Adventures in Funeral Crashing is the story of Kait Lennox, who enjoys crashing funerals in her spare time. It is at one of these funerals, that Kait runs into her long-time crush (and the most popular guy in school), Ethan Ripley. Not believing the (really, kind of lame, given the circumstances – got to forgive her for that one, though. The girl was kind of in shock.) excuse Kait supplied as her reason for attending, Ethan hunts her down for the truth. But he doesn't use it against her, like Kait thought he would. Instead, he needs her help. He's not so certain his sister's death is all that it seems...
I surprisingly really liked this book. I wasn't so certain that I would. The concept was intriguing, it's what drew me in in the first place, which is why I requested the title trough Read to Review (R2R), but upon reading it, it took me a little while to get a feel for this book. Once I did, though, I simply couldn't put the book down.
Adventures in Funeral Crashing is a nice, short read. It's fun, it's creepy, it's cute. and I just couldn't help falling for all the characters (even the potentially murderous). Even the deceased had presence in this book. I'm not kidding. Liz (the girl who was the guest of honor, so to speak, at the aforementioned funeral) was such a vibrant character in this story. She practically jumped off the page, and we hadn't even met her until she was sleeping in her casket, and even then only through the bits and pieces pieced together through clues.
I think what I liked most about this book was living Kait's crush. It was just so adorable, and she was completely oblivious to the fact that he was crushing right back (which I felt was glaringly obvious to the reader). I couldn't stop smiling whenever they were in a scene together, which was most of the book. Even when they were fighting it was kind of cute, because the fights were mostly about Kait's rash behavior, which could put her in danger, and thus make for a very unhappy Ethan and she STILL didn't catch on.
The use of excessive pop culture references, on the other hand, made me wary. There are a number of ways pop culture can go wrong in a novel, but they all stem from the same problem: The reader can't relate to the reference. I didn't have a problem with the ones mentioned in this book. I actually enjoyed seeing familiar names and favorites pop up. BUT I can relate to these familiar names and favorites. I recognize them. The problem is some of them are not as mainstream and easily recognized as others, and might throw other readers off, if only because there are so many of them.
Adventures in Funeral Crashing a very enjoyable book. It wasn't quite what I was expecting (whatever that was) but it was a fun read. I can't say the mystery stumped me (I made my final accusations a little more than halfway through the book. I was right.), but I definitely loved watching Kait and Ethan sort it out (even if it was a little frustrating at times).
In short, If you like your mysteries fun with a healthy helping of adorable mutual crushing on the side, definitely check out this book. As I said before, it's nice and short, which makes for a fast read. I would give this book 4.5 Crazy Hearts....more
Never Have I Ever is one of those books that it felt like I'd been waiting on forever.
I read The Lying Game this past January, and loved it. I couldn't wait for the second book. But when Never Have I Ever was released this past August, my reading schedule was already so jam-packed (I had, and still have, books that need to get read and reviewed by specific dates for a number of reasons – Release dates, Library due-dates, various upcoming features and events, etc. -- and there was the normal time crunch of co-running a fairly brand-new blog, too.) that I had to make myself put off reading it just yet.
And then I made the mistake (in the sense that it completely chucked my schedule out the window. Definitely NOT a mistake otherwise.) of tuning into ABC Family's version of The Lying Game (Mondays, 8/7c – guess you know what I'm doing tonight). If you haven't seen the show yet, then let me tell you: the people who work on this series are masters when it comes to leaving you hanging. After a few episodes of tuning in and then being left to bite my nails down to the quick for a week, I couldn't take it anymore. I needed an Emma/Sutton fix to get me through the week, and Never Have I Ever was just sitting on my shelf all nice and pretty.
Now, before you start saying anything along the lines of: “But if you've read the books, how can the show be nail-bitingly good?” Let me explain something to you. The show, while based (and I use the term loosely) off the books, is a different entity entirely. You still have the long-lost twins that are in the books – one a part of a nice, well-to-do family, whether she recognizes it or not, the other in a crappy foster care situation (who has to take the place of the first sister while she is gone, as opposed to dead in the books). Also, a lot of the supporting characters are the same with similar roles.
That's where the similarities end.
But I digress. This is a review of the latest chapter in Sara Shepard's newest series, not of the television show.
