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Book Review: I Hate Everyone But You

Book Review: I Hate Everyone But You

Book Review: I Hate Everyone But You
I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby DunnAllison Raskin
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: September 5th 2017
Pages: 352
Source: ALA

Dear Best Friend,I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.Sincerely,Ava Helmer(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We're still in the same room, you weirdo.Stop crying.G

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

I Hate Everyone But You, the debut novel by two emerging major talents in YA, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, is a story about new beginnings, love and heartbreak, and ultimately about the power of friendship.

I’ve been sitting on this book and mulling over how I feel for a couple of days now. I loved the idea of the premise. As someone who has moved a lot, a story about dealing with those long distance friendships was a welcomed sight. And while this book did deal with that a bit, it also had things that weren’t so welcomed.

First things first, this a modern-day epistolary book. The whole things is told via Ava and Gen’s emails and texts. This makes for a quick read and generally works okay. You get the basic story and the general emotion of each girl. The emails and texts are sometimes a bit over the top, but that’s to be expected. However, at the same time, I did wish for more details at times. I felt like I was missing something by not being in the moment. I’m also hoping the final version will have dates and time stamps attached. It was really hard to gauge the passage of time between communication unless one of the girls drops a season/how long it’s been in one of their messages.

WARNING: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD

There are a couple of things that made the book go south for me. One, is the relationship between Gen and her TA, Charlotte. One moment, Charlotte is simply helping her edit her piece for the paper. Innocent and appropriate enough, right? Well, you blink and they’re suddenly lovers, in the loosest sense of the word. I can hear you saying, what’s the big deal, they’re both adults? Well, yes, but it still feels wrong. For one, Charlotte is in a position of power both as her TA and later as faculty advisor for the paper. Two, Charlotte is 32. That’s a huge difference, especially at that age. Three, Gen is not the only student she is sleeping with. There is at least one other girl, who Gen was also sleeping with, but it definitely sounded like it has been more. It just utterly and completely rubbed me the wrong way, especially when you throw in a transphobic storyline. Without telling the whole story, Charlotte is accused of writing transphobic pieces in the past, which ultimately leads to Gen quitting the newspaper, the whole reason she picked the college she did. If the Gen and Charlotte line had ended there, I would have chalked it up to being at college and experimenting. However, even after all that, Gen ditches Ava, who is visiting over Thanksgiving, to go have a weekend tryst with Charlotte. Considering how much of the book revolved around this pretty unhealthy relationship, I wanted to scream.

With Ava, it was her mental illness. Something about how it all was handled felt a bit off the entire book for me. Ava definitely had OCD, depression, and anxiety. I feel like there may be more going on, but if so, it’s not given a name. I have my own theories, though. The general portrayal is not my issues, but how past events are thrown in. For example, she’s also a cutter. There is a slight edge of urgency to it, but it’s only mentioned a couple times and dropped completely once Gen tells her mom. There’s only this weird spot where it’s nonchalantly mentioned that Ava tried to kill her mom in 6th grade once. It’s meant as a ploy to show how important it is for her to be on the right medication, but it still felt a bit odd. This, however, may go back to the epistolary-no-details issue I had above, but at times I felt like there was just a check list of all the things wrong with Ava mentally.

I’ve debated on if I wanted to mentioned this, but thought I would at least briefly. When Gen comes out, there’s a lot of mislabeling on Ava’s part. Repeatedly, Ava calls her gay. Gen does correct her by saying she still likes boys and does bring up bisexuality, but Ava to a point still implies she’s gay since Gen is mainly sleeping with women. It does seem to stop once Gen labels herself as queer, but it still irritated me a little. Especially when there was a whole passage about how could Gen fantasize about a man when she was gay! I know a lot of this is supposed to be that Ava is a poor sheltered girl (there are several other painful questions especially about trans stuff), but it’s a little unbelievable considering she’s in modern day L.A. I don’t expect her to be fully enlightened, but I would expect her to know more at her age.

In part, a lot of that may have to do that this book felt like Dunn and Raskin maybe took their own college experiences or YouTube stories and crammed them into this book, especially since they name/link dropped their own YouTube channel in the middle of the book.  Honestly, I’m not really sure I would consider this a teen book. Maybe more NA? I don’t know the voices used just didn’t feel too authentic to me. It felt a lot like 30 year olds pretending to be college students.

In the end, this book wasn’t for me at all, but considering how many people are raving about it, this may be a “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. Or maybe if I had been a fan of Dunn and Raskin’s in general, it may have had stronger appeal. I’ll be interesting to see if things shift once the book is out and more reviews are posted.

