The first thing that The Secret Diamond Sisters reminded me of was the song Royals by Lorde. The idea of criticizing the insanely rich but wanting to live that life at the same time was really present in The Secret Diamond Sisters. My favorite of the three sisters was Courtney who was ambitious, hard working, and really wanted to go to an Ivy League school. When she finds out that her dad is a billionaire, she resents it a little and feels like all her hard work at coffee shops was worthless. I thought it was a wonderful and honest reaction. Although I think it's easy to imagine that having lots of money suddenly would be fabulous (and one of her other sisters does feel this way), Courtney's reaction really stuck with me.
There wasn't really an overall conflict in the story. It goes from one drama to the next and focuses more on the characters and their relationships with people than a strong plot. Not that that's a bad thing, but I do wish there had been a little more driving the story. It's implied that there are secrets the sisters need to find out and even though we do find out a few, I was honestly expecting a little more about their past and some mystery to find out more to move the story forward. The things that happen to the sisters are interesting and I did find it entertaining, but the story just kind of ends with no real resolution.
I thought all of the characters, especially the sisters, were very well-rounded and interesting. My only complaint was that they seemed to act too adult for teenagers. They drank a lot like it wasn't illegal or like it didn't even really have consequences, they went to night clubs etc. Maybe that's how it really is in Las Vegas with everything focused on being an adult, but I still found it kind of weird.
Overall, if you like a story with lots of scandal and drama with interesting characters then this one is for you. Content warning: a lot of teen drinking, language, and a make-out scene that turns inappropriate....more
Rump is a fun, humorous retelling of a traditional fairy tale that we all know, RumplestiltskThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Rump is a fun, humorous retelling of a traditional fairy tale that we all know, Rumplestiltskin. The writing was charming. The characters were funny and interesting. Here's a little demonstration of both the delightful writing and the great main character, Rump, who wrote this poem.
Home is a place to get out of the rain
It cradles the hurt and mends the pain
And no one cares about your name
Or the height of your head
Or the size of your brain
- Liesl Shurtliff, Rump, pg 8
This book was written before Once Upon a Time came out, but I can't help comparing the two since they are both intelligent retellings. There's a scene in this book where Red is talking about the consequences of magic and I couldn't help but hear my favorite character, Rumplestitlskin from Once Upon a Time, say "All magic comes with a price!" Another similarity to Once Upon a Time is the ability of this story to get us to empathize with the "villain." I was really impressed that Liesl Shurtliff was able to keep the plot so close to the traditional fairy tale but give us back story and motivations in a way that made me see the story in a new light and not see Rump as the bad guy. It also kind of felt like a prequel because of the back story about his parents that the author went into.
Rump has a beautiful message about the importance of names and labels and our destiny. It's a story about not only learning from your own mistakes but the mistakes of others.
My one and only (and very small) complaint is that it felt like it ended very quickly.
Overall, it was a charming fairy tell retelling about finding your destiny that will appeal to everyone - especially if you are a Once Upon a Time fan....more
Life in the Pit was a cute, quick romance that piqued my interest because the main character is a cellist and I love the cello! The story revolves aroLife in the Pit was a cute, quick romance that piqued my interest because the main character is a cellist and I love the cello! The story revolves around a play that isn’t real, but sounds like a mash-up of every Jane Austen novel ever written with a dash of Clue. Brittany is playing in the orchestra pit for the play while her best friend Amanda stars in it. The plot was a little over-dramatic and cheesy sometimes but still entertaining, cute, and fun. Amanda and Brittany felt like frenemies at first. I had one of those in high school. But their relationship grows as the story grows on and I could see that they cared about each other. The boyfriend is cute, impulsive and thoughtful. Brittany is insecure but relatable. And Brittany is a terrible detective. Like laughably bad. But oh well. Brittany really grows by the end of the story and I enjoyed watching her become more confident.
It was pretty obvious who the “mystery” sabatoger of the play was, but when I found out the motive it was so bizarre that I was just like…..okay….. I have no words, really.
Overall, a fun contemporary romance that was only a little cheesy from a lovely local author of mine.
Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she'd been told that she would kill her true love.
-Maggie Stiefvater, Raven Boys pg 1
And then I was bored for the next 200 pages. Don't get me wrong - there were a lot of things I liked. I really loved the characters, especially the four Raven Boys. They reminded me of Logan and his friend from Gilmore Girls. They had this spoiled, prep school/bad boy vibe but were somehow likable even though they were kind of condescending sometimes. I thought the mythology of ley lines and the quest for them was very unique and creative in the young adult genre. But I didn't feel like the conflict was strong enough to carry a whole novel. The entire conflict is based on that first sentence and it doesn't get developed much more for the rest of the book.
