Monday, October 31, 2011

Best of the Bunch: October 2011

Best of the Bunch is a meme hosted by Lyrical of Lyrical Reviews, where we highlight our favorite read from the past month--our "hot pick, top read, must-put-it-on-your-reading-list-immediately book."

Ug, picking a favorite was so hard this month! But I think I'm going to go with "The Girl in the Steel Corset," by Kady Cross (read my review of it here). It was my first experience with steampunk, and I fell totally in love with the genre all from this one book. Plus the book has some really great characters (Griffin! Jack!) and awesome fight scenes. And it has descriptions of cool clothes, which never hurts a book, in my opinion. Another part of why I adored this book so much is that it doesn't rush the romance--it leaves plenty of room for development in the next books.

Runners up:
Lola and the Boy Next Door (my review)
Vampire Academy (my review)

Review: Frostbite

Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2), by Richelle Mead. The GoodReads summary:
Rose loves Dimitri, Dimitri might love Tasha, and Mason would die to be with Rose…

It's winter break at St. Vladimir's, but Rose is feeling anything but festive. A massive Strigoi attack has put the school on high alert, and now the Academy's crawling with Guardians--including Rose's hard-hitting mother, Janine Hathaway. And if hand-to-hand combat with her mom wasn't bad enough, Rose's tutor Dimitri has his eye on someone else, her friend Mason's got a huge crush on her, and Rose keeps getting stuck in Lissa's head while she's making out with her boyfriend, Christian! The Strigoi are closing in, and the Academy's not taking any risks… This year, St. Vlad's annual holiday ski trip is mandatory.

But the glittering winter landscape and the posh Idaho resort only create the illusion of safety. When three friends run away in an offensive move against the deadly Strigoi, Rose must join forces with Christian to rescue them. But heroism rarely comes without a price…
Considering not much happened in this book until the very end, I was surprisingly engrossed by it. Usually when I read an action-based book, I like it to be, well, action-y. But for this one, basically all that happens in the first three-fourths of the book is that the academy goes to a ski lodge for Christmas. And yet, I really couldn’t put this book down. I think the main reason for that is that Richelle Mead just knows how to tell a good story--her writing sucks you in, even when there’s not that much to be sucked into.

And Rose is continuing to grow on me. I could definitely tell that she’s maturing, so there was slightly less crazy impulsiveness to drive me crazy. Although her self-confidence in her appearance did still grate on me--I mean, she rates herself as a 10 out of 10 for looks. Who does that? But I do still admire her ability to face challenges head on and kick some major butt.

And of course, this book had me swooning over Dimitri again. Richelle Mead has the tension between Dimitri and Rose DOWN. Even though they were deliberately trying not to be interested in each other romantically, those two could probably start a fire with all the heated glances they had going on.

Although the book didn’t have much happening in the first three-fourths, the action in the last fourth basically makes up for it. I won’t spoil anything, but let me just say, it gets INTENSE.

So yes, read these books. I just finished this one and am so ready to jump into book three. They’re just so well-written and full of interesting characters. Plus they’ve got some awesome fight scenes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Follow Friday (17)

Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

Q. If you could have dinner with your favorite book character, who would you eat with and what would you serve?

Okay, see, this is a legitimately tough question, because there are a ton of characters that I love, but either A) I wouldn't necessarily want to spend a whole dinner talking to them, or B) they'd be too cool and/or busy to accept my dinner invitation.

So I think for a female guest, I've settled on Juliet Ashton, from "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. Juliet is down-to-earth and so witty, and if we ran out of things to talk about, she could regale me with stories about Kit and everyone else on the island. I'd probably serve pot roast or some suitably British food, and of course we'd have potato peel pie.

For a male guest, I would obvs want to invite Jonah Griggs, from "Jellicoe Road," but he would probably fall into the "too cool to accept my invite" category. So I'd invite Cricket, from "Lola and the Boy Next Door," because he's cute and quirky and, most of all, he'd just be so happy and nice. For him, I'd probably order out for pizza, because he's definitely the laid-back type.

Who would you invite?

Don't forget to enter my 200 Follower Giveaway! Open until October 31.

Review: Second Helpings

Second Helpings (Jessica Darling #2), by Megan McCafferty. The GoodReads summary:
Jessica Darling is up in arms again in this much-anticipated, hilarious sequel to Sloppy Firsts. This time, the hyperobservant, angst-ridden teenager is going through the social and emotional ordeal of her senior year at Pineville High. Not only does the mysterious and oh-so-compelling Marcus Flutie continue to distract Jessica, but her best friend, Hope, still lives in another state, and she can’t seem to escape the clutches of the Clueless Crew, her annoying so-called friends. To top it off, Jessica’s parents won’t get off her butt about choosing a college, and her sister Bethany’s pregnancy is causing a big stir in the Darling household.

With keen intelligence, sardonic wit, and ingenious comedic timing, Megan McCafferty again re-creates the tumultuous world of today’s fast-moving and sophisticated teens. Fans of Sloppy Firsts will be reunited with their favorite characters and also introduced to the fresh new faces that have entered Jess’s life, including the hot creative writing teacher at her summer college prep program and her feisty, tell-it-like-it-is grandmother Gladdie. But most of all, readers will finally have the answers to all of their burgeoning questions, and then some: Will Jessica crack under the pressure of senioritis? Will her unresolved feelings for Marcus wreak havoc on her love life? Will Hope ever come back to Pineville? Fall in love with saucy, irreverent Jessica all over again in this wonderful sequel to a book that critics and readers alike hailed as the best high school novel in years.
So I realized that I never reviewed the first book in this series, but that’s because I read it before I started this blog. Therefore I’m declaring myself exempt from feeling guilty about posting about the second book in a series without having written anything about the first.

I was a little hesitant going into this one because, while I generally liked the first one, Jessica’s constant angst, pessimism, and brutal sarcasm got to be a little too much for me. But in the second book, it didn’t bother me as much. For one, I think there was slightly less of it, but mostly I think I could handle it because of a very good point Jessica makes: her life isn’t really as horrible as she makes it seem, but because it’s her journal, she’s only writing about the things that frustrate and stress her. Which makes sense. If any one read my journal they would probably think I was super angsty too.

So after I understood her angst and pessimism, I really got into the book. Jessica is snarky and funny, and although she’s completely frustrating at times, ultimately she’s hilarious and pretty likeable.

And Marcus Flutie . . . I think I was more in love with him in this book than I was in the first. His motives are annoying unclear at times, but he’s still such an awesome guy. Basically, I <3 Marcus 4evah.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book—I ended up liking it even better than the first in the series, and I’m definitely going to keep on reading the rest of the books. So if you like your heroines angsty but hilariously sarcastic, check out the first book, “Sloppy Firsts,” and this one, “Second Helpings” (although honestly, you could probably start with the second book without being confused for very long).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Flirting with Italian Boys

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight books we can't wait for.

Flirting with Italian Boys, by Lauren Henderson
272 pages
12 June 2012

The GoodReads summary:
Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!

The summary doesn't give me much to go by, but that's okay because the title pretty much had me at hello. After all, flirting with Italian boys is something I would very much like to accomplish in my life. Preferably as soon as possible. Also I adore the shoe/sock combo the cover model's got going on. Although I would never be brave enough to wear a skirt that short on a moped. But maybe if I was in Italy, I would magically transform into the kind of girl who could wear that length of skirt without showing everyone things they'd rather not see. Anyway, it's a long wait for this one (June), but I'm totally psyched.

Don't forget to enter my 200 Follower Giveaway! Open until October 31.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Literary BFFs

As a result of a combination of circumstances (which I won't bore you with), I started thinking who my literary BFFs are. You know, the characters I not only love to spend time reading about, but the ones I think I would be friends with if they for some bizarre reason turned out to be real. Here's my list, in no particular order:
-Elizabeth Bennet, from "Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austin
-Jenny Greenley, from "Teen Idol," by Meg Cabot
-India Opal Buloni, from "Because of Winn-Dixie," by Kate DiCamillo
-Penelope Bridgerton, from "Romancing Mr. Bridgerton," by Julia Quinn
-Cimorene, from "Dealing with Dragons," by Patricia Wrede
-Sophie, from "Howl's Moving Castle," by Diana Wynn Jones
-Emily Benedict, from "The Girl Who Chased the Moon," by Sarah Addison Allen
-Evie, from "Paranormalcy," by Kiersten White
-Juliet Ashton, from "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
-Frankie Landau-Banks, from "The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks," by E. Lockhart
-Kat, from "Heist Society," by Ally Carter
I could go on and on about why they're my literary BFFs, but I don't think I'm going to. You should read the books yourself and find out if these girls are your BFFs too. And then we can all be BFFs together.

So who are your literary BFFs?

(Did I use "BFF" enough times to make you gag? No? Lemme say it again: BFF.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Between the Land and the Sea

Between the Land and the Sea, by Derrolyn Anderson. The GoodReads summary:
Something extraordinary is lurking in the deep ocean waters off the coast of Aptos, California. Just a few weeks after moving to the beach town, sixteen year-old Marina has nearly drowned twice, enchanted the hottest guy in high school, and discovered a supernatural creature. If she can manage to survive her increasingly dangerous encounters with unpredictable mermaids, she might just be able to unlock the mystery of her past and learn how to appease the mysterious forces that seem to want something from her... and maybe even find true love along the way.
I think my basic opinion of this book is that it was good overall but that it lacked a little in execution--like, the plot and idea were intriguing, but there were enough things that grated on my nerves to keep me from loving the book wholeheartedly.

One of the major things was that Marina was like a 40-year-old in a 16-year-old’s body or something: she constantly used words like “musn’t” and “nonsense” and just generally didn’t sound anything like an actual teenager. She was also a little too aware of her own virtues and didn’t have any of the insecurities teenagers have, which kinda ended up making her seem full of herself.

The other main hang up I had was that everyone in the book was a genius at something: Marina is brilliant at art, Cruz is a gifted designer, Megan is a talented singer, Evie is a former model, and Marina’s dad wins the Nobel Prize. I just thought it got a little ridiculous. I mean, where are the normal people?

But guess what? This book doesn’t have a love triangle!!! I can’t even begin to express how happy that makes me. The romance is straight forward, and Ethan is completely likable.

Like I said before, I did like the plot--Marina’s involvement with the mermaids is pretty cool. The only other mermaid book I’ve read is “Forgive My Fins”--which is a completely different kind of mermaid story--so I was totally sucked into the world of mermaids that this author created. I also liked Marina’s friends and family. They seemed like fairly awesome people, and I wouldn’t mind hanging out with any of them.

Overall, it’s an interesting book with a good plot, but some of the minor details in the book’s writing got on my nerves after a while--not enough to turn me off the book but enough to stop me from really liking it.

Received for review

Don't forget to enter my 200 Follower Giveaway! Open until October 31.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Follow Friday (16)

Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

Q.What superhero is your alter-ego?

I really don't know very many superheroes. I guess I admire Batman, because he actually had to work for his skills rather than just being a freak of nature. But I can't think of any superheroes who I would consider my alter-ego. Unless there's one I don't know about, like Comma Girl, or something--mild-mannered copy editor by day, defender of defenseless proper punctuation by night.

Don't forget to enter my 200 Follower Giveaway! Open until October 31.

Mini-Review: The Body Finder

Mini-reviews are where I write about books that I want to mention but am too lazy or too busy to write a full-length review for. I say what I thought about the book in 5 sentences then share a quote I liked from the book.

The Body Finder, by Kimberly Derting. The GoodReads summary:
Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies--or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer--and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself.
So on the one hand, I liked this book because it was a mystery/suspense, and that’s a YA genre that there isn’t nearly enough of, in my opinion. I also liked that the two lovebirds, Violet and Jay, have known each other their whole lives before deciding they’re madly in love--it’s definitely not insta-love, and I really appreciate that. However, I’ll admit that I never got around to liking Violet; she just annoyed me for large chunks of the book--like, “Oh, there’s a killer attacking teenage girls. Yep, it’s definitely a good idea to go off places by myself.” I also think the writing style was kinda over the top; I just felt like the author took three times as long as she needed to say anything. Overall, it was fun to get to read a YA thriller, but neither the characters nor the writing style sucked me in enough for me to really be in love with the book.

The quote
Violet stood up on the watercraft as she came to a stop. Multihued light seemed to be radiating up from beneath the water, centered among the reeds, and then diffusing outward as it reached the surface. Violet had never seen anything like it, and she knew that the spectrum of light was defying its very nature by behaving that way.

It could only be one thing.

There was something dead down there.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Getting Over Garrett Delaney

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight books we can't wait for.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney
by Abby McDonald
336 pages
24 January 2012

From GoodReads:
Seventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly one-sided. The object of her obsession — ahem, affection — is her best friend,Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie’s feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep blue eyes).

For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett’s constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to ’80s indie rock — all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder — until he calls to say he’s fallen in love. With some other girl! A heartbroken Sadie realizes that she’s finally had enough. It’s time for a total Garrett detox!

Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized self-help guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.

I really, really want to read this book! I love that the girl on the cover has a book over her face, and I totally read in that same position sometimes. Plus the summary sounds fantastic--sign me up for any book with a "hunky chef" and "mortifying meltdowns."

Don't forget to enter my 200 Follower Giveaway! Open until October 31.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ARC Review: Tempest

Tempest, by Julie Cross. Due out on 3 January 2012. The GoodReads summary:
The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies--nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors--it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.
So I feel kinda guilty writing a review for this book. Well, maybe guilty isn’t the right word. I just feel like this book was probably a lot better than I thought it was, so my review won’t accurately showcase the book’s good qualities. Like, it was totally a “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of situation. Because here’s the deal: I have major trouble getting into books with a male protagonist. I KNOW. That’s horrible of me, and I really wish I could, but for some reason, I just cannot connect with books where the main character is a guy. And believe me, I’ve tried. So I feel like my review of this book won’t really do it justice. So I’m just going to list off the things I liked and didn’t like about the book--maybe I can be more objective that way.

Things I liked

-Holly. Jackson’s girlfriend is pretty awesome. She’s level-headed and down to earth and willing to call Jackson on all his crap. She just comes across as a real person, not as a secondary character.

-Older YA. Jackson’s 19, so it was awesome to get to hang out with a slightly older YA protagonist. Don’t get me wrong, I love high school drama, but it was nice to have someone a little more mature.

-Time jumps. Jackson jumps back to various times in his life, and for a while he gets stuck two years in the past. It was just fascinating for me to try to imagine what I would do if I ended up two years in the past, trying to live that same life all over again. It got me thinking about what I would change and what I would keep the same.

Things I didn’t like so much

-Thinking. Okay, time for another dirty secret--I don’t like books where I have to put effort into understanding what the heck in going on. And this book had a TON of explanation of time travel and the people who can do it, so I kinda got lost early on and never quite caught up, which made the further explanations even more confusing (hmm…sounds like what happens to me in math classes).

-Pop culture. This book had a fair amount of pop culture references, which is fine, except it makes me think that in a few years, it will feel really dated. Like, they talk about the show “Jon and Kate Plus 8”--who’s even going to remember that show in five years?

-Male protagonist. Already explained this one.

-Length. Okay, admittedly this book wasn’t THAT long (352 pages), but the mix of male protagonist plus all the confusing time travel stuff just made it feel longer to me. I had to push myself to get through the last third.

So…yeah. This book. I feel like it’s probably better than I give it credit for. I’m more of a fan of whiney teenage girl books, and this was a male-centered plot-based book, so we just didn’t click. Judging from the ratings on GoodReads, most people liked it more than I did. So if you’re more of a fan of this type of book, give it a shot when it comes out in January.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Review: Born at Midnight

Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1), by C.C. Hunter. The summary:
One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls--a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side--learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear--Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…
Contemporary YA is undisputedly my favorite YA genre, but I’ve been making an attempt recently to read some paranormal YA, a genre that never won me over in the past. But I’ve really been getting into it lately and have discovered that paranormal fiction doesn’t annoy me nearly as much as I though it did. I might even be willing to confess that I’ve really liked some of them. “Born at Midnight” probably isn’t my favorite of the paranormal YAs I’ve been trying out recently, but it still was pretty enjoyable.

I liked the whole “summer camp for teen paranormals” that this book had going on. It was fun to get to have all the different kinds of supernaturals (vampires, shape shifters, witches, fairies, werewolves, etc.) in one place and to see what their different powers are. And I thought Kylie was generally pretty likeable--she’s a bit standoffish and kind of a loner, but she’s happy that way, so I was down with that. I appreciate how she tries to be a good friend, and when she fails, she realizes it and changes her attitude or actions. And as another plus to this book, there are a ton of hot guys.

But there were things that annoyed me. The thing that bugged me the most was how it took Kylie the ENTIRE book to face the fact that she’s not a normal human. I mean, the girl see’s ghosts, for pete’s sake, but the whole time she refused to accept that she was a supernatural. Ug. I just wanted to be like, “Girl, remember that ghost that keeps following you around and how all the other supernaturals keep telling you you’re one too? Face the facts already!” Yes, some skepticism on her part was definitely called for, but I think she took it waaaaay to far. Another thing that got to me was that there wasn’t much plot. As a reader of mainly contemporary YAs, I don’t need much plot to be happy. But I’ve come to expect more action in paranormal fiction, so this book’s lack of it threw me off a little bit. And don’t even get me started on the love triangle in this book. Well, actually it’s a love . . . square? Since she has three guys in love with her. Yes, THREE. A little excessive if you ask me.

So I realize my paragraph about the things that annoyed me is longer than the paragraph about things I liked, but don’t get me wrong, I did generally like the book. It’s not the best YA paranormal I’ve read so far, but it’s still way better than I ever thought the genre could be. I’m undecided about whether I’ll be reading the rest of the series, but I think I’m leaning towards yes.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

200 Follower Giveaway!

Yay! I reached 200 followers! So to thank you all, I'm giving away two books: a signed copy of "Firelight," by Sophie Jordan, and a signed ARC of "Tempest," by Julie Cross, so there will be two winners. The giveaway is open US and internationally, and you don't need to be a GFC follower to enter (although it would be great if you were!). The giveaway's open until October 31.

To enter, just fill out this form.  Giveaway over.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (12)

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books.

“What is your favorite spooky book (i.e. mystery/suspense, thriller, ghost story, etc.)?”

Well, the creepiest book I ever read was "The Shining," by Stephen King. That book still gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.

I haven't read that many stories with ghosts, but I think my favorites are "Chasing Brooklyn," by Lisa Schroeder, and "A Certain Slant of Light," by Laura Whitcomb. They're both YA, and neither of them is creepy at all. They're just really great books that you should check out if you haven't read them yet--I'm definitely planning on re-reading them when I get the time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Follow Friday (15)

Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

Q.If you could have characters from a particular book meet and form an epic storyline with characters from a particular TV series, which would you choose and why?

Wow. I had to think for a while about this one. Mostly because the shows I watch are mostly crime dramas and the books I read are, like, ALL YA, so they wouldn't really overlap.

But one I did manage to think of was bringing Lola from "Lola and the Boy Next Door" into the TV show "Ugly Betty." (Is that show even on anymore? I have no idea.) Because Betty works at that fashion magazine and Lola obvs loves clothes. So Lola and Betty could be all quirky together, and maybe Lola could give Betty some tips about clothes and makeup.

Also, even though I really hate the TV show Lost, I could totally see Katniss from "The Hunger Games" kicking some major butt on that island.

Oh, and I think Kat from "Heist Society" would make a great spy, what with her thieving and disguise skills and all. So I could totally see her as a character in the show Alias (man, what is with me and all these TV shows that aren't even on anymore?).

What book and TV show would you put together?

Review: The Demon Trapper’s Daughter

The Demon Trapper’s Daughter, by Jana Oliver. The GoodReads summary:
It’s the year 2018, and with human society seriously disrupted by the economic upheavals of the previous decade, Lucifer has increased the number of demons in all major cities. Atlanta is no exception. Fortunately, humans are protected by Demon Trappers, who work to keep homes and streets safe from the things that go bump in the night. Seventeen-year-old Riley, only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing attraction to fellow Trapper apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving citizens from Grade One Hellspawn. Business as usual, really, for a demon-trapping teen. When a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood, she realizes that she’s caught in the middle of a battle between Heaven and Hell.
I hadn’t heard much of anything about this book before reading it. I think I read a review or two, and I remember them being generally positive, but I basically went into this book not knowing what to expect. I feel like some books I go into having read so many reviews about them that I already know what I’m going to think of them. That was definitely not the case here, and I really liked being able to go into a book completely unbiased. But anyway, I ended up really liking this book.

I vaguely remember one of the reviews I read of “The Demon Trapper’s Daughter” mentioning that they had issues with not all the dots quite connecting regarding the demons, demon trappers, Riley, etc. Like there were gaps or something. But honestly, I didn’t notice it. I’m not big on action and plot points--I’m more of a character and writing style kind of girl, and as long as a book’s got those solid, plot gaps and loose ends tend to sail over my head. And this book totally had me sold with its characters and writing.

Riley was tough, but not so tough that I couldn’t relate to her. She was way braver and daring than I’d ever be, but she made plenty of mistakes too, so I didn’t feel like she was out of my league. And she’s sarcastic too. I love sarcastic main characters so ridiculously much. And I really loved Beck too. Beck is Riley’s father’s former apprentice/current partner. He kinda plays the role of older brother to Riley. Beck is the perfect example of a guy who’s tough and a bit of a jerk on the outside, but completely mushy on the inside. He’s just such a good guy. I mean, I could see why he frustrates Riley so much, but most of the time I just wanted her to see how good Beck’s intentions are. Simon, Riley’s love interest, didn’t do much for me. He’s so bland and boring. Sweet and kind, but yeah . . . so boring. I kept hoping Riley would hook up with Beck instead.

The writing in this book was the way I like it for YA paranormals, easy flowing and not at all over the top. It get’s the story told and doesn’t try to make things more dramatic. It doesn’t distract from the story, is what I guess I’m trying to say. Half the book is from Riley’s perspective and half the book is from Beck’s (in alternating chapters), which I liked, since I could find out what both characters were thinking/feeling. But I did think it was really weird to have half the book be from Beck’s perspective when he wasn’t the love interest. I mean, isn’t that how it normally goes when there are two perspectives in a book? One perspective from each of the lovebirds? Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad it was Beck’s perspective and not boring Simon’s, but still, it threw me off.

The only thing that I didn’t like in the book, and it’s probably not that big a deal for normal people, was how when Beck’s speaking, it’s always “ya” instead of “you” and “yer” instead of “your.” I know the author was trying to show his Southern accent, but seriously, it drove me crazy until I learned to ignore it. I was just like, “Okay! I get the point! Beck’s speaking with a Southern accent. Now can we please go back to ‘you’ and ‘your’? Pretty please?” Also it bugged me that the author used “euuu” instead of “ewww.” These are the random kinds of things that get on my nerves.

Overall, I totally got sucked into this book. The Riley and Beck are thoroughly awesome, and the whole paranormal/dystopian atmosphere made for a fascinating setting. I’ll definitely be tracking down the sequel, which I think came out recently. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I 100 percent hope that in the next one Riley ditches Simon and gets with Beck. That would make all my dreams come true.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fine Art of Truth or Dare

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight books we can't wait for.

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare
by Melissa Jensen
380 pages
February 16th 2012

The GoodReads summary:
Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

I absolutely adore YA contemporary romance, so I have the feeling this book is going to be perfect for me. And I don't know why, but I always wanted a hot tutor while I was in school--unfortunately I never got one, so I'll have to live vicariously through this book. Plus, the cover is ridiculously cute.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mini-Review: Forgive My Fins

Mini-reviews are where I write about books that I want to mention but am too lazy or too busy to write a full-length review for. I say what I thought about the book in 5 sentences then share a quote I liked from the book.

Forgive My Fins, by Tera Lynn Childs. The summary:
Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid--she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems--like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher--but it has that one major perk--Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type--when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.
If I had to pick one word to describe this book it would be “cute”; this book was just so adorable and light and fun. There isn’t much substance to it, but I don’t think all books need to be deep or meaningful or action-packed--sometimes it’s nice to be able to sit down with a book that doesn’t demand anything from you, you know? I liked Lily as a main character generally, but it drove me absolutely crazy that she couldn’t tell that Quince was totally into her--I mean, who’s actually THAT oblivious? But that’s the only thing that bugged me, so definitely pick up this book if you’re in the mood for a fluffy, fun read that you can get through in two hours.

The quote:
“Lily”--his voice drops to an unusually serious level--“was there something more you wanted to tell me?”

“Well, actually,” I reply, unable to look him in the eye any longer, “there was one thing. . . .”

When I don’t finish, he says, “And that would be. . . .?”

I drop my head and mumble into my chest. For the love of Poseidon, this is harder than I ever imagined.

“What was that?” he asks, cupping my chin and forcing me to meet his questioning gaze. “I didn’t quite catch it, since you were speaking to the sand.”

“I said”--I twist out of his grasp and face him with as much fake boldness as I can muster--“I’m a mermaid.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: Vampire Academy

Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead. The GoodReads summary:
St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school--it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s--the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi--the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires--make Lissa one of them forever.
Anyone who knows me or who’s read this blog for any length of time knows that YA paranormal isn’t exactly my favorite genre. But for some reason, I’ve been having really good luck with it lately. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been consciously trying to get into the genre more lately or if it’s because I just wasn’t reading good paranormals before--probably a combination of the two. Anyway, moral of the story, I ended up liking “Vampire Academy” way more than I ever thought I would.

I went into the book with the attitude of “I probably won’t like it, but everyone else seems to love the series, so I’ll give it a shot.” And at first, I wasn’t really into it. Vampires have never really been my thing, and I didn’t get Rose at all. She’s so opposite of me--she’s bold, outgoing, impulsive, and passionate--and I couldn’t really connect with her. Half the time I didn’t understand why she was doing the stuff she was doing. But at about the point where I was ready to give up on the book, it finally clicked with me.

I liked that the vampire world Mead created wasn’t the stereotypical one. In this version of vampires, there are Moroi (the good, living vampires), the Strigoi (the evil, dead vampires), and the Dhampir (the half-human, half-Moroi guardians of the Moroi). I thought it was awesome how Mead created a whole new culture, complete with social conflicts, issues, and divisions. And I liked the whole academy/training grounds for Moroi and Dhampir thing. Someone told me “Vampire Academy” was like Hogwarts with vampires, and it’s kinda true.

Although it took me a long time to start liking Rose, I did appreciate how protective and supportive she is of her friend Lissa. I will admit that at first she seemed a little freakily overprotective, but as the story progressed and I found out more about why Rose watches out for Lissa so much, it became totally understandable. I do wish Lissa wasn’t quite so fragile, but I guess her being that way provides a good foil for Rose.

Oh, and I have to mention Dimitri, Rose’s mentor/love interest. Man, there is something about the tall, strong, silent type that gets me every time. Dimitri’s just so . . . sexy. I don’t really know how else to describe him. The age difference between him and Rose (she’s 17, he’s 24) did give me a minor case of the creepy-crawlies, but since he realizes the age difference is a problem, it didn’t bug me as much as it could have.

Overall, I ended up liking this book way more than I ever expected to. It created an interesting vampire culture, and even though it took me a looooooong time to like Rose, by the end I thought she was totally awesome. I was glancing at the GoodReads’ ratings for this series, and each book is rated progressively higher. To anyone who’s read the series, is that true? I was planning on reading the second one, but I’m not much of one for series. But if they really do keep getting better throughout the series, maybe I’ll have to commit to all six.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Follow Friday (14)

Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

Q.If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?

So most of the books that I love, I would never want to switch places with their characters, because the things that make the book so great (action, conflict, dealing with issues) are the things that I probably wouldn't be able to deal with if that was actually my life. I mean it's great to read about all the action and crazy stuff in Vampire Academy, but there's NO WAY I'd ever be brave or kick-A enough to actually be Rose.

So the characters I could think of whose lives I'd actually want to have are

-Lily, from "Dash & Lily's Book of Dares," by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (because she gets to play that game with Dash that involves writing in a journal and leaving it in awesome places around New York City for the other person to find)

-Lola, from "Lola and the Boy Next Door," by Stephanie Perkins (because she has a ridiculously awesome wardrobe. Plus she gets CRICKET, and who in their right mind wouldn't want Cricket?)

-Taylor, from "Jellicoe Road," by Melina Marchetta (all the crap that happened to Taylor when she was younger would totally suck, but the territory wars seem like so much fun and she has great friends. But most of all, I just want to have Jonah Griggs, the swooniest YA boy of all time.)

Who would you want to switch places with?

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door, by Stephanie Perkins. The GoodReads summary:
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
Okay, so this might’ve been one of the most adorable books I’ve ever read--it gave me butterflies in my stomach and everything. But I kinda feel that enough bloggers have gushed over this book that we all get the idea that it’s fantastic, so I’ll settle for just listing my three favorite things about the book.

First of all, Lola: She’s so innately cool. And creative. And bold. And I just love her to death. I mean, she does do some stuff that annoyed me (aka lying all the time and leading Cricket on while still dating Max), and she can be super self-absorbed, but it just made her seem more real to me--yes, she makes mistakes, but she realizes it and tries to get her act together.

Second, Lola’s clothes: that girl has the most awesome sense of style I’ve ever seen (or read about, technically). I love her costume philosophy: “I don’t believe in fashion. I believe in costume. Life is too short to be the same person every day.” I so wish I was brave enough to wear all the crazy costumes she does. She’s pretty much inspired me to find ways to make my wardrobe a little funkier.

Third, CRICKET!!! I could write a whole review just about him--he’s pretty much the happiest, most exuberant, most ridiculously amazing boy EVER. He’s so freakin’ optimistic and supportive and honest. And geeky and awkward in the most adorable ways possible. Not to mention that he’s probably the best brother ever. I just want to know why there wasn’t a boy like that living next door to me in high school?

Overall, this book was so much fun to read--I was smiling like an idiot the whole time. I know some reviewers have said they like “Lola and the Boy Next Door” better than “Anna and the French Kiss,” but I think I like them both equally. If you haven’t read these two books, um . . . get started!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Sharp Time

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight books we can't wait for.

The Sharp Time, by Mary O'Connell
240 pages
8 November 2011

The GoodReads summary:
Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her single mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge.

Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job at The Pale Circus, a funky vintage clothing shop, and finds friendship and camaraderie with her coworker, a boy struggling with his own secrets.

Even as Sandinista sees the failures of those with power and authority, she's offered the chance to survive through the redemptive power of friendship. Now she must choose between faith and forgiveness or violence and vengeance.

I love me some angsty teenage drama, and this book sounds like it'll definitely give me a lot of that. Plus, the "funky vintage clothing shop" sounds awesome--I love clothes, and reading about them is almost as good as actually getting to buy them myself.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Review: The Girl in the Steel Corset

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1), by Kady Cross. The summary:
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one except the "thing" inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch...

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she's special, says she's one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits. Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin's investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help-and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff's little company of strays apart, and it isn't long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she's on, even if it seems no one believes her.
This book was pushed as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets teen X-Men. Having seen neither of those movies, I can’t really say whether that’s true or not. All I know is that this book is ridiculously awesome. I’ve never read any Steampunk before, but if “The Girl in the Steel Corset” is at all representative of the genre, I think I’ve found a new obsession.

I really am so in love with Steampunk as of now. According to the wonderful world of Steampunk is “a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.” For this book that means that it takes place in Victorian England and there are automatons (robots) all over the place and ridiculously awesome things like portable, wireless telegraph machines (it’s like Victorian text messaging!). And people wear funky clothes like corsets and knee high boots perfect for kicking the crap out of people. Plus the main characters have these super awesome powers like super-speed and super-strength and super-healing (I guess that’s where the X-Men part comes in). I really can’t even express how much I adored the setting of this book. I so just want to magically transport there or something.

But enough gushing about the Steampunk aspect. I really liked the writing style of the book. As much as I love artistic and literary writing, there’s something to be said for unobtrusive writing that doesn’t draw undue attention to itself. Kady Cross is a straight-up awesome storyteller, and I think it takes talent to use a writing style that takes a backseat to the plot and characters. One of the things I was worried about before starting this book was that the writing would be over the top. But as soon as I started reading, I was sucked into the world Cross created, and the writing never did anything to make me want to pull out.

The characters in the book were extremely likeable. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like Finley, the main character, because of the whole Jekyll-Hyde split personality thing she has going on. But she gets that somewhat under control early on, so it was never an issue for me. I did think it was a little ridiculous that there were TWO love triangles going on (Griffin-Finley-Jack and Sam-Emily-Jasper), but since they were so subtle and not the point of the plot, I could overlook them fairly easily. I really liked that the romances, especially the Griffin-Finley one, progress slowly. I hate feeling at the end of a first book in a series that all the romance has been resolved. So I adored that The Girl in the Steel Corset doesn’t rush the romances--it makes me all the more excited for the next book to see how the relationships evolve.

Overall, this is a fantastic introduction to the Steampunk genre. Plus it’s got all sorts of exciting fight scenes but still manages to spend enough time evolving characters and friendships. I really, really liked this book and definitely recommend it to everyone.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: Small Town Sinners

Small Town Sinners, by Melissa Walker. The GoodReads summary:
Lacey Anne Byer is a perennial good girl and lifelong member of the House of Enlightenment, the Evangelical church in her small town. With her driver's license in hand and the chance to try out for a lead role in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin, Lacey's junior year is looking promising. But when a cute new stranger comes to town, something begins to stir inside her. Ty Davis doesn't know the sweet, shy Lacey Anne Byer everyone else does. With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself. As her feelings for Ty make Lacey test her boundaries, events surrounding Hell House make her question her religion.
I’ll just come right out and admit that this book drove me crazy until three-fourths of the way through. I didn’t exactly have a problem with the fact that it was overtly religious and dealt with issues like teen pregnancy, abortion, and homosexuality from a very conservative standpoint--it’s more that I couldn’t stand the way the characters, especially Lacey, seemed to accept things with blind faith and accept what her parents and church told her without questioning. Even when Lacey starts having doubts, she still came off as incredibly na├»ve to me.

So those things were bugging me for most of the book, and honestly at some points the only reason I kept reading was that I had bought the book so I felt obligated to read it. But then about three-fourths of the way through, I realized my expectations of the book were completely wrong. I was expecting it to be about Lacey having doubts about her faith then either finding her way back or not. But towards the end it dawned on me that the book’s actually about Lacey learning to think for herself. And when I viewed the book from that perspective, it completely changed my attitude. It was way less frustrating to me after that.

One thing that I really enjoyed about the book was Lacey’s group of friends. As much as Lacey could annoy me sometimes, she never stopped being a good friend, and I really admired that. She and her friends are so close and so supportive, which I appreciated since it seems to me like friends in contemporary YAs are often superficial or actually frenemies.

Also the whole Hell House idea simultaneously fascinated me and creeped me out. Hell House is this haunted house the youth of the church put on that dramatizes different sins and their consequences in an effort to get people to change their lives. And it sounded like the most intense thing ever. Seriously. Like, in the room that’s subject is abortion, they have a girl on a hospital bed screaming with fake blood running down her legs while the doctor throws away a “fetus” made of hamburger meat. It was so gross but still fascinating. Hell House is definitely not something I would ever go to in real life, but I was perversely drawn to it at the same time, and for a while the Hell House scenes were the only reason I kept reading the book.

Overall, although this book and I didn’t get off to a good start, by the end I ended up, if not exactly liking it, at least appreciating the message it was trying to get across. And even if the whole religion aspect seems like it might turn you off, maybe give it a try anyway, because the message about learning to think for yourself rather than relying on what your parents, friends, or community believe is a lesson applicable to everyone.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Heck-yes-it's-my-birthday Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of my birthday giveaway!

Jel of Bata won the signed copy of "Enclave," by Ann Aguirre


Paige of Comfort Books won "The Iron King," by Julie Kagawa

I've emailed the winners, and they have until Tuesday morning (Oct. 4th) to get back to me before I pick new winners.
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