When I jumped into reading
, I was quickly reminded of why I loved so much in the first place. The secret investigation into who killed Sutton Mercer was still underway for Emma and Ethan, and practically everyone was still a suspect. To make matters worse, Emma was still only two weeks into playing Sutton. She had no idea, really, who these people were and what they were capable of – or much about Sutton, herself, for that matter. How was she supposed to know the sort of things Sutton may have gotten herself into before her untimely demise?
Slowly, Emma is given various opportunities to eliminate potential suspects. Certain friends have alibis, and for others, possible motives are discovered. Yet, by the end of the book we're still not any closer to discovering who the real culprit is.
I'll admit it. This book had me. It's not very often that I am given a story where I am so certain who the bad guy is, only to discover I was completely off base. A few glancing suspicions here or there, maybe, but only occasionally where I've fingered the wrong person for the crime with such an adamant belief in their guilt. Sara Shepard weaves together her mystery so artfully that this is actually the second time in as many books that I have done this, and may already be falling for a third (I won't know for certain until February 7th, 2012, when Two Truths and a Lie comes out, but I've got my eye on you, character I'm not going to name).
One of the other things I loved about this book was the character development. Er, well, not development per se (don't really recall seeing too much of that in the sense of growing as a character, unless you count Sutton, herself, or Emma with her whole throw caution to the wind thing, there, in the end), but rather the glimpses into the characters' pasts (provided by the deceased Sutton, as she remembered events that happened to her, and various other clues) that helped us to understand them better. It's a different sort of experience, I think, learning about characters you know nothing about, yet based on their relationship to Sutton you should at least know something. We learn as Emma learns and Sutton remembers, and as such, we are not just being told about the characters, which is usually how it goes when a character has known someone forever, which is why I like it.
If you haven't read either of The Lying Game books and are a fan of stories reminiscent of roller-coaster rides, then I think you should give this series a chance. If you have read The Lying Game, but not Never Have I Ever then trust me, you don't want to wait much longer to pick up this sequel.
Overall, I would rate Never Have I Ever with 4.7 Crazy Hearts, and am eagerly anticipating the next installment....more
Title: Delirium Author: Lauren Oliver Pub. Date: February 2011 Rating: 4.7 Stars Sample the first chapter here!
It's been my experience over the years that a novel written mainly on the subject of love has not resulted in the production of one of the best stories I have ever read, or even, for that matter, one that I'd thought was very good (though there have been good ones, don't get me wrong). A story, in my opinion needs more at its base than just love. Perhaps I'm too critical of love stories, but I know I'm not the only one out there who feels this way, and regardless the point I'm trying to make is this: When I picked up a copy of Lauren Oliver's Delirium, I had my reservations.
Still, the story line was intriguing enough (partially due to my current dystopian kick. I am a sucker for that kind of stuff), so I decided to give it a chance.
A girl, Lena Haloway, lives in a future where they have managed to find a cure for love, or amor deliria nervosa, as they call it -- "The deadliest of all deadly things." (Delirium, p.4, and others.) In this future, at the age of eighteen every citizen of the United States is eradicated of this "disease" whether they are willing, or not (as some cases may be.). At the start of this book, Lena has ninety-five days until her procedure, and she cannot wait. They say the cure is happiness, and Lena wants to be happy; she wants to be safe. Since the death of her mother (who killed herself because of the disease when Lena was six) that is all she ever wanted -- until she fell in love.
Interesting, if not a little too love focused, right?
Well, I am very glad I did not let my preconceived notions deter me from reading this amazing book. Delirium is quite possibly one of the most powerful and empowering love-based books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It explores not only the love story that is the bread and butter of the novel, but also the fears that lie beneath the idea of love itself.
The America of Delirium is a nation run by fear -- they're just too emotionally lobotomized to realize it. For sixty-four years they have thought of love as a disease, something to be afraid of contracting, because everything else -- "stress, heart disease, anxiety, depression, hypertension, insomnia, bipolar disorder [etc.]" (p.3) -- is merely considered a symptom of it. Anyone who fell in love, still wished to continue believing love, was someone to be feared, for they threatened the safety and stability of those who did not.
What does keep these people safe and stable are the electric fences they wrap around their registered communities, the constant monitoring of their activities , the tapping of their phones, the regulators who patrol their streets with billy clubs and mace who, especially on raid nights, if they feel you are doing something wrong (whether or not you actually are) will have no problem using them on innocent civilians , and some are depicted as enjoying it (honestly, i think that is a symptom of their coveted cure, sociopathic tendencies). And then, of course, there is the cure itself.
But it is the people who love each other that they need to be afraid of, but i digress.
