Sunday, January 22, 2012

Future Release Review: My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudetsky

Title: My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan
Author: Seth Rudetsky site
Format: Ebook, 220 pages
Release Date: 1/24/2012
Publisher: Random House BYR
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: Ebook Reading Challenge (hosted by Workaday Reads), Standalone Reading Challenge (hosted by Icey Books), and the Completely Contemp Challenge (hosted by Chick Loves Lit)

Justin has two goals for sophomore year: to date Chuck, the hottest boy in school, and to become the king of Cool U, the table in the cafeteria where the "in" crowd sits. 

Unfortunately, he has the wrong look (short, plump, Brillo-pad curls), he has the wrong interests (Broadway, chorus violin), and he has the wrong friends (Spencer, into Eastern religions, and Mary Ann (who doesn't shave her armpits). And Chuck? Well, he's not gay; he's dating Becky, a girl in chorus with whom Justin is friendly.

But Justin is determined.

In detention one day (because he saw Chuck get it first), Justin comes up with a perfect plan: to allow Becky to continue dating Chuck, whom Becky's dad hates. They will pretend that Becky is dating Justin, whom Becky's dad loves. And when Becky and Justin go out on a fake date, Chuck will meet up with them for a real date with Becky. Chuck's bound to find Justin irresistible, right? What could go wrong?

The main character and narrator, Justin, is portrayed as the lovable yet totally clueless underdog of the high school hierarchy. The guy that would unfortunately never fit in socially at the top, but whose goal is to be popular. Justin’s superficial-ness is balanced out by his all knowing best friend Spencer, who is also gay and the only person Justin has ever come out to. Becky is the ever so sweet girl who is unfortunately in the way, being girlfriend to Justin’s desire Chuck. Chuck is the guy of Justin’s dreams. He’s model gorgeous and the quarterback of the football team, but of course everyone but Justin can tell that they wouldn’t be a match made in heaven.

The plot of this book left a lot to be desired. Things progressed exactly as they appeared early on in the story, **KIND OF A SPOILER ALERT** (Highlight section to read) Boy is at the bottom of the high school food chain and just wants to be popular, by some coincidence he comes up with a scheme to be popular (and get the guy of his dreams), the boy’s plans fail but finds the silver lining (the actually perfect guy that was in front of him the whole time), boy learns life lesson and lives happily ever after, the end. ** There’s no doubt that the plot is clichéd, I just wish that the author would have put some kind of a unique spin on it.

Writing Style:
The narrative is Justin reiterating the more major events of his sophomore year very soon after the fact, almost like sporadic journal entries.  The only thing that really bothered me about the writing was the almost constant reminder that Justin is both Jewish and gay. It was almost as though the author thought the reader would keep forgetting. I heard you the first time!

My Awesome /Awful Popularity Plan is exactly as it appears, a fluff book, plain and simple. It’s not a book that will give you a new idea to ponder, or a plot that will leave you on the edge of your seat with a million unthinkable twist and turns. . Although I would have loved a bit more originality, it’s a book that does what it’s supposed to do. It’s meant purely as a fun, and short, story that may put a smile on your face. This type of story isn’t really my cup of tea, but it wasn’t a completely disappointing change from the norm. I’m giving it 3 of 5 stars, though I probably wouldn’t reread it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Future Release Review: Everneath

Title: Everneath
Author: Brodi Ashton site
Format: ARC, 370 pages
Release Date: 1/24/2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Received from a friend

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever. 

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists. 

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen. 

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

How it starts:
Cole, an Everliving, has been Feeding off of Nikki for one hundred years in the underworld of Everneath. Instead of becoming a shriveled old woman, as happens to all Forfeits, Nikki survived intact. Nikki could become an Everliving. However, she decides to go back to the Surface and live out her six months before the Tunnels come for her. On the Surface, only six months have gone by in her absence. All Nikki wants to do is live out her remaining time in peace. But Cole has other ideas. He comes back to the Surface to try to convince Nikki to back with him, and rule over Everneath.  

Nikki, the protagonists, character was kind of flat. There wasn’t much of a personality there. Nothing that made her seem like a real live human being. And she did one thing I can’t stand characters doing, she continually chastised herself about being too “selfish”, just for interacting with people. Because not doing so would “save them from future grief” or something.  

Jack, the love interest, has some serious *PCD. Even though there are a million times when it seems like he’s walking away, and understandably so, he stays completely faithful and understanding of Nikki, no matter what happens. He seems not to have any flaws, other than being self sacrificing toward Nikki. No one is that perfect.

I’m not really sure how to categorize Cole. He’s kind of posed as a love interest and/or villain. But Nikki makes it clear from the beginning that she’ll never be interested, and he’s not really villainous material. He comes off as just trying to help Nikki make the decision he thinks is right. I liked him best out of the three, though if he’s going to be considered the opposition, he needs to grow a back bone and do something to make the audience dislike him more. Like kicking puppies or something. That would really get some hate mail.  

The plot did have a few surprises up it’s sleeve. And it wasn’t as riddled with clichés as many other supernatural romances out there, though Everneath did have it’s moments. The ending however was very disappointing. It was way too predictable, and cliché. (I just noticed I use the term “cliché” a lot. I’ll have to look up some synonyms.)

Point of View:
Just the tried and true First Person.

I didn’t get anything special from the characters, and the plot was kind of give and take. What really kept me reading from the get-go was the unique world that was created.  It is for that reason alone that I would recommend reading Everneath. I’m giving it 3 of 5 stars for being very in the middle.

*PCD stands for Perfect Character Disorder. I usually use this term when a character is portrayed as unrealistically perfect. (i.e. always understanding, hansome/beautiful, without fault, ect.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: Quest of the Demon by M.L. Sawyer

Title: Quest of the Demon
Author: M.L. Sawyer site
Format: Ebook
Published: 1/28/2011
Publisher: Smashwords
Source: Received from author for review

Darci is a popular sixteen-year-old girl who plays basketball and lives in an ordinary country town. But her life is changed forever when she is accidentally transported to the land of Nahaba by a young apprentice wizard called Taslessian.

Within hours of her unexpected arrival, both teens are thrust into a dangerous journey to the cave of Grisham the Great in the hope that he would be able to send her home.

Upon reaching the cave, however, Darci quickly discovers that there is no such thing as accidents, and that their journey is only just beginning. 

The Quest of the Demon has begun

How it starts:
Darci wakes up in the middle of the night feeling as though something’s wrong, someone is in the house. Armed with only an old hockey stick she begins to investigate. Though she finds no one there, another world has appeared just outside of an open window. This portal transports her to the strange land of Nahaba, a whole other world filled with dragons, wizards, knights and other unfamiliar beings. All Darci wants to do is get home, but she did not arrive here by accident. Will she be able to win in an epic battle between evil and the light?

I want to start by saying I’ve haven’t read a book with such strange names for characters since reading Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series. Taslessian, Maledorian, Defyance, Fritrence, Demolish, Trolog, and Domati are all featured in Quest of the Demon.

It took about 70 pages for the characters to take on form. It was a lot like trying to connect with characters from a fairy tale, you’re told what they are like but they don’t seem real. The characters began to come to life as the book progressed, but I still felt like I was viewing them from a distance.

Having a group of characters go on a medieval quest is very unusual in YA today. But I’m glad to say that M.L. Sawyer pulled it off pretty well. The plot of Quest of the Demon did have some unique plot twists. I especially liked how original the ending was. That being said, there are a few over used clichés and some plot holes. There are a few parts of the book, specifically parts having to do with elves, which are rather reminiscent of Lord of the Rings.

Point of View:
Quest of the Demon is written in the Third person omniscient POV (“all-knowing; can include thought and perspective of all characters” *definition found here).

Thought it got off to a rather slow start, I ended up enjoying Quest of the Demon. It’s classic medieval fantasy style was an interesting change from the normal YA fare.  I’m giving it 3.5 of 5 stars. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (#7)

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's Top Ten is...
Top Ten Books I'm Excited To Read in 2012

1) Fear by Michael Grant (4/03)
You've probably already heard me gush about how much I love the Gone series so it should be no surprise that this one is numero uno on my list. I needed to know what happens yesterday.

2) BZRK by Michael Grant (2/28)
This one is supposed to be really creepy. Plus it’s by Michael Grant, say no more. 

3) Unwholly by Neal Shusterman (9/25)
The long awaited sequel to the best-selling Unwind. I love Neal Shusterman’s books, and I can’t wait for this next one. *no cover yet

4) Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan (7/17)
I loved Glow when I read it last January and the cliffhanger ending definitely left me wanting more. Ugh, why can't all these books be out NOW!

5) The Other Life by Suzanne Winnacker (2/01)
This one’s about a family in LA who comes out after years in a bunker to find a devastated, and completely changed world. I’m really excited for this one.  

6) Struck by Jennifer Bosworth (5/08)
A post-apocalyptic novel about a girl who’s addicted to lighting? Of course I’m interested.  

7) The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe (1/24)
I love me some post-apocalyptic fiction about deadly plagues, so this one really sparked my interest. Thankfully I won't have to wait long to read this one as I have an ARC in waiting on my desk. 

8) Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (2/28)

I gave 4 stars to Delirium (my review’s found here) and I’m really excited to see if this sequel can live up to the original. I'm lucky enough to have an ARC of this one as well. 

9) Above by Leah Bobet (4/01)

I’ve been hearing really good things about this one, and the is super awesome. Can’t wait to read it.

10) Bitterblue by Kristen Kashore (5/01)

And last but definitely not least the very long awaited Bitterblue, sequel to Graceling and Fire, is coming out this May.

Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer site
Format: ARC, 387 pages
Release Date: 1/03/2012
Publisher: Feiwel &Friends
Source: ARC received from publisher for review
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge (hosted by The Story Siren)

“Even in the future, the story begins with once upon a time…

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows the Earth’s fate hinges on one girl…

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

In this thrilling young adult debut novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer’s rebooted fairy tale introduces readers to a heroine and a masterfully crafted world that isn’t the Cinderella you remember—but it’s one you won’t forget.”


How it starts:
Cinder starts out with lots of ups and downs. Up, Cinder is an extremely gifted mechanic. Down, she is also a cyborg and is considered owned by her not very nice stepmother. Up, the legendary Prince Kai came to her small both in the marketplace to have her fix his droid. Down, her one kind stepsister, Peony, got infected with the deadly plague, letumosis, and it might be Cinder’s fault. Up, Cinder gets the chance to see the prince again. Down, but only because she’s involuntarily in the palace, being the research scientist’s guinea pig. Up, Cinder turns out to be immune to letumosis, and might be able to help find a cure for Peony.

All I had to hear about Cinder was that it was Cinderella with cyborgs. But there is a lot more to this story than a simple retelling. There’s a deadly plague going around without an antidote (you know how much I love deadly plagues), and the constant threat of war between an alien race from the moon. I was really glad that this story turned out so original. More and more often I find that retellings just seem to glide around within the pre set plot lines. Marissa Meyer really made Cinder her own. The only fault I found was that I was disappointed that Cinder’s “mysterious past” was pretty easy to guess.

The main point of view throughout the book is Cinder, with some chapters devoted to other characters points of view such as Prince Kai, and Dr. Erland.

I was surprised by how much I liked Cinder. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical after the last few retellings I’d read were less than satisfactory. I loved how original it was and I’m really excited to see where this series goes. I’m giving Cinder 4.5 of 5 stars.