Finished a couple weeks ago and forgot to mark it! It was sweet, but I was creeped out by Josh's obsessiveness. And I'm really over couples having a hFinished a couple weeks ago and forgot to mark it! It was sweet, but I was creeped out by Josh's obsessiveness. And I'm really over couples having a huge fight and breaking up two-thirds of the way through, only to have a perfect reunion in the last 20 pages. Authors, can we please have ONE realistic relationship in a book?...more
Eh. High two, low three stars. I'm so turned off by wise, witty teenagers who are nothing like real teenagers. (I'm a high school teacher; I know realEh. High two, low three stars. I'm so turned off by wise, witty teenagers who are nothing like real teenagers. (I'm a high school teacher; I know real teenagers.) This author isn't as insufferable as John Green, but she's trying really hard. The plot twists were like bright, glaring suns and were never a surprise. I was surprised to learn this wasn't the author's awkward debut. Oops....more
A difficult read for me, since dystopian is not high on my list of favorite genres. The relentless sadness and darkness are hard for me to handle andA difficult read for me, since dystopian is not high on my list of favorite genres. The relentless sadness and darkness are hard for me to handle and I find myself far more affected by the book's mood than I'd like. Still, it's very well-written, with good world building (though with lots of room for improvement) and character development. I'll read the next one....more
I held off on reading this for ages. I loved Anna and the French Kiss so much that I wanted to hold on to this one and make the sweetness and satisfacI held off on reading this for ages. I loved Anna and the French Kiss so much that I wanted to hold on to this one and make the sweetness and satisfaction last longer. I tend to do that. I'll hold on to a gift card for ages, or I'll keep my favorite chocolate hidden away. I don't jump in feet first, but I'll wait for just the right moment when I really need that wonderful thing I've been saving for the proverbial rainy day.
So it isn't the happiest feeling in the world when the thing I've been waiting so long for falls flat.
Don't get me wrong. Stephanie Perkins is a very good writer. And Lola and the Boy Next Door is a good book.
I just really, really, intensely dislike Lola herself.
She's immature, selfish, unlikeable. And then there's the boy next door himself, the completely loveable and adorable (if a bit frustrating in the "come on, man up!" sense) Cricket Bell himself. I felt, even to the very end, that Lola didn't at all deserve Cricket.
Perkins has a knack for writing swoon-worthy male characters. Etienne St. Clair? Humina. He's right up there with Poe from Diana Peterfreund's secret society novels. Cricket Bell has joined them, making a triumvirate of don't-you-wish-they-were-real boys. But her girls? Her girls aren't so great. I wonder why that is....more
I read this on my Kindle, so I know exactly when it went from super-creepy to super-boring: Right at 60%. The first 60% of the book is riveting, horriI read this on my Kindle, so I know exactly when it went from super-creepy to super-boring: Right at 60%. The first 60% of the book is riveting, horrifying, heart-pounding, page turning. The last 40%? It's like Bick just gave up and started throwing words at the page. The pace becomes plodding and the story gets heavily weighed-down by useless characters and a completely stagnant plot. The town Alex ends up in is utterly impossible; this society could not have become so intricate in such a short period of time after "the Zap." I'm curious what happened to Tom and Ellie, but I don't think I can spend the time in another book trying to find out. I'm disappointed, because the first 60% of the book had such promise. So my three stars are for that part. Let us not speak of the terrible final 40% ever again....more
I know that I’m a ridiculous fangirl for Jenny B. Jones. I’m someone who hasn’t liked much Christian fiction in a long time, but she makes me love it.I know that I’m a ridiculous fangirl for Jenny B. Jones. I’m someone who hasn’t liked much Christian fiction in a long time, but she makes me love it. I gushed ridiculously over Save the Date and I feel just as strongly about this one.
Save the Date was told from the perspective of adults, Alex and Lucy. It chronicled their lives, feisty resistance of one another, and eventual falling in love. Alex’s brother Will’s death was a heavy shadow over the book, and Alex eventually found his own peace and resolution. There You’ll Find Me is the story of Finley Sinclair, Alex and Will’s teenaged sister. Her grief is experienced much differently. Maybe it’s because she’s so young. Maybe it’s because she’s a girl and shows her emotions more openly. Whatever it is, it seems to be rockier for Finley to overcome.
Finley’s in Ireland for a school exchange program. She’s got a big audition for the New York Conservatory coming up, and she’s in Ireland to re-trace Will’s steps and write a piece of music in tribute to him. But her troubles run deep and she’s in the midst of a major crisis of faith. She meets a mean girl at school, has her heart stolen by a Hollywood heartthrob, and encounters all sorts of Irish characters, not least of which is a crusty old woman in her waning days.
