May 28, 2012

Book Review of Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Release Date: June 26th, 2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: NetGalley, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Blurb: Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she’s never met. Lately all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone, when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in "the golden hills of the west" (California). 

Along the way she meets Jack a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company—there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there’s also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate.



Review: I had pretty much no expectations when it came to reading Dust Girl. I was just hoping it was good. It had an interesting enough summary, but to be honest, there were a lot of things I didn't care for in this book. There was enough good to warrant 3 stars, but I almost feel like I am being too generous with my rating. 


Let's talk about the good first. This was a pretty original take on the Fae and fairy mythology. The era that this book was set in was not one I have read in a lot of books. I don't know if I have ever read a book set in the Dust Bowl. If I have, it wasn't memorable. And although there were a lot of things that didn't work for me in this book, I do believe it will be memorable. It's full of classic jazz and blues, wonderful imagery, and vivid scenes that tend to stick with the reader for awhile. 


I also felt it sort of walked an edgy line between what was acceptable and not acceptable when it comes to writing about different races and minority groups. What I gathered from reading was the Seelie were white people and the  Unseelie were black people. The Unseelie are usually known as the "bad" fairies. This is kind of subjective (but still) because in my mind all fairies are mischievous troublemakers. And that kind of ended up being true in this novel too. I say "edgy line" because this is a sensitive topic and it would be fairly  easy to become offended by the content in this novel. I wasn't, but I could sort of understand why someone would be. I think the author handled it well, but why go there in the first place? Was it necessary to divide the races like that? I don't know. And that brings me to my next issue.


The protagonist was a girl of mixed descent. So maybe that is why the author divided up the fairy classes the way she did. I will say that the Seelie were portrayed as the more negative group of fairies, which was unusual, but why did the author have to make the Unseelie black in the first place? It is entirely possible that I am reading too much into this, I don't know, and I don't want to offend anyone, but I do feel it is necessary to point this out because it was something I was thinking while reading. So please forgive me if I've said anything wrong. It was entirely unintentional and I tried to research as much as I could before writing this review. Also, the cover looks kind of white-washed to me. She does not look like a girl of mixed race. Just saying.


As for the story itself, I was pretty bored actually. There were some great scenes where the action was nonstop, but overall I just feel it was a bunch of story points that didn't really lead anywhere. It's hard to explain without spoiling anything, but Callie had a quest. She was supposed to do something, something important, and it should not have taken as long as it did to resolve this plot point. But it STILL isn't resolved. It's necessary to now carry this into another book? I don't think so. This could have easily been a stand-alone and it wasn't. A good portion of the time while reading, I was thinking, get to the damn point already! Why did it take 300 pages to resolve nothing and then carry it into another book? This is a case of a book that didn't need to be turned into a series. 


And then I get to the ending. And out of nowhere, the book takes a religious turn. I mean, there was no religion mentioned ANYWHERE in this book until the very end and then I was lambasted with it. I'll say that it wasn't offensive or anything, but I just felt it was entirely unnecessary. And on top of that, it was just a sh*tty ending. Really disappointing. The issue that I was hoping would be resolved, wasn't, and now this is going to continue on into a second book. That I won't be reading, I might add. It just didn't pull me in enough to keep going and I felt the ending was just sort of poor and anticlimactic. 


The writing was solid, the characters were solid, and so was the world-building (for the most part), I just felt the story itself fell flat. I just don't know if I can recommend this one. In a lot of ways it reminds me of The Peculiars in that it sounded amazing in theory, and some things worked, but not enough to make it as fantastic as it should have been. I'm conflicted. 



To pre-order a copy of Dust Girl from Amazon.com, click here: Dust Girl: The American Fairy Trilogy Book 1




May 25, 2012

Books and My Childhood

I learned to read when I was four. Thanks to my mother, who spent hours and hours teaching me. I spent most of my childhood, sitting in my room with my golden books, Speak and Spell, and studying for spelling bees. I won almost every single one that I entered. They were always proud moments, and my mom and I worked hard so I would be successful. I still remember the year that I was eliminated because I spelled the word "course" wrong. I spelled it "coarse," which is a word, but not the spelling they were looking for. Because I did not ask them to use it in a sentence, I was eliminated. And I was angry the entire day. To be honest, I'm still kind of angry. Ha.

From a very young age, I have had a very important relationship with books. I worry about the kids growing up today. I don't think a lot of parents are as devoted to their kids learning and growing process as mine were. I take great pleasure in seeing parents raise their kids with a love of reading and respect for books.  Many of these parents are friends of mine. I love seeing pictures of their kids with books, even if I don't really like kids. Because someday they won't be kids anymore and will be running the world. And words are so important.

When I was a kid, I had my own personal library. Bookshelves full of books. Ramona and Beezus, The Baby-Sitter's Club, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, James and the Giant Peach, The Secret Garden, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Nancy Drew, etc. Boxes of books which are still stuffed in my parents' attic in Michigan.

Then when I was a teen it was R.L Stine, Richie Tankersley Cusick, Christopher Pike, Lois Lowry, Caroline B. Cooney, Judy Blume, etc. See picture below. There are many more where that came from. That's only the beginning.


I'm not sure I have a point by writing this blog post, but I guess if there was one thing I could say, it would be this: reading is important. It expands your vocabulary, makes you smarter, and I believe, an all-around better person. If you don't read with your kid or supply them with books, please start. I don't know where I would be today if it weren't for my books and my love of reading. I'd definitely be a lot emptier and a lot unhappier. I think I would have less personality, because a lot of the things I learned, I learned from books. I KNOW I would be less intelligent. Take your kid to the library. Sit down with them and read a book. The end.

What's your relationship with books? Do you have any fun bookish stories to tell? I would love to hear them. Leave me a comment if you would like to share.

Thanks, MOM and DAD.

May 23, 2012

Book Review of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: September 27th, 2011
Pages: 452 (Too Many)
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal (not really paranormal)
Source: I own a hardcover of this book (sorry I spent the $)




Blurb: Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.



Review: Ayayayayay. Where to begin? For real, I don't even know where to start with this review. I have 4 pages of notes and numerous Goodreads status updates. Okay. I didn't hate the book. But I sure didn't like it. Let me start with Mara Dyer herself as a character. There was not a THING to like about Mara Dyer. She was self-involved, whiny, and she was a slut-shamer of her fellow females. But most of all, the thing that annoyed me most about Mara Dyer was the way she swooned and lived her life for a man (boy) that was pretty much a douchenozzle. Protagonists that are completely unlikable usually turn me off a book immediately. And I saw that in Mara Dyer from practically the first page.


The club scene. Apparently when you wear revealing attire to a costume party, Mara Dyer thinks you are slut. Or a whore. Because wearing CLOTHES that you feel good in define how many men you sleep with. This is news to me, but whatever. First of all, that word should never be used, period. Just because a woman loves sex does not mean she should be labeled in a derogatory way. I was DISGUSTED. And then there was this girl that broke down and slept with a bunch of guys after Noah dumped her. And she was labeled by Mara's token gay, Jewish, black, bff forever as a slut but then when Noah did the same thing, he was portrayed as a sex machine that all the girls were chasing after. UGH. I could say more about this but I think you get the picture.


The book begins with a letter from Mara Dyer to us, the readers. And you read on and on hoping to find out who Mara Dyer is, but the book never comes back to that letter. Not once. So the book begins fantastically and hooks the reader in a great way, but never comes full circle. This was a huge letdown. This was not the only story element that made no sense. There were alligators, a court case, a murder, a kidnapping, a stereotypical black and gay bff that fell off the face of the earth, and plenty of hallucinations that just all felt really disjointed. The story elements were tied loosely together and I just didn't think it was really skilled writing. It plodded on and felt like a long hike to somewhere great, but there was no payoff once you reached your destination. There was a lot of telling, very little atmosphere and a lot of filler chapters that could have been left out. Not to mention the book was full of dialogue that was useless and never went anywhere. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer ended up being a romance novel and everything else that was great about the story was pushed to the back burner.


I need to work in a quote about Noah and I don't know where to put it, but then after I show you that quote we are going to talk about the cocky, arrogant Noah Shaw. The quote that follows is pretty much how he appears throughout the whole novel.


"So, he said, his eyes meeting mine again. "You're a smuthound with daddy issues?" The corner of his mouth turned up in a slow, condescending smile. 


I wanted to smack it off his face. "Well, you're quoting it. And incorrectly, by the way. So what does that make you?"


His half-smile morphed into a whole grin. "Oh, I'm definitely a smuthound with daddy issues."


"I guess you nailed me, then."


"Not yet."


Okay. Is this what goes for attractive these days? Do girls actually fall for this garbage? Listen, confidence is attractive. Playing hard to get can be attractive. But being an arrogant prick that thinks he can bang every girl in a three mile radius is not attractive. And it never will be. I am sick AND tired of reading about these types of male love interests. The Edward Cullen effect. There were times in this book where Noah Shaw literally made me sick to my stomach. I was thirty seconds away from upchucking in a toilet. And the way Mara fawned over him and his prickish antics made me sicker than the antics themselves did. But then again, Mara Dyer wasn't exactly a human being with a ton of integrity. The author just took the bad boy image too far. Every little thing that came out of Noah's mouth was either cocky, arrogant, or very smartassish. I know that's not a word and I don't care. It was tiring. If I was dating Noah (not a chance in HELLLLL), I would have slapped him and knocked him into rush hour traffic after five minutes. He did get a little better as the story went on but I could not get over the fact that he was douchetacular for the first 100 pages. You cannot forget that. You just can't. 


The actual plot of this book I enjoyed (sometimes), but because of the author's views on women wearing skimpy clothing (sluts and whores)and her opinion on what kind of man is sexy (and Noah Shaw ain't it), she made me lose interest and get angry. Sending the message to teenage girls that this is the type of romance that is something to aspire to is shameful. The only good thing about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was that it was compulsively readable. But I'm reading the next one. I need to know what happens, and if I hate it (probably will) at least there will be another entertaining review to come out of it.



May 22, 2012

Book Review of This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: June 19th, 2012
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Post-Apocalyptic
Source: NetGalley
FTC: As always, I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.




Blurb: It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually wantto live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?


Review: The simple way to describe This is Not a Test is to say it's a book about 6 teenagers, trapped in a school that are trying to survive amidst a zombie outbreak. But it is so much more than that. This is a book that is more about the internal conflict within the characters than the action going on around them. Not that that action doesn't play a part in the book, because it does. It just is not the focal point. And that's what really sets this story apart from others in the same genre.


I really liked This is Not a Test . I wasn't blown away like some others were, but I did enjoy it quite a bit. One issue that kept me from enjoying it as much as I could have? I didn't care for the ending. I just felt it ended too insubstantially for me. I wanted more. I'm not saying I wanted a happy ending, but I could have used some more answers. It just kind of stopped. And I hate books that just kind of stop. To me, sometimes it feels like the author doesn't know how to write a proper ending. And I know this is a total personal preference of mine, but those are the types of book endings I usually find myself getting angry over. I wasn't angry here, just more disappointed.

As for the characterizations, I thought Sloane was amazingly written. For someone I have nothing in common with, it was sure easy to relate with her and commiserate. I always felt like I could understand where Sloane was coming from, even when I really should not have been able to. She had a distinct voice that was unforgettable and it carried throughout the book and it truly made her jump right off the page. The things she felt were easy for me to feel. The other characters felt flat to me. Don't get me wrong, Sloane's situation had my emotions in knots, but I didn't care for the rest of the characters as much as I felt I could have. There were scenes where I should have been holding my breath because they were so suspenseful and I just didn't feel that much. It is very possible that because Sloane WAS so well developed, she made the other characters seem significant. Or it just could be that the depth wasn't there. I haven't fully decided yet.

The one thing that DID blow me away about This is Not a Test was the writing style. And I think this is a running thing with Courtney Summer's books. She has a distinct voice and way with words that really sets her apart from other writers. She's not a very wordy writer, so she goes for maximum impact in as few words as possible. And it really works. I really felt the hopelessness and claustrophobic tone in the book as I was reading. There were times when my heart was in my throat. And then on top of everything, you have a girl who was planning on killing herself before the zombies showed up. So throughout the book, she is basically waiting for the right time to take herself out of the world and throw herself to the zombies. She thinks there is nothing worth living for. Her life was shit before the zombie outbreak and it just went from bad to worse. This book was crazy. 

So yeah. It didn't blow me away, but it did totally work for me. I loved this book, and as a stand alone (which is rare right now), I think it will be a memorable book. The author managed to write a zombie novel that went way deeper than most do. There were some serious issues (suicide and physical abuse) that were touched on in this novel. It's definitely riveting and hard to put down. And I really cannot wait to read the author's other books.


To preorder a copy of This is Not a Test from Amazon.com, click here: This Is Not a Test.

Other Reviews:

Reading Lark 5/5 Stars



May 21, 2012

Book Review of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.




Blurb: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. 

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.


Review: Shadow and Bone was nothing like I expected it to be. And yet, at the same time, it was exactly like I expected it to be. Or at least hoped it would be. It absolutely blew me away. The creativity and originality that went into this young adult novel was just…there are no words. But I will try to express how much I loved this book the best that I can. It’s not easy. It was truly a colorful parrot in a sea of crows. 

The world-building was out-of-this-world intense. It’s very much a learn-as-you-go-along book; it takes awhile for you to learn everything, but the depths that the world-building goes to are unreachable. From the magic, to the different classes of Grisha, all the different towns, the scenery, the descriptive passages—even the clothing and food was developed to the utmost detail. But it never felt overdone. I never felt like I was reading too much description. There is a map on the author’s website if you are interested in seeing the world as she envisioned it to be. And it is spectacular. I have not read a book this special in a really long time.

I know that she drew a lot of her inspiration for this book from Russian culture. And to be honest, before I started reading, it turned me off. It’s just not a country that I was ever interested in visiting. But I made a mistake. A huge one. While I still don’t really want to visit Russia, the unique ways in which the author used the subtle nuances of the culture truly made all the difference in this book. It’s something new in young adult literature that I have not seen before. And because of that, this is a new author I am very much interested in following. I trust her imagination and where she is going with it. She’s brilliant!

As for the story, not much I can or want to say there. To me this is one of those books that needs to be experienced blindly. I don’t want to spoil anything. Just go along for the ride and enjoy it. It did start a bit slow for me, but give it a chance and don’t quit. This book was just so different. Because of the way it was written, even when there wasn’t much going on, I was never really bored. One thing I can tell you? There isn’t a cliffhanger. This is a series, so expect some hanging loose ends, but there will be no throwing the book across the room. As a temporary reprieve, I found the ending pretty satisfying. I loved the characters, I loved the story, I ADORED the world-building. This is pretty much my top read of 2012 so far. And I am not thrilled about how long I have to wait for the next one.



May 19, 2012

Stacking the Shelves #2



Stacking the Shelves is a new meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews. It goes up on Saturday and that's usually when I'll put up my post, but sometimes I might still do it on Sundays. No vlog this week because I didn't feel like filming one, but I do have 3 physical books to show you. I have a photo instead. 



For Review:

Thanks to my blogging BFF Giselle at Xpresso Reads, an ARC of Wake by Amanda Hocking.

From TLC Book Tours and Crown Publishing, a finished copy of The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. I'm participating in the blog tour for this one and I will have a copy up for giveaway (as well as my review) on June 14th.

And finally, I won a book of my choice from Heather, Angeline, and Jenn over at Accendo Press and I chose A Night to Remember by Walter Lord. It's pretty much the bible of the Titanic sinking and it's the one book every Titanic aficionado must have.

And that's it for this week. I don't know if I will participate next week as I am not expecting any books, but we'll see as the week progresses. And I leave you with the funniest video of the week. It's totally NSFW. 


Gilbert Gottfried Reads Fifty Shades of Grey

May 18, 2012

Book Review of Fated by Alyson Noel

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: May 22nd, 2012
Pages: 306
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Series: The Soul Seekers #1
Source: ARC from the publisher through LibraryThing
FTC: I'm giving my honest opinion in exchange for a free book. I can't be bought with pretty things. Well, maybe..depends what it is. ;)



Blurb: Lately strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, and glowing people appear out of nowhere. Worried that Daire is having a nervous breakdown, her mother packs her off to stay in the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico with a grandmother she’s never met.

There she crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes who she’s encountered before...but only in her dreams. And she’ll get to know her grandmother—a woman who recognizes Daire’s bizarre episodes for what they are. A call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, one who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her grandmother immediately begins teaching her to harness her powers—but it’s an art that must be mastered quickly. Because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter who’s out to steal her powers. Now Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and find out if Dace is one guy she’s meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.



Review: Full disclosure. I was worried about reading Fated. Worried because I have heard horrible, HORRIBLE, things about The Immortals series. Most of my blogger friends hate that series and with good reason. I read the first book and never did make it through the rest of the series. I rated it 3 stars, but back then I wasn't as picky as I am now, and I bet you if I reread it, I would probably hate it. What was 3 stars for me back then is lucky to get a 2 star rating from me now. So yeah. I was worried. But I always try to go into a new book with a blank mind and no prejudgements about anything that came before. And you know what? I actually liked this book quite a bit. 


It wasn't perfect. But it was enjoyable. And there was a great story. I'm a sucker for great imagery, and this book is loaded with it. Almost to the point that it becomes too much. And I know that will be the case for some readers. I can easily see this book being put down and abandoned for something with a much quicker pace. But I actually like my books this way. It allows me to really lose myself in the narrative. There is a ton of gorgeous writing and description and you can really picture the places the author is writing about. I was fairly creeped out while reading a couple of scenes. The writing is stunning. The author really knows how to weave a story. For some, the narrative will be too much. Maybe over the top. But I loved it. 


There was this one scene that absolutely blew me away. There was this scene where Daire forms a mental bond with a cockroach and is able to see what the cockroach sees and basically become the cockroach. So...sort of astral projection, but into a cockroach instead. And she controls the cockroach to use as a spying device, going into some really messed up places in this nightclub and I just loved that scene. It was written so well and it's so memorable. And I hate cockroaches, so I was creeped out while being mesmerized with all that was going on.


The story was pretty awesome too. I love the Native American mythology and the idea of the upperworld, middleworld, and lowerworld. And the portals to get into these worlds. And spirit animals. And I just really thought the book was awesome once it got going. I am really into the series, and I never thought I would come out of this book wanting to dive into the next book right away. Everything in the book was just so detailed and well written. And I can't wait to read more. 


To me, where the book had issues was the romance. It wasn't offensive, there was no instalove, etc. It actually took awhile for the the characters to get together, but even with all that, it was still soooo corny. Perhaps it was the fact that there was a good twin and an evil twin. And their names were the same with letters rearranged. Dace/Cade. One had short hair and one had long hair. One twin's eyes reflected light and the other twin's eyes absorbed light. Just toooo much. I found it really unbelievable and hard to suspend disbelief for. It felt entirely too cliche. And in a book where I really felt everything else was wonderful, there was this stupid romance. Not a love triangle, at least not yet, but it just went over the top and I found it eye rolling. Meh. And that's why I knocked off a star. Otherwise, I really and truly loved this book. SHOCKING. 


Quote I Loved:


"Wake me when we get there," I mumble, settling in as though I might sleep, when really, I'm just doing what I can to shut out the glowing ones, who are already popping up along the side of the road. Their piercing eyes following--watching--wanting me to know that, like it or not, they're not going away until I do what they ask.


Also, this book gets extra awesome points for having a great BFF sidekick that I absolutely adored.

May 17, 2012

Book Review of Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: June 12th, 2012
Pages: 303
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb: Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

Review: Lies Beneath opens with this sentence. "I hadn't killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that." I loved that opener. Based on that sentence alone, I would have thought I would be in for a wild ride with this book. But alas, it was not meant to be. Before I get started on this review, I just want to say that a lot of people loved this book. I totally respect their opinions. Some of them are reviewers I respect very much. But for some reason, this book just fell monumentally flat for me. And that was disappointing because I had been looking forward to this book for some time. But I have been batting a big fat zero with mermaid books, and I am almost ready to throw in the towel. But before I talk about what I disliked, I want to mention what I did like. 


Lily. I loved Lily. And she's probably the only reason this book got a 2 star rating from me instead of a 1. She made this book readable. Lily is what made me push on, even when I wanted to put this one down and read something else. This book was so close to being a DNF. But because I had DNFed another book recently, I kept going. Partly out of guilt, partly because of Lily. She was a bad ass. When other YA heroines are reveling in the fact they are being stalked by a paranormal creature, Lily is throwing her hands up and saying, "You are f*cking creepy, dude." Thank god for that. Calder was a creepy, stalker-mermaid and Lily wasn't having it. She did not think it was sexy how obsessed he was with her. Which I loved. I also loved how devoted she was to her family. There are things I wish I could talk about but because of spoilers I cannot. Just know that Lily was an extremely brave protagonist and easy to root for. She is the reason this book kept moving for me.


One of the main problems I had with Lies Beneath was its setting. It's Lake Superior. It's cold, it's creepy, it's mysterious (with all the shipwrecks) and it should have been mesmerizing. But I felt like the author did not use the setting to her advantage at all. This was a case of me feeling like there were not ENOUGH descriptive passages. And the few that were there were inaccurate. There was WAY too much swimming going on in Lake Superior in the spring. I don't know if the author checked a temperature chart or did any research, but it is impossible to swim in Lake Superior during that time of year. Unless you are insane and have a death wish. In a normal year, swimming doesn't start in Lake Superior until July, sometimes as late as August. It's just too cold. And April is also too cold to be wandering around town in a bikini top. Which a random girl did. Then Calder was caught swimming in the lake on several occasions by Lily. He's a mermaid, but Lily didn't know that. And she never even questioned his insane behavior. Not once. HELLO, PLOT HOLE, IT'S NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN!


But really, with all that out of the way, it just comes down to the fact that I found this book boring. Snoozeworthy. It was hard to go back to once I put it down. I FORCED myself to finish it because it was a review book. I know that I might be alone in disliking this one, and I am perfectly fine with that. I felt the characters were flat (except Lily), and the story itself was not original and kind of mediocre, to be honest. The writing itself was technically sound, but it still did NOTHING for me. It may be because this was a mermaid book, and I have bad luck with those, clearly. All I know was I didn't really like it. I wish Lily had been a character in a different book. This is one series I will not be continuing.


Oh, and the romance didn't really work all that well either. At least there was no love triangle. There was that.



Other Reviews:

Joyous Reads 3/5 Stars








May 15, 2012

Giveaway of Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott!

I wanted to do a fun thing this year with giveaways. I can't afford to give a lot of books away. You won't see box of books giveaways on this site either because I hate going to the post office. But...for every book I award a 5 star rating to (I don't give this out easily), I'm going to do a giveaway for my readers!! I have already given away two 5 star books this year so far. They were Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. The next 5 Star book I am giving away is Shadows of the Moon by Zoe Marriot.  


Blurb: A powerful tale of magic, love, and revenge set in fairy-tale Japan.

Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to re-create herself in any form - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama? Or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens? Or is she Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to use her skills to steal the heart of a prince in a revenge plot to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even the one true aspect of her life- her love for a fellow shadow-weaver.






I'm going to be honest. I don't love the cover on the US version. I love the UK cover much more. But this is what we are stuck with, and I can promise you that the contents of this book are wonderful. It's an epic tale of bravery, love, and magic. You can see my review of Shadows on the Moon here.

This giveaway is International. If you are in the US or Canada, I will be shipping from Amazon. If you are international, I will be shipping from The Book Depository. This giveaway is for a hardback copy of Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott. You can read the synopsis and other reviews on Goodreads here. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Contest will end on 5/22/12.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

May 14, 2012

Review of Wrecked by Anna Davies

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: May 1st, 2012
Pages: 321
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: I received and ARC from the
publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb: 
Secrets of the sea have never been sexier than this. Ever since the death of her parents, Miranda has lived on Whym Island, taking comfort in the local folklore, which claims a mysterious sea witch controls the fate of all on the island and in its surrounding waters. Sometimes it’s just easier to believe things are out of your control.     But then a terrible boating accident takes the lives of several of her friends, and Miranda is rescued by a mysterious boy who haunts her dreams. Consumed by guilt from the accident, she finds refuge in late-night swims—and meets Christian, a boy who seems eerily familiar, but who is full of mystery: He won’t tell her where he is from, or why they can only meet at the beach. But Miranda falls for him anyway…and discovers that Christian’s secrets, though meant to protect her, may bring her nothing but harm.     Seductive and compelling, Wrecked brings a contemporary, paranormal twist to a classic enchanting tale.

Review: 

So, this book and I are not friends. I'm going to try and be as tactful as possible here, but it's hard. I pretty much hated this book with every bone in my body. There were many, many technical issues, but aside from that, I also hated the characters and the story. It's hard to write a review when you have no kind words for the book at all. But I will do the best that I can. 

Let's start with the writing. It was all telling. Well, mostly. It felt like a summary of events rather than a story. Not only was the writing really amateurish, but there were consistency issues. And they were really bad ones. And I hope to god they are fixed before this book goes to print. Christian saw Coral's yacht twice. For the first time. I won't quote it because it's an arc and can still be fixed, but you cannot see the same boat for the first time, twice. Christian also showed his brother the same book of matches for the first time, twice. The first time Valentine shrinks back, afraid of the fire. The second time Christian whips them out and tries to explain what he is going to do. It's just lazy writing. And bad editing. I haven't seen plot holes that large in ages.

The characters and character motivations were just ridiculous and made no sense. First of all, Miranda. Grow a backbone and stand up for yourself, girl. Every other character except Christian was out-of-control mean to her. And I get why they are upset. She was driving in a boat accident that killed four people. But the key word here is 'accident'. She didn't mean it and yet these people are blaming her and bullying her for something she had no control over. And some of the things they say and do to her get pretty revolting. No one seems to remember she lost 4 friends and her boyfriend is in a coma, dying. She also got injured. But they hate on her and ostracize her and her grandmother continues to put her through it by forcing her to go to school and visit Fletch in the hospital. Fletch's parents are horrible individuals. I know your son is in a coma, but you don't treat people this way. What is wrong with you? And I guess that's my point. The characters' actions are completely unrealistic. Real people with beating hearts would not act this way. 

And then there was the love story. Or rather, the puke story. Seriously. Call me mean if you want, but these two were nauseating. This time I will quote. Because some of this dialogue is utterly ridiculous. And I know it's not coming out before editing. 

Miranda: "You could have left. If I was swimming, and I saw a boat on fire, I don't think I'd save anyone," Miranda admitted. Wait. What? She'd leave people dying on a fiery boat and swim away? WTF is this?

And then there is this scene. It's so corny. I mean...REALLY corny. 

"Happy birthday," Miranda said. It was so weird, the way their conversations constantly jumped all over the map. It was like then the radio played on the boat. Sometimes, there's be crystal clear reception, only to be interrupted by static. Then, seconds later, clear reception again.

"Thanks," Christian smiled. 

"Did you get everything you wanted?" Miranda leaned in toward him, aware that she was acting supremely out of character. But that was okay. She didn't want to act like herself anymore. "Or did you want this?" she asked, heart pounding against her chest as she kissed him. First of all, the writing is terrible. Second of all, GROSS. That is nauseating. For real.

Deep thoughts with Miranda: He's just a friend. It's not a big deal, she reminded herself. She glanced over. Christian's jaw was set, and he was staring straight ahead, as if he were frightened. Who was she kidding? Of course he wasn't just a friend. They'd kissed. Her heart sped up whenever she saw him. She knew his collar bones sloped slightly before ending in his surprisingly sharp shoulder blades, concealed under just the right layer of muscle. And yet... Hold the phone. You know how his collar bone slopes? And that his shoulder blades are sharp? Listen. I've been with Dan for 7 years and I don't even pay attention to his shoulder blades and collar bones. Ridiculous. And the writing? Kill me now. 

At one point I laughed out loud because Miranda ordered a medium pizza in a bar and didn't tell the waitress what toppings she wanted on it. That might be some vital information that was missing there. She could bring you a medium pizza with anchovies, after all. 

I've got one more for you. This is some brilliant description. *Hint: sarcasm*

Coral led Miranda to the living quarters of the ship. In contrast to the deck, which had seemed so expansive, the actual living quarters were cozy. The furniture was heavy, dark wood and blue velvet coverings, and Miranda felt like she'd taken a step back in time. None of the surroundings matched Coral's whimsical, bohemian personality. The room felt stuffy, and Miranda found herself having a difficult time catching her breath. Did you notice it? Answer this question. How can a room be cozy AND stuffy at the same time? Hint: it can't. 

Truthfully, that's only the beginning. But why even bother? You can clearly see all that is wrong by reading those quotes. And I'm not even going to bother to remark on the creepy instalove. Or the slut-shaming that happened in the opening pages. Just...make up your own mind. But I wouldn't recommend reading this one to my worst enemy. Lazy writing gets an automatic one star from me. Sorry. This book was terrible.


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May 13, 2012

Book Review of Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Pages: 294
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic
Source: NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you hurdle down the stairs and make a run for the corner.
Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.


Review: It's been a few days since I finished Monument 14 and yet I still think about it from time to time. It's not a perfect book. To be honest, it's not even close to perfect. I could even say I barely liked it. But the truth is, I really loved the setting. And because of that I cannot stop thinking about it. When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was Richard Peck's Secrets of the Shopping Mall. I doubt if I read the same book today that it would have the same impact it did on me as a kid, but ever since then I have always wanted to read books with a 'store setting'. If it's written in a mall, a grocery store, or a museum, I have to read it. So obviously even though I had issues with this book, the setting still blew me away. And that's also kind of where I was disappointed too. I didn't feel the author utilized the setting to her full advantage. The characters were trapped in a Greenway Superstore (think Wal-Mart) and could not go outside because of what was going on in the world. The author could have totally wrote it from a more claustrophobic angle. But she didn't. And because of that I don't think it had quite the effect on the reader she was looking for. 

One of the things that really annoys me as a reader is being constantly treated like a child, or treated like I cannot retain any of the information I read. I found that in a couple of places in Monument 14 the author repeated information that I really felt was unnecessary to keep repeating. Just because it is a YA book doesn't mean teens aren't intelligent. If there is one tip I can give to a new author, it is to assume your reader is smart and knows how to use their brain. Even if they don't. Do not act like as the author you know more than your reader. YOU. DO. NOT. And it pisses me off to NO END when authors are condescending towards their readers. Here's an example of what I am talking about. 

Niko half dragged me through the hail, down the "aisle" that was not an aisle but was actually the space above the seats (because, remember, the bus was on its side). What the hell is that? Everyone in America knows the bus tipped over and they had to use the side of the bus as the aisle way. It was enough to know the bus tipped over. But then even before this quote you mentioned it a few times. Then you had to repeat it again here. And that whole "because remember" has me really wanting to punch someone's lights out. That is so friggin condescending. For serious.

The plot? True. What would a book be without some sense of plot? You'll have to look fairly hard for the plot in this book though. Until the last 50 or so pages, there really wasn't much of one at all. And that's kind of a problem. You'll read about the characters sleeping, eating, cooking, and even pooping, but if you are looking for excitement, you might want to skip ahead to page 235ish. Unless you are interested in the process of shampooing lice out of hair. Or how to knock the wall out of a dressing room. By the way, I hope that wasn't a stud wall they knocked down or they are in for some trouble. 

One of the issues I had were the fact there were too many characters. Some of them I liked, but for the most part, they all talked the same, all acted the same (especially the little kids) and I had a hard time telling them apart. I think there were like 10 characters. And they were all present from scene to scene and talking. So if you weren't paying close attention, it could get confusing. It wouldn't have been so much of an issue if you could tell them apart through character development, but I really wasn't able to, so something was obviously missing.

Monument 14 did get better towards the end. Once the two adults came into the picture and a plan was made to leave the store, and the mundane every day tasks came to an end, then I started enjoying the book more. The plot picked up and I was finally interested. I still had issues with the flat characterizations, but the story got going, and that was enough for me to bump my rating up from a 2 star to a 3. The last 50 pages really made a difference and now I am wanting to read the next book in the hopes that the story continues to develop in an exciting way. 

Before I go, I saw another review that I had to comment on. I rarely ever do this. I don't think I ever have. But because the review (I felt) was so misleading and could put someone off from reading this book that might enjoy it, I have to. You can go ahead and skip this part if you disagree with what I am doing. Another reviewer claimed there was a rape in this book. For the record, there is no rape in this book. There is a situation that almost ends in rape, but it is stopped before it gets that far. I'm not sure if this book was re-edited and a new version was released or something, but somehow this reviewer saw something that I did not see. It was also mentioned that the character Sahalia (who almost got raped) was supposedly portrayed as a slut. I'm going to have to say I don't agree with that statement either. Not one of the characters blamed her skimpy clothing or her attention seeking behavior as the reason she was almost raped. Or turned the perpetrator into the victim. None of that happened. The characters helped her, defended her, and took care of her until she was well enough to function on her own. Maybe it was changed in a re-edit, I don't know, but I can only review what I read. And I happened to read that review before I read the scene(s) in question, and so I was waiting for it to happen. And it never did. That's it. 

I don't know if I can recommend this book or not. Based on the last 50 pages, I would say definitely, but I found a good portion of this book pretty boring. I guess it's your call to make. I will be reading the next one though. I kind of have to know where the story goes at this point.


May 11, 2012

Stacking the Shelves #1


Stacking the Shelves is a new meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga's Reviews. This blog is no longer participating in IMM, and I'm sure everyone can figure out why. I thought I would do a vlog this week because I have sooo many books to show, so I apologize in advance for the scariness of my face. And I am so not fishing for compliments here. HA. Almost all of these books are purchases (don't tell my husband), but I will specify when they aren't. Actually, I just checked and there are more books for review than I thought there were. Turns out I haven't done a haul video since the end of March. Links to every book in the video are down underneath the video. 


For Review: 

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (currently reading)
The Loners (Quarantine #1) by Lex Thomas (NetGalley)
Ashen Winter (Ashfall #2) by Mike Mullin (NetGalley)
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (NetGalley)
Dark Companion by Marta Acosta (NetGalley)
Silver by Talia Vance (NetGalley)
Glitch (Glitch #1) by Heather Anastasiu (NetGalley)
Beyond: A Ghost Story by Graham McNamee (NetGalley)
Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan (NetGalley)

Bought:

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
Earthseed (Seed #1) by Pamela Sargent
Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins
Belles (Belles #1) by Jen Calonita
The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze
Trafficked by Kim Purcell
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris
Carpathia by Matt Forbeck
Storm (Elementals #1) by Brigid Kemmerer
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Storybound by Marissa Burt
The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond
Silence (The Queen of the Dead #1) by Michelle Sagara West
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth
In Honor by Jessi Kirby
What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen
Hemlock (Hemlock #1) by Kathleen Peacock

WOW. I know that is a lot of books. It's a month's worth of books, but even so, that's still a lot. But I promised myself that I would reduce the amount of review books I took on. I'm tired of the stress, pressure, and yet I am still constantly hearing that bloggers don't sell books. And this is frustrating to me. So if that's how publishers and authors feel, I've just decided for the most part, from here on out, to read what I want. That way I don't owe anyone any marketing or book sales. I don't think they realize how much we spend on books a month. Look above for a CLUE. Also, I pay for out-of-pocket giveaways almost every month on this blog. I have one running right now. So please. SHOW BLOGGERS SOME FREAKING RESPECT. There are bad apples in every bunch, just like there are shitty authors and shitty publishers. Don't paint us all with the same brush. If I seem a little angry, it's because I hear it constantly from different sources. And I am so utterly tired of hearing this bullsh*t. I'm tired of being underappreciated for the work I do. My solution is to read my own books. No mess, no stress.

Book Review of Shade by Jeri-Smith Ready

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 4th, 2010
Pages: 309
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: I own a copy of this book.


Blurb: Love ties them together. Death can't tear them apart.

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. "Almost."

It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding--and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.


Review: "I read a book with a love triangle and I liked it." Sang to the tune of Katy Perry's I Kissed a Girl.


I'd been wanting to read Shade for a very long time. I'm glad I was finally able to get around to it, because this book was awesome and a ton of fun. It was totally not what I expected though. It was much darker and more depressing than I thought it was going to be. I knew the plot revolved around death and ghosts, but YA paranormals don't usually have such a heavy tone to them. In some ways, I liked the book for this. It just caught me by surprise, and I thought the book would be more humorous. 


The other thing is this. When reading a YA paranormal, do you ever feel like  you are reading a recycled plotline? I know I do all the time. And I noticed RIGHT AWAY that I wasn't going to feel that way with Shade. It felt truly original, and I thought the world-building was really unique. Yes, there was that little business with the love triangle, but aside from that small defect, everything else felt really fresh and new. The details were outstanding. The way you can keep ghosts away with black-boxing and obsidian. How a ghost can go shade. The mystery surrounding why the shift happened and what it means since Aura was the first one born post-shift. 


I'm still wondering how the megaliths, standing stones, and star mapping are going to work into the story line, but I am extremely excited to find out. I didn't know a whole lot about these subjects, so I enjoyed learning new things. I always love learning from the books I am reading. I'm going to be honest and say that a lot of the details in this book have escaped me already and I just finished reading it a few days ago. My brain dumped a lot of the information on its own. And that's not usually a good thing. I still liked the book a lot though. I just didn't find it as memorable as I wanted it to be. 


The characters were interesting. In good ways and bad ways. I absolutely adored Zach. I thought he was a fantastic love interest. Scottish, caring, flirty, intelligent. He was pretty much the perfect man. Logan, on the other hand, I did not understand at all. I can honestly say I thought he was a selfish prick. Even in death, he was still a douchebag. Just because someone is a good-looking musician, that does not make them a great love interest. I know it's hard to let go of your family and your girlfriend, but making her stay committed to you in death is a pretty sick and selfish thing to do. I hear that he redeems himself in later books, but I don't know if I can grow to like him. It may already be too late. I was on the fence about Aura. There were times I liked her, and times I thought she was kind of bratty. She was rude to a lot of the ghosts, and seeing them must get annoying, but some of the things she said made me really disgusted. She was hard to like at times. I still want her to find happiness, but she's a little hard to root for since she is so immature.


Other things I should note:


There was a lot of sex talk in this book. Like, A LOT. I read a lot of YA, and in some ways I am still learning about how the genre works. There was also a masturbation scene and I just don't feel right not noting it. Sexual situations don't bother me, but it might bother some. And I just want to point that out. Also some drug usage. 


The ending was CRAZY! It was sort of cliffhanger and sort of not. All I know is that is has me wanting to read the next book pretty soon. I've heard the next book let down a lot of people though, so I am concerned about that. Some of these reviewers are readers I trust completely. 



To buy Shift from Amazon.com, click here: Shade. Paperbacks are only 9.99 at the time of this review. 

Other Reviews:

The Bookish Babe 5/5 Stars

I'm a Book Shark 4/5 Stars

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