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Book Review: The Nerdy and the Dirty

Book Review: The Nerdy and the Dirty

Book Review: The Nerdy and the Dirty
The Nerdy and the Dirty by B. T. Gottfred
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: November 15th 2016
Pages: 304
Source: Library

His classmates may consider him a nerd, but Benedict Pendleton knows he's destined for great things. All he has to do is find a worthy girlfriend, and his social station will be secured. Sure, Benedict is different--but that's what he likes about himself.
Pen Lupo is sick and tired of hiding who she is. On the outside, Pen is popular, quiet, and deferential to her boyfriend. On the inside, however, Pen is honest, opinionated--and not sure that she's quite like other girls. Do they have urges like she does?
When fate intervenes, Pen and Benedict end up at the same vacation resort for winter break. Despite their differences, the two are drawn together. But is there such a thing as happily ever after for this unlikely pair?

I wanted to love this book. I really, really did. I first saw it on Edelweiss, but I didn’t get to it before it was published. I love  frank sex talk for teens ala Forever (Blume). I truly believe teens need those type of books; however, this is not it.

But it got good professional reviews and has decent buzz! Indeed it has gotten lots of praise, but I found the book incredibly problematic. I seriously cannot understand why no one but School Library Journal pointed out any of it, even as a precaution. While this is a rant for another day, I will say we need to do better. Hopefully, by the time I’m finished, you’ll agree with me.

Okay, let’s start with the writing. I found most of it to be choppy and stilted, especially when it came to Benedict. I do believe this was done on purpose, to highlight his “tin man” likeness, but it drove me crazy. Here’s an example of what I mean:

When I got home, I wanted to talk to my dad. He would have great advice. He’s brilliant. I’m not saying that just because he’s my dad. He’s a psychiatrist and an author. (p 17)

I know there’s technically nothing wrong with the sentence structure, but most of the book is in this format. For me, it’s jarring and pulls me out of the story. I honestly almost DNF at page 30 because of the writing.

Benedict as character has a lot of issues. I would wager by the way he talks and acts, that it is possible he is on the spectrum. I do not know this for sure, though, so it’s strictly a guess. However, if he is, the whole storyline that he can just be “normal” if he tries hard enough is problematic. Although, even if he is, that does not excuse some of his actions/allow him to be a jerk. I absolutely hate the way he treats his mother. Several times it is mentioned that his mom is the beauty and not the brains. She couldn’t possibly help him because she’s not intelligent enough to help him. It has to be his dad. I know a lot of this was force fed by his father, but it’s still not okay, especially since this attitude is basically applied to all women. I will give points for Benedict back pedaling on this train of thought as the book continued, though.

Of course, there is sex in this book. I’ll admit at times it is gratuitous, like telling me which hand is used to masturbate, but most of it isn’t too bad. I do like that most of the sex talk is straightforward. No cute slang for genitalia and consent is usually asked (at least with Benedict and Pen). However, it does at time makes the scenes seem a bit unrealistic, especially the first actual sex scene. It felt a bit too mature, however, that’s me mainly being nit picky. What is not okay is how female masturbation is treated. Pen repeatedly calls herself a freak because she likes to masturbate and think about sex. She even gets sent to in-patient church therapy when her mom discovers her in the act. Benedict does tell her it’s healthy and that more girls should masturbate, but there is still a sense that Pen believes she’s a freak. Also, I do find that hard to believe that none of the girls on school talk about sex, even with religion thrown into the mix. I can remember sitting in 7th grade and listening to girls talk about their sex lives. Considering that was over 20 years ago, I can’t imagine it’s changed too much, especially the amount of times I’ve told my teens our program talk is PG-13.