In addition to the killing-her-true-love thing, there is a mysterious quest that helps pull the story forward but that story line didn't get interesting until about half-way through the book. Part of my lack of interest in the Raven Boys' quest was because I didn't understand the motivation behind it. When I finally found out why they were looking for ley lines, I was excited and totally on board but I wish it had been foreshadowed earlier in the story. In fact, I didn't like the foreshadowing in most of the book. I felt like the author, Maggie Stiefvater, tended to reveal important details after the fact (like with the scene when Adam does something for Ronan). It would have had a much bigger impact on me if I knew why Adam was helping Ronan while it was happening instead of it being explained after the fact.
Once I did get halfway through, the quest got really cool and I loved their modern quest for the paranormal. There was a Beautiful Mind kind of twist that happened that perked up my interest. And kudos to Maggie Stiefvater writing a paranormal novel that did not involve vampires, werewolves, mermaids, fairies etc.
I was a little sad that there wasn't much romance considering that she was supposed to meet her true love then kiss and/or kill him. And the ending was confusing to me. I think it was supposed to be an open ending to draw you into the next book to find out what happened, but I just didn't get it. I'm not sure I even know fully what happened. I'm on the fence about whether I'm going to pick up the next book in the series.
Overall, it was a creative paranormal story with strong and interesting characters, but the conflict was just too weak to keep my interest.
Content Warning: strong language. The f-word shows up about 15-20 times....more
The Urban Hunters is like The Jungle Book set in Aboriginal Australia. When I saw the subtitle, “Billy’s Gotta Find Some Girls,” I knew I had to readThe Urban Hunters is like The Jungle Book set in Aboriginal Australia. When I saw the subtitle, “Billy’s Gotta Find Some Girls,” I knew I had to read it. I was pulled in from the first page by how vivid and visual the writing was. I was immersed in an entirely new and fascinating culture that was shocking, sad, beautiful and amazing. He dedicates this book to his nieces and nephews who “stared wide-eyed as I told them about Billy and Amber’s adventures” and I felt exactly the same way. I’ve never read anything like it. I was grossed out one minute, laughing out loud the next, and completely shocked by the sad and heart-breaking things that can happen to the Aboriginal people. I was a little stunned by how graphic some of it was (think rotting, maggott filled kangaroo type stuff), but I loved this book. Gary Taaffe did an excellent job of entertaining me and at the same time educating me on a different people and their way of life.
In Book 2, Tribal Scarring, it gets a little more serious than Book 1, Four Small Stones. I missed the light-hearted humor of the Book 1. Still, it was a nice contrast to see the dangers of living in the bush in Australia. I definitely felt some culture shock as I was reading about Billy and the rituals he goes through to become a man. The writing was intense and so well done. The author doesn’t spell everything out for you. He lets you discover this new culture on your own which I liked.
In Book 3, Walkabout, Billy goes into the “whitefella” culture for the first time and his culture shock is charming, honest and amusing. I loved the Australian lingo throughout the book. Some of the words I’d never heard before, but it wasn’t too difficult to figure out, like when he slides his “sunnies” (I’d call them sunglasses) to the top of his head. It helped me really get a feel for the culture. The story starts off a bit slow, but picks up with some more great gross-out hunting scenes that I loved from Book 1, but this time there are cute puppies. The humor had me laughing out loud in places, but mostly I felt myself smiling a lot at how innocent Billy is despite being able to hunt and live off of the land on his own at such a young age. Billy is a juxtaposition of seasoned warrior and innocent child that makes him incredibly easy to like. Overall, it was such a fun and entertaining adventure story.
The world in Pivot Point seems like the kind of world that Lois Lowry would write about. It seems contemporary but there is a small paranormal twist tThe world in Pivot Point seems like the kind of world that Lois Lowry would write about. It seems contemporary but there is a small paranormal twist to the whole thing. And by paranormal I mean “real” paranormal mind powers and not like werewolves and vampires and crap like that. Everyone has mental abilities and powers in the small world Addie lives in.
Addie is faced with a choice of continuing to live where everyone has mental abilities or living in the “normal” world. You get to see each of the choices play out in alternating chapters. It was absolutely fascinating to read.
This whole book was written with a lot of personality. I liked the dictionary definitions at the beginning of each chapter. They were funny, witty and gave clues to which reality the chapter was about. I’m convinced that Kasie West is a genius. She doesn’t just tell two completely different versions of the future – she intertwines them in very clever ways. I couldn’t put this book down all the way until the perfect, heart-wrenching ending.
The characters were all very well done. Her best friend, Laila, is snarky but likable. And Addie is my definition of a hero – brave, honest, and willing to sacrifice to keep the ones she loves safe.
Do not read this book alone – you will want someone to talk to after you are done with it. Witty, perfect, awesome – a must read. My only complaint – I have to wait for book two.
