I don’t know her personally, but Maureen Johnson seems like a nice lady. She’s goofy and smart and she hangs out with most of my favorite YA authors,I don’t know her personally, but Maureen Johnson seems like a nice lady. She’s goofy and smart and she hangs out with most of my favorite YA authors, and once she sent me a Jack the Ripper button. (I mean, other people got them too, but I still feel special, and that is because Maureen sent a lovely, funny little note that made the whole thing feel very personal.) So I don’t know why she wanted to take her words and use them to rip my heart out and stomp on it and then hand the bitty pieces back to me, but she did.
The Madness Underneath isn’t as suspenseful as The Name of the Star. This book is less of a murder mystery (although there are a couple murders and they are mysterious) and more a study of... well, madness. After what happened to Rory at the end of the first book, she is in a position of not going anywhere in life and doesn’t really care. Is that indifference normal? Is she playing with a full deck? And as for the murders around her—are they related to the Ripper murders, or even to each other? Or is Rory just trying to link things together to make herself feel sane again?
I really don’t want to spoil this (or Star) for anyone and I can’t gush forever, as much as I’d like to. Typically I prefer my books to be character-driven; I like those characters to feel like real people to me, to be interesting and funny and tangible. Maureen Johnson is very good at writing those sorts of characters, and even though there is a dark, uncertain mood to the whole book, Rory still keeps her sense of humor and there were bits that made me laugh out loud. For example, this is Rory talking about how she hasn’t shaved in three weeks:
“The hairs sprouted, and they were kind of cute. So I just let them go to see what would happen, and what had happened was that I had a fine web of delicate hair all over my legs that I could ruffle while I watched television, like some people absently pet their cats. I was my very own fuzzy pet.”
Johnson writes Rory’s mental state after The Incident (again, trying to avoid spoilers here) with sensitivity and great believability. I was also very excited to see a new side of Stephen in this novel; in Star he was so buttoned-up and mature, but in The Madness Underneath we get to see him relating to Rory and sharing more tidbits about his past.
Plus, there is some (though not enough) Alistair, Jazza knitting a tube, and some unexpected kissing action.
The cliffhanger ending both annoys and excites me. On the one hand, I know the next book is going to rock my face off. On the other, I have to wait a year for the next book to rock my face off. And in the meantime, I’m going to be worried about my beloved Rory & Co. It’s a hard-knock life, indeed....more
Ruby finally won me over, guys. I don’t know if it was the fact Roo finally got a grip and smartened up a bit, or if it was because I was sick and vulRuby finally won me over, guys. I don’t know if it was the fact Roo finally got a grip and smartened up a bit, or if it was because I was sick and vulnerable, or a combination thereof—but Real Live Boyfriends did it for me.
In this, the final installment of the Ruby Oliver series, Roo thinks she has it all figured out. She is dating Noel, and he is behaving like a Real Live Boyfriend. He doesn’t magically fix everything that’s wrong in Ruby’s life, but they are together and they are happy—and Ruby is back to her old my-man-is-my-universe ways. Then Noel goes to New York for a month and comes back as a pod-robot lobotomy patient. In addition to that, Hutch is in Paris playing baguette air guitar, Gideon is back in town, and Ruby has to get her college applications in order, do Reginald, deal with her insane parents and her grandmother’s death, sort out all her friendship issues, hold down a job, and go to therapy. What’s a girl to do?
Well, if you’re Ruby Oliver you might regress. You might flirt with a whole bunch of other boys instead of making an effort with your Real Live Boyfriend. You might think all is lost. You might really upset me for a hundred pages or so before you finally start to wise up and make me proud, opening yourself up to new people and experiences and making attempts to communicate and be yourself. Yay, Ruby!