But don’t be fooled into thinking this is a bubble-headed story, typical in much contemporary YA romance. No, this is much more. Finley’s troubles seem all too real and are dealt with in an utterly realistic fashion. There are funny moments, because Jones is a funny woman, but this is a tear-jerker, too. A crisis of faith is no laughing matter, and Jones treats it with seriousness and respect.
I can’t say enough good things about Jenny B. Jones and her books. Anyone who’s been resisting Christian fiction, as I did for so long, should stop resisting and read this author....more
Mermaid books are becoming the new paranormal “it book,” so I was a little cautious about this one. I tend to avoid b. . Review posted here at my blog.
Mermaid books are becoming the new paranormal “it book,” so I was a little cautious about this one. I tend to avoid books in whatever genre’s currently the most popular. But I was pleasantly surprised and ended up really loving this book.
Lexi is a likable character. The poor girl has been living inside her own personal hell for two years, friendless and alone, keeping her secret of having to swim every night instead of sleep. She’s shunned at school, and her only family is her elderly grandmother. But at the beginning of her senior year, Lexi’s old friend Cole starts talking to her again. Lexi, Cole, and Sienna, Lexi’s ex-best friend are thrown together for a class project, and Sienna’s iciness to Lexi begins to melt a bit.
A romance blossoms between Lexi and Cole just at the moment Lexi notices a new guy in school. Erik is wildly attractive, and Lexi is startled to see that he shares her same clear blue eyes. She finds him unsettling, but is still drawn to him.
Somehow Mandy Hubbard makes this paranormal romance feel like a contemporary one. The siren aspect of Lexi’s life is what defines her at this point in her story, but it almost seems secondary to the love triangle that emerges, and to the patched-up friendship between Lexi and Sienna. There’s also danger, intrigue, and mystery thrown in. Hubbard throws out little clues along the way that for an avid mystery reader like me make the twist a little too obvious, but the process of getting there is still fun and interesting. The book’s climactic ending is heart-pounding and satisfying.
I appreciate how Lexi is drawn to both Cole and Erik, but asks herself mature, important questions about love. She isn’t content to fall into the arms of either boy just because he’s attractive and paying her attention. For Lexi, what’s beneath the surface matters more. She’s a mature, poised heroine, which only adds to her likability.
I’ve read Hubbard’s other two YA books, Prada & Prejudice and You Wish, and I think Ripple takes Hubbard’s writing and storytelling to a new level. Perhaps her true calling is to this gritty, edgy, but still ultimately hopeful and happy, sub-genre of YA....more
Emerson Cole is having a rough time of it. Her parents died in a terrible accident when she was 13, and now. . Review originally posted here at my blog.
Emerson Cole is having a rough time of it. Her parents died in a terrible accident when she was 13, and now, at 17, she lives in Ivy Springs, TN, with her doting older brother, Thomas, and his wife, Dru. Emerson has a secret that only her closest family know: she sees things that aren’t there. Not quite ghosts, not quite phantoms, these apparitions are connected to old buildings. Emerson sees a Southern belle, a Confederate soldier, a jazz trio. She can make them disappear by touching them, but they come back. Emerson was nearly driven crazy by these visions, and after a particularly harrowing incident in her high school cafeteria, she was institutionalized, tested, and heavily medicated.
She’s back in Ivy Springs and the visions are happening again, because Emerson has stopped taking her medication, wanting to feel like her old self again. Her brother calls in one more expert, a mysterious young man named Michael Weaver. He’s just a couple years older than Emerson and is from a group called the Hourglass. He believes Emerson’s stories and even seems to share her visions. And it’s not just that kind of connection the two have. Emerson and Michael are drawn to each other and feel an electric current when they’re together or touch. Michael wants to help Emerson, but also needs her help. He enlists her to use her gifts to prevent a death that never should have happened.
Hourglass weaves science fiction with traces of the kind of paranormal stories that are so popular in young adult fiction today. The story is interesting, but uncomfortably close to the plot of Twilight, and it's quite complicated and wandering at times. A lot happens, and there's an almost over-abundance of characters, and it’s hard to keep it all straight. The “science” seems a bit far-fetched, even for science fiction, and a willing suspension of disbelief is required. Lastly, I was a bit uncomfortable with the intensity of Emerson and Michael’s attraction to each other. Not only is there an almost crippling co-dependent need that Emerson feels for Michael, but the sexual undertones of their relationship are just shy of inappropriate. I’m no prude, but I do know what’s appropriate and not for teenagers, and this is a bit too much.
