I've had my eye on this book since first seeing it in the First Reads list, but I didn't buy it right away. Something about the cover seemed too cute,...moreI've had my eye on this book since first seeing it in the First Reads list, but I didn't buy it right away. Something about the cover seemed too cute, and I didn't want to shell out the money for a hardcover only to be disappointed.
But then Trin read it and gave it a great review.
As Trin said, it's novels like this one that I look for when reading YA fiction. It's a great story, with fun characters, and it was funny. Hawkins is a gifted writer that knows when to be absurd and when to be serious. The entire book was pitch-perfect.
The story follows Sophie, a new student at Hectate Hall (Hex Hall). It's juvie for paranormal kids that have taken risks that could expose their kind to humans. When she arrives at Hex Hall, Sophie is startled to learn that the only vampire student--Jenna--is going to be roommate. And some rather scary girls want her to join their coven. Oh, and she really knows nothing about what it means to be a witch.
Add to this a crush on the hottest guy in school (who's dating one the scary coven girls, of course) and a penchant for saying exactly the wrong thing to her teachers, and Sophie is bound to have an interesting year.
I recommend this title highly for those that enjoy light-hearted YA paranormals.(less)
I got this book through the Bookswap, and it was well worth the $4 I spent on it.
Unlike the current trends in supernatural YA books, this is not a vam...moreI got this book through the Bookswap, and it was well worth the $4 I spent on it.
Unlike the current trends in supernatural YA books, this is not a vampire or angel novel. It's a good, old fashioned Southern Gothic.
Ethan has been having disturbing dreams ever since his mother's death; he dreams of a girl, of her hand slipping from his, and disaster. That, and the smell of lemon and rosemary, is about all he can remember of it. He hasn't told anyone about these dreams. His father is tied up in the study writing a novel. His caretaker is a woman named Amma who believes in leaving charms about the house to keep out evil. His best friend, Link, isn't that much of a confidante.
Then, everything changes. A new girl, Lena, arrives at the school. The kids go from excited about the new kid to hating her in three seconds flat--she's not enough, apparently, because she's Old Man Ravenwood's neice. He's the local shut-in, and her tie to him damns her to social isolation. Except that Ethan can't leave her alone; he realizes almost immediately that she's the girl of his dreams--literally.
This is a big, thick, novel, but it doesn't feel bloated. The authors create and populate a fully realistic small town, and Gatlin is as much a character in the story as Ethan and Lena. I'm not from the South, so I can't comment on the portrayal of a Southern town. However, I am from a small town in the Midwest, and Garcia and Stohl have captured small town life on these pages. They show the power struggles of the town, as the established families seek to control its future. They show how the teens mimic those same strategies in the high school. And they show what it means to turn your back on it all and place yourself outside of the small town society.
I loved this book, and I can't wait to read the next installment.(less)
I did like this book quite a bit. As Ann Love explains, it does contain some original ideas and a solid basis in Celtic legend. That said, I had one m...moreI did like this book quite a bit. As Ann Love explains, it does contain some original ideas and a solid basis in Celtic legend. That said, I had one major complaint that made this less than a four star novel; it didn't have enough whining.
That's an odd complaint, I know, but when Faerie intrudes on your life unexpectedly, as a reader, I would assume that the characters would resist the new reality a bit. But that's not what happens here. Perhaps because this is such a slim novel, and it is fairly action packed, Ms Livingston chose not to slow things down by having a character fight against her new truth. As a resisting reader, though, I fought back for her.
I really do wish that I could have given this four stars--especially for the kelpie. It may have been my favorite character in the book.(less)
After reading rave reviews by Angie and Robin McKinley, I knew I had to give this book a chance.
Nick and his brother live with their Mum, and the thre...moreAfter reading rave reviews by Angie and Robin McKinley, I knew I had to give this book a chance.
Nick and his brother live with their Mum, and the three of them are always on the run. Wherever they go, magicians hunt them down and try to kill them; years ago, they succeeded in killing their father. Nick and Alan are young (Nick is a teen, Alex is a few years older), yet they're the ones in control of the family. Mum isn't all that sane.
After living in Exter a few weeks, the boys are horrified to discover that they've been found again. They kill the magician that tried to attack them, but they know that magicians never act alone. When one magician attacks them, it means one of the Circles knows where they live.
That same night, two teens find them and ask for help. Mae's brother, Jamie, has been marked by a demon, and his body will soon be taken over by that demon. Nick and Alan are their only chance at survival. Alan's more than willing to help . . . but Nick doesn't see the situation in the same way.
This was an extremely difficult and original novel. Nick's voice isn't an easy one to read; his only emotions seem to be loyalty and rage. He loves his brother, but the rest of the world can go hang. This is no standard YA paranormal; Nick won't let it be. This novel is far more alive than most YA books, the words fairly scream off the page at times. For all that, the world of the Demon's Lexicon is also more clearly divorced from reality than most paranormals are willing to attempt.
