Two of my guilty pleasures are a good detective story and biographies. Pinkerton's Great Detective delivers bo...morethis reviews goes live on the blog11/18
Two of my guilty pleasures are a good detective story and biographies. Pinkerton's Great Detective delivers both in one tidy package, proving once again that sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction.
James McParland, renowned sleuth, had such a mastery over his secrets that his own birthday is not known. Early on in the book Riffenburgh addresses this by admitting that for a biography, there might be more than a few inaccuracies. Because of this, Pinkerton's Great Detective winds up being less about that great detective, and more about Pinkerton, his agency, Charlie Siringo (a fascinating man in his own right!), and the cases McParland investigated: the Molly Maguires, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle makes an appearance.
Pinkerton's Great Detective begins in Ireland where McParland was born and raised along with eleven siblings. While McParland was still a baby the Great Famine struck, devastating Ireland's potato crops and leaving millions of people starving - if not dead. When he was still young, McParland left his home for America, a land not exactly warm and welcoming to the Irish at that time. The Civil War left entire cities ravaged, yet James was still determined to strike a new life - literally.
In his undercover work in the Molly Maguire case, James adopted the name Jim McKenna and constructed an entirely new identity. He lived and breathed McKenna, going so far as to invent false arrest records. This was the case that made his career and Riffenburgh clearly did his research: a sizeable portion of the novel is devoted to the Molly Maguires - or MMs as McParland referred to the gang - and rightfully so. McParland's time spent in the Old West is also covered in remarkable detail.
Readers hesitant to try non-fiction need not worry: although Pinkerton's Great Detective is painstakingly researched, Riffenburgh doesn't lose focus of the story. The book isn't bogged down with technical jargon or unnecessary details. While the ambiguity and inaccuracy does detract from the story at times the book remains action-packed and entertaining. After all, how could a story about a spy be boring?
Pinkerton's Great Detective will easily appeal to fans of a wide range of subjects: history, the Old West, detectives and true crime. Are you a reader new to or curious about non-fiction? Pinkerton's Great Detective is a wonderful starting point with its easy-to-follow narrative (Erik Larson's books come to mind) and intriguing characters.(less)
Cracked is a novel that came out of nowhere and took me by surprise. Initially I wasn't expecting more than a run-of-the-mill YA Paranormal. By the end of the first chapter, however, I was completely hooked!
Meda isn't quite sure what she is, but she knows it isn't good. See, Meda eats souls. And she likes it. Meda's mother always knew Meda wasn't like the other children - public schooling (or any schooling, for that matter) couldn't handle Meda and her tendency for violent outbreaks. Her mother's gruesome death has left Meda to fend for herself and Meda is more than capable of doing so.
After gaining admittance to an institution, Meda finally has her target cornered. She's had her sights on this man for a while, and now it's time for action. Unfortunately, there are others - some like Meda, some not - who arrive with plans of their own. When she's 'rescued' by a well-intentioned young man, Meda decides to make the most of it; Chi is a Crusader, a Templar seeking to rid the world of Demons. These demons he fights sound startlingly familiar to Meda. Here's her chance to find out just what she is - and possibly catch a snack or two in the process.
Cracked was, well, delicious. It was a fun, take-no-prisoners novel that I hadn't realized I needed. Meda was a fantastic character - though readers will either love her or hate her. She's snarky and rude and doesn't hide the fact that she is what she is. She had very few redeeming qualities - if any at all - and it's this anti-hero trait that made her so refreshing and enjoyable. The Knights themselves were all a great bunch too: Chi, the fearless leader who's just a few crayons short of a box; Jo, the no-nonsense girl who's haunted by a wound; Uri, the most adorable 12-year-old who practically worships Chi. I found myself truly caring for these characters and one scene even left me teary-eyed.
Not only did Crewe turn the likeable main character idea on its head, but she also did an absolutely wonderful job with the romance. The romance is between two secondary characters and I was rooting for them the entire time. If you squint a bit, there's a sliiight chance that Meda might have her own romance in the next book, but it really could go either way - and for once, I don't mind. Meda's character and the story itself are strong enough on their own to where I'm fine with the lack of a love interest.
Cracked was a short story, but one I was fully invested in and enjoyed immensely. If you're looking for a story that's outside the usual YA Paranormal, check this one out. This is a great start to a new series and I can't wait for the sequel!(less)
2013 has been an awakening of sorts for me. After a disaster of an introduction to contemporary I had been a bit hesitant to try again and swore the genre off for months. Eventually I gave in and soon discovered some of my new favorite books.
When I heard about Love Overdue it sounded like a book practically written for me: small town librarian, hot pharmacist, the inevitable awkward-yet-hilarious moment when they realize they had a fling eight years ago. I was READY for this one. Unfortunately, Love Overdue left me frustrated more than giggly and irate when I should have been all starry-eyed.
Dorothy Jarrow - DJ - is introduced to her new staff and they're more caricatures than characters and left such a weak impression I forget their names already. There's the Cranky Old Woman who thinks she runs the place because she's been there for years and refuses to relinquish her hold, Overly Bubbly Woman is nearing 30 yet speaks like a 12-year-old, Wounded Soldier can't be healed (until, of course, when he meets a woman, then it's as if PTSD never existed), and James. James was by far the best character and he hardly had any screen-time. He's autistic and prefers to have things run a certain way. DJ's arrival and subsequent upheaval of the library's organization is too much for him to deal with but he has such a shining moment and I loved him.
The other characters in town weren't much better: Scott's mother was terrible. I hated her and was so put off by her actions. She hires DJ in order to set her up with her son. That's it. She had DJ move across the country because she wanted to play match-maker. A year ago she lost her husband and puts on an act. I never understood why she did this - she just lost her husband. It's okay to cry and grieve. There's no need to have the town see you as bright and bubbly and her obsession with purple (she only wears purple clothes, drive a purple Mini Cooper, and painted her HOUSE purple) was downright disturbing. She also spends the majority of the novel planning suicide only to have all thoughts of it magically vanish in one scene.
My other big issue was the Ending That Wasn't. Right from the start the reader knows all about the spring break hook-up - there are scenes interspersed throughout the novel and both DJ and Scott think back on that night quite often. When they first meet DJ instantly knows who he is and over the next few months Scott's totally oblivious. There are moments when DJ reminds him of that girl he once knew, but he never fully puts two and two together until the 'ending.' Eight years ago he bought her a belly chain and she kept it all this time. One night he sees it, the lightbulb goes off in his brain, and The End. There's a pitiful attempt at an epilogue and the book is over.
Extremely sexist dialogue (Scott boasts about how his women roll over and sit at the snap of his fingers), horrible characterization, and a frustrating payoff on a 400+ page romance simply didn't work for me. Judging from other reviews Love Overdue has found plenty of fans, but unfortunately I am not one of them.(less)
Sky Jumpers was available as a Read Now on netgalley and y'all know I can't pass up a good Middle Grade. Sad...morethis review will go live on the blog10/11
Sky Jumpers was available as a Read Now on netgalley and y'all know I can't pass up a good Middle Grade. Sadly I didn't make it more than a few chapters in before setting this book aside.
World War III nearly wiped out civilization. A small settlement was formed in White Rock, Nebraska - in a large crater - and has since flourished. The war was devastating, not only wiping out nearly every bit of technology, but also leaving behind deadly pockets of gas known as Bomb's Breath. Many people have died after walking into the gas, yet the kids view it as a toy. Leaping off cliffs and into the gas - holding your breath, of course! - slows your fall and feels like flying.
There was far too much going on in the chapters I read. All technology has been wiped out in a matter of years and it's up to 12-year-old Hope's class to come up with new inventions. There was some cliff-jumping, lots of exposition detailing the loss of technology, and a large info-dump explaining that this poisonous Bomb's Breath was actually the result of a green bomb - US citizens learned their lesson after WWII and created a 'green bomb' in an attempt to save people..? I didn't get it.
Perhaps I didn't read enough - admittedly I stopped about four chapters in (though that was a sizable portion of the less-than-200-page book) - but Sky Jumpers just didn't cut it. I had a difficult time grasping the idea of this new world and, quite frankly, didn't care enough to read about the new inventions these children were creating.(less)
After being left alone for three days, twins Edmund and Sis have run out of what little food they have. Although they were under strict orders from th...moreAfter being left alone for three days, twins Edmund and Sis have run out of what little food they have. Although they were under strict orders from their aunt to stay indoors, Edmund makes the decision to head out in search of food. Unfortunately, when he returns, he discovers his sister is nowhere to be found. With his mother, aunt, and sister missing, Edmund is on his own with only a strange man to help him. Who is this man, where are his family members, and just what is the man writing?
I went into this thinking I'd have a great time. I know Avi is beloved by school kids the world over, but I honestly can't recall ever reading any of his works. With the reissue of The Man Who Was Poe, plus the fact that, hello, it's POE, I figured this would be the perfect place to start.
Boy was I wrong.
I'm all for artistic license and taking liberties when it comes to historical figures, but come on. Avi made Poe seem like a complete lunatic. He was borderline at best, jumping from mood to mood - and even identity! He insisted Edmund address him as Auguste Dupin, one of Poe's characters. He completely lost it whenever Edmund slipped and called him Poe. He also came across as, well, kind of an ass. One of my most treasured books I own is The Poe Log (a bit hard to find these days & the ones available are a tad bit pricey, sadly). It's a painstakingly detailed account of every single day of Poe's life and then some. Letters, articles, conversations are all compiled into one volume and it's a wealth of information for any fan of Poe's. On occasion I'll flip through it (& it was my best resource for some term papers in college!) and any account I've read from Poe's friends and family make mentioned of how soft-spoken and polite he was. He definitely had a drinking problem, but the novel turned him into a Jekyll/Hyde character anytime alcohol was involved.
