Flashback to young love

Not Exactly
a Love Story
By Audrey
Couloumbis
Random House
Children’s Books
$17.99
Hardcover
$10.99 eBook
Publisher’s Summary:
It’s 1977.Fifteen-year old Vinnie isn’t having a good year. He’s recovering from the worst case of galloping acne his dermatologist’s ever seen. His girl moved to California without even saying good-bye. And the ink on his parent’s divorce papers is barely dry, when his mom announces that they’re moving from Queens to Long Island.

The silver lining in all this is that they move next door to Patsy—everyone’s dream girl. Not that she’d ever notice him. But when Vinnie calls Patsy one night, it leads to a chain of anonymous midnight conversations. Under the cover of darkness, Vinnie becomes Vincenzo, Patsy’s mystery caller, and the two share a side of themselves they would never reveal in daylight and develop a surprisingly real connection (despite the lies it’s built on). As Vinnie gets to know Patsy in real life though, it becomes clear both identifies can’t survive and he’ll have to find a way to hang-up the phone and step into the daylight. Fraught with complications and crackling with witty dialogue, and all the angst and electricity that comes with always being just a phone wire away from the one you want, it’s not exactly a love story . . . but it’s pretty close.

My Review:
I thought this book was especially charming and cute. Told in the very real voice of 15-year-old, parents recently divorced, just moved to a new neighborhood, Vinnie, Love Story is witty, quick, and fun. Back before cell phones and computers, if a boy liked a girl, he had to steal her number and call her from the safety of his dark bedroom, anonymously.
Not really, but it adds to this story.
This is Couloumbis’ debut novel for young adults, and I must say, it is a grand success. A quick voice, plenty of smashing dialogue, a charming ending, and some surprisingly profound moments–like the one below–make up
this pretty pleasing package.
“No one tells you how things really are. Everything coming in waves, one rolling in after the other, and in case you’re thinking that doesn’t sound so bad, keep this in mind: that’s how huge rocks, boulders, become sand on the beach.” (pg 14, ebook)
Rating:
I really liked it. It’s deep enough to keep older readers interested and challenging and clean enough for your younger YA reader. I’d rate it a PG (content wise). There are a couple of mild fight scenes and some language.

A wonderful romance between two very damaged characters

Eleanor & Park
By: Rainbow Roswell
Genre: YA Contemproary
Content Rating: PG-13 for
some language and some sexuality (warning: best first kiss scene in a YA EVER!)
Rating: 5/5
Cover: Love how it captures
everything in the book
Instalove Factor: Nope, they
worked hard for their love
Favorite Line: “Park turned
toward the Plexiglas window and waited for a world of suck to hit the fan.” (pg 16, ebook)
Disclaimer I
received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.
 
Publisher’s Summary
“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
My Take I get so wrapped up in reading genre fiction in YA (paranormal, fantasy, dystopian, etc) that I forget how much I love contemporary YA fiction. It has a way of touching you as a reader and making you experience things in a realistic and emotional way that genre fiction could never do. While at times it can be a bit sad or depressing, it’s also refreshing and beautiful.
I just finished reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and this book is one of those refreshingly beautiful contemporary romances. Set in 1986, the book is told from alternating points of view written in the 3rd person, between (you guessed it) Eleanor and Park.
It opens with Eleanor starting a new school and walking on to the bus for the first time and seeing Park then flips to Park’s first impression of Eleanor. Let’s just say it’s anything but love at first sight. Life for Eleanor is hard. We aren’t given many details about her past, but we do know that she was kicked out by her stepdad for a year and is just now coming back home. She has four siblings and all of them share the same room. Her stepdad is an abusive drunk (although Rowell never goes into details about specific events) and she’s being bullied at school. But she is strong and tries to ignore everything.
Park is from a pretty functional family, although his dad wishes he were more….well, just more. Park is ridden hard by his tae-kwon-do teaching father and compared to his younger brother too much. He has friends at school, but he’s pretty quiet. And then he falls in love with the wrong girl.
This seemed like a long book when in reality it really wasn’t. I think that illusion was created by the fact that so much happens on every page; no space is wasted in telling the story and developing the characters.
I loved the snarky comments that constantly came from Eleanor and the fact that she was afraid to let Park get so close, constantly second-guessing that he could actually love her. Park had the patience of a saint in dealing with her insecurities, but he was also human, getting frustrated and making mistakes. They both do, and I think that’s one of the aspects that makes this book so real.
My Recommendation Definitely worth the read. Loved this book so much.
–Rachel

Life of Pi

Author: Yann Martel

Genre: YA-ish (old man telling of his adventure at 16 years old)

Coffee Beans: 4/5

Content Rating: PG-13 (there’s some extreme, graphic violence)

Favorite Line: “The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.” (pg 71, printed copy)

Cover Love: Simplisticly awesome

Instalove Factor: None present.

Personal Recommendation: Read it, but it’s an investment of time and brain cells. But worth it.
Life of Pi is a very unique book written in so many layers about
religion, survival, right and wrong and at a very collegiate level. The
writing is fantastic (almost hypnotic at times), the details both
captivating and repulsive, and the overall story so imaginative, I can’t
help but wonder, What was the point?

Let me explain.

The
book is a lot like the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks, but on a boat
instead of an island and with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker
instead of a volleyball named Wilson.

But there wasn’t any real
storyline or significant plot in the traditional sense. This boy is lost
out at sea for 227 days before he’s found (and you know he survives
because this book is an interview, you find that out in the beginning).
The first quarter of the book is about his childhood growing up, how he
got his nickname Pi, his schooling, and what it was like to grow up
living in a zoo (his father was the head man at the Pondicherry Zoo in
India). While it was fascinating to learn the ins and outs of zoos and
the different animals, the narrative was almost written like a
nonfiction, collegiate fashion that somewhat bored me and I ended up
skimming a little.

He also goes into theology. Pi, as a young boy
(he’s sixteen through most of this), constantly says that he just wants
to love God. As a result, he starts to follow not one religion, but
three. Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Needless to say, this was a
bit of an ordeal for his agnostic parents and the religious leaders of
the different houses of worship he was attending when they all found
out, but you couldn’t help but want to encourage young Pi in his journey
of seeking God. After all, he just wanted to love God, so why did he
have to pick only one religion to do so. While that vein of his life
story was interesting, going into the dry, theological details of each
religion was not, so I skimmed some of this, at times, as well.

The
next section was the majority of the book, and consisted of his story
being stuck out at sea. This was the most interesting part of the book,
obviously. And while it didn’t have any on the edge of your seat
action/peril/look out! moments, it was still very interesting. Martel
has a subtle way of telling the details of a story that seep into every
pore of your body. As Pi was baking from the sun and his skin getting
tortured by the salt spray, I could have sworn my skin tightened with
dehydration. I really could taste his victory of food and fresh water
when he found it, and was scared for him being exposed in the wild
Pacific ocean. This, to me, was the best part of the book, but I
couldn’t help but wish for more of a story arc.

The last section
of the book (about twenty pages or so) takes place when his ordeal ends.
Even though this was the smallest section, I almost liked this the
most. I got more personality from Pi, and this was where the most
thought provoking element of the book comes from. You are presented with
a question, and given the background of the book, and everything we
learn about Pi, it’s not the question I thought it was going to be when I
started reading the book. As a reader, you are given two very plausible
outcomes or paths to choose that come from the question. It’s almost
heart wrenching, the different possibilities. One is so real, and so
tragic, that you don’t want to pick that answer, you’re more willing to
pick the more fantastical option, however absurd it may be.

But in the end, the answer I chose to believe, I hope that is the truth. Because it is a sad and beautiful possibility.

I
would love to get a discussion group together to talk about this book
to see what everyone’s thoughts were, how they reacted to the storyline,
which answer they believe to be correct and why, and just to hear their
overall impressions. I also am planning on going to see the movie. I
heard it was fantastic and very beautifully filmed and followed the book
masterfully.

In the end, I would recommend this book. It’s not an
easy read, nor is it a light read. And you may end up like me at the
end, wondering what the whole point was, while still understanding what
the whole point was. But all-in-all, it was worth my time.

Happy reading, my friends!

–Me

I’ve read better, but still a fresh spin on Romeo & Juliette

Mystic City
Author: Theo Lawrence
Genre: YA Dystopian/Sci-fi
Rating: 3/5
Content Rating: PG (Some
drug use/make-out scenes)
Cover Love: So in love
Instalove Factor: Not really
Spoiler Alert: None
Publisher’s Summary:
Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City’s two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents’ sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn’t remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can’t conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have
glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself.
My Review:
 
There were a few pretty impressive things about Mystic City.
  1. This is Theo’s debut novel
  2. It’s a female progtag POV written by a male author
  3. The world was pretty impressive
The idea behind the story, to me, was intriguing. I loved the idea of a Romeo and Juliet-esque story set in a dystopian/sci-fi future Manhattan. I got a very good visual sense of the Waterworld-type setting with the lower half of the city underwater and everything pretty much being built on cat walks.
I loved that Aria woke up one morning, remembering nothing, but being told she was in love with their family’s sworn enemy’s son. I loved that, while she trusted her family and what they told her, she still was unsure of a few things and wanted to pry.
But that’s where the loving stopped and reality busted in.
Do away with the prequel. Just skip it. I got the wrong idea from reading it so had an incorrect mindset while reading the whole rest of the book. It doesn’t have any “need to know” info so just don’t bother.
The MC was pretty weak. She really didn’t take much action at all, just kind of stood there and let life (read: abusive father, overbearing mother, superficial best friend, back stabbing brother, and  lying fiancé) push and pull her around. It wasn’t until the end of the book that she actually started making her own decisions that I really got into it.
More of Tuck. There wasn’t nearly enough page time for this peripheral character. As it stands, I don’t know why he was even in the book except to act as a chauffeur when Aria needed one and no other character was available. I think he would have added A LOT to the story, so I would’ve liked to see more of him. In fact, I would have liked to see all the characters fleshed out more. They were too two dimensional for me.
There were too many times where I got this strong sense of déjà vu about Harry Potter while reading this. (ie – Aria’s looking for an address, but the houses skip over the number she’s looking for. She does something that triggers the “door bell” and the two houses spread apart and there appears her missing house. Order of the Phoenix, anyone?)
Ugh. It’s a series. And it’s a long book. Probably about a quarter of the book didn’t need to be included. Nothing happened. She would be at work. Or out eating with her friends. Or just filling space with text on a page. There really was a lot of filler in here. And I’m sure not invested enough to pick up the second book. Sorry.
I originally wanted to give it a 2.5 but decided to up it to a 3. Don’t ask me why. I guess because it wasn’t entirely bad. But, as always, pick it up and decide for yourself, you may be thoroughly impressed.
Happy Reading!

–Rach

Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to Getting Girls
Author: Tallulah Darling
Genre:YA
Content Rating: R for “strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of “’bow chicka wow wow’”
Coffee Beans: 4.5
Favorite Line: Holy crap, there were so many.
Personal Recommendation: Read it. Now
Cover Appeal: So awesome it’s beyond words
Instalove Factor: None
Spoliers: No
Publisher’s Summary:
Why the hell can’t chicks be more like guys?

That question plagues high school senior Sam Cruz. Sam is perfectly happy being a player. He just wishes girls wouldn’t change the game from sex to relationships. It makes him look like an asshole. But when Sam’s best friend, Ally Klinger, gets dumped, she begs him to transform her into someone who can screw around then screw off. No risk of heartbreak that way. It’s Sam’s chance to create the perfect female AND cheer up his best friend. Armed with Sam’s Three Step Guide to Backseat Success, Ally gets the game better than Sam thought she would and before long, Sam has his wish: the female version of himself. Too bad it’s driving him nuts. Told from Sam’s and Ally’s alternating POVs, Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to Getting Girls is a fast-paced romantic comedy that follows these teens as they navigate the minefield of sex, love, and friendship.

This book contains strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of “bow chicka wow wow.”

My Review:
Holy hell. Was this book funny! I’m not talking, “Yeah, I cracked a smile a few times” funny, but “I laughed out loud and got strange looks from strangers” funny. Like, on every page.  I loved the hilarious banter between Ally and Sam. Their one liners and inside jokes. The scenes and situations that Tallulah wrote I could picture in my head at every second, which made the hilarity of what was going on even more real. I mean, this should be a movie. Granted, it probably wouldn’t be appropriate for the kiddos out there because of all the bow chicka wow wow.
So, here’s my warning to you about this book if you’re thinking about reading it: If you go into this with the mindset that this is supposed to be some serious, profound book, you’re going to be disappointed. Possibly even disgusted. But, if you go into this book with the mindset of “it is what it is”, you’ll appreciate what Ally’s trying to do and Sam’s struggle with turning his best friend into himself. That’s how I was able to enjoy this book as much as I did and read it in less than a day.
The book, obviously, is about sex. And while that’s a vulgar topic for a YA book to be about, Tallulah does it in a way that somehow, is completely un-vulgar. She has mad skill in the dialogue department and the setup of the relationship between Ally and Sam right from the beginning. I think it’s because alternating chapters are told from either Sam or Ally’s POV.
Which coincidentally was also a problem I had with this book.
There were several times I thought I was reading Ally’s POV only to remember it was Sam’s head I was in. Talk about confusing. The only other thing I had an issue with, was when a certain secret was spilled, suddenly everyone knew, but I don’t remember ever reading a scene where the friends were told about said secret. It just all of a sudden, was.
I especially enjoyed the relationship development between Ally and Sam. Given their history and backgrounds, the pace in which the evolution happened was totally believable. Especially the end. Which I won’t spoil for you. But I’ll for sure be on the prowl for more of Tallulah’s books.
Some funny lines:
“Yo, fry Ninja, step down.” –Ally
“Monkey humping credit card baller,” I mutter. “I don’t think so.” –Sam
“Having just gushed like chicks in a tampon commercial, I feel I need to get this speech back on a more manly track. ‘So deal with it.’ There. Balls back.” –Sam
I want you to go and read it for yourself, laugh until your sides hurt and you get cautious looks from strangers, and then pass the book on to a friend.
Now.
Like, seriously.
AND the book trailer is pretty kick ass. 🙂
Happy reading, my friends!

–Me

No PSA here, just a great book about a real topic

Easy
Author: Tammara Webber
Genre: NA (New Adult)
Content Rating: R for, you know…
Coffee Beans: 4
Favorite Line:
Personal Recommendation:
Read it. Now
Cover Appeal: Awesome sauce
Instalove Factor: None present
Spoliers: Yes, sort of. But I warn you when
Publisher’s Summary:
A girl who believes trust can be misplaced, promises are made to be
broken, and loyalty is an illusion. A boy who believes truth is relative, lies
can mask unbearable pain, and guilt is eternal. Will what they find in each
other validate their conclusions, or disprove them all?
When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to
the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months
into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality:
she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory,
ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time
in her life.Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by
her ex’s frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place
at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that
night–but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching
in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a
choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but
he’s hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and
knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

My Review:
Easy is a very convoluted, detailed book. And not in a bad
way. I tried explaining it to my friend when she asked what it was about, and I
realized, at the end of my sloppy description, that there is A LOT going on in
the story. Let’s see if I can make it better this time around.
Mostly, this book is about Jacqueline’s journey through
coping with the fact that she was assaulted and almost raped by someone she
knew, and then her relationship with Lucas. But mostly her relationship with
Lucas and him helping her and her being empowered to deal with what happened to
her.
See? Even that was messy.
*sigh*
Let’s get out of the way what I didn’t like (and this is a
bit of a spoiler, so skip a head if you don’t want to read this). There were
two things.
1.
She has this attraction to Lucas, a guy in her
econ class. He’s super cute, a bad boy, and according to her friends–the perfect
rebound guy from her recent break-up. So, she toys with him. He plays along.
They make out and then at class the next day, they completely ignore each other
like nothing ever happened. Like the hadn’t even met!! That, to me, was
frustrating and a tad unbelievable. But not a deal breaker.
2.
Because of said break-up, (and the assault) she’s
in a hot, emotional mess, and skips two weeks of her econ class because her ex
is taking it, too. The teacher says she can take up tutoring with the TA (who
she’s never met) to catch up on what she missed and then get a project
assignment to make up for her midterm. His name is Landon.
Landon.
Lucas.
Lucas.
Landon.
Anyone else seeing what’s being set up here? To me, it was completely obvious that they were the
same guy. Like, 100%, no bones about it. I can’t believe Jacqueline didn’t pick
up on it.
So those were the only two issues I had. The rest is all
good.
The writing of Tammara is very, very good. It seems, with
these types of books (I don’t know if they have an official genre or not. But
you know the ones; Beautiful Disaster, Crash/Clash, 50 Shades), writing seems
to come secondary to all the other “stuff”. But with Tammara, writing and
telling the story comes first. And it’s soooo
well done. All of it.
I enjoyed the characters immensely. Jacqueline was a real
person with believable actions and thoughts, her friend Erin was saucy and
offered strength, wisdom, and comedic relief. And Lucas was actually a strong
male character in this book. And not just physically strong (cuz he was that,
too), but he was mature and reasonable and was kinda just a normal guy (thank
you, Tammara. There aren’t enough Lucas’ in YA/NA/Crossover books).
I LOVED how
Tammara talked about the importance of a female knowing that being raped isn’t
their fault. That it’s not something to be ashamed of, and it’s okay to get
help. She delivered all the important information and the truth of the
situation in a natural way and at no time did I feel like I was reading a PSA
(public service announcement).
I’ll tell you this, I’m signing up for a self-defense class
after reading this book.
One thing I do wish, that she added a little more to the
stalker element of the story. I think that would have added a bit more depth to
the plot, given it a bit more to sink my teeth into.
And I loved that this was a standalone book. Can you tell
that I’m not really into books that are setting up a series?
Happy reading, my friends!

–Me

A decent (read gory) zombie-A-pocolypse book

The Infects

By: Sean Beaudoin
Genre: YA Zombie-A-pocilypse
Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012
Rating: PG-13 for all sorts of awesome,
I won’t be able to eat for a week, gore
Coffee Beans: A solid 3.5
Spoilers: No
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of
this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review
(Oh, and don’t read this book while eating. Trust me.)
First Line: “The neighborhood was
trashed, funeral pyres in the distance burning against a raw pink sky.”
Favorite Line: “Duff was an ancient
janitor who had been at Rebozzo’s since before the Romans invented aqueducts.
He’d probably ridden out the Flood in his mop bucket.” (ebook, pf 32)
Cover Appeal: I like it
Instalove Factor: None present
Personal Recommendation: Worth the
read. If you’re into zombies and gore
Publisher’s Summary:
A feast for the brain, this gory and
genuinely hilarious take on zombie culture simultaneously skewers, pays tribute
to, and elevates the horror genre.

Seventeen-year-old
Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on
an “Inward Trek.” As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have
turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow
miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful
carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of
“infects” shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids
have seen zombie movies. They generate “Zombie Rules” almost as
quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back.
Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected
villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a
delight to read — whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten — and an
incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

My Review:
 
So, I just finished reading this book, and while it was
good, I can’t help but be a little disappointed. From the description from the
publisher, I was expecting something more like the movie Zombieland. And while
there were some chuckle-worthy parts, it was, in the end, just okay.
I enjoyed the voice of the MC, Nero/Nick, and I know that it
will appeal to a lot of the male readers out there—especially with the addition
of the flesh-eating zombies. I enjoyed the two punch-in-the-face twists at the
beginning of the book (totally didn’t see those coming), and the interesting
turn of events during the middle. I enjoyed the grisly DISGUSTING details Sean
goes into when the kids are being attacked by the undead. Seriously. I was
eating dinner. And then I wasn’t. It happened just like that. I think I lost my
appetite for about 3 days after reading those scenes. But that’s something that
Sean rocks at: painting an “I’m so there” scene in a surprising limited amount
of words.
There was a lot about this book that was jarring for me. The
introduction of left-field elements half-way through the book, that for me,
didn’t need to be there. The writing style at times, etc. And I have to say, that
towards the end, I got a little muddled with what was going on and confused
about how everything was going to be pulled together. There seemed like there
were a lot of loose ends that didn’t need to be there in the first place
because they didn’t add anything to the story (ie – The Dude and his
involvement with Fresh Bucket. It played no part what-so-ever in the
progression of the plot. Yeah, his initial involvement with the company, that
happened way off stage, years ago, did, but the rest of his role in the book
was obsolete).  I’m thinking they’re
going to try to push this into a series…
There were only a few other things that I felt meh about: I got the epub from the
publisher, and the formatting was all weird. Half the letters were missing,
there was some weird code in place of a certain sequence of letters (06 = ff,
__ = fl, etc) I felt like a spy with a secret decoder ring. And to go along
with that, the “rules” were all messed up, too. For me, to make that kind of
thing work, there needed to be more of them and they needed to be more
entertaining.  Also, a the story moves
on, you find out that (little spoiler here) Nero hears the voice of The Rock in
his head. Which doesn’t pop up as much as it should in order for it to have
worked for me. I also got confused as to the tense of the story. It’s written
in 3rd person, but when the voice popped up, I always got the
impression it was in 1st. Then I was ripped out of the story as it
jogged back to 3rd. I would’ve liked to have seen the entire story
written in 1st.
Okay, so it may sound like I didn’t like this book, but I
did! It’s definitely for a certain crowd (mainly boys who like zombies), but
for anyone else out there who just likes a good book, it’s for them, too. So
pick it up, it’s worth your time.
Happy reading, my friends!

–Me

Another FANTASTIC installment for the Iron Fey Series

By: Julie Kagawa
Genre: Awesomeness (Although some people might call this YA fantasy)
Rating: PG-13 for some kick-ass kali
Spoilers: I’m gonna try not to
Coffee Beans: 5
Cover: Pretty good. Not particularly enjoying the half naked Ethan, since nowhere in the book does he show up that way (I’ve chosen a different cover to post for this review)
Instalove Factor: zilch
My Personal Recommendation: Please sir, can I have some more?
Opening Line: My name is Ethan Chase. And I doubt I’ll live to see my eighteenth birthday.
Favorite Line: So many
Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for this honest review

Publisher’s Summary

Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.

That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs–including his reputation–begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’d dare to fall for.

Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world–the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myth and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.

 

My Review

Awesomeness, awesomeness, followed by some brilliance and more awesomeness.
The end.
For realz, though. Julie became one of my favorite authors after reading The Immortal Rules. I own the Iron Fey series now, but haven’t read them yet, and when this book came up for grabs from NetGalley, I jumped all over it (and probably mauled a couple people in the process).
Oh, keep in mind that this review is based on only the Lost Prince and not the Iron Fey series (as I haven’t read those yet). So any spoilers as to the first series are completely unintentional.
This book picks up 15 years after Megan has left to become the Iron Queen in Nevernever. Ethan has been trying for that long to forget the Fey even exist and live a normal life. Sucks to be him, because that ain’t happening. The fey know he can see them so the follow and torment him where ever he goes and as a result he’s switching schools constantly and just started another one, midterm.
Enter school newspaper editor and resident cutie, Sally, and resident Halfbreed, Todd. Of course Ethan tries to keep himself away from those two, but it’s a losing battle. The Fey know he’s there and start to harass him. Maintaining as low of a profile as he can, he discovers that outcast fey and halfbreeds are disappearing from the real world, and no one knows why.
When mysterious and deadly Fey come after him and Sally, Ethan has no choice but to escape with her to the Nevernever. And so begins his journey.
This story really is kickass. Like I said, having not read Megan’s story, I really had no idea about the world or Ethan’s history. But that didn’t matter. This book was a standalone story and everything was explained to me outright or in context ad was easy to pick up on.
As always, Julie’s plots are detailed and sound, her world real, and I’m particularly in love with her dialogue and the fact that all her MCs know how to fight (which comes in handy in her books, obvs.). It always feels like I’m there with the characters and I want to hurry up and get to the end to know what happens, but then am always so sad when it’s over.
For sure pick up a copy and read it for yourself. If you’re a fan of awesome writing, good plots, engaging characters, and the Iron Fey/Julie Kagawa, this one will be another book added to your Favorites list.

Drain You blog hop & giveaway is here! RIGHT HERE! RIGHT NOW!



This is so exciting! I have the AMAZING opportunity to be a part of the Drain You blog tour!! Yay! And guess what comes with that? All sorts of wicked cool things. 🙂 Like my review (obvs), the book trailer, prizes (at the bottom), and finding all sorts of other cool blogs participating.  I mean, with a summary like this: 

 
“Summer. The 90s. The rich, sun-bleached neighborhoods of the Los Angeles canyons. Enter Quinlan Lacey, a cool, bored, sarcastic, sexy 17-year old with a dull part-time video store job and a mild case of teen ennui. That is, until she meets the alluring, River Phoenix-esque James, and realizes the hills are alive with the undead. Inspired more by the early, dry L.A. short stories of Bret Easton Ellis than the current crop of serialized vampire fiction, the supernatural grunge romance, Drain You, narrates the headaches and heartbreaks Quinn undergoes in her quest to stay sane and cool and in love and alive.”

How can you say no, right? So, let’s get started, shall we?

My Review:

Rating: Strong PG-13. Open door sex scenes, but no really details given

Coffee Beans: 4/5

Favorite Lines: So I loved Libby, but in a vintage way. Like a childhood blanket, or my dad’s mac and cheese. A deep love, but not one you tap into on a daily basis. (Ebook, pg 25)

Okay, no big deal, I’d just call Stiles…at his underground lair, where he most likely had Libby chained to a radiator and she was loving it. Stella gave me the number, which contained not even one six, let alone the three in a row I’d expected. (Ebook, pg 76)

…I drew on so much eyeliner I looked like a sobbing drunk raccoon on a tequila bender… (Ebook pg 134)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased review.

I admit, when I read the first chapter, I wasn’t that impressed. The voice was a little off and the writing didn’t grab me. But I kept reading and figured out that this was pretty much awesomeness. It instantly reminded me of The Lost Boys, but now. It also reminded me of the 90’s (which I loved) and made me want to move back to SoCal and remember the good times I had while growing up.

There were multiple things that impressed me with this book:
  • The dialogue. Snappy, witty, snarky, and funny, Bloom’s dialogue is just downright good. I was there, it was real, and it carried the story much more than just narrative alone
  • The MC’s voice. Quinn has a dark sense of humor and is so quick with everything, and her attitude of “whatever” is the icing on the cake. There were so many funny lines that were added that perfect certain something, which made the entire reading experience that much better
  • The MC. Quinn, for me, is very real. She cares deeply about those who mean something to her. She doesn’t know what she wants when it comes to boys. She’s shallow and selfish at times, but she has drive. And I didn’t find that off-putting at any point. Mainly because she gets called on it (several times) and she knows it’s the truth. But we’ve all been there. Admit it.
  • The relationships. There are several different, unique relationships Quinn is a part of, and they all come to life so realistically. Her absentee parents but their very functional relationship. Her coworker and complicated relationship-er, Morgan. Her casual best friend, Libby. The snobby girl from school, Naomi. James, the hot brother Quinn never knew existed. The equally hot other brother and instant best friend when crush disappears, Whit. And the evil twins, Stiles and Sanders. They all work brilliantly.
  • The package. I’m assuming this is going to be a series. Depending on how well this one goes. I thought it was a tight, well-written story encapsulated into one book. The ending was finite but there are definitely LOTS of questions that still need answering.

There was one thing that didn’t sit well with me, though.

  • Instalove. I’m not a fan of this. It’s unbelievable and really jars me out of a story. Yeah, we get Quinn thinks James is hot and she’s majorly crushing on him and they have to get together for the sake of plot progression. But getting as close and invested as they did—and in only a week—is a little hard for me to swallow. (update: after reading it for a second time in prep for this tour, I want to amend this statement. The second time around, I got a better sense of who Quinn was and the intensity of her life. And while there still was Instalove present, it wasn’t nearly as obvious as before. That is all. Thank you.)
  • The MC sleeps. A lot. Which isn’t bad, I guess. But she’s always tired and sleeping. *Shrugs shoulders* Just thought I’d mention that.

If you’re a fan of the 90’s (and if you aren’t, you should be), if you liked The Lost Boys (and if you didn’t, shame on you. Watch it again and change your mind), and if you enjoy dark humor, pick up the book. You’ll probably be pretty entertained.
Pick it up and decide for yourself. 🙂
And yes, this is another vampire book. I love them so much

And Publisher’s Weekly (<–link) loved it, too!:  “Bloom debuts with a languid, stylish novel that reads like a love letter to cult vampire flicks like The Lost Boys, the work of Francesca Lia Block, and Southern California in the 1990s.” Want to buy this book and devour it like I did? Check it. BN Amazon

Because book trailers are all sorts of awesome:

Plus, Bloom’s really kinda some sort of AWESOME:

“Bloom’s first short story “Love And Other Catastrophes: A Mix Tape” was featured in Story Quarterly and selected by Dave Eggers for inclusion in The Best American Nonrequired Reading: 2003 (Houghton-Mifflin), which he curates annually. Bloom is the founder of underground dance label 100% Silk (profiled here in LA WeeklyAND the producer/lead singer of the band LA Vampires (written up in The Guardian as well as Pitchfork and Fader). Her next book will be published through HarperTeen.


M. Beth lives on the east side of L.A. where she indulges in raw fooding, magazine subscribing, thrift shopping, Sunday matinee’ing, and ladies book clubbing.” 

And now, what we all really want. FREE STUFF!

Okay, wanna know what you could win? Here it is!

  • 5 copies of Drain You signed by Bloom
  • $50 credit at Wasteland (Quinn’s favorite store. And it IS pretty awesome if I do say so myself)
  • Pages from Quinn’s notebook (pics below)
  • 10 Drain You bookmarks handmade by no other than Quinn herself (probably while she was hanging out at the video store with Morgan)
  • 10 90’s mixtapes curated and created by Quinn (Guys. For real. This is my favorite prize above all. Do you know how COMPLETELY AWESOME the music was in the 90s???? It was, like, epicly awesome!)

Now, for the winning part. Simply fill out the raffle copter below. That’s all. Easy-peasy life is breezy. (I had to do a link rather than a widget because I’m still trying to figure WordPress out and I’m not html savvy…yet…Hopfully I can get someone WAY smarter than I am to help me out very soon…)

That’s all I have for you today, but seriously, pick up the book and read it. I loved it and think you will, too. Also, make sure to enter and win all the prizes you can. And check out all the other blogs this hop will be making an appearance on. Peace my friends!



The next stop on the tour (copied from Mundie Moms blog):

October 18th
October 19th
October 20th
October 21st
October 22nd
October 23rd
October 24th
October 25th
October 26th
October 27th
October 28th
October 29th
October 30th
October 31st
–Me

This book failed for me in what it was trying to do

Andy Squared

By: Jennifer Lavoie

Genre: YA (Coming of Age, LGBT)

Rating: Strong PG-13 for closed door sex scene

Spoilers: Heck to the yes. I have to in order to show you why this book failed for me

Coffee Beans: 1 (for the cover)

Cover: Awesome Sauce (if it were a book set on the coast)

Instalove Factor: Not present

My Personal Recommendation: Skip, please

Opening Line: “The neon yellow ball rolled to a stop in front of Andrew.”

Favorite Line: “Andrew left to make the call, standing outside of the living room but close enough for help should his father, say, climb through the phone to kill him.” (Pg 142 of ereader)

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for this honest review

 

Publisher’s Summary

Seventeen-year-old twins, Andrew and Andrea Morris, have always been close. They share everything—from their friends to a room—and they both enjoy star positions on their high school’s soccer teams. All’s right with the twins…or is it?

When new student Ryder Coltrane moves from Texas to their small New York town, he spins Andrew’s world upside down. All of Andrew’s past relationship troubles begin to make sense and his true feelings start to click into place after Ryder comes out to him. His friendship with Ryder turns secretively romantic, but secrets, they soon find out, are hard to keep. Once rumors start to fly, so-called friends turn on them, and the boys’ relationship turns into a bomb about to explode. But Andrew never expected it would be his own twin, Andrea, holding a lighter to ignite it.

 

My Review

I’m giving you all fair warning now: I did not like this book (although there are many others out there who’ve given it 4/5 star reviews who would vehemently disagree with me). In order to show you why I feel this way, there will be spoilers in this review. Which, to me, doesn’t matter as I won’t be recommending it to anybody.

So, if you really liked this book and you don’t want to get upset by what I have to say, or if you’re a sensitive person and don’t want your feelers hurt, I wouldn’t blame you for turning away, but if you’re sticking it out, good for you.

Oh, where do I begin?

How about my first impressions? Those were positive. I read the description and coupled with the cover, I thought this was going to be a pretty cool book. Here’s why:

  • The cover’s sweet (although it looks like it belongs more on a book about a beach than upstate, small-town New York)
  • There are twins involved. I’m a twin. I write books about twins. I. Love. Twins. As well as the whole family dynamic and how different it can be
  • The premise sounded really promising and had the potential to grab a very specific audience
  • I thought this could really be a splash in the book-reading world and could maybe be one of those “Well, Andy had the strength to do it, so maybe I can too” kind of experiences for any kid struggling with a situation similar to the MC’s
  • It was a short read; on my Nook, only 180 pages

Okay, now down to the nitty-gritty of where my problems were:

The family factor: I thought the dynamic was unrealistic and it really kind of got under my skin. Mom and Dad are there but not, but when they are there, they’re kind of portrayed as being the perfect parents. Andrea is forceful, belligerent, controlling, and overall a horrible human being. Andrew always mention that he and his twin are BEST FRIENDS but I don’t understand why based on the information I was given in the book. IMO, she’s someone that needed to be ditched at the curb.

The meh factor: This is the most unacceptable of the short comings, especially when dealing with this kind of topic. It’s an important issue. A real issue that carries a heavy impact and to not give it everything it deserves—in the plot, the “lesson” at the end, the writing—is inexcusable. The writing was just meh. The plot was okay, the lessonwasn’t anything powerful, and nothing grabbed me the way I felt it should. Bottom line. The only character I really felt anything for was Andrea and that’s because hate is a strong emotion.

The execution factor: I have noted in my Nook, over and over again: telling. I was told the story, not shown. I wasn’t there. There was far too much narrative that propelled it along. Not enough dialogue (both internal and external) to give me the connection I needed to be invested in Andy’s story. It felt overworked while at the same time, not doing very much. The writing feels “simple”, like it was written for middle-grade readers instead of the high school readers the 17yo characters would attract. Also, I felt like the author was summarizing the scene for us before hand and then telling it to us again through the characters and at times it felt like I was reading a screenplay.

The horse factor: This one’s small, but it’s mine, dang it. I’m a big horse person. Have been since I was about seven. I know a thing or two. Not sure if the author does or not, but when love interest (See, I can’t even remember his name. Oh! Ryder), when Ryder puts Andy in an English saddle THE FIRST TIME HE’S EVER BEEN ON A HORSE, I almost threw my Nook across the room. If you want to know the specifics as to why, let me know and I’ll tell you. But let’s just suffice to say I’ve never seen a first time rider get acquainted with a horse in an English saddle.

(Somewhat connected, I’m a little disappointed that the gay love interest is a cowboy. Is that all anyone can think of because of Brokeback Mountain?)

The coming out factor: Here’s my confession: this is the first book I’ve ever read that had gay characters that weren’t the token “stereotypical” gay guys. So, that being said, I know next to nothing about this genre or what I should expect or what the standard is. So, my following comments may be rendered null and void in light of that confession. For the most part, being gay isn’t taboo anymore, but because my brain isn’t wanting to function fully right now, I’m going to use that word because that’s the closest thing I can think of to get my point across.

These kinds of books frustrate me deeply. It almost seems like quality writing is forsaken because the topic that’s being written about is taboo or “shocking” and therefore it’s okay. It’s not. I think with controversial books, quality is in even higher demand; otherwise it’s just another reason to write it off.

The lack of proper punishment factor: There may be a few of you who don’t agree on this next part, and that’s totally a-okay with me. But I’m gonna say it and say it loud. (If you don’t want spoilers, I suggest you stop reading now).

ANDREA IS A SELFISH IMMATURE (FILL IN THE BLANK) WHO NEEDS TO BE SMACKED UPSIDE THE HEAD BY HER BROTHER AND EVERY OTHER DECENT HUMAN BEING ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET.

Here’s why. New Year’s Eve rolls around and everyone goes to a party in the park. Andrew and Ryder sneak off and share a kiss. Andrea sees them and freaks out. I don’t have a problem with that. I’d probably freak out seeing that, too. She demands to be taken home, refuses to sit next to Ryder in the truck (the three of them rode together). Andrew does the right thing and tells her to suck it up and takes Ryder home. All of that is okay.

When Andrea and Andrew get home, Andrea’s pissed and tells their parents everything. Proceeds to badger and verbally abuse her brother, in front of her parents. The mom starts crying, the dad is in shock, Andrea keeps beating the dead horse and Andrew runs away to Ryder’s house to get away from everything.

His parents end up handling everything pretty well , but Andrea refuses to talk to her brother about it, only sparing enough words to notify him that she’s not keeping his dirty little secret and says that everyone has the right to know about him and Ryder and she’s going to tell them.

Witch that rhymes with a B.

I don’t know of any sibling who loves the other that would cause that kind of hurt and spew that kind of hatred. I just don’t. The author did one thing right here: she invoked such a strong emotion from me, I wished Andrea were a real person so I could practice my right hook and upper cuts on her face. (ßWow, see! This is bringing it all the emotion back!)

So, until Andrew’s room can finish getting remodeled (he had been bunking with Andrea), he’s staying at Ryder’s. The first day of school comes and both boys are teased, bullied, and whispered about by classmates and friends. Andrew’s pushed around a bit, but other than that, the first day isn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

The second day, though, takes the cake. Apparently, Andrea had gone up to Andrew’s old best friend (I want to call him Peter, but I don’t think that’s right) and tells him her brother’s secret, that he’s gay and sleeping with Ryder, and to give her brother a hard time and teach him a lesson.

W.T.F.

Seriously? You’re calling a hit on your brother because you don’t like who he is and you feel that he lied to you and betrayed to you because he didn’t tell you the minute he maybe kinda thought he could be gay?????

So, it’s lunch. Peter comes over to the table where Ryder and Andy are sitting. Andrea watches with a grin from another table. And Peter and some other goon start to pick a fight. It’s going down Ugly Ass Shite Road and who steps in? Andrea? Hell no. It’s some other girl, a friend that knows what’s happening is wrong. It’s only after that that Andrea freaks out and says, “Stop it! I only told you to give him a bad time and teach him a lesson!” (And yes, I wrote that in a whiny, annoying voice)

Okay, at this point, any logical and normal human being would be pissed at Andrea tell her to “Get the &%@$ off, you told him to do this. You’re my sister and you told him to hurt me.” Then I’d push past her, tell her she’s as bad as they are and proceed to give her the tongue lashing of a century that she’s due.

But I like to hold grudges. And I still think she deserves it.

And what really makes me mad is that Andrew doesn’t hold his sister accountable for her actions AT ALL. No, I’m sorry. She doesn’t get a free ride because she’s your sister. That fact alone makes her betrayal all the worse. She doesn’t get to say “sorry” and then the two of you get to skip through the snow holding hands singing “tra-la-la-la-la” through fluffy white flakes.

Fail.

Okay, rant over. But I hope I got my point across. Anyway, my standard farewell applies here as well as to all other books: pick it up and read it for yourself. You may feel differently than I did.

But I’m not going to recommend this book to anyone. Ever.