Saturday, April 28, 2012

Future Release Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Title: Struck
Author: Jennifer Bosworth site
Format: eARC, 385 pages
Release Date: 5/8/12
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Books for Young Readers
Source: Netgalley
Challenges: Ebook Reading Challenge (hosted by Workaday Reads)

Mia Price is a lightning addict. She's survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn't who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Let’s be honest, an unwilling heroine is nothing new in YA fiction. It’s a character that has been done countless times, and, in all probability, will continue to be done. And Mia is no exception. She doesn’t want to jump into all the action; she’s not trying to be courageous. She just wants her family together and safe. Mia’s character is by no means original and probably not realistic, but I still liked her.

The rest of the “cast” also had the same problems. They weren’t very original and didn’t seem real. The adjectives that come to mind are “okay” and “fine”, I just couldn’t get excited about the characters.

Plot and Story:
Struck is centered around these two feuding cults, the Followers and the Seekers. The Followers are a religious cult who believe that the coming end of the world is a sort of cleansing brought on by God, and that in following “Prophet” they will be spared and brought to heaven.

The Seekers take the opposite view. They believe that the Followers are being controlled by Prophet’s supernatural power, and that the end of the world needs to be stopped.

Both sides try to lure Mia to their side by different means, and Mia really just wants to stay neutral. But it’s really hard when both of her other family members have chosen the opposite side.

Although there were some twists and turns in the book I didn’t see coming, I found some large parts of the plot obvious. Like Jeremy’s true identity for example. Again, there isn’t anything out-right wrong about the book I just wish it could have been more unique and original.

Struck ended up being one of those books that after I read it I thought I liked it, but when I go to review it I ended up seeing it in a new light. Unfortunately, this new light wasn’t as flattering. Having a main character that’s a “lightning addict” was such a cool idea, and the cover really intrigued me. I’m sad to say that, in the end, I was left disappointed. I give Struck 3 of 5 stars.

 I don’t mean to sound harsh. Struck is a fine post-apocalyptic YA novel and it kept me entertained. It was well structured and paced, but it is very similar to countless others of its kind. My blog isn’t about just finding enjoyable books; it’s about finding books that break the mold. Books that stand out for all the right reasons. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: Hushed by Kelley York

Title: Hushed
Author: Kelley York site
Format: eARC, 224 pages
Published: 12/6/11
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Source: Netgalley
Challenges: Completely Contemp Challenge (hosted by Chick Loves Lit), Ebook Reading Challenge (hosted by Workaday Reads)

He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

 Archer was kind of brooding and pessimistic, yet also na├»ve in an endearing way. My heart really went out to him. I love that even though Archer has killed 3 people, I still felt overwhelming sympathy for him. I had to continually remind myself that he was the murderer. Though, I thought that his character waivered on the “lost puppy” side just a little too much, especially when he was with Evan.

I really liked Evan. He was optimistic, compassionate and understanding, kind and caring, and completely loyal. He’s probably the most perfect of all perfect characters ever written. His character is unrealistic, but he just seems so genuine that I really didn’t mind.

Now I have never gotten into the whole “favorite couples from books” thing, but I think that Evan & Archer have to be my favorites I’ve yet read. They are the definition of “opposites attract”.

Plot and Story:
Hushed starts out with a huge attention getter. (A murder made to look like an accident.) After I read the first chapter, I knew I wouldn’t be able to put it down. It was very fast paced, and it didn’t feel rushed at all. Not an easy feat for a 224 page book. (The finished version is 260 pages, and I wasn’t able to get a copy of the book in time for the review, so I’m not sure what changes were made.)

I want to recommend this book to everyone I meet! I loved Hushed! It’s one of those books that you’ll never forget. I’m giving 5 of 5 stars to an awesome LGBT thriller. I don’t think that there’s much more to be said. I can’t wait to see what Kelley York writes next. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Perfected by Girls by Alfred C. Martino

Title: Perfected by Girls
Author: Alfred C. Martino site
Format: Paperback, 310 pages
Published: 11/1/2011
Publisher: Cole Street Publishing
Source: Received from author for review
Challenges: Completely Contemp Challenge (hosted by Chick Loves Lit)

Navigating high school isn't easy for Melinda Radford.

She's the lone girl on the Ashton High wrestling team, grappling with opponents who refuse to compete against her, a few who want to crush her, and a coach who's less-than-pleased having a female in his practice room. At home, Mel's parents forbid her from seeing her new boyfriend, her grandmother insists she start preparing for her future by taking a dreary office internship, and her infuriating older brother, who's the varsity team captain, flirts with her best friend, Jade.

Just when it seems things can't get any more complicated, an off-handed comment puts Mel at odds with her teammates, her brother, and, worst of all, her coach. But through a twist of tragedy and fate, Mel is given an unexpected opportunity to accomplish something no girl in her school's history has ever done - something that just may redeem herself in the eyes of her detractors. But is she strong enough to handle the pressure?

I have to say, I was a little skeptical that the author would be able to write a convincing female character. But I can happily say that I feel that Mel was a very believable, and for the most part realistic, female voice. She definitely wasn’t a cookie cutter. And I loved how passionate she was about wrestling. So much so that it got me excited as well, and I’ve never watched a minute of wrestling in my life. I think that’s one of the signs of a good writer, to be able to convey your feelings strongly through your writing and make the reader feel the same.

Plot and Story:
Too often in contemps, the message the writer is trying to get across is obvious in the plot and is so repetitive it makes the reader want to tear their hair out. I have to applaud Alfred Martino for writing a novel partly about girl power, without the story being over wrought with the same monotonous message. The only part of the story that irked me was something that happened at the end. **SPOILER ALERT** (Highlight section to read) Melinda gets back together with her boyfriend. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but it really obvious and somewhat implied that he’s only with her to get into her pants. When they were together he was always pushing her to go further that she was comfortable. It seemed like the author was trying to make them getting back together a positive thing, a happy ending.*

Point of View:
Perfected by Girls is from the point of view of Melinda, nicknamed Mel, an amateur wrestler and the only girl on her high school JV team in Ashton, Michigan.

I really enjoyed Perfected by Girls. I absolutely love it when an author is so passionate about something, in this case wrestling, that it shines through and can make the reader feel that passion. I think it’s one of the attributes that make a good writer. If you like contemporary fiction, I’d give this one a try. I’m giving Perfected by Girls 4 of 5 stars. Chick Power!

I know how much you all like giveaways, and the author of Perfected by Girls has kindly offered up two signed copies of his book! 

After I finished Perfected by Girls, I did some snooping on the internet and was happy to discover that Alfred C. Martino, the author, is a big animal lover as well. He helped start Dog Park Publishing , a totally cool organization that specifically help pit bulls.  And even if you don't enter the giveaway, be sure to visit Dog Park Publishing and their Pit Bulls and Itty Pitties Facebook page. You'll be in for some very cute pet pictures.