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: Flirting in Italian

Book Review: Flirting in Italian

Book Review: Flirting in Italian
Flirting in Italian Series: Flirting in Italian #1
Release Date: June 2012
Pages: 322
Source: ALA

Violet is off to a study course in Italy. Her mom thinks she's doing it for her university applications, but Violet has an ulterior motive. After seeing a painting of a beautiful young Italian aristocrat who could be her twin, she is determined to find out if there's a connection between them.     At Villa Barbiano, home of the summer school, Violet meets two American girls, an English scholarship girl, and the daughter of the woman who runs the program, Elisa, who resents the foreigners and undermines them every chance she gets.     Being in Italy is a dream come true for Violet, especially when she meets the dark, brooding Luca, heir to the castle on the hill--the very castle featured in the portrait that brought her to Italy. And Violet is determined to uncover its secrets no matter what the cost.

 

Short of it: Henderson’s writing is solid, but overall I was disappointed by the lack of action and conclusion for this novel. I feel like it’s sorely incomplete with book two (and three?) and therefore hard to thoroughly enjoy.

Plot: After reading 300+ pages I can’t really say what happened in this book beyond Violet has a mystery to solve and a hot thing for a boy that she meets in Italy. At the end of the book she is no closer to solving her mystery or hooking up with the boy. I felt so frustrated when I got to the last page and was told I should read the next book to see where Violet’s story will go. I don’t mind series, I really don’t, but I would have liked there to be more to Flirting in Italian. I was interested to find out more about why Violet looks so much like this family, but instead all I got was girl bonding, parties, long sighs over boys, and lessons about Italy. Just not enough to wet my appetite. I will continue on to book two, but only because I want to know how it all goes. It does look like this will be a trilogy, so I only hope book two offers more than book one did.

I will note that there is a lot of drinking mentioned, but the book is set in Europe where drinking ages are much different than here in the US. In fact, they are all old enough to be able to enjoying the wine they have. One thing I really liked was the several mentions that Italians do not drink to get drunk. And the one girl who does get hammered gets reprimanded for it the next day. I don’t know if Italian teens are truly that responsible, but I was glad it was handled maturely/as part of the experience.

Character: I don’t know how I feel about Violet. She’s a likable character, but she’s also a bit forgettable. I know she likes to think outside the box and that she likes art, but there isn’t much to know beyond that. Most of her focus is either on the mystery, longing for Luca, or on her fellow classmates/her lessons. While none of the girls are fully rounded, someone like Paige who is loud and proud stick out more in my mind than Violet.

She’s also got this weird wishy-washy insecurity thing going. One moment she is comparing herself to the other girls and how she doesn’t measure up and the next she’s cool with it. The majority of it has to do with her body and is constantly described as having “meat on her bones” but she’s not fat. I would assume she is average, healthy size, but sometimes it was hard to tell. Several times she says she’s not fat, but she’s also not super skinny or athletic and she’s not 100% happy with her body either. I suppose that’s true of all women, but it was weird to her flip-flop so often on if she was secure with herself/her body or not.

Romance: I’ll be the first to admit that Violet and Luca’s moments are HOT, but I’m not sure I’m feeling it yet. Luca is rather standoffish and at times mean. He may be sex reincarnated, but he is not someone I would want my friends to date. I hate how she gets so wrapped up in him and melts at a simple glance. But I know bad boys are still hot, so I’m sure I’ll be in the minority in this opinion. Luca does have several good moments, though, and I’m hoping as the series continues his true side will come out more and he’ll become a love interest I can get behind.

Writing: I won’t lie Henderson has a great style. For all I disliked about the book, it wasn’t until I peeked at the end of the book that putting it aside even crossed my mind. But even with knowing there wouldn’t be a true conclusion I still continued until the last page. Add in the fact, that while disappointed, I plan on checking out the next book. That’s skill. Henderson knows how to tell a story, I just wish there had been more of it in this one. I’ll probably check out her other books in hopes of finding something more satisfying.

Librarian-Mode: This is your classic beach read novel. It’ll go well with Dessen and general chick-lit fans. It would also go quite well with Jenny Hanh’s Summer series.

If you’ve read Flirting in Italian be sure to leave me a comment letting me know what you thought!

 


Book Review: Jersey Angel

Book Review: Jersey Angel

Book Review: Jersey Angel
Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Release Date: May 2012
Pages: 201
Source: ALA

It's the summer before senior year and the alluring Angel is ready to have fun. She's not like her best friend, Inggy, who has a steady boyfriend, good grades, and college plans. Angel isn't sure what she wants to do yet, but she has confidence and experience beyond her years. Still, her summer doesn't start out as planned. Her good friend Joey doesn't want to fool around anymore, he wants to be her boyfriend, while Angel doesn't want to be tied down. As Joey pulls away, and Inggy tours colleges, Angel finds herself spending more time with Inggy's boyfriend, Cork. With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves.

 

 

Short of it: There is something about this fast-paced book that is addicting and hard to put down. However, I’m still not sure that means it is good. There was a lot of promise to Jersey Angel but ultimately I think it fell flat for me.

