Tuesday, October 9, 2012

So Long, Farewell, Auf Weidersehen, and Goodbye

As I'm sure you can already tell I haven't updated Novel Minded in a while. (Since August!) I've decided to go on a long, if not indefinite, hiatus. I've gotten way too behind on reviews and trying to crank one out for every book I read has made reading much more of a chore than  fun than  at this point. So, at least for now, I will not be updating Novel Minded. I would like to thank all of my readers for taking the time to read from my little corner of the web. Thank you again and maybe we'll meet again someday.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Future Release Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray


Title: The Diviners
Author: Libba Bray site
Format: ARC, 578 pages
Release Date: 9/18/2012
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Source: Borrowed from a librarian

Do you believe there are ghosts and demons and diviners among us?

Evie O’Neil has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, Broadway plays, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfeld girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult—also known as the Museum of Creepy Crawlies.

Will is haunted by the occult, and Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And they will soon discover something dark and evil has awakened… ”
-Book Jacket

Characters:
In The Diviners, in its many chapters we see from the point of view of many characters. Too many to write about. So I’m going to focus on the two most featured characters, Evie and Memphis.

Evie is a modern girl in a modern world. She’s no stranger to a drink, and loves to party late into the night like any flapper. She loves attention, and will go to just about any means to get it, many of them selfish. Though she has good intentions, things never quite seem to work out the way she plans. Evie starts out as not very likable. But she did grow on me. It’s not that she get less selfish/attention getting, but it gets to be more understandable. I still wouldn’t want her to be my best friend, but she does have good intentions.

Memphis is a black number runner for the local numbers game (local lottery), and writes poetry by moonlight in the local cemetery. Both of his parents are out of the picture and he’s just trying to take care of his younger brother who, like Evie, is developing supernatural powers. Memphis actually didn’t leave a huge impression on me. I liked him well enough, but I’m not  sure how I feel about him yet in the series.

And just something else I wanted to mention, I loved that there are some LGBT characters thrown in the mix of characters. It’s unfortunately rare in historical fiction. (Although it should be said that Libba Bray’s other historical fiction/fantasy series “A Great and Terrible Beauty” also had an LGBT character. Go Libba!)

Plot:
This book should not be mistaken for a murder mystery. It’s not a story about a spunky girl with supernatural powers solving crimes as the book jacket suggests. As the reader, it made pretty clear for the start who/what the murderer is. The book is much darker than that. The parts with the killer are just downright spooky and creepy. Real goose bump and heebie jeebie producers. The Diviners is of a slower pace than I’m used to and its about 600 pages, so it felt and read like a long book.

Another adjective I would use to describe The Diviners is “introductory”. Even though there is a lot of book here and there was definitely a plot and plenty of suspense, it feels like we only get a glimpse of the characters and of what is to come in the series. It’s almost like a “calm before the storm” or “here it comes” kind of feeling.

Overall:
I just love Libba Bray. She’s not only one of my author gods, she always weaves a damn good story. I know my review is already very long so I’ll keep it short and sweet. I give The Diviners 4.5 of 5 stars. If you like historical fiction or just good fantasy, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.



Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger


Title: Shut Out
Author: Kody Keplinger site
Format: Audiobook, 6 discs
Narrator: Kate Reinders
Published: 9/07/2011
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Source: Library
Challenges: Standalone Reading Challenge (hosted by Icey Books), and the Completely Contemp Challenge (hosted by Chick Loves Lit)


“Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling...”

Basic Synopsis:
Somehow, a rivalry started between the football team and the soccer team of Hamilton High. Lissa’s boyfriend Randy is the quarterback and therefore very involved in the rivalry. Lissa is tired of being put second to a stupid feud. Her plan to break up the rivalry: get all of the girlfriends of both the football and soccer team to go on a sex strike. And, surprise, it stirs up a whole lot of trouble…

Characters:
Lissa is very organized and neat, controlling and over protective. She puts herself in charge of everyone she holds dear. Lissa is kind of a shrew, but she definitely knows it. I’m not sure why, but that makes her more likable. She also kind of has a reason for being an over protective. Anyway, I warmed up to her. Not exactly a surprise since I have a thing for imperfect protagonists.

I’m also a sucker for hilarious best friends, which is why I loved the character Chloe. She’s extremely confident and funny, and I wish I had a real live Chloe in my life. She is also often the unexpected voice of reason.  

Plot and Story:
I like the whole message/conversation about sex that happens throughout the book. The way the characters converse about sex is very honest and frank and informative in a very non-invasive way. It isn’t about using protection or STDs, but about how different individuals feel about it. Those who like it and those who don’t, those that are scared of sex and those that want to wait. Since I’m not a big “contemporary romp” fan, the informative conversation was its saving grace for me.

Overall:
Last fall, around the time Shut Out came out, it was the book everyone and their mother were reading in YA. And though the buzz has gone down, I finally got the chance to pick it up and I’m so glad I did. Shut Out is funny and meaningful. It’s definitely one of the best contemporary YA novels I’ve read. It definitely lived up to the hype. I give it 4.5 of 5 stars. I would highly recommend it!


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review: Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick


Title: Draw the Dark                       
Author: Ilsa J. Bick site
Format: Hardcover, 338 pages
Published: 10/01/10
Publisher: Carolrhoda Labs (Lerner)
Source: Library

“There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don't talk about. The murder way back in '45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he's drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother. The problem is Christian doesn't just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they'd rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it's no surprise that Christian isn't exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter's last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten the day the Nazi's came to town.”

Basic Synopsis:
Christian Cage is a 17 year old artist, living in the small town of Winter, WI. Strange things have always seemed to happen to those close to Christian, so most of the town is wary of him. When Christian ends up sleep painting on the side of a barn belonging to the richest and most influential man in town, it opens up a whole new can of worms involving a mystery over half a century old.

Characters:
As for Christian, I don’t have much to say one way or the other. He’s a very unimpressionable character for me. He was definitely on the angsty, everybody-hates-me, depressed/crazy artist side of things. I did like that another character in the book plainly pointed this out, so I know it was intentional. I don’t usually like self-pitying protagonists though, so it’s a given.

Plot and Story:
Draw the Dark is definitely an unconventional book written in an unconventional way. It is also a hard book to critique because I’m not sure of all that happened. It took me 100 pages of the book to finally understand what was going on, and then I was lost for the last 100 pages. It was an incredibly hard book to follow and understand. I don’t think at all that Ilsa Bick was just winging it or BS’ing the reader in any way. I could tell that the author had a clear picture of what was going on. The problem was in conveying her vision to the reader.

Something positive I can say for the book is that, in the middle part I understood, the book does cover an interesting piece of US history I was unaware of. I would say what it is but for those who intend to read the book, I don’t want to spoil anything.

Overall:
Unfortunately this book was very hard to understand and I wasn’t always sure what was going on. I really wanted to like it because I’d liked Ilsa J. Bick’s other novel Ashes so much.  In the end, I give it 2.5 of 5 stars.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Future Release Review: Glitch by Heather Anastasiu


Title: Glitch
Author: Heather Anastasiu site
Format: eARC, 371 pages
Release Date: 8/07/2012
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (Macmillan)
Source: Netgalley
Challenges: Ebook Reading Challenge (hosted by Workaday Reads)

“In the Community, there is no more pain or war. Implanted computer chips have wiped humanity clean of destructive emotions, and thoughts are replaced by a feed from the Link network.

When Zoe starts to malfunction (or “glitch”), she suddenly begins having her own thoughts, feelings, and identity. Any anomalies must be immediately reported and repaired, but Zoe has a secret so dark it will mean certain deactivation if she is caught: her glitches have given her uncontrollable telekinetic powers.

As Zoe struggles to control her abilities and stay hidden, she meets other glitchers including Max, who can disguise his appearance, and Adrien, who has visions of the future. Both boys introduce Zoe to feelings that are entirely new. Together, this growing band of glitchers must find a way to free themselves from the controlling hands of the Community before they’re caught and deactivated, or worse.”

Basic Synopsis:
Zoe is glitching. She has broken free of the Community’s brain-washing Link and has started to feel emotions and see in color. Along with developing telekinetic powers. Zoe has to escape and soon, lest she be discovered as a glitcher and deactivated. But she’s not the only glitcher in the Community. When they reveal themselves, Zoe dreams of escape and rebellion. But not all her fellow glitchers plan on leaving. Can they make it out of the Community alive?

Characters:
Zoe is a person waking up and discovering emotions, not to mention telekinetic powers. She has a strong moral compass and wants to save and help everyone no matter the cost to herself. Zoe is a cry baby. She cries and screams in surprise way too much for my taste. It’s understandable for her situation and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just annoys the crap out of me. But I could disregard that. I know that I’m picky and I try to put that aside for my reviews. Even if Zoe didn’t cry at the drop of a hat, she like many heroines before is a textbook case of PCD. (Perfect Character Disorder) She’s just too unrealistic and inhuman to be likable for me.  

Plot and Story:
This review took a lot more thought than usual. I knew when I’d finished that I wouldn’t read a sequel, and that I didn’t care for the book. The tricky part of writing this review was figuring out why. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two reasons. Firstly, Glitch isn’t very original. It feels like bits and pieces of other books and movies slapped together in a hardcover. The book makes sense, and there is a plot. I’m not saying that it was a mindless read, but it’s in no way fresh and new. The second reason is in a way the cause of the first; I found the book utterly forgettable. It just slid right off my brain as though it were coated in oil. I don’t entirely know why, but it just isn’t a memorable read.

Overall:
I love science fiction in YA, but I’m sorry to say that Glitch didn’t wow me. I give it 2 of 5 stars. 


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch


Title: The Eleventh Plague
Author: Jeff Hirsch site
Format: Audiobook, 6 discs
Narrator: Dan Bittner
Published: 8/01/2011
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Source: eMedia Library

“In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing--and their lives--forever.”

Basic Synopsis:
His mother is long dead and he’s just buried his grandfather when his father gets into an accident and falls into a coma. Now that Stephen is on his own he has no one to follow. Who will Stephen be? Will he follow in his grandfathers footsteps and leave everyone behind, survival his only agenda? Or will he be more like his mother and father and be more than the world would make him?

Characters:
Stephen is really a boy lost. He has always followed others and hasn’t ever had to decide things for himself. He’s trying to find out who he really is. What kind of person he wants to be, and what paths he will take. Stephen is a very admirable character. I feel like he starts from scratch, without a formed personality and decides on his own to be a good person. To help others, and to be loyal to the ones he loves. And also to, eventually, own up to his responsibilities.

Jenny is lovably stubborn. She never holds back and refuses to just stay safe on the side lines. I loved that she’s no one’s damsel in distress. She stands up for herself and whatever she feels is right, never pushed around by anyone. I liked that she was so kick ass without being arrogant.

Plot and Story:
Something that I think is very unique about The Eleventh Plague is that it isn’t just a post-apocalyptic YA novel. The post-apocalyptic element isn’t the main part of the story. It really should be categorized as a coming of age story.
One of the reasons I love this book so much is because I agree with everything the author is trying to convey. And this story says a lot. For a book under 300 pages it speaks volumes. Something that may turn off some readers is that the pace of the book is kind of on the slow side. Usually that is something I would complain about, but the rest of the book is so good it didn’t bother me at all.

Overall:
Do you ever read a book and really liked it, and then a lot of time passes and you think back on the book and doubt it was as good as you thought it was? I started having these doubts after a few books I’d thought I’d loved had their unfortunately obvious flaws pointed out to me by other bloggers/friends. (None that I’ve reviewed though) I’m happy to say that rereading this book I regained some faith in my book critiquing abilities. (I’d originally read the ARC in August 2011) I loved The Eleventh Plague just as much, if not more than before! I give it 5 of 5 stars, and if you haven’t read it yet you should definitely give it a try!


Friday, July 6, 2012

Review: The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison


Title: The Butterfly Clues
Author: Kate Ellison site
Format: Hardcover, 325 pages
Published: 2/14/2012
Publisher: Egmont USA
Source: Library
Challenges: Standalone Reading Challenge (hosted by Icey Books)

“Penelope (Lo) Marin has always loved to collect beautiful things. Her dad's consulting job means she's grown up moving from one rundown city to the next, and she's learned to cope by collecting (sometimes even stealing) quirky trinkets and souvenirs in each new place—possessions that allow her to feel at least some semblance of home.

But in the year since her brother Oren's death, Lo's hoarding has blossomed into a full-blown, potentially dangerous obsession. She discovers a beautiful, antique butterfly pendant during a routine scour at a weekend flea market, and recognizes it as having been stolen from the home of a recently murdered girl known only as "Sapphire"—a girl just a few years older than Lo. As usual when Lo begins to obsess over something, she can't get the murder out of her mind.

As she attempts to piece together the mysterious "butterfly clues," with the unlikely help of a street artist named Flynt, Lo quickly finds herself caught up in a seedy, violent underworld much closer to home than she ever imagined—a world, she'll ultimately discover, that could hold the key to her brother's tragic death.”

Basic Synopsis:
Penelope, who prefers to be called “Lo” has severe OCD and compulsively steals/hoards things. When just outside Cleveland, the bad side of town called “Neverland”, a girl known as Sapphire is murdered. Lo has never met her, but she feels inexplicably connected to her and decides to try to solve her murder herself.

Characters:
Penelope has severe OCD and a compulsion to steal beautiful things. Her life is ruled by numbers, everything she does must be done in 3’s, 6’s, and 9’s to “keep her safe”. The Butterfly Clues is one of the most empathetic books I’ve read. I could really feel as Penelope felt, her emotions are so easily conveyed within the pages.

Plot and Story:
The Butterfly Clues is full of mystery and suspense. I ended up with a lot of theories as to the killer was, and who “Bird” was. But I wasn’t ever really sure until the very end. I was also didn’t guess right who Bird was. I was very surprised. So, some of the book was predictable and some of it wasn’t. This book kept me guessing, and I like that.

My one and only complaint about this book is the ending. It didn’t match the tone of the rest of the book at all. It went from a mystery/thriller to a light contemporary romp for the last 15-20 pages. And I really don’t understand why.

Overall:
Except for the ending, I really liked this book. It was fast paced and uputdownable from the first chapter. I give it 4 of 5 stars. I’m really excited to see what debut author Kate Ellison will write next. 


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Future Release Review: Holding on to Zoe by George Ella Lyon


Title: Holding on to Zoe
Author: George Ella Lyon site
Format: eARC, 174 pages
Release Date: 7/07/2012
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR (Macmillian)
Source: Netgalley
Challenges: Ebook Reading Challenge (hosted by Workaday Reads), Standalone Reading Challenge (hosted by Icey Books), and the Completely Contemp Challenge (hosted by Chick Loves Lit)

“After sixteen-year-old Jules has her baby, Zoe, it doesn’t matter anymore that her mother thinks she’s a drama queen, or that her father left them years ago, or even that Zoe’s father is gone, too. She and her baby make a family now; she doesn’t need anyone else in the world except Zoe. Though it's tough being a new mom, balancing Zoe’s needs with working at the Toyota factory and thinking about how to finish school, Jules is sure she’ll figure it out. Still, she wonders, why can’t anyone be happy for her and Zoe? And why does her mom refuse to believe that Zoe's real?”

Basic Synopsis:
I don’t think I can top the Goodreads one.

Characters:
Jules is someone who doesn’t have many people to lean-on or turn-to. Her mother is extremely cold to her and she’s had to become very independent. That’s why she’s so happy to have Zoe, to have someone in her life for her to love and be loved by.

I’m kind of at a loss for describing words for Jules. All I can think to say is that she’s a good person and very likable.

Plot and Story:
I was drawn in from the first chapter and read it in one sitting. Even though this book was only 174 pages long, it wasn’t too short. The whole premise of Holding on to Zoe is unique to anything I’ve read before. It’s very interesting how the story evolves and changes as it goes along.

Overall:
This book wasn’t what I’d expected, but in a good way. It was short, but isn’t lacking plot in the least. I’d highly recommend it for someone looking for a short and different read. I give Holding on to Zoe 4 of 5 stars.



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: Infinity by Rachel Ward


Title: Infinity
Author: Rachel Ward site
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Published: 5/01/2012
Publisher: Chicken House (Scholastic)
Source: Library

**Spoiler Alert** Infinity is a sequel and may spoil the rest of the series for you. You have been warned.

“Because everyone wants to live forever.

No matter what it takes, Sarah's desperate to escape from the numbers.

Always numbers. Sarah loves Adam, but can't bear the thought that every time he looks in her eyes, he can see her dying; can see her last day.

It's 2029. Two years since the Chaos. Sarah and Adam are struggling to survive. She knows he always envisioned them together "'til death do us part." But will a child come between them? The child she loves. The child he saved.

Little Mia was supposed to die that New Year's Day. The numbers don't lie. But somehow she changed her date. Mia's just a baby, oblivious to her special power. But ruthless people are hunting her down, determined to steal her secret.

Because everyone wants to live forever.”

Basic Synopsis:
It’s 2 years since Adam went on television to warn people of the Chaos and London is in shambles. The survivors are living in tent cities across England, forced to fend for themselves. Adam and again pregnant Sarah are preparing for another tough winter for their family. But everything changes when government workers on motorcycles snatch Adam, Sarah, and Mia away to an underground government facility. They want Adam to tell them peoples number, to decide whether some refugees are worth bringing aid. Or so they say. Saul, the head of the facility seems to want something else from Adam.

Characters:
One of the reasons I was disappointed reading this book is that there’s not really any character development. There aren’t really any new characters, and we’re left with the exact same characters from The Chaos. In all honesty, the characters left me bored. I didn’t find out anything new about them; nothing about them changes.

The only kind of new main character is Mia, Sarah’s biological daughter. There’s a lot of speculation on Adam’s part about whether Nan had given Mia here number or if she somehow stole it. It’s meant to be a kind of mystery throughout the book, but it’s never really answered.

Plot and Story:
I feel like Infinity was a wasted opportunity. I was really disappointed, because I really enjoyed the first two books in the series, Numbers and The Chaos. I didn’t see anything special or new in this book. There were a couple of surprises in the ending, but nothing “mind-blowing” as described.

Overall:
Well, I’m sorry to say that overall Infinity was unsatisfactory. As far as disappointing books go, Infinity is second only to Crossed by Ally Condie. ‘Nuff said. I give it 1 of 5 stars, because I know this one could have been so much better.



Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown


Title: Lies Beneath
Author: Anne Greenwood Brown site
Format: eARC, 303 pages
Published: 6/12/2012
Publisher: Delacorte BYR
Source: Netgalley
Challenges: Ebook Reading Challenge (hosted by Workaday Reads)

“Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.”

Basic Synopsis:
Calder and his three sisters, Maris, Pavati, and Tallulah, have a mission. To avenge their mother by killing Jason Hancock. Ever since their mother died, Maris has become the matriarch of the family. She is the cruelest sister, and all Calder wants is to be out of her control. Maris makes Calder an offer, get close to Lily and use her to lure her father out into the lake and she will set him free. If he fails, she will never let him go. Getting close to her is easy, and soon he has Lily wrapped around his finger. The only problem? Calder has started developing feelings for her. Will he trade freedom for true love?

Characters:
Calder is just your usual murderous mythical creature, fighting against his nature. He was very self pitying and in the end tries to be a martyr.

Lily was kind of an empty character. She has a thing for Victorian poetry. For supposedly being strong willed, she would do pretty much anything Calder told her. As soon as they get together, she completely loses her fire. I also didn’t like that she romanticized everything.

Is it just me, or do these characters (and set up) sound familiar?

Plot and Story:
I didn’t like the way that the chapters would jump far forward without a lot of explanation. I also thought that some actions of the characters in the book weren’t very well described. And the worldbuilding left much to be desired. It was confusing. However, I was a little surprised by the ending.

Overall:
I’ll start by saying that I’ve never really read a mermaid YA book before. They are starting to become quite popular. This book was definitely a letdown, but I won’t give up on mere-fiction just yet. I give Lies Beneath 1.5 of 5 stars.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Review: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga


Title: I Hunt Killers
Author: Barry Lyga
Format: Hardcover, 359 pages
Published: 4/03/2012
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Source: Library

“What if the world's worst serial killer...was your dad?

Jasper (Jazz) Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he's also the son of the world's most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could--from the criminal's point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo's Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret--could he be more like his father than anyone knows?”


Basic Synopsis:
Jasper Dent,known as Jazz, is the only son of the world’s most infamous serial killer.Before he was caught and sentenced, Butcher Billy taught Jazz everything heknows about murder. But now there’s a new serial killer in Lobo’s Nod. Butdespite his pleadings, the sheriff, G. William, refuses to believe it’s aserial killer. So Jazz is forced to take investigations into his own hands, toprove that there is a serial killer in Lobo’s Nod. But Jazz wonders if, withall his father’s brainwashing, it’s just a matter of time before he takes upthe family business.  

Characters:
Jazz’ssarcastic and has a dark sense of humor, he’s also a great actor and definitelya charmer. His biggest worry that it’s inevitable that he’ll become a serialkiller, just like his father. I liked Jazz, and I was invested in hiswellbeing. He wasn’t my favorite character though. My favorite character wasHowie, Jazz’s type A-hemophiliac best friend/sidekick. Every other thing thatcame out of his mouth was hilarious. You just never know what he’s going to saynext.

Plot and Story:
I Hunt Killers is dark, disturbing, and downrightbloody. Very bloody. It’s an unputdownable mystery/thriller, and sure to makeyou squeamish. I hung on every word. The book ran at a pretty fast pace, whichwas great for me.

I reallyliked that it was a YA mystery. There aren’t enough of those. Let alone onesthat you can’t guess the plot. And I know that, in real life, the policeprobably wouldn’t let a 16 year old boy help them find a serial killer. Butthat didn’t bother me and I loved it anyway.

Overall:
I picked thisbook for no other reason, than that Barry Lyga wrote it. (He’s one of my “author gods”)I loved his debut The AstonishingAdventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl and would recommend it to anyone.  IHunt Killers is a nonstop thrill ride and the first of a series I can’twait to read. I give it 4 of 5 stars! Definitely a must read for fans ofmystery.



Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Author Gods


I’m not a religious person, I’m technically an agnostic. But I do have gods that I worship. They’re my author gods. These are the authors that have so impressed me with their work that I listen to everything they say. I will read anything that they write, and just about anything that they blurb. In a way, they control what I read. They are like reading mentors, but also teach me life lessons. Here are some of my author gods, and what they taught me.

 Libba Bray has taught me to be confident and strong, and never be afraid to make light of the situation.

Lemony Snicket taught me from an early age that no matter how bad thing are, there is always somebody that has it worse. That I should always be grateful for what I have.

Neil Gaimen taught me that somethings we humans do without thinking are pretty stupid. And that cats have a lot of interesting things to say.

Jonathan Maberry taught me that even the bad guys are human. Even serial killers are brothers, daughters, and husbands.

Barry Lyga taught me how much anger a person can have. And that sometimes it’s best to let go of anger.

Ned Vizzini taught me that I’m not alone, and to take serious subjects with just a touch of optimism and humor.

Laurie Halse Anderson taught me how to be brave. That above all else, life must go on no matter the situation.

M.T. Anderson taught me to look at my own actions from another’s perspective. Not everyone sees life the same way you do.

Scott Westerfeld taught me that the future may not always be golden. And that you can only be beautiful if you yourself think you are, and are a good person.

Amy Kathleen Ryan taught me that right and wrong are relative. She taught me to be skeptical, and to never assume anything.

Do you have any “author gods”? What have your favorite authors taught you?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review: Girl Parts by John M. Cusick


Title: Girl Parts
Author: John M. Cusick site
Format: Hardcover, 218 pages
Published: 8/10/2010
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Library

What happens when a robot designed to be a boy’s ideal “companion” develops a will of her own? A compulsively readable novel from a new talent.

David and Charlie are opposites. David has a million friends, online and off. Charlie is a soulful outsider, off the grid completely. But neither feels close to anybody. When David’s parents present him with a hot Companion bot designed to encourage healthy bonds and treat his “dissociative disorder,” he can’t get enough of luscious redheaded Rose — and he can’t get it soon. Companions come with strict intimacy protocols, and whenever he tries anything, David gets an electric shock. Parted from the boy she was built to love, Rose turns to Charlie, who finds he can open up, knowing Rose isn’t real. With Charlie’s help, the ideal “companion” is about to become her own best friend.

In a stunning and hilarious debut, John Cusick takes rollicking aim at internet culture and our craving for meaningful connection in an uber connected world.”

Basic Synopsis:
Set in the near future… It all starts when a girl named Nora Vogel kills herself on a live web cam over the internet for all to see. David is just browsing the web when he sees it and watches. He thinks nothing of it until he is called into the psychiatrist’s office where he is confronted about doing nothing to stop it. He is diagnosed with “dissociative disorder”. His recommended course of treatment is to get a Companion, a robotic girl whose universe revolves around him to help him relate to others.

Characters:
There was something very human about David and Charlie. David is a very popular boy who has the pick of any girl he wants. Of course he doesn’t treat them well, and doesn’t care for long term relationships. Charlie is very smart and reclusive, but is also kind of arrogant and puts himself in a league above others.  Both were imperfect characters, which I always like, and they both had an air of realism about them. And Rose was very likable, and I was really rooting for her throughout the book. She’s na├»ve, but she really takes a stand for herself. She gains more confidence and self respect, while remaining humble.

Plot and Story:
There is a kind of ease and disconnected-ness about the writing. I was interested to see what happened in the story, but I didn’t feel particularly connected with the characters. It was almost like viewing them from a distance, but not exactly in a bad way. It is pretty steadily paced, and I wasn’t left bored. And although the book is only 218 pages, Girl Parts wasn’t too long or too short, it was just right.  The ending of the book is unexpected. I’m not sure whether I think it’s good or bad. It was just different.

Overall:
Girl Parts was a short read, but an enjoyable one. There was something distinctly different and likeable about it. I didn’t find it “hilarious” but it’s still worth reading. It was short, direct, and to the point while still being entertaining. I give it 4 of 5 stars.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne


Title: Monument 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne site
Format: eARC, 294 pages
Release Date: 6/05/2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillian)
Source: Netgalley
Challenges: Ebook Reading Challenge (hosted by Workaday Reads)

“Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.”

Basic Synopsis:
In the year 2024, Dean and his younger brother Alex get on the school bus in Monument, Colorado. Suddenly huge hail rains down on their town and kills many. After a near death experience escaping the bus, the14 surviving kids and their bus driver, Ms. Wooly, flee to a nearby super store. But when Ms. Wooly goes to find help, they end up on their own. Can they survive earthquakes, toxic chemicals, and just plain isolation?

Characters:
I liked Dean. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was something very authentic and human about him that I liked. He just wants to keep his brother safe and get Astrid to notice him. He’s also kind of an underdog of the group, and I’m a sucker for underdogs.

Plot and Story:
There is something indescribably fresh and real about Laybourne’s writing. It was good on the eyes if you know what I mean.  It was very fast paced, the story was always moving. And that’s a good thing for me. I was on the edge of my seat and my heart was actually beating with excitement at all the right parts. Oh, and that action packed, cliff hanger ending. I’m still buzzing about it. I need the sequel, like, NOW! I know I’m kind of all over the place, but there are s many things to like about this book.

Overall:
I was worried it would be, but Monument 14 isn’t your run of the mill post-apocalyptic. The premise isn’t the most original idea, but it is very well written and the story is quite a ride. If you’re into post-apocalyptic YA, I would definitely recommend Monument 14. I’m giving it 4.5 of 5 stars.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Future Release Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo


Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo site
Format: ARC, 358 pages
Release Date: 6/03/2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (Macmillian)
Source: Received from publisher for review

“Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.”

Basic Synopsis:
Alina and Mal have been best friends since they were very young, orphaned by a centuries old war. Although she wishes they were more, Mal is oblivious to her feelings. In an emergency situation she accidentally reveals the power she didn’t know she had. She is the long awaited Sun Summoner, a Grisha. The only one who can destroy the Fold. She is whisked away from Mal and taken to the King’s Palace to live with the other Grisha and learn to use her power.

Characters:
Alina was very likable. She’s witty, humble, and self confident with a strong moral compass. She’s just trying to find her place in the world, trying to find where she belongs. Alina and Mal were really funny together. The banter between them was actually believable, not the usual obviously scripted repartee.  

Plot and Story:
For awhile it looked like this book was going to be imaginative, but predictable. All of the pieces were fitting together into the assumed puzzle when BOOM! Out of the blue, there’s a really big twist that I didn’t see coming. Huge game changer. It totally knocked my socks off. (Not that I was wearing any) And basically right there and then, my liking of this book went from 3.5 stars to 5 full blown freaking stars.

What really sets this book apart from other fantasy novels is the superb world building. I was instantly immersed in this fantasy world that could be set in the very distant past or future. And it was incredibly easy to understand what was going on. I really liked how the language and terms were drawn from foreign languages such as Russian.

Overall:
I honestly wasn’t expecting to love this book so much. I didn’t even request the ARC, I just ended up on a bulk mailing list and got it by surprise. I had it sitting on my shelf for a long time, and then realized it was going to be released soon and thought I should get to it. I wish I would have read this book months ago! It was really a splendid read! I have no hesitation giving it 5 of 5 stars. I highly recommend checking it out from your local library or going to your local indie bookstore and picking up a copy.