I highly recommend this book.
P.S.: Did anyone else catch the allusion to The Princess Bride?(less)
I hate unicorns. That is, I hate them now. As a kid, I cross-stitched two unicorn pictures to hang on my bedroom wall.
Thankfully, that phase passed pr...moreI hate unicorns. That is, I hate them now. As a kid, I cross-stitched two unicorn pictures to hang on my bedroom wall.
Thankfully, that phase passed pretty quickly. I grew tired of the sickly sweetness associated with unicorns, and I moved on.
This book confirmed for me that unicorn worshipping is a very bad idea. When an animal has horns, what are they for? They're usually a weapon used when fighting another animal. They're not some kind of beauty accessory.
Peterfreund's ideas about unicorns make sense, and she's created a fantastic world to set them in. As I read the book, I couldn't help but be amazed by how fully detailed it was--and how carefully Peterfreund thought out the implications of her ideas.
I hope there's another book in this series, and I can't wait to recommend it to other people either sick of sweetness or needing some serious girl power.(less)
There are any number of books (and movies) out there that tell the story of a romance between the bad boy & good girl or the poor kid and the rich...moreThere are any number of books (and movies) out there that tell the story of a romance between the bad boy & good girl or the poor kid and the rich kid. It's a tired, worn out sort of plot. But there's a reason that people keep writing it--when it's done well, it can be a lovely, wonderful story, as it is in Perfect Chemistry.
Alex and Brittany attend the same school; it's a semi-urban (rather than suburban) district that includes both gang territory and the rich shores of Lake Michigan. Alejandro is a member of the Latin Bloods, and he aspires to be the first member of his family to graduate from high school. Everything stands in his way. Brittany is a pep squad beauty whose only desire is to graduate and attend Northwestern so that she can live at home with her disabled older sister.
The star crossed lovers plot, as I said, is not new. Elkeles brings sympathy to her portrayal of these characters, and that's part of what makes the book work so well. As Cherry Valance says in The Outsiders, things are tough all over. However, the genius in this book lies in the fact that no one actually says that line. Love is a gradual process in this book; it has some basis in lust, but these characters don't truly love one another until they have been able to see beyond each other's facades.
This is an extraordinarily well-crafted book, and it is part of the reason why this plot line will always be used. A good writer can still use it to tell an amazing, touching story.(less)
This book warmed the cockles of my heart. Seriously.
As a doctoral student in English, I was delighted to run across a YA novel that was so entranced...moreThis book warmed the cockles of my heart. Seriously.
As a doctoral student in English, I was delighted to run across a YA novel that was so entranced with Edgar Allen Poe. Creagh's appreciation for his work shines through constantly, with sly allusions flitting across the page. Surprisingly, these allusions never ruin Creagh's own story; it never feels as if she forces in the references to Poe. Instead, it feels organic as Isabel's world gradually expands to include the forces of dreams.
I did enjoy the length of the book; the pacing was relatively slow, and I thought the attraction between the protagonist and Varen was relatively well done. However, I am deeply amused that this book clocked in at 543 pages--and it was inspired by a poet & short story writer.
Odds are that this review won't necessarily help people decided to read Nevermore. If it's on your radar, it's there for a reason. I think book lovers (as opposed to the more generalized "readers") will be drawn to the book because of its emphasis on the power of language. All I can say is this: if you're drawn to it, don't resist temptation.(less)
I won this book from the Rules of Attraction Blog Tour Giveaway hosted at Angieville.
Angie is a longtime member here at goodreads, and it was through...moreI won this book from the Rules of Attraction Blog Tour Giveaway hosted at Angieville.
Angie is a longtime member here at goodreads, and it was through her positive review of Perfect Chemistry that I first gave Simone Elkeles a chance. And I'm glad I did. As I wrote in my review of that novel, Elkeles knows how to breathe life into the old star-crossed lovers storyline. She knows how to create characters that make readers care and that hum with life.
Perfect Chemistry told the story of Alex Fuentes and his relationship with Brittany. This book occurs two years after that first story. Carlos, Alex's younger brother, has gotten involved with gangs, and he's been sent to live with Alex in order to get him out of this bad environment. He arrives with an attitude, and he's determined to live without rules. Unfortunately, he quickly gets in trouble with the law and finds himself living with a college professor and his family.
Kiara is the professor's daughter, and she and her family believe that everyone should be given a second chance. Even though her first encounters with Carlos at school have not been pleasant, she's willing to welcome him into her home. She trusts that there's more to him than the tough guy that he plays at school. What she's not prepared for is that she'll be more and more drawn to him as she gets to know him better.
I loved this book, and I can't wait to reread it. It arrived via UPS at 3:30 or so, and I finished it by 10:30. I'll take it a little slower with my next read, but this time I just had to gulp it down.