Plot: Jersey Angel is your classic slice of life story. There is no real conflict, plot, or even ending. Instead it focuses on Angel’s day-to-day life, which includes hook-ups, teen pregnancy, family issues and parties with friends. While I’ve never been a fan of slice of lives (and still am not) this one is somehow addicting. While I had trouble putting it down, I was ultimately let down. There was so much potential that Bauman could have tapped into, but merely glossed over. One of my biggest issues is the lack of consequences. Angel does a lot of questionable things, including betraying her best friend, but never has to deal with any fall out. Internally she does feel guilty, but she doesn’t stop and I had high hopes of her deceit being found out.

The one thing I did like was Angel coming to terms with her future. She’s always known that she’s not cut I out for college or some big shot career. While I think her choice is aiming low, it seems to be one she’ll be happy with at least for a while. Who knows, maybe in a couple years she’ll go back to get her degree, but for now she seems satisfied with the road ahead of her. Personally, I have know a lot of people like this and it was nice to see their choices represented for once.

Character: I can understand Angel, but I can’t relate to her. Honestly, I felt sorry for her. I saw her as a weak female who let sex rule her life. I don’t even believe it was because she lacked a moral compass. She knew what she was doing was wrong, but she didn’t have the will power to stop it. Angel reminds me a lot of those girls who will do anything for attention/to feel loved and instead of finding love they get empty, meaningless sex. Of course, her mother was basically an older version of Angel, which may explain a lot of Angel’s attitude and actions. Angel is by no means a role model, but I do think quite a few teenage girls will be able to connect and relate to her. My only hope is that they’ll realize this lifestyle won’t give them what they crave and be willing to find the boys that will care for them past sex. By the end of the book, Angel is basically at this point. I’m not sure she’s fully ready to give up her heart, but it does feel like she’ll give up the sleeping around.

Romance: Romance does not exist in Jersey Angel. Seriously, I feel like all the relationships depicted were completely and utterly unhealthy. And in Angel’s case her life was just one hook-up after another. When I say there is a lot of sex, I do mean a lot. It’s pretty to safe to say there is almost a sex scene per chapter. While I do think that pushes this book into the older teen realm, I don’t feel as if it was overly graphic. There were a few basic details/descriptions here and there, but nothing that made me cringe/blush. Honestly, it wasn’t even that steamy. Angel treated the act of sex as someone else may treat brushing their teeth. It fulfilled a desire, but there was little to nothing sexy about it.

Writing: This is an area I don’t really have any complaints about. The more I’ve thought about Jersey Angel the more I realize it was Bauman’s writing that kept me reading. I know this isn’t the most favourable review in the world, but when I say I couldn’t put the book down I mean it. Had it not been nearing 4am I would have easily finished it in one sitting. For me that speaks volumes of her ability to spin a story. While this one didn’t quite work for me, I will be looking into other books she has written.

Librarian-Mode: I don’t know exactly what to pair this one up with. Part of me wants to say Gossip Girls, but I’m not sure that’s completely accurate. I do think teens who like the show Jersey Shore may like Jersey Angel. While not the same, I could easily see the plot of Jersey Angel being an episode on the Jersey Shore, especially when you consider the crazy hook-ups and partying. However, with it being a YA bodice ripper, it will pretty much sell itself to teens.

 

Book Review: Bitterblue

Book Review: Bitterblue

Book Review: Bitterblue
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling #3
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: May 2012
Pages: 563
Source: ALA

 

Short of it:  While it got off to a slow start, Bitterblue was a worth the long wait. Cashore weaved the companion novels together gracefully. My only slight disappointment was I wanted more. The story wraps nicely, but I feel like there is still so much to tell. My hope is that Cashore will decide to revisit the Seven Kingdoms in the future.

Plot: The storyline for this one starts off quite slow, but for good reason. Bitterblue has been kept under mountains of paperwork since she took her reign and has no idea what is happening in her kingdom. The web of lies and deceit that Lech weaved was enormous and would have been difficult for Bitterblue to sort through with an army of help behind her. It’s near impossible to do when everyone is trying to derail her. Not to mention her own memories are quite hazy. Honestly, I’m glad Cashore didn’t rush that period of awakening, even if it meant a slowly, less-action filled beginning.

However, once Bitterblue starts to take action into her own hands, things really start to roll. I don’t want to give away too much of the book, so I won’t say too much more. Old favorites, including Katsa and Po, will return and the many truths will be revealed. The depths of Lech madness is horrifying, although not surprising. While Bitterblue will never know the full story to his madness, this is most likely for the best. I doubt any reasoning could make his madness okay. Not to mention anything more would have been too much for poor Bitterblue to handle. While strong, I believe knowing everything would have made her crumble.

Character: I liked Bitterblue. She was a bit naive and too trusting, but all things considered it is understandable. She had been thrown into this position when she was only 10 years old with very little training. The people around her were supposed to help build a better Kingdom, not keep her in the dark. Bitterblue does have spunk though. She may not be a Katsa, but in her position she could never be that brazen or bold. However, when she realized how many lies has been fed to her over the years, she had no problem finding out the truth on her own. Yes, she may have been a bit foolish at time, but she learned from every mistake and used it to make herself stronger. Bitterblue has all the makings of a good Queen and the legacy she leaves behind would make her mother proud.

