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Posts Tagged ‘YA’

Rating: 3

Reaction: “Would you mind being my girlfriend for five minutes?”  Nick is a guy still in love with his ex when he runs into a girl still in love with hers at a punk club. While they initially use each other to fake their way out of awkward social settings, over the course of a single, music-filled night in New York Nick and Norah gradually begin to find something real.

Cute, though I could have done without the extensive language. I enjoyed how the entire book took place in one long and confusing night – that effectively conveyed the essence (and drama) of being a teenager to me. I also liked how the narration alternated between these two characters throughout the novel. And it made me want to go to a concert and mosh.

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Rating: 2.5/3   

Reaction: As a child, Grace is attacked by wolves and dragged into the forest, but somehow saved by one member of the pack with glowing golden eyes.  For the next six years, her life revolves around this wolf to the extent that she misses him during the summer when he’s not around. When Grace finds a wounded boy with luminous golden eyes on the back porch, she realizes that he is her wolf in human form. Drama and teenage love ensue as Grace tries to find a way to stay with her true love.

As I said in my TBR, werewolf literature was bound to spring up. In fact, I thought Shiver had many of the same themes as Twilight – struggling to retain humanity against biological mandate and love blossoming against all odds, etc.  Positive: This story is a different twist on werewolves in that the men become wolves due to the season and the temperature, with no ability to choose this fate or form. That’s interesting. Negative: The plot progression and characters just weren’t believable. If I were dragged off by wolves as an 11-year-old child, I think I would be traumatized and never, ever wanted to see another wolf again… I would not have spent SIX YEARS fantasizing about a wolf’s great eyes. That makes the beginning is weak to me and so I started the book reacting negatively to a main character – never a good sign.  Once Sam is human, I liked the story more, but I still didn’t find it compelling. Perhaps the characters didn’t have enough depth for me to really empathize with them and get into the story.  (And Sam just isn’t the same quality of stud that Twilight’s Jacob is…) Not a bad read, but not my favorite.

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And the mini reviews continue to roll:

Rating: 4.5/5

Reaction: In this world, there are two types of people – those who are graced and those who are not. Those who are graced are marked by eyes of different colors, and have the ability to do one thing very, very well. For Lady Katsa, her gift is killing.  She killed her first man – a cousin who was threatening her – at the age of 8, and since that point has been used by her uncle to keep his enemies in check through fear. She hates her role, and hates her gift that almost completely isolates her, despite her near invincibility.  No one can best her (or even challenge her) in a fight, until she meets Prince Po. Po is a *cough – hot – cough* man from a different kingdom who also has a grace for fighting. Through their friendship, Katsa learns more about herself, her power and her ability to choose her path.

I loved it. The characters are likeable, and I love strong female characters. There’s an interesting mix of eras in this book, because Katsa has a very modern feel despite the fact she’s set in a fantasy (old) setting.  I can’t say I was surprised at the ending – the plot progresses in a predictable manner, but it’s a fun, pretty clean read. I also enjoyed Cashore’s idea of a “grace.” While many fantasy novels gift heros with special talents, I like that these folks have a visible sign of their blessing/curse.

It’s well done, and made me want to take up archery or fencing.  I will certainly read the next book!

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Rating: 4.5                                                     

Discussion: Percy Jackson, meanders through life as a budding juvenile delinquent to whom very odd things happen. He continually gets kicked out of schools for unbelievable occurences that may or may not be his fault.  Percy explains all this oddness away until his life is in such danger that his mother sends him to Half-blood Camp.  There, he realizes that he’s special – half mortal, half god.  In the company of a daughter of Athena and a satyr, Percy sets out on a quest (I do love quests) to save the Olympians from war by finding Zeus’ stolen master bolt – which many others think he himself stole!

Very enjoyable, light and kid-friendly read. I loved how Riordan refreshed my mythology while entertaining me with the tale of a 12-year-old son of a Greek god realizing that he is both cursed and blessed beyond mortals. I can see the St. Louis Arch out of my office window, so I also particularly enjoyed the part where Percy visited the Arch and got into a fight while at the claustrophobic top. I’ll have to read the rest of the series – it’s definitely worthy of inclusion in my top YA books!

Who’s seen the movie? Good?

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Due to time constraints (aka my job, my husband, my friend getting married), I’ve been reading without reviewing or commenting. While these books certainly are worthy of longer entries, that’s just not going to happen. So, I’m going to try to catch up with some mini reviews (and add pics later…).

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley

Rating: 4.5

This book is about 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, a little girl who is thrust (and wiggles her way into) a murder investigation, where the victim was found by her in her backyard. She follows clues and investigates leads in true sleuth fashion. In the end, she solves the case and saves her father.

Think of this book as British (and brilliant) Nancy Drew, the early years. My favorite part of this book is Flavia. She’s adorable – mean enough to her big sister to be believable, and smart enough to leave me far behind in her discussions of her favorite subject – chemistry.  She doesn’t ever seem to worry about her own wellbeing, perhaps because very few other people are concerned about her. She doesn’t shy away from the thought that her father committed the murder, while simultaneously trying to protect him. 

I thought the strength of this book was the personality of Flavia, so while my impatient side wished for a faster pace, the way it was written really fit with her character and the 1950s English setting (which was obviously well researched and very well done).

I will read the next one!

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Rating: High 3/Low 4

Summary: After a mysterious accident resulted in the fiery death of her crush, Luce got yanked out of her ritzy college-prep high school and dropped into a court-mandated reform school for her senior year of high school.  This new school is full of surprisingly normal (though quirky) students, none more interesting than two delectable guys who catch her eye – Cam, an easy-going charmer who makes no secret of his interest in her, and Daniel, who runs so hot and cold that Luce wants to hate him… but she can’t. To top it off, Luce is haunted by threatening shadows that no one else seems to see. 

Reaction:

My first question: Was my high school the only one not filled with stunningly handsome guys? Even this reform school for supposed terrors is packed with hotties.  I know I’m asking for it every time I grab a YA book, but my sarcastic tendencies tend to flare up every time I start one that’s filled with the cast of a CW show.

Anyway, it was decent. The whole (fallen) angels-among-us concept was what appealed to me most about this book.  As I’ve stated before, good v. evil is my favorite fiction.  I’m not a huge fan of the book’s length/editing – 450+ pages seems unnecessary for what could have been said in under 300.  (My j-school profs would have a field day.)  I also thought there could have been more clarity in the writing and storyline, as many of the most interesting questions remain undefined and/or unresolved.  All that being said, it was fun and clean (though long-ish) read.  The strongest parts of the book are the first and last chapters.  You spend quite a bit of time during the other 400 pages waiting for her to step up and pick a boy, even though it’s immediately obvious where the story is headed and which one of the fallen that Luce will fall for. (Ha ha – punny) 

In sum, it was a book that made me more interested to read the upcoming second novel of the series than to re-read this particular book.

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Stars: 5

Summary: The dust jacket says, “Solange Drake always knew she was destined to become a vampire queen. And as the only female vampire ever born, not made, she is surrounded by danger on all sides – from vampire suitors who want to join with her lineage to bounty hunters who are set on destroying her and her family…” 

I’d write it differently. Solange Drake and Lucy Hamilton have been inseparable since the age of 5. Lucy is an honorary member of the Drake household, despite the fact that’s she’s a human in the midst of one of the oldest and most revered vampire families. The only cloud on their friendship is Solange’s upcoming sixteenth birthday, on which she will either change into a vampire or die. If facing this painful and potentially fatal “change” weren’t enough, Solange faces the dangers inherent in being the only female vampire born in memory. The current vampire queen sees Solange as a threat, male vampires find her pheromones irresistable, and a sect of anti-vampire humans want to kill her.  Solange’s seven overprotective (and hot) brothers, fierce parents and extended family are all trying to keep her alive through the change – but can they beat these overwhelming odds in this tale filled with sword fights, romance and intrigue?

Reaction: Loved it. Read it, thought about it for an hour, and read it again. (I told you – I’m a re-reader.) For someone over the age of 16, I have read an embarrassing number of the vampire books on the market right now and this is absolutely one of the best. 

The characters were quirky and likeable. The plot was interesting, and moved quickly. Some of the details and transitions weren’t as clear as I would have liked – I caught myself periodically re-reading sections to figure out how the characters got from one location to another. But the idea and the writing were fresher than most of the books in the recent Twilight-inspired subgenre, which covers a multitude of sins in my world.

I want the next book in the series right now.

Note: It was a pretty clean book, with the exception of some moderate language.

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