I look forward to the next book in the series and hope McEntire can tighten up the science and explain it all a little more clearly. She has an interesting thing going for her here, but it can get too big and run away from her if she’s not careful....more
I love the euphoric feeling I get when I read a book by a new-to-me author and love it completely and totally. I think IReview posted here at my blog.
I love the euphoric feeling I get when I read a book by a new-to-me author and love it completely and totally. I think I’ve found a new favorite and can’t wait to gobble up everything else that author has written. Sometimes the book I loved turns out to be a fluke, but other times, as in the case of Jenny B. Jones, my initial reaction was right and I’ve found a new bookish BFF. I loved Save the Date and was thrilled to learn that it was not Jenny’s first work!
So Not Happening is a different kind of story, but still just as engaging, funny, sweet, and thought-provoking, I was very happy to learn. I read it in a few days while sick on my couch with a terrible sinus infection and a wicked case of bronchitis, and it made me happy and kept my mind off how awful I was feeling! And isn’t that one of the best things about a good book?
Bella Kirkwood has it all. She lives in New York City and her father is a plastic surgeon to the rich and famous. She has a great best friend, a dreamy boyfriend, and an advice column for her ritzy all-girl school’s blog. But Bella’s world unravels after her parents divorce and her mother meets a man online. He lives in Oklahoma, which, to Bella, may as well be another planet. To Bella’s horror, her mother marries her online suitor and moves the two of them to Truman, Oklahoma.
Bella is a fish out of water. Her stepbrothers are weird, and it’s clear one of them hates her. The house is old and small and looks like it hasnt’ been updated since the 70s. Add to that the fact that Bella’s new stepfather seems to have a dark secret, and the kids of Truman High wouldn’t know Prada from Payless, and Bella is downright miserable.
But there’s hope. Bella meets some kids who seem nice, and she starts to fit in at her school. And despite making a huge mistake that costs her a lot of her reputation, there are a few kids who stick by her. She ends up on the school’s newspaper staff and has a hard time ignoring the fact that her hard-working and demanding editor, Luke, is pretty hot.
I’ve whined and complained for ages that there’s not any contemporary romance in YA that has a twist of a mystery. So imagine my happy surprise when I realized that’s exactly the path this book took. Bella and Luke work together to solve a mystery surrounding the football team, growing closer in the process. It’s like a cozy mystery for teens, and it thrilled me to bits.
Jenny B. Jones is an excellent story-teller and writer. Now knowing she can do mystery, too, just makes me like her even more. I can’t wait to devour the next two books in this series, and get everything else she’s ever written!...more
Oh, Rachel Hawkins, *fists of fury* at you! How could you leave us hanging again?!
SPOILERS ahead, so don’t read this unless you’ve read Hex Hall, whicOh, Rachel Hawkins, *fists of fury* at you! How could you leave us hanging again?!
SPOILERS ahead, so don’t read this unless you’ve read Hex Hall, which I highly recommend you do right now!
Sophie has discovered she’s a demon, even though she’s always thought she’s a witch. Demon is far worse in Prodigium world, and far more dangerous. Turns out she’s one of only two known demons in the world, her absentee father being the other one. Plus, she discovered at the end of Hex Hall that her mega crush, Archer Cross, is a member of The Eye, who are hell-bent on killing her. And then there’s the whole thing about watching her friends die at the hands of her grandmother, Alice, a demon who went very, very bad when raised by a coven of witches at Sophie’s school, Hecate Hall.
So, pretty much, you could say things aren’t going so well for ol’ Soph.
Her father shows up at Hecate Hall and insists on taking her to Thorne Abbey in England, the new site of the Council that oversees the witchy world, for her protection. Sophie will go as long as her best friend, the vampire Jenna, goes as well. The two set off for a summer in England, hoping things will be quiet and safe. Yeah, right. Rachel Hawkins does not write “quiet and safe,” friends.
The Eye find out where Sophie is, and Sophie finds out some terrible news about things happening at Hecate Hall, where the fall term of school is beginning soon. There’s also the little matter of Archer showing up again, too. Sophie never knows who to trust with her life or her secrets.
Sophie grows a lot in this story, coming into both her own powers and her confidence. Her friendship with Jenna is tested, for understandable reasons, and the two must figure out how to navigate Sophie’s emerging powers while still remaining friends. Cal, the Hecate handyman with astonishingly delicate and life-saving powers, is a revelation. Hawkins says that teenagers are Team Archer and grown women are Team Cal. So true. I hope Sophie and Cal end up together, though I know it’s not likely.