I know this story is about Bitterblue, but I wanted to touch a bit on Po. Out of the characters we’ve seen before he around the most. Po has always been one of my favorite characters, but I felt like some of his charm was missing in this story. I can’t put my finger quite on it, but he felt different. I know a lot had to do with the guilt of hiding his secret, but that was something he had been dealing with most of his life. I know Cashore was trying to compensate for her “cureness” for being blind, but in the process she changed him. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore Po, but he just wasn’t the same. I’d be interested to see if anyone else felt the shift/change in him as well.

Romance: Oh, Saf and Bitterblue. I feel like I can’t say too much without giving anything away with this one. While they were from different worlds, they worked. Saf was the spark she needed to push her out of her shell and truly open her eyes. Without him, I thinks he would have stayed in the web of lies much, much longer than she did. He was her guide, per say, to a world she knew nothing about. His street smarts helped her get around and, honestly, stay alive. Yes, they fought, but there were true, deep feelings for each other. I was pleased with how Cashore handled their relationship, especially the final outcome.

I do believe there is a secondary relationship between Gideon and Bitterblue as well. Okay, so this may be reaching a little, but I think it’s still plausible, especially near the end. In no way, shape, or form does Cashore state they are romantically entwined, but there are little hints that they could be if Saf doesn’t work out. The seedlings are there, but I suppose it will be up to the reader if it ever blooms. (And personally, I think it will, but I don’t want to spoil things for anyone who has not read it yet.)

Writing: Cashore is a brilliant writer and Bitterblue is no exception. All three of her books have been captivating. The worlds and characters she creates are some of my favorite to exist. I was sad to turn the last page as it felt like I was saying goodbye to dear friends. I can’t wait to meet her next week and express my love in person. And I certainly can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

Librarian-Mode: I’m going to assume that anyone who has read Bitterblue has already read Graceling and Fire as well. There are many great fantasy novels out there, but I think Tamora Pierce is one of the best matches for Cashore lovers, especially her Tricksters duo and Beka Cooper trilogy.

 


Book Review: Pink

Book Review: Pink

Book Review: Pink
Pink by Lili Wilkinson
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: Feb 2011
Pages: 320
Source: ALA

Ava is ready for something new. Tired of a wearing black and remaining outside of the social norm, she wants to reinvent who she is. She wants to wear the pink Argyle sweater hidden in her closet. Maybe even date a boy. When she transfers to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence she thinks she’s found the perfect opportunity; a place where no one knows her and she can try on a new “Ava”. The only problem? She must hide it from her changes from her parents and her girlfriend, Chloe. They’d never understand her new desires, plus they’re a nice safety net in case her new personality doesn’t work. The thing about secrets is they’re hard to keep and Ava risks everything if her two worlds collide. But as the dust settles Ava will discover who her real friends are...and maybe even a step closer to discovering who she truly is.

 

The Short of It: Hands down one of my favorite books! I’ve been gushing about this book to so many people since I read it in January (including the publisher and author!) I can’t remember the last time I was THIS excited about a book. In other words, why haven’t you bought it yet?

Plot: The first thing that sold me on this book was that it was about a lesbian. Can I say there are just not enough books featuring teen lesbians out there? Seriously, I wish there were tons more, so when I hear of one I usually jump on it. But…but…this book goes way beyond that. It’s not about being gay, bi, or straight; it’s about discovering who you are. Ava’s parents are so much about sticking it to the man and thinking outside the norm, that they have painted her into a new sort of box. The gothy lesbian look is all good and dandy, but Ava really just wants to wear pink. She wants to know what it’s like to be part of the “in-crowd” and maybe even date a boy. Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems, which is a lesson Ava learns the hard way. There are many bumps–okay potholes–and detours along the way as Ava tries to make things work. Of course, the end of the book was not the end of Ava’s journey. She still wasn’t sure exactly who she was and may not know for a while, but she’ll continue to try to figure it out. Honestly, this is my favorite part; a school year is not enough time to firmly stamp you are and what your sexuality is. Kudos to Wilkinson for keeping it real and not tying it all up in a nice little bow.

Characters: Ava is far from perfect. She makes mistakes. HUGE mistakes. I understand the desire to be someone new/start over fresh though. Been there, done that several times over now. While I don’t condone all the lying that Ava does along the way, I can sympathize and understand how she got to that point. One little secret turns into another and another and pretty soon it’s out of control. However, I love that Ava is brave enough to admit her mistakes and apologize to everyone she wronged. She may have gone about many things wrong, but she tries her hardest to make them right again. And it’s not a quick fix, either; she’ll have to rebuild some of those relations, but Ava is willing to do what she can. I also love that she didn’t buckle under pressure and return to how others saw her. She had the chance to return to how everything was before, but she stick to her instinct, even if it meant losing someone she cared about.