This book hit me right in the feels a few times. The moment Ruby finds out what happened to Noel and her subsequent interactions with him had me all sniffly (and not just because I had the flu). Roo’s goal is to go into filmmaking, so parts of the book are actually manuscripts of the film interviews she does of her family and friends on the topics of love, friendship, and popularity. At one point near the end, when Roo is particularly down about Noel, this happens:
Meghan pushed her chocolate cheesecake across the table to me. I hadn’t gotten paid yet for November, so I had only ordered coffee. “Here,” she said. “Don’t you want it?” “Sure I want it. I ordered it. But I’m giving it to you.” “Why?” Meghan stood up and got me a fork. “Remember what Nora said about love? In your movie?” “Love is when you have a really amazing piece of cake, and it’s the very last piece, but you let him have it.” “So it’s really amazing cake,” said Meghan. “And I want you to have it.”
I’m not sure what it is about Ruby Oliver that’s so endearing. She is neurotic, self-deprecating, immature, boy-crazy, and occasionally very similar to Mia Thermopolis or Georgia Nicolson (sometimes in a way that is less comforting and hilarious and more whoa, does this count as copyright infringement?). Maybe it is the way we are sistahs in panic attacks and compulsive list-making. Or maybe it is the way she is so zany and resilient. Possibly it’s how good she is with goats who are named after serial killers.
Whatever it is, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this series and I thought this was a great ending to it. These books just got bumped onto my Favorite Series shelf. Also—and most importantly—I am in love with Noel....more
1/21/13 Waffling between high 2.5 and low 2.5. Waffle, waffle, waffle.
1/22/13 When I was in fifth or sixth grade, The Face on the Milk Carton was the bo1/21/13 Waffling between high 2.5 and low 2.5. Waffle, waffle, waffle.
1/22/13 When I was in fifth or sixth grade, The Face on the Milk Carton was the book to read at school. (I went to a Catholic school and it actually ended up getting banned because SEXY TALK!! I remember feeling very edgy when I brought in my own copy to read during class. Sinead O’Rebellion!) I read it, Whatever Happened to Janie?, and The Voice on the Radio (probably the best one, in my opinion) over and over and over. Then, thirteen years ago, What Janie Found was published: the last book in the Janie Johnson series, for better or worse, the end. I wasn’t mad for the ending but it was what it was. No more Janie/Jennie!
Then a few weeks ago, I found out a fifth Janie book was coming out. I spazzed excitedly, told my entire family (who were unmoved), and hopped on the library waiting list. On Friday I got the book and my joy at being the first library patron to crack its spine and turn its fragrant, Janie-filled pages was unimaginable. As was my sorrow when Janie Face to Face turned out to be less than what I’d expected.
I feel like Cooney tried to tackle too much at once with this one. I appreciate that she wanted to give closure to all of the characters, but anyone who has read the Janie series knows that is A LOT of characters to cover in one book. There were a few parts that dragged and bits I didn’t really care for at all (i.e., anything involving Kathleen—why is she still around after What Janie Found? Go away, Kathleen!—and the abrupt romance), and sometimes all the hopping from one perspective to another was dizzying. I don’t think the Johnsons got much closure and I’m not sure how I feel about the ending they were given; their story is still very open and Miranda’s wounds are still quite raw. And Hannah wasn’t what I’d expected. I’ve always imagined her as a little more psychopathic and gritty and a lot less whiny. Plus it’s a little weird going from a series of books without technology to iPhones and e-readers being all over the place.
But there were parts I really liked, some I even loved. I enjoyed being able to see the story from the points of view of Sarah-Charlotte, Donna Spring, Jodie, and Brendan. Stephen’s portion of the story—the way he still isn’t healed, may never be quite healed—was sad but authentic. Just because the rest of his family is moving on doesn’t mean he can yet. I also liked the commentary on how people are putting everything online; the fact that Hannah got so close to the Johnsons and the Springs just because one person related to them is cavalier with her information on Facebook is realistic and creepy as hell. Most importantly, Janie is finally able to stand on her own two feet and solve her problems. I really am so glad she finally embraced her birth family and became Jennie and that she grew up and was okay. It’s probably lame to be this excited about a fictional character getting a happy ending, but I yam what I yam. Love me, love my overreactions to books.