This is another excellent offering from Rachel Hawkins, and I can’t wait for more. I’m only mad that the series’ third and final installment doesn’t come out until March 2012. So unfair. ...more
In the future, a virus has rendered everyone over the age of 18 infertile. Society has become babyReview posted here on my blog.
What a strange book.
In the future, a virus has rendered everyone over the age of 18 infertile. Society has become baby-obsessed, putting the job of procreating squarely on the shoulders of boys and girls who are basically still children themselves. Finding the right kid to carry your child is a million-dollar business, and only the best, brightest, fittest, smartest, and most attractive are hired.
Melody is on her way to being a “Surrogette,” just waiting for the boy she’ll be matched to “pregg” with. She’s fighting her feelings for her best friend, Zen, but he’s too short and too Asian to be a professional. What Melody doesn’t know is that she has a twin sister, Harmony. The two were separated at birth and raised very differently. Melody is from the baby- and money-obsessed Otherside, and Harmony has been raised in Goodside, which appears very similar to modern Amish communities.
The girls meet, and, through a series of mistaken identities and admitting they’re not so different after all, they’re driven in two surprising (to them) directions and the book ends on a sequel-obvious cliffhanger.
I enjoyed the story quite a lot. It’s fresh and original, and I appreciate how neither the sex-obsessed teens nor the highly religious teens are treated as campy stereotypes. Both types are fallible, funny, naive, wise, and normal. I, as a Christian, kept waiting to be offended by either side of the story, but I never was. Kudos to the author for walking the fine line and telling a good story without resorting to cheap insults.
My only quibble, which is minor but continuous throughout the story, is a lot of the words and phrases. Things like “bump,” “pregg,” “facespace,” “dose down,” etc., are cutesy, but so foreign that they can slow down reading. It took me about half the book to get used to the language quirks to really sail through it and not stumble while reading. I imagine that won’t pose a problem in the next book, since I’m now used to the style. ...more
Kate Winters has moved to Eden, Michigan, with her mother. It’s her mother’s hometown, and she’s dying of cancer and wants to reReview posted here.
Kate Winters has moved to Eden, Michigan, with her mother. It’s her mother’s hometown, and she’s dying of cancer and wants to return there to live out her few remaining days. Kate and her mother are close, so Kate is willing to give up her senior year in her New York high school, eager to please her mother and make the end of her life as pleasant as possible. Very quickly we see Kate begin her senior year, make a friend named James, get treated like trash by a girl named Ava, and watch her mother slip into a coma.
And then the tension stops, for everything is revealed.
Let me back up a bit. Ava claims to be taking Kate to a party, but instead takes her to a river (it’s made clear that Kate is terrified of water), makes her cross the river, and then skips off to leave Kate alone and cold on the other side. But something happens, Ava slips and bashes her head on rocks, and dies right there in front of Kate. She’s stranded with a dead frenemy, too paralyzed with fear to cross back over the river and hightail it to civilization for help. But lo! Through the trees emerges a bona fide hottie, of course! He is Henry, and he’s creepy but beautiful, Edward Cullen without the sparkle, and he tells Kate that he can save Ava’s life (and somehow the life of her mother), but she has to agree to live with him for six months out of the year and be his bride.
And, after a couple days of teen-aged angst with her new BFF, the undead Ava, Kate inexplicably agrees to this and goes to live at Eden Manor. Because, you see, Henry is really Hades, ruler of the Underworld, and he needs a new wife to replace Persephone, his one true love.
Yes, that’s the premise here. And what follows is a confusing jumble: Kate must pass seven tests in order to be deemed worthy of immortality and Henry’s hand in marriage; she willingly spends six months in Eden Manor with a host of weirdos, apparently unconcerned about the people out there on the other side of the hedge, wondering what’s happened to a seventeen-year-old girl who’s just vanished out of thin air; there are shenanigans and a murder; and then there’s a big reveal at the end, part of which is enormously insulting to the reader (unless that reader happened to figure it all out in the first third of the book, which I admit I did). The ending is preposterous.
And there’s a sequel coming out, but there’s zero anticipation of what’s going to happen next, nothing that makes the reader write down the next book’s release date, circle it twenty times, highlight it, and put stars and hearts around it.