Initially Poe - or Dupin - is willing to help Edmund find his sister, but the Crazy Train pulled up. I still don't know what happened with this one. PoeDupin is writing a story about Edmund's life and insists it can only end in death, so he decides the sister is dead and gives up his search. Naturally Edmund is distraught and bewildered and I was confused right along with him. Throw in some maybe-maybe-not ghosts, a surprise!stepfather, and a couple of bad guys for good measure and you'll get The Man Who Was Poe.
Although this was such a short book it was NOT the fun, quick read I was hoping for. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more when I was 8, but to read it as an adult made my head hurt and brought for the rage. The pace was so quick I was overwhelmed and found myself struggling to keep up at times. After a very graphic chapter early on in the book (Edmund has to identify a body found in the river), The Man Who Was Poe shifted gears and was a complete disappointment. I really wanted to enjoy this one.(less)
For many bloggers - myself included - The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was one of 2013's most anticipated release...morethis review will go live on the blog8/30
For many bloggers - myself included - The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was one of 2013's most anticipated releases. Seriously, read over that summary again. Sounds awesome, right? Unfortunately, this was a case where the idea was way better than its execution. I've come to dub this the Matthew Pearl Effect after the author Matthew Pearl whose books all sound FANTASTIC, but trick me every single time. A.E. Rought's Broken suffers from this as well. Sadly it looks as though The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is the latest victim of the MP Effect.
Tana's world is very similar to ours but with the addition of vampires and secured cities called Coldtowns. These Coldtowns are a prison sentence for the humans living inside - there's no way to get out. Once you're inside a Coldtown, you're inside for good. With popular livefeeds and reality shows vampires have reached celebrity status and many humans are actively looking to become infected and turn Cold. The idea of living forever and attending the Eternal Ball is all too glamorous to pass up.
What started as a normal house party quickly turns into a nightmare after Tana wakes to discover a bloodbath - literally. Blood paints the walls, the floors, flies have already started making their move. After discovering her ex-boyfriend chained to a bed and a chained-up vampire on the floor, Tana makes a decision to save them both. Soon the three are making their way to the closest Coldtown and Tana slowly comes to terms with the possibility of not only being infected, but also never seeing her family again.
This review is hard for me to write and I've been struggling to get my thoughts down. To be honest, not a whole lot happened in this book. I usually get through a book in two days - a single sitting if it's extremely entertaining. With Coldtown I spent a WEEK chugging away, slowly getting nowhere. How could a vampire story be so boring?
Admittedly there were some really interesting ideas presented like the turning process and the Coldtowns themselves. Everything else seemed to bog down the story with unneeded details and derails. Certain chapters felt as through they were thrown in as an afterthought - there was simply no organization or reasoning to some scenes.
One thing that struck me as odd throughout the novel were the many references to sites like Twitter, Flickr, and Youtube. While it works today, I'm worried that The Coldest Girl in Coldtown will feel terribly dated in a few years.
I had extremely high hopes not only for this book, but for Holly Black. This was my first novel of hers and I had been hearing wonderful things about her work for years. While I'm not ready to pass judgement on her just yet, I think it'll certainly be a while before I pick up another book. As for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, it will certainly have its readers. Unfortunately, its target audience was not me.(less)
After an extremely impressive streak with YA Thrillers (Find Me & Dead Girls Don't Lie are two of my favorite 2013 releases!) I was feeling pretty confident about Poor Little Dead Girls. A boarding school's secret society has ties to the deaths of two girls - what's not to love?
Unfortunately, Poor Little Dead Girls spectacularly crushed every single expectation I had, including the hope of actually finishing (spoiler alert: I did, but it was a fight on both our parts).
Sadie is a star lacrosse player on her high school team back home in Portland. When she receives a scholarship from the elite Keating Hall - students of the school are all but guaranteed acceptance to Ivy League universities - she doesn't hesitate for a second. She quickly becomes fast friends with Jessica (seemingly the only other student who isn't uber wealthy) and her royal roommates. After their hard partying habits brought shame upon Britain's royal family, Trix & Gwen were shipped off to America where they'll hopefully stay out of the public eye. Don't worry about getting to know these two though - their presence is only acknowledged in passing and piles of dirty laundry until the very end when Friend pulls out the shocker: Gwen is into girls! Really now? Gwen's sexuality added nothing to the story, particularly since it came about at the very end, and felt tacked on simply to bring some sort of life to an otherwise dead story.
In the very (and I mean very) beginning, things looked promising. Sure, the characters were little more than stock personalities (particularly the Mean Girls), but that was something I could live with. Within a few chapters, however, I realized this book and I weren't going to become bosom buddies. Chapter 6 - an entire chapter - was devoted to discussing all the ~hot boys~ on the football team. An. Entire. Chapter. Also - and this should come as NO surprise - it is in this chapter that Sadie falls head-over-heels for a boy she has yet to speak to, and when she finally does, this is the conversation they have:
"Is yours [a test] on Monday?" "Yeah." "Ours, too."
When Jeremy turns to walk back to his own school, Sadie's stomach was 'now flipping around like a kid three doses behind on his Ritalin.' I suppose I could overlook this if the scene took place in the middle of the day after a class or something. Instead, this happened in the middle of the night after Sadie had been chased. Ain't no thang though - she simply forgets all about that now that there's a SUPER HOT BOY!!
Once Jeremy shows up, classes are no longer a priority. Instead, she obsesses over his jawline ("A part of her - the same part that led her subconscious through the same cheesy dreamscape every night - wanted to lean in and lick it"). Riveting stuff, guys.
But, Leah, I thought this was a murder mystery I hear you say. Turns out there's a SOOPER SEKRET SOCIETY. More than once Sadie wakes to find bruises on her body and doesn't think anything of it. Later - much, much later - we discover she was being drugged and kidnapped this entire time. Those bruises are from having her blood taken and analyzed to prove she's ~worthy~ and of course she passes. Believe it or not, here's where the crazy comes in. This society is two hundred years old - Thomas Jefferson founded it. Its members are among the richest people in the world and they plan on creating a new world power. Sadie's mother (who had died when Sadie was a child) was a part of this group although she broke all ties with them and her family to marry Sadie's father (see, to make sure genetics are pure, the society arranges marriages for its members). The other girl who had died at the school was also in the society - and also related to Sadie. At one point its revealed SADIE'S EGGS WERE HARVESTED. Just in case Sadie were to die or run away, another heir could be created.
Poor Little Dead Girls tried to pack WAY too much into a tiny story. There were multiple story lines that were introduced and went nowhere: Sadie witnessed a rape and shrugged it off like it was nothing and a fellow student (and one of Sadie's friends!) was being beat by her boyfriend but he's hot so it's okay. There was no consistency or coherency to be found and all of the action happened off-screen: "An hour later she finally stopped talking [explaining basically the entire plot to Jeremy - but not the reader]" "The next three hours were so much fun she started to get nervous."
The author couldn't even get the ending right. Sadie receives hush money ($1M is all this group could come up with? These are supposed to be the richest families in the world.) and begins applying to college with her bestie Jessica and looks forward to spending more time with Jeremy. ...and that's it. There isn't any kind of resolution or closure. Much like with the rest of the story, Sadie shrugs it off, leaving a very unsatisfied reader.
Other readers have mentioned Friend at least succeeded in nailing the voice of these girls, but I have to disagree. Instead of calling each other by, you know, their names, Sadie and her friends refer to one another as hooker, skank, hobag, etc. Yeah, I've never called my friends any of those. This name-calling caused some serious eyebrow-raising once the rape & abusive boyfriend plots were introduced.
Poor Little Dead Girls isn't a book I would force upon anyone. Trust me on this: stay as far away from this book as you possibly can. I SUFFERED SO YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO.(less)
Everything you need to know about The Reluctant Reaper can be found in its summary: on her 25th birthday, Ki...morethis review will go live on the blog10/18
Everything you need to know about The Reluctant Reaper can be found in its summary: on her 25th birthday, Kirsty d'Arc was accidentally reaped when she jumped in front of a scythe meant for her boss. The man who was more like a father to her had offered up her soul in exchange for fame and fortune and now the Reaper has come to collect. Suffice it to say things didn't exactly go according to plan. Kirsty's body is technically still alive, though in a near-vegetative state, meaning she's stuck in Hell until Reaper management can sort out the whole mess.
The Reluctant Reaperscreamed guilty pleasure and I was really looking forward to spending a giggle-filled afternoon with it. Just like Dante's reaping, however, things went awry. Speaking of, that reaper Dante? Turns out he's the Dante Alighieri. Perhaps you've heard of a little work called The Divine Comedy? Yeah, that's him. Only now he's wavy-haired and hunkalicious. His undeniable mastery over the written word is sorely lacking in this novel, causing him to come off as more of a lovesick teenage boy than the famed poet.
If Dante's poetry was the worst thing about The Reluctant Reaper I would have been happy. Instead I was thrown pun after pun, to the point where it was no longer punny (I am so sorry). I'm all about cheesy. Witty phrases and plays-on-words are so my thing. Here, though, they were taken a step too far and after a few chapters it began to feel as though a conversation (or Kirsty's running narrative, for that matter) couldn't happen without a handful of puns. In the beginning I truly giggled and thought they were clever. A few chapters in they began losing their luster and by the end of the book I was flat-out frustrated. Sybil Serpent (and her union!), gee-gnomes and metro-gnomes, the GI's (Good Intentions) that line the roads, Sue Sayer and Claire Voyant, and Dante's gargoyle Jenni (because her fur gets all over - Jennifur harhar) all made multiple appearances. There were times the author must have been feeling especially clever because she would set up a paragraph of dialog - that usually had nothing to do with the current topic - just so she could whip out a phrase. Enough is enough, madam.