Anyway, the ending isn’t perfect. There are still some messy bits and loose ends. But the most important things are taken care of and the closure is there for any Janie Johnson fans who needed it. This is not Cooney’s best work, it’s not even her best Janie Johnson novel, but it shows how all the characters have begun to heal and reconcile with their situation and each other.
This needs to either be about Dori and Reid, including Dori finding out about Reid's secret--which for some reason HE NEVER TOLD HER, EVEN THOUGH IT WThis needs to either be about Dori and Reid, including Dori finding out about Reid's secret--which for some reason HE NEVER TOLD HER, EVEN THOUGH IT WAS TOTALLY PERTINENT TO THEIR BIG CONVERSATION AT THE END OF THE BOOK--or about Brooke being less of a bitch....more
Someone needs to let Jennifer Armentrout know she has a whole bunch of copies of Opal out in the world that are missing the last few hundred3.5 stars
Someone needs to let Jennifer Armentrout know she has a whole bunch of copies of Opal out in the world that are missing the last few hundred pages because there is NO WAY that was the ending and I have to wait until next July to find out what happens next. Because that would be just cruel, and she doesn’t seem like that sort of person. Look how nice she looks on her author page! That is not the face of a sadist.
I feel like I’ve been waiting for Opal forever, but in actuality it’s only been about a month. And it’s hard to write a review of this book because I want to fangirl out about it forever and I can’t do that, because spoilers. So here is just a short list of what I liked.
- There is more Dee in this one than in Onyx. After the events of the last installment, her relationship with Katy has been irrevocably changed, and her personality seems to have been as well. The Dee in Opal is a harder, pricklier Dee than in the previous two books, and of course that is understandable. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to watch. Even when she’s being outright bitchy, I want to hug her and tell her it will get easier.
- Daemon and Katy are together, but they still argue. Normal couples—especially teenagers—are going to argue between all the cuddling and sexy times. That is the way the world works. Daemon and Katy are romantic with each other, they have fun and do laid-back things between all their planning to save the world, but they still fight. However, the fights have reached a more mature level where they actually discuss the issues and their feelings and come to a mutually agreeable solution. I just think this is the best, especially when compared to all the unequal relationships going down in popular series these days.
In fact, they are both just so got-dam reasonable overall. She doesn’t completely freak out when he doesn’t say “I love you” back because she understands everything he’s gone through makes that difficult. They respect and value each other’s opinions and feelings. No one plays mind games with anyone else. I don’t know if it’s all the near-death experiences or some kind of alien superpower, but they are actually Young Adults and it’s pretty awesome.
- The sexual tension is still realistic and through the roof. Despite all the unintentional cockblocking on the part of the other characters, Katy and Daemon manage to do... couple-y things, which Armentrout writes about realistically (we are dealing with older teens, after all) and with just the right amount of details to keep it classy and make me fan myself all at once. And, unsurprisingly, we see that Daemon is talented in this area:
“And then there was nothing separating his hands from my skin or his lips and I stopped thinking, wasn’t capable of forming any coherent thought. There was just him and the crazy rush of sensations he pulled forth, drew from me like an artist rendering some kind of masterpiece. Then I wasn’t even me anymore, because my body couldn’t shake that much.”
- The ending. I have a love/hate relationship with this ending. I expected aspects of it but was also completely thrown by one element because I genuinely thought Daemon’s and Katy’s roles would be reversed in that scenario. I did this:
And then this:
And as angry as I was at first, I understand now. I do. The book’s heavy focus on Katy and Daemon’s relationship rather than on action was necessary; we need to know they can withstand anything that comes in the next two books, and after seeing how they interact with each other and with those around them, I believe they can.
Despite everything I loved about it, Opal felt like more of an in-betweener than its own book in the series, almost entirely meant as a vehicle to transition between one major event and the next. I felt like Obsidian and Onyx had more capability to stand on their own story-wise, whereas Opal really needs that next installment. There was no real “holy crap, I need mooooore!” moment for me until the end. So I docked it a half a star.
