Thursday, June 23, 2011

In My Mailbox...

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren

This week, I got:
(all pictures link to summary on Goodreads)

  • The Nine Lives of Chloe King by Liz Braswell/Celia Thomson 

  • White Cat by Holly Black

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth (e-book)

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

  • Perfect by Ellen Hopkins (ARC)

Monday, June 20, 2011

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone. -via Goodreads

The Review

Contains slight spoilers, the big ones have been hidden

Where do I start? 

Well, first off. I've seen places like The Nest. They're gross. People high out of their minds, grinding (*shutters*), and plenty of alcohol. My friends try to drag me there and I'm like nuh uh, I ain't going in that dump. So, yes, I applaud Bianca for refusing to take part in that madness. And from then on, I could relate to her fairly well. 

Until the meaningless sex with a boy she hates. Then I slowly pulled my pompoms down and stopped rooting for her. Why sex? Get involved in a damn sport. Work on your cardio. I'm not a religious person, really. I just don't see how having sex with a guy for a distraction from your life is something that's okay? I thought it was kind of weird that she was completely fine with being naked in front of him with all of her insecurities, it just didn't seem like something she would do. At that point, I was rethinking her whole character. And it never caught up with her. She never really felt horrible about it. I thought it was really disgusting, considering the fact that he slept with any girl that was willing. I mean, he slept with someone he considered a DUFF, right? 

Okay, now, the whole DUFF thing. I get it! This novel was not created to tell you about avoiding your problems in life by having casual sex with people you hate. Everyone feels like the DUFF sometimes, even the pretty girls that you think have it all. And love yourself no matter your faults. The message was good. I liked it. Keplinger did it in a fun way, too. Designated Ugly Fat Friend, I mean, c'mon, that's funny. 

Then there's [highlight for spoiler->]the divorce. I would be pretty pissed id my mom or dad sent divorce papers in the mail like that. In fact, I would refuse to talk to them until they faced the other one like an adult.  And when her dad, oh, her undeveloped dad, starts drinking and has his tirade, I was thinking, great, more reason to have more sex with good 'ol Wes *facepalm*. But then immediately after, her dad realizes his mistakes and jumps back into AA meetings. This was totally unrealistic. In most cases, alcoholics need outside help and encouragement to stop drinking. Her dad really wasn't getting any help from Bianca, seeing that every time she had a problem she would run the opposite direction to Wesley. It was just odd. 

I didn't like Toby. He radiated blandness. Good guys always have to be the boring ones, it kills me. It also kills me to say this, I was rooting for Wesley. Oh my. I can't believe I just wrote that... I loathe guys like him. They walk around with this self assurance that makes me want to slap them silly. But he did go through a good change. It wasn't entirely believable, okay, it wasn't really believable at all, but this is a love story, you're prepared for these kind of things going in. 

Over all, a fun read. I also question the morals of every single person in this high school that are willing to do it on a moment's notice. Had a good message with the whole DUFF thing. So it balanced out.

3/5 stars

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss? 

Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive.... 

Not your typical beach read. -via Goodreads

The Review

I'll start off by saying that Hannah is one of my favorite authors right now. I've only read Gone, Gone, Gone and Invincible Summer but I loved them. They both touched my heart and gave me a lot to think about. I'm excited to get Break soon, and read Zombie Tag!

Back to Invincible Summer. I adored the characters. We only got to see them for the summers but I felt like they showed their true selves when they came "home" to the beach house. It was kind of hard for me to relate to Chase because I'm an only child and he has a really strong bond with his older brother, Noah. So at first it was a little hard to get into the story, but once I did, I was completely absorbed in the family drama of the McGills. Once the strain between his parents was thrown into the mix, I could relate and it made me upset when [highlight for spoiler ->] their parents did get divorced. They were ripping the kids apart when they were so attached to one another. But, it reminded me, things like this can't be controlled. It also scared the s$%# outta me, too considering how my parents are at times.

Ah, then there's Chase's struggle with growing up. I can't express how awesome this was: 

    "Camus-boy, you're always going to be the same you, just older. It's not like there's a moment when you wake up and go, Shit, I'm grown-up, I don't feel like myself anymore."
    I don't tell him, but this is the scariest fucking thing I've ever heard in my life. Being grown-up should feel like a big transition. It can't be something that, despite my best efforts, I've been drifting closer and closer to every summer. It needs to be a shock. I need to know what point to stop holding on. And that moment will suck, and probably every moment after that will suck, but at least I'll know that everything that came before really was valid. I really was young and innocent. I wasn't fooling myself. 

Every person on Earth must have had these thoughts at one point or another, I'm not even exaggerating. I still haven't had the revelation that, yes, I'm going to feel like the same person when I'm all "grown-up". I'm scared, scared as Chase. And I want to remember my innocence, too.

The beach descriptions, they reminded me of all the times my family came down and we stayed in a hotel on the beach. Everything was so perfect, I felt like I was there again. It made me want to jump in the car and pay the ocean a visit. 

This book is not predictable. It adds a whole new level to real. We don't know how people are going to take things. We can't group all boys into one bunch! Each character was unique and authentic. Chase isn't your typical teenager, so what? What is a typical teenage boy? One who blows off his responsibilities, doesn't have any feelings, and can't have a heart to heart with their siblings? I read a few reviews touching on the fact that he doesn't act "normal". What??? He's an individual. All male characters can't be the same. I loved him for not being that typical teenage boy

In conclusion, I'd like to say that Invincible Summer is not your typical read. There's so many places this book goes. It's profound. Be prepared with some tissues and this is not a light, fluffy read you're going to blow through, don't be fooled by the cover. 

4/5 stars

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

What's a girl to do when meeting The One means she's cursed to die a horrible death?
Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.
But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else. - via Goodreads

The Review
Contains slight spoilers
In the beginning, I thought Emma was an okay heroine. Her one liners seemed a little forced at times, like Shultz was trying to say, "HEY, LOOK, MY HEROINE IS WITTY AND JUST PLAIN FUNNY, HAHAHAHAHA! LAUGH!" Her family life was tragic, her father left when she was young, her twin brother died, her mom died a year after her brother, and then she was left with Henry, the loser boyfriend her mom thought would take care of Emma. If there's one thing I know about alcoholics and children, they DO NOT mix. So, I really didn't think that whole situation made any sense, it was just a way to place Emma in a "posh Upper East Side prep school". Plus, with the way Emma described it, she might as well be a freakin' robot. Yes, my twin brother died, yes my mother died a year after, pass the salt? Not once did she cry-- unless it was about Brendan. Oh, boy, do I have to go there? *sigh* I'll get there soon, back to Emma. One of the two real friends that she makes, Cisco, shows up about three times before Emma is completely absorbed with Brendan and never hangs out with him, ever again. The time she does spend with him is usually spent talking about Brendan. And then there's Angelique, her other friend that she sits next to in one class, but still willing to let her borrow extremely valuable ancient books just so she can, yep, you guessed it, find out more about Brendan. Because they've hung out once, and they're soul mates. Then, Emma turns into the poster child for PEOPLE WITH NO COMMON SENSE. If the mean girl in school has it out for you, wants you to go get a box for her in the basement, YOU DON'T DO IT! Bad things happen in basements!!! No matter what 'green eyed hottie' you want to protect. Starting with that imaginary box, your intelligence level went down from there, and there wasn't much left when "your beau" stepped into the picture

Everyone, this is Brendan. Now you must all secretly obsess over him all the time. It's a rule, every single girl wants this guy, so do you. So, who is he? He's corny, has black hair, green eyes, has no actual friends, and likes to beat Anthony up. So dreamy. Really, I can't tell you much about his personality because he was always so focused on saving his damsel in distress, Emma. There was no development in his character at all. Zero, zilch, GOOSE EGG! He continues to get cheesier and cheesier throughout the book, but I'm not calling that development, more like he was trying to turn into a piece of gouda. 

The paranormal aspect in this book was... just, non-imaginative. It didn't really play much of a role in the story, I mean it did and it didn't. This is a romance before it can be called a paranormal. 

Provided by netGalley, courtesy of HarlequinTEEN.

1/5 stars

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Young Katniss Everdeen has survived the dreaded Hunger Games not 
once, but twice, but even now she can find no relief. In fact, the dangers 
seem to be escalating: President Snow has declared an all-out war on 
Katniss, her family, her friends, and all the oppressed people of District 
12. The thrill-packed final installment of Suzanne Collins' Hunger 
Games trilogy will keep young hearts pounding.- via Goodreads

The Review
Tears, lots of 'em. 

Well, Suzanne Collins has just written one of the best series of books I've ever read. Not to mention my favorite. I hope I can write my review tomorrow because I need to voice my thoughts on this, everything's jumbled and, well, I'm trying to sort myself out right now. Dripping nose, puffy red eyes... I must be a wreck. I want to start now but anything I write might be a bunch of incoherent rambling due to my exhaustion. REVIEW TOMMOROW *crosses fingers tightly* 

That was my initial reaction to Mockingjay, written sometime between three and four in the morning. After that, I  laid my head on my pillow, and just thought about all of the characters that I love so much. Katniss, her strength and compassion. Peeta, his way with words and kindness. Gale, his passion and straightforwardness. Finnick, his humor and AWESOMENESS. I could go on and on.... and on. Before I knew it, I was sobbing, again. I've never shed so many tears for a book, hell, for a book series! And there were seven Harry Potter books. I just felt it. I kept on laughing to myself that I was crazy for caring SO much about fictional characters, but then again, why would anyone read if you didn't love who the people were woven in the story. I came to the conclusion I am NOT crazy for caring, I would be crazy if I didn't care. So, there. This book is like riding the Knight Bus (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban reference, go here to see the Knight Bus scene). You're going full speed, until a little old lady crosses the street and SCREEEEEECH. You stop dead, your face slams into the glass painfully, the seconds tick by, and then your off again, dodging traffic. One more thing before the spoilers begin, I've never been Team Peeta or Team Gale. I like both, equally. I didn't care who Katniss ended up with because she had good reason to choose either. I didn't even care if she chose to stay alone. I just wanted her to be happy, she deserved it more than anyone. I loved Mockingjay.

5/5 stars

"Katniss, there is no District 12." Catching Fire ended with this, from Gale. And, since I'm late on The Hunger Games train, I already had Mockingjay sitting right next to me. If I didn't and had to wait a year to find out what happened to my favorite district, I might have lost it. But I didn't. The shiny cover stared at me, looking innocent. A mockingjay in flight, how much more uplifting could it get? It tricked me into thinking I was safe. I knew it from the first sentence I read, this was not going to be a happy read.

Katniss, walking through the ashes of District 12 brought me to tears. Most of the people in town died, including Peeta's entire family. Sure, the mom was a complete witch, but the dad was kind. We never got introductions to either of his brothers, I still felt heartbroken for Peeta.

When Katniss finally agrees to become the Mockingjay, the symbol for the entire revolution, I'm relieved. This meant that she was, at least, attempting to get herslef back together, but you have to give the girl a break! She's just been through two Hunger Games, her town was completely destroyed, and Peeta is getting tortured by the Capitol. Me? I think I'd just become a morphling addict and peace out to the world. Katniss's first mission as the Mockingjay is to visit a District 8 hospital. It gave me goosebumps to read about all of the hope that she gave those people sitting there, wounded. When the hospital's destroyed, I balk. I wasn't expecting it, and it just added fuel to the fire with the hatred for the Capitol. When Katniss and Gale go all bad ass with their bows and shoot down some planes, I cheer them on! Revenge!

All of Katniss's time spent with Gale really made him grow on me. And Finnick, he was just a great character. When he got Annie back, I loved it. I knew the real him would come back, better then ever. And then... that brings me to his death. Honestly, I think it was done for shock value. There was no reason for him to die. Blow off one of his legs! Make his face disfigured! They way he died just made me cringe. Then Katniss has his life flash before her eyes, and it was just beautiful writing.

As one yanks back his head to take a death bite, something bizarre happens. It's as if I'm Finnick, watching images of my life flash by. The mast of a boat, a silver parachute, Mags laughing, a pink sky, Beetee's trident, Annie in her wedding dress, waves breaking over rocks. Then it's over.

 I had to stop, and have a cry session before I could go on. I just kept waiting for someone to die. Peeta, Gale, Pollux, Cressida, and Katniss. All are in danger. 

Then, the final battle, where Prim dies. Her death didn't affect me. I felt like she was just there. We didn't really see much of her in all three books. We always had Katniss talking about how much she loved her sister and how she needed to protect her. I really figured that it would happen, actually. It would figure, you replace her in The Hunger Games so she doesn't die, then kill her in the final installment. It broke Katniss, though. And guess what?! Gale and Peeta made it through!

When it's time for Katniss to kill Snow, I know she won't. Not because she feels a last pang of mercy, but because she's going to kill Coin. I'm glad she did. She was as snakey as Snow. The ending with Katnisss and Peeta living happily ever after didn't really make any sense to me... But you can't say Katniss didn't deserve it. I'm just saying the people haven't changed one bit and they, in reality, probably would've made her some kind of puppet, set an example out of her. Put her in some kind of solitary confinement. Who knows what kind of stuff these people would come up with? 

One last thing, I was kind of dissapointed that Katniss didn't mention either of her kids' names, I hope her and Gale stayed in touch, and her mom... ugh.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Vampire Diaries Love!

Okay, so I'm really excited to do a Vampire Diaries post because, well, it's a super obsessive series that I'm in love with ^.^. If you haven't read any of L.J. Smith's books, start now! She's an awesome writer and one of my favorites.

 A few months ago I found out that somewhere along the way L.J.'s rights to The Vampire Diaries were no longer hers. This is the statement on her website for the new trilogy, The Hunters: Phantom, Moonsong, and the third book is not yet titled:  Lisa wrote Phantom, but at that time Alloy Entertainment Inc used the fact that she'd done the original trilogy as "work for hire" to remove her from doing any further Vampire Diaries Books. An anonymous ghostwriter will finish the series, possibly making it more like the TV series, according to the only statement Alloy Entertainment Inc. (who owns half the copyright) has made to the public, in the Hollywood Reporter. Lisa retained the name Eternity and is writing a book called Eternity: A Vampire Love Story.

When I found out about this, I bawled, for about an hour. I'm tearing up right now just thinking about it. And I'd just like to say I will not be buying the new trilogy. L.J. didn't tell any one of her fans not to buy the series, and I admire her for that. But to be honest, I don't want to read it. No more depressing stuff! I'll start off by sharing my reviews for her first two books in The Vampire Diaries series; The Awakening and The Struggle.

Elena: the golden girl, the leader, the one who can have any boy she wants.

Stefan: brooding and mysterious, he seems to be the only one who can resist Elena, even as he struggles to protect her from the horrors that haunt his past.

Damon: sexy, dangerous, and driven by an urge for revenge against Stefan, the brother who betrayed him. Determined to have Elena, he'd kill to possess her.

Collected here in one volume for the first time, volumes one and two of The Vampire Diaries, the tale of two vampire brothers and the beautiful girl torn between them. -via Goodreads

The Awakening

The story starts out with a passage from Elena's diary. These show up about five times throughout the book, normally when Elena is under some stress and needs an outlet. I always liked them because you really got to see what was going through that scheming mind of hers. In the beginning, I really didn't like her, I mean it's great to be confident, but I always found her bordering on egotistical jerk... (Throughout the series, though, I began to like her and she changed a lot from my first meeting with her to my last. All of the characters had gone through a lot of growth.) Then we meet Stefan. He's come out of hiding to try and lead a normal life. As normal as it can get for him, seeing he's a vampire. He doesn't have the normal diet of human blood, either. Only animals. (And, hey, before you make assumptions that L.J. copied Stephanie Meyer, think again. The Awakening was published in 1991 and Twilight was published in 2005) When Elena arrives at school, she's greeted by her group of friends. We have Caroline, Bonnie, and Meredith. We soon find out that Caroline has jealousy issues and treats Elena rudely, telling her she's not the queen of the school anymore, blah blah. Pretty stupid stuff, and I actually stopped reading there, but I went on hoping to find that these books weren't going to be about high school drama. At this point, Elena had also spotted Stefan and was determined to make him notice her. It was really Stefan's perspective that kept me going. But I must admit, the crazy schemes that Elena, Bonnie, and Meredith came up were pretty amusing. 

There were flashbacks of Stefan's time in Italy, when he was human. With the flashbacks, we meet Katherine, Stefan's past love that looks just like Elena. Weird? Yes. I wanted to know why she looked just like her. Is there another supernatural element playing in this? Something about this just pulled me in. Then frightful things, like a man being drained of blood, start happening all over Fell's Church, and Elena meets Damon. It was one of the weirdest introductions I've ever read and Damon became my favorite character. Elena's roller coaster ride begins here.

The Struggle

At the end of The Awakening, Elena has a nasty suspicion that it was Damon that caused Stefan to suddenly disappear after the night Elena finds out that Stefan is a vampire. She throws herself into danger immediately by going out and searching for Damon. Not a very smart idea, if you ask me. But Elena soon finds out that Damon's weird obsession with her won't let him kill her just yet. He's giving her the option of going with him and becoming a vampire herself. All she wants to do is find Stefan, safe and sound. That's when Damon drops a bombshell on her. 

"Oh and one more thing," Damon's voice came back. "You asked earlier about my brother. Don't bother looking for him, Elena. I killed him last night."

Obviously, Stefan can't die! So, it's not much of a spoiler if I tell you that he doesn't. After hearing the news that she didn't quite believe herself, she stubbornly set out looking for Stefan once more. When she found him he was in pretty bad shape, but it wasn't anything a little blood couldn't fix, right? The next day, Elena goes to school. After getting groped against your will by a brute, almost losing your boyfriend due to his insane vampire brother, and also having your boyfriend accused of murder all in the same night, I have no idea how she found the strength to even wake up. But Elena went on as she always does and we got to meet her new history teacher, Alaric Saltzman. He was overly cheery and wanted his students to address him by his first name, not to mention the get-to-know-you party he was throwing at his house. Just a little suspicious there, Alaric. Tension begins to build between Stefan and Elena as Damon begins to make his interest in Elena public. Stefan also has no idea that Elena has had any encounters with Damon. Shes afraid of telling him with what he might do. Will lying or the truth keep things peaceful? Elena thinks that she can deal with Damon all on her own. She couldn't be more wrong. Before she knows it his web is spun and she's caught. Meanwhile, Caroline is on a mission to destroy Stefan and Elena. With Elena's diary, she has all she needs to take care of them both, it contains his secret. It would explain all of the "animal attacks" in town and who knows what kind of secrets the people in this town are hiding? Fell's Church just got a hell of a lot more interesting. 

4/5 stars