12.20.2012

Shatter Me

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Pub: 2011; Harper
Pages: 338
Genre: Young Adult, Series, Dysfic

Did anyone else immediately think X-Men when reading the summary of this one?  If she touches you, you die!!  Enter Rogue.  Only not really...because at least Rogue found others like her and poor Juliette got sent away to a prison.   Isolation even.  For a seriously LONG time.

Aaaand then enters a kid from her old 'hood.  His butt gets thrown into the solitary cell, making it not so solitary.  Adam doesn't seem to recognize her and she goes through all of the emotions like: can I trust him or not?  AND he's so dreamy AND I don't want him to know I'm a monster because my touch will kill him.

But there's a bigger master plan going on.  The Reestablishment - crazy government in this dystop- decides that maaaybe they shouldn't have locked up Juliette and instead use her as a masterful weapon against the good guys.

There's a struggle.  And another hottie that enters the front.  Although, I don't know  if we can really call him a hottie when he is actually suppose to be evil.

Bottom line though?  The book was a quick read, but fairly forgettable.  I'm not quite sure why I had it stashed away on the shelves.  Especially because the cover isn't all that impressive either.

Of course this is going to be a trilogy (series?)  Who knows if I'll read the next one.  I suppose if it pops up on my shelves unexpectedly also, I might.

12.19.2012

Matched

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Narrator: Kate Simses
Pub: 2010; Dutton Juvenile
Pages: 369
Audio Length: 9 hours 54 minutes
Genre: Audio, Young Adult, Dysfic

I absolutely dug this book and I was excruciatingly weary of listening to it because EVERYONE had strong opinions about it.

Also, it surprised me.  After reading the brief back paged summary I assumed the book would wholly be about a community that matches up individuals for families and it would take more of a romance road, disputing compatibility and identifying what love might be. 

But that was just a superficial front.  There's so much more in this community.  The members are matched for EVERYTHING: partners, lifestyles, locations, jobs.  And that's if you're lucky enough to be a member of society.  You could be misfortune enough to live in society but be outcasted.  Those individuals lose the right to even partner up.  And they get the worst jobs ever.

Cassia is a member of society.  Her parents love her and she has a wonderful best friend, Xander.  Things only become more perfect when Xander is chosen as her mate.  Everything that Cassia could have ever wanted is coming true. 

But then, the next day when she puts in the memory thingamajig that tells her all about Xander another boy's face shows up - Ky.  That can't be right and The Society quickly tries to correct its mistake. 

Too late though.  Out of curiosity, Cassia begins to form a friendship with Ky that quickly turns to love.  The novelty of it opens doors to questions about The Society that she wasn't expecting.  Plus, her love for Xander hasn't changed either. 

Matched might seem like another YA trilogy with a love triangle but it is so much more than that.  It's definitely a wonderful introduction into the dysfic genre.  It's action packed but not unavailable. 

I also thought that the reasons why the Society was created made sense.  For example, there are 100 songs and 100 books and 100 pieces of art - much like how we create the 1001 books you must read before you die, the Society eliminated the excess because it was just TOO MUCH.  How easy is that to understand?  The question begins with, would you give up some freedoms to have a quieted mind.

As for the audio portion - REALLY FANTASTIC.  Immediately upon finishing this one, I downloaded the next in the series.

12.14.2012

Long Lankin

Title: Long Lankin
Author: Lindsey Barraclough
Pub: 2011; Bodley Head
Pages: 448
Genre: Mystery, Paranormal, Ghost Story

Worst. Book. Ever.

And I chugged through it. Yes, all 450 pages, because I kept hoping for more.  Because the cover said there should have been more.  Because the back cover summary SAID it should be more.

But it never lived up to my self-imposed expectations.  Oh how I wanted a ghostly gothic read. Also, I must obviously be missing something because this was handsdown a one star rating for me, but on Goodreads it averages nearly four?  Did I read the same book?

Did anyone else read this? If so, where did I go wrong?  What did I miss????

12.13.2012

Skinny

Title: Skinny
Author: Donna Cooner
Pub: 2012; Point
Pages: 272
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic, Eating Disorders

EVERYONE who has read this seems to have loved it, claiming it was oh so powerful.  And yeah, sure, I thought it was original and dealt with self-esteem issues and biggest thing that most books about weight loss deal with and that's the reasons behind the weight gain.  Or more importantly just because you're skinny doesn't mean all of sudden your confident.  But, I was pretty meh about the whole process.

First, I was a bit uncomfortable with how quickly the author brushes over Ever's decision to have a gastric bypass ESPECIALLY since she's a teenager.  There was barely any conversation with the father (who only shows up occasionally) and worst yet, the decision is made by Ever because of a cute boy and getting his attention.  And okay, sure, I can believe that being a motivating cause for a teen to want surgery...but is that enough for her to get the surgery? Of course she didn't tell pops the initial reason and yeah, they mention (gloss over) how her health is at jeopardy because of her weight.

What I DID like though was the process after Ever had the surgery.  The author made sure that losing the weight - even with gastric bypass - was easy.  She still had to watch what she ate and the amount. Also, the exercise. This was a biggie because I think that many thing gastric bypass is an easy way out and I'm glad Cooner proves that idea wrong.

So, Skinny is a process.  It's Ever's journey through weight loss and finding herself.  There were faults, but the intentions had merit. 

12.12.2012

Easy

Title: Easy
Author: Tammara Weber
Pub: 2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

This is a quick collegiate read the deals with date rape (in my assumptions) accurately.

Jacqueline and her boyfriend break up almost immediately after they start college together.  She's heartbroken because that's how she identified herself, popular fratboy girlfriend.  After some nagging by her BFF she goes to a party but ditches early.  Bad mistake. Never leave a party alone in the middle of the night.  Jacqueline comes > . < that close to getting raped by another frat boy.  But she doesn't because Lucas, this quiet boy in her stat class, beats the life out of him.

Jacqueline cannot deal so she pretends it didn't happen, refusing to go to the cops or even telling her bestie.

Life goes on in college.  She gets a tutor because her breakup put her in such a funk she began failing a class.  Her and Lucas have a few more run-ins. There's some making out and gossip and fights.

And then it comes back to that one night again.  Because usually, if someone's gonna do it once, they're gonna do it again.

I don't know if it makes sense to say this is a good book when the subject is rape.  So, I'll leave it at, this is a real book.  

12.11.2012

Pure

Title: Pure
Author: Julianne Baggott
Pub: 2012; Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 431
Genres: Young Adult, Dysfic, Series,

I don't even know where to begin with this book.  Hands down this is on my hit list for 2012. 

I can't remember how I heard about it, but what grabbed my attention was the description of the narrator: a post apopclyptic world where bodies are mangled with whatever objects were closest, and in the case of Pressia, one hand is replaced with a child's doll.  

How is that for creepy? And then somehow word spread that Pure was YA so I ended up being all hell to the yeah -drool-drool-must-read.  But folks, lemme tell you, this book is NOT young adult.  I mean, it's young adult in the way that Ender's Game gets marketed as young adult, but it's really much more of a gateway book, in my opinion.

This book is thick.  And not just in the many pages, but in the details, and in the construction of this not so far away world.  There are horrific scenes that left my tummy in knots and conspiracy theories within our government and details that just made me squirm.  Because, without being much of a conspiracy theorist myself, part of me was all like I can see it.

There's this dome right and it's been built as a protection for any nuclear warfare.  And then the detonators go off and not everyone makes it into the dome (were they ever really intended to?).  Within that flash most individuals are decimated.  Others, are worse off. (There's this scene where a man has been merged with a car engine).  Some make it after their new attachments and adapt (Grandfather with the fan in his throat) others turn into mortifying creatures (Groupies - those who were merged with others; Dusts - those who formed with an actual part of the Earth) who no longer act human. 

In the beginning, the people outside of the Dome believed that the Pures (those who remained unharmed because they were in the dome's safety) would come and help.  When that doesn't happen, a self-created military police form recruiting sixteen year olds to build an army to take down the Dome. 

Life in the Dome isn't as perfect as the Wretches (those outside) imagine either.  Everything is very Brave New World in there.  Food is capsules; children and teens get reprogramming for behavior and strength; the government in rule is God.

And then a Pure escapes.  Or runs away from the Dome.  Partridge's father is one of the heads of this new government but he feels unsettled, especially living in his brother's shadow - the brilliant one; the one that killed himself.  Partridge also believes that the mother he was told died is actually a wretch, living outside of the Dome.  In the hopes of finding her, he escapes.

Partridge meets Pressia and a unique pairing begins. But that's not the end of the characters and stories even though those two bring the characters together.  Joined together we are faced with many questions about humanity and its potential. 

This is not a warm fuzzy novel, but it's powerful and worth the read. 

12.09.2012

TSS - How Far Would You Drive?



So, you know how you can like something on facebook, say a page, and then get info about said page in your newsfeed?  Obvs I liked a lot of bookish pages because it's easy to do a quick scroll through when you're at a red light (yes, I **am** one of those people; I admit) and stay up to date with fave authors and releases.

One of the pages keeps me posted on the Pitch Dark authors and specifically they're up and coming tour.  If you're one of us Florida folks you probably accept the fact by now that authors NEVER come our way.  Seriously.  I'm constantly scoping out book signings for my faves and they just don't exist.  I managed to meet a handful one year because Orlando hosted the NCTE conference.  If not for those few days, my hand shakes and listening in on Q&A's would be nearly zilch.

Back to the Dark Days tour.  The first leg will include a stop in Decatur, Georgia which is about a six and a half hour drive.  Completely doable for a fave.  Unfortunately, for those four that are going, it's not worth that sorta mileage for me. (Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, Tahereh Mafi, and Veronica Rossi). 

But it did get me thinking....how far would I realistically be willing to drive to attend an author signing...and who would the authors be.  Off the top of my head:

Northern Tenn, Eastern NC, and the Middle of Mississippi are all about ten hour excursions.  This would mean an obvious hotel night because I'm long since past the days I can pull twenty-four hour all nighters.  Authors who would fall into this category are: Neil Gaiman, John Green, Libba Bray, Bret Easton Ellis (dude, I have to see just how seriously f'd he is in real life!), Nick Hornby, Jane Yolen, Margo Lanagan, Ali Shaw.

Then there are the authors that I'd dig meeting and could definitely make a day's trip out of the event (read, roundtrip 8 hours).  This is rather UNLIKELY though because it takes me MORE THAN FOUR HOURS to get out of this freakin' state - it's soooooo loooooong.  Okay, but roundtrip authors - Franny Billingsley, Chris Crutcher, Carol Goodman, Adele Griffin, Joe Hill, Tom Laveen, Barry Lyga, Lauren Myracle.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some and I'm not including authors that I have already met.

Regardless, what I realize the most about this train of thought is I need to move to a place more centrally located. 

So what's the farthest you would be willing to drive to see an author and who would that be?

12.05.2012

Shattered Souls

Title: Shattered Souls
Author: Mary Lindsey
Pub: 2011; Penguin
Pages: 336
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal

I think that the only reason why I picked up this book was for the cover.  Absolutely gorgeous, yes?

And thank god it's a beautiful cover because the book itself was pretty forgetful.  Sure, I've been going through this YA fiction thing the latter part of this year, and I've definitely found that it's easy to forget what you've read if you move from one book to the next without jotting down ideas BUT it still seems to me that if a book has a lot to offer there will be some vague feelings associated with it, right?

Weeeelllll, I'm coming up with zilch. 

Lenzi is somewhat of a ghost whisperer, although she doesn't realize it at first.  In fact, she believes she just might be going crazy like her father who recently committed suicide because he could no longer hear the voices in his head.

But it turns out that she's more than crazy and it takes Alden showing up to reveal what her true destiny is - to send lost souls to their other world by assisting them in unresolved concerns.   Alden knows this because he is her Protector and they have been working together for centuries.

Now, y'know how I said that this book was pretty forgetful in the ocean of YA that I've been devouring?  And that part is true, I mean, heck, the writing was fairly uneventful even...BUT if I was a legit tween I'm sure this book would have been listed on my top ten faves because it has desperation and reincarnation and tragic love and everything that would make me all kiddy-swoon.  Of course, now, being an adult reading YA, I need a little bit more than that.

Best bonus?  This is a first in a series (or trilogy, who knows) but it ends perfectly.  I feel no compulsion to pick up the second book, scheduled for 2014 because it ends subtlety.

A bit of confusion though?  I went to the author's page on Goodreads to see if there was going to be a second book and Mary Lindsey answers the question What is taking so long?  Her response: That’s a great question. It should not take two years to write this kind of book.  And then she goes on sharing when the book will come out.  But what got me was the statement THIS KIND OF BOOK.  I don't get it, is she talking about the YA genre? Like, obviously it's lesser than adult fiction so she should be able to write YA quicker? (Evidently, Lindsey writes adult fiction under another name as well).  I'm not quite sure how else to take that statement and if she didn't mean it like how it sounds then that doesn't make her very eloquent does it?

12.03.2012

Shadow and Bone

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pub: 2012; Henry Holt
Pages: 358
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Series

First lemme be honest and up front.  I read this book in a day.  I didn't MEAN to read it in a day, much less in two sittings...it just happened that way.  Which, sure, it's not the first...but it IS a first where the book is filled with world-building and unpronounceable hierarchies.   Normally fantasy scares me because of that reason alone.  My mind tends to wander if there's not enough scaffolding done and my control-freak nature has a hard time of letting things go and flow until my brain catches up and goes, oh yeah, that's what they do.

So here it is: Alina and Mal were orphaned children who ended up in the same home causing them to end up lifelong friends.  The world they live in, Ravka, is in turmoil.  After they were tested for abilities (what appears to happen to all children) and they come up normal, Alina & Mal grow up and become a part of the Second Army.  Their world has been split in the middle by the Shadow Fold, this creeptastic darkness that looms in the middle of their territory.  I immediately associated it with the Nothing of The Neverending Story.  What's even more terrifying is the Fold is home to these creatures that fly and chow down on human flesh.  The onslaught is absolutely hideous.  But I'm kinda jumping around all the place, aren't I?

I mentioned abilities....and this is partly where fantasy books (or historical books with hierarchies) leave me confused.  I forget character names in television shows that I watch religiously, so learning of a new Order just muddles my mind.

The Darkling is the highest in this Order; he is feared and for obvious reasons - his ancestor created the Fold.  Underneath him are an elite group of warriors with magical powers (they vary from healing to destroying).  Only higher to the Darkling is the King of Ravka.  Like I said, there is a lot of time spent on developing this story.  And whereas it would usually make me run for the hills, I couldn't help but devour it.

Alina is an amazing character.  She's in love with Mal, her best friend, but refuses to tell him because he's such a player and she's kinda mousy.  Still, her mousiness doesn't stop her from having a quick wit and a wee bit of defensive attitude.  Her depth grows when her gift is revealed: she's doubtful, frustrated, and definitely petulant at times.  And yes, it probably wouldn't be a YA without a bit of a love triangle (the Darkling is evidently a bit dreamy and mysterious) but it WORKS because she's separated from Mal and spends so much time with the Darkling and she's a teenager, which for me, in this situation, means easily swayed by the environment that surrounds her. 

There's a lot of emotional manipulation going on here.  And the swaying of political power.  Also, what is HUGE for me was the characterization.  There weren't any stereotyped individuals, like no one was completely evil or completely good.  The motivations of most characters made sense.

Definitely one of the best reads in 2012 for sure.

11.28.2012

I Hunt Killers

Title: I Hunt Killers
Author: Barry Lyga
Pub: 2012; Little Brown & Company
Pages: 361
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Series, Suspense

I FREAKIN' LOVED THIS BOOK.  

Seriously.  It was amazing and got me all creeped out in this most-excellent-stephen-king-meets-criminal-minds sorta way.

I want everyone to read this book.  Well, everyone who is slightly warped and okay with criminal profiling and sociopathic behavior etcetera etcetera.

Jazz is seventeen years old and lives with his going-nuts grandma in a sleepy small town in nowheresville.  It would be all lame and normal except Jazz's father is in prison.  Yup.  He's the notorious serial killer, Billy Dent, known for killing over 100 women.  And even more perverse?  Billy raised Jazz to think like a serial killer, prepped him to follow in his footsteps.  Jazz grew up keeping his dad's trophies organized and the details of the murderous acts filed away in his mind for safe keeping.  Plus Billy made a point of bestowing words of wisdom, such as: the easiest way to remove evidence of a body (cut it up? use chemicals?); the importance of paying attention to that last breath, and slicing a body is just like slicing chicken.  Um, ew. 

Jazz wakes up every morning reminding himself that people are real; they feel things. 

This novel is a brilliant look at a nearing adult fighting against his nature AND nurture.  He's a pro at manipulation.  He was trained by the best.  He constantly hears dear ole dad's voice in his head and he has to hush his nightmares that are part memories part fears.

And as if that wouldn't be enough to write about THE IMPRESSIONIST shows up.  A new serial killer paying  homage to Billy and Jazz is determined to figure out who the killer is even if the town thinks he might be the prime suspect.

Also.  He has help.  This wonderful side-kick best friend, Howie, who is classic nerd with a hemophilia issue.  Perhaps not the best man to go into fighting crime with, but he's uber loyal and has a crazy cool sarcastic sense of humor.  Oh and then there's Connie, Jazz's girlfriend.  She's a hit or miss with me.  I mean, she's definitely well written.  Her need to show Jazz that he's not his father is SO typical of a teenage girl right?  But, you know, even though I'm sure I would totally have been Connie in the same situation, it sorta irks me knowing that and wishing that instead I'd have been more you have issues so deal with them and come to me when you're over it you freak, which she kinda does, but not really.

I got this book from the library but desperately want to go out and purchase my own copy and reread it.  Especially because it's a - wait for it....wait for it - part in a SERIES.  (Betcha didn't see that one coming, huh?)  Don't let that sway you though.  Run out and buy this book!