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!

1 comment:

  1. Great review of Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me! Wyoming is my second favorite state (runs a close second to Colorado) and now I have to get a copy!

    I, too, like White Gloves very much. Cassel is an awesome character.