If it wasn't such (I accidentally typed suck at first - that should tell you what my mind thought of this book!) a short, quick read I highly doubt I would have finished. I went into The Reluctant Reaper expecting a fun, light-hearted story. Instead I got a story VERY heavy on the jokes and not so interested in actual plot. Kirsty spent the majority of the novel wandering around Hell simply taking in all the sights and sounds. I wanted to like this book, but sadly it wasn't for me.(less)
Wilds Cards is, unfortunately, a prime example of an intriguing plot that had a horrible execution. Southern...moreThis review will go live on the blog09/19
Wilds Cards is, unfortunately, a prime example of an intriguing plot that had a horrible execution. Southern boy Derek has found himself in the headmaster's office after a prank-gone-wrong. The prestigious school have given him numerous chances and this is the last straw. After fessing up and taking all of the blame, Derek's told he has 48 hours to gather his things and leave. With his dad stationed overseas and a spacey 25-year old stepmother, Derek isn't exactly looking forward to heading home. Things go from bad to worse when Brandi announces she's pregnant and until Derek's father returns, they'll all be heading to Chicago to move in with Brandi's estranged family.
As the only girl on the high school football team, Ashtyn has developed a tough skin. She had to earn the respect of the guys and now she's considered one of them. Her boyfriend is the star Quarterback and it's all but guaranteed he'll be elected Captain come their senior year. Ashtyn's sights are set a little further in the future: she's aiming for a football scholarship and the chance to play on a college team.
While things have never looked better on the field, Ashtyn's home life has seriously declined. Her mother abandoned the family years ago, her sister vanished as well, and her dad just doesn't seem to care anymore. Now her sister has returned, bun in the over, and with her son and stepson in tow. They simply arrive at the door and announce they're moving in.
Wild Cards had two things going for it: its BLINDINGLY fast pace and football. The football plot especially interested me, even moreso that it was a girl who played. YES PLEASE! Sadly, that's where the good ends. This is a book that suffers from an extreme case of telling rather than showing. We're told Derek is a bad boy, we're told Ashtyn is some super awesome fantastic football player/tough chick. I never got a feel for just who these characters really were and their relationship was downright confusing.
It seems all Derek does is paint the shed and cut the grass. I wouldn't have batted an eye if he helped a little old lady cross the street or rescue a kitten in a tree. Yep. Real troublemaker there. As far as Ashtyn's football prowess goes, she never actually plays. Or, sure, she practices, but that's it. There aren't any games - the novel takes places during summer vacation - so that angle was a complete letdown. At one point Ashtyn goes to a week-long football clinic where only the best high school players from around the country go, but even there we only read about a handful of drills (of course each one is sabotaged by boys who aren't interested in having a girl play).
I read a lot of YA and am getting into New Adult. I know how it goes and I've come to expect quick romances if not flat out instalove. What baffled me about Wild Cards is that, while the character are in love (in a weird quasi-incestuous way - she's his stepmother's sister after all), they refused to voice their feelings for nearly the entire book and they aren't in a relationship at all. The dual narrative allows the reader to know exactly how Ashtyn and Derek feel and it's very love/hate. Ashtyn thinks Derek's hot. Derek thinks Ashtyn has a great body. Ashtyn wants Derek to hold her. Derek wants Ashtyn period. Ashtyn hates how Derek is flirting with her friends and thinks he's a jerk. Derek hates how guys look at Ashtyn. This went on and on the entire book and their only interactions were arguments. Somehow this was supposed to be romantic? I just couldn't get into it.
The ending really took the cake though. (view spoiler)[After all the talk of Ashtyn being an amazing football player - and not seeing any proof - it turns out that Derek is the one who is really the star. Prior to the death of his mother he took his team all the way to the state championship and had a really promising career ahead of him. In the end it was about Derek's phenomenal skills rather than Ashtyn's. (hide spoiler)]
Wild Cards was such a disappointment. I went in fully prepared to love every moment, but nothing worked for me. The characters were flat, the football plot just wasn't there, and the romance was borderline aggravating. This is the first in a series, but I'm tapping out of this one. I have no interest in seeing what's in store for these characters. If it wasn't for the easy-to-read pace, I doubt I would have finished.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Wren Gray has always been the classic Good Girl. She's followed her parents orders, studied hard, and swore off boys that would distract her from her schoolwork. An early acceptance letter to Emory was part of her parents' plan. What her parents don't know, however, is that Wren is hiding a secret: she withdrew her acceptance to college and made plans to do volunteer work in Guatemala.
Charlie Parker has had a string of foster families. His current family - foster parents Chris and Pamela and younger brother Dev - are perfect and accept him as their own, yet his past won't let him belong. His memories haunt him still, but with high school coming to an end, Charlie wants to make a change.
The Infinite Moment of Us is my first Myracle novel and I expected great things. The first half of the book was flawless. The second half however...that's a different story.
Wren and Charlie come from two very different backgrounds: Charlie is the poor foster kid whose family is struggling to make ends meet while Wren is the Perfect Child every parents wants. Wren comes to the realization that she's been living her life for her parents and wants to break away, become a new person in a new country. When Wren and Charlie first meet - though meet isn't exactly the right word; they had gone to school together and Charlie had a bit of a crush on Wren - it's sweet albeit a little too fast for my taste. Not instalove though.
Things aren't sunshine and rainbows for the couple - Charlie's sort-of ex is wildly possessive (even though they're no longer together) and sends him a barrage of texts and calls whenever Charlie's with Wren. She even goes so far as to call him with an 'emergency' in an attempt to get him away from Wren. Naturally Wren begins to doubt his feelings - why would he say he loves her, yet run off to be with another girl? There were even times when Charlie lied about getting calls from Starrla. He'd say they were calls from his family (Dev is handicapped and it's not uncommon for the family to make impromptu trips to the hospital). While Charlie is no longer in love or even infatuated with Starrla, his constant visits to her apartment bothered me. He justifies his action by claiming they're both broken and they know each other and their problems. No. Sorry, Charlie, you didn't win any points from me with that one.
A large part of this book focuses on sex and I'm all about sex-positive YA/NA. That said, a comment from Wren completely shocked me and it was at this point the book began heading downhill:
"I don't want my first time to be with a condom unless we have to."
Oh, Wren. Seriously?
The Infinite Moment of Us has an ending that's overly sappy and insanely selfish on Wren's part. To recap, Wren and Charlie began chatting their last day of school. So, what, June? They've been dating two months at this point. Wren is still determined to head to Guatemala and she's upset that Charlie won't come with her. She feels he spends too much time with his family and that he chooses them over her. She does acknowledge how selfish she's being, which is good, but she refuses to answer his calls and texts. The ending caught me off guard - and not in a good way. I had hoped for a different sendoff and the book let me down.
Despite its flaws, The Infinite Moment of Us was an enjoyable, entertaining read. The secondary characters absolutely shine and the dual narrative makes me so giddy. Whether you're a fan of Myracle or are looking for a quick beach read, The Infinite Moment of Us is sure to please.(less)
New Adult is a genre that's still relatively new to me. I've only read a handful and when you strip them down, they all seem to have the same set of bones: girl in college meets boy and they have a lot of sex. Is New Adult erotica-lite? The names and settings change, but the core remains the same and I've come to be fairly disappointed with this supposedly innovative and exciting new genre.
That said, imagine my surprise when I absolutely adored Foreplay! It follows the New Adult 'formula' to a t, but it works. I was engaged and entertained and when it comes down to it, that's what a successful book is all about. Since Pepper was a little girl she has been madly in love with her best friend's brother, Hunter. When Hunter moved away for college, it was a no-brainer for Pepper: she would do everything possible to get a scholarship so she could be with him. Now that her dream is beginning to become a reality (along with the news that Hunter recently broke up with his girlfriend), there's just one problem: Pepper knows next to nothing about relationships. There was one disaster of a kiss years ago and that's it. Naturally Pepper's two suitemates come up with a solution: find a no-strings-attached, experienced guy who can show Pepper the ropes. Luckily for Pepper, they have just the guy in mind - the super hot bartender. Unfortunately even the perfect plans can go wrong.
Reece is a pierced and tattooed boy from the wrong side of the tracks. He dropped out of college in order to keep the family's bar running after his father's accident. The stares of college girls is nothing new to him, but Pepper's proposition is certainly a surprise. More amused than anything, he agrees to bring her up to speed if you will, but it's only a matter of time before Pepper sees the real Reece. Literally. That love-'em-and-leave-'em reputation? Turns out it belongs to Reece's brother and Pepper and her suitemates mistook one for the other. Oops.
Despite Pepper's goal being another guy, Foreplay doesn't suffer from a love triangle until toward the end and it's all resolved fairly quickly. I was a bit disappointed with how calm and cool Hunter was about the whole thing, but the rest of the story more than made up for it. My only gripe is that for a book set at college, there's very little in the way of, you know, classes and general campus life. There's a coffee shop Pepper frequents, but the majority of the novel takes place in Reece's bar. I would have loved to see a bit more of Pepper's college life!
Foreplay was great all-around: well-written characters, a fun plot, and a quick pace. I'm not sure who the couple will be in the sequel, Tease, but I can't wait to find out! If you're like me and have a fairly lackluster track record with New Adult, do yourself a favor and read Foreplay.(less)
I don't want to jinx myself, but I've been having insanely good luck lately with Young Adult Thrillers. Before I beg...moreReview goes live on the blog9/20!
I don't want to jinx myself, but I've been having insanely good luck lately with Young Adult Thrillers. Before I began blogging, thrillers were my go-to reads, but I never thought to try them in a YA flavor.
Wick Tate doesn't have a whole lot going for her: her felon father is on the run, cops are trying to squeeze information out of her, she's on her fourth set of foster parents, and her best friend acts like Wick no longer exists. The two bright sides to Wick's life are her little sister Lily and her hacking business - women hire her to get the dirt on their cheating boyfriends/husbands.