Before I move on, I have to mention the side characters, especially the Screws. Being a theatre stag-crew/props/behind the scenes person myself, the Screws where my people in high school. While none of my friends where anything quite like them, it did bring back happy memories. I will say that Jen was my favorite character overall. The whole geek girl is my world and I kind of wish she were real so I could make her my new BFF (or more). But seriously, if you finish this book and not have an intense love for the Screws, well, something just isn’t right! (I’ll still love you, but I’ll have my serious doubts.)

Romance: Okay, so I’ll be honest. Ava is not single for most of this book. She and Chloe are in a relationship from the get-go, but honestly, Chloe does not have much page time. And when she does, you kind of wish she’d just go away. She’s too stuck in the thought that her opinions are law and is kind of a big bully. Her words are cutting, brutal, and very hurtful, especially when aimed at Jen. Not to mention her ultimatum to Ava is pure bs. So yes, Chloe exists but she is a predominant character.

Now there are other flirtations that are in the book, but nothing that evolves to a full out romance. There is definitely the possibility of more, especially with one character, but Ava still has a lot of figuring out to do before she crosses that line. If nothing else, there is still a great friendship–even if more never comes from it.

Writing: Wilkinson does a superb job at pulling readers into her world and making this world universal for anyone. I know this book took place in Australia, but for most of the book I forgot that detail, except when they mentioned what university they wanted to go with. Seriously, though, I could have seen this story taking place in my own home-town, which is the beauty of it. Wilkinson is quite spot on for the entire book. There was not a single time where I thought the pacing was off or a character would do this or that. And just how realistic everything thing is. . . Ah, really, I’m going to quit now before I get too gushy!

Librarian-Mode: Okay, pairing time. So there are a lot of books I think this one would do well next to. I truly believe it should be a GLBTQ staple and is a nice read-a-like for Keeping You a Secret, Ash, and Geography Club. However, this is a very good coming-of-age story and would work with realistic romances as well.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read Pink? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

 

Book Review: Low Red Moon

Book Review: Low Red Moon

Book Review: Low Red Moon
Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
Release Date: Sept 2010
Pages: 192
Source: ALA

Avery Hood is now an orphan. Her parents were brutally murdered at their home; a murder that Avery witnessed. But all she can remember is flashes of silver moving inhumanly fast, and lots of blood. What exactly happened and who did it remains out of her grasp.

While nothing will ever be the same again, Avery tries to keep things semi-together by returning to school. A place where she is completely friendless--that is until Ben arrives. The new boy in town--one with a dark secret and one that she is utterly drawn to. But when she learns that Ben is a werewolf with inhuman silver eyes and no memory of the night her parents died, she doubts everything she knows about him. Could he be the mysterious killer they’re looking for? Or is it all just a case of odd coincidences? Avery holds the key to the truth...if she could just unlock her memories before time runs out

The Short of It: So, I kind of knew I’d love this one before even starting. The author has rarely let me down and definitely did not disappoint this time. The only thing I wish is that it has been a little longer.

Plot: I’m trying to be careful about the plot without ruining anything. As far as paranormals go, this was something I hadn’t really seen before. Okay, yes, werewolves are nothing new, but it was the additional elements that Devlin added in that I enjoyed. For example, the connection that Avery has to the forest? Kind of love it. And I can say that I kept switching my vote on who killed her parents. I will admit that I didn’t guess the right person, but I was so very close! There is still a lot of unanswered questions by the end of the book, especially about her grandma. I certainly hope that a sequel is in the works because I would love to see where the story leads.

Characters: Avery. I’m not sure what to really say about her. Her upbringing made her a bit different from any other YA character I’ve read before. I mean, after all, you don’t see too many main characters who have grown up secluded. Yes, I know they did go into town, but she didn’t have many friends. And being home-schooled just made her seem more isolated from her peers. However, she really acted like a normal teenager would. She was kind of down to earth and had her head on straight. And considering her parents were just murdered, that is saying quite a lot. I just wish she would have been a bit more cautious at certain times and had learned to trust the right people a little more.

Romance: This is the one spot I felt was a little weak. I would have liked to see a bit more relationship building when it came to Ben and Avery. I know that Devlin explains why they have an instant connection–especially Ben, but I would have liked to see more. I know I’m being kind of vague, but I don’t want to ruin the paranormal parts of their relationship. I will say that it has been done before, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.

Writing: No complaints here. Devlin’s story kept me entertained throughout. I will say there were a couple of spots that I would have liked to be fleshed out more. I don’t mind being kept in the dark sometimes, and I get that’s where the mystery/suspense part comes in, but there were some parts I just wanted to know MORE. Again, I assume there is to be a sequel, but I really wish there had been just a little bit more answered in this book.

Librarian-Mode: This one will go easily with the paranormal lovers. It can be grouped easily with Shiver, Dark Divine, and the like. Although, I think those who like mystery/suspense will eat this one up as well, as long as they’re not totally turned off by paranormal.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read Low Red Moon? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

Book Review: Things I Know about Love

Book Review: Things I Know about Love

Book Review: Things I Know about Love
Things I Know About Love by Kate le Vann
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: June 2010
Pages: 160
Source: ALA

Livia Stowe hasn't had the best luck when it comes to boys. She's come across those who have lied and those who have left her broken hearted when she needed them the most. But this is the summer where she hopes everything will change. After finally beating her battle with cancer, she has convinced her mom to let her spend the summer with her brother in the States. This was to be the summer about inner reflection and figuring out the things she has known about love through her private blog. And while she is endlessly talking about love, she never thought that a holiday love would happen to her. Not until Adam that is. If she can just grab his attention, this may become the best holiday ever. If only Livia can move beyond writing about love and risk the chance to experience it...

The Short of It: I adored this book…until the end. Really, honestly, until the last 20 pages or so. I kind of suspected it was going to end the way it did, but I had high hopes that I was wrong. When I figured out I was right, I literally threw the book across the room and left it there for a while. I did end up finishing it, but the ending really did disappoint me. And although I didn’t cry, I would recommend having some tissues close on hand.

Plot: I liked the plot. Really I did. Or at least I did until the last 20 pages or so. I love the idea of a girl truly reflecting on love and taking it seriously. It’s not about bad boys or quick, unrealistic or unhealthy love. It was still a bit quick, but she had met him before and sometimes first impressions can be very strong. She learned from her past mistakes, no matter how small they were, and took them into account as she moved forward. I will admit, that most seventeen girls do not think this way, but I wish they would! This book has one of the more healthier messages I’ve seen in YA in regards to romance.

Now, I really wish she had been wiser when it came to the rest of her life. She should have ignored the things that she did. As a cancer survivor, I think she would have planned things just a bit more safe. However, I do understand as a young girl tasting her first chance at freedom in years would get carried away. I only wish Le Vann wouldn’t have felt it necessary to end it as she had. I’m sure some of my opinion on this area is that I’m a sap for happily-ever-afters, but the larger part of me felt like it was a ill-fit. She could have done so many other things and the ending just felt too fast, a tad forced, and unrealistic.

Characters: Livia is a very likable character. I was reminded of my own seventeen year old self and could easy relate to her. (Ok, so my twenty-something self can as well.) I was right with her as she tried to figure out something that is completely illogical and irrational…love. Her stories were ones that any normal girl could see herself in. Haven’t we all had a boy twist the truth to make himself look more favorable? Or leave us when we least expected it? Even her lists and final conclusions were honest and raw. Her view on a possible holiday romance was refreshing and I truly enjoyed my journey with her.

Romance: The moment Adam entered the picture, I knew he would be perfect for Livia. Normally, I’m not sure I would approve of the age gap for someone that young, but it really didn’t bother me in this case. Perhaps it was because I was excited to see a truly realistic boy for once. One that was incredibly sweet and kind, but that wasn’t sure of his footing. It was refreshing to see a boy’s doubts as he worries about missed chances, perfect dates, and falling in love. It was cute how their thoughts echoed each other almost perfectly. And even if the romance didn’t last forever, it was a nice reminder that love can hit without any warning when you least expect it.

Writing: I really enjoyed the blog style that Le Vann chose to use. It gave it a more personal, story-telling effect without feeling overwhelming. Yes, there wasn’t necessarily a lot of dialogue, but it worked well in this case. After all, the story was more about Livia and what she has learned about love than an actual love story. It’s her personal thoughts and reflections on the things she has already experienced in order to help with what she will someday experience. This book was her facts and no one else’s, so a blog seemed the perfect way to go. I am glad, though, that Le Vann decided to have Adam do a blog as well. It was nice to see his perspective and his voice added quite a bit to the story, in more ways than one. His thoughts truly made the story richer and may just be the reason that the blog style really worked in this book. I never felt like I needed more or that I was missing pieces of the story/inner thoughts of someone else. And while I may have hated the ending of this book, I would love to read something else by her.

Librarian-Mode: Hands down I think this book will fit the best with those who love Lurlene McDaniel. You may also try recommending it to those who enjoyed Sing Me To Sleep as well. Simply put, those who love those sappy, tear-jerker endings will adore this one.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read Things I Know About Love? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

 

Book Review: The Ghost and the Goth

Book Review: The Ghost and the Goth

Book Review: The Ghost and the Goth
Ghost and the Goth, The by Stacey Kade
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: July 2010
Pages: 288
Source: ALA

After a close encounter with a bus, Alona Dare goes from homecoming queen to Queen of the Dead. She's stuck as a ghost in the land of the living with no sign of the big, bright light to take her to a better place. To make matters worse, the only person who might be able to help her is Will Killian, a total loser outcast. More than anything, Will wishes he didn't have the rare ability to communicate with the dead, especially the former mean girl of Groundsboro High

The Short of It: Interesting concept that held my attention throughout the entire book. There were times that it moved a little slow, but this was mainly when Kade was getting important/relevant background info in. I was pretty excited to learn there will be more books with these two and cannot wait to see their story develop more.

Plot: So, this brings “I see dead people” to a whole new level. Poor Will. While I love to go “ghost hunting”, I can safely say that I would never want his ability. I mean, to hear all those people talking around you whenever you’re in public. How could you honestly NOT go crazy? And of course, he can’t really tell anyone for fear they’ll think he really should be in a mental ward. I have no idea how he made it as long as he did and still stayed reasonably sane. Like I understand his little tricks worked, but how was he ever able to concentrate on school and not hear what was being said? I enjoyed how Alona was able to come in and basically save the day. I figured she would be important, but I never guessed how important she would be. Of course, I don’t think they knew either. After all, Will had spent his whole life avoiding the dead and all Alona wanted was the bright lights. I’m anxious to see how their roles will continue to develop as the series progresses.

Characters: Poor, poor Will. I really did feel sorry for him. Most people thought he was a freak of nature, well, ok maybe he is a little. After all, he can see dead people. However, he isn’t just some goth kid who enjoys wearing black and talking about death. Honestly, he’s just misunderstood. Yes, he’s sarcastic and aloof, but that’s his defense mechanism. As long as people generally leave him alone, he doesn’t care what they think. His main goal is to survive high school and move to where there are less people and less of the dead. It was heartwarming to see how he cared and his few friends and his mom, especially his mom. He would bend over backwards to make his mom happy and on several occasions resisted a fight because he can see how much it wears on his mom. And once you got down to who Will really was, he was a pretty cool guy, one I would easily love to have in my life.

Oh, Alona. Make way for another misunderstood character. Yes, she may be miss popular and look like everything is perfect, but it truly isn’t. Once you learn what her life is really like, you can’t help but have a little sympathy for her. After all, no teen should have to deal with the home life she had. But that’s when she was alive. I’m not sure that death has been all that much kinder to her. I mean, being hit by a bus…ouch! Not to mention, she got to see people’s true colors once they thought she was gone. And the comments she heard and actions she witnessed were probably things that no one would want to hear or see. However, death and Will acted as a small wake-up for her. She was used to being blunt and even mean, but the problem was she didn’t see it that way. When she told someone their sweater was ugly, she was trying to help by getting them to care more. Good intentions, but totally wrong way to do it. In death, she has to learn to say nicer things. (There is a reason but I won’t say why.) She learns how to be honest in more gentle fashion. I also enjoyed that she wasn’t just some dumb blonde. Alona proved time and time again how strong and intelligent she was. It was fun to see Alona grow into someone with much more character and I am excited to see how she continues to transform as their story continues.

Romance: This one is a little…odd. I don’t know how else to describe it. After all, Alona is dead. And while the dead do have a solid substance when they’re near Will so that they can touch and what not, but um still dead. Yet, despite all that I still kind of rooted for something to develop between them. After all, Will has been crushing on her since they were in the sixth grade and, well, being the only living being to see her kind of gives him the advantage. In all seriousness, while there are some sparks flying, at this point it was more about a friendship and getting beyond their old stereotypes to the point of actually caring about each other.

Writing: Another alternating view point book. I’ve read TONS of these lately and I’m discovering that I really like them. I enjoy being able to step into both main characters’ points of view. Adds a whole new depth to what is happening, especially when they’re not together. And the alternating chapters keeps the story from jumping all over the place. Of course, it does annoy me a little. There were times I had wanted to stay with Alona or Will a bit longer and was instead thrown into the other POV.

On the story telling front, Kade does an excellent job. I had this book for months before reading it because initially hadn’t caught my attention. And, honestly, I may have passed it up all together had it not been for some of the buzz going around. I was pulled into the story within the first few chapters and had a hard time putting it down on occasion. In fact, I had a temptation to skip an author event to finish up the book…or at the very least read the whole way there and ignore the person driving. (I promise I did neither!) All in all, this one ended up a very pleasant surprise indeed.

Librarian-Mode: Hmmm, I think one is going to go well with the paranormal readers. Yes, it’s not your typical werewolves or vampires, but ghosts are just as much fun! I would say that those who liked Once Dead, Twice Shy or Shiver would enjoy this one as well. There are still romantic undertones in this one (as with any good paranormal read), but it isn’t your straight out romance. I think the romance-crazed readers will like it as well, but it may be a harder sell for them.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read The Ghost and the Goth? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.