I admit that I know only the basics of Greek mythology. As a Christian, I figured out pretty quickly when I was younger that the Greek gods and their stories are the complete antithesis of my worldview. They’re not nice “people,” and their stories are not pleasant in any way. So I know enough to muddle through a conversation should I find myself at a party, glass of wine in hand and a desperate will to escape, trapped in a corner by someone having Deep Thoughts about Hera or Dionysus. I do know enough to know that Aimee Carter has twisted and re-created their stories and personalities so radically that they’re hardly noticeable. And she mixes that mythology with the seven deadly sins, which aren’t part of Christian theology but are always attributed to Christianity because there are Scriptures which point out these particular sins. Anybody with a basic working knowledge of either mythology or Christian theology should know that the two just don’t mix at all.
Finally, if I haven’t beat home my disappointment with this book enough, the writing just isn’t very good. There’s an enormous amount of telling – and I despise telling over showing – and very little action. Descriptions are entirely lacking. In addition to shoddy mythology research, Carter seems wholly uninterested in building a world for the reader to picture. This happened, and then this happened, and then this other thing happened, and here is some dialogue tacked on to make it move along. It reads like Greek mythology fan-fiction. I hate fan-fiction....more
It’s sophomore year at Penford High School in Rochester, NY, and April Bowers is lonely. Her best friend, Haley, has moved out of tReview posted here.
It’s sophomore year at Penford High School in Rochester, NY, and April Bowers is lonely. Her best friend, Haley, has moved out of town, and April, who has never been popular in her large high school, now feels completely alone. The only person who seems to give her any attention is Delvin McGerk, who she thinks is “stalkeriffic” and the king of all losers. It’s not looking good for April.
Enter Britney Taylor, fellow sophomore, and self-ordained queen of the popular kids. Despite only being in 10th grade, she manages to thinks she has the level of popularity usually reserved for seniors. She has a small group of sycophantic girlfriends who follow her around like lap dogs, and she’s got boys drooling over her body. Britney seems to have it all, so April is confused and flattered when Britney and her friends welcome her to their lunch table.
What follows in the first half of the book is the common ugly duckling story. April, who’s cast in the role of the ugly duckling but isn’t actually ugly at all, gets made over by Britney the puppet master. Britney is the queen of back-handed compliments and never fails to let her feelings be known, no matter how hurtful the insult may be. April’s clothes and hair are changed, and she’s backed into the corner when it comes to signing the Lipstick Oath, a list of seven rules she must agree to follow in order to be friends with Britney and the girls.
There are expected insults, hi-jinks and hurt feelings, and at a ridiculous party in a field, it all changes when somebody calls the cops and April gets blamed. She’s immediately out of the group, and Britney sets out to destroy April’s reputation. (What reputation? April was unknown before Britney came around, and the girls have puffed-up senses of superiority, so how would anybody realize April had changed anyway?)
The first half of the story is interesting and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. The second half, however, tumbles out in a rush, all telling and no showing. It’s a breathless read of “this happened, and then this happened, and then OMG this happened!” It’s like a bad Disney Channel or ABC Family movie which spends the first half setting up the plot nicely, and the second half desperately trying to cram it all in with a nice little lesson in the last five minutes.
April takes revenge on Britney by gathering up other girls who broke the Lipstick Oath. They call themselves the Lipstick Lawbreakers, and they plot and scheme to ruin Britney’s life. One of their tricks, involving fake love letters and a showdown on the football field, is far beyond anything a high-schooler would ever do, and the other is not funny and could be deadly for Britney.
Some of the book’s major plot problems include:
* The character of Brandon is interesting, if not a little gross. He disappears. Why? * Delvin is clueless but sweet and obviously a catch for a nice girl, and then turns into a “total hottie,” which is all the girls seem to care about. But April still treats him like trash. And we’re supposed to root for her? April and her friends are completely shallow and care nothing about a guy’s intelligence, manners, kindness, or how he treats his mama. If he’s a hottie, he’s in. Gross. * Totally implausible things, like laughing hysterically or jumping around excitedly for “five minutes straight,” or three people saying exactly the same sentence at exactly the same time. There’s willing suspension of disbelief when you read a fluffy YA novel, and then there’s just bad writing and editing that make you roll your eyes.
The overarching problem with this book is that it’s hard to like a book at all when the main character is so wholly awful and unlikable. There is nothing redeeming about April, and her new-found mean girl status is reversed and wrapped up nicely with a bow in the end. But it’s completely unbelievable. I didn’t root for her for a moment in the whole book. She is everything you wanted to avoid while growing up, and everything you don’t want your children to be now.
I’ve read several reviews saying this is great for young teenagers, but I don’t know how a parent, teacher, or librarian could recommend impressionable young girls (possibly dealing with their own mean girls) read about people who are so mean and awful that the reader is left feeling let-down and miserable by the end of the story. A feel-good ego boost this is not. ...more