As much as I loved Perfect Chemistry, I think I may like this book still more. The plot of the first novel had more tension, but I liked Carlos and Kiara more. Kiara is both vulnerable and strong; she's struggled with stuttering her whole life, and she's planning on making a fresh start in her senior year of high school. Through speech therapy, she's finally managed to conquer her stutter, and she plans to reinvent herself. Her plans are thrown out of whack by Carlos. He throws her out of balance quickly, but she refuses to back down. She's vulnerable, but powerful at the same time. Carlos has been abandoned by everyone that he holds dear, and he tries to push everyone away from him. He knows that if he holds himself back, he won't get hurt again. But Kiara, with her refusal to stand down, sparks a response in him that he can't ignore.
I could go on and on about how much I loved this book. That said, you'll want to start with the first book. Trust me, go out and get yourself a copy of Perfect Chemistry--and you might want to pick up Rules of Attraction at the same time. It'll save you that second trip to the bookstore.(less)
My friend Angie gave this book a glowing review, and her review convinced me to buy the book.
Lindner does not try to hide that this is a modern retell...moreMy friend Angie gave this book a glowing review, and her review convinced me to buy the book.
Lindner does not try to hide that this is a modern retelling of Jane Eyre. As a rule, I don't mind retellings, and I've even taught a classes that I called "Literary Sequels, Prequels, and Revisions." When I approached this book, I tried to bring the same mindset that I applied to Gordon Korman's Jake Reinvented, a modernized The Great Gatsby. I can't help but think that Korman's novel is a great comparison to use against Lindner's.
Linder's Jane succeeds largely because Lindner is an excellent writer. Angie's review quoted long sections of the novel, and those sections intrigued me. They gave me hints of what would be the best parts of the novel--the sections created entirely by Lindner.
Since Lindner updated Jane's story for a modern setting, some features of the plot did have to be changed. As you find out, quickly (so I don't feel the need to hit the spoiler button!), Jane Eyre's Reed relations are replaced by Jane Moore's parents and siblings. The sections of the book detailing Jane's relationship with her family were some of the best in the entire book.
The scenes where Lindner had to either revision the scene entirely or add a new scene were the best and most inventive parts of the book. I really liked her Jane and her Nico, and the few times when they get to be Jane Moore and Nico Rathburn (rather than transplanted characters from Jane Eyre) were wonderful. However, this novel adheres pretty closely to its source material, and bringing in the events and conversations from the earlier book occasionally felt forced.
Going back to Korman's novel, when I taught both it and Gatsby, my students could easily recognize that Fitzgerald's novel was better. But they still enjoyed Korman's revision of it. Korman's novel was mostly successful in that it contained the same plot arc as Gatsby but didn't feel constrained to act out every scene in the same way. (Without being spoilery, Korman changes quite a bit in the final scenes.)
As much as I loved Jane, I think Lindner's novel would have been better yet if she had followed a revision model a little closer to Korman's and allowed herself to invent more of the story.
Lindner's writing is clearly four-star level for me, but the close adherence to her source material lowers the book to a three-star total.(less)
This is one of my favorite Meg Cabot novels, and I'm surprised I don't read it more often. I'm not too proud to admit that, as a teen, the sort of sto...moreThis is one of my favorite Meg Cabot novels, and I'm surprised I don't read it more often. I'm not too proud to admit that, as a teen, the sort of story in this novel would have been immensely appealing. I was the sort of imaginative kid, weaned on teeny bopper magazines, that could imagine what it would be like if a teen celebrity moved to my town. (And, rumor had it, Patrick Swayze almost did move to my town--but the homeowner refused to sell the stable with the house, and the deal fell through. While Swayze was not a teen at the time, all of us just knew that if he moved to our town, other famous people were bound to visit him . . . and so the daydreaming would start.)
Part of the reason I like this novel so much is because it does present that fantasy, but, at the same time, it doesn't buy into it. Jenny Greenley, the protagonist, is far too sensible to crush on a celebrity--even when he comes to visit her school (undercover, of course) and she's assigned as his two-week tour guide. One of Jenny's friends, Trina, once referred to Jenny as "mayonnaise," and that description has stuck with her forever. Jenny knows that she's the glue that keeps her disparate group of friends together, that smooths things out so that they work. However, when Luke Striker comes to Clayton, Indiana, he upsets her vision of her town and herself. Luke, the stranger, can see what Jenny cannot. She's no bland mayonnaise--she's the special sauce. She's the nice person that can get things done and create real change at her school, if only she'll have the confidence to do it.
There are three things that really bother Jenny at Clayton High--the treatment of a classmate known as "Cara Cow," Jenny's role in the show choir (which is like an evil version of Glee), and the kidnapping of Betty Ann--her Latin teacher's doll. Inspired by Luke's faith in her, Jenny sets out to fix what she can at Clayton.
I love this book because this is Jenny's journey. While Luke's comments might inspire her, she's the one that steps forward and takes action. And, to top it off, it's just plain good fun.(less)