Book Review: The Rise of Renegade X

Book Review: The Rise of Renegade X

Book Review: The Rise of Renegade X
The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: May 2010
Pages: 356
Source: ALA

Damien’s 16th birthday was supposed to be a happy occasion. It should have been the day that he finally got his V and head onto Vilmore to become the supervillain. But imagine his surprise when instead of the V an X appears on his thumb, an undeniable sign that his villain mother had hooked up with a superhero. And if that weren’t bad enough, when he learns which superhero is his father, Damien is forced to go live with him and his superhero family. Given six weeks to prove to his father that there’s not an ounce of superhero in him, Damien will do anything to get back to the life he knew. But along the way he may just find that each decision leads him down a road he could have never expected.  Will Damien find himself slipping into the superhero lifestyle? Or will he be able to prove once and for all that he is all villain and turn that X into a V?

 

The Short of It: Adored it. I’ve been wanting to read this book since I first saw the cover/heard the description last year and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to do so. I can’t say enough good things about this one. And can I mention that Campbell throws in some of the best lines ever? I’ve been going around quoting my favorite one-liners since finishing (and probably will be for some time!)

Plot: I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like The Rise of Renegade X. I mean, sure, we’ve all sort of grown up on superhero comics/cartoons/movies, but this one is a little different. I felt like Campbell managed to pull a true sense to humanity to these larger than life characters, especially the supervillains. I enjoyed Damien’s struggle between becoming the villain he feels he was meant to be and doing what he believed was right. Of course, doing what he believed was right was not always about doing good or being a hero. It was about what his convictions led him to and proved how many shades of gray there really is in this world. But I also liked the message that one incident doesn’t define who you are. Just because you save the world doesn’t mean you’ll be a hero. Yes, it may put you one step (ok LEAP) closer, but there will be many more forks in the road and choices down the line that can change or redeem you.

Okay, I just realized I made this plot sound a lot more serious than it truly is. Yes, all this issue is touched upon a lot as Damien is struggling with his future, but there is TONS of fun and laughter mixed in. In fact, I’m betting you’ll notice the quirky girl, the dancing flower, and funny quips more than you will the other stuff. Okay, that may be a slight overstatement, but Campbell really does do an excellent job with mixing it all together.

Characters: Ah, Damien. There are moments where I wanted to shake the boy senseless, but most of the time I just wanted to give him a hug. I mean, one very small letter on his thumb literally changed his life upside down. Had it only gone the way it was supposed to and he would be on his way to becoming a supervillain at Vilmore. Instead, he got ripped from everything he knew and thrown into a new goody-good family. Yet, perhaps that was the best thing that happened to him, especially when you see how his home life really was. His mom wouldn’t exactly be winning any mother-of-the-year awards. Every time he went home I just wanted to give him cookies with milk and tell him it’d be ok.

On the other hand, Damien proves often enough that he doesn’t need that. He may be feeling lonely and unwanted, but he still knows who he is. He’s not afraid to risk his life for those he loves…and sometimes those he may not even know. Sure, maybe he won’t be the big, awful supervillain but I’m not sure he was ever meant to be. He always had this line that he couldn’t cross and no amount of training would have changed that. I was glad to see that sense of his right and wrong didn’t change through all he had to go through. He may have learned it wasn’t his mother’s or father’s right or wrongs, but they were his and that was enough.

Romance: Honestly, this is the hardest part for me to write about. There was romance, but there wasn’t. Does that make sense? What he has with Sarah isn’t really a relationship, even if they do produce some of the best lines. I think they both felt something for each other, but it never would have truly made it. She saw him as something he wasn’t. However, when it comes to Kat, well, that is where Damien’s heart belonged. And oddly enough, though she wasn’t in the a lot of the book, I found myself routing for a hot make-out session leading to undying love between them. Do I know why? No clue, but there’s was something about them that I loved almost instantaneously, even if she did kind of screw things up before. Maybe it was just how well she truly seemed to know him and was willing to admit the horrible mistake she made. Or maybe I’m just a sap for second chances. Either way kudos to Campbell for making me love unsafe, kind of in the background romance.

Writing: I really enjoyed Campbell’s style. I know I’ve mentioned the quotable one-liners, but it deserves yet another mention. Of course, I’m an odd girl and some of the ones I found funny others may not. As a D&D girl, there was a tabletop game reference that had me rolling. Beyond that, Campbell knows how to spin a good story. There were a couple of spots that the pacing felt a tad bit off, but it’s hardly worth mentioning. I can’t wait to see Campbell’s future work. I have a feeling she’ll just get better and better.

Librarian-Mode: So, this is definitely one I’ll be recommending to my teens this summer. In fact, it’s already on my recommended book list for High Schoolers that will be viewed by all my summer reading participants. However, I’m kind of stumped on what to pair it with. I’ve been pondering a couple different pairings like John Green or the Looking Glass Wars but I’m not quite sure they’re quite right. I can’t even think of any other superhero books beyond Hero by Perry Moore. And while they have some similar themes, I’m really don’t think they would work together. If you all have any good read-a-like suggestions I would love to hear them.

So, now it’s your turn…have you read The Rise of Renegade X? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought.