Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Julian Game by Adele Griffin

Amazon Description: "All new girl Raye Archer wants is a way into the in crowd, so when ice-queen Ella Parker picks her to get back at her ex, the gorgeous Julian Kilgarry, Raye is more than game. Even if it means creating a fake Facebook identity so she can learn enough about Julian to sabotage him. It's a fun and dangerous thrill at first, but Raye hadn't counted on falling for Julian herself-and igniting Ella's rage.

As Raye works to reconcile the temptress Elizabeth with her real-life self, Ella serves up her own revenge, creating an online smear campaign of nasty rumors and trashy photographs. Suddenly notorious, Raye has to find a way out of the web of deceit that she's helped to build, and back to the relationships that matter.

Adele Griffin's riveting novel explores the issues of generation Facebook: the desire to be someone else, real versus online friends, and the pitfalls and fallouts of posting your personal life online for all the world to judge."

My Review: The Julian Game is one of those books where I go back, and I'm like, What did I just READ? After it's all ended...it seems so pointless. I don't see the point of the book, of what I've just read. A complete waste of time---that's how I see this book. The plot is over halfway through the book, and the rest is just spent...ambling around, trying to sort out the rest of Raye's "problems" (which, to me, don't seem like real issues). She has no issues with her dad or dad's girlfriend. We find out that her mother died---but instead of making it an interesting point, Griffin completely glosses over it and we don't ever really find out how Raye feels about it or deals with it. Ella's relationship with Raye is just awkward, and I can never quite figure out: is Ella evil or good? Griffin HINTS that there may be more to Ella than just her evil actions...but she never really goes deeper. Raye's relationship with her best friend, Natalya, WOULD have been interesting---if we had ever gotten any information on it. And Julian...well, Griffin tried to make Julian seem all awesome and great, but he came off more as bipolar. One second he'd be awesome, the next second he'd be lame and spineless. And Raye didn't seem too heartbroken over him...considering she had been madly crushing on him forever? Hmmm. Not very solid writing there. Not very solid writing anywhere, really! Griffin had a promising plot---but she also had flat, emotionless, hard-to-figure-out characters and awkward, confusing relationships. Which made the book weird and, ultimately, forgettable.

Cover: The only good thing about the book! The colors on the girl are awesome, as are her clothes and the checkered background. It looks very Alice In Wonderland-esq, doesn't it?

Overall Grade: F

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Still Waters by Emma Carlson Berne

Goodreads Description: "Hannah can't wait to sneak off for a romantic weekend with her boyfriend, Colin. He’s leaving for college soon, and Hannah wants their trip to the lake house to be one they’ll never forget.
But once Hannah and Colin get there, things start to seem a bit...off. They can't find the town on any map. The house they are staying in looks as if someone's been living there, even though it's been deserted for years. And Colin doesn’t seem quite himself. As he grows more unstable, Hannah worries about Colin’s dark side, and her own safety.
Nothing is as perfect as it seems, and what lies beneath may haunt her forever."
My Review: Okay, I admit it. When I saw this cover, my first thought was, Oh God, not ANOTHER paranormal romance! Because it kind of looks like one, doesn't it? But it wasn't, which pleased me. However, little else pleased me about the book. Hannah, the main character, was so weird! I couldn't figure her out! One second she's a goody-goody who's never done anything wrong, next second she's stealing things and driving her boyfriend out to some creepy lake house that---for SOME reason---she's become enamored with...even though personally, the lake house didn't seem that cool to me. The book was just awkward and stilted. The lake house was broken down and old and useless, and they were in the middle of nowhere. Instead of just calling it a day and heading back home and doing something else like SMART people, they decided to stay in the lake house and live with no electricity and eat two-year-old bakes beans for dinner. Yes. Baked beans. The book was very random. Too much of the plot was centered around Hannah's inability to tell Colin that she loves him---which seemed lame, considering she truly did love him a lot (although I don't know why. They had no chemistry.) And then, when Colin began to act weird...you could tell Berne tried to make the book all creepy and spooky and terrifying---but I was more annoyed. Annoyed at the characters, annoyed at how the book seemed to be going nowhere and telling me NOTHING... And then the ending came WAY too abruptly. Everything got resolved and answered in, like, two pages, and the explanations didn't even really make that much sense. Berne tried really hard here---but in my opinion, she failed.
Cover: Okay, but the cover is gorgeous. I love the water and all the blue tones everywhere, and how you can't tell if the girl is just floating or dead. It's really pretty.
Overall Grade: D-

Kill You Last by Todd Strasser

Amazon Description: "Shelby's life in Soundview has always been comfortable. Her dad provides a luxurious lifestyle for his family through his photography business. He makes a ton of money taking headshots of pretty young teens who are desperate to become models. Shelby
has always enjoyed driving around town in a red sports car, shopping with her best friend at her side. And her Mom is laidback,so it's all good.

However, as reports of girls disappearing from nearby towns start to appear on the news, Shelby's seemingly perfect life begins to fall apart. The three missing girls have one thing in common--they were all clients of her dad's photography business. Secrets
begin to surface as the investigation continues. Shelby receives threatening e-mails, battles the nosy media, and tries to keep her family together. Now that her dad is implicated in the disappearances, can Shelby figure out a way to clear his name? Or is dad not as innocent as he seems?"

My Review: Pretty good! Strasser's first book in the Thrillogy was pretty decent, as is this book, the third one in the Thrillogy (yes, I'm skipping around---but since they're not connected, I don't think it matters what order I read them in...). Kill You Last wasn't AS creepy as it could have been, probably because the disappearances were all very distant and not close to Shelby at all, but all in all, it was a decent book. I kept wondering the whole time, Is it her dad? Is it not her dad? I can't tell! Strasser did a good job of keeping you hanging, and turning the pages. Shelby was an interesting character, very moral and perfect---I would have liked Strasser to get a little deeper into that. And I wanted to read more about her best friend, Roman. Best friends are always winning characters (usually). And the ending---well, the ending was a total shocker. Never even saw it coming---which is the mark of a good thriller book! Another job well done by Todd Strasser. Now I can't wait to read the second book in the Thrillogy, Blood On My Hands!

Cover: I didn't used to like these covers very much---they're kind of basic and cliche---but when you line all the Thrillogy covers up, they look kind of cool next to each other, so now I'm okay with the cover.

Overall Grade: B+

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Goodreads Description: "When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole, a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her, she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate-someone who truly understands her and loves her for who she really is.
At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her best friends, Zack and Bethany, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all of her time with another boy? But as the months pass, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats. As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose "love" she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose - between her "true love" and herself."
My Review: This book is by the author of Hate List, a book I have not currently read---but after reading Bitter End, I really think I'll have to! Brown is a really talented author. She manages to talk about a serious topic without making the book all emo and depressing and uber-serious---something that happens a LOT when the topic of the book is serious. She gracefully managed to incorporate lighthearted things such as humor and friendship into the book, which made it more believable. I loved the friendship between Alex and her friends; it felt very real and it made me like her friends a lot. I also liked how Alex was just a normal high school girl. Not to be insensitive, but "serious" books always have really depressing, wallow-y characters, and I liked how Alex wasn't like that. Admitted, at times I was REALLY frustrated with her. I felt like shouting, "Why don't you LEAVE HIM? He is a PSYCHO!"...but I guess that's kind of the whole point---showing why she doesn't leave him. Overall, a good book that really makes you think. 
Cover: The cover doesn't make an impression. It shows a sad girl. Lovely.
Overall Grade: B+

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Barnes & Noble Description: "Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.
There are only three problems. First, the gem is owned by the most secure auction house in the world. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.
Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her intrepid crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the world, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.
Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules."
My Review: Have you ever heard of the sophomore slump? Where the first was a hit, and the sequel was a total bust? Well, I think there should be something called the "sophomore comeback", where the first is just okay, the sequel is BETTER, and makes you reevaluate the first and maybe like it a little more. It happened to me with the Virals series, and it's happening now, with the Heist Society books. I didn't really like the first book at all---but when I saw this one, I picked it up anyway, curious about how Katarina's story would be continued. And guess what? This time, I really liked it! The book was exciting and action-filled, and I felt like the plot was much more intriguing. I was more immersed in the world and less confused about things, so I could enjoy the book a whole lot more. Kat actually started to have some feelings and to own up to them, so she wasn't as flat as she always had been---and Gabrielle was just a pleasure to read about. Hilarious! All the characters got better, although I wish we could have seen more of the Bagshaw brothers! All in all, this book was pretty great---and it made me go back and re-read Heist Society, and I liked that one a lot better this time too! Uncommon Criminals definitely made a sophomore comeback. 
Cover: Okay, ALL the Heist Society book covers are GORGEOUS---this one included. It's cute and sassy, girly with a touch of wicked spy. It's awesome! 
Overall Grade: A-

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Goodreads Description: "The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner. 

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up? 

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again."


My Review: This is one of the most amazing books I have EVER read! First of all, Bray is a MASTER at satire. This book was so satirical that it almost made me die of laughter on practically every page. I loved the style it was written in---from a corporation to a someone taking in media---which just added to the satire of the book. Truly, if anyone wants to learn satire, they should read this book! Also, I was surprised at the CONTENT of this book. I had assumed that it was going to be a light and fluffy chick-lit, but no way---Bray touched on TONS of seriously deep topics, like poverty, race, materialism, sexism, transgenders, foreign policy...the list goes on and on. Despite its superficial appearance, this book goes deep and hits hard and is so well-written that I could barely believe it. I LOVED this book. 


Cover: I gotta say it: the lipsticks instead of casing shells or bullets or whatever? GENIUS! It kind of shows you what goes on in this book. It's not just a bunch of brain-dead blondes sunning themselves on the sand...


Overall Grade: A+

Saturday, December 10, 2011

She Said/She Saw by Norah McClintock

Amazon Description: "Tegan was in the backseat when her two best friends were gunned down in front of her. Was it an argument over drugs? An ongoing feud? Or something more random? Tegan says she didn't see who did it. Or know why. Nobody will believe her. Not the police; not her friends; not the families of the victims; and not even Kelly, her own sister. Is she afraid that the killer will come back? Or does she know more than she is saying? Shunned at school and feeling alone, Tegan must sort through her memories and try to decide what is real and what is imagined. And in the end she must decide whether she has the strength to stand up and do the right thing."

My Review: This was a good book...but not good ENOUGH. Don't get me wrong---it was a good book with interesting characters and an intriguing plot...but there wasn't enough! It was a very short book with big font, and there was barely any character description. I wanted to know more about Tegan's relationship with Martin and Clark; Tegan's relationship with Gina; Kelly's relationship with Martin; Kelly's relationship with Tegan...so on and so forth. And when the kids at school started treating Tegan badly because they thought she was hiding information, the treatment only last for what---a day? Two days? It seemed like a VERY short period of time, and even though McClintock tried to make Tegan seem distraught by it all, I just didn't sense any emotional depth. Also, the ending was WAY too short---Tegan solves her problem and BAM, less than half a page later, the book is over. No closure. No explanation of anything else. All in all, this book was pretty good, but it needed a lot more to it.

Cover: This cover is pretty cool, in my mind. I love how it's all faded and the colors are distorted, like it's some raw hipster photograph (although that has nothing to do with the book...). I also love the X's over her eyes; they add to the cover.

Overall Grade: B-

He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott

Goodreads Description: "Ally Ryan, come on down to the Jersey Shore and forget your troubles!

Have you recently been humilated in front of your friends and family at your former best friends birthday party? Was your almost boyfriend partly responsible for that humilation by withholding some vital information about where your estrangerd father is? Did you come home to find said estranged father sitting on your stoop?

If so, then it sounds like you could use a vacation! The Jersey Shore is the place to be. Your mother may be living with her boyfriend of only a few months, but at least the stunt Shannen pulled has put some of your friends back in your court. Even so, you're still angry and what better way to get over Jake than to blow off some steam with local guy, Cooper. People will hardly recognize your new attitude, but the old one wasn't getting you anywhere, so who cares!

Jake Graydon, an exciting opportunity is waiting for you in the service industry!

Are your grades so low your parents have grounded you for the summer? Did you the girl you really like unceremoniously leave you behind? Would you rather eat dirt than see your friends again? Then a job at the local coffee shop is just the ticket! Suprisingly, Ally's father is the new manager so you get to be reminded of her nearly every day. Maybe it's time to start flirting with your best friend's ex or even taking school a bit more seriously. Especially when you finally see Ally and she's hanging around with some loser and it's couldn't be more clear that she is over you.

Have a great summer!."

My Review: I really liked the first book of this trilogy, She's So Dead To Us, but unfortunately, this book misses the mark. Where the first one was a good mix of dramatic and comedic, this book started edging towards cheesy soap opera material. Ally wasn't as gutsy or cool this time---she seemed more like a "forever alone" catatonic Bella Swan-type in this book. And Jake was no longer confident and interesting---he just seemed whiny and desperate. Both of them kept messing up and instead of sitting down and talking about it like MATURE ADULTS, they both kept getting mad at each other for stupid little things. Honestly, the way they acted, you'd think this was a love affair to rival Romeo and Juliet's, or something like that...when it's just two teenagers in love. Not to sound harsh---but it's not exactly the hugest deal in the universe. Also, the plot lines were pretty lame and cliche this time, and---like I said---started getting more and more soap opera-y as the book progressed. Case in point: the ending of the book? MAJOR shocker, MAJOR cliffhanger...but also the plot to MOST cheesy soap operas. I'm not sure if I'll be reading the third book in the trilogy, after this sophomore slump of a book.

Cover: It's clever, I suppose, but I don't think it quite properly conveys the plot. Actually, the cover kind of has nothing to do with the book at all...

Overall Grade: D+

Friday, December 9, 2011

Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser

Amazon Description: "Str-S-d:
I’ll begin with Lucy. She is definitely first on the list. You can’t believe how it feels to be in the cafeteria and turn around and there she is staring at me like I’m some disgusting bug or vermin. Does she really think I WANT to be this way? I hate you, Lucy. I really hate you. You are my #1 pick. I wish you were dead.

The day after anonymous blogger Str-S-d wishes the popular girl would die, Lucy vanishes. The students of Soundview High are scared and worried. Especially frightened and wracked with guilt is Madison Archer, Lucy’s friend and the last person to see her the night she disappeared.
As days pass with no sign of the missing girl, even the attention of Tyler, an attractive new student, is not enough to distract Madison from her growing sense of foreboding. When two more popular students disappear after their names are mentioned on Str-S-d’s blog, the residents of Soundview panic.
Meanwhile, Madison receives anonymous notes warning that she could be next. Desperate to solve the mystery before anyone else disappears, Madison turns to Tyler, but can she trust him when it becomes clear that he knows more than he’s sharing?
The clock is ticking. Madison must uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearances . . . before her name appears in Str-S-d’s blog."

My Review: I loved this book! Which is funny, because I hated the first Todd Strasser book I read, Famous...but whatever. It was exciting and fun to read, and I really liked the main character, Madison. She was sweet and simple---not too complicated and annoying. The plot was really intriguing and it even started to creep me out as it went on, which is good, because "creepy" books RARELY creep me out. It was a quick, fast read, and cut straight to the point. The short POVs from the killer were actually pretty scary! I'll admit, the end kind of let me down a LITTLE, because it wasn't as freaky as I thought it'd be...but it was freaky enough, for a teen thriller, and so I'm good.

Cover: This cover is good for a thriller book, I'll admit that, but it just doesn't seem to fit the theme of this book, so I'm half-and-half on it. It's eerie...but also kind of out-of-place.

Overall Grade: A-

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Amazon Description: "Eli and his family have lived in the Compound for six years.
The world they knew is gone.
Eli’s father built the Compound to keep them safe. Now, they can’t get out.
He won’t let them."

My Review: This book was a very unique dystopian, in the way where the REST of the world was still functioning as was normal---but just Eli's family was living in a tiny dystopic world under the ground. Eli's dad starts out seeming pretty awesome; he's wealthy, and the world is apparently supposed to end soon, so he builds this amazing mansion type of thing underground for them. It's seriously amazing, any person's dream house (well---UNDERGROUND dream house...). All in all, the book was okay. It had a great concept and plot, but I felt like there was not enough explanation of the past, their pre-Compound lives, and there was no explanation of the characters' personalities. Also, the book felt rushed; it was very short, and even though it was good, I felt like Bodeen raced through it. There was barely any mystery or dysfunction or anything: it went straight from everything's-fine to oh-god-something-is-wrong in, like, a DAY---and then the escape from the Compound was like a day after THAT. There was barely any suspense, and for that, the book wasn't too amazing.

Cover: The cover's pretty cool; it looks all industrial and man-made and tough, which is supposed to represent the Compound, I guess. It's still pretty awesome.

Overall Grade: C+

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Future Of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Goodreads Description: "It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.
By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present."

My Review: The sad part is, this book has SO much potential. There are books about texting and books about IM-ing (remembering IMs?), so it was only a matter of time before there was a book that revolved around Facebook. Unfortunately, this book falls WAY flat in my opinion. The characters, Josh and Emma, are so unlikable! I didn't feel bad for them, didn't care about them, didn't care about their lives... They were just boring and flat. The plot with Facebook was also pretty boring---I felt like the book was just going in circles and not really headed in any direction. And for a book set in the 90s, I expected a LOT more references to things from the 90s---but minus a few things like the lack of cell phones, this book could have been set in the 2000s, which is disappointing. In the end, I saw no character development or growth from the beginning. I had to fight to finish this book, it was THAT boring.

Cover: It's dull and not eye catching at all. I don't like it one bit.

Overall Grade: F

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Amazon Description: "In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom…."

My Review: Can you say LOVE? Because I can! I absolutely loved this book! It is a dystopian, but a very realistic one (in my opinion), not chock-full of odd technology and strange creatures, etc. It also has an air of a fantasy book as well, a Graceling-esque feel, because of the kingdoms and the queens and class systems. It was very interesting and a quick, easy read, not confusing at all. I didn't really love any character too much, but I didn't really dislike any either. The plot was intriguing and I really was curious to know what happens next. It almost seemed like a fairytale-dystopian, which is new, so it was fresh and I liked that; even though dystopian books are good, some of them are getting tired. I also just loved the setting: the cities with their markets and taverns... It was just a unique setting, different from the usual post-apocalypse America/England/Whatever. All in all, a VERY good start to a new trilogy.

Cover: I LOVED this cover! It's so pretty! The girl is gorgeous and it's very mysterious, the way part of her face is covered by her hood or whatever that is. It just seems very smoky, dark, gorgeous...kind of like the book itself.

Overall Grade: A+

Monday, December 5, 2011

Shock Point by April Henry

Amazon Description: "Sixteen-year-old Cassie’s stepfather Rick is about to strike it rich with Socom, a new behavioral drug in which Rick is a big investor. But then Cassie discovers that Rick, a teen psychiatrist, has already been prescribing Socom illegally to his patients—and three teens have died.

Before she can report him, Rick has Cassie committed to Peaceful Cove, a sadistic boot camp for troubled teens in Mexico where the only way out is to graduate at age eighteen. Cassie knows she has to get out now, before more teens die from Socom. But no one has ever escaped from Peaceful Cove alive—and even if Cassie gets over the walls and survives the Mexican desert, will anyone believe her story?

A taut, psychological thriller ripped from today’s headlines, Shock Point deftly explores the cutting edge issue of behavioral drugs while taking readers on a roller coaster ride of action and suspense."

My Review: There are a lot of books about boarding schools, military schools and boot camps gone bad. It's not exactly a novel concept in YA books these days, so I wasn't expecting much. And yes, for the boot camp aspect of the book, it was relatively normal; I expected vicious treatment, starvation, no contact with civilization or parents...and that's what I got. However, the added story line about her step-father's illegal drug activities made it much more interesting to read, because instead of just expecting her to escape from the boot camp, I also needed to know what happened with her step-father and his crimes---so the extra, unique little plot kept me reading. The book was also well-written and clear and simple to understand; no silly twisted metaphors or choppy writing here! All in all, a decent effort.

Cover: I don't like the eyes peering out at the top---they look weirdly fuzzy and distorted, and I don't like it---but I do like the silhouettes of the palