Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reviews- Vacation reads

So I was on vacation for the last few weeks and instead of bombarding everyone with multiple posts and reviews, I figured I would just do one big post with short reviews on all the books I read!
The Unwritten Rule
By Elizabeth Scott

Everyone knows the unwritten rule: You don't like your best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more...


This was a great book. I definitly took you right back to being in high school, when every emotion is confusing and there are all sorts of silly social rules that you are expected to follow- even when they make no sense at all. I loved how Sarah explained everything she was feeeling for Ryan and how she really tried to stay away from him for the sake of her friendship, which was really kind of a crappy friendship. Brianna was a pretty crappy friend for Sarah, but I liked that you really got to see why the became friends and why Sarah felt so loyal to her.

One thing I really appreciated was Sarah's parents. So often we see really bad parenting going on in YA books, but here her parents, especially her mother, see what's going on and give her unpressured advice. They express that they wish Brianna was a better friend without asking Sarah to ditch her, and mention the growing relationship with Ryan and the possible fall out while still letting her make her own mistakes.

Overall it was a great summer read, and I look forward to reading more Elizabeth Scott books.


Rules of Attraction
By: Simone Elkeles

The sequel to Perfect Chemistry!

When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for a year, he doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him at a high school in Colorado . Carlos likes living his life on the edge and wants to carve his own path—just like Alex did. Then he meets Kiara Westford. She doesn’t talk much and is completely intimidated by Carlos’ wild ways. As they get to know one another, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, and refuses to admit that she might be getting to him. But he soon realizes that being himself is exactly what Kiara needs right now.


I love Simone Elkeles, so of course I love this book. Once again Elkeles takes a pretty standard plot and theme and makes you read it like it's the first you've seen it. This book follows Alex's brother Carlos as he moves to Colorado to try and straighten out under his Alex's watchful eye. Carlos is full of attitude and bravado and he quickly runs into trouble, despite trying to be good. Soon he is living with a professor and his family, including his classmate Kiara. Much like in Perfect Chemistry, Carlos and Kiara find themselves in a love/hate relationship, that blossoms into the real thing.

This is another books with great parents. Kiara's parents not only step up for their own children, but go to bat for Alex and Carlos as well. I was so amused with Kiara's dad and how he had this whole secret life (which I' not going to give away) that he had tucked away but was willing to put it on the line for Carlos, both because Carlos was a good kid and because Kiara really cared about him.

In my opinion Elkeles is the queen of summer reads. Any of her books are great beach reads and this is no exception.


By: Alex Flinn

I am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly.

This was such a fun book, which I'm glad to say will be coming to theaters sometime this winter. At the heart of it is a traditional fairy tale, with the handsome but cruel "prince" being cursed to learn a lesson about true beauty. This modern retelling weaves in the use of the internet and chat rooms to give beast an outlet, where he meats the Little Mermaid, The Frog Prince and several other familar charecters.

Set in NYC, we see the prince, Kyle Kingsbury, run across a real live witch and when he plays a cruel trick on her, she curses him and he becomes beast. His father, once it can't be fixed, quickly ships him off to live in a brownstone with the maid and a blind tutor. When Kyle catches a thief in his rose garden, he trades the mans life for his daughters. When she arrives, she obviously is ticked (kidnapping will do that to you), but over time she see's Kyle as the person he has become, more then just a beast and a far cry for the obnoxious teenager he was.

The story follows a predictable path, but it stays current and entertaining throughout, with just enough new plot points to keep it interesting.

By: Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey

When Serina Daeth, favorite concubine of the Elf-Lord Dyran, conceives a half-blood child by him, she flees his wrath into the desert, where she quickly succumbs. But the child, born in Serina's dying moments, is rescued by a friendly dragon and raised with her own draconic brood. As the child Shana grows, she develops prodigious sorcerous powers--so strong that it seems she might be the fabled Elvenbane, powerful enough to free the enslaved humans from their elven oppressors. The dragons come to fear her unplumbed power, though, and cast her out. With a renegade elf-lord and his half-blood servant, and the aid of her remaining dragon friends, Shana prepares to challenge the elfish supremacy. Though battle is joined, a sequel is plainly on the way. Thoroughly rooted in genre traditions--with elves, dragons, unicorns, and sorcerers--but some variations make it more enjoyable than the average example: theses elves and unicorns, for instance, are cruel and dangerous, where in most fantasies they are shining examples of superhuman purity. Overall, then, despite shallow characters and a lack of real tension (we never doubt that Shana and friends will succeed), an entertaining adventure.

I recieved this book as a Goodreads First Reads book.

this ended up being a great book, and I'm really excited to go read the sequels. At the start I had trouble getting into it though. The first couple chapters, which were mostly about Sarina Daeth and consisted of her recapping how she became head concubine seemed a bit choppy to me and I struggled to follow who everyone was and to get into the story. However, once we got into the meat of the story, with Shana taking the lead, the story really exploded and I flew through the rest of the book.

I loved that she was raised by the Dragons and we got to see this world that was created around them. It was fun to see these giagantic animals trying to raise a child and cope with the idea that humans are more then just stupid animals.

Once Shana is forced into the world of elves and humans, it became a great hero journey, as we followed Shana as she claimed her birthright and really came into her own as a powerful wizard.

This was a fun book once you got into it and like I said, I'm excited to see how Shana's story finishes.

Ball Don't Lie
By: Matt de la Pena

Sticky is a beat-around-the-head foster kid with nowhere to call home but the street, and an outer shell so tough that no one will take him in. He started out life so far behind the pack that the finish line seems nearly unreachable. He’s a white boy living and playing in a world where he doesn’t seem to belong.

But Sticky can ball. And basketball might just be his ticket out . . . if he can only realize that he doesn’t have to be the person everyone else expects him to be.

A breakout urban masterpiece by newcomer Matt de la Peña, Ball Don’t Lie takes place where the street and the court meet and where a boy can be anything if he puts his mind to it.

This is another great book by Matt de la Pena. Sticky is a great charecter who we see trying to rise above his situation by playing basketball. The plot jumps around in terms of time and we see how Sticky became a foster kid, we see the different foster homes he lived in, we see how his relationship with Ahn-thou progresses and mostly we see how basketball gave Sticky an outlet and hope.

I especially enjoyed all the parts of the story that took part on the court. We saw a group of guys from all different backgrounds come together because they love to play ball. It became a family of sorts for Sticky, who really needed that kind of supposrt system. I really loved how in the end we see Sticky get the chance to make it big, without really finding out if he makes it or not. I like that it leaves it up in the air, but you get the sense that Sticky has really made it, and taken the chance to rise above.

In the end, great book.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
By: Carrie Ryan

In Mary's world there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.
The Guardians will protect and serve.
The Unconsecrated will never relent.
And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But, slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future-between the one she loves and the one who loves her.

And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?


This was an excellent book. I'm a sucker for a good dystopian, and this was a great one. It's hard to say alot without giving the story away, but the long and the short of it is that Mary lives in a town that in essentially under seige by the Unconsecrated, who they keep at bay with a large fence. When Mary's mother becomes Unconsecrated, Mary is given an inside look at the way the Sisterhood operates and begins to mistrust the power-structure she lives under. At the point that the walls are breached and the town is destroyed, Mary and her friends and family exit the compound via a fenced in path and find themselves adrift within the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

I loved Mary- she is a strong charecter who holds out hope to find something that she knows is out there (the ocean) without being able to prove it. When others become disillusioned and are unable to take risks for fear of what is out there, Mary steps forward and follows her heart. The were certainly sad moments in this book, and charecters that you grow to really care about don't survive, but I like the fact that there isn't always a happy ending.

This book does end with Mary discovering something about the world she lives in and she gets her chance to carry forward. I'm excited to get my hands on the sequel Dead Tossed Waves, and see what else happens in the town that are surrounded by the forest.


So that was my two weeks worth of reading. I still have a whole pile to go, but for right now I'm concentrating on doing homework for Graduate School, which has jsut begun for me. I'll be finished with my summer residency at the end of July and then I'm off for another road trip, which means more reading time! Coming up next I have The Emerald Talisman by Brenda Pandos and Faithful by Janet Fox, plus Mockingjay is coming out soon and as we all know (or should know) Hunger Games trumps all!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Review: Ten Things I Hate About Me

by: Randa Abdel-Fattah

Ten Things is about Jamie, a teenage girl from Sydney’s south west who lives two lives: at school and in the outside world she is ‘Jamie’, a bottle-blonde with an apparently Anglo Aussie background; at home she is ‘Jamilah’ a Lebanese-Muslim who is proud of her cultural identity. Jamie struggles to maintain her two personas as the rules of her over-protective father collide with the normal adolescence she perceives other teenagers to have and which she so desires.

Life appears to be looking up for Jamie when the most popular boy in school begins to show an interest in her. Added to that she gets an after-school job and makes an email friend, John, the only person with whom she can be completely honest. However her fate as a social outcast appears sealed when her father’s Stone Age Charter of Curfew Rights threatens to prevent her attending the much-anticipated Year 10 formal and her Arabic band is hired to play at the formal.

This was a pretty good book. It was definitly a pretty sereotypical story about a girl trying to figure out who she is, but it had some really nice twists that kept it interesting. Set in Australia, the story follow Jamilah, a Lebanese-Muslim who tried to hide her identity while at school in order to avoid the racial slurs that are hurled around her classrooms. Like most teenage girls, Jamilah, or Jamie as she goes by at school, just wants to fit in, but her family and heritage are tugging her in the opposite direction.

I really liked Jamilah's family, I especially enjoyed the fact that at first they seemed like sterotypes: The Strict, Uncompromising Father; Hippie Sister and Rebel Brother, but as the story went on and layers began to be peeled back, you got to see exactly what kind of family they were. The friends too fit this pattern- while at first we see them as sterotypes, they slowly become so much more then that, until at the end we see them for their true selves. How we see them evolve mirrors the path Jamilah takes from being afraid of being a stereotype, to acknowledging all that she is, to eventually embracing it.

I also really liked the way the author revealed information about Jamilah. Instead of using a diary or letter (which has been done before), here we see Jamilah exchanging personal emails with an anonymous online friend. My only complaint is that Jamilah wasn't able to put two and two together as to who this anonymous friend is, because it was pretty obvious to me fairly early on. Even with that, I liked that the emails allowed Jamilah to open up completely, something she was afraid to do at school and really couldn't do at home.

Overall I thought this was a good read and defintily fits the bill for fun summer reading!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review- The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: an Eclipse Novella
By: Stephenie Meyer

Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits. In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

**This Review Contains Some Spoilers**

I really liked this book. I think as a TwilightMom it is kind of a requirement. Personally, I love all the excerpts that Meyer has given us on her website, so I really enjoyed getting to see part of the story from a point of view that is totally in contrast to what we are used to. I especially loved seeing exactly what was going on with the newborns as they prepared to attack the Cullens.

Part of what was great about this book was that what Meyer envisioned and what I envisioned were to totally different things. I disliked the newborns because Bella disliked them, I saw Bree as a blood thirsty, crazed, uncontrollable kid because that it how she looked through Bella's eyes. I fully expected the newborns to be throughly evil, bad before being bitten and worse after. For the most part they were. Victoria and Riley picked the dregs to turn into their army, but amid those newborns there were those who retained their common sense and some humanity. I was happy to see that Bree was not all bad. I appreciated seeing all that was going on in Seattle, from their hunting trips to how Riley tried to keep them all in line, to how Bree, along with Freaky Fred and Diego were looking to find the truth and maybe a way out.

Some things that really surprised me were the Volturi's level of awareness as to what was going on- they knew much more then I thought. I also was happy to see that in the end Bree tried to stand up to the Volturi and Victoria in the best way she could, by giving Edward as much information as possible before her inevitable death. I haven't had a chance yet, but I want to go back and re-read that scene in Eclipse and see if I see it all differently now that I have another perspective besides Bella's to work with.

In her introduction Meyer says: "The closer I got to the inevitable end, the more I wished I'd concluded Eclipse just slightly differently." Many people took that to mean that the Cullens would have been given permission by the Volturi to take Bree in. It could be that is what Meyer meant. I can't see anyway that it could have gone that way though, the Volturi were already worried about the size of the Cullen's family, and this is before they added Bella to their ranks. In my opinion, it would have been nice to see Bree survive, striking out to find Fred, who had promised to wait for her in Vancouver. It would have also been nice to see Fred and Bree make an appearance in Breaking Dawn, standing witness with the Cullen family against the Volturi. Of course that's just my take on it. Unless Meyer continues to give us the gift of more Novellas or books, which I for one hope she does, we can be content in loving the books we have, and imagining what might lay ahead for our favorite characters.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Blogger Hop

It's the time of the week when we blog hop! The wonderful blog site Crazy for Books hosts each week.

It's great to be back on the hop- I've really enjoyed finding some new blogs and revisiting one's that had fallen off my radar a bit (there are just so many good one's out there!) Last week I found a couple one's that I really enjoyed:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Awesome Contest @ Books Complete Me

Books Complete Me is hosting a great contest in honor of their Grand (Re)Opening! If you love Twilight (you know you do) then you want in on this contest where you can get your hands on a copy of Stephenie Meyer's new book The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. So head on over, check the site out and enter to win a book that is pretty much guarenteed to be made of awesome. You really can't lose!


by: Ted Dekker

Think with your heart and prepare to die for you have been Chosen

The land of the Forest Dwellers has been decimated by the Horde under the watchful eye of the vilest of all creatures, Teeleh. Thomas Hunter, supreme commander of the Forest Guard, is forced to lower the recruitment age of his army from 18 to 16. From among thousands, four new recruits are chosen to lead–and perhaps die–for the greater good.

The chosen four are sent on a quest to prove their character, but their mission takes a dramatic turn when they are intercepted, sworn to secrecy, and redirected to a different endgame. Now they must find the seven lost Books of History. Books that have power over the past, present, and future. Books whose words are alive. Books sought by the Dark One that control not only the destiny of their world . . . but that of ours as well (from teddekkar.com)

Another great book- I'm on a roll this week- first Stolen, then The Order of Odd-Fish and now Chosen. When I was at the bookstore a few weeks ago I was intent to only buy books I needed, one's we were featuring on EFG or one's I wanted to read for TBF Live. Then I saw the cover for Chosen. I couldn't help myself, I read the back, liked what I saw and added it to the pile.

This book has all the makings of a classic hero's quest as we see Johnis reluctently take up the lead of a group of 4 chosen to complete a task by their leader Thomas Hunter. While trying to complete the task they are given a different task, one that hold a far greater importance then the one they set out on. They each have to decide if they will take up their destiny and embark on a quest to save their way of life, or if they will complete the original task and go home.

I really enjoyed seeing Johnis realize his destiny and beging to act like the leader he was born to be. I enjoyed the give and take between the other 3 people he is on his quest with- each is damaged in one way or another by the enemy, the Horde, but at heart each is still a kid trying to find their way. I like them as a team, even when they are bickering and fighting they seem to have eachother's backs.

My biggest complaint is directed squarely at myself. I grabbed the book on the fly without realizing that it is just one book in a series (thank goodness it is the first book), and that I have 5 more to read to find out if Johnis & Co. complete their task and find all 7 Books of History and defeat the dark one. Not only that, but this series fits into a larger series (the Circle Series) that has 4 more book, so that brings us to 9 books, add in the other books that deal with this same world (I think at least 2 more) and my book buying budget has officially been blown and my to-read pile has turned into a to-read mountain. In terms of complaints though, it could be worse. This book is great, I assume the other books are great, and having too many good books to read is a prety decent problem to have.

As with every post- go check out Dekker's website- it is chock full of great stuff that you'll want to check out, and probably even more books that you might just have to buy.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Revenge Served Cold

Revenge Served Cold
by: Jackie Fullerton

Kathy Spence awakens in the middle of the night and finds herself in a living nightmare. Her husband has been run down and she is the primary suspect. With an eyewitness to the crime and proof that her car was the murder weapon, it appears to be an open and shut case. Terrified for her future, Kathy turns to amateur sleuth Anne Marshall for help. Believing in Kathy s innocence, Anne launches her own investigation, uncovering proof of a conspiracy that reaches from Kathy s past and threatens her own life. In a race against time, Anne must count on her close friends and even the ghost of her father to help her bring a killer to justice before it's too late. (from goodreads.com)


I really enjoyed Revenge Served Cold. It is a great little murder mystery that has just enough twists to keep you interested, but not so many that you can't keep up. At the center of the story is Anne, a law student who can't seem to help getting involved in investigations, and drag everyone who's near her into it too. The book makes reference to a previous incident which left Anne battered and bruised, but even that can't stop her from becoming involved when Elliot, a friend of Anne's father is murdered, and his wife Kathy is the lead suspect.

The story moves between several characters as the truth is slowly revealed. Without giving too much away, we see Anne trying to uncover who the real murderer is; the police, including Anne's friends Shane and Maria try to build a case against Kathy; Ross and Alice, old friends of Kathy and Elliot's who have too much at stake in the investigation and Anne's father, who continues to visit Anne despite the fact that he is dead. I really liked that the point of view shifted occasionally through out the book. Although the bulk is seen through Anne's actions, being able to see what other characters are doing and thinking really let's the reader get a better idea of the whole picture, which in a murder mystery is most definitly a good thing.

I really loved the character of Anne- she was a strong, courageous lead for the story. It reminded me of the Nancy Drew character in that we had a smart and stubborn girl who uses intelligence and street smarts to figure out a crime. When you add in her father's influence and help, you really have a good main thread for the book. Anne seemed like the sort of person who could be sitting next to you on the bus, nothing remarkable or superhuman, but someone who puts her mind to something and sees it through.

There were a few minor things that I wasn't a huge fan of. One was all the references to the prior investigation that Anne had inserted herself into. I felt like I had missed something, that there was a whole other book that I should have read prior to this one. I appreciated the fact that it was to show how Anne has a history of ignoring the authority (i.e. her police officer friends) and putting herslef in danger in order to solve a murder, but there wasn't quite enough information to make me feel like I had a good idea of what exactly had happened. Second was how long it took to get the main action of the book. Again, I don't want to give too much away, but the scenes towards the end, when it all comes together and Anne is with Alice are some of the best. Alice is a pretty diabolical character and I would have liked to see more of her and what made her tick. I think more of that sort of action, and slightly less of the extensive investigation really would have pushed this book into a different league.

That being said- I still really enjoyed the plot and action in this book, I thought that it was believable (even the visits from her dad), and it was easy to relate to Anne and several of the other characters. Should there ever be another story about Anne the amatuer slueth, I would buy it. If you are a fan of mysteries and are looking for some good summer/beach reading, this book is a good bet.
Disclaimer: I recieved this book from The Cadence Group for review.

The Order of Odd-Fish

The Order of Odd-Fish
by: James Kennedy

Jo Larouche has lived her thirteen years in the California desert with her Aunt Lily, a faded Hollywood starlet, ever since she found in Lily’s laundry room with this note pinned to her blankets: This is Jo. Please take care of her. But beware. This is a DANGEROUS baby.

Up until this point, Jo has been, as Aunt Lily puts it, “as dangerous as a glass of milk.” But all that’s about to change. At Lily’s annual Christmas costume party, several strange things happen: a boy in a hedgehog shoots an elderly Russian colonel; a talking cockroach is found tied up in the basement, moaning about how this will play in the tabloid press; and a box falls from the sky, addressed to Jo from “The Order of Odd-Fish.”

Soon, worsening circumstances lead Jo and Lily out of California forever—and into the mysterious, strange, fantastical world of Eldritch City. There, Jo learns the scandalous truth about who she is, and she and Lily join the Order of Odd-Fish, a colorful collection of knights who research useless information. Glamorous cockroach butlers, impossible quests, obsolete weapons and bizarre festivals fill their days, but Jo’s dream turns to nightmare when she learns that instead of a hero of Eldritch City, she may in fact become its destroyer. By the novel’s wrenching climax, Jo comes to understand who she truly is—and what it means to call a city home.

Equal parts Monty Python and Roald Dahl, The Order of Odd-Fish is an entertaining and hilarious ride through a world that readers will not want to leave. (from Jameskennedy.com)
This was a great book. To be honest, I had never heard of it a few weeks ago, but then I attended the Teen Book Fest in Rochester and had the good fortune of seeing author James Kennedy on the new author panel. After several hours of wonderful, but not overly exciting presentations, Kennedy hit the nail on the head as he got up for his reading and gave quite the performance. He got the audience, primarily teens with a few adults sprinkled in, to participate by cheering (or booing) along as was warranted. Then he described his main character as the opposite of Harry Potter- instead of the boy who lived, she is the girl who kills; instead of the one who will save them all, she is the one who will destroy everything. Just like that I knew I had to buy this book (so it was back to the bookstore for me). I definitly wasn't dissapointed.

There is so much in this book that there is no way I could give a proper review and catch everything that was great. So I'll stick to the highlights. At the heart of the story is Jo, an orphan who grew up with her Aunt Lily in the California desert. She waiteresses tables and tries to keep her aunt under control, and generally lives a pretty boring life. Then it all flips upside down and she finds herself on an adventure to Eldritch City with her aunt, a Russian General and a Cockroach butler. Once in Eldrtich City she finds herself in the Order of Odd-Fish, a group of knights who study rather unimportant knowledge (like smells) and learns that her birth nearly brought down the entire world. Now she has to keep her true identity a secret while everyone around her is looking for the girl who will destroy all of them. Add in crazy quests, rediculous festivals and parties, a tv show that feeds the paranoia about Jo's true identity, a would be villian and a real villian named the Belgian Prankster and you have a story that never slows down and keeps you wanting more.

Now that I've written what probably reads as a slightly confusing and strange recap of the book, all I can really tell you is that you should go read this book. It takes a really basic coming of age story about a girl trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be and flips it on it's head. Kennedy creates an absurd world that is full of odd, disgusting, hilarious and dangerous characters and gives us a story that you won't want to put down. It has adventure and laughs and what more can you really ask for? It's a great summer reading book, so go grab a copy and enjoy!

As always- check out Kennedy's website and if you get a chance to see Kennedy live, take it, it's totally worth it!