If the Mayans were right and the world ends before I get to finish this series......more
I’ve been counting down the days to Opal for almost a month. We’re down to two weeks!
I love this series. I want to have a slumber party with4.5 stars
I’ve been counting down the days to Opal for almost a month. We’re down to two weeks!
I love this series. I want to have a slumber party with it. We’ll stay up late, braiding each other’s hair and playing Electronic Dream Phone and eating popcorn and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s each, and then when we’re too sick to eat any more we’ll sit in our sleeping bags and talk about the important topics of the day, like which member of One Direction is the cutest (Harry, of course). We’ll try to stay up all night but around 4 a.m. we’ll fall asleep, because I can’t stay up later than that. I’m old.
There’s so much action in this book and it’s difficult for me to write a review without spoilers. Basically, after saving her life in Obsidian Daemon has somehow linked himself to Katy. He’s upped the flirting, even doing it in public, and Kat’s resisting, sure that the only reason he’s into her is because of the weird alien link. Then a new guy, Blake, shows up in one of Kat’s classes and they just have so much in common and he wants to get to know her better... much better... at which point I went, “NO! NO LOVE TRIANGLES! NOOO!”
Fortunately, it wasn’t a love triangle. Unfortunately, the DOD is sniffing around and putting a real damper on things, Blake is More Than He Seems, and shit’s about to get real, yo—right after it hits the fan.
There were lines that made me laugh:
“Meet me in the library at lunch. No one really goes in there. You know, with all those books and stuff.”
And there were lines that made me sniffle:
His throat worked slowly. “Can I . . .?” There was a pause and my heart stuttered. “Can I just hold you? That’s all . . . that’s all I want.”
And parts—well, part, honestly—that made me do this:
I’m not really sure what has me so hooked on this PNR series when most others trigger my gag reflex. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read many (read: any) alien romances before. Maybe it’s because this one doesn’t fall into the typical trap most “essentially parentless girl meets weird boy and he pushes her away at first but then they’re sofa king in love” stories seem to, where the guy ends up being the girl’s entire world within twenty pages and he’s always saving her from some mishap or another (I’m looking at you, Bella). Kat and Daemon’s relationship seems more equal to me, and I like that. She has a personality when she’s on her own; she has interests and friends outside Daemon and Dee.
And they make out a lot. And I like that.
Anyway, here’s a picture of Harry Styles wearing cat ears:
I was initially hesitant to buy the ebook. I took to Goodreads to check out the reviews and they were all fairly high, but howOh my giddy great aunt.
I was initially hesitant to buy the ebook. I took to Goodreads to check out the reviews and they were all fairly high, but how accurate were they? And could I trust these strange people? Since an ebook is non-refundable, I decided to check the reviews of the people I follow whose opinions usually mesh with mine. They were mixed, but I had a 50% off coupon and it would only end up costing me $2.49, so I went for it.
Plot-wise there isn’t much new to see here, so if you want something 100% original you best move along. Bookish Girl moves with Benignly Neglectful Single Parent to a Podunk town and meets mysterious neighbors, including Impossibly Attractive Boy. BG tries to have a polite conversation with IAB, who turns out to be a complete asshat. IAB has an Equally Attractive Fun Sister, who befriends the BG against IAB’s wishes. BG becomes increasingly drawn into the mysterious lives of IAB and EAFG, until eventually something really paranormal happens and their true identities are revealed and we discover that IAB was only being abrasive because he was trying to protect his family and secretly he really loves BG.
So okay, there are many clichés and it isn’t exactly the Great American Novel. And yeah, the male protagonist’s name is Daemon, which I imagine is meant to be pronounced as “demon” but which I deliberately pronounced as the alternate “dai-mon” because the other way was just too weird for me. (Side note: How exactly do you expect to blend in with the humans when you go around calling yourself Demon?) But oooh boy, did I get into it. I stayed up until 4 a.m. reading it and spent the morning walking around with my Sony in one hand, trying to do basic tasks with the other. And when I had twenty pages to go and decided to buy Onyx (at full price, no less!) and it wouldn’t sync to my e-reader, I had a shit fit.