I’m going to start delving into some of the stuff that really bothered me. The top of my list is abuse. Pen’s (ex) boyfriend, Paul, is highly abusive mentally, sexually, & physically. Here are just some of the passages that highlights how abusive he is:

“You’re not beating him up, Paul,” I say. Shit. I never tell him what to do or not to do. You know. I always do my passive thing….
“Babe, you can’t talk to me like that.” (p 24)

“I love you too.” I always said “I love you” after he did. I said it first once and it weirded him out. So I say it second. Always. (p 34)

After school, Paul grabbed me under the arm and dragged me out to his car. He kept twisting the skin under my arm. It felt like flesh would tear off, and I never told him to stop. Just take the pain, Pen. It’s okay. Paul would never really hurt me…..”If we hadn’t had sex, i would totally break up with you, Pen! But I love you and we’re going to get married. But we’re going to hate each other like your parents hate each other unless you stop acting like a cunt.” (p 52)

“How are you going to make it up to me?” ….Before I even undid my seatbelt, he put his hand behind my head and started guiding me down toward his crotch. It’s not like he shoved me down there. But, I don’t know, I guess I made it up to him. (p 53)

There is more I could pull, but I’ll stop there. Paul is abusive, no excuses. He breaks up with her after her mom decides Paul shouldn’t join them on vacation at the resort. He knows she was sent away for therapy, but doesn’t know the details. Instead, he uses it as an excuse for them to take a break and for him to mess around with another girl. During this break is when Pen hooks up with Benedict. Three days. Three days is all it takes for her to magically break “free”. When the vacation ends disastrously (I’ll get to this in a bit), she goes to see Paul. She doesn’t even care that he cheated and tells him it’s over. He refuses to let her go and then hits her, which she reports to the cops. I’m glad that she that she reported it, but it feels unlikely that after being in an abusive relationship for years she could stand up for herself so fast. It makes it appear that walking away from abusive partners is simple, but in real life it would have been way more of a struggle. Also, I hate how it was kind of swept under the rug/explained away because his own mother was abusive as well. It was odd how Pen was just like “well, that explains it” and go on her merry way.

Pen’s mother is also pretty abusive, which again is swept away with an explanation  as to why it happens. Not only does Pen mother send her away to therapy for masturbating, but she also calls the cops to assure she goes. It’s also implied many times that Pen’s mother is verbally abusive. The reason? View Spoiler »

If that wasn’t enough, the way crazy, retard, & whore are thrown around is horrible. This is the area I’m most upset that professional reviewers didn’t at least call out as a precaution. Pen repeatedly calls her mom or herself crazy or nuts. I hate how loosely the word is thrown around. This passage struck me the hardest

So, yeah, it was a panic attack. I’m crazier than my mother. (p 83)

No. No, no, no, no. I hate the implications this makes on people who experience panic attacks. How would a teen who experience panic attacks regularly feel after that statement? It’s an illness that no one should be ashamed up and it certainty doesn’t make one crazy.

As for retard and whore, once Benedict and Pen are discovered in a warming hut naked, those words are thrown around without care. Her mother repeatedly called Benedict a retard and Pen a whore. A sentiment that his father echoes. A sentiment that Benedict starts to repeat to himself/believe.

Do you think she ever wants to see a boy again whose father called her a whore? Use your brains, retard. (p 225)

If I’m correct and Benedict is on the spectrum, this is unforgivable, especially since no one tries to stop them from saying it. In fact, only Pen says not to use those words, once, to Paul during their fight. That’s it. One could argue it was the parents lashing out, but I’m extremely disappointed by how casually those words are used.

I wish I had more positive things to say about this book, but it was a complete miss in my eyes.

Book Review: Alex as Well

Book Review: Alex as Well

Book Review: Alex as Well
Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: January 20th 2015
Pages: 224
Source: Library

Alex is ready for things to change, in a big way. Everyone seems to think she’s a boy, but for Alex the whole boy/girl thing isn’t as simple as either/or, and when she decides girl is closer to the truth, no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. Undeterred, Alex begins to create a new identity for herself: ditching one school, enrolling in another, and throwing out most of her clothes. But the other Alex—the boy Alex—has a lot to say about that.

The description of this book is a bit misleading. At first glance, I thought this book  dealt with a transgender character, but the truth is that Alex is intersex. She was born with ambiguous gentialia (small penis, no scrotum, & ovaries), but has been raised as a boy by her parents. Now that Alex is 14 years old, she realizes that she is a girl, not a boy. The book has a great premise and could have been phenomenal, but instead ended up being so problematic that I would be hard pressed to recommend it to anyone.