The morning following a detective's usual late-night stakeout, Wick finds a diary on the doorstep. Flipping through she recognizes the handwriting of her former best friend, Tessa. Scrawled on the cover however, are the words find me. That day at school Wick learns Tessa died - jumped off a building - and Wick refuses to believe the story ends there. The diary entries talk of more: a man Tessa was seeing, someone who learns Wick picked up his scent and now he's after her.
YA Thrillers might just be my new favorite thing. Find Me captivated me from the very first page and didn't let go until well after I finished. There's a sense of foreboding throughout the novel that I found riveting and more than once my breath caught and I lost myself to the scene. When I read thrillers or mysteries, I like to guess at Who Did It and I tend to be right. The same can be said for Find Me, but the way the mystery was revealed was so expertly done that I didn't mind one bit! I had actually been hoping for a different character to be the killer and was disappointed I was wrong, but the truth came out and when it did I immediately changed my tune; the bad guy was truly awful and I began to panic and had to set the book down. Having your reader experience such intense emotions takes some serious talent and Ms. Bernard let hers shine.
As per YA there's a romance involved, but what sets Find Me apart is that there was NOT a love triangle nor was this a case of instalove. Their relationship blossomed over time and it was such a welcome sight. Even better: the romance didn't take center stage. In the hands of a lesser author, this book about a killer-going-after-the-younger-sister could easily have turned into a starcrossed romance with a hint of an actual plot. No so here!
That this is Ms. Bernard's debut novel both impresses and excites me! Find Me enveloped me in its mystery - Who was this man Tessa was seeing? Will he get to Wick's sister? - and its hold refused to give. I highly recommend this book and you can bet I'll be waiting to see what Romily Bernard writes next!(less)
Jaycee's life was idyllic. She had a best friend, a boy who liked her, and a nice house in a quiet town. After what is...moreLink goes live on the blog9/17.
Jaycee's life was idyllic. She had a best friend, a boy who liked her, and a nice house in a quiet town. After what is declared a gang-related murder shakes things up, suddenly life isn't so perfect. Jaycee's best friend becomes more and more distant, hanging out with the wrong crowd and piercing nearly every inch of her body. As the two grow further apart, the texts become less frequent. Until the night of Rachel's death. The night where Jaycee chose to spend her time with Skyler instead of answering her phone.
Rachel's death turns the town upside down. Suddenly Rachel's Mexican heritage comes into play - despite the fact that Rachel spent her entire life with these people. Soon the mothers at church are whispering about Rachel and drugs and gangs and Jaycee doesn't know what to believe. She does know one thing though - she and Rachel broke into an old house and Rachel saw something. Something that changed her forever and Jaycee is determined to find out just what went on that night and who is really responsible for her best friend's death.
Okay, calling it right now: Dead Girls Don't Lie is one of my TOP READS OF 2013. It's that good, y'all. It had a distinct Pretty Little Liars vibe that I ADORED and a blindingly fast pace that kept me turning the page.
In order to solve the mystery behind Rachel's death, Jaycee first needs to come to terms with it. Naturally she's hesitant to visit Rachel's mother - especially as part of the clean-up crew the church organized (the drive-by left the porch and Rachel's bedroom in ruin). She's also unsure whether or not she should tell her secret: the night they were in the old house, Rachel left with blood on her hands.
When a video from Rachel gets sent to her phone, Jaycee decides something needs to be done. Under Rachel's instructions she teams up with Eduardo, much to the dismay of Skyler. With Eduardo - and occasionally Skyler - Jaycee pieces together the events leading up to Rachel's death and what she uncovers is shocking.
Dead Girls Don't Lie is one of those books I loved so much I can't fully put into words. Plot twists I genuinely didn't see coming and a constant parental presence were added bonuses to an already fantastic story. If you like smart - and delightfully creepy - mysteries, do yourself a favor and check out Dead Girls Don't Lie.(less)
BEWARE: this review amounts to little more than an incoherent, rambly love letter.
You know that one review that you sit on until you come up with the right words to say, only to wind up writing - and rewriting - the entire thing? That's how I was with My Basmati Bat Mitzvah. This is the novel I want to hand to Middle Grade/Young Adult naysayers who claim kids' books can't be thought-provoking and powerful. Even now I want to scrap this review and simply have a giant 72-pt blinking font that just reads "GO BUY THIS NOW."
Tara Feinstein is just like every other 12-year-old: she loves having Movie Nights with her best friend Ben-o (who just might like-like her), she has to deal with all the hurt and jealousy that comes with her other best friend Rebecca becoming friendly with Tara's sworn enemy, and the best thing about the new school year is getting to be in robotics class.
Unlike the majority of the kids in Tara's class however, Tara comes from a multi-cultural home. While both her parents are Jewish, her mother practiced Hinduism before converting. Apart from Tara's aunt and cousin, the rest of her mother's side of the family still lives in India. Even though she attends Hebrew School, Tara strongly identifies with her Indian side and a classmate's nasty comments raise some doubts about whether or not she wants to go through with her Bat Mitzvah. Will she have to abandon her Indian heritage in order to truly be Jewish?
When I first started reading this book I sat down on my couch and didn't move until I had finished. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is such an incredibly lovely book that had it all: diverse characters (!!!), humor, a beautiful message. Tara came across as a real person, someone I could pass on the street. Her jealousy over playing third wheel to her bestie's new friend, panic over accidentally ruining a precious heirloom, all the confusion that comes with her best boy friend kinda-sorta-maybe wanting to be a boyfriend. It was all beautifully done. Tara had such wonderful character development throughout the novel - and she wasn't the only one! Other characters had an amazing amount of depth, particularly Mean Girl Sheila. & get this: not only were Tara's parents ever-present, but her grandmother, aunt, and even her friends' parents played key roles!
Perhaps what really won me over was that I could relate to Tara. I come from a Jewish-Catholic family and while I was raised Catholic, my family still observes certain Jewish traditions and holidays. I understood Tara's conflicting emotions. If she had her Bat Mitzvah, would she have to forget all about her beloved grandparents, her Nana and Nanaji? Would she be unable to enjoy her favorite Bollywood movies? Tara's personal journey to discovering herself was beautiful and I was cheering her on every step of the way. And if I didn't already love her to pieces, the fact that she wanted to wear a sari and serve traditional Indian food at her Bat Mitzvah totally would have won me over.
As an added bonus, at the very end of the book there's a multi-page glossary that covers a variety of Yiddish/Hebrew/Punjabi terms and of course I thought that was awesome! Seriously, I could prattle on about My Basmati Bat Mitzvah for days. It was a delightful, beautiful story about a girl discovering who she is and I loved it. I strongly recommend buying a copy!(less)
Ten years ago 17-year-old Leah McMahon ran away from her tiny Texas town. Suddenly the only life she had ever k...morethis review goes live on the blog10/25
Ten years ago 17-year-old Leah McMahon ran away from her tiny Texas town. Suddenly the only life she had ever known - and the boy she thought she loved - was gone and she found herself along and scared in Minnesota. The preacher's perfect daughter was pregnant with the town's bad boy. At the time adoption seemed the best choice, along with feigning ignorance as to the baby's father. Until now the open adoption has worked: Leah and her son maintain contact and have a special bond. Unfortunately, her father's surgery has called Leah back to Sultry Springs and they both know questions will be asked - and certain people can't be avoided in a town as small as theirs.
Going into Surrender to Sultry I hadn't realized it was the third - and last - novel in the Sultry Springs series. Thankfully, however, this is a series where each book focuses on a different couple, so I had no problem jumping in at the end. Leah's arrival back to Sultry Springs raises questions - and eyebrows. As far as the rest of the town is aware, a decade ago Leah and her father had a huge falling out and haven't spoken since. What they don't know is that Leah discovered she was pregnant with Colt's child. Through the wonders of Skype and the Internet, Leah and her father have remained in constant contact and he's even met his grandson.
When Leah left Colt's world fell apart. A stupid prank by a lousy friend caused the girl he loved to run away and he sort of lost it without her. In an attempt to fill the aching void, Colt spends more and more time with alcohol and strippers, quickly becoming someone he doesn't want to be. This small town sheriff still carries a torch for his first love and no one could ever come close to replacing her.
Leah's first night back in town results in being pulled over...by none other than Sheriff Bea. A decade is an awful long time to harbor pain and heartache. Now that Leah and Colt are older (and wiser?) could they find it in themselves to move past high school? Colt is more than ready to make up for lost time. Leah, however, is still reeling from the hurt and embarrassment Colt and his friends put her through - not to mention she's debating whether or not to tell him about their child.
Surrender to Sultry really took me by surprise. I wasn't expecting to like this story as much as I did! Admittedly, it took some getting used to reading my name over and over again - and, um, let's just say certain scenes were WAY awkward. HA! That said, everything else about this book was great. Leah and Colt felt real. They were both flawed and conflicted. What Colt and his friends did was completely inexcusable and I don't blame Leah at all for being so hurt. He wanted to see how far he could go with the preacher's sweet and innocent daughter, already aware she had planned on waiting for marriage before having sex. Colt bragged to Tommy and soon the entire school found out the two had slept together. By the time Leah discovered she was pregnant she was long gone. The pregnancy/adoption aspect was really nicely done, though the final conclusion was a bit too cutesy for me.
The couples from the two previous novels are featured in this book as well, though obviously they're not nearly as prominent as Leah and Colt. I'm eager to read the other books now, I'd love to see the beginning of the other relationships! If Happily Ever Afters are your thing, definitely pick up a copy of Surrender to Sultry!(less)
They come out of the sky and take you. Everyone knows that.
Six years ago, life in Riley's town changed. Without warning, the angels appeared and began taking people. That first year was the worst; no one knew what had happened or what was going on. Where did these people go? They weren't dead, they simply vanished after being taken into the sky. The second year, however, the town was ready. They knew what to expect, yet there was no way to stop it.
With each Taking, more and more friends and family vanished and the town viewed it as their own awful curse. It wasn't until Pastor Warren's arrival that things began to change. With his sermons and flashy way of preaching, he was able to convince the townsfolk that, no this wasn't a curse, this was a blessing. The Taking is actually the Glory and is something to be worshiped and desired. Soon the entire town - whether voluntary or involuntary - are under his spell and go along with his word.
One of the few members of the town not to accept the pastor's message is Riley Carver. Sixteen and a bit of an outsider, she'd all but shut down after losing her best friend in the previous year's Taking. When one of the angels shows up outside her bedroom window, she's ready to take action and in the process, shoots it. Unfortunately for Riley, the angel is no longer an angel. He's a boy, naked and confused and thinks he's still in the 1950s.
We all know to beware the hype machine, right? I know I've certainly given in multiple times, only to realize I actually HATE the book. Guys, Outcast is worth it. It deserves all the hype and then some! I'm typically not a big fan of paranormal, but this one was fantastic. Ms. Kress took these angels, turned them around, and made it believable. I know it's a little hard to picture a novel about angels stealing people as believable, but the novel does it in such a way that the paranormal elements aren't overdone and that is what makes it so great.
What really made the novel for me, though, were the characters. They were beautifully fleshed out and spot-on. Riley is still hurting over the loss of Chris and she battles with her newfound emotions for Gabe. Her internal struggle was incredible and made her shine as a character. Gabe had been one of those creatures until Riley shot him. Now he's a super hot Greaser who believes he's still in his present - 1956. Gabe was great and their friendship was wonderful. He's a total playboy, but doesn't hide his intentions. His sheer terror of the Internet was beyond adorable. Lacy, a stereotypical cheerleader; Father Peter, Hartwich's largely ignored Catholic priest; Pastor Warren, the slimy and oh-so-charming man who hovers during his weekly Commune. Each character was remarkably well-done.
An added bonus was the inclusion of Riley's parents. Both are featured heavily in the novel and even call Riley out on letting a boy come before schoolwork. Way to go, Mr. & Mrs. Carver!
The novel's only downfall was the ending. Well, endings. Plural. The first was absolutely heartbreaking and I kept hoping it wasn't going to happen. Sadly, it did, and I was left in pieces. That wasn't the end, however. There was still another chapter and another ending. It would have been more of an emotional impact if there had only been the first ending, but even with the second, I still had that punched-in-the-gut feeling.
An original plot, beautifully crafted characters, and emotions galore made Outcast a quick favorite. It's short and can easily be read during a bright and sunny weekend and I know it's one I'll be revisiting again soon.(less)
Astrid Krieger has everything: her family is wealthy & powerful beyond belief, she goes to an elite private academy, and she gets whatever she wants whenever she wants it. Unfortunately, her perfect life comes screeching to a halt the day she's expelled. Getting into trouble is nothing new for her - more than once she's spent the afternoon in jail - but this time her family decides they've had it.
It's time Astrid goes to a public school.
Naturally Astrid doesn't think this is a good idea at. all. and isn't shy about voicing her opinions on the matter. She's convinced she was set up, that someone intentionally had her kicked out of Bristol Academy and being stuck in a public school isn't how she planned on seeking her revenge. Now, instead of spending her time surrounded by stinking rich kids, Astrid sits next to Lucy, a constant hair-eater, Noah, a boy who isn't like the others, and Pierre who has been in love with her forever and transferred schools to be with her.
Going into Firecracker, I tried not to make assumptions. David Iserson, a writer for television's New Girl and Saturday Night Live, decided to try his hand at a Young Adult novel. So far, so good. Lots of actors/performers have been seeking to branch out a la Lauren Graham (Someday, Someday, Maybe). Unfortunately, it came to my attention that Mr. Iserson earned a spot on the Authors Behaving Badly list after a flurry of tweets came out attacking a reviewer for her honest review.
That said, I decided to give Firecracker the benefit of the doubt and see what it was all about. Right from the start however, it's clear Astrid is a brat - and that's putting it very lightly. She thinks she's God's gift to mankind and deserves to have everything handed to her. I'm sure we've all read books in the past that feature characters like her, only by the time those books end, said characters have a huge revelation and see the error of their ways. Not so with Astrid. Sure, she might have allowed herself to make a friend and save her sister's wedding, but the way she goes about doing these are so out-of-line. She thinks nothing of crashing someone's car, slamming a piano lid onto her cousin's nose, smashing a Twinkie into a girl's hair. I could go on and on, and sadly, not once does Astrid stop to think that maybe she's in the wrong. Instead she's fully convinced her actions are justified.
For a main character, Astrid's utter lack of character growth was disappointing. She's the same person she was in the beginning of the book with absolutely no redeeming qualities.
The supporting characters were all FAR more interesting. Lucy is a nerdy, unpopular girl who always has her hair in her mouth. She was one of the only nice people to Astrid and truly seemed to want to be her friend. Noah is another new transfer to the school and his absolute lack of interest sets him apart from the others. He was the character I found the most intriguing and once his story was revealed, I liked him even more. I would have loved for more chapters to have been devoted to his character. Pierre - his real name is Lukas but Astrid refuses to remember it - is from the Czech Republic and originally attended Bristol Academy with Astrid. He was hopelessly in love with her back then, writing poetry and singing songs every chance he got, and when she transferred he followed. I never quite understood why he loved her so much; she was absolutely horrible to him, yet he was completely entranced.
As for the plot, it just sort of moseyed along until reaching the end. I honestly wasn't expecting the betrayer to be who it was and I thought Astrid's last act of revenge a bit overkill. In the end, however, Firecracker was entertaining but I can see where readers from both sides of the fence are coming from. If you're looking for a quirky contemporary with redeemable and relatable characters, you should probably look elsewhere. That said, if you're looking for a quick and amusing afternoon read, Firecracker might just be the book you're looking for. (less)
At this moment, I'm not a girl with an overbearing mother. I'm not a girl who likes a boy who's only interested in her strange abilities. At this moment, I am a magician.
I believe Ms. Brown wrote Born of Illusion for me. She compiled all my favorite subjects - the Jazz Age, sideshow acts, mobsters, magic - into an amazing story. The only thing missing was the mention of Romanovs (although the second book deals with RASPUTIN of all people!! So, yeah, I'm convinced she wrote these just for me).
Anna Van Housen is not like other sixteen year old girls. She and her mother rarely stay in a city long enough to make friends and they're constantly keeping an eye out for the local law enforcement - holding séances is illegal, you know. Anna's beautiful, glamorous mother is the star of their shows: she's the medium, though her act is little more than smoke and mirrors. It's Anna who has the true gift. She's content to sit back and play the attendant and occasionally perform some magic.
All her life Anna has heard the rumors about her father. Could he really be the famous Harry Houdini? It would certainly explain her natural abilities. But what about her extra talents? Her visions?
Just when Anna thinks she finally has some grasp of normalcy, a strange boy moves into the neighboring apartment. Whereas with other people, Anna can easily read emotions, but this boy is blank. Things go from bad to worse when their usual séance tricks go a bit too far and Anna being the unwilling recipient of a ghost's spirit.
Right off the bat I knew Born of Illusion was going to be great. Having finished, I'm very pleased to say it didn't let me down! From the opening pages I believed I was transported back to the Roaring 20s at the height of Prohibition. So many times I've read historical novels with characters who would otherwise be completely contemporary were it not for mentions of period clothing or hairstyles. Born of Illusion, however, felt real to me. I didn't get the feeling that Brown read wikipedia, added in a few details here and there and called it historical fiction. Her research showed and I applaud her for it!
Another aspect I felt was done well was the relationship Anna had with her mother. They have their good days and their bad days. There are times when Anna feels her mother's love. However, there are days when her mother's jealousy and selfishness show through. After hearing their manager praise Anna's talents as a magician, Anna's mother becomes infuriated and plays petty mind games with her - refusing to speak or worse, smiling her sickeningly sweet smile. All throughout Anna's life her mother has been spreading rumors about Houdini in an attempt to further her own career. I totally understood Anna's frustrations and I rejoiced when she finally stood up to her mother.
The boys were Born of Illusion's one downfall. I thought it was pretty obvious who would win out - and that the other one was up to some pretty shady stuff. The moment he appeared I didn't trust him and my instincts didn't fail me. I'm still not quite certain how I feel about the other boy, but I'm curious to discover more about him and his work.
Although I really enjoyed this novel, I wish there would have been a bit more of everything. More scenes with Houdini, more séances, more magic. More answers. Things wrapped up nicely, but I'm still left with a few unanswered questions and I'm hoping those will be discussed in the next book.
If you're a fan of paranormal and historical YA, definitely check out Born of Illusion. I thought it was fantastic and eagerly await the next book (RASPUTIN, people!!)!(less)
The undiscussed surgeries lay like a weapon on the table before them. Her mother knew, despite the jabs about Anna's weight and the pointed comments about her unemployment, that as someone who wandered the plasticized wilderness somewhere between Joan Rivers and Michael Jackson, she should only go so far.
37-year-old Anna has just found herself out of a job. With a (much younger) roommate in a perpetual state of unpaid internship, Anna's world revolves around refreshing Gawker and Huffington Post and waiting for e-mails that never arrive. While the rest of her friends are happily settled down with a child or two, Anna gives in to Internet rumors and the latest fads.
After discovering a super underground director and his films, Anna decides being a filmmaker is her calling and promptly throws away $3500 on a video camera. Weeks later, the box still remains unopened and Anna's funds are rapidly shrinking. She takes to Craigslist and responds to a post. Shortly after she meets up with Taj, a filmmaker in his own right and becomes a member of his crew.
Between ignoring her mother and her friends-turned-life-coach, living with a newly-pregnant roommate, and bills that won't go away, Anna finds herself thrown into the chaotic world of film festivals.
"Know what people really find comforting?" Taj continued, "Failure. Humiliation. Defeat. That's what makes people feel better." "You think so?" she said. "Think about it. Nothing brings people together like a good scandal. Nothing makes them happier than to see something fall from a great height."
I had such high hopes for Note to Self, guys! It sounded like a really fun, quick novel. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy it half as much as I had hoped and a good deal lies with the way the blurb set it up.
Hailed as "A witty, keenly observant look at our Internet-obsessed culture", I was totally on board. Much to my dismay, however, Note to Self was neither witty, nor Internet-related. At all. Oh, sure, Anna talks about refreshing tabs and always checking her e-mail, but I was expecting, you know, a story. Instead, Anna - at times I COMPLETELY forgot Anna was pushing 40, she acted twenty years younger - was completely irresponsible with her extremely limited funds, bought an outrageously expensive camera, and pretended she knew about art.
The entire time I was reading I kept waiting for something to happen, that pivotal moment when the ball got rolling. I was shocked when I realized I was halfway into the book and Anna was still puttering around her apartment! Eventually Anna meets Taj through a Craigslist ad and goes to 'work' for him - basically doing menial tasks for his assistant for little or no pay. ...and that's it.
Look. I'm all for character-driven stories with super slow plots or no action. But unlike Note to Self, those stories actually feature interesting - for good or bad reasons - characters. There wasn't a single character in Note to Self I liked. Anna was more a teenager than a nearly-40-year old woman. Taj was simply a jerk. His film buddies were so interchangeable they melded together to form one entity in my mind.
At the very end of the book, Anna announces she has an Internet addiction and Taj flies her out to a city in order to 'cure' her. By this point I had lost all interest whatsoever and Taj's eventual betrayal did little to shock or surprise me.
It was with a very hearty FINALLY! that I finished this book. Perhaps I just didn't get it, but Note to Self was a disappointment and let me wanting so much more.(less)
When I first heard about The Paradox of Vertical Flight I was intrigued: an 18-year old & his 21-year old ex jus...morereview goes live on the blog9/16.
When I first heard about The Paradox of Vertical Flight I was intrigued: an 18-year old & his 21-year old ex just became parents, the baby is named Socrates, and they take off for Grandma's house. That's certainly unlike anything I had ever read before! I allowed curiosity to get the better of me and was horribly let down.
Jack and Jess were a summer fling. Once her college friends came back into the picture, Jack was cast off to the side and it wasn't until she found out she was pregnant that she got back into contact with him. Now the baby has been born and Jess made the decision to give him up for adoption. Initially Jack was on board. Once he saw his son however, his feelings changed and he jumped out a hospital window with his newborn baby.
Whatever. I can totally get with wacky, slightly unrealistic plots. While Jack's extreme irresponsibility made me cringe (leaving his HOURS-OLD son in a sink while he uses a public restroom, for instance!), what ultimately made me put this book down 45% of the way through was the writing:
"Overthrowing the patriarchy is not incompatible with romanticism, Jack."
This gem is taken from a conversation Jack and Socrates have. Socrates the baby, not the Greek philosopher. Also, Socrates is the one who offered up this statement.
Existential angst about the pointlessness of our mundane existences, case in point, the immutability of school schedules.
These are just a few examples of the overly-pretentious writing. At first I thought it was just how the book was written, but after seeing the author's 'review' on goodreads as well as his blog, I've realized it wasn't the book. I also learned the author is only 22. Hopefully he'll cut the crap soon and simply write. He definitely has potential - this novel could have been so much better! - but for now, I have to walk away.(less)
Spirit takes over where Spark left off and this time, it's the tatted & pierced bad boy Hunter Garrity who's the focus. The Merrick boys aren't quite sure where they stand with Hunter: is a friendship forming or is he just using them for information? And, to be honest, Hunter isn't quite so sure of himself either.
Life isn't fun and games for Hunter. His dad's death caused the already tense relationship he had with his mother to become even more sensitive. She spends her days crying and Hunter can't stand it. Moving in with his grandparents only made matters worse - he can't do anything right in the eyes of his grandfather. Things come to a head one night and Hunter is thrown out. The most painful part is that his mother stood there watching and allowed it to happen.
Now homeless, Hunter sleeps in his car and spends the last of his money on sandwiches for his dog. When he's turned down for a job at the local Home Depot, he's desperate and considers swiping some $20s he saw in the register. It's only when Michael Merrick shows up and offers him some work for the afternoon that Hunter regains his cool. Barely. After Michael all but forces Hunter's story out, he not only provides Hunter with a way to make some money, but also a place to stay. Unfortunately, the other Merrick boys aren't as hospitable.
"You know I've got three younger brothers, right?" Hunter frowned. "What?" "It means I've got a pretty finely tuned bullshit detector."
It's no secret that I love this series. And by love, I mean flaily arms, keysmashes, and more exclamation points than Wordpress can handle. Elemental is such a great series and the boys are fantastic. I shared this story in my review of the first book, Storm, but I hadn't even planned on reading this series. Yes, people were going crazy over it, but I've given in to hype in the past only to be horribly letdown. That, and I wasn't a huge fan of the cover (since then, the first cover & the ones that followed have grown on me ♥). We had a copy in at work and I decided to see what was so great about it. Imagine my surprise when I not only enjoyed it, but fell head-over-heels in love with it!
Here we are on book three. This time around it's Hunter who's the star instead of a Merrick boy. While the previous two books were very action-packed, this one is far more character driven. Don't get me wrong: there's definitely some action (of multiple varieties~), but Spirit is about Hunter and how he comes to terms with himself, his family, and life in general.
Just as in the other books, the other characters still play fairly large roles. The Merrick clan is back and Michael's Mama Bear mode is in full-force. (Side note, Michael's getting his own book and I. Can't. Wait. He's hands-down my favorite Merrick and I'm super excited for a full-length story!!) Also, as in the other books, new characters are introduced and I have to admit this group wasn't my favorite. Silver is SERIOUS BUSINESS and trigger-happy. Kate had her moments and the way her story concluded left me shocked. Gutsy move, Ms. Kemmerer. A lesser author would have hesitated.
The next book in the series is Nick's and Spirit ended with enough going on that I hope we jump back into the action. Naturally I'll be all over it once it's out and I'm pretty pumped. These books go fast - we're three books in and only SIX WEEKS have passed since the start of the first book. I've lost count the number of people I've forced to read this series recc'd these books to. They're that good.
If you haven't yet seen the light read the first two novels, now's the perfect time. They're a little on the longer side, but are SO quick and easy that you can get through a book in one sitting. Also, there's a readalong going on now, so there you go!(less)
"Well maybe that's what the whole test is really about. Leaders are forced to kill all the time. Then they have to learn to live with the decisions they make. Just like I'm going to learn to live with mine."
After a devastating war nearly wiped out the entire population, those left are struggling to pick up the pieces. New colonies are sprouting up in the ruined husks of once-thriving cities. Both food and water are scarce, but civilization has pressed on and remain hopeful for their future.
Stop me if you've heard this one already.
Malencia - Cia - Vale has reached Graduation Day, the day when she'll be recognized as an adult in the eyes of her colony. Unfortunately for Cia, the day is not as joyful as she had hoped. After years of her colony being passed over for Testing candidates, four children are chosen and Cia is one of them. Those chosen for the Testing are required to undergo multiple tests and not everyone reaches the end. Not everyone survives. Those who do pass are then able to attend the University and learn skills to better their society.
Cia knows there's a possibility she'll never see her family again. What was originally an exciting affair is now solemn and filled with unsaid thoughts. Before she leaves, Cia's father shares his own Testing experience - and it's not what Cia wants to hear. Her father sometimes has flashbacks, wiped memories have been resurfacing. Cia is warned not to trust anyone, but will she follow that advice?
The Testing was hailed as the next Hunger Games - a title nearly every new dystopia series has held at one point or another. In my eyes, The Testing is The Hunger Games meets Divergent meets Battle Royale. In the worst way possible.
The book reads as though the author (who has written a few adult mysteries before trying her hand at YA) compiled every dystopia trope into story form. Threadbare backstory about a terrible (& unexplained) war: CHECK. Colony in Chicago: CHECK. No food sources or clean water, but still able to have things like cake: CHECK. Big Brother-type organization/government: CHECK. A select few chosen to compete in a series of tests/battles to determine who's fit to move up in the world: CHECK. A childhood friend who's possibly more: CHECK. A bad guy who is more than he seems: CHECK. A good guy who isn't everything he seems: CHECK. I could go on.
The most frustrating part of the book surprisingly wasn't the over-abundance of tropes. Instead, it was the utter lack of explanation. Why were these kids going through these tests? What was the point? These are supposed to be the best and brightest students in the colonies, yet the government aims to pit them against one another, provide them with weapons, and sit back while they kill each other. How does that further society? It seemed to me Cia's colony was doing just fine without any Testing candidates for those years.
Once the Testing begins, the book read like the worst parts of Harry Potter's camping scenes: Cia and Tomas are wandering around catching fish and rabbits, eating berries, cleaning and dressing their wounds. Repeat ad nauseam for the next two hundred pages. Occasionally there's a mutant creature/human (the aftereffects of the War) and a few times the pair crosses paths with another candidate. There are also groups of people living outside the borders, people who refuse to live by the government's rules. Again, I've read this same story way too many times now.
The author did very little - if anything - to bring a new aspect to an overwritten genre. The killing and brutality these children partake in is accepted because their memories are wiped at the end of the Testing. SO IT'S OKAY GUYS, SEE!
The Testing was one eyeroll after the next. The only interesting part was at the very end - and I mean the very end. In the last two or so paragraphs Cia discovers a recording she made before her memories were wiped. Suddenly she realizes what she went through and who she shouldn't trust. And there the book ends. I really ought to learn my lesson by now - Dystopia as a genre just isn't for me. The Testing only confirmed that.
Die-hard fans of the genre and those looking for a family (extremely!) story will most likely enjoy The Testing. Unfortunately, it wasn't for me. There were too many questions left unanswered and plot points left unexplained.(less)
You know how, sometimes, you'll read a summary and completely misread it? You'll think the book is totally di...morethis review will go live on the blog9/10
You know how, sometimes, you'll read a summary and completely misread it? You'll think the book is totally different than how it actually is? That's what happened with me and Cherry Money Baby. Somehow I got it in my head that Cherry and Ardelia were switching places, that Cherry would go off and play the celebrity while Ardelia would hunker down as a normal person.
While I can't fault the book for my clear lack of reading comprehension, I have to admit I think it would have been fun to read that story. Instead the story focuses on a small town thrust in the public eye when a production crew rolls in. Cherry Kerrigan is a master burrito-roller and she couldn't care less about some famous people invading her town. She's not the type of girl to follow the lives of celebrities and she's only able to tell them apart from other people by their far more expensive clothing. The day Ardelia stops into Burrito Barn Cherry was simply focused on work. When Ardelia began choking, Cherry started acting on auto-pilot; the rest of the crew - and customers - were too stunned to do anything. One single moment changed both Cherry's and Ardelia's lives in ways they couldn't imagine.
Cherry's life wasn't perfect, but it was hers and she loved it. She lived with her dad and stoner brother in their too-small trailer, her childhood friend-turned-boyfriend lived in the trailer next door, and she had a great bestie. So what if she slacked a little on her schoolwork: Cherry was happy. The incident with Ardelia suddenly made Cherry a national hero. Youtube clips and newspaper articles appeared like magic and everyone at school wanted to talk to her. She was still Tough Chick Cherry, but with the added bonus of being a hero as well - everyone wanted a piece of her.
A surprise visit from Ardelia didn't help matters, nor did the awesome vintage Alfa Romeo Spider Ardelia gifted her. One chat led to another and Cherry began to realize there was more to this movie star; she wasn't just a gorgeous rich girl. Soon Cherry was spending her free time with Ardelia and her movie star friends, leaving Cherry's friends to wonder just what happened to the Take No Crap girl they used to know.
When Ardelia comes to Cherry with a job proposition - along with a check for more money than Cherry's family could ever dream of - Cherry has to decide what she really wants out of life.
So Cherry Money Baby was a little different than I expected, but this time that's not a bad thing! I really enjoyed this book and it went so quickly. Short chapters, a plot that zooms right along, and great characters definitely made reading this one a fun ride. My only issue was that Cherry and Ardelia's friendship happened so fast. I get that Ardelia was grateful - Cherry did save her life after all! - but it seemed that they had just (properly!) introduced themselves before getting busy making plans for hanging out at this club or partying with that person. Over time their friendship began to feel real to me, but that initial stage was a bit jarring.
Also, the ending was a bit too Family Sitcom for me. There were huge, life-changing events and no one really batted an eye or give much thought as to what the future held. I can appreciate a Happily Ever After, but this one was a little too happy for my tastes.
I suppose it's really saying something when the biggest qualms I have with a book are a fast friendship and super happy ending. If you're in the mood for a fun contemporary with believable characters, Cherry Money Baby is the book for you!(less)
I'm a firm believer in the idea that there's no such thing as a Girl book or a Boy book, that boys can read - and enjoy - a romance just as much as a girl can read and enjoy a sports novel. That said, I think Infestation would definitely appeal more to boys, though I enjoyed it immensely.
Andy Greenwood has been through multiple foster homes and the decision is finally made to send him to the Reclamation School for Boys - the other option is a juvenile center. He doesn't expect an easy stay ahead of him, but his reality turns out to be far worse. After a disastrous first encounter with the headmaster, Andy begins to have his suspicions about the inner workings of the school and whether or not law enforcement is turning a blind eye to the headmaster's rulings.
The Arizona heat, hordes of tiny ants scurrying about the building, becoming prime target of the resident bully, and bunking with a boy named Pyro are just the start of Andy's problems. A food fight results in a stay in isolation along with a few other boys: Pyro, Reilly, Shields, Hector, & the bully himself Joey. As if that wasn't bad enough, an earthquake shakes the foundation to its core and unleashes a terror unlike anything the boys had ever seen.
When he first arrived at the school Andy learned it was originally built as a lab of some sort. Unfortunately for the boys, the experimentation hasn't stopped. The earthquake upended massive containers of various chemicals and those tiny little ants aren't so tiny anymore. They suddenly find themselves the only ones left alive - along with a biologist Dr. Gerry. Somehow they'll have to find a way to survive both the deadly heat and the rampaging bugs.
Sometimes I'm in the mood for a fun, easy read. Infestation was just the book I was looking for. To me, this was Goosebumps-lite. A group of boys battling nightmare-ish man-sized bugs? What better way to spend an afternoon!
Readers looking for parents in YA might be a bit discouraged: once the bugs start attacking, there's only one adult left and for the majority of the novel he's unconscious. However, I was able to look past that and enjoy the ride.
Rapid-fire pacing, non-stop action, and VERY cool charts & diagrams will ensure Infestation finds many fans. Also, the epilogue hints at a possible sequel. If so, count me in.(less)
On a beautiful day in June, in front of literally half the town, wearing a wedding dress that made her look like Cinderella and holding a bouquet of perfect pink roses, Faith Elizabeth Holland was left at the alter.
With that first opening paragraph, The Best Man hits the ground running. Faith Holland, baby - and therefore, princess - of the famed Holland family (not only was the family one of the founders, but they also run an extremely successful winery) had the ultimate dream wedding. She first met Jeremy in high school when he carried her to the nurse's office after she suffered a seizure. For the next eight years it was as close to a fairy tale relationship as you can get. Gorgeous, football-superstar (he was even recruited by the NFL) Jeremy and sweet, kind Faith. No one was surprised when Jeremy proposed and nearly the entire town turned up for the wedding.
Jeremy would have gone through with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids his best friend Levi. Levi Cooper was a good football player in high school, but he grew up in the trailer park and it wasn't until Jeremy came around that Levi had a real friend. Jeremy's parents never treated him any differently and Jeremy always had a great time whenever he stopped by Levi's for dinner.
After graduation Jeremy and Faith both left for separate colleges but still maintained a long distance relationship and Levi headed for Afghanistan. He came back a decorated war hero and Jeremy announced he was getting married and wanted Levi to be his best man. Finally, at the alter, Levi managed to convince Jeremy to tell Faith the secret he had been hiding from everyone - including himself! - for years: he was gay.
Three years ago Faith found herself sitting in an airport in her wedding dress, heartbroken and determined to still take that honeymoon, albeit solo: she flew to San Francisco and started up a fairly successful landscape design business. Now, at the behest of her family, Faith is back in her hometown and not quite ready to deal with her past.
That's how it went, right? Love came when you weren't looking, except in the case of the millions who'd found mates on Match.com, but, hey. It sounded good.
Sometimes you just want to throw on a big hoodie and pj pants and read some chick-lit. I was SO in the mood for one recently and decided to give Kristan Higgins a shot; customers adore her books, so she must be doing something right. I received a copy of her latest, The Best Man, and dove right in.
Guys, apart from a few bumps, this book was so. much. fun. Faith comes back to town and tries to avoid Jeremy for a few days. Ultimately, however, they decide to get together for dinner and finally sort out their feelings. Jeremy turned down the chance to go pro and instead opted to stay in town where he launched his own practice. As the town doctor - and a gorgeous one at that - business is booming. I loved how Jeremy and Faith truly cared for one another, even after what they went through. They're able to maintain a wonderful friendship - though at times, it seems as though Jeremy had more screentime than Levi.
Levi was awesome. I loved him. He and Faith go way back and there's definitely a history between the pair (including a forbidden kiss their senior year). However, she was also Princess Super-Cute, going out of her way to be polite and change the world and, quite frankly, Levi couldn't stand it. Not to mention she was Jeremy's girlfriend. Now that she's back in town, old memories have resurfaced and Levi is starting to look past the Princess Super-Cute surface.
The characters shine in The Best Man. Higgins is such a skilled author when it comes to fleshing out her characters and each one felt like a real person, someone I could easily picture meeting. Naturally, a few were totally over-the-top (Mr. Blind-Date-From-Hell and Lorena, the gold-digger trying to worm her way into Faith's dad's heart), but everyone was so fun and fantastic.
Be warned though. There were a few scenes I definitely did NOT enjoy, such as the 'she-male' (yes, that word was used in the novel) scene. Certain attitudes rub me the wrong way, and the way this character was portrayed - as little more than a comedic tool - put me off. However, over all, The Best Man was a quick, delightful read and perhaps I'm being overly emotional, but I cried more than once while reading. (And, a quick note: Faith is described more than one as not being a tiny, petite woman. The woman on the cover is so not how I pictured her.)
The Best Man was my first Kristan Higgins's book and I can assure you, it will not be the last! This one is the first in a new series and I'm beyond excited for the sequel!(less)
Mistwalker is the kind of book I feel was written for me. Deadliest Catch marathons are not uncommon in my h...morethis review will go live on the blog02/04
Mistwalker is the kind of book I feel was written for me. Deadliest Catch marathons are not uncommon in my house and there were SO many delicious references that only someone like me would get (ONTD and the Weasley family, anyone??).
Willa Dixon's town lives and breathes fishing. The main source of income comes from the season's catch and Willa's father is struggling to make ends meet. Willa grew up on the boat - she feels just as comfortable on the water as she does on land, but her brother's death turned the family upside down and she feels responsible. In an attempt to cut off a rival fisherman, the two sneaked off in the middle of the night to confront him on their boat, but only Willa came home. Since that night she's been reeling from the guilt and the loss is taking its toll on the family.
Old superstitions are still alive and well for these villagers and legends like the Grey Man are taken as fact. Depending on who you speak to, the Grey Man is actually a Grey Lady and it's not hard to find someone whose uncle/second cousin/great-grandmother once had a sighting. What they don't know, however, is that Grey is actually a 17-year old boy and has been for quite some time. The Grey Lady once called to him and he followed. Now he's part of the lighthouse, bound and tethered until the day he collects 1,000 souls (in a century there have only been four deaths on the water) or someone is willing to take his place.
A widely-known fact about me: I. LOVE. Dual narratives. Love them! Unfortunately many authors are unable to pull it off without sounded stilted or repetitive. Mitchell's talent shines in Mistwalker and the alternating chapters between Grey and Willa are fantastic. I got a unique feel for both of them and the insight into their worlds was great. Willa's anguish felt real and the look into life in a fishing family was very interesting - Mitchell certainly did her homework! Grey's existence was just as real and he had his own set of hardships. The lighthouse provides him with anything he could ever want (he received a computer after wanting news on the outside world; contemporary books - yes, Twilight was among them - appeared after he exhausted the lighthouse library's supply), yet it can't - or won't - give him the one thing he truly wants: freedom.
While I'm not sure Mistwalker will appeal to everyone, I can certainly say I enjoyed it. I read this book in a single sitting and it left me wanting more - in a good way! If you're a fan of quick chapters, solid research without being dry or bogged down with technical details, and no romance, be sure to pick up a copy of Mistwalker. It surprised me in the best way and I'll be sure to go through Mitchell's backlist. Mark my words: Saundra Mitchell is an author to keep your eye on!(less)
The ability to see into the future is a power people can only dream of. For Addison Coleman, however, it's her reality. She lives in the Compound, a top-secret, secluded city where Paras - people who exhibit a heightened power, be it mood enhancement, telekinesis, or erasing memories - live. Addie's a Searcher; even among the Paras her ability is rare. She can Search two paths in her future (what would happen if she did and did not do ____) and see both potential outcomes. After her parents announce they're getting a divorce, Addie Searches to see which path she should take: stay in the Compound with her mother or leave and live among the Normals with her father.
Going into Pivot Point I honestly didn't have high expectations. Before reading this book I wrote it off as a typical YA with some time shifting elements involved. Boy was I wrong. When it comes to books, I'm always happen to be proven wrong - in a good way! - and Pivot Point definitely changed my tune.
Just a few chapters in, Addie's parents sit her down and discuss their divorce which leaves a sizable majority of the book focused on her Searches. Each chapter switches between life with her mom and life with her dad. I especially enjoyed these dual realities toward the end when they begin to become interwoven. SO. COOL.
Addie's life with her mother is comforting and familiar. She has her best friend Laila and the star of the football team is becoming very interesting in getting to know her. Duke is gorgeous and charming and the most popular guy in school, so why would he suddenly be so into her? Over time Addie sees him as more than the egotistical jerk she thought he was and begins warming up to him. Even if that means hanging out with one of Duke's best friends Bobby - the subject of a Search-Gone-Wrong that Addie can't shake.
Her life with her dad is the opposite: suddenly she's the new girl and doesn't know anyone in her enormous high school. Not only is she alone, but she also lives among Normals. She has to learn how to deal with everyday things like keys and Tylenol while keeping up her cover story about moving to Dallas from California. And hope no one asks her any details. She finds Laila's replacement in Trevor, a cowboy boot-wearing, comic-drawing Good Boy and as they get closer Addie has to deal with his In-Denial ex and his mysterious football injury that just won't seem to heal.
Okay, confession time: my favorite part of this book? NO LOVE TRIANGLE! Yes, there are two boys, but they're each in a different reality and it works.
Pivot Point was great and totally went beyond all expectations! Short chapters and quick pacing - not to mention a wickedly fun plot - makes this a book worth checking out! I've been extremely picky about continuing series, but Pivot Point is a series I'm definitely coming back to!(less)
"So, Megan. The first thing you should know about me..."
"I don't want a divorce."
Megan Scott had her life figured out: she had her job, her apartment, and a potential sperm donor lined up after a horrible break-up made her swear off men for good. Unfortunately, life doesn't always go according to plan and after a particularly disastrous night in Vegas with her fellow bridesmaids, Megan finds herself waking up next to a stranger who claims to be her husband.
Harlequin recently announced their new Harlequin KISS line dedicated to fun contemporary stories. I suppose this is a year of firsts for me guys: I just recently read my first Goosebumps book and now I can say I've read a Harlequin.
It's no secret I work in a bookstore. I'm no stranger to series romances and ladies love their Harlequins. To be honest, I never gave much though to Harlequins other than to giggle at their ridiculous Mad-Libs-esque titles.
HOWEVER. There's always a however, isn't there? I've been craving a light-hearted romance, something to make me laugh and escape the dreary, oh-so-snowy Pittsburgh weather. A few bloggers have been discussing the new Harlequin KISS line, Waking Up Married was free to download, and I had a day off. Perfect combination!
Waking Up Married starts off great. There's no long, drawn-out beginning here. From the very first page you know all the details. At least, what Megan can remember (which is pretty much nothing). Instead Conner is left to provide the details and convince Megan to give this marriage a shot.
Now I can totally suspend my belief in favor of a fun story. But Connor's instant - and fierce - determination to stay married didn't sit well with me. If he was toned down a lot I wouldn't mind him, but he's VERY Christian Grey with his stalking (shows up on Megan's doorstep in Denver AHEAD OF the moving van coming from San Francisco), insistence on what/how much she eats, there's even a contract! No thank you.
Naturally Megan immediately wants to call up a lawyer and find some way out of this mess. Conner realized that after just a few hours, she was his perfect match - he even calls their marriage a 'partnership' - and insists they enter into a two-month trial. Megan will move into his giant mansion and Conner will spend the next few months trying to convince his wife they shouldn't divorce.
The secondary characters could have been cut and the story would have remained the same, that's how little of a role they played. The bride/bridesmaids are Mean and Spiteful. Conner's best friend (I can't even remember his name now! Something with a J I think) is There For Him. Of course Ex-Girlfriend shows up at a dinner party.
When all is said and done, I took Waking Up Married for what it was: a super-short contemporary romance. I knew exactly what I was getting into and for that I couldn't fault it too much. It kept me entertained - despite a few eye-rolls - and I'm genuinely interested in seeing what else Harlequin KISS has to offer.(less)
On the morning I was scheduled to die, a large barefoot man with a bushy red beard waddled past my house.
That, my friends, is how you start a book.
Jack McKinley was just like any other 13-year old boy: always woke up late for school, didn't want a babysitter while his father worked out of town, dreaded math tests. His world changed one morning when he passed out just before school. The next thing he knew he was in a hospital with the strange red-beared man claiming he was a doctor. Suddenly Jack was whisked away to a totally remote island - radar doesn't work there, it's not on any map, even the inhabitants aren't entirely sure where they are.
Along with Jack, three other 13-year olds are housed at the giant compound: the Karai Institute. There's Marco, athlete extraordinaire; Aly, a genius hacker; and Cass, able to memorize anything. Jack learns he's not like other kids. He's one of the Select, an extremely small group of kids who possess a specific gene. This gene allows their natural talents to expand and become heightened. Unfortunately, Jack also learns that no Select has lived past 14. It's at the Institute that Jack receives treatment in order to halt his impending doom - and possible discover the secrets of Atlantis in the process.
The Colossus Rises was fun! It started out a bit slow and bogged-down with all the world-building and explanation, but once the action started, I settled in and enjoyed the ride.
The Select all bear a white λ in their hair. I don't know if it'll become key in the following books, but it seemed unnecessary in this one. Especially since it doesn't really do anything - Aly dyed her hair and her λ is covered, resulting in...nothing. It makes the Select special snowflakes and nothing more.
While reading I couldn't figure out if certain characters were good guys or bad guys. Even after finishing I'm still questioning certain actions and scenes. The Professor in particular. He used these children as pawns, as a way to discover the heart of Atlantis and uncover the seven hidden powers. However, there were times when it truly felt as though he cared for them.
The children were great. Jack, Cass, Marco, Aly, they all had their own personalities and felt like real kids. They questioned authority, they were scared, they joked around, they missed their parents. Marco was loud and boisterous to the point of being annoying and overdone, but even he was great. Although I could have done without his constant Brother Jack/Sister Aly.
The thing about horror - real-life horror, not the kind you see in movies - is that it is so silent. No screaming sound track, no fancy camera angles. Just two bodies vanishing into the shadows. Gravity doing its work.
Things really got good toward the end. After a mistake on Jack's part unleashes griffins the kids uncover old riddles and codes telling them where to go to track down the seven powers. The seven wonders of the ancient world. Their first stop: the Colossus of Rhodes. Unfortunately for them, the statue has long since been destroyed and what's left is buried deep under the sea.
The Colossus Rises is a wonderful start to a new series! Although my studies dealt with other aspects of history, I've always been fascinated with ancient history - the Greeks in particular. The seven wonders of the ancient world? Sign me up! From the moment I first heard about this book I was intrigued and I wasn't disappointed. I'm hoping that, with the world-building and explanations out of the way, the next book will jump right into the action. I can easily see this series appealing to a younger crowd although I certainly enjoyed it myself!(less)