Thursday, May 31, 2012

What's Next? (1)

What's Next? is a new weekly meme hosted by IceyBooks!  It's a chance for you to choose what I read/review next.  Here are this week's options:

Leave me a comment and tell me which you'd like me to read next!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ruined (Ruined, #1)

Paula Morris
309 pages
Publisher: Point
Source: purchased

You can read the Goodreads summary.

I found this book in the YA section of my favorite used bookstore.  It seems like the past few times I went, I would pick this one up, consider it, and leave it behind, but I finally purchased it for myself last week.  Even though I'd never heard of it before, it sounded like a really great YA novel and the cover really attracted me.

When Rebecca's father must travel to China of business, Rebecca is sent to live in New Orleans with her aunt and cousin.  As a New Yorker, Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in the deep south with their strange traditions and social hierarchies permeating the private high school she's attending.  The one thing her aunt tells her she must absolutely not do is visit the cemetery across the street; so naturally Rebecca checks it out one night and she meets a new friend, Lisette.  But she soon discovers Lisette is more than she seems and Rebecca has been inadvertently pulled in to a family curse that's been happening for over a century and a half.

This was billed as a ghost story, which it is, though it wasn't nearly as haunting as I anticipated.  Though there are hundreds upon hundreds of ghosts in New Orleans (according to the book) we really only get to know one and she's doesn't have an ounce of scary in her.

In addition, the Goodreads summary states upfront, "A gripping YA supernatural novel set in New Orleans: TWILIGHT with a ghostly twist."  This led me to believe there would be either a great romance or a dramatic love triangle - there was neither.  There were a few kisses, but that was about it, and I felt no chemistry at all between Rebecca and her love interest, or any of the characters for that matter.

I felt like the writing and plot were pretty basic in Ruined and while I enjoyed the novel while I was reading it, I felt like it had so much more potential to be complex and compelling.  Overall, this book was okay.  It's billed as YA, but I think perhaps a younger set would enjoy it more than I did.  Evidently there will be a sequel, Unbroken, due out this coming August.

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)

Kristin Cashore
471 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: purchased

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

I'm not a fantasy fan at all.  Back in high school it seems all we did at each other's birthday parties was watch LOTR DVDs, and I usually sat there bored.  So when my book club choose Graceling as our June read, I was admittedly apprehensive.  Most of the time I hate made up names and places in books and the little maps at the beginning of such books don't usually help.  Sure enough, after two chapters of Graceling I was ready to give up, but I plowed ahead so I would have something to say on Saturday night.

But you'll notice above I gave the book four stars.  How is this possible?  Well, I'll tell you, by about a third of the way through I was actually enjoying the novel!  And by about half way through, I didn't even want to put it down.  It quickly became a "stay up until 2 am and just finish it!" kind of night.  You know a fantasy book is good when I actually like it!

Graceling is a coming-of-age novel about a young Graceling named Katsa.  Gracelings have two different eye colors and special powers that could be as mundane as nothing, or super-powerful and extremely useful like the ability to kill, survive, or sense other through walls.  Since Katsa is the King's niece, she is often forced to use her Grace to his benefit, killing foes or at least threatening them, but this isn't the life Katsa wants.  Deep down she's much more peaceful and wants to put her Grace to use for good, not bad.

That's pretty interesting in and of itself, and I did enjoy learning about how Graces worked.  But, being the hot-blooded female that I am, there was something a little more interesting to me in this novel... and his name was Po.

Oh, Po.  *swoon*  If you thought Edward Cullen was dreamy, you were wrong.  You must read Graceling and swoon over Po.  Everything about him is adorable: his name, the way he puts Katsa before himself, the way he wants to protect her even though she's a million times stronger than him... I could go on.  Of course, Po is extremely interested in Katsa, but Katsa has sworn of marriage and babies.  Yet at the same time, she's drawn to Po as well.  Oh sexual tension, love it!

One of my favorite characters was young Bitterblue, Po's cousin who must be saved from her evil father.  Bitterblue was only ten years old, but she was strong and lovable.  She was very well spoken for a child her age and had an infallible sense of right from wrong.  The third book in this series focuses on her and I'm excited to read that eventually and learn more about her.

This book goes to prove you cannot judge a book by it's beginning.  Three or fours stars - that was the question.  Well, after sleeping on it last night I'm giving it four stars because once I finally got into the novel (about one third of the way through) I had a definite sense of un-put-down-ability.  I will be continuing on with the series at some point, though I think I'm more eager to read Bitterblue than Fire.  If you're a huge fantasy fan though, I guarantee you're going to love this book and you should definitely give it a look.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3)

Spell Bound
Rachel Hawkins
327 pages
Publisher: Hyperion
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

*This review may contain spoilers from Hex Hall and/or Demonglass.

Spell Bound is the third and final book in the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins.  In this edition we find Sophie striped of her powers and facing the greatest challenge of her life thus far - Brannicks vs. Casnoffs.  She needs to find a way to get her powers back and Sophie will learn a lot about herself and her history as she faces this challenge along with her group of friends from Hex Hall.

Just like the first two Hex Hall novels, I was immediately pulled into Spell Bound.  I don't know what it is about Rachel Hawkins' writing, but I'm absolutely drawn to it.  I think a big part of it has to do with her voice and her character's personalities.  Sophie was as sarcastic and witty as always in Spell Bound and that kind of humor really appeals to me.  In addition to that, Hawkins does a great job setting a scene and laying out the plot.  Because of that I know I'll be eagerly reading anything she publishes in the future (including this!)

Speaking of the plot - what a page turner as usual!  Sophie finds herself all over the place in this novel, facing one task after another, stretching herself to the limit for the good of the cause.  I really admired Sophie for doing to right thing throughout the novel and for being so brave.  She even admitted at one point that she needed the hugs of her mother, but at the same time she faced the danger at hand head on.  Gotta love a spunky, sarcastic, brave, butt-kicking heroine!

The love triangle from the first two novels comes to a head in Spell Bound.  While I didn't find the romantic tension as compelling as in Hex Hall or Demonglass, I was curious to see who Sophie would ultimately end up with.  I wasn't disappointed with the way it was presented at all.  The book ended on a high note with what is, I hope, potential for a spin-off should Ms. Hawkins ever see fit... and I hope she does.

Four stars!  If you haven't started this series yet, I highly recommend it.  I got these books out of the library to read, but I loved them so much that I've decided I need to own them in hardback, so they're on my Christmas wish list now.  They're a great read for YA paranormal lovers of all kinds!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In My Mailbox (36)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Morganville Vampires Omnibus, Vol. 1 by Rachel Caine

Ruined by Paula Morris

Ophelia by Lisa Klein

Buried in a Book by Lucy Arlington

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

After by Amy Efaw

The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly

The Rebel Wife by Taylor M. Polites

Total TBR: 184

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Night Circus

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
387 pages
Publisher: Doubleday
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

The Night Circus is only open from dusk to dawn and visitors are enamored with its many tents filled with mysterious wonders, but behind the circus there is something greater going on - a competition between a young woman and a young man who do not know the rules, nor what happens when you win... or lose.

Even though The Night Circus is not a YA novel, I would be remiss to not talk about it.  Quite honestly, I got this book out of the library after being on the wait list for ages.  Yesterday, when I realized it was due back in just a few days, I briefly considered returning it unread because my pile of things to do is a bit out of control at the moment.  But I'm so, so glad I decided to read this book, it was absolutely fantastic and I cannot rave about it enough.  It may be of the fantasy genre, but I think there's something in here for everyone...

Romance, for a start.  There is such a beautiful love story told in The Night Circus's pages that I'm sure it will be a classic in the future.  It's a romance people will reference like that of Romeo and Juliet, though the fate of our lovers was somewhat different.

Magic, is another.  The book contains such a fantastical world filled with magic that you can't help but be sucked into the pages, wishing that this were a real world.  If The Night Circus existed, you would be there every night until it mysteriously vanished for its next destination.  I know I would.  The magical world Erin Morgenstern created within the pages is awe-inspiring.  What caught my attention the most was the ice forest - a tent in which everything is white and made from ice.  I would love to play there.  There were several parts of the book, particularly the descriptions of the rides at the Circus, that filled me with childlike-wonder.

Morgenstern is a fabulous writer.  They way she wrote this book was utterly graceful.  The short chapters were so gorgeously written and filled with beautiful detail that I couldn't help turning the page and reading just one more chapter.  I really cannot rave about this book enough!

Five stars!  What a glorious novel.  Even if you're strictly a YA reader, you must give The Night Circus a read; the child inside will thank you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Everneath (Everneath, #1)

Brodi Ashton
370 pages
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

I first became aware of this novel late last fall and immediately wanted to read it, simply for its title and cover... how pretty.  Happily enough, the novel turned out to be even more wonderful than the cover.  I absolutely loved it!  And if my parents hadn't been in town taking up much of my time (and buying me delicious dinners) I would have found the time to read it all in one sitting.

Everneath follows six months of the life of Nikki.  She allowed herself to be pulled into the Everneath to be fed off of, but now she has six months back at the "Surface" to be reunited with her family, friends, and most importantly, boyfriend, before she has to leave again... forever.  But Nikki has a choice to make; Cole, the boy who sucked on her soul in Everneath, has followed her back to the Surface and wants her to become his Queen.  It's not an appealing choice for Nikki, but neither is the gruesome alternative.

Gah!  I loved this book so much!  (*Hugs book*)  I loved the new take on the Persephone myth as well as the other hints at mythology that intersperse the plot and I think Brodi Ashton did a fantastic job reconceptualizing that.  There are lots of other YA mythological retellings on the market right now, but this one did it right.  Not only that, but the writing is beautiful.  Before Nikki was taken to Everneath, she was a typical high school girl, but now her life is infinitely more complicated and though it's not necessarily a happy story, it's gorgeously written and told.

Besides the awesome plot, I loved the characters.  I felt they were all well-rounded, even the secondary characters, although I would have liked to have learned more about Nikki's best friend Jules.  The one thing that really struck me was what happened to Nikki's mom.  It was a sad event, yet I found myself wondering about it.  I don't want to give too much away, but I felt like there was a point where Nikki could have made a decision and as a result would have been able to see her mother again, and I'm not sure why that didn't occur to her.

The themes of the novel went deep and the story is really about how decisions made in the moment can really affect your future in ways you never anticipated.  And it's true!  A lot of young adults don't realize the decisions they make on a daily basis can really affect their futures.  We all need to slow down and think a little more, but when Nikki didn't do that and it created this wonderful story, I can't fault her for it.

Have a I mentioned I loved this book?

Five stars!  This is definitely one of my most favorite books of the year so far and I'm eagerly awaiting next January for the release of its sequel, Everbound.  If you haven't read Everneath yet, it's really time you get around to it, you won't be disappointed.

7/12 completed

Sunday, May 20, 2012

In My Mailbox (35)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Thumped by Megan McCafferty (thanks, Julie!)

PURCHASED (for my super awesome #NotSoYA book club):
Graceling by Kristin Cashore (and I'm so glad to finally start this series!)


Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini (Only 99 cents and includes bonus material from Dreamless!)

Awakening (The Watchers Trilogy #1) by Karice Bolton (I paid 99 cents for Nook, but it's currently FREE for Kindle!)

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (finally!)

I am a Pole (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Partials by Dan Wells

Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins (I love this series so much!  Can't wait to read this.)

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

Total TBR: 179

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dark Kiss (Nightwatchers, #1)

Dark Kiss
Michelle Rowen
348 pages
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Source: NetGalley

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Samantha is an ordinary high school girl until one night she and her BFF go to an all-ages club where Samantha finds herself being kissed by her long-time crush.  Dream come true, right?  Wrong.  Turns out her crush has just sucked the soul right out of her body.  Now she's hungry all the time, but it's not for food... it's for souls.  Enter Bishop, a fallen angel sent along with a rag-tag group of accomplices to set everything right again.  But instead of killing Samantha like he's supposed to, he takes her on as one of the group and together they must come together to stop the woman behind the whole thing.

I've never read anything by Michelle Rowen before, so this was a bit of a first for me in that aspect.  But considering I've read a few fallen angel books in my day, it wasn't totally new to me.  I did appreciate the spin Rowen put on the whole fallen angel aspect, explaining that heaven and hell balance each other out in the amount of souls they have and I found that aspect of the story very interesting.  It really sets this book apart from the other YA angel novels on the market right now.  Although, it was  just a little frustrating getting to that point of understanding because Bishop and his crew are pretty insistent of keeping Samantha in the dark for as long as possible, so the reader remains confused right along with her for a good chunk of the book.

As for the characters, I thought they were pretty flat.  Bishop is pretty brooding, which is typical.  I hate to say it, but I found Samantha's character to be pretty flat.  I found myself wondering what Samantha was motivated by, it wasn't entirely clear to me.  We don't get to know much about her and her relationship with her mother seems more like acquaintances than mother/daughter.  What I did like was the bond between Samantha and her best friend.  I really appreciated that even though there were times when being friends was hard, ultimately they were there for each other until the very end of the novel.  This is a thread that will be carried on into the next novel and it's what will keep me reading into the series.

Three stars overall.  I liked the story, but ultimately it didn't really do anything for me personally.  But, if you're a huge fan of YA paranormals featuring fallen angels and/or the delicate balance between heaven and hell, you will love the beginning to this promising series.  The book will be released May 29th so go check it out!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Summer Before

The Summer Before
Ann M. Martin
215 pages
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Yes, this book is younger than YA but it was a trip down memory lane that I want to share with you.

I still remember my first Baby-Sitter's Club book.  My parents bought my Kristy's Great Idea to take on vacation with us when I was in first grade.  After that trip, I was hooked.  I had it figured out to the day when new books were coming out and I would drag my father to Waldenbooks to buy them.  I was a pretty big fan and read them well past their intended age range.  Then, earlier this year, my online book club decided it would be fun to revisit the series and do a couple rereads for discussion.  I reread Kristy's Great Idea, both the chapter book and the graphic novel version.  I also found out about The Summer Before, Ann M. Martin's prequel to the series, which she wrote in 2010.

This book follows the lives of the four original baby-sitters the summer before their club started.  Kristy wants to be reunited with her father all while trying to deal with her mother having a new boyfriend after her divorce; Mary-Anne is dealing with a strict father who is very hesitant to allow her to start baby-sitting even though her two best friends have already been sitting for some time; Claudia is discovering clothes and boys more and even gets herself a boyfriend for the summer; Finally, Stacey and her family pack up and leave NYC (and snobby, former BFFs) behind in exchange for a new life in idyllic Stoneybrook, Connecticut.

The Summer Before captures the same voice as the original Baby-Sitter's club novels.  It was great to revisit the characters and see how they become the young women they were during the series.  If you were a fan of the series, and I know there are a lot of you out there!, you must pick up this book and take a trip down memory lane.  I think it's a shame this series has fallen from popularity over time and not many girls are reading them anymore, so after you're done with your copy, see if you can find a little girl who loves reading and introduce her to this iconic series.

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)

The Immortal Rules
Julie Kagawa
480 pages
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Source: NetGalley

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

The Immortal Rules is the first novel I've ever read by Julie Kagawa, not that her other books haven't been on my radar.  I've never read anything bad about a Julie Kagawa novel, so I knew I was in for a treat and I surely was!

The Immortal Rules stars Allison, a young woman coming of age in a very broken society.  In her city, the vampires live in the center protected by a huge wall, but Allison and her human friends live on the fringe, unregistered meaning they do not have a quota of blood to donate to the vampires.  But when she's attacked and left to die, a strange vampire named Kanin comes along and gives her a choice - die or become what she hates the most, a vampire.  She chooses "life" and must come to grips with her new lifestyle on the run, forced to leave the city and venture into the unknown.

I loved this book!  Julie Kagawa is an awesome writer.  Her writing is so concise and beautiful, I don't know how to describe how wonderful it is.  But considering I'm the last YA reader in the universe to jump on the Kagawa train, you probably already knew that.  She has the ability to write a scene that really draws you in and makes you feel apart of the action.

Speaking of action, The Immortal Rules is not lacking for it.  It begins with action as Allison, still human, leaves her safe spot in an abandoned school to venture out for food.  There's action when she's turned, there's action after she must flee, there's action when she joins up with a ragtag group of humans who don't know she's a vampire, there's action all the way until the very last word.  Whew!  Yet there are also down times, times when we get to learn more about Zeke, one of the travelers she's joined up with; times we think there might be a budding romance between the two.  He was a pretty dreamy guy!

But my favorite character would be Allison.  Finally a vampire novel where the female heroine is not weak, needing a man to come save her.  Instead, The Immortal Rules features quite the opposite - a strong heroine who swoops in multiple times to save her love interest.  It was very cool.

Five stars!  The Immortal Rules is a fantastic piece of YA literature.  Even if you think you're done with vampires, you must give this book a try if not for the new twist of vampire lore, but to experience the amazing writing of Kagawa.  Do it!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Does this template make my blog look fat?

Just kidding, just kidding... but I did toy with my layout tonight.  In my continuing quest to expand my blog and make it more professional I decided it needed a facelift.  I've been mulling it over for a few weeks and tonight I finally took action!  I think the doodads look better on the right as opposed to the left.  And, the piece de resistance, I created a new blog header all by myself!  (Well, I had some help from Picasa.)  I love it because it's actually related to what my blog is about!

Leave me a comment... are you liking the facelift?

In My Mailbox (34)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Thumped by Megan McCafferty

Everneath by Brodi Ashton 

The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin

Valiant by Holly Black

Total TBR: 174 (Dang, back over 170!)

Thank you so much to Thomas Nelson and WaterBrook Press for the goodies this week!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)

The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness
479 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: purchased

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

I purchased this book because I'm finally joining a real-life book club (YA for adults!  Be still my beating heart!) and this is the first selection.  I'd never heard of it before, but a cursory glance of the back cover made me think it was something I would enjoy.  I was on board.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the story of Todd Hewitt, just a few weeks away from officially becoming a man, Todd is growing up in Prentisstown in the New World.  In Prentisstown, there are no women and every man's thoughts can be heard by every other man leading to a huge amount of noise.  But one day when Todd walks into the woods and hears silence, his guardians hastily tell him he must leave Prentisstown and soon Todd is on adventure and he's not quite sure why, but he will come to discover that Prentisstown is not all he was led to believe.

The first thing that struck me was Todd's dialect.  It was very backwoods and that's how the whole novel was written.  The first sentence in the novel, for example: "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say.  About anything."  I was afraid a book full of "yers" and words ending in "shuns" instead of "tions" would be distracting, but I caught on to the voice of the novel rather quickly and ultimately this language aided in creating a wonderful novel.  The story would have been much less believable if Todd spoke perfect English.  Besides, Todd might sound like a dumb hick, but he's actually very smart for someone with practically no education.  Despite his flaws, Todd was a very likable character.

The silence Todd comes across while in the woods is actually a girl.  Growing up in Prentisstown, Todd had been told that when they arrived to the New World (another planet) they settlers had to fight with the local alien group, who fashioned a biological warfare disease that killed off all the women.  So seeing this girl was a huge shock to Todd and thus began his journey, not only of leaving Prentisstown, but of learning the truth.  Taking that journey along with Todd, I began just as confused as he was since no one would explain to him what the truth was (and they couldn't because everyone else would be able to hear it in their thoughts).  It wasn't until the end of the novel that the truth, or most of it, is learned and it all falls into place.

Todd takes a very interesting journey.  The Knife of Never Letting Go is extremely action packed and I found myself having to set down the novel to take a breather.  Todd never rests!  Of course, you wouldn't either if you were being chased.  The journey didn't go quite as I'd hoped, however.  Part of the ending was predictable, but that didn't bother me.  There were two things in particular, on the other hand, that really did bother me, though I cannot recount them here because they are massive spoilers.  I really wanted to drop my rating to three stars because of it, but...

Four stars!  I cannot fault the author simply for writing a story whose outcome I didn't like.  I can kick and scream, but ultimately Patrick Ness is a great writer.  However, the book dragged on a bit towards the end and I got that feeling of "let's be done already" which is where The Knife of Never Letting Go loses a star from me.  If you love post-apocalytic novels, you'll definitely want to check out this, one the YA originals.  You can also check out "The New World," a prequel by Ness that takes place before The Knife of Never Letting Go... it's free!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Shadows on the Sand

Shadows on the Sand
Gayle Roper
309 pages
Publisher: Multnomah
Source: Blogging for Books

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

I received this book for review last August and I don't know why I let it sit on my shelf so long, it ended up being a perfectly delightful little mystery read.  Shadows on the Sand takes place in the town of Seaside, New Jersey where Carrie owns a little cafe, working alongside her sister and a motley crew of Seaside residents.  Trouble strikes, however, when one of her dishwashers is murdered and her young server's boyfriend becomes a suspect.  Soon a whole cast of characters is woven together in the mystery.  Meanwhile, a much-wanted romance starts to bloom between Carrie and long-time customer Greg.

That's a lot going on in this book, but I loved it because it really kept the pace of the novel moving.  I felt there was a perfect balance of mystery and romance.  The mystery itself had me pondering all the way through the end and the climatic ending had my heart beating fast.  I loved the way Gayle Roper weaved the lives of those involved together.

I thought the characters in Seaside were diverse and lovable, particularly Carrie and Greg, who find themselves in a long-awaited romance.  Of course, one of my favorite characters was Twitter-loving Cilla; I loved the inclusion of social networking in the novel as a way of keeping the residents of Seaside informed.  And I have to give a shout out to Oreo - I love when pets play a role in mystery novels!

The only thing I would have liked more of was Andi.  As a YA reviewer, her character really intrigued me and I would have liked to have known more about her personal life and her roots.  I think a sequel featuring Andi would be fantastic, but any sequel at all will be a welcome addition on my shelf.  I would have also liked to have seen how Carrie's relationship with her mother progressed, but hopefully that's something we can see more of in future Seaside Mystery books!

Three stars - I liked this book!  Seaside is an absolutely charming town and the residents will capture your heart.  Given its location, I think it would be the perfect beach read this summer.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher for free, but that did not affect my review in any way.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Emily M. Danforth
470 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Cameron Post is a young woman growing up in the early nineties in the midwest.  Her parents died when she was twelve, but she still does the normal teen things: school, friends, swim team, but she has a secret: she likes girls not boys.  She explores this a little, but when Coley Taylor moves to town she develops a serious crush that has a lot of potential to move on to something more.  Of course, her aunt who has lived with her since her parents died is a born-again Christian and thus believes homosexuality is a sin that needs to be corrected, so when she finds out Cameron's secret, she sets out to "fix it" right away.

Here's what I really loved about this book - it was all encompassing!  The book starts when Cameron is young, just twelve years old, and follows her until she's sixteen.  It starts off with her first exploring her emerging sexuality and continues on through various girlfriends and rendezvous.  There are distinct sections to the novel: when Cameron was young, what it was like to live with her Evangelical Aunt as she continues to explore her sexuality, what happens when her Aunt finds out and sends her to a new school to try and "fix" her.  This book could easily have been split up into two or three books, a ploy I'm getting a little sick of in the publishing industry, and I was happy to have it all in one volume.

Aside from that, I enjoyed the time period it took place in as well as the setting.  I think both of those combined made the plot of the novel very realistic.  If you were gay in the early nineties in the midwest, I'm sure there would have been a lot of people who thought there was something wrong with you, not with themselves and their intolerance.  Cameron came off as very realistic as well; she struggled with being a little shy and having to hide her "problem," yet she was also just a normal teen with a quirky penchant for doll house interior design.

There was one small thing that bothered me, however.  I understand that not everyone can speak up and defend themselves, whether it be because they are shy or are simply trying to fit in, but I would have liked for Cameron to take an ideological stand against "curing" the gays.  If Cameron couldn't find it in herself to do that, I would have thought at least someone at her school could have.  It surprised me a little that no one did, though that didn't ruin the story for me.  Perhaps since the country is was less tolerant of the LGBT community at that time, I shouldn't have expected someone to take a stand at all.

Four stars!  Overall, I really enjoyed The Miseducation of Cameron Post.  I highly recommend this book as a standalone because it's so well-rounded, my only really complaint is, even though there will be no sequel, I want to know what happens next!  The book ends in 1993 and Cameron would be 35 in 2012.  What is she doing today?  I, for one, would like to believe she's leading a happy and fulfilled life.

6/12 complete!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

In My Mailbox (33)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Timepiece (Hourglass, #2) by Myra McEntire



The Selection by Kiera Cass

Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy

How to Moon a Cat by Rebecca M. Hale

The Chaos by Rachel Ward

 Total TBR: 170

Friday, May 4, 2012

My Life Undecided

My Life Undecided
Jessica Brody
296 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, Giroux
Source: Library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Brooklyn considers herself "decisionally challenged" so when she accidentally winds up in jail for some bad decisions, she decides to give up on choosing for herself.  Instead, she starts a popular blog where she describes her situations and lets the Internet public decide for her.  But when it comes to her new love triangle, she's not sure the public knows what's best.

What I liked about the novel was how realistic it was.  The teenagers talked like teenagers and the adults spoke like adults.  There were a plethora of popular teenage activities in the novel, everything from typical girly primping, to rugby tryouts, to debate team.  And of course a game of Truth or Dare.

What bothered me about the book, however, was Brooklyn's character, who describes herself as "decisionally challenged."  To me that means someone who can't choose an outfit or a lipgloss color or where to go on vacation.  For Brooklyn it just means a lack of common sense leads to bad decisions, like the time she hosted an underage drinking party in her mother's model home, gets drunk, and tries to make fajitas with the fake rubber vegetables in the model kitchen, which of course leads to the whole place burning to the ground.  That's not "decisionally challenged," that's just plain stupid.  My only solace to Brooklyn's character was the ending of the novel.

Three stars - I liked it but I didn't love it.  I though the concept was kind of cool, but ultimately Brooklyn's character came off as just plain stupid and lacking common sense.  The book had it's moments, however, and I would recommend picking this one up either at a discount or from the library.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Difference Between You and Me

The Difference Between You and Me
Madeleine George
256 pages
Publisher: Viking
Source: library

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

You know I'm going to read anything with Laurie Halse Anderson's endorsement on the cover.  I mean really, she's the queen of thought-provoking YA contemporaries.  But even before I knew she liked the book I'd been wanting to read it because the description really drew me in.

Jesse and Emily are complete opposites.  Jesse cuts hair with a swiss army knife into a short, boyish hairstyle and dresses in boyish clothing topped off with hideous fishing boots.  Emily, on the other hand, is VP of the student council and wears cardigans with pearl buttons.  But for some reason, they're drawn to each other and keep meeting each other in secret to make out.  But when an ideological issue draws them apart, will their "relationship" be able to withstand it?

I really enjoyed this quick novel.  I devoured in just a couple hours this afternoon and it was the perfect book to read all in one sitting.  I was hoping to see Jesse and Emily have a relationship, but really all they have is lust for each other.  (Don't worry, the book is not graphic!)  I was glad to see the storyline was much more than whether or not someone was going to come out of the closet, instead the book was more about what it's like to be a young person with a strongly held belief.

That was the part of the book I most related to.  I remember that feeling of being in high school and having an ideological belief that you feel you must take action on.  For my friends and myself that was starting a chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance at our school (only to be squashed by the blasted administration!)  For Jesse and her new friend Esther, it was stopping a Wal-Mart like corporation called StarMart from coming to town and killing all the locally owned businesses.  An admirable cause, to be sure and something my own neighborhood is currently facing.

Despite the book being written from both the points of view of Jesse and Emily, I felt like I got to know Jesse better than Emily.  I don't know if this was the author's intent, but I did feel more like rooting for Jesse, not that there was anything wrong with Emily.  I'm pretty sure she'll grow up to be a republican, but that's really neither here nor there.

Four stars!  Read this book and then give it to a friend who is passionate about a cause, any cause.  It will resonate with them.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Black Dawn (The Morganville Vampires, #12)

Black Dawn
Rachel Caine
367 pages
Publisher: New American Library
Source: review copy sent by publisher

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

When I finished Black Dawn, I shut the book and said out loud to no one in particular, "Oh my God, that was crazy, y'all!"  I received Black Dawn, the twelfth in The Morganville Vampire series, for review and despite having not read a single Morganville Vampire book before this, I was excited to read it.  After doing a little research on the series (during which I discovered I'm the only person in the world who hadn't started it yet) I felt confident enough to jump on in.

Morganville's residents, human and vampire alike, are facing a problem: the draug.  Enemies of the vampires, they are foul, odorous, moist creatures who feed off both humans and vampires, killing their victims in a cruel way.  Most of Morganville's residents have fled the draug epidemic, though pockets remain.  Now it's up to Claire, Shane, Michael, Eve, and a cast of other vampire leaders to fight off the draug, kill and/or drive them from town, and restore Morganville.

Despite having no knowledge of the plot threads or world Caine has built over the previous eleven novels, I didn't find it difficult to follow the plot.  I found the whole plot to be fast paced and enjoyable and even though I'd never met the characters before, I felt invested in their ability to fight off the draug.  Oh the draug, I've never read about anything like them before.  They really are foul, disgusting creatures and Caine does a great job with their descriptions; it made my skin crawl just thinking about how they lure you in with their song despite their vileness.  The post-apocalyptic-esque nature of the novel drew me in and the variety of points of view kept me reading.

Although, having never met them before, I occasionally had a hard time keeping some of the secondary characters straight, it did not hinder my reading of the book.  Every character in this novel is in high-gear; they have enemies to fight and they have to do it before the town is taken over permanently.  Despite the frantic pace of their mission, though, there are quiet moments and respites.  I found one scene in particular between Claire and Shane very touching; they make a sweet couple.  I adored the character of Claire, overall.  She's a well-balanced heroine who can kick-butt, but she also has a bit of a softer side.  I'm looking forward to getting to know her better as a I pursue the series.

On a side note, I thought the way Claire and her gang came up with the fight the draug was pure genius.  It was just so clever!

Five stars!  Black Dawn was an intense, fast paced glimpse into the Morganville Vampire world.  I will definitely be continuing on with the series and I'm looking forward to going back and reading the series from book one.  This world has me hooked.


Michelle Sagara
289 pages
Publisher: DAW
Source: review copy sent by publisher

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Based on the short blurb I read about Silence when I received it, I thought it was going to be about a teenage girl who visits the graveyard to talk with her ghost boyfriend.  I was wrong, Silence is so much more.

Yes, in Book One of The Queen of the Dead series, Emma visits the gravesite of her deceased boyfriend, Nathan, almost nightly.  But it's while she's there that she runs into the new boy from her class, Eric and a mysterious old lady who tries to give her a strange gift.  Soon after she's struck with terrible migraines, which soon turn into an ability see, touch, and speak to the dead.  Emma's a Necromancer and that means there are some higher ups who want to see her dead.  But all Emma wants to do is help the spirits, particularly a little boy who is stuck in the burning house in which he died.

This book was awesome!  The world Michelle Sagara creates within the pages is unique to anything else I've read in the paranormal genre and I really enjoyed it.  Sagara takes her time with the novel; we meet Emma and we learn about her life, her friends and slowly we begin to unravel her new Necromancer world along with her.  Instead of it being described to us in some background paragraphs, we get to learn about with with her, which I loved.  Additionally, Sagara writes a wonderfully detailed scene - I could picture the action very clearly while reading the book.

The characters in Silence were also fantastic.  Instead of Emma and her friends all having the same type of personality, they were uniquely different.  I really liked seeing Emma, Allison, and Amy work together even though they were from different social circles at school.  Michael was also a great character - it was heartwarming to see some of the more popular girls at school befriend an autistic classmate and it was refreshing to see such a character at all.  The only thing I felt was lacking was information about Nathan - we know Emma and Nathan were in love, but why?  I'm looking forward to reading more about Nathan in future novels.

In short, what I really loved was Silence deeper than other mainstream YA out there.  Sagara doesn't talk down to her YA audience, which is appreciated.  Instead, she draws them into an interesting new world and involves them.

Four stars!  The last two pages of the book have left me salivating for Book Two, which as far as I know has no title or release date scheduled yet.  Nevertheless, I cannot wait to continue on with this series, which I suggest you read because I'm sure it's going to be a hit.

April Recap

It's time for the monthly list of everything I read, whether or not it showed up on the blog or not.  I only got around to twenty books in April, even though it felt like I was reading constantly.  If you're interested in a book I didn't review on the blog, you can probably find a short blurb about it by me on my Goodreads page.

The Earthquake Machine by Mary Pauline Lowry
Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade
Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception by Maggie Stiefvater
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Envy by Gregg Olsen
Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Fever by Lauren DeStefano
The End of Everything by Megan Abbott
Talisman of El by Alecia Stone
Intangible by J Meyers
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Prom Dates to Die For by Mari Farthing
A Slave in the White House by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor
Silence by Michelle Sagara
The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross
Black Dawn by Rachel Caine
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Total books read in 2012: 89
Total pages read in 2012: 24,518