Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Review: Every Day, by David Levithan @loversdiction

With its truly  unique premise, Every Day kept me spellbound, as I wondered how this was all going to work out.

A wakes up as a different person every day. A only spends one day in each body. It has been this way all of A's 16 years of life. If you want to know why A is this way -- don't read Every Day. That's not what this book is about.

Every Day is about relationships. About a person who can't have any lasting relationships. And, when this person tries to have a lasting relations -- what can happen.

A falls hard for Rhiannon. A keeps visiting her when A is in other bodies. Eventually A tells her the secret. They try to have a relationship, but you can imagine this is no easy task.

A is ungendered (and it's really hard to write this review without "he's" and "she's!") A ends up in all kinds of people's bodies. Girls, boys, sick, healthy, fat, skinny, gay, straight, drug addicts, poor, rich -- you name it -- A has lived it. For a day.

Every Day will really make you think. I think I would have probably committed suicide if I were A. I can't imagine living without any long-term relationships. No parents, siblings, or even friends.

It is a bit unsettling to me not to know why this happens. Also, we really don't get a great explanation of what happens to the person whose body is stolen for a day, and what happens when they return to their bodies having missed a day. But you really need to give that up (and I tried) because that's not what Every Day is about.

I was also a bit confused by the ending, although the part I understood was understandable and heartbreaking. That's all I can say without spoilers.

Every Day is a very quick read. It's easily understood and easily draws you in. I think Every Day would be a great read for those kids that say, "I don't know what kind of book I like." I'll be recommending Every Day every chance I get.

Published by Knopf BFYR, 2012
Copy obtained from the library
324 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, April 29, 2013

A DNF Book Review: Gorgeous, by Paul Rudnick

I'd like to tell you about Gorgeous, even though I didn't finish it, because I think it's a good book -- for the right reader.

Becky's extremely overweight mother dies, and she finds a note with a phone number on it. She calls the number, and ends up in New York, meeting Tom Kelly, reclusive designer to the stars (think, maybe, Tommy Hilfiger?) Turns out he knew Becky's mom when she was young and a beautiful model. Tom says he can help Becky become the most beautiful girl in the world.

And he does. Although it's not clear how, and maybe by the end of the book this would make sense, but I found it a bit weird. Becky just puts on a dress and becomes Rebecca -- the most beautiful girl in the world.

Of course this opens all sorts of doors for Rebecca, and while she's trying to get used to her new self, Tom tells her she needs to get married within a year, or she goes back to the way she was. Tom's motives are never clear. I did like Becky's character, but once again, this story was too over the top for me.

I read 40% of the 336 pages. It's a cute book, well-written. It's just not what I want to read about. I got impatient to find out what happens. I don't really think the plot was that slow, but I just found myself skimming over all the descriptions of the high-class adventures that Rebecca experienced because it's not what I care about. This is definitely a book for teens, and although I love YA, Gorgeous was too "cotton-candy" for me.

It's me, not the book. Someone who enjoys a very opulent Cinderella story will most likely really enjoy Gorgeous. It reminded me a bit of Meg Cabot's Airhead. So if you like that kind of story, don't hesitate to pick up Gorgeous.

Published by Scholastic, April 30, 2013
eARC obtained from NetGalley
336 pages

Rating: I don't feel right rating it, since I didn't finish it.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Manicpixiedreamgirl, by Tom Leveen @tomleveen

Once again, in Manicpixiedreamgirl, Leveen writes realistic, edgy teen characters that tug at your heartstrings and make you root for their ultimate triumph.

As Manicpixiedreamgirl opens, Tyler and his two friends are celebrating the publication of one of Tyler's stories in a magazine. The three of them are all in various stages of intoxication in a city park. Tyler is receiving texts and phone calls from two different girls--Syd, who has been his steady girlfriend for two years, and Becky, who he's been in love with for three years.

Through flashbacks, we are introduced to these characters and the history of Tyler's obsession with Becky (from afar) and his real relationship with Syd. Leveen is a master of creating a teen character in distress. It is interesting how Tyler, because he loves Becky from afar, really has no idea of who she really is. We slowly find out things, along with Tyler, that makes her less than perfect -- much to Tyler's disappointment.

Syd is also a great character -- realizing that Tyler has this obsession, but hoping he will get over it. The friends are great supporting characters to bounce off of, and all together Manicpixiedreamgirl is a quick, compelling contemporary book that will particularly appeal to reluctant readers. The ending of Manicpixiedreamgirl isn't all that surprising, but it's also not all wrapped up neatly. There are still some struggles to live through, and we aren't sure how everything will turn out for Tyler. We can only hope...

Zero is still my favorite of Leveen's books. I felt a more emotional connection to the characters in Zero. Manicpixiedreamgirl is more light-hearted and felt less serious to me. Still entertaining, but in a different way.

If you are wondering where the title came from, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl is "that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures," according to Nathan Rabin, via Wikipedia.

I'll happily recommend Manicpixiedreamgirl to teens at my library who want a short, edgy, believable contemporary story.

Published by Random House BFYR, April 23, 2013
eARC obtained from NetGalley
256 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 3.5/5

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: The Eternity Cure, by Julie Kagawa @Jkagawa

The Eternity Cure left me just as breathless as the first book, The Immortal Rules.

We get some recap of The Immortal Rules at the beginning of The Eternity Cure, and that was just fine with me. It was very well done, and I needed it. The review made it very easy to fall right back into the world and the characters that I cared about so much.

Allie has left Eden and is trying to find Kanin. She knows he is in danger, and possibly dying. Because he is her blood, she feels drawn to him -- but for some reason, she's being drawn in two directions. When she finally reaches her destination it isn't Kanin she's found. And there begins a non-stop adventure filled with surprises and danger and heart-stopping action.

It's very easy to get through The Eternity Cure. We've already come to love the characters in The Immortal Rules, so it's easy to get pulled right into this new adventure -- the continuing search for a cure -- but much more than that. Almost every character from The Immortal Rules makes an appearance -- and some have made surprising transformations. You would think the world couldn't get any more dangerous, but now it's not only humans and vampires, but another virus that is wreaking havoc and may wipe out everything.

I enjoyed the twists in The Eternity Cure, and there were many of them. I enjoyed the romance and the crazy banter between characters. The world is, as in The Immortal Rules, exceptionally created.

I would highly recommend this second book to everyone who enjoyed the first. However, I just have to mention a couple of things that bugged me. First is repetition. Allie says "if I were alive, my heart would've been slamming in my chest," or some variation of that, at least four times. Now, I'm reading the ARC, so maybe some of these got cut. I can only hope.

Secondly, and kind of related to the "lack of life" premise, is that Allie just seems TOO human. The vampires bleed. To me that doesn't make sense, if their hearts don't beat. Allie mentions not being bothered by the cold, but revels in a hot shower. She cries warm tears (OK, they are blood, but still, they are warm.) That doesn't make sense. So these are little things, and I know we have to believe that Allie is very human-like -- otherwise we wouldn't like her as much and we wouldn't support her relationships. I get that. But it still bothered me. She IS a vampire, and I though at times Kagawa wanted us to forget that.

Yes, there's a cliffhanger, but there is also definitely the end of an episode. Some things have been resolved -- and I guess i'ts more of a big surprise -- not so much a cliffhanger. It was OK with me, and I'll definitely be looking forward to the third book.

Like I said, The Eternity Cure is a must read for vampire fans(after The Immortal Rules, of course.) Kagawa can write dialog, action, and characters that make you care. This is one of the best paranormal worlds I've ever encountered.

Published by Harlequin Teen, April 30, 2013
eARC obtained from NetGalley
448 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures is an interesting story in a wonderful setting with characters that  I can relate to.

Lena has moved to Gatlin - a town in the South, but I'm not sure we're ever told which state. Anyway, she lives with her weird uncle, who is the hermit of the town, and no one ever sees him because he never comes out of his house. So, understandably, there's a lot of interest in Lena. Gatlin NEVER gets new people. Everyone has lived there forever, and their family has lived there forever. Including Ethan, who can't wait to escape from Gatlin.

As Lena experiences ridicule from pretty much everyone in the town, Ethan somehow becomes attracted to her, and wants to protect her. He also has been having strange dreams -- and it turns out Lena has been the star of them. He's somehow trying to rescue her in the dreams.

So, there's more to Lena than meets the eye, and Ethan gradually figures it out, and of course, falls in love with her. She's got powers -- she's called a Caster -- and she's also about to turn 16 -- a very dangerous time for Casters because that's when they can either go to the Dark or the Light.

There are a lot of great supporting characters. Ethan's best friend, the librarian, Lena's Uncle (and the rest of her crazy family) all are intriguing and useful to the plot. The southern setting really adds a lot to the story -- more so than any other story I've read, at least recently. It's almost like a character, because of the mores that these people believe in.

Beautiful Creatures is a bit on the long side, but the plot moves fairly well - there's always some new development that keeps your interest.

I enjoyed Beautiful Creatures and I'll read the rest of them eventually. I just didn't LOVE it. I didn't feel my pulse quickening very much -- I didn't get as emotional as I do while reading some books. The only real problem I had with the book itself, is how stupid Lena is sometimes. For example, one minute she's so afraid that she won't let anyone near her -- she's cloistered herself in her room. Then when Ethan talks her into coming out, she immediately decides she wants to leave the house "just for a few minutes" to go to a party. Really? How in the world can you forget about all the danger you are in just because you've never been to a high school party. I really couldn't buy that.

I'm still recommending this one to my teens. Those who enjoy Twilight, Hunger Games, and those types of stories will definitely want to check out Beautiful Creatures. My question to you is, should I see the movie? I've heard such mixed reviews. What do you think?

Published by Little, Brown BFYR, 2009
eBook, purchased
563 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Memories: The Firm

Welcome to my meme, Monday Memories, where I feature favorite books we've loved from the past. You can link to an old review, or write something new about a beloved book from your past. Really, what's important is not the book, but why it is memorable to you. So, have fun reminiscing, and leave a comment below, so we can all enjoy your memories.

The Firm was John Grisham's first best seller. I really have enjoyed all of his books, but The Firm started it all many years ago. The Firm was published in 1991, and I read it around that time. Some people think, "legal thrillers = boring." But if you've never read any of Grisham's books, you can't really say that with any accuracy. He manages to write his legal stories like real thrillers. There are life and death situations. And, although there are court scenes, the bulk of the novel is not about the courtroom.

In the case of The Firm, we have a very talented, high-priced lawyer who has it made. He has a job with more perks than he ever imagined. But soon he learns that nothing comes without a price, and when the FBI begins to investigate his firm, our lawyer is stuck in the middle. It's an easy, fast-paced book that even teens can enjoy. Once you read one of Grisham's stories, you  will most likely have to find some more.

Have you ever read Grisham? Are there any other legal thriller authors that you recommend? I've read some Scott Turow and thought it was pretty good too.

Share one of your cherished book memories!

You can do a Monday Memories post on your blog. Copy my button and link back here, so others can see all the other posts.  Leave a comment below with the link to your post.

Or, just leave one of your Monday Memories right here in the comments.

Be sure to visit some other blogs that have posted their links. Thanks!

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Stacking the Shelves - A Nice Variety

It's been yet another good week, book-wise. Here's what I've added to my shelves/devices:

For Review:
Manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen from NetGalley

Rotten, by Michael Northrop from Cari's Book Blog
I've already read and reviewed the ARC from NetGalley, so this one gets donated to my library!

From the Library:
Every Day, by David Levithan

Room, by Emma Donoghue

Sweet Evil, by Wendy Higgins
I've always loved this cover and been interested in reading this. When it was a bargain ebook, I grabbed it!

Pretty excited about these. It's one of those weeks when I wish I was retired, or maybe if there were more than 24 hours in a day so I could read all of these soon! How about you? What hit your shelves this week? Make sure you visit Team Tynga's Reviews to see all the blogs participating this week.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday - Hang Out With an Author

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Happy Friday once again! Thanks for visiting. If you are interested in participating, or visiting more participant blogs, check out Parajunkee and Alison!

This week's question:

Q: If you could hang out with any author (living) who would it be and what would you want to do?

I suppose it would still be Stephen King. I've always thought he is such an amazing writer. Even his children's book, The Eyes of the Dragon, is a great story. He can write history, horror, apocalyptic, dragons, and even wrote a book about writing that is awesome! I swear he could write the phone book and make it entertaining.

I think I would like to hang around his neck of the woods. Visit his house and have him show me some of the sites that inspire him. I want to sit at the desk where he writes. Think he would let me?

There are other authors that flitted through my head (Rowling, Westerfeld, Brashares, to name a few) but I still think King would be at the top of my list.

How about you? Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will visit often. Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book Review: Spirit's Chosen by Esther Friesner

Spirit's Chosen is historical adventure/fantasy at it's best. Himiko is one of the strongest and faithful heroines I've ever experienced in YA fiction.

Himiko returns to her village with her friend, Kaya, to find it decimated by an attack from a distant clan called the Ookami. The setting is ancient Japan, and each clan is ruled by a chieftain and the religious leader, the shaman. Himiko is the daughter of the chieftain of the Matsu, but her father, as well as two brothers, have been killed in the battle. Her mother is incapacitated by the loss of her family, in particular, Himiko's little brother who was captured by the Ookami. Himiko decides to find the Ookami and bring her brother back to her mother. Kaya insists on travelling with her.

Himiko is a shaman and had a special bond with the spirit world. When she and Kaya face insurmountable troubles, Himiko's strength is the only thing that will save them. Himiko will capture your heart. She faces her fears without hesitation. She is extremely loyal to her friend, her family, and eventually the love of her life. Her reliance on the spirits that speak to her is admirable.

My only complaint about Spirit's Chosen is the length and level of detail. It's about 100 pages into the book before they leave on their journey to the Ookami. I felt the build up to this journey was slow. Also, there were so many details that didn't add to the story. For example, we are told that Himiko has a crippled leg and limps. This is only mentioned about 4 times in the story, and didn't have any impact. I didn't see why it was necessary -- if it was a hardship for her, it should have had more impact on her travels. Otherwise, leave it out. At almost 500 pages, this is a long book. I think that will keep some teens away that might have really enjoyed Himiko's story, had it been a little pared down.

The ending contains tragedy, but also hopefulness and I felt satisfied. Spirit's Chosen is part of a series of books by Friesner called Princesses of Myth. Each book is about a different ancient princess, and there are several of them available.

Published by Random House, April 23, 2013
ARC obtained from Library Media Connection
475 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Book Review: Obsidian Mirror, by Catherine Fisher

Obsidian Mirror kept me interested, but at times a bit overwhelmed.

The premise of the story grabs you right away. Jake purposely gets thrown out of his fancy boarding school because he wants to go live with his "godfather," Oberon Venn. Venn was once famous, but now is a recluse at a remote estate. Jake's father was Venn's best friend and colleague. His father died, and Jake is convinced Venn killed him.

Wharton, one of Jake's teachers, will accompany him to Venn's estate. When they arrive, Venn knows nothing of Jake's coming. It turns out Venn's assistant, Piers, has been the one communicating with the school.

Additionally, another guest has arrived at the house. Sarah, a mysterious little girl, who is on the run from...well...someone. For some reason she knows a lot about the house.

Throughout the book, we are learning the origin of a mysterious black mirror that is now at the house. It somehow has the ability to take one back in time, but so far Venn has not been able to control it. Jake believes that his father really isn't dead, but is stuck somewhere in the past. Jake wants to use the mirror to go find his father. Venn wants to use Sarah for his experiments in time travel in exchange for keeping her hidden. It isn't clear what Sarah wants -- she is a mystery.

I really liked all of that part of the story. The part about the mirror, and its wild history is intriguing.  The part that mucked it up for me was the wood. You see there's a wood around the house that no one is supposed to enter. It's filled with dangerous, fantastical creatures. Once you go in, you may never come out. And of course, some of our characters go in.

Now, some of these creatures do play a role in the eventual resolution, but so much was going on at the end of the book, and things happened very fast. Although I did understand what happened, it was a lot of characters going in a lot of different directions.

So, of course there are people (or creatures) trying to get their hands on this ancient mirror. And that's the main culmination of Obsidian Mirror.

I think the target age group for this book -- 12 and up -- is perfect. I think younger teens will have a great time with this story. Fantasy lovers will have much more tolerance for that part of Obsidian Mirror than I did.

Obsidian Mirror is the first book in a series, and some urgent issues are resolved at the end of this episode, but the "big" stuff is still out there waiting for the next book. While I found some of the details a little too complex, I still very much enjoyed Obsidian Mirror and will happily recommend it to my fantasy fans.

Published by Dial, April 23, 2013
ARC obtained from Around the World ARC Tours and NetGalley
376 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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