If you have not yet read this book, I recommend you do. Delirium is more than just a love story. It's about discovering that what you believe in may not be of the approved norm, and finding the courage to stand up for it anyway. For that, as well as excellent storytelling, character and world building, this blogger gives Delirium 4.7-Stars....more
Title: The Iron King Author: Julie Kagawa Publisher: Harlequin Teen Pub. Date:Rating:4 Stars Read the first 57 pages HERE!
As part of this week's crazy fun leading up to the release of The Iron Knight on the 25th, I elected to take on the entire Iron Fey series for the very first time.
So far, I am glad I did.
I'll admit, I was a little wary picking up The Iron King. I'm not entirely sure why, with all the rave reviews and crazy (in a good way) fans, but I was.
The Iron King is the story of Meghan Chase who, after learning that fey had replaced her four-year-old brother with a changeling, steals into the Nevernever (Faery-land) with her best friend, Robbie (who just so happens to be the Puck of legend), in search of him.
While there, Meghan learns new things about herself that she could never have imagined, and of a dangerous new breed of Faery threatening the land.
I've read other books that have involved fairies (notice the spelling change) before, and one of the things I liked about this book is that a lot of the old myths still rang true (for the majority of the Fey). It's not too often you see that anymore. When a character of mythical origins knows that humans of the modern age have pre-conceived notions about their kind, oftentimes you see them say at some point "Ha! And you actually believe that?" or "Yeah, when humans started saying stuff like that about us, we thought it a genius idea to let them believe those lies."
I'm not saying I don't like seeing new spins on an old story, but sometimes it's refreshing to see someone sticking with the classics (like a vampire who actually sleeps in a coffin, drinks humans to death, and can be staked with a piece of wood).
One of the other things I liked was how the Nevernever was portrayed. The description and imagery Julie Kagawa used made this world seem so real and vibrant. I could see the beauty of the Summer-land the Seelie fey resided in, practically smell the crisp cold of Winter, and taste the copper-tinged smog of the Iron Kingdom.
Of course, this realness helped make the threats Meghan was facing all the more terrifying for the reader. For example (without giving away too much about the plot), Kagawa's Faeries travel about their world and ours using trods (or, pathways) which, in our world can be found anywhere there is a concentration of creativity. Like in the closet of a very imaginative four-year-old, for example (can you say prime candidate for having a changeling take its place?). You'd never know it, though, because naturally these fey that walk amongst us are all cloaked in glamour, so can look just like us or even be invisible to our eyes. How is that not scary? Especially when fey are rarely portrayed as very nice creatures (those little tricksters!).
Now, what review would be complete without something to complain about? As it seems to be with a lot of books I've read of late, the main issue(s) I have lie with the characters as well as their relationships.
Perhaps this example is merely a victim of a fast moving plot, or it might be a special circumstance or character trait, or even part of the larger picture, but for me, the development of Mehgan's and Ash's relationship seemed to be too fast. Or rather, it felt to me, that someone who thought of the other person as the enemy the whole time, gave in to his conflicting emotions too easily — that it wasn't much of a conflict at all.
Perhaps I'm picky, and perhaps I'm biased. I'll readily admit I have a tendency to love characters together who simply REFUSE to admit they are in love. For some awesome examples, look to L.J. Smith's Night World series. Ash (ironically) and Mary-Lynnette, John Quinn and Rachelle Jordan, Delos and Maggie — all of these had reasons not to readily give into their obvious love for each other, and all played out in single books, but the hot-cold emotional tug-of-war never seemed like it was lacking, which it felt like here. So, for me, major disappointment.
The Iron King (for which the book was named) was a bit of a disappointment, as well. He was a major cliche, though dressed in some very smart armor.
(view spoiler)[Muahaha! *steeples fingers together in a Mr. Burns-esque fasion* I did this so I can demand you become my queen and use the power I offer you as a selling point. (hide spoiler)]
Yeah. Because I didn't see that one coming from a mile away. Isn't that, like, the evil king go-to?
Normally, I don't really care if I am able to figure things out before the end. In fact, I kind of love that "Aha! I got it right!" moment when I do. However, everything else in this book (excepting what I mentioned above, of course) seemed done so well, and was so well thought out, I guess I was expecting something a little more. This two-dimensional, evil villain with a curlicue mustache seemed like a cop-out.
Still, I did love this book, and I am eager to dig in to the rest of the series. I think its average rating of 4/5 [Crazy Hearts] here on Goodreads suits it well.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more