My biggest issue with this book is Alex’s parents, especially her mother, Heather. They take her declaration that she is a girl horribly; they call her a weirdo and pervert and act as if she is ruining their lives. Both of them act as if this is a surprising revelation and not something that could have happened all along. They chose to raise her as a boy with the help of testosterone medication. Heather herself even mentions that she had to keep logs and watch Alex to make sure they made the right decision. Everything points to them knowing this could happen, but by the way they act you’d never know it. Had Alex been transgendered and not intersex, their actions would have worked, but as written it didn’t make sense. (Note: please know that while it would have worked if Alex was transgendered, their responses/actions would have still been horrible!) Not to say that parents don’t act this way, it just felt odd how blindsided they were when it seemed most of Alex’s early life was about documenting their decision.

While Alex’s dad does seem to come around, Heather just won’t accept the change. I have never wanted to punch a character as much as I did Heather; via her forum/blog posts it becomes clear how horrible she really is.   Not only does she refuse to call Alex her, but she forces medication on her by sticking it in her food. She claims that Alex has always been a selfish, difficult child, even at the age of 3. She wallows in self-pity, but never once stops to look at things through Alex’s eyes. She tries to play herself off as loving, but that women is nothing but hate. Worse that that, I can’t stand how  her actions were tied to a “mental breakdown”. By the end of the book, she’s been admitted,  and it’s almost as if that explains why she can’t be loving and supportive of Alex. Of course, it could also be implied that Alex’s decision drove her to that point, which is equally as disturbing.

Alex, herself, is problematic as well. She splits herself into boy-Alex and girl-Alex and there is a lot of self-loathing at times. At one point, she even calls herself a transgendered freak. This is where I wish I knew so much more about the intersex community. Both the splitting of the personality and calling herself transgendered feels off, but I’m not sure if I’m correct or not in my thinking.Of course, even if the personality separation is a normal occurrence among people, I hate how many gender stereotypes were  used. Boy-Alex disrupts the class and makes lewd comments and gestures to other girls. On the other hand, Girl-Alex loves all things sparkly and can admit to be inept at using tools. It felt as if she was doing nothing more than putting all her traits into little boxes, much as her mother had been doing for years. I’m not even going to touch the dressing room scene at the start of the book, which really disturbed and creeped me out.

The last thing that really bothered me were all these little plot devices that made things too easy. Switching schools without parental consent? No problem! Join the school fashion show and become a sought after model making mad bank? Piece of cake! Find a lawyer who will act as a father figure and make things happen with a snap of the fingers? Done! I mean, I’m glad that Alex got out of her situation, but it all felt a little too easy. And what 14 year old is really ready to move out on their own? I suppose there may be a rare case out there, but Alex was not one of them. It just seemed so unrealistic. If  Brugman was going for a fairy tale ending, I would have rather seen Alex end up in a supporting foster home rather than going at it all alone.

Final Verdict: A book I wanted to fall in love with, but couldn’t. While the topic held such promise, it ended up being highly flawed and problematic.

Book Review: The Tree of Water + excerpt (#treeofwater tour)

Book Review: The Tree of Water + excerpt (#treeofwater tour)

Book Review: The Tree of Water + excerpt (#treeofwater tour)
The Tree of Water by Elizabeth Haydon
Series: The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme #4
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: October 28 2014
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher

The epic voyages continue in The Tree of Water, the fourth adventure in bestselling author Elizabeth Haydon’s acclaimed fantasy series for young readers, The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme.

As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.

As they journey through the sea, Ven finds himself surrounded by wonders greater than he could have ever imagined. But the beauty of the ocean is more than matched by the dangers lurking within its depths, and Ven and his friends soon realize that in order to save thousands of innocent lives, they may have to sacrifice their own. For everything in the ocean needs to eat…

I walked into The Tree of Water having never read the series before. I had fears that this book would not be readable as a standalone, but my fears were unfounded. Yes, you can tell that there have been past adventures, but most things that are important are explained within the story; which was mainly the relationship between the characters and the how their adventures had progressed to this point. The story itself is fully contained within the book; while I felt like I may be missing some character development, the plot was welcoming to newcomers.

The Tree of Water is  an adventure from start to finish. Ven, Char, & Amariel find themselves in trouble almost at every turn. Perhaps even a little too much for my taste. While the sense of doom at the the end of each chapter is great to keep readers wanting more, it exhausted me. So much happened in a very short period of time. Just when I thought things would slow down for bit, something major happens again and again and again. While some of it was necessary, I do think there could have been a couple that could have easily been dropped. However, younger readers (5th – 7th grade) who are looking for a fun, quick ride will most likely love that aspect to it.

One of my favorite things about The Tree of Water is the ever present theme of friendship. I loved the lengths that they were all willing to go through for each other. Yes, Char and Amariel bickered a lot, but when it came down to it they had each other’s back. None of their relationships were perfect, but they were willing to go that extra mile for each other…even if it meant going to the furthest depths of the sea. That is the perfect definition of friendship to me.

I also really enjoyed Ven and his growth as a character. At the start of the journey, he’s ready to jump in both feet without thinking about the dangers that the ocean holds. There were times I thought him extremely thoughtless or selfish, but as the book progressed that happened less and less. I liked that he thought often about why he was really on this underwater adventure and if there was truly was a main goal/mission involved. I won’t spoil anything, but I did like when he finally settled on. He could have bragged about how important his role had been, but instead focused on the wonders he got to see and the overall experience. I hope that attitude continues into the next books.

Final Verdict: While there were a couple of things that didn’t work for me, overall, I did enjoy Tree of Water. It’s a perfect choice for middle schoolers looking for a fast paced novel filled with adventure and magic.

And as a special treat, I have a Tree of Water Excerpt for you to check out. Happy Reading!

Book Review: Cress

Book Review: Cress

Book Review: Cress
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #3
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: February 2014
Pages: 560
Source: ALA

In this third book in Marissa Meyer's bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and prevent her army from invading Earth.Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl trapped on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s being forced to work for Queen Levana, and she’s just received orders to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

First of all, shout out to Andrea for loaning me her ARC of this third and upcoming (February 4, 2014) book in The Lunar Chronicles series. (Oh look! Another post that got stuck in queue- Sorry Alison 🙁 )

As far as characterization goes, I would say that Cress is farther from her fairy tale character, Rapunzel, than either Cinder or Scarlet were. Cress, or Crescent Moon as she was originally named, is imprisoned in a satellite tower as opposed to an actual tower and has extremely long hair from being trapped alone for so many years. All she needs is to be rescued by a prince, right?

When Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf and Captain Thorne find their way to the satellite, it might seem like everything will end with a perfect fairytale pairing – Cinder and Prince Kai; Scarlet and Wolf; and Captain Thorne and Cress. But with Queen Levana and her lackeys waiting to foil the groups’ plans, anything is possible. The group gets split up and is forced to find their way through space, desert towns, and imprisonment in order to reach their ultimate goal of stopping Queen Levana and Prince Kai’s royal wedding.

As a fan of this series, I can’t wait to see where it goes. I love that the focus is still on Cinder as she is my personal favorite. However, it takes multiple characters to make up a book, and this is a great cast of characters that will continue to expand and work together.  We even get a sneak peek at the fourth character – Winter as Snow White (The Lunar Chronicles, #4 – expected out in 2015) towards the end of Cress.

If you’re really anxious to read this book a few weeks before it comes out, Amazon and Nook are both offering the first five chapters of Cress for free download to your device right now!

-Alison C.

Book Review: My Life Undecided

Book Review: My Life Undecided

Book Review: My Life Undecided
My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: June 2011
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher

Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.

But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else decide which book I read for English. And whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!

Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever.

The Short of It: A fast read that ultimately quite fun. I had a bit of trouble with the predictability and some depth issues, but overall enjoyed it.

Plot: I suppose you could say this book is a cautionary tale about doing the right thing. Brooklyn’s life is a mess and is in a complete downward spiral, mainly due to her “best friend” aka puppeteer. The same best friend who lets her take the fall for a crime they both committed. Brooklyn is let off the hook easy with community service hours in a, wait for it, nursing home. Why must community service always be in a nursing home? One were they’re paired up with a grouchy old person who they end up connecting with. Tell me, when does this happen in real life? Yes, it’s sweet, but so overused. The blog was a fun aspect. Something I can see someone, especially a teen, doing. In fact, I’m pretty sure it has been done on a lesser scale (like choosing what I’m wearing today). I’ll even say I can say the choices were ultimately believable. Not because they were the “right” thing, but because they landed Brooklyn in embarrassing/no fun situations like being on the debate team, trying out for rugby, and skipping a hot club opening. Brody was pushing that her voters were pointing her in the right direction, and maybe some of them were, but I doubt most of them were. Of course, there’s no saying how many of her voters were teenagers. Perhaps some were adult-ish age who would point her in the right direction. The only true issue I had with the book is that Brody glossed over some serious issues. I felt like she could have done so much more with those conflicts, especially where Mrs. Moody and her son were concerned since she was in the majority of the book. I felt like the issue with her sister was needlessly thrown in as another way to show Brooklyn that no one was perfect. Brody could have shown this many other ways that she could have brushed by easy, but the issue she choose really deserved a little more page time. (Sorry for being vague, I’m trying not to give anything major away.)

Characters: Brooklyn overall is a very likable character. Even when she is being stupid, you can’t help but root for her. She can be a bit bratty at times, but the majority of the time she is funny and even a bit charming. I enjoyed seeing her transformation from being a stuck-up princess to someone who is more down to earth and caring. It was nice to see her find her footing and discover who she really was. It was kind of ironic to see her go from one person telling her what to do to a couple of dozen, but at least the blog readers sent her in the right direction. And in the end, she was finally ready to follow her own destiny rather than let others decide it for her. She got several cheers from me when she finally reached that point. I was left with the feeling that she would continue down that road and would end up at a happy future.

Romance: Ah, the classic bad, charming boy verse the geeky, loser boy. I hate ruin who she ends up with, so I won’t say much on it. However, the outcome was is quite predicable. I could see who she would end up almost from the start. Not only does one get so much more page time, but he also fits better into her lifestyle. That being said, I’m glad she ended up with who she ended up with. He’s cute, charming, and will definitely treat her like a true princess and an equal at the same time. Their scenes were hands down my favorite and would have liked to see them together even more than they were.

Writing: Beyond what I’ve already talked about, I have no issues with Brody’s writing. Her books have this charming quality that makes them likable even if they do have a few issues. She does well at pacing and has created another fast, witty read that most middle school/early high school girls will eat up.

Librarian-Mode: I would definitely hand over Brody’s other book The Karma Club to anyone who liked this one. Beyond that I would consider Tweetheart by Elizabeth Rudnick, Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson, and Four Things My Geeky-Jock-of-a-Best-Friend Must Do in Europe by Jane Harrington. So, now it’s your turn…have you read My Life Undecided? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

Book Review: Never Slow Dance with a Zombie

Book Review: Never Slow Dance with a Zombie

Book Review: Never Slow Dance with a Zombie
Never Slow Dance With a Zombie by E. Van Lowe
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: 2009-08-18
Pages: 256

Principal Taft's 3 Simple Rules for Surviving a Zombie Uprising:

Rule #1: While in the halls, walk slowly and wear a vacant expression on your face. Zombies won't attack other zombies.
Rule #2:  Never travel alone.  Move in packs.  Follow the crowd.  Zombies detest blatant displays of individuality.
Rule #3:  If a zombie should attack, do not run. Instead, throw raw steak at to him.  Zombies love raw meat. This display of kindness will go a long way.

On the night of her middle school graduation, Margot Jean Johnson wrote a high school manifesto detailing her goals for what she was sure would be a most excellent high school career. She and her best friend, Sybil, would be popular and, most important, have boyfriends. Three years later, they haven't accomplished a thing! Then Margot and Sybil arrive at school one day to find that most of the student body has been turned into flesh-eating zombies. When kooky Principal Taft asks the girls to coexist with the zombies until the end of the semester, they realize that this is the perfect opportunity to live out their high school dreams. All they have to do is stay alive....At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

Never Slow Dance with a Zombie is one of those reads that is fun and quick, but one I just didn’t click with. I really can’t put my finger on it other than the fact that the premise was too far fetched for me. I know, I know zombies are far from realistic, but co-existing and even dating one?! Where is the running in fear? Where is the need to fight and destroy them? Okay, so maybe the whole virus scenario makes these zombies a little different, but would you really want to date one? Decomposing lips aren’t really that kissable. (You know I’m right!)

On another level, I totally appreciate what E. Van Lowe was trying to accomplish the whole popularity & “it” girl message. I even liked the subtle message of mixing with people you may not normally hang out with. After all, if you only judge a book by it’s cover your sure to miss an excellent story within. I just wish there would have been more done with it. I was kind of sad to see how it all ended. In this case I definitely think that more would have been better. (I know I’m being a little vague, but I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone!)

If you LOVE zombies (or even if you don’t) I recommend giving Never Slow Dance with a Zombie a try, especially if you’re looking for a quick, light read. And, as always, be sure to drop me a note if you do! I always love to hear what others think!

P.S. This post is part of zombie week. Be sure to check out the September Zombie blog for even more Zombie-goodness.

P.S.S Yes, yes I know I usually write my own summaries, but I’m strapped for time lately. You may see a couple more product description summaries as I try to catch up, but I promise they won’t be here to stay.

Book Review: Eyes Like Stars

Book Review: Eyes Like Stars

Book Review: Eyes Like Stars
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Series: Theatre Illuminata #1
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: July 2009
Pages: 368

The only home that Bertie Shakespeare Smith has ever truly known is the Théâtre Illuminata. No, she's not an actress, she actually lives there. This may seem odd, but the Théâtre Illuminata is not your normal theatre. It's a place that characters from every play ever written call home, where a scene change magically happens by speaking into a headset, and where four tiny fairies can be your sidekicks. It's also a place where your main love interest can either be a dashing pirate or a seductive airy element. The Théâtre Illuminata is the only place that Bertie has ever wanted to be, but now she may just lose it all. After a stunt gone wrong, Bertie must prove that she is invaluable to the theatre. Will Bertie be able to do it or will she'll be forced to take her final bow and brave the world outside alone?

I really don’t know what I can say about this book other than I simply ADORED it. It did take a couple of pages for me to understand what was going on, but once I did I couldn’t put it down. It was fun to see my favorite Shakespeare characters come alive in a way I had never seen them before. I couldn’t help but giggle at the traits that the characters carried on and off the stage. Of course, there are plenty of smaller characters I’d never noticed before, but will never forget after reading Eyes Like Stars. (Team Nate!) And Bertie…I loved her with her blue hair and mischievous spirit. She’s the type of heroine you secretly wished you had as a best friend. She may get you into a lot of trouble, but you’d be sure to have fun along the way!

Eyes Like Stars will have you laughing, cheering, and possibly screaming at your favorite characters with every page turn. There was never a dull moment and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey with the Bertie. The only bad point? I want more NOW. As in yesterday. I seriously hate waiting and have no idea how I’ll be able to handle to a year-long wait to find out what happens next. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to read some Shakespeare to hold me over until book two hits the shelves!

Book Review: David Inside Out

Book Review: David Inside Out

Book Review: David Inside Out
David Inside Out by Lee Bantle
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: May 2009
Pages: 184

In this coming-of-age novel, David Dahlgren struggles with coming to terms with being gay. Even escaping into track becomes difficult when he develops a crush on his teammate Sean. David desperately tries to do anything to stop the gay tag being added onto this name. He distances himself from his openly gay best friend, dates a girl, and buys “manly” magazines, but can’t shake his feelings for SeanBut then everything changes when Sean lets David know he has the same kind of desires. They begin meeting secretly and David finds himself falling dangerously hard for Sean. He dreams of coming out with Sean at his side for all the world to see, but will he be able to turn it into reality? Or will he have to learn to accept himself without Sean?

 

I have to admit that when I got this book I was expecting a nice GLBT love story, but that is definitely not what David Inside Out is. In fact, by the end of the book I completely hated his main love interest. I understand that Sean is probably dealing with many of the same emotions as David, but he came off as a jerk who was only using David for sex. I never felt like there was a real connection between them beyond physical acts. Even the camaraderie we see at track meets and study groups feels like it was just a way to get into David’s pants. I know this situation is very realistic, but it still really rubbed me the wrong way.

On the other hand, this is an excellent coming-out story. David’s emotions are raw and truthful as he tries to come to terms with being gay and accepting himself as he is. I believe that any GLBT person would be able to relate with the road he has to travel. No matter what age you are, coming out is never an easy thing. Thumbs up to Bantle for capturing those emotions nicely.

The only other thing I wanted to mention was the pacing. At times it feels a little disjointed as Bentle alternates between skipping ahead and spending time in the moment. It was almost like a bunch of smaller stories sewn together to form the big picture. While there were a couple of spots where I wished there had been more/less detail, overall, it works well for the novel.

While David Inside Out may not be my favorite GBLT book, it was an enjoyable read and one I will certainly add to my collection.

Book Review: Betrayed

Book Review: Betrayed

Book Review: Betrayed
Betrayed by Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: October 2007
Pages: 320

Fledgling vampyre Zoey Redbird has managed to settle in at the House of Night.  She's come to terms with the vast powers the vampyre goddess, Nyx, has given her, and is getting a handle on being the new Leader of the Dark Daughters. Best of all, Zoey finally feels like she belongs--like she really fits in. She actually has a boyfriend...or two. Then the unthinkable happens: Human teenagers are being killed, and all the evidence points to the House of Night. While danger stalks the humans from Zoey's old life, she begins to realize that the very powers that make her so unique might also threaten those she loves. Then, when she needs her new friends the most, death strikes the House of Night, and Zoey must find the courage to face a betrayal that could break her heart, her soul, and jeopardize the very fabric of her world.

 

After reading the first book in this series, Marked, I knew that I would have to pick up the next installment. And boy, oh boy am I glad I did. This book had it all, suspense and mystery, with a touch of romance and realism. I like Zoey’s character much more in this book, because she seemed so normal.

Zoey had finally gotten used to everything at the House of Night. Her circle of friends was strong, and her reign as the leader of the Dark Daughters, while making her nervous, was going well. Her love life was confusing. But then again what teenage girl’s isn’t? She had both the yummy Erik Night and her ex-almost boyfriend Heath fighting over her. Even though sometimes she’s not sure if it’s really Heath, or his blood that she is attracted too.

Then everything seems to be going wrong. Some human boys that she knew from school wind up missing, and then later are found as dead. Zoey believes that nobody from House of Night would do that, but all the signs are pointing towards them. Zoey’s best friend, Stevie Rae, is getting sick. And when Heath ends up missing as well, Zoey knows that it’s time to step in and get to the bottom of this mystery.

Book Review: Marked

Book Review: Marked

Book Review: Marked
Marked by Kristin Cast, P.C. Cast
Publisher: Macmillan
Release Date: April 2010
Pages: 320

The House of Night series is set in a world very much like our own, except in 16-year-old Zoey Redbird's world, vampyres have always existed.  In this first book in the series, Zoey enters the House of Night, a school where, after having undergone the Change, she will train to become an adult vampire--that is, if she makes it through the Change.  Not all of those who are chosen do.  It’s tough to begin a new life, away from her parents and friends, and on top of that, Zoey finds she is no average fledgling.  She has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess, Nyx.  But she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers.  When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite club, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

 

I picked up this book based first on the cover, it was a very mysterious cover and I felt that it would be a good read. Boy I was right!

This book starts off with Zoey talking to her friend Kayla about her almost boyfriend Heath. They’re talking about a party when Zoey notices an undead guy, and in an ominous voice he proclaims her marked. Kayla freaks and Zoey is left to deal with it on her own. She goes home to tell her parents, and let’s just say her mom is less than thrilled and brings out the People of Faith.

With home an unsafe place Zoey heads out to see her grandmother, the only person she knows without a doubt she can trust. However, things don’t go as planned because while looking for her grandma Zoey trips and falls and hits her head. She has a weird out of body expierence and the next thing she knows, she is waking up in a strange room.

From there things just get equal parts better and worse for Zoey. She was taken to the House of Night, and she actually makes some friends. However, her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend show up to spring her from the weird-o house. Zoey isn’t sure she want’s to be sprung. Besides if she leaves she’ll have to leave hottie Erik Night, who might just be interested in her.

For Zoey it was one thing after another, but she never lost herself in the shuffle. The only thing I didn’t like is that Zoey seemed to react to everything perfectly. Her life is in shambles and she has to totally reconfigure it, and she just kind of shrugs it off and goes with the flow.