Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall

There are some girls who have everything. She has the right clothes, the right friends, and the right last name, but fifteen-year-old Maddie Crane sometimes feels like an outsider in her wealthy seaside town. And when her gorgeous, eccentric cousin Cordelia LeClaire moves to town, Maddie is drawn toward her ethereal, magical spirit and teeters even more toward the edge of her friends' tightly-knit circle...
Then there are the jealous ones. Kate Endicott and the Sisters of Misery - a secret clique of the most popular, powerful girls in school - are less than thrilled by Cordelia's arrival. When Kate's on-again, off-again boyfriend Trevor takes an interest in Cordelia, the Sisters of Misery become determined to make her pay...
Now Maddie must choose between her loyalty to her cousin and the wrath of the Sisters of Misery...
(summary from the back of the book)

This book sent shivers down my spine. I'm always up for reading something out of the ordinary, and according to today's teen literature standards, this is as far from your normal chick lit and beachy romances as you're going to get. And that's not a bad thing, not at all. The thing that attracted me most to the book was how it promised to be something out of my comfort zone. I wanted to read something that would hit me hard and stay with me, and after reading Sisters of Misery, I knew that I got exactly what I had asked for. While there may have been flaws in the book, the addictiveness of the plot was able to overcome that and keep you reading. There were some very confusing parts, sentences with clashing statements, not so well developed characters, and other things like that. Normally, if I came across one of those things in a book it would decrease my opinion of the story automatically. The one reason that didn't happen with this book was because I could dismiss all of the faults because of the fresh and shivery the story had to me. Megan Kelley Hall proved that she can write. I am looking forward to the next book, The Lost Sister, with great anticipation because the end of the book left off with a serious cliff hanger. I'll definitely be reading anything Megan Kelley Hall has to offer in the future as she has made her mark, in my brain at least. I highly suggest that you go out and pick yourself up a copy of Sisters of Misery. It's sure to grab you tight, and keep you guessing until the very last page.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr

Unbeknownst to mortals, a power struggle is unfolding in a world of shadows and danger. After centuries of stability, the balance among the Faery Courts has altered, and Irial ruler of the Dark Court is battling to hold his rebellious and newly vulnerable fey together. If he fails, bloodshed and brutality will follow.
Seventeen-year-old Leslie knows nothing of faeries or their intrigues. When she is attracted to an eerily beautiful tattoo of eyes and wings, all she knows is that she has to have it, convinced it is a tangible symbol of changes she desperately craves for her own life.
The tattoo does bring changes - not the kind Leslie has dreamed of, but sinister, compelling changes that are more than symbolic. Those changes will bind Leslie and Irial together, drawing Leslie deeper and deeper into the faery world, unable to resist its allures and helpless to withstand its perils...
(summary from jacket flap)

Ink Exchange wasn't quite as good as Wicked Lovely, but it was still highly readable and addictive. I think the thing lacking in the second book was deep character connection. I felt like I knew the characters in the first book better than the ones in the second book which isn't a huge problem, but I think that if anything could be improved in Ink Exchange, that would be the one small thing I would fix. Other than that, the rest of the aspects of the story were on par with the first book and I finished it satisfied. In Wicked Lovely, some of the details of the other faery courts were skimmed over and this book gave us an opportunity to look at the dark faery court from a different view point; the view of someone who has no idea what she is getting herself into. I think the best part about the book, for me, was how all of the tattooing tied in. I've never thought about getting a tattoo myself, but after reading about the whole art and history of it, I think I have a deeper understanding of what drives people to permanently mark their bodies. I would never go through with it as I have a very low pain thresh hold, but I like the idea of claiming your body as your own, as Leslie did. I think Melissa Marr put a lot of effort in to that part of the book and it definitely paid off. I was a teensy bit disappointed by the ending of the book, but I think the contrast of the endings between Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange was needed and overall, the end fit the book; even if I didn't particularly like how things were tied up. I am looking forward to a possible third book because there is one (maybe two) faery court(s) that haven't been told about yet, and I think the last one, Sorcha's court, should be the most interesting of all. Let's cross our fingers that a third book is one its way!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries. Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in the mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty - especially if they learn of her Sight - and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.
Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries. Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.
Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention. But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King, who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost - regardless of her plans or desires.
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend Seth, her life; everything. Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twenty-first-century faery tale.
(Summary from jacket flap)

This must be one of the greatest modern fantasy books ever. I'm a fan of the Tithe series, but that series pales in comparison to Wicked Lovely. It's got suspense, romance, hot guys, magic, and an amazing style. I really couldn't put it down until I was done and I haven't had that happen for a long time. I loved how addicted I got. The faster I read, the faster I felt I needed to go in order to see what would happen next. I also liked how the whole magical aspect of the book didn't feel cheesy or overdone but it was almost as if you could imagine a faery world like the one in the book actually existing. The twists thrown in at the end were the best part by far. The author kept you clueless about some key parts of the story until the very end, when everything got wrapped up cleanly. Another one of my favorite parts was Seth and Aislinn's relationship. Seth was a completely honest and genuine guy who is now going on my list of ideal fantasy boyfriends. He did so much for Aislinn and believed her when no one else would. Which was a little weird to me because I don't think I'd automatically believe someone if they came and told me that faeries were stalking them. I've gotta give Seth props for that. Towards the end, I also grew to have some amount of respect for Keenan too, unexpectedly. Melissa Marr did a great job of making the characters and situations real and personal. I am completely looking forward to the next book Ink Exchange. If you haven't read Wicked Lovely yet, I don't know what you've been doing. I waited way too long to pick up this book.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Back in Business

Yup, that's right. I'm finally back! And I'm really excited about that. I missed my blogging, my books, reading reviews, and basically being connected to the internet! I did get a few books read while on my vacation and so now there are eleven new reviews up. It took me a while to get all of them written as I had decided to slack off and not write reviews down for the books. So when I got home, I had to write eleven new reviews, some dating a month back. So I apologize for any inaccuracies, spelling or details wise, on those. Also, I've decided to stop writing up my own plot summaries because I have a feeling they sucked, and I hate writing them. I'm going to be getting them either from Amazon or the back of the book now. And don't feel obligated to read all the reviews if you don't want to. That's a lot of reading to do. :D

On to non-book related matters, I had a great time on my trip. That's the longest I've ever been away from home. Here are some pictures:

The first picture is actually taken at midnight. No joke. The sun never set.
The second picture is of me wading in one of the last untouched rivers in that country. You could drink out of it. Which we did. It was delicious water.
The third picture is of a field at twilight. I just thought it was really pretty. :P
The fourth picture is a sign for a library! I actually got some books at a shop there, in a foreign language, but cool nonetheless. I got Twilight, New Moon, and Audrey, Wait! They also had a lot of Meg Cabot books, and I did see a copy of Airman by Eoin Colfer. But overall, they don't have a ton of YA fiction there, foreign or American.
The fifth picture is of some really cute street musicians playing at a public fountain. They were really good and the whole vibe of the square was wonderful.
The sixth picture is of the changing of the guards at the royal palace. That was a very cool thing to see
(Wanna guess what country I was in? Leave your guess in the comments, and if you're right, you might be rewarded later on...)

I don't know if you guys are at all interested in my trip or pictures, but if you want me to post more, I will. I had a ton of fun!

The next subject of this exceedingly long post is how clueless I currently am. I came back and had over 1,000 posts on my google reader. I read through a few of them and found some cool stuff; like how the second Twilight trailer came out! What do you guys think of it? But I decided that it would take forever to read everything, so I didn't. I'd love it so much if you guys would let me know about some of the cool stuff that's happened over the last month. Any good reviews, contests, posts, info, that I need to know about? Please, please, please fill me in!

And lastly, the contest that I've been foreshadowing for, oh, about 2 months, is in the works, I promise. Look for more info on that in about I week, I hope. Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my Summer Hiatus Reviews, I appreciate it a ton. And now that I'm back home, look for more reviews, more often!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Book Of Luke by Jenny O'Connell (vacation read)

Emily Abbott has always been considered the Girl Most Likely to Be Nice -- but lately being nice hasn't done her any good. Her parents have decided to move the family from Chicago back to their hometown of Boston in the middle of Emily's senior year. Only Emily's first real boyfriend, Sean, is in Chicago, and so is her shot at class valedictorian and early admission to the Ivy League. What's a nice girl to do? Then Sean dumps Emily on moving day and her father announces he's staying behind in Chicago "to tie up loose ends," and Emily decides that what a nice girl needs to do is to stop being nice. She reconnects with her best friends in Boston, Josie and Lucy, only to discover that they too have been on the receiving end of some glaring Guy Don'ts. So when the girls have to come up with something to put in the senior class time capsule, they know exactly what to do. They'll create a not-so-nice reference guide for future generations of guys -- an instruction book that teaches them the right way to treat girls. But when her friends draft Emily to test out their tips on Luke Preston -- the hottest, most popular guy in school, who just broke up with Josie by email -- Emily soon finds that Luke is the trickiest of test subjects . . . and that even a nice girl like Emily has a few things to learn about love.
(summary from back of book)

Why oh why do books that have so much potential of being good summer fluff reads have to turn out so badly? The Book of Luke started out okay, but everything just went downhill from there. The whole guide to guys thing was cheesy and the using Luke as a test subject was cliched and predictable. I could guess every twist in the story and towards the end, everything smoothed out quickly and without any bumps or problems which was completely expected and unrealistic. If one of my friends betrayed me like Emily did to her friends, I wouldn't be as quick to forgive and forget as Josie and Lucy were. They just seemed all too ready to forget the bajillions of things Emily had done wrong and let her off scott free. I think the one good part about the book was Luke. He was the one character who seemed real and actually likeable to me. He was the perfect guy character with flaws and annoying habits included, although based on the way he fell for Emily, I can't believe the horrible backstory that the author gave him. I wish there had been more thought and planning and details put into the book. It felt like the author just took a typical YA story, added some different characters and called it a book. And that is just not enough to cut it for me. I wanted some originality and unexpected twists but nothing like that was present and I was bored and unsatisfied. This book is not highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld (vacation read)

We are all around you.You don’t think about us much, because we are invisible. Well, not exactly invisible. A lot of us have hair dyed in four colors, or wear five-inch platform sneakers, or carry enough metal in our skin that it’s a hassle getting on an airplane. Quite visible, actually, come to think of it.But we don’t wear signs saying what we are. After all, if you knew what we were up to, we couldn’t work our magic. We have to observe carefully, and push and prompt you in ways you don’t notice. Like good teachers, we let you think you’ve discovered the truth on your own.And you need us. Someone has to guide you, to mold you, to make sure that today turns into yesterday on schedule. Because frankly, without us to monitor the situation, who knows what would get crammed down your throats? It’s not like you can just start making your own decisions, after all.
Ever wonder who was the first kid to keep a wallet on a big chunky chain, or wear way-too-big-pants on purpose? What about the mythical first guy who wore his baseball cap backwards? These are the Innovators, the people at the peak of the cool pyramid. Seventeen-year-old Hunter Braque is a Trend setter, on the second level of the pyramid. His job: find the newest, coolest thing for the retail market. His MO: observe, don’t get involved. But from the moment he meets Innovator Jen James, he can’t help getting involved in a big way. Part love story, part mystery, part stinging satire, Scott Westerfeld’s new novel will make you question everything you’ve ever believed about how to be cool.
(Summary from back of book)

I've been wanting to read this book for a long time. Because knowing Scott Westerfeld, it had to be good. I've read all the Uglies books, the Midnighters books, and the Peeps books, and fell in love with them, and thankfully that didn't change for So Yesterday. The one thing that cracked me up about this book was how Hunter kept talking about how he came to New York from Minnesota and how he had to change all his Minnesotan ways to actually become cool. Ah, boy. Do us northerners really have such a bad reputation as being hicks? Sure, Target is our favorite store, we bundle up in hideous parkas to brave the frozen winters, and use the term Uff Da on a daily basis, but I didn't think we were so uncool as to be referenced in a book all about coolness. I think that's really funny! And a book that makes me laugh is a good one for sure. I loved, loved, loved So Yesterday because of its whole vibe. It subtly draws you in and uses a bunch of radical ideas to keep your attention. I enjoyed thinking about the innovators, the jammers, the Hoi Aristoi. If that stuff was actually real, would I even know it? It was neat to get a peek of what could possibly happen behind the scenes of pop culture as we know it. The writing was smooth, the characters were created with detail, and the ending was great; possibly left open for a sequel? I hope... I highly recommend So Yesterday. It will captivate you, spark your interest, and make you think about things you never thought you'd have to think about. :P

Smart Boys and Fast Girls by Stephie Davis (vacation read)

ON YOUR MARK. Natalie Page is overlooked and unappreciated. Yeah, sure, she can run fast. Yeah, sure, all the boys love a buddy. Yeah, she has plans every weekend night...with her friends and their boyfriends. GET SET. It's time for the world to sit up and take notice. When Natalie makes the varsity cross country team, it seems like the fast track to being cool. The popular girls notice her, the hunky captain of the boys team is giving her rides home. Natalie Page is off and running. Then she starts to fail geometry. She has to get a tutor: a very annoying boy who thinks sports is for idiots. A very smart boy who thinks she's stupid. A very cute boy who already has a girlfriend and has no interest in her. A boy she told her parents she was dating. GO! Natalie Page can run. Now she has to decide how to finish.
(summary courtesy of Amazon)

The more books I read, the more predictable they become. I guess that's to be expected because as I go, I'm absorbing more plots, characters, and author ideas so I'm able to compare and predict more and more. And for the most part, this book was very predictable. I think it was a lot like She's So Money except with the genders reversed; what with the tutoring, the unreachable jock, the falling for each other in the end. It was all so cliched and unexciting. I knew what was going to happen through out the whole book and something like that is not enjoyable to read in the least...except it was. Weirdly, as unexciting as the story was, I wasn't completely lulled or put off. There was some little thing in there that made me not want to put the book down. I think it may have been how relatable Natalie was as a main character. Her character was one of the main things the author got right. Natalie is that perfect girl who you feel could be your best friend. She was written so that she would have issues and flaws and yet still seem like someone who deserved a happy ending, and for me, that was the one part that redeemed the book. The plot was ordinary, the side characters were ordinary, the ending was completely and utterly ordinary; but the one unordinary thing in the book, Natalie, was the one thing that made it worth reading. And I would recommend this book, just so you can meet a super cool girl that you may possibly want to make your new best friend.

I Was a Teenage Popsicle Bev Katz Rosenbaum (vacation read)

Teenage girls always want to be cool. But frozen is another story. Floe Ryan was frozen-or 'vitrified'-at sixteen. She and her parents had a rare disease, so it was their only choice until a cure was found. Now she's been thawed and it's ten years in the future-but she's still a teenager. And her parents are still chilling out... So now her little sister is her older sister, and she's making Floe suffer for every snotty thing she ever did. It's hard getting used to...not to mention a new school, new technology, and a zillion other new things that happened while she was napping in the freezer. Luckily, she has Taz, the hottie skater boy who was a popsicle too, so they get to reintegrate together. But now they're trying to close the Venice Beach Cryonics Center-with Floe's parents still in it! It's up to her to save the clinic and her parents-so she can finally have a somewhat normal life.
(summary courtesy of Amazon)

I have mixed feelings about this book. Overall, I don't think the writing or the plot was particularly remarkable, but there was something in it all that drew me in. I wasn't flipping pages manically or anything like that, but it was interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading. I think the whole futuristic world that the author created was a little far-fetched, but it was just wacky enough to be fun and entertaining to read about. The unitards, sked-pets, and hover blades probably won't happen in the next ten years, but there's a thing about the future world that is undeniably drawing to me. You know how your parents told you stories about how things were so much different in their childhood? It'll be cool to see the stories we're telling our children in 20 years. Will they be as appalled at our ruggedness as we were by our parents'? I think that single aspect of the book was what drew me in. Because really, other than that, there wasn't anything hugely amazing about the story. The plot was predictable as was Taz and Flo's relationship, and the ending was perfect and happy. There needed to be lots more excitement, but I think the book did fine because of its actual subject matter. So although I Was a Teenage Popsicle wasn't terrific, it wasn't horrendous either. I'd recommend it and I myself will try to get to reading the sequel, Beyond Cool, soon.

Leftovers by Laura Wiess (vacation read)

Blair and Ardith are best friends who have committed an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. But in order to understand what could drive two young women to such extreme measures, first you'll have to understand why. You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by the adults around her as damaged goods. A girl who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see. You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.
Are you ready?
(summary courtesy of Amazon)

This book was promoted as a sequel to Such A Pretty Girl, but I don't think it is. They both deal with tough issues in today's world, but that's where the similarities end. The characters, setting, and even perspective are different, which is nice. I don't think I could've read another book related to Such A Pretty Girl. Just reading that once was enough for me. Leftovers brings its own goods to the table and even though it's an extremely different type of narrative, I think it's just as good as the first book. The thing I liked best about it was the way it was told. The chapters alternate between who's telling the story and as they're telling the story, they are actually speaking into a recording device for a person who's revealed at the end. And even through that, they each have a different method of talking. One narrates as if you're actually her, and the other tells it like a diary. Those things helped to distinguish points of view and details of the plot which was quite handy because there are many little details to keep straight. This book is much more of a thinking and analyzing book than Such A Pretty Girl which was a refreshing difference. I also liked how the girls were down to earth, funny, and completely relatable, despite their terrible home lives and the horrible things they went through during the course of the story. They themselves were undeniably changed and as the reader, you got to be there to see them go through it. And the ending is flooring. I loved it so much. My one itsy bitsy complaint about this book was that I think the ages of the girls were a little bit unaccurate. I think, no I hope, girls who are in their freshman year of highschool wouldn't be going through the things that Blair and Ardith went through. But really, I don't know. The one thing I do know is that this is a seriously amazing book and it is a definite must read for any teenage girl of today. But as with the first book, beware of some explicit content.

Such a Pretty Girl by Lauras Wiess (vacation read)

With her father imprisoned, 15-year-old Meredith thinks she could live out her high-school days safely, but when he is released early for good behavior, her security is shattered. A popular youth baseball coach, her father has abused Mer as well as other boys and girls. With strict orders that he not be left alone with his daughter, he is returned to the condo complex where she and her mother live. In contrast to Mer's terror, her mother is giddy with delight at his return, and together the reunited couple plans to conceive another child. Yet in the shadows and stillness, Mer's nightmare begins anew.
(summary courtesy of Amazon)

So maybe this wasn't the greatest book to read while on a vacation, but I got so wrapped up in it that the fact that it was filled with raw emotion and heavy ideas, didn't really register with me. I think there's only a certain number of authors who can pull off a story like this one while making it realistic and addicting at the same time. The subject matter was far from light and I was glad for that change as I had been reading a lot of fluff up until then. This book made me think and actually feel something for the first time in a long time. There are many books out there that will confuse you and make you use your mind, but there are only a couple, Such a Pretty Girl included, that will tear at your heart strings and make you ache; whether that be with sympathy, disgust, horror, or another equally strong emotion. This isn't a book to take lightly but even though it has many heavy elements you can't help but be engrossed by the story. I got pulled in almost grudgingly because as I was reading, I didn't want to be able to get into the book, but I knew that if I was to truly appreciate the book for what it was, I had to submerge myself in the gruesome yet gripping story. And I'm so glad I did. The book really got to me and I think I'll remember it for quite some time; and that my friends, is the mark of a truly good story. One that will captivate you and pull you in no matter what. And for that, I highly recommend it. But, just as a warning, it's only for mature readers as there is a bit of graphic content.

Queen Geeks in Love by Laura Preble (vacation read)

Last year, Shelby Chapelle and her friend Becca founded the Queen Geek Social Club, and set out to find others of their kind. This year, Becca has even bigger plans for the Queen Geeks. She thinks working on the club's website and planning Geekfest (a talent show of geek-tastic proportions) should be Shelby's number one priority. Guys have always been strictly secondary to the goal of spreading geekiness to every corner of Green Pines High School...and then the world! But sophomore year heats up when Shelby is swept off her feet by the karaoke stylings of a guy named Fletcher. And then Becca and another Queen Geek fall for the same guy, which results in a cursed love triangle-or a doomed love rhombus, if you count Shelby and Fletcher. The going can get tough when Queen Geeks fall in love, but Shelby knows that being true to your inner geek is the most important thing.
(summary courtesy of Amazon)

Blech. I think there's just one word for this book; no. The whole geeky thing, while in the first book, it may have been entertaining, just got too over the top. Even sophomores in high school should be mature enough to not run around in super hero costumes out of a manga novel they themselves invented. To me, that's just a little weird. And I know that weird was what they were going for in the first place, but, I don't know, it was just too weird (did I use the word weird enough for you there?). I truthfully don't know anyone who would do the stuff that the Geek Club did in this book. And throughout the whole thing, you have all these guy issues that just got repetitive and boring. Shelby likes Fletcher, Shelby can't commit, Fletcher's sad, Shelby and Fletcher make up, Fletcher wants to take it a step further, Shelby backs away, Fletcher dates another girl, and in the end they happily get back together. If that wasn't enough for you we have the whole Becca is in love with Jon who is in love with Amber thing going on. Which, oh my, threatens to break up their friendship. The book was really slow, boring, unoriginal, and just plain dreary. Like the first one, I found no reason to keep reading, although I did, just to say I finished the book. The one good part of the book for me was the karaoke bit. Although highly predictable, I loved that whole part of it. What can I say, I'm a sap for that kind of stuff. But really, unless you're just looking for a way to pass time, don't read this book. It's just not worth it. I'm sad to have written such a bad review...maybe the third book will change my mind. *crosses fingers*

The Queen Geek Social Club by Laura Preble (vacation read)

It's chic to be geek! If you're somebody like Shelby Chappelle, a smart, witty, pretty geek army of one, you can't just put a poster up at school and advertise for somebody to be your best friend. But now freakishly tall Becca Gallagher has moved to town, with her dragon tattoo and wild ideas. Suddenly Shelby's mad scientist father and their robot, Euphoria, seem normal. They become best friends instantly. But Becca wants to shake things up at school and look for "others of our kind"...and decides to form the Queen Geek Social Club. The thing is, this guy Fletcher Berkowitz keeps nosing around, asking lots of questions about the Club. He's cute, and interesting, and possibly likes Shelby. Therefore, she must torture him. One good thing about being a loner: no one can break your heart.
(summary courtesy of Amazon)

There were some things about this book that worked and some that didn't.
What worked: The characters. They were wacky and zany enough to be believable. The whole idea of starting a club for geeks is just weird enough to sound like it could fly. I'm sure something like that might actually be popular at some of our schools, right? Shelby and Becca also had some great friendship chemistry going. When they first met each other, it just kind of felt right. It really clicked for me. Even among people, I don't think that happens very often so it was great that Laura Preble was able to convey that kind of connection through prose.
What didn't: The whole book was kind of slow to me. There was nothing about it that grabbed me or really made me want to keep reading. At all. And while the afore mentioned wackiness can be a good thing, I think it got rather out of hand. It sort of turned into a big free for all, anything flies, type of situation which isn't all that fun to read about. I wanted more structure and normalcy. Shelby also kind of annoyed me at points because she was so single minded. She got upset or discouraged over the littlest things, which wasn't fun to read about either.
In conclusion: This was an okay book. Not superb, not horrendous, just in between. I suppose I recommend it, but really, only pick it up if you've got nothing better to read, because it won't do much for you and what book's worth reading if you're bored throughout the whole thing?

How I Found The Perfect Dress by Maryrose Wood (vacation read)

On a bike tour of Ireland last summer, Morgan Rawlinson fell for Colin, the hunky guide, and entered a portal that turned her into the goddess Morganne. Now she’s back to her painfully normal life and her relationship with Colin has fizzled to the occasional e-mail…until he writes saying he’s coming to Connecticut—just in time for the prom.But when he arrives, he’s exhausted. It seems that when Morgan crossed the portal as Morganne, a spell was cast on Colin. In his dreams he’s being forced to dance ’til dawn with the faeries, who want to boogie with him for eternity. Somehow she has to break the spell on her date, help plan the prom, and find the perfect dress. Oh, what a night…
(summary courtesy of Amazon)

I don't think this book was quite as good as the first one. We've still got our spunky heroine who gets into loads of magical and real world drama. we've still got the cute leading man who is witty, handsome, and has a delicious accent. And we've still got our energetic plot that's loaded with twists, which although far-fetched, add a certain charm to the story. The thing that's lacking is something that I'm not really able to put my finger on. I think it might be that this whole book is just a continuation of the last one. And to that you might say; well isn't that what the second book in a series is supposed to be? And I'd answer; some extent, yes, but really it shouldn't be. I like it when a sequel keeps references and characters from the previous book yet still adds a whole new dynamic to the story. Like the addition of a new main character, or perspective would have been nice. I just felt like all of the magical fantasy, Colin is cute, Morgan is wacky, stuff was getting a little old. I wanted a new book that would bring something different to the table than the first one did. But yes, this book was good and enjoyable, and even though it might have been lacking something I would've liked it to have, I can't deny that it was still a fun and light book that will captivate you just like the first one did. I love my fluffy books so I'm hoping the third one will satisfy me a little more than this one did.

Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood (vacation read)

Being sent to your room is one thing. But being sent to another country? Morgan's boyfriend dumped her on the last day of school-it seemed the only thing to do was to hack off her hair and dye the stubble orange. Unfortunately, Morgan's parents freaked and decided a change of scenery would do her good. So they're sending her off on a bike tour of Ireland. But Morgan gets more than she bargained for on the Emerald Isle-including a strange journey into some crazy, once upon a time corner of the past. There, she meets fairies, weefolk, and a hunky warrior-dude named Fergus, and figures out that she's got some growing to do-and she doesn't just mean her hair.
(summary courtesty of Amazon)

There's been a good amount of hype about these books, right? And for the most part it's justified. The thing that really sold the book for me was the spunky main character, Morgan. It's not often that you get to read about a strong girl who doesn't depend on anyone else and makes her own decisions. Usually, you read about girls who are dependant on other people, or are obsessed with guys, or something like that. And really, that sucks. But Morgan's the kind of character that you feel could be that close sister you never had. I think the other pretty great part about the book was the complete and utter wackiness of it. It had a nice light vibe which kept everything moving and just kind of carried you along. It was funny too! I found myself laughing out loud during many parts of the book, earning myself strange looks from the people around me. I think the only thing I wasn't completely satisfied with in the book was that the whole faery world aspect of it wasn't explained well enough for my taste. The ways in which she got into the alternate world were random and unconnected and that whole concept seemed kind of wierd and pointless. I think there was some sort of reason involving brainwaves that was told about but I kept wondering; why does she even need to be a half goddess? It didn't lend much to the overall story, in my opinion and more details and solid facts would have been welcomed. I think the only good part about the faery world was how the Irish setting tied in. That was the one part I liked. Other than that small section of the book, Why I Let My Hair Grow Out was a very nice, light book, and I would recommend it as a fast way to pass time. Just don't get too hung up over the confusing faery world parts.

Model by Cheryl Diamond (vacation read)

Every year, hundreds of the most beautiful people in the world come to New York to become models. At age fourteen, Cheryl Diamond was one of them. Living on her own in a run-down apartment, Cheryl spent her days on go-sees, runways, and shoots, surviving hand-to-mouth, while taking in everything she could about the tough and sleazy modeling industry. She watched other girls make mistakes, and swore she wouldn't be a victim...until a career-altering event changed her life and nearly ruined her shot at her dream. This is the riveting, true account of Cheryl's triumphant rise, disastrous fall, and phoenix-like comeback in one of the hottest and most demanding industries in the world.
(summary courtesy of Amazon)

I'm still amazed by this book. You never think of the whole model industry as being something that us ordinary folks can relate to, but then along comes this book, which tells about the ups and downs of the business in a voice that is convincing, fresh, and relatable. And all models are supposed to be little mindless bubble people, right? Well, think again, because Cheryl Diamond proves that not only is she stunningly beautiful, she is intelligent and talented too. Kind of makes me feel insufficient. Ha. But I think she deserves all the attention and credit she can get because she went through more struggles in the first 20 years of her life than what the rest of us experience in our entire lifetime. And that's really not an exaggeration. But the reality of the story isn't even the greatest thing about the book. The great thing is the writing. How a person who has never tried to write much can sit down and write a book like this one is beyond comprehension. Because not only is the writing smooth and captivating, it's blunt and doesn't leave out any of the hairy details that other books about modeling might. In Model, you really get to see the gruesome underside of an industry that is known for glamor and drama and that in itself is refreshing and interesting. I don't think I'll ever in a million years get wrapped up in anything related to modeling, so this book was probably the closest I'll ever get, and really, I'm fine with that because it was an amazing book. I highly suggest that if you haven't read it yet, you go out and do so ASAP. It'll be worth your every penny.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Hiatus Review - Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Scarlett is your typical teen girl in New York. The only strange thing is that she happens to live in a hotel that her family owns. It's a hotel that is slowly but surely losing money and failing. She's also the sister to Lola, who's dating a rich guy who will stop at nothing to impress her, Marlene, who's survived cancer and loves all the pampering and admiration that comes along with that, and Spencer, who's dream is to be an actor on Broadway but who then instead lands a part in a production taking place in a parking garage. On Scarlett's fifteenth birthday her parents give her sole responsibility of one of the hotel suites as is tradition in their family. What Scarlett doesn't bargain for is a certain guest who decides to move in for the whole summer, rule Scarlett's life, plot revenge on old friends, and rediscover New York for herself. Add in a hunky guy who may or may not like her and you've got yourself in quite a pickle. Will Scarlett be able to fix up her summer, survive Mrs. Amberson's tortures, and save her brother's acting career? We can only hope...

I've never been a huge fan of Maureen Johnson's. I know, it's a crime. It's just that none of the books of hers that I've read have made much of an impression on me. I do admit that she's a good writer and has some great story ideas, but out of the books I've read so far, I didn't really like them enough to say that she's one of my favorite authors. But, I think that may have changed after I read this book. While reading I thought to myself; this must be the kind of Maureen Johnson writing that has made people fall in love with her. It's really good! She's witty, precise, clever, funny, and her whole writing style made this book completely enjoyable to read. It's got nice flow and has enough little quirky things to it that nothing ever gets boring. I'm definitely understanding what people like so much about Maureen. I'm a fan now. Besides the writing, there were, of course, other elements that I liked about the book. I really liked the reality of it all. Maybe not the reality of the plot, because I have a feeling that that part was meant to be not so real and more funny and captivating, but I really liked how the author was able to write about the setting and the characters so that it felt as if you were there and you knew them. I've been to New York once, like five years ago so I don't really remember a ton, but from reading this book I was able to understand the whole dynamic and feel of the city which was cool. I'd love to be able to go and spend a week or two among the crazy hecticness of New York. It seems like it would be a really cool place to live. And besides the setting, the characters were completely awesome. They each had some interesting personality trait that made them unique. I also liked how the cute guy in this story had things wrong with him! Yay! Cheers for realistic and screwed up guys. Sure, I'm not as fond of Eric as I am of more unflawed guy leads, but I do admire him for having the strength to defy the character mold. Ha. Overall, I think Suite Scarlett was a super great book. I loved every part of it and am looking forward to the next Scarlett book with tons of anticipation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer Hiatus Review - When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

Sara wants her senior year to be great. She wants good grades, an acceptance to her college of choice, and a guy who's the real thing. Tobey goes into the year with one goal; get Sara. But from the beginning, Sara has her eye on the wrong guy. Dave's cute, yes, but he's also immature, pushy, and quite dumb. But dating Dave gives Sara newfound status as someone worth noticing. Tobey knows that he has to rescue the poor girl from the clutches of a weasly guy, but how to do that? One thing's for sure, asking your best guy friend for "getting the girl" advice does not work; as Tobey learns when he falls up the stairs trying to get Sara to notice him. But little does he know that she does notice him but doesn't know what to do as she's dating the king of the grade. Will Sara and Tobey be able to make it work between them or will life get in the way?

This was a good book. Very good. I think that Susane Colasanti's whole writing/plot style is rather like Sara Dessen's except she doesn't deal with as heavy subjects has Sara does. And I think the whole lightness of the story is what made it so great. It was a real story; it was something that you could totally picture happening, but it also just kind of swept you away into happy land as you watched this magical romance unfold. Tobey and Sara were the most unlikely match and yet somehow, against all odds, they ended up together and infinitely happy. It's definitely a nice and optimistic plot that will appeal to anyone. We all want to be told that no matter what, we'll find that special person, and this book shows that anything can happen and with anyone. One of the high points of the book was the characters. They were all really in depth and real to me which is the most I could ask for in a book. I love having characters that are flawed and yet still relatable enought that you root for them throughout the entirety of the story. For the most part, When It Happens is your ideal beach read. You might have to do a little bit of thinking here and there, and there might be a small instance of heart break, but it all adds to the overall charm and wonderfulness of the book. I highly recommend it if you want a story that you can just sit down and dreamily get lost in. And don't we all want that every now and then?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer Hiatus Review - Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty by Jody Gehrman

Geena wants this summer to be the best ever. She has a fun summer job already in the box, so the only thing left is to find a few gal pals to pass the time with. She really wants things to work between her best friend Amber and her cousin Hero, who's coming to town for the summer, fresh from boarding school. But can a girl who has a reputation as the school slut and a girl who's lounging in a posh palace really co-exist? I think not. Then, John, the senior valedictorian and all around school god sets his unwanted sights on Hero when it's really Amber who's dying for his attention. Add in a adorable Italian exchange student and another guy who happens to be Geena's arch enemy and you've got yourself a summer full of good times at the beach sipping on lemonade, right? Wrong. When the wrong person gets blamed for doing a horrible act and a certain desirable guy's secrets get let out, the chaos really starts and no one knows what's the truth and who to trust anymore. Will Geena be able to salvage the summer for some quality pedicure parties with her two friends or will confusion and mayhem rule?

First off, I must say that I am in love with the cover to this book. Not only is it scratch 'n sniff, but it's adorable. I love all the little curlicues, the hot pink color, the heart in the coffee, the font, everything. And the headers on the pages of the book are the cutest. If only every book was as aesthetically pleasing as this one. And for the most part, the book matched the cover. This is definitely the book you want to pick up if you are looking for a beach read. It's the definition of fluff and mindlessness. But not in a bad way. You can pick it up and just read. You don't have to think about the story, and while you're doing your non-thinking, you can get into the book too. The characters are cute, although semi-unrealistic. The plot is unplausible, but fun and enjoyable at the same time. And the writing, I think, is the best part. Jody Gehrman was able to write this book in a way that will draw anybody in. She's got her tone, her jokes, her references, and her whole style down pat. I loved reading something that didn't take any getting used to or analyzing. I was able to jump into the flow of the book from the first page. The other thing that I liked a lot about the book was the plot. And yes, while many of the things that happened are entirely unrealistic, they were made to seem like they might actually happen. It was light, enthralling, and laugh-out-loud funny. And for me, that's basically all I need in a book, so I stand satisfied and ready for a future barista job perhaps. :D

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Summer Hiatus Review - Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Danielle and her mother steal antique silver from rich families across the USA for their living. It's all Dani has ever known and it is what she has based her life around. And for the most part, she hasn't had a problem with it. But when she and her mom move to a small ocean-side town called Heaven, Dani is given a taste of what her life might be if she were actually able to stay in one spot for a while. She could have friends, a school life, people who care about her, and most importantly, she would feel secure. But when she realizes that her new friend lives in the home that she and her mom are targeting for their next burglary and that that cute guy that she's been flirting with is a cop, she wants that perfect carefree life more than ever. Will Dani be able to convince her mom to give up the life she's always known for a chance at normalcy or will stealing what everyone else has to provide for herself be the way Dani will be forced to live for the rest of her life?

I loved this book! I had heard tons of good things about it, and it definitely did not disappoint. I think that Elizabeth Scott's novels just keep getting better and better. I've read all of them so far I think and I've liked all of them a ton so I'm really glad that Stealing Heaven was able to keep up that good-ness streak for me. I really liked how all of the characters were really in depth and relatable. The story put a girl whom we could all think of ourselves as being into a situation that none of us could imagine being in. I think the author portrayed the most normal and sincere teen girl in a beautiful way. You could see all the things that she was feeling and going through as she was put into many different situations. I also adored the character of Greg. Seriously though, what's with all of the perfect and utterly unreal guy characters?! It just makes me ache whenever I read about these flawless guys, the likes of which I believe do not exist in the real world. Even though Greg's character was realisticly unattainable, you can't help but love guys like him anyways. I think the thing I liked the best about the book though was the whole flow of the writing. Nothing was rushed and the story moved at a perfect pace. I loved being able to read about the events through Dani's eyes and I think that if the book hadn't been narrated by her it wouldn't have been as good just because she had such a fluid and relatable voice. I think the only teeny thing that bothered me was that in the end, the issue that Dani and Allison had with each other wasn't wrapped up like I would have liked it to have been. Other than that, Stealing Heaven was perfect; from the beginning sentences to the adorable ending. It's a perfect summer read.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Summer Hiatus Review - Rumors by Anna Godbersen

It's been some time since Elizabeth Holland's mysterious death entranced the New York socialites. And now, It's her younger sister Diana that they have their eyes on. Since Henry Schoonmaker, the young bachelor Elizabeth was engaged to before her death, is now available, he's also one of the people in the spotlight. The other is the wily Penelope Hayes whose main goal is to bring down the Holland family and claim Henry for her own. Besides, they've known each other all their lives, so it's only right. But what people don't know about is Diana's secret affair with Henry and the fact that the Holland's large fortune is dwindling after Diana's father died a short time before Elizabeth. But is it really proper for a young man to be in the minds of so many women so soon after his fiance's death even if the engagement wasn't one based on love? And with rumors of Elizabeth still being alive floating around, things get complicated. Will we ever learn what really happened to Elizabeth? And who will claim Henry in the end?

Yum, yum, yum. This book was just as delightful as the first one in the series which I am really happy about. Sometimes, you get an amazing first book and then a really bad sequel, but in the Luxe series, that is not the case. Thankfully. I completely loved hearing more about all of the scandal surrounding the families that I had come to know and love in the previous book. I think one of the things that is the best about this series is that Anna Godbersen has the perfect writing style to go along with the storyline. She knows how to write so that even the language aspect of the book draws you into a world that's far from your own. Also, the plot was really amazing. There were a ton of twists and surprises that left my mouth open, and my mind scrambling. But in a good way of course. These were nice and luscious twists that were completely plausible but at the same time unexpected. The ending especially nearly wrenched me apart. I almost cried! Yikes! It's a little wierd to confess to crying over a book that's purely fluff made for enjoyment. But it's the kind of book that gets you to relate to the characters and actually care about what happens to them. That's definitely one of the parts that keeps me coming back for more. I feel like I'm actually in the turn of the century New York, which is saying something because not only do I have no idea what New York's like, I do not in any way know what anything around that time period would be like. But the book is such that you can't help but be drawn in. And although this series is completely fluffy, I still love it to pieces and I can't wait for the next book, Envy. If you haven't read the first book, The Luxe, you had better go and pick it up soon!

Oh, and happy Fourth of July!!! Go out and watch some American fireworks for me! :P