Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My Ramblings on The Fourth Stall Part II by Chris Rylander

The Fourth Stall, Part II
By: Chris Rylander
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Author Website


The tween-noir saga continues. The life of crime is good. Mac has taken down legendary high school crime boss Staples, business has been booming and Mac and Vince are getting ready for middle school baseball tryouts. But this can't last. Mac has always tried to keep his friends close and his enemies closer. But what happens when you can't tell the difference?

A dilemma walks into the fourth stall in the form of Trixie Von Parkway - an eighth grader with a mean look and an even meaner predicament. Seems that the new science teacher is terrorizing her, and she needs Mac to get him off her back. Sounds simple enough, but as Mac starts to dig deeper, he finds even more trouble brewing at his school, including a new administrator bent on destroying his business and indicating that Trixie isn't who she claims to be. The worst that could have happened to Mac before was that he might lose a little money, maybe catch a beating. In THE FOURTH STALL PART II, though, the stakes are even higher than that (from Goodreads)

My Ramblings:
So first I have to say that this book, and the first book in the series, are two of the funniest books I've ever read. I found myself laughing out loud several times as I read Part II (and getting some very funny looks from the people around me). 

This book picks up pretty much where the first book left off, with a girl walking into the fourth stall and sending Mac's world spinning. Who is she really? What exactly does she want? Why do middle school girls have to be so darn confusing!? I'm not going to answer any of those questions for you, you'll have to pick the book up in February to find out. I will tell you that Rylander does a brilliant job at keeping you guessing at who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. I was pretty sure I knew the score, but I was totally wrong!

What I really like about these books is that Rylander doesn't dumb down the kids or the experiences they have. He acknowledges that kids have these whole worlds that we adults may not be privy too. In this case we see Mac continuing picking up his business as usual as he helps other students fix their problems. The problems the kids have are all very realistic. The last story dealt primarily with bullies (review here) and this one deals with state tests and the pressure they put on kids and teachers alike. Everyone is coming to Mac for help with the test and then there is the additional problem of a new administrator who is cracking down of shenanigans and a new teachers who may be the coolest teacher/coach ever or he might be the devil himself. The methods Mac employs aren't always on the up and up, and I sometimes shake my head that these kids would get away with it at all, but the way Rylander writes it allows for the reader to just go along for the ride, enjoying all the twists and turns as they go. It was also great to revisit some of the characters from the first book, especially the school bullies, who are both the bad guys (because they are bullies), but also the good guys (because they work for Mac). 

I don't want to give anything away, so I will just say, take the next few months to go pick up The Fourth Stall so that come February 7th you are all ready for Part II!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wear Star Wars, Share Star Wars

So I'm writing about an event today and not a book, but it's a good one, so read on and I hope you participate too!

Event: Wear Star Wars, Share Star Wars
Date: December 16th, 2011
Last Year, when first-grader Katie Goldman was taunted for being a girl who loved Star Wars, the Internet held a day of support for her. Please join us in the second annual Wear Star Wars, Share Star Wars event on December 16, 2011.

Celebrate this day of geek pride and anti-bullying by wearing something Star Wars or science fiction related. Since it is the holiday season, we ask that you also donate a Star Wars or science fiction toy to a child in need (but please put a post-it on the new, unwrapped toy specifying that it can go to a girl or a boy; otherwise, these traditional "boy toys" will only be given to boys). You can ring the toy to a hospital, a shelter or drop it off with any organization collecting toys.

Please invite everyone you know to participate in this fun event! The more people who join, the more toys that get donated, and the fun we all have dressing up! Last year 35,000 people participated! 
(From Portrait of an Adoption's Facebook event page )

For more information you can also check out this article on the event from Chicago Now

I'm jumping the gun a bit on this event because the charity I'm giving to, The Golisano Children's Hospital in Syracuse, NY who has a donation area at the iSchool at SU, has a deadline of this Wednesday for dropping off toys. So I figured I'd better get on it- although I will definitely be rocking my Star Wars shirt again on the 16th! 

To learn a little more, and see what toy I picked up to donate, check out my Wear Star Wars, Share Star Wars video. Now go get your geek on and donate some toys!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Ramblings on My First 5 Books from NCTE

A few weekends ago I was in Chicago for NCTE and in addition to going to some great sessions I also walked away with 83 books to read, many of them ARCs. Now I hate reviewing ARC's super early,I always feel like I'm going to spoil it for someone, so a lot of times I think to myself "I'll hang onto this and review it when it comes out" and then I never do because I get busy and then suddenly the release date has passed me by. This happened last year- I got so many books at NCTE and then didn't review hardly any of them. So here is my solution... ARC mini-reviews of the first 5 books I read. These are the books I was most looking forward to getting my hands on and couldn't wait to read!

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Release Date: January 3, 2012

My Ramblings: We saw this book sitting on the ARCs shelf at the publishers booth and were struck by the amazing cover. Then we saw that it was a dystopian retelling of Cinderella. Two of my favorite genre's mashed into one book. And it's going to be a series (sort of) with retellings of other fairy tales coming out over the next few years. It was pretty awesome! There were a few little spots that I felt were just added in to parallel the traditional story, but by and large it was done in a way that referenced the original without copying it, which I imagine is a really hard task. I especially loved the familial relationships in this story, the wicked stepmother, and the sort of ugly (on the inside) stepsisters. I also love the prince, Kai, and his story of stepping into his father's shoes and leading a nation. In short I absolutely loved the main characters and really can not wait to see what happens next!

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Release Date: Marc 6, 2012

My Ramblings: This is the book I was most looking forward to AND most dreading. Delirium was one of my top books of last year, it was brilliant and I was terrified that Pandemonium would fall into the middle book trap and end up sucking. I really, really didn't want that. Luckily Pandemonium was every bit as wonderful as Delirium. In fact, both books could absolutely stand alone. Obviously this is a sequel, but the story is 100% complete in and of itself. I love that. I love Lena and it was heartbreaking to see her move forward in the Wilds and try to find herself. The story was also so full of hope, as she finds a new purpose and a new family. It truly is a brilliant book!

Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Release Date: April 1, 2012

My Ramblings: I sometimes forget how amazing a writer Elizabeth Eulberg is. I'm not sure why this is, maybe because her books don't get nearly as much credit as they deserve. When I look back at her past 2 books (Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudice) they are both on my top 10 books for the year. They are so well written and absolutely capture what High School and being a teen is like. This book, set in a performing arts school hit particularly close to home for me. I was a theater brat, a dancer who really wanted to sing and act. A dancer who was never going to make it big (what with being a good 3-4 inches taller then all the boys- makes it hard to partner), but who loved being part of it all anyways. This book got it so right. All the drama, the competitiveness, the using people to get ahead, to get the best part, to be the star. The idea that you get pigeonholed into one role and you can't get out of it. Most importantly it get the idea that amid all the craziness that comes with being an artist, you can find some of the best friends in the world. I love this book. I can pretty much guarantee that it will be on the top 10 list again!

Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Release Date: January 24, 2012

My Ramblings: First of all the cover of this book is gorgeous (despite the whole decapitation thing) and it was all it took for me to read this book asap despite not knowing anything about it really. It is an awesome read! Amid all the vampires and dystopians I've been reading it was really fun to pick up something that still dealt with fantastical issues, but was totally fresh and new. The story was really intriguing, essentially looking at what you would do if you ad 6 months to undo all the pain you've caused other people, to make your apologize, set things right again and then ultimately say goodbye. How do you mend those wounds when you know you will have to rip them open again? Do you even want to? Like I said, so good. I loved the main girl, Nikki and I really liked both of the boys in this story, Jack and Cole, although I never really did get the feel of a love triangle. Which is totally fine with me, but I've seen some other posts/comments that talk about the choice Nikki has to make between the two boys. For me it seemed more like a choice between two fates, each one contains one of the boys, but I didn't not getting the feeling that there was much choice there at all, and that the boys were a minor influence instead of a major one. In any case, I LOVED that it didn't play as a true love triangle and I can't wait to see where it goes next and who Nikki will ave to turn to in order to really get things set right again!

Release Date: January 2, 2012

My Ramblings: This is a really fun book and the title pretty much tells you everything you need to know. Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Is it possible to fall in love even as the relationships of those around you seem to be falling apart? Hadley is on her way to her fathers wedding where he will marry a woman Hadley has never met. She bitter and angry and doesn't want to go. When she misses her flight she ends up crossing paths with Oliver, who is headed back to London for an event of his own. From there they embark on a mini adventure together, each finding something they need in the other. But can one flight be enough to base a whole relationship on? What I really liked about this book is that it doesn't paint love and marriage as a one size fits all prospect- we see all types of partnerships here. Ones that work, one's that don't and second chances that make it all worthwhile. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Truth About Twilight

I love when new Twilight movies come out. Everyone gets so... defensive. Both sides. You either love the books and movies or you hate them it seems. Then everyone attacks each other. How dare you question these books!? How can you love something that promotes what is basically pedophilia of the vampire kind?! Edward is the most romantic man in the world- the way he cherishes Bella! Edward is a stalker who controls the woman he supposedly loves. Bella is a weak excuse for a modern woman. Bella is finding herself and becoming the woman (er...vampire) she was always meant to be. It's preaching about premarital sex and abstinence. It's promotes bad and unhealthy relationships. It's the best book ever written. It's the worst book ever written. 

I get it. I do. I'm a Twilight Mom and a Library student. I also spent most of my undergrad tearing books apart trying to analyze every last bit of meaning. Between Lit classes and History classes and deconstructing music for choreography purposes I know how to rake a piece of work over the coals. I get why it's done. This need to understand everything is something that I think we all have. I've heard just about every argument you can think of. I made most of them myself. I agree with 90% of them (Yes. Both sides) They all make sense and hold weight. I think what people forget though is that books reflect the reader. You get out of it what you put in. Were you a Bella? A Jacob (I was)? Did you hope for an Edward to come walking into your life? Maybe you were a child of divorce who just wanted a chance with their father. Or a soon to be Mom who had a bad pregnancy and was terrified that this thing, this child, might kill you (me again).  Maybe you were the opposite of some of the characters and that fact grated on you because you thought they were making all the wrong choices. How you view a book like this is directly connected to who you are. I think that is true of most books. 

Do you want to know why I am team Twilight? I love these books because I don't think they were ever intended to be as big as they have become. I think they were, at their heart, just a story that the author wanted to read and felt compelled to write and share. Are they poorly written and full of weird story lines that make me cringe sometimes? Sure. (looking at you vampire birth scene, which frankly, so much better in the movie.) Are they hopelessly cheesy? Absolutely (now I turning my gaze on your sparkly vampire skin Edward). You know what else they are? Fun. Entertaining. Addicting. That's what I was missing in books when I picked Twilight up almost 3 years ago. Reading had become a chore. I was analyzing everything and not enjoying the ride. At what point did every book have to change the world? They don't all need to be literary classics on par with Shakespeare and Dickens. They don't all need to teach a lesson and make us better people. Sometimes a book is just a book. It let's us escape into it's pages and experience something we've never seen before. Reading should be fun. These books, for all they are not, are fun. 

They also changed my life. They changed a lot of people's lives. Books can do that you know. Just when you least expect it, there they are, surprising you in ways you might not have been ready for. They opened my eyes to the wonderful world of YA and some of the most amazing books I've ever read. They brought some of the best friends I've ever had into my life through TM's and EFG. They forced me to take a hard look at my life and what I was doing. I wasn't happy, I hated my job and I needed something new. Thanks to one of those friends (my Fairy Threadmother Lauralee) I was introduced to the idea of being a librarian. So I quit my job and went back to school. I'm  one semester away from graduation. All in the matter of 3 years- a complete 180. All because I found a book that reminded me that reading could be fun again. That is, after all, what reading is all about! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Ramblings on Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

Good gravy it's been a while since my last post. I confess that between homework and fieldwork for school and then the required blogging for school each week has totally sapped my book blogging energy. Every few days I think that I'll blog a review, but then something else (read as homework, which will get me good grades, which will hopefully get me a job that pays real money) comes up and this blog slips back through the cracks. Until today. Yesterday I finished an ARC of Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. I can't stop thinking about it. It was amazing, so here I am, shirking my school work, because it was that good. Let's do this thing.

Clockwork Prince
By: Cassandra Clare
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Author Website

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart. (from

My Ramblings:

So first the tiny issue I had with Clockwork Prince and then I will commence with as non-spoilery a review as I can muster. If you don't want to know ANYTHING about CP then I suggest you stop reading now though. No promising I won't say something that you might view as a spoiler even though I don't. You've been warned. 

My issue (prepare to eye roll). A few times in the story Tessa holds hands with a boy (I'm not saying who). It's said that her skirts are able to cover the hand holding so that no one else sees it. I cringed a teeny tiny bit when I read it. Have you ever worn victorian garb? I have. I've made a few dresses in that style, one being my wedding dress... and, well, the skirts are not that voluminous. In fact, besides the bustle, they are rather form fitting. No massive layers, no hoops, not a whole lot of extra fabric. I had trouble with the idea that the entwined fingers of our girl and her beau were able to be hidden from the people sitting directly around them. Is this a big issue? No. Is it one that bothered me due to years and years of creating historically accurate costumes being ingrained in my mind? Yup. So there you have it. My one issue. A matter of skirt volume. Moving on now. 

The rest of the book. Wow. Loved it. How to best share my thoughts without giving it all away? Well, if you are a fan of Cassie's books then you know that life for our Shadowhunters and the girls at the heart of the stories are never simple. There are miscommunications, moments when you want to shake the characters and broken hearts. You are able to see the mistakes they are making as they are happening and you know that they probably won't realize it until it's too late. It's draining really, but the fact that it's paired with great action and humor makes it all balance out. It makes it all worth it. 

For me this book was all about finding out more about the characters. 

Why is Will the way he is? I was shocked by the story that we got here, but then it all started to make sense. The way he pushes people away, the sarcasm and hurtful words. The fact that he lets Jem in anyways. It revealed so much about Will that it seemed totally obvious and unexpected at the same time. 

We also get a window into the relationship between Charlotte and Henry and why their relationship has played out the way it has. In a sense I see Charlotte and Henry as being a bit of a lesson to Tessa and Will (and everyone else for that matter). They waited so long to clear the air and make their real feelings known that they might have missed out on so many moments together. 

I'm trying very hard to not give anything away here, but it seems like timing and honesty are big themes here. We see so many things left unsaid, or held in for just a moment too long. We see people not trusting themselves and others with these huge secrets that, if people had shared, might have changed everything. We see our characters making decisions based on wanting to make someone else happy without really considering the ramifications. Sometimes without even considering whether it's what they want. There were a lot of times I wanted to yell "Just say it already!!" at the book. The fact that I'm so invested in the decisions these people make is a testament to how well Clare writes. I want them all to figure it out and be happy. 

You'll notice that I haven't really talked about the actual plot of the book. I can't figure out a way to do it without giving it all away. So I'll just say this.... the Magister is still deliciously evil and bent on getting Tessa and ridding the world of Shadowhunters. Automatons are still being creepy and working at the Magister's bidding. We get to see what really happened to Will's family and how they might factor in his future. There is an unlikely spy within their midst and an even more unlikely ally that steps forward. So basically, evil villian, creepy henchmen, mystery and new alliances. And of course lot's of action and romance. Pretty much a perfect book. 

Oh yeah... and there's a Masquerade Ball. No good ever comes of those things. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Ramblings on We're Not Leaving by Benjamin J. Luft, M.D.

We're Not Leaving: 9/11 Responders Tell Their Stories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Renewal.
By: Benjamin J. Luft, M.D.
Release Date: September 6, 2011

"We're Not Leaving" is a compilation of powerful first-person narratives told from the vantage point of World Trade Center disaster workers-police officers, firefighters, construction workers, and other volunteers at the site.

While the effects of 9/11 on these everyday heroes and heroines are indelible, and in some cases have been devastating, at the heart of their deeply personal stories-their harrowing escapes from the falling Towers, the egregious environment they worked in for months, the alarming health effects they continue to deal with-is their witness to their personal strength and renewal in the ten years since.

These stories, shared by ordinary people who responded to disaster and devastation in extraordinary ways, remind us of America's strength and inspire us to recognize and ultimately believe in our shared values of courage, duty, patriotism, self-sacrifice, and devotion, which guide us in dark times. (from

My Ramblings:
I think it's fair to say that most of us remember where we were when we first heard about the events of 9/11. I was in a morning class at college, Biology, half asleep in the back of the room when someone got a text from someone. No seemed to take it really think anything big was happening, class continued and we all walked back to the dorms. Then, with the TV on and calls flooding in from family and friends, it all began to sink in. A lot of my friends were from the Northeast. We all  knew people in the city. We were 1000+ miles away from NYC and we were trying to track down loved ones and friends. Thankfully, everyone we knew was not in the area at the time of the attack. Not everyone had that experience, not everyone was as lucky. This book tells the stories of those who were there during the aftermath. 

I won't lie, this is a tough book to read. I had to set it down several times and take a break. I imagine it is even harder on those who were in NYC on that day or who lost loved ones. A range of people share their stories in this book, everyone from firefighters and EMT's who were at Ground Zero and survived to those who came later to offer their support and help. They don't pull punches and some of the descriptions of what they saw are hard to take in. Still, I think we have to. These are the people who ran towards danger to help those who needed them. The reality of the situation should not be sugar coated. The honesty of the contributors is part of what makes this book so powerful. The fact that many of these people, who did what they could to save others, are now suffering from various medical issues, both physical and emotional is a testament to the cost of their actions in the days that followed the attacks. 

This is a great book to read if you want a different, more personal, perspective on the events of 9/11 and the days, weeks and month following. There will be moments you want to stop reading, but it's important to finish.  I think we've all heard people say that "we will never forget", this book provides one way to remember what happened and the sacrifices that were made by those who were there. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Ramblings on Vacation Reads

This happens every year- I take a little vacation, but before I go (or in this case, while I'm there) I stock up on books I've been dying to read. This time I was gone for a week, I read four books, which is wonderful. Only problem is that it makes it really hard to review them all because I read them back to back (sometimes multiples in one day). My solution? One big post. So here's the quick and dirty rundown of my vacation reads!

By: Robison Wells
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Author Website


Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.

He was wrong.

Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.

Where breaking the rules equals death.

But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible. (

My Ramblings:
I received this book from Teen Book Scene as part of a blog tour for the other blog I write for (Eve's Fan Garden) and I will be doing a full review in the next few weeks for that site, so here I will keep it short and sweet. This was a very, very good book. I was all in from the word go, and then I was a little hesitant in the middle and wasn't sure what was going on, and then, in the end it all made sense and made no sense at all and it was awesome. I can't wait for the sequel, which is unfortunate what with the sequel not being due for release until next fall. At any rate, stay tuned for my EFG review and come October go grab this book up!


Wolves, Boys and Other Things that Might Kill Me
By: Kristen Chandler
Release Date:
Author Website

It's K.J.'s junior year in the small town of West End, Montana, and whether she likes it or not, things are different this year. Over the summer, she turned from the blah daughter of a hunting and fishing guide into a noticeably cuter version of the outdoor loner. Normally, K.J. wouldn't care less, but then she meets Virgil, whose mom is studying the controversial wolf packs in nearby Yellowstone Park. And from the moment Virgil casts a glance at her from under his shaggy blond hair, K.J. is uncharacteristically smitten. Soon, both K.J. and Virgil are spending a lot of their time watching the wolves (and each other), and K.J. begins to see herself and her town in a whole new light. (from

My Ramblings:
I don't read a ton of contemporary YA fiction- a lot of times I want the escape that comes with paranormal and fantasy, but every once in a while I will scoop up something more realistic. The quickest way to get me to grab your book? Yellowstone. It's as easy as that. So this book, set just outside the park in Montana and focusing on the controversy that came with the reintroduction of wolves in 1997, was a no brainer. I've done reports on the subject and spent countless hours sitting on the hill in Lamar Valley watching the Druid Peak pack go about their lives. I've sat on a carcass (not really sat on- I've sat in pull offs and watched a carcass) in the hopes that I will glimpse a wolf or grizzly coming in for a meal. I've said it before, and will say it again I'm sure, Yellowstone, for me is home. So any chance to visit I'll take. I live a four DAYS drive away, so a lot of times that visit comes through a book or tv show. Needless to say I was excited to read this one. So how did it do as far as visits go?

Simply put, it was excellent. I could see everything KJ and Virgil saw and was totally invested in their journey as they tried to figure out who they are and what they believe in. KJ, a lifer in her small town has grown up with one point of view, that the wolves are both bad for business (as far as the ranchers are concerned) and good for tourism (as far as her fathers guide business is concerned), but she doesn't feel passionately one way or the other. Other people in town do though, they want the wolves gone, and fast. Virgil on the other hand, blows into town with his mother, who studies wolves for a living and is sqaurely on the opposing side. For her, and by extension Virgil, the wolves are a great thing. When Virgil and KJ and partnered up on a column for the school paper on the wolves they find themselves confronting their own beliefs, the beliefs of the town and trying to find a way for everyone to live together. 

I'm going to talk for one quick minute about KJ's come to Jesus moments regarding the wolves. It was good, and for me it was also funny. Here's why. Shortly after the wolves were released from their reintroduction pens in the Lamar Valley my family visited the park (as we did every couple years). Of course we were hoping to catch a glimpse of the wolves. There is a road in valley that goes back to a trailhead, camping area and a nice spot to fish called Slough Creek. We were stopped in there scanning for animals when I looked behind me and saw, up on a huge boulder, a black wolf. I looked at him, he stared at me, and then he backed off away from the ledge and was gone. It was my first connection to the wolves and it really does change you. I had no opinion before that moment besides "it's cool", afterwards I was certain of why the reintroduction was good and why we now had to protect the wolves. KJ's moment seemed to mirror mine. Everything she saw and felt made absolute sense to me. It was pretty awesome. 

One thing that I feel the need to mention is that I wonder if people who do not travel to Yellowstone and the area often feel lost in the descriptions of where Virgil and KJ go with Virgil's mom in the park. To me it's as familiar as walking through my house, but I worry that others might not visualize it as I do, and mabye additional descriptions of what the area looks like might help. I'd be interested to know what others thought if they are not at home in the park. 

Overall though, this was a phenomenal book. Chandler nailed it as far as I'm concerned. Not only did she bring me back to Yellowstone, but she created believable characters who are dealing with an issue that happens all the time around the park. I thought it was all really well done. 

White Cat
By: Holly Black
Release Date:
Author Website


Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories. (From

My Ramblings:
So as far as reading goes I jump from Wolves... to this in a matter of hours, and I'm not going to lie, it took me a little bit to switch gears and really get into White Cat. It was no fault of Black though, this book has a little bit of everything, but what really drew me in was the mystery surrounding Cassel and Lila and what really is going on. 

I loved the character of Cassel, he was a perfect outsider who was trying really hard to fit in. He's afraid of himself and what he is capable of and is confused and scared about what is happening to him. To be honest this book is really hard to review because I feel like every time I go to write something I realize it's a bit of a spoiler. So instead I'll keep it simple. Black creates a believable world in which magic holds the ultimate power. Cassel, who comes from a family of curse workers, has resigned himself to simply being a conman with no magical abilities. Suddenly he finds himself in the middle of a plot that is not only the ultimate con, but laced with magic and deception. Figuring out who is playing who and to what end is enough to keep Cassel busy for the majority of the book, and his play to flip to power to his side is a great climax to the story. 

As much as I loved Cassel and his family, there is one character I really want to know more about and that is Philip's wife Maura. I would love to not only know more about her life with Philip and what she has gone through, but also what her life is like now. 

Of course I can't wait to get my hands on Red Glove (already on reserve at the library!) to see what happens next!

I also read Bumped by Megan McCafferty and that review is here. I couldn't wait to review it because, well, I was so befuddled by that book that I had to get my thoughts out ASAP. 

Until next time,
Happy reading!

Friday, September 9, 2011

My Ramblings on Bumped by Megan McCafferty

By: Megan McCafferty
Release Date: April 2011
Author Website

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from. 

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common. 

My Ramblings:
Well, this is going to be one of those rare moments when I don't have a whole heck of a lot of nice stuff to  say about a book. This book, while it has received several great reviews and I heard good things about it from others, just really didn't do it for me. 

It started off bad when during the first several chapters I kept getting confused as to which sister was which. I was constantly checking back to the beginning of the chapter and even then I couldn't remember which one was Harmony- the Bible thumper or the professional humper? (bad joke) This was an issue that carried over to other parts of the story, I felt like everything was on the surface without a lot of explanation and therefore I didn't connect with the characters or plot. Both Melody and Harmony seemed like stereotypes instead of fully formed individuals and I just couldn't get invested in their journey or their struggles. Even the world around them seemed to suffer from a lack of explanation. Acronyms were thrown out without definition, slang was tossed out in conversation left and right and without any context and it was hard to follow. The intentional spelling changes were irritating instead of lending insight into the world these girls live in. For instance- seeing the word really repeatedly spelled "rilly" was frankly really annoying. 

I suspect that the author was trying to show the superficial world these girls are living in. That they have been reduced to breeding for profit and how horrifying that is, but I found myself unable to envision a world where this could be the reality, and therefore it wasn't horrifying at all, just laughable. I wish that there had been more context to it all. Where had the virus come from, what had been done to try and stop it, how did it get to the point where girls were treated like breeding stock? Without that background to back up the story I felt a bit lost. 

Lastly, this book falls into the trap that a lot of books seem to fall into- that of the cliff hanger ending. They are written and set up for sequels and trilogies and there is the risk of the book not being able to stand on it's own. That is how I felt when I hit the last page. There is no resolution. A spectacularly written first book in the series will do two things in my opinion: 

1. Come to a conclusion of some sort. It will have a satisfying ending that is enough all on it's own without needing the next book to finish the story. Of course there will be some loose ends to tie up, a promise of a next adventure, or some greater story that is waiting (for example- Harry Potter). 

2. That anticipation of what could possibly happen next will leave the reader wanting more. 

Bumped did neither of these things for me. There was no satisfaction to be found in the final pages of this book, it's all left for the sequel (or trilogy), Worse then that, I didn't even care about what was going to happen next. I have suspicions as to what choices Melody and Harmony will make next, but I'm not invested in their journeys in a way that when I closed the book I was instantly wanting more. 

Is there a possibility that I've totally missed the entire point of this book? Absolutely. Maybe there is some greater message that I missed out on, or maybe I'm trying to read too much into a book that is just supposed to be fun. Either one of those scenarios could be spot on. So if you've read Bumped and you are reading my ramblings on it and thinking "WTF? Did we even read the same book? This girl is crazy!" let me hear it in the comments. 

Until next time~ Happy reading!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Ramblings on A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin

So I kept feeling like I had forgotten to review a book somewhere in there. It seemed like I read more Fantasy & Magic books and then I realized that I never reviewed A Clash of Kings. I meant to, but it was just such a hefty book that I thought to myself "I've got to sit on this one for a little bit" and then it just slipped through the cracks. So here we go...

A Clash of Kings
By: George RR Martin
Author Website


A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who hold sway over an age of enforced peace are dead, victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns. Six factions struggle for control of a divided land and the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, preparing to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. It is a tale in which brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside. Against a backdrop of incest and fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel...and the coldest hearts. For when kings clash, the whole land trembles. (from

My Ramblings:

For me these books are so hard to review because there are so many people and stories swirling around and I struggle with how to talk about it without giving anything away. Martin has created a incredibly rich world and characters that are well rounded. I care about these characters, and I want to visit Westeros, and unfortunately for someone like me who gets attached to characters in books, nothing is sacred. Which is precisely the issue. At the end of the first book, Game of Thrones, Martin went ahead and killed off someone who should have been untouchable. With the drop of the sword nobody was safe, and I felt it all the way through A Clash of Kings. Again, because there are so many twists and turns to the story I'm only going to give a broad overview so that I don't ruin anything for anyone!

This books picks up where Game of Thrones ended and we follow our main players as the battle for the throne comes to a head. Robb in the North, Renly and Stannis and then Joffrey at Kings Landing (with his mother pulling the strings). Of course, we also have Dany and her Dragons still trying to find their way back into the seven kingdoms. In other words, there are a lot of people to keep track of, and those are just the people hoping to be King!

For me I found that there was a bit of a disconnect in this book that I didn't necessarily feel in the first book. There were some characters that I simply didn't care for, so I would skim their chapters in order to get to the chapters on the ones I did. I stressed over the fates of Arya and Sansa. Would she make it home to Winterfell and what would she find if she did? Would Sansa find her own voice and somehow find her freedom? I'm always entertained by Tyrion Lannister regardless of what he's up to, so I of course I loved his chapters and looked forward to them. As in Game of Thrones Tyrion did not disappoint! Even the characters who took a back seat to my favorites, Like Theon Greyjoy, still managed to be interesting (although the initial scenes with his sister were rather painful). 

Overall, I learned more about Westeros, saw some of the old heroes come up short and witnessed the emergence of new powerhouse characters. So, basically, a good time was had by all! I can't wait to see how A Clash of Kings plays out on HBO. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Ramblings on Shine by Lauren Myracle

So the summer of fantasy and magic isn't quite shaking out as expected. Mostly b/c my library kind of blows and the wait between books is insane. (FYI- nice people but small inventory- I spend a crazy amount of time waiting for ILL's to come in...) As is I may have to wait 6-8 weeks for the next book in a series to show up. Which leaves a lot of time without books! So of course I found some other books to read!

By: Lauren Myracle
Release Date:
Author Website


When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author. (from

My Ramblings:
This book was a bit of a departure for me, I've been reading a lot of Fantasy and Paranormal books lately (some veering firmly into Sci-Fi) so changing gears and going with a Realistic Fiction book was a really nice change of pace. I'll be honest in why I grabbed the book. The cover. It's beautiful. The one flower about to bloom, the desolate landscape in the background. I didn't even read the jacket before checking it out. The book definitely lived up to the cover. 

This book centers on a young girl named Cat growing up in a painfully small town where everyone is in your business and there is no room for anyone who is different. Everyone has secrets. Cat's secret has pulled her away from her friends and family and turned her into a shell of who she used to be. When her former best friend is brutally assaulted her world is shaken and she emerges with a mission. She has to find out who would hurt Patrick and why, and in doing so she takes a hard look at her town, her friends and herself. 

This book is really beautifully written. The story jumps around some. As it moves forward, we also see the events that led to Cat's withdrawal from her friends and family, and how her life changed after. We also catch glimpses of Patrick's life as well as Cat's bother and friends. In the end we get a very clear picture of not only who these people are, but how they got there. Everyone knows people like this. The big brother who struggles with protecting his siblings while still maintaining his reputation. The big man on campus who thinks he can take whatever he wants no matter the consequences. The kid who is so comfortable in his own skin that he doesn't care what others think. The one who is so ashamed of who he is that he spends his whole life fighting it. The broken girl who just needs a chance to find her way again. The small town where it's so hard to   stay, but where you can't imagine leaving either. This book is a slice of life, a specific story in a specific place and time, but it could be anywhere and that's what makes it powerful. 

Sure I had suspicions as to who had assaulted Patrick before the big reveal, but there was enough doubt that it's didn't spoil it. So, I won't give anything away here either. It's worth reading and discovering for yourself. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Ramblings on Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles

Dear Chain Reaction (and by extension Simone Elkeles), I love you. Not in a creepy way, but in a "I instituted a book buying ban but broke it for you because I simply couldn't wait until my notoriously slow library got you in." In other words, I love you enough to crack open the wallet and own you. (Errr... this keeps getting stranger, I think I'll move on). Although before I jump into the meat of this post I do have to give credit where credit is due and say thank you to MA from EFG who insisted I read Elkele's How to Ruin series- she was right, I loved them and now I'm hopelessly addicted to Elkeles' books. The only course of action is to ramble on about this addiction and do my best to make sure you guys read all of Elkeles books too. So here we go....

Chain Reaction
By: Simone Elkeles
Release Date: August 16, 2011
Author Website

Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks—whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill. 

Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules—boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules. Getting Nikki to take a chance on a southsider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?

My Ramblings:
As already mentioned, I loved this book. I love the other books in this series (Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction). What Elkeles does is pretty amazing- meaning she writes realistic books about teens, and she writes them well. She doesn't shy away from the worst there is out there. Through the Fuentes boys, in this book specifically Luis, we see how no matter how much you want a better life, sometimes circumstances pull you back under. We see gang activity, shootings, drug deals gone wrong and a huge amount of cursing. We also see kids having sex for all the wrong reasons. Still, for every harsh reality we also see the best of humanity on display. We get to see true love blossoming (in all it's awkward and dramatic glory) and we see a family who sticks together against all odds and who would literally die for each other if it came down to it. Most importantly, we see that there is always hope. 

As always I'm going to start with the negative and end on a high note. A really minor thing made me cringe, and I hate to mention it, but I feel like I probably should. Here it is... Paco, Alex and Brittney's kiddo is two and in the book it's stated that he smiles at Luis with his four tooth grin. Now I have a two year old- and she's had a full mouth of chompers for a while now- so that was something that made me wonder. (did I miss something here?) It certainly didn't ruin the book or anything, but Elkeles is one of those authors that I feel does an insane amount of research for her books (I've seen the pictures of her riding around with cops and in an interview she talked about visiting prisons) and this little thing struck me as out of character. Anywho- minor issue in a great book, so let's commence with the good stuff!

This book is told in alternating points of view, this time Luis (the youngest Fuentes) and Nikki and much like the other books we see how they meet, how they challenge each other, fight, love and eventually come out better people. I don't want to give any of the story away (I want you to go read it- like now) so I'm going to refrain from gushing about every little plot point and story line, but lets just say there is a lot of action, some devastating heart break, some laughs and some really, really good loving. 

Not for nothing, but Elkeles is a master at a few things- accuracy, humor and love. And by love I mean everything make out sessions and sex scenes to proposals and weddings and happily ever after- she...uh... nails it. 

So, the long and the short of it is that this is a great third book in a great series from a great author. If you haven't read Elkeles' books yet, you really should get on it! Oh, and if you ever get the chance to see Elkeles in person, do that too. She is a great presenter and a lot of fun. 

I'm going to leave you with the book trailer for Chain Reaction... it's a good one (as are all her other book trailers)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Ramblings on Why this Week is Awesome!

Some very cool stuff happened in the last few days... some book related, some not, but all worth mentioning. Don't fret (I know you aren't)- a book review is coming soon! I just finished Simone Elkeles' Chain Reaction, I need a hot (and I mean hot) second to process it all and then I'll be back to share my ramblings with all you. First though... why this week rocks. 


1. I won TWO contests. One bookish, one not. One that I knew I was getting (based on when I entered), one I had no clue I was getting.

Contest one was from Elkeles herself as part of her Chain Reaction Release date festivities. All I had to do was post a picture of me with Chain Reaction. If I was one of the first 50 I would win an autographed picture of the Fuentes brothers. First I was bummed. I didn't have Chain Reaction. Then I got an email from BN- turns out I pre-ordered the book months ago and it was waiting patiently on the Nook to be read! So I snapped a shot, posted to Facebok and was in line for a picture.

(not sure why I look so smug here- I just do)

This means I get a picture of some sort signed by these three young men. Well worth sharing a crappy picture of myself with the internet, right? 

By the way- have you read these books? If not, you should. Like now. And while you are at it, go get all her other books, and also, if you have the chance to see her in person, get on that too. I kid you not she is the funniest person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I won't even blame you if you stop reading this post to go do it. (although fair warning- there's Joey Lawrence in the next section. So you know, you'd be missing out on that.)

Contest 2 has zilch to do with books- but it does have to do with shoes, and who doesn't like that. Right? Anywho- my favorite brand of shoe is Keen. These are not sexy, man killer shoes. These are I'm going to wear them everyday while I chase a toddler shoes. Also, climb some mountains and play in the mud and water shoes. There are 3 people in my house- there are 8 pairs of Keens. My love for this brand clearly overpowers the purse-strings every time they send me an email. Yesterday I captioned a picture on twitter and low and behold I won a pair of Keens. I've been coveting these boots for MONTHS. I ordered them this morning...FOR FREE. So yeah-- awesome :)


2. And now for what is clearly the most awesome portion of this week (although free stuff is hard to top). Yesterday I got an email from twitter. It was a generic "so-and-so is now following you" blah-blah-blah. I generally check the persons profile- see if it's someone worth following back and the delete the email. This is the notice I got yesterday....

Joey Lawrence as in "WHOA" was following me on twitter. I don't know why. I don't follow him (I'm not overly sure I even like him...he'll probably unfollow me now). Still- as a child who grew up on Blossom and TeenBeat, this is inexplicably cool. I have a few theories as to where the guy even found me. One is that he has a love for reading and found me that way...this is obviously a long shot. Maybe his twitter account was hacked and for reasons only known to the person who did, I was chosen as part of some nefarious plan and thus was followed- this is also silly. My last theory, which I almost love more then the fact that he's following me is that he twitter stalks the NKOTB twitter accounts and snags up unsuspecting fans to follow that way. I tweeted several NKOTB related tweets in the last few week and suddenly former teen heart-throb Joey Lawrence is all over it. Coincidence? I think not. Although, if this theory is true, um... there's no other way to say it, but dude...lame. Maybe if Joey Lawrence is reading this post (as I will be tweeting a link) he can give me the real deal- but until then I will simply say he is following me because I am awesome (obviously). 

Furthermore- I prefer to believe that it's Blossom-era Joey Lawrence following me and not Melissa and Joey-era Joey. For obvious reasons and not just the hair. I mean come-on. Look at this vest:

(I mean really look at this vest. It's like Aladdin meets Tiger Beat and is clearly all awesome)


So that is how this week has gone so far, and it's only Wednesday. Clearly I should be out buying a lotto ticket or something. *Sigh* Now I'm off to work on real book blogging stuff... you know, reviews and what not. Stay tuned for Chain Reaction, George RR Martin's Clash of Kings and Lisa McMann's The Unwanteds

Hoping everyone else's week is loaded with awesome too!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Ramblings About Expectations...

... or where I ramble on about two books instead of one. 

So this past week I read two books, Rampant by Diana Peterfreund and Demon Girl by Penelope Fletcher. Rampant I bought at the store, mostly because the cover was pretty kick-ass (I mean, swords and unicorns. I'm in.) Demon Girl I had grabbed up for free for the nook a few months ago and it's been just sitting on there waiting to be read. I had high expectations for Rampant, I'd heard some great stuff about it, the ratings and reviews on GoodReads were pretty positive, and after reading the synopsis I was pretty stoked to dive in. Demon Girl on the other hand I had no expectations for. I hadn't heard anything about it and hadn't even looked it up on GoodReads. Needless to say, it didn't really have anything to live up to. Now here's the thing about expectations, they are usually unattainable. Occasionally a book will totally live up to the hype, but it's rare. Look at some of the great series' whose final entry falls short for one reason or another (ahem...Mockingjay). The chance for disappointment is huge. Now, having no expectations? There's really no where to go but up. Either the book is just meh, which isn't a let down since you weren't expecting anything to begin with, or it exceeds expectations and you are pleasantly surprised. It's probably easy to see where I'm going with this as it pertains to Rampant and Demon Girl but I'll let the reviews speak for themselves. Fair warning though- there will be some spoilers in these reviews, I couldn't really get around it, and since these are not new releases I think it's fair game. So let's get to it...

By: Diana Peterfreund
Release Date: August 2009
Author Website

Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns...

Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.

Or not.

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student ... an attraction that could jeopardize everything.

My Ramblings:
So, as you may have guessed by now this book fell way short for me. I was excited to read it, I liked the idea that we were going to see unicorns in a new light and I especially liked that the main character, Astrid's, path was dictated by the life of Alexander the Great. I saw so many cool ways this could go. And go they did. I was really into this book for about 90% of the pages. 

To start I really liked the mythology behind who the unicorn hunters were, that they were descendants of Alexander the Great who had a great war horse, which was actually a unicorn. I liked how that whole plot line played out, the interweaving of Alexander and his horse, the mythology surrounding Diana and the virgin hunters and then how these girls are called upon to take up their place in the line of hunters when the unicorns re-emerge. Peterfreund does a phenomenal job creating this world, I felt like I could very clearly picture everything from Astrid and Giovanni to the Cloisters to the different types of unicorns. I never felt the need to page back and remind myself which was which- from the Zhi to the Karkadann I got completely what they were and what they looked like. Each hunter was well thought out and their reasons for being there played out nicely. I was completely with them as they struggled to become not just good hunters, but good unicorn hunters and as they   contemplated what being a hunter meant. It was all very well done and then, for me, it crumbled. 

Going into the last section I felt like there were a lot of loose ends. What ever became of Brandt, Astrid's sort of boyfriend who was attacked by a zhi and then miraculously cured by a unicorn poison remedy and then subsequently disappeared? To me it seemed like it was heavily hinted that the Gordian, who was bankrolling the hunters training may have taken him to perform tests on him. How about Seth, the seemingly good guy who we end up finding out was being paid by Gordian to deflower Astrid's cousin? He also disappears, but to where. What of the other hunters that the Gordian is supposedly keeping and running tests on? We know one was sent in to be a spy at the Cloisters (she changed sides), but what of the others? These are just three plot lines that are left completely unanswered. The final battle is supposed to be epic, but to me it was an epic let down. There was none of the gore and violence we saw earlier in the book, I wanted to see the girls really fight, but instead it seemed like they just walked on in and got down to slaughtering the unicorns. It ends and the head of The Gordian is taken out by the Karkadann and then it's over. I finished it and literally thought "Huh. So that was odd." Not the best way to end a book. 

Others loved this book, so it's entirely possible I missed something, or that these things will be answered in the sequel, but on it's own I thought this book could have been great if it wasn't for these few things that closed the book out. (I'll talk about sequels in a minute)

Demon Girl
By: Penelope Fletcher
Release Date:
Author Website

Rae Wilder has problems.... Supernatural creatures swarm the earth, and humanity is on the brink of extinction. Stalked by a handsome fairy who claims she is like him, demonkind, Rae thinks maybe it was a mistake breaking the rules by going over the Wall into demon territory. Plunged into a world of dark magics, fierce creatures, and ritual sacrifice, she is charged with a guarding a magical amulet. The changes to her mind and body are startling, but rather than accept her purpose she struggles against who she is destined to be. Throw in a big lust for a vampire who can't keep his hands off her, and life starts to get complicated. Rae is forced to make the ultimate choice: to live and die human, or embrace her birth-right and wield magics that could turn her into something wicked, a force of nature nothing can control.

My Ramblings:
As noted I had zero expectations going into this book. I picked it for three reasons. 
1. Cool cover. 
2. It's YA Paranormal/Dystopian 
3. It was free. 

That simple. I grabbed it several months ago and let it sit on the Nook for a rainy day. To be sure there were some things about this book that I wasn't a huge fan of. I know formatting is sometimes not the authors fault with eBooks, but there was definitely some wonkiness going on. Random paragraph breaks and extra letters floating around here and there. I've taken other authors to task over things that could be fixed with better editing so it's only fair I mention it here, but honestly, the issues were few and far between, and it didn't really take away from the experience at all. So with that out of the way, did Demon Girl exceed expectations? Absolutely. This was a really interesting story that mashed together dystopian (which I love) and the supernatural (which I also love). 

Our main character is Rae and she is a bit of an odd ball. She's an orphan, in training to be a cleric (aka Demon Hunter) and, oh yeah, she also happens to be a demon. I liked that Fletcher jumped right in with the fact that Rae is a demon. There was no beating around the bush, no "is she or isn't she", just Rae is a demon, the worlds about to go to hell in a hand basket (again), so what is she going to do about it. I really appreciate that. That being said, I would have liked a little more background on some of it. There were a few moments where I stopped and thought "huh?" but all in all it was well done.

So to the story, the Rupture was an event where the balance of power tilted and vampires began eradicating humans who began walling themselves off for protection. Rae lives and trains in one of those enclosures, but ventures outside to run despite the dangers of demons. It's outside where she meets Breandon, a fairy who revels to her that she is a fairy as well. Then her world pretty much spirals out of control as various demons come out of the woodwork and they all want something from her. She's bonded to Breandon, she has some crazy attraction/attachment to Tomas (a vampire) and the various fairy factions all want her on their side as a new war flares up. She not only has to deal with understanding who and what she is, she has to decide what her place will be as the power struggle comes to a head. Another thing I appreciated was that Fletcher didn't shy away from taking out a character in the process of building up the tension. Violence wasn't hinted at, it was shown. Fletcher did a great job at showing the good, the bad and the ugly of what life post-Rupture would be like. 

And now the so what moment of this post...

So what does all this mean? Well, I guess what struck me was how expectations really change how I look at a book. I'm not trying to compare the books in any way, since they are really too totally different stories, but how I went into them certainly is worth thinking about. It's possible that Rampant never stood a chance with me, with what others were saying any little thing would mean that it simply couldn't live up. The fact that there were some fairly big things missing meant that, for me, it was a huge let down. Demon Girl on the other hand couldn't really fail. Even with the minor issues, it still was better then expected. Had I gone into both expecting nothing, then both may have been seen as successful. The opposite applies as well, if both were supposed to be fabulous then any issue in either would have resulted in my disappointment. It's funny how expectations can do that. 

Awhile ago I mentioned sequels- and I'll make one brief observation about those before I end this colossal post and call it a night. Both Rampant and Demon Girl are the first book in a series. Book two in both are out now. My library has neither, so if I want to read them and find out what happens I have to purchase it.  I already bought Demon Day for my Nook (it was $2.99), I might not read it right away, but I intend to find out what happens next. The sequel to Rampant, Ascendant, is also available for the Nook ($6.99) but I just couldn't buy it, no matter how badly I want to know if those loose ends are ever tied up. I felt like the level of disappointment that would occur if I spent more money and still was left empty-handed would be too much. My expectations have now flipped. I fully expect Demon Day to live up to Demon Girl, so I'm willing to pay for it. I expect nothing from Ascendant, if I get the chance to read it for free (come on library!) I will and hope that it leaves me pleasantly surprised.  

So what do you guys say? Do you hate it when books just don't live up to the hype or do you ignore the hype completely (which is seriously hard to do!)? And finally- want to give any of these books a read? Head to the library, or your local bookstore and see what you think!