Yes, Daemon is abrasive, but I didn’t find that annoying. Maybe it’s because of the recent Twilight/Fifty Shades–induced “he’s creepy and abusive because he cares” trend in romantic heroes, but Daemon really didn’t seem that bad. He was just an asshole trying to protect his family while wanting to schtup the new neighbor who could quite possibly destroy his world. Wouldn’t you be a little grouchy? Plus, when I was seventeen a boy like that would’ve been right up my alley, additood and all. No judging here, Kat.
Katy isn’t a Bella Swan, thank Vishnu, and she actually has a backbone and tells Daemon off when he’s being a wang—which is often. When he makes a comment about how she eats, Katy says, “Yeah, see my mom normally takes me out to Chuck E. Cheese’s for dinner so I’m a little out of my element. Missing the ball pen and all.” Zing!, sort of. And at one point she mentions wanting to give Daemon’s face a close encounter of the bitch-slap kind. I like this kid.
Also, there is a lot of sexual tension and some smoldery making out and those things are important.
When I was younger, I devoured the Sweet Valley books—Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley Twins, Unicorn Club, Senior Year, and even (in second grade) SweWhen I was younger, I devoured the Sweet Valley books—Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley Twins, Unicorn Club, Senior Year, and even (in second grade) Sweet Valley Kids. (Spoiler alert: One of the twins’ friends wets her sleeping bag!) But I never read the very first ones in SVH. I found a crapload of them for 25¢ each at the used bookstore and of course I bought them all, and after two days lost in the complex, sex-crazed world of the Sweet Life e-serial, I found myself yearning to return to a simpler time in Sweet Valley, California. A time without cliffhangers. A time with continuity. A time in which (view spoiler)[Winston wasn’t dead (hide spoiler)].
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you . . . Double Love.
Anyone who’s ever read a Sweet Valley book knows the drill: Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are twins, identical from their sun-kissed blond hair, blue-green eyes (the color of the Caribbean!), and dimples in their left cheeks to their matching gold lavalieres. The only differences between the girls? Elizabeth wears a watch and has a mole on her shoulder. Other than that, they are completely indistinguishable, except for their wildly different personalities which no one ever seems to be able to differentiate between when it really matters.
Oh, and also they are really, really freaking pretty. In the first two pages Jessica is described as having “perfectly shaped bronze leg[s],” “a stunning figure without an extra ounce visible anywhere,” etc.
Jessica is commonly referred to as a sociopath in SVH reviews, but in Double Love we really get to see the myriad of personality disorders she has. Sister has INSANE mood-swings, doesn’t like Lizzie hanging out with anyone but her, and is willing to sabotage her twin’s reputation and accuse a guy of forcing himself on her in order to save her own adorable, heart-shaped face. (A face which is suddenly oval in the next book in the series. So much for continuity.)
We also really get a taste of what a pushover Elizabeth is. After Jessica (view spoiler)[lets everyone in school think Liz is the one who nearly got arrested after a bar brawl, steals the boy she likes (though to be fair Liz never said she liked him) and tries to sabotage Liz’s chances with him once Jessica realizes he likes Liz and not her, and takes the car and makes Liz walk home (hide spoiler)], Elizabeth is all, “It’s okay! I could never stay mad at you!” She plays Jessica so she ends up being (view spoiler)[mistaken for Liz and thrown in a pool (hide spoiler)], but that seems like a pretty lame punishment. Even Angry Todd (who makes his first angry, punchy appearance near the end!) just pooh-poohs it. Oh, it’s cool that your sister is completely self-absorbed and possibly bipolar with borderline personality tendencies. I forgive her for accusing me of sexual assault. Let’s kiss! Whatever, Wilkins.
Double Love also gives us our first taste of Winston Egbert, Creepy Mr. Collins, Chrome Dome, Ken Matthews (knowing what happens to him in SVC-land I kept shaking my head every time he was mentioned, poor bastard), Lila Fowler, Enid Rollins (aka Dammit, Enid!) Bruce Patman, and of course, 1BRUCE1.
It’s really, really weird to reread these books as an adult. Even when I was reading them for the first time it was about 14 years after the initial publication date, but wow do these books ever seem dated now. Elizabeth has a typewriter! And a tuxedo shirt with a little tie! And she irons her jeans! It’s just great.
I hear they are editing the re-releases to have cell phones, laptops, etc. If you want to read the SVH series, please do yourself a favor and hunt down the 1980s/90s originals. It’s all so much more fun with big hair and off-white cords and heather-colored sweaters. Also, I shudder to think what state Liz's jeans are in in the updated versions.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Our tale opens on Super-Sleuth Elizabeth continuing her investigation of Robin Platt’s origins by checking out a rehab clinic in Lexington, Kentucky.Our tale opens on Super-Sleuth Elizabeth continuing her investigation of Robin Platt’s origins by checking out a rehab clinic in Lexington, Kentucky. Aaron has been found out by Nola and he’s got to do some quick thinking (and reminding us all that he’s married to Steven Wakefield, a successful and respected lawyer) to get out of that predicament. Annie is still trying to get Bruce back to Sweet Valley (is anyone else concerned that she hightailed it to Cannes and we have no idea where her kid is?) and fighting her feelings for him, while Bruce is trying to reconcile his burgeoning attraction to Annie with his Wakefield-induced broken heart. Jessica is lonely and confused. Throat Punch Todd is . . . somewhere. Ken is still a big, dumb softy, and Lila is still a mess.
But don’t worry! The mystery is unraveled, various truths come out, and everything ends happily-ever-after. Except, oh wait, it doesn’t. No, there is a crappy, predictable cliffhanger, which Elizabeth kind of deserves because she’s being such a weenie, but which also made me a little bit sad because I like new, sensitive Bruce and think he should end up with the person he belongs with (even if she is a weenie).
Perhaps the most exciting part of this book is that Throat Punch Todd beats the ever-loving crap out of someone. Yes! He just wails on this guy, who ends up “trying to defend himself against the dozens of blows Todd rained down on his head.” Earth to Sweet Valley! Todd has been senselessly violent since 1984. Why hasn’t anyone staged an intervention and urged him to attend anger management classes yet?
Now I have to wait probably another year to find out what happens next and that makes me cranky....more
I started reading the PLL series in '08 and I loved it. Every time I got a new PLL book, I'd stay up all nighWhy are we still beating this dead horse?
I started reading the PLL series in '08 and I loved it. Every time I got a new PLL book, I'd stay up all night reading it in one sitting. I thought the ending in Wanted was perfect: open, a little creepy, still leaving you with the feeling that Someone Is Watching You. Scene.
Then I found out there was a third wave of books coming out. I've read them all, of course, and they aren't bad--but they aren't of the same caliber as the first eight books. At some point the series passed from "somewhat believable" to "okay, I have to suspend belief a lot but this could still happen and it's bloody interesting even if it is unlikely" to "oh my god, how much of this could one group of teenage girls actually do?!" And I don't really sympathize with them anymore. In fact, I want them to get busted. Bullying is something that, if you display genuine remorse, can be forgiven. (view spoiler)[Accidentally blinding Jenna (hide spoiler)] was something I could forgive because it was truly an accident. But (view spoiler)[pushing a girl off a cliff at a resort and then covering it up (hide spoiler)] or (view spoiler)[placing drugs in someone's room so you can get into Princeton (hide spoiler)]? Those are adult crimes with adult consequences. They aren't accidents. Your pettiness and inability to take responsibility for screwing up your own life are getting boring, little girls. Just go to prison already.
I get that this third wave of PLL novels most likely came about because of the success of the ABC Family show based on the books, but why? If you're out of good ideas, don't write more books. Focus on your other series. Maybe start a third one.
There's one book left and of course I'll read it. I just hope I'll like it more.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more