A Mutiny in Time is a story about 3 kids who travel back in time to fix history before the world ends. I liked the twist in this story that unlike traA Mutiny in Time is a story about 3 kids who travel back in time to fix history before the world ends. I liked the twist in this story that unlike traditional time-travel stories, they are supposed to change things. The historic details that aren’t accurate amused me. I think a lot of kids would be clever enough to know whose faces should really be on Mount Rushmore. It would have been fun to see and learn more history (I mean besides the random facts that came out of Dak). The characters and their quirks made me chuckle. One thing I didn’t get was why the villain wanted to destroy the world?? Her motivations weren’t really clear to me, but I’m hoping that we’ll find out more about the bad guys (aka the SQ) and their motivations later on in the series. Wanting power for power’s sake does not make interesting villains. Other than that, the author did a good job with playing with your expectations a little with a nice action-filled plot. The story was a lot of fun, adventurous, and didn’t feel predictable.
One of the really fun things about this book is the online game component. The book comes with a map that has clues to help with the game. It also had a lot of cool facts from history presented in a nice way. The game was simple, fun, and full of puzzles and mini-missions. I did find the wagon mini-mission to be very finnicky and a little tedious, but I enjoyed the game overall and played it over a few days. Just FYI – the game is an app as well as on the Internet, but they don’t sync up. Meaning however far you get on one doesn’t transfer over to the other. But otherwise the game is exactly the same whether you play it on your phone or the internet.
Insurgent picked up right where Divergent left off which made it nice to read them one after the other. Divergent was good and set up the world reallyInsurgent picked up right where Divergent left off which made it nice to read them one after the other. Divergent was good and set up the world really well, but I liked the conflict in Insurgent much better. The factions are so interesting and we get to learn more about the factions Amity and Candor. I love how the factions are this weird combination of a gang, an entire culture of dress and style, mannerisms and education training for a job. The books only skim the surface of all there is to know of this complex and detailed world. This is one of those worlds where they could write an encyclopedia about it and you’d still want to know more. The writing style was much better in this book. I didn’t notice the word “I” glaring at me so much.
Tris doesn’t always make good decisions. In fact, she makes some really, really bad decisions but I felt like I understood her so well that I got why she did the things she did even if it’s not what I would do. My favorite thing about Insurgent was how well the author messed with your expectations of who is good and who is not. And it’s not based just on who Tris likes. I kind of saw the twist at the end coming, but it still gave me chills when I read it. This was a fast read and I couldn’t put it down. It left me with some deep thoughts about how easily your virtues can become a vice if you’re not careful. I loved the complex idea and story arc. It was an intense, action packed ride that had me saying “Wow” when I closed the book.
The tone that I adored from the first book is back. The opening line, which I loved, just sets the tone so well.
“It is by going down into the abyss thThe tone that I adored from the first book is back. The opening line, which I loved, just sets the tone so well.
“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” – Joseph Campbell
Nikki is going on an adventure to get something back that she lost in the underworld called the Everneath. It took me a minute to get reoriented in the world again, but I slipped back in easily after a few pages even without rereading the first book. I positively flew through this book in one sitting. The journey through the underworld and the task she wanted to complete felt impossible the whole time and kept me just glued to the pages. The layers of the underworld that she travels through were different in a chilling and alien way. This is one of those books where the foreshadowing was spot on. I thought I was all smart and I knew everything that was going to happen. Then the bombshell of an ending hits and I’m still in awe. Brodi even put the clues in there of what was going to happen at the end and I missed them all. It gives me chills just thinking about it. I feel like she deserves a round of applause for that ending.
Cole is a sexy, modern, teen version of Hades. He’s likeable yet sneaky and dark and I can’t ever totally trust him. My only complaint about the whole book was a few things that were taken too literally. The “kicking” element of the story was just a little to literal and weird for me.
Overall, don’t miss this stunning retelling of Persephone and Hades.
At the beginning, there wasn’t much going on. The book starts off with some very graphic and disturbing disasters and I was worried that it was goingAt the beginning, there wasn’t much going on. The book starts off with some very graphic and disturbing disasters and I was worried that it was going to be overly realistic and not at all entertaining. That was thankfully not true. The point when I got to know all the characters was when I really started to fall in love with this book. There was such a colorful cast of characters that clashed together in fun ways. It made me laugh out loud even though there were truly terrifying things going on. Seriously. Like, the world is ending and I’m laughing me head off. I even read a few passages to my husband between laughs because he wanted to know what was so dang funny. But don’t get me wrong – even though there are some very funny moments, there were also some very touching moments that really got to me, especially the ones with the little kids.
The plot took some turns and surprises that I really enjoyed. The realism was one of the very best parts of the book. Her attention to the details had me so invested in the story and made it hard for me to stop thinking about the book when I was done. She did an amazing job of balancing humor, fear, and empathy while making all of the characters amazingly realistic. I’m absolutely convinced that Max is in existence somewhere on this earth. The writing was so enjoyable. It was succinct, visual, fast-paced and a lot of fun to read. Grab this book. I flew right through it in a day. I absolutely couldn’t put it down.