Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book Review: Imaginable, by J. Meyers @jmeyersbooks

Imaginable is as compelling and exciting as the first book in the series, Intangible. I really like the characters and the magical world that Meyers has created.

Sera is constantly being hounded by vampires to change them back into humans. Her twin, Luke isn't having any visions, and he's trying to figure out how to make the visions come in time so that he can change the future, with limited success. Fey is still trying to protect these two, and so is Jonas.

But of course, they won't stay safe. The dark powers of the Realm are after Sera. They all want to benefit from her healing gift. So Luke wants to rescue Sera, because no one cares about him, right? It's Sera they want. Of course Fey and Jonas want Luke to stay put, and Fey even sends another elf to watch Luke while she goes to try to save Sera. But they all end up in the thick of it, even an unlikely participant from the first book, as well as their gifted friends Brandan, Quinn, and Raquel.

The world is very interesting. There are vampires, elves (dark and light), shadows, trolls, and of course humans with unique paranormal gifts. It all plays out well and makes these stories sing.

I still got a bit frustrated by bad decisions, especially by Luke, who refuses to do what he's told. He's a bit whiny and I'm tired of it. I have a feeling Luke's powers are a LOT more than he realizes -- well, he does begin to realize at the end of the book -- and I'm thinking this is going to be very important in the next book.

I also think that sometimes it's too easy for these characters. Or, that there needs to be more descriptions of the battles they fight. For example, when they are in a house, we are with Jonas and he kills a bunch of bad things. Then Fey, who was in another part of the house, arrives and says that it's all OK. She got rid of all of them. I think it would have added to the story to get a blow-by-blow account of these fights. I think Fey should have to struggle some more, and be a bit more challenged.

Meyers writes very simply. There isn't a lot of colorful, descriptive language. And I don't mean that as a bad thing. Imaginable develops very quickly and is very easy to follow because of this language.

I loved the "hint" of romance for both of our main characters, and look forward to seeing what happens next.

Published by CreateSpace, April 16, 2013
eARC obtained from the author
276 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Audio Book Review: The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater

The audio version is my second attempt to read The Raven Boys. You can read about my attempt at the print version here. While I did manage to finish the book in its audio form, I still didn't connect with this story.

I'm much more patient with audio books. They can meander and go into vivid details of scenes and settings, and I enjoy that. Stiefvater's beautiful language helped me suffer through the total lack of movement in the plot of The Raven Boys.

I loved the Wolves of Mercy Falls series -- and so I expected The Raven Boys to be beautifully written, with lots of lovely adjectives and interesting metaphors -- and it was. But I swear, until the last third of the book NOTHING happens.

We are introduced to the characters, the story is set up, and then the plot just wallows for pages and pages (or disks and disks). You can read a good summary of the plot here, so I won't go into detail. I had read about a big plot twist, so I was looking forward to getting to that point. It didn't happen until the seventh disk (of 10) and by then I just really didn't care. There was tension and excitement at the end, and although a bit confusing, that was my favorite part.

Will Patton does a great job with the narration. He gives each of the four boys distinct voices and characterizations to make it easy to tell them apart. The boys haven't finished their quest, so there is more to this series, but I fail to feel any curiosity or emotional attachment to the characters or story, so I'll not be continuing.

Published by Scholastic Press, 2012 (Scholastic Audio Books)
Copy obtained free from Sync YA Literature!
416 pages

Rating: 2/5

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: Never Fall Down, by Patricia McCormick

Never Fall Down is a gripping tale of the killing fields in Cambodia, told from the perspective of a man who suffered through this time when he was a child. Never Fall Down is fiction, because McCormick had to add some details and fill in some blanks, but it is based on a true story.

One day when Arn was about 11 years old, the army, called the Khmer Rouge, made everyone leave their houses and march to "safety" because they were going to be attacked. They assured the people that they would return to their homes in three days. Thus began years of an internal genocide that killed nearly two million people -- 1/3 of the population of Cambodia.

The Khmer Rouge killed on a whim. They put everyone in camps.They killed any professionals (only farmers were worth anything.) They separated men from women and adults from children. They worked everyone in the rice fields until they literally dropped. Arn is a true survivor. He became somewhat favored because he was chosen to play music. Any extra food he received (which still wasn't much) was shared with the kids in his camp. Eventually, when the Vietnamese invaded, everyone was forced to leave the camps and Arn was forced to become a soldier.

Never Fall Down doesn't explain much about the politics of what was going on. I really don't understand why this happened. It seems like genocide is often based on religion, but that didn't seem to be the case in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge was Communist, but not all Communist takeovers were like this.

Fortunately, Never Fall Down is a very short book. Because even at its short length, I was really done reading about all the senseless brutality, starvation, and killing by the time I got finished. I think the book might be difficult for some teen readers because it is written as Arn would speak -- in broken English. For example, "You not allowed to go around by yourself at night." Verbs are left out; plurals are not used. It makes for authenticity, but I'm not sure I can recommend this to struggling or reluctant readers.

Never Fall Down is an important book that would be of interest to anyone wanting to know more about what the Cambodians experienced during this time. It's not an easy read, but I would still recommend it because of its authentic content.

Published by Balzer + Bray 2012
Copy obtained from the library
216 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 3.5/5

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stacking the Shelves -- I Have a SERIOUS EBook Problem

I've done it again. I've signed up for WAY too many ebooks for review, but seriously, is this not one of the BEST years for new YA books????

For Review:
Witchstruck, by Victoria Lamb, from NetGalley

Don't Look Now, by Michelle Gagnon, from Edelweiss
Just reviewed Don't Turn Around and was so excited to get this one!

The Meme Plague, by Angie Smibert, from the publicist and NetGalley

All Our Yesterdays, by Cristin Terrill, from NetGalley

Never Fade, by Alexandra Bracken, from NetGalley
Also just reviewed The Darkest Minds and can't wait to read this one!

From the Library:

Changeling, by Philippa Gregory

Never Fall Down, by Patricia McCormick
I've already finished this one and will post a review on Monday.

Do you see what I mean? How can you say no to any of these books. And, now I'll go look at all your STS posts, and I'll go find a bunch more! It never ends....but I'm not complaining! Thanks for visiting. I hope you get a chance to visit our hosts, Team Tynga's Reviews, and thank them and visit a bunch of participating blogs. Have a great week!

Back to Annette's Book Spot Homepage Copyright © 2013 Annette's Book Spot. All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 26, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday: Used Books

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

Hey There! Welcome to Annette's Book Spot, and Happy Friday! Today Parajunkee & Alison's question is:

What do you do with your books after you are done reading them? 

Well, I'm fortunate because I work in a library. I really don't keep very many books, because I'm not much of a re-reader. And, if I do want to re-read something, I can just get it from the library! So, I donate most of my books to my library after I've read them. If they are ARCs, I really can't do that. So, I put those in a stack behind my desk with a sign that says to ask me. I let students take these, and they don't have to bring them back. I just ask them to pass them around to their friends if they want to. Most of them bring them back, though. I eventually just throw these ARCs away (or use them for "bookish" crafts) since I'm not allowed to donate them to a book sale.
I had quite a few more, but at the end of the year, a couple of my avid readers took a bunch of them for the summer!

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a great weekend, and enjoy your summer! Come back soon...

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review: Don't Turn Around, by Michelle Gagnon

Don't Turn Around is non-stop excitement. At times, some of the plotting was a bit convenient, but this didn't stop me from frantically turning pages to see what would happen next.

Noa wakes up on a cold metal table with tubes in her arms. She manages to overcome her captors and escapes -- to realize she's in the middle of a warehouse district.

Peter is a hacker. His parents are rarely home and they have provided him with a nice car, a private school, and a computer. He's snooping in his father's desk and finds a mysterious folder. When he begins to search on the computer for the company listed in the folder, he finds a mystery. Before he can figure anything out, his house is broken into by black-clad men, who threaten him and tell him to tell his father they were there.

Noa is a foster child and has been living on her own and off the grid for a while. So she's pretty well-prepared to survive and hide from the men who are obviously determined to find her.

The coincidental part of the plot is that Peter runs a web site/organization that consists of vigilante hackers -- those who punish  people who are cyber bullies, or commit other cyber crimes. Noa is a member of this organization and one with a good reputation. So when Peter needs help researching this mysterious company, he calls on Noa, and she, of course, finds out that this company has files with her name on them.

Once you get past that astounding coincidence, it's a wild ride. These two encounter one dangerous situation after another, and they are piecing together an unbelievable scenario involving human teens as test subjects for medical experiments.

There are other interesting characters that make a contribution to the story, but Noa and Peter are the stars, and of course they eventually end up physically together in their quest to ferret out and conquer the bad guys. Noa has a savior (another very helpful coincidence) and I suspect he will play a bigger part in the second book. Because....

They aren't finished yet, at the end of Don't Turn Around. But they are at least in a temporarily safe place. The ending sets up the sequel, Don't Look Now perfectly. It will be released in August, and I can't wait to see what is in store for these characters.

Give Don't Turn Around to your reluctant readers and other teens who like a lot of action and suspense. This one won't disappoint.

Published by HarperCollins, 2012
Copy obtained from the library
320 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Book Review: Boundless, by Cynthia Hand

Boundless is everything I could have asked for in a conclusion to the Unearthly Trilogy. There is tension and danger, with an appropriate mix of romance and friendship.

I know the big issue is "Tucker or Christian." But for me, either one of them is fine. I like the way it all played out. Clara learns more about herself and her powers. We find out more about Christian's family. All the major players appear -- even Clara's mom. I predicted that Jeffrey would cause trouble in the third book -- and I was correct.

Clara is very brave and determined, and I like that. But Christian steps up and supports her, which I liked too. I enjoyed the change of scenery -- most of the book takes place in California instead of Jackson Hole.

I guess I really don't have too much to say about the plot. It's more of the same -- good vs. evil. The Black Wings causing all kinds of trouble. But that's not a bad thing. I certainly think anyone who has started the series should definitely finish it. The world, the characters, and the plot are all strong. Overall, a great book and an end to a great series.

This one will fly off my shelves for sure. I will see that it does.

Published by HarperTeen, January 22, 2013
Copy obtained from the library
448 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Review: My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick @HuntleyFitz

My Life Next Door had me chuckling aloud on page 4. Any book that can do that earns high marks from me.

Sam watches her next door neighbors from her roof. He mom has no clue -- she wants Sam to have NOTHING to do with those people. Imagine having SEVEN children. Their yard is a mess, and the mom breast feeds the baby in public.

Sam's mom on the other hand, is obsessed with neatness. Both her yard and house are immaculate. She is constantly remodeling and improving her house, and the neighbors are just bring down the property values!

Jace, one of the boys from next door, ends up climbing on the roof and confronting Sam, and thus begins one of the sweetest romances I've read in a long time. All secret from Sam's mom, of course. But Sam's mom is busy with her own new romance with her campaign manager, Clay. Sam's mom is running for senator. Sam isn't at all sure of Clay's motives, but her mom is so busy and she's gone so much, that Sam is able to keep her relationship with Jace a secret.

ALL of the characters in My Life Next Door are priceless. I love Jace's entire family. All of the kids have distinct personalities, and they are extremely entertaining. I even like Sam's mother. She's always been a good mother -- just seems like she's getting a bit off track lately, and her feelings about Jace's family just add drama to the story. Additional tension is added by Sam's best friend and her brother. This is an interesting side story that just adds to Sam's problems.

As I said, I melted a few times during the romantic scenes between Jace and Sam. Very well done without overtaking the entire plot.

The only thing I didn't care for was the eventual situation that caused the drama and the break up. I knew that everything wasn't going to be smooth until the end of the book. I just wish something else had torn Jace and Sam apart. I just thought it was a bit much. But, in NO WAY does it taint my feelings about My Life Next Door as far as a teen contemporary goes.

I'll be anxious to recommend My Life Next Door to my teen girls when school starts. It's a great story that isn't just a romance, but a story about friendship and family. Actually, I have already recommended it, even without reading it. I'm glad I can safely say My Life Next Door was a good call!

Published by Dial, 2012
Copy obtained from the Library
394 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Review: The Darkest Minds, by Alexandra Bracken @alexbracken

While I didn't find The Darkest Minds to be anything especially unique, I still thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience. I've been wanting to read this book since it came out, but it was always checked out of my library -- I had to wait until it came back for the summer. That's got to say something good about The Darkest Minds!

At the beginning, a huge number of adolescents are dying from a virus. Then, it turns out, those that didn't die are gifted with special powers. These powers are seen as a danger to the adults, so the government incarcerates all of the kids in camps. Of course the government tells the public they are "curing" the kids, but since our story is told from the perspective of Ruby, who is in one of these camps, we know the truth.

There are actually different levels of powers, designated by colors. Depending on what "color" you are, you may be killed, or you may be allowed to basically be a slave in the camp. So you can probably guess, Ruby escapes from the camp with the help of some adults who claim to be fighting for the rights of the kids. But are they? Ruby meets up with some other kids and the adventure begins.

While on the run, she discovers that the government is corrupt and society is barely functioning. The economy has crumbled and the president is basically a dictator.

This story does follow a scenario that we've seen before. Kids against the government. But, I enjoyed the tension as well as the romance, and never lost interest in the plot. The characters are ones that I would like to visit again, and I care about the outcome.

I especially enjoyed the constant dilemma of what do we define as "free." Even when the kids get to what they think is a "safe" place, with all the comforts they've missed -- they discover it might not be what they thought. Deception is everywhere....decisions are difficult.

The Darkest Minds is one to give to your dystopian fans for sure. The Hunger Games, Divergent, Maze Runner -- fans of these books will not want to miss The Darkest Minds. The second book in the series, Never Fade, will be released in October, so you want to be sure you read The Darkest Minds ASAP!

Published by Hyperion, 2012
Copy obtained from the library
488 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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