a few times, I'm very familiar with the plot and I picked out a few noticeable changes, but all of them are what made Falling for Hamlet a unique idea. 2) I loved the incorporation of the old story into a new world with cell phones, iPods and Starbucks. It was inventive how parts of the story that I wasn't sure would translate well really did. Especially the final battle scene being played out on the lacrosse field. That was one of my favorite parts. 3) The biggest difference was the narration of the story. This was told from Ophelia's perspective, who dies in the original play. Or, kills herself. There is a neat twist added into this one that brought some different ideas to this modern version. 3) In Shakespeare's play, you never can tell really how old Hamlet is. He's purported to be anywhere between 16 and 30. I always thought he was a teen, though in Shakespeare's language it's hard to differentiate between teens and adults. He was assigned a definite age in this book, and it really makes you look at things in a different way.

What I Didn't Like: I had no complaints about Falling for Hamlet.

Overall Thoughts: Falling for Hamlet is a different type of story for me, kind of outside my normal genres, and it came at just the right time. The play Hamlet is of course a tragedy, but there was so much humor injected into this modernized version that you don't get as bogged down with the morose. I enjoyed it a lot and would tell people to not dismiss it just because it's a retelling of Hamlet. Give it a chance and I think most people will like it a lot!

My Rating: 5 shots

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Predicteds by Christine Seifert

The Predicteds definitely sounded unlike anything I'd read before, so I was eager to give it a read.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: Daphne is the new girl in town and is having trouble fitting in. At least she has Jesse… sort of. He wants to be more than “just friends,” but there’s something he’s not telling her about his past. Something dangerous. When a female student is brutally attacked, police turn to PROFILE, a new program that can predict a student’s capacity for violent behavior, to solve the case. As the witch hunt ensues, Daphne is forced to question her feelings for Jesse—and what she will do if her first love turns out to be a killer.

What I Liked: 1) I really liked the concept. The idea that someone has created a program that can determine what a person's future will be like based on their genetics and DNA...that was very intriguing. At least, in book form. Definitely not in real life! 2) I thought that Daphne was a great main character. She was personable and easy to relate to, and also easy to understand. 3) The beginning. The beginning opens with a nail-biting scene, so the reader immediately gets caught up in what is or isn't going to happen. 4) Jesse was a fun character to get to know. I was never sure if I was supposed to like him or not, especially because you know what is coming. But that made him all the more interesting for me. 5) Back to the plot for a minute, I think this opens up a whole world of things to debate. Almost all books are thought-provoking, that's one of the things that makes them good, am I right? But this one brings up some topics that really made me think about well, what if we could predict the future. I wouldn't want to know what was in store for me. It's more fun not knowing. So, as you can see, this book definitely makes you think.

What I Didn't Like: 1) Am I the only one who thought Melissa was kind of...two different people? She was obviously hyper-smart, being a part of the PROFILE thing, but then there was this other side of her that was all, oh, call me by my first name instead of Mom, and I can't cook...it was very strange. I couldn't reconcile those two parts of her personality, the genius and the not so genius. They competed and mostly led me to see her as two characters, instead of one. 2) I also question some of the things that I was led to believe from the summary. I guess I was expecting more of a "this is what your future is going to be like" sort of thing. And I would have expected a little more balance with it. They were only figuring the futures of those who were going to turn out bad. Where was all the good?

Overall Thoughts: The Predicteds wasn't what I was expecting, but it was a well-written book with a thought-provoking story and some intriguing characters. If the summary has interested you, then pick this one up. It'll leave you thinking once you put it down, and maybe a little even freaked out that something like this could even be possible.

My Rating: 3.5 shots

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hide and Seek by Sara Shepard

The fourth and most recent release of Sara Shepard's The Lying Game series, Hide and Seek was released on July 31st. I can't help it, I'm addicted to these books, and the Pretty Little Liars books too. As usual, I'll keep it spoiler-free, but you may want to avoid this review if you haven't read the first three and plan on getting into this series!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: My friends and I used to play lying games. Now my twin sister is living one. When I was alive, my family seemed picture-perfect. My adoptive parents adored me, and my little sister, Laurel, copied my every move. But now that my long-lost twin, Emma, has taken my place to solve my murder, we're both learning just how flawed my family really is. Laurel is shooting Emma nasty looks and sneaking around with my ex-boyfriend. And it turns out my parents are keeping a huge secret--could it be the reason I'm dead? How far would they go to keep the truth buried? No one can harm me now, but Emma is still fair game. And if she's not careful, she'll end up buried, too. . . .

What I Liked: 1) All of Sara Shepard's books are easy to get into, and since I'm already into the series, this one is especially so. It doesn't require a lot of thinking, because everything is right there out in the open. But my favorite thing about it is how fully she pulls you into the story. It doesn't matter if it's light and fluffy. It doesn't even matter if there are things about it that are ridiculous. I'm always so curious about where everything is going because I'm so sucked into the story. 2) Emma and Ethan. I like this couple. They're sweet, but completely different than the Emma and Ethan couple in the show (which I'm also watching, or will be when it comes back in the Fall). But they're still very sweet together, and have found a way to make their relationship work. 3) Fast pacing. I like the fast pace of the stories. Emma bounces around between her "suspects" from person to person. It's funny, but at the same time, her thought process is easy to follow and keeps me curious.

What I Didn't Like: Nada.

Overall Thoughts: I got everything I was looking for from this book. It was an easy read, brought back the characters that I'd already been following from the story, and drug me even deeper into the plot. I'm already looking forward to the next book!

My Rating: 4 shots

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (42)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It highlights the books that we are most anxiously awaiting!

This week my WoW is...................... 

Vortex by Julie Cross (Tempest, book 2) 
Release Date: January 8th, 2013 

I loved Tempest. It was one of my favorite books I read this year. In fact, in case you missed it, you can read my gushing review of it here! And I'm very excited to see what Jackson has been up to since the end of Tempest. I'm not wild about the cover, but nothing is stopping me from pre-ordering Vortex!

 So what are y'all waiting on this lovely Wednesday?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Hi everyone! I've finally had some time to read and get back to blogging! I've missed y'all! The first book I picked up recently was Jodi Lynn Anderson's Tiger Lily. I'm always up for a good fairy tale retelling, and I hadn't read a Peter Pan one, so I dove into this one!
Here's the summary from Goodreads: Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . . Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell. Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter. With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

What I Liked: 1) Peter Pan is one of my all-time favorite stories, so I was very excited to see how this author took on Peter's backstory. At least, his pre-Wendy story. I haven't read the original Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I'm mostly familiar with the Disney version (is this blasphemous for a bibliophile?) so I'm not sure how prominent a role Tiger Lily played in the original. But for me, it seems that Miss Anderson took a rather flat and pretty unknown character and made her alive and dynamic. I felt like you got to know Tiger Lily very well, even with her habitual silence. She wasn't a talker, and definitely wasn't an emotional character, but she was still likeable. 2) Surprise! It isn't told from the perspective of Tiger Lily. Or Peter Pan. Instead our lively and spirited narrator is one Tinkerbell. That was definitely a pleasant surprise, because it gave me a new idea about who Tink was and what her role was in Neverland. 3) This wasn't meant to be a funny book, but there were some parts, especially parts that dispute the "Disney Peter Pan" story that are very funny. Many of these parts involve Captain Hook and the Pirates. 4) I enjoyed the flow of the plot. It was very easy to follow, and with a narrator like Tinkerbell, who is the main observer and never involves herself in the story, it made everything fit together very nicely.

What I Didn't Like: Tiger Lily wasn't a very emotional character. I think she had emotions, but she didn't know how to interpret them, and (this was the only bad part about Tinkerbell being the narrator) she couldn't really explain them to herself or the audience. It made for a little emotional disconnect between myself and the book. The biggest emotional connection I had was childhood memories of these characters. That was really the only problem I had with the book. But I like to feel emotionally connected, so...

Overall Thoughts: I loved the new perspective to the classic Peter Pan story, and there were several things that surprised me, which is always good. There was some great humor which broke up what was really a dramatic (not overdramatic) story. And I loved that it was narrated by Tinkerbell. The emotional disconnect was a little hard for me to overcome, but when all was said and done, I was happy with it when I was finished. My

Rating: 3.5 shots

Monday, August 6, 2012

Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

Glitch by Heather Anastasiu
Version: eGalley from NetGalley
Release Date: August 7th, 2012

What can I say? I'm drawn to some of these science-fiction/dystopian stories. And the summary from Goodreads sounds so interesting! A community of people under the control of a small group of people. It's all mind-controll-y and intriguing.

Here's the summary from Goodreads: In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network. When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers. As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.
What I Liked: 1) Zoe. How difficult it must have been to develop a character who spends half of her time under the mind-control of "the Community." But as she began to glitch more and more, we did get to know her. It was as if we were getting to know her at the same time as she was getting to know herself. I haven't read very many books like that, so this one was definitely a new kind of character development for me. We read books all the time from the POV of a main character, but this one just felt different because Zoe was experiencing things for the first time alongside the reader. I thoroughly enjoyed that. Additionally, I liked Zoe. There was a danger in there that Zoe could be immature, especially because she is just coming into herself. But I didn't find that to be the case. She was caring, and smart enough to keep her glitching, and emotions in check enough to keep her safe. 2) Adrien. Loved him from the beginning. Who doesn't love a guy who literally rushes in and saves the girl at the last minute!? (No, that doesn't give anything away, I swear it's not a spoiler!) He's a big sweetheart and wants to do everything he can to make sure that Zoe can be safe and fulfill what it is she wants to do. There are some other things I like about his character that I can't talk about without being spoilery, so y'all will just have to figure that out for yourselves! 3) The plot. I loved this idea. Okay, maybe loved is a bit strong for something like mind control. But I thought the way everything came together was very inventive and gave me a lot of things to think about. Particularly with the way it's done in this story. It's so blatantly obvious, yet everyone just goes along with it. 4) The pacing. I think about the pacing of books probably more than I should. Sometimes if a book moves too fast it gets confusing. If a book moves too slow, it can get boring. With something intriguing and mysterious as mind-control, pacing is something that can make or break the story. But the pacing in Glitch is excellent. The information and story flows seamlessly and it's easy to become tangled up in the book.

What I Didn't Like: I would like more history about how the world became this way. They are living in this subsurface, bunker-like place. But mostly I'm curious about how people just allowed themselves to be implanted with these chips that allow the Community to control their responses. They are being turned into mindless drones, yet everyone just thinks this is the way it should be. Maybe in the next book we'll learn some more! Additionally, just a note about the summary - parts of it are misleading. For example, Zoe having telekenetic powers was of very little importance compared to the other things that were going on. At least until the very end.

Overall Thoughts: Glitch hits the nail on the head when it comes to good sci-fi and dystopian novels. It has all the right elements, as well as creative characters and a fascinating storyline. There is even a touch of romance for those of us who love that. When Glitch hits the scene, it will be enjoyed by anyone who likes a good sci-fi story! Definitely recommended!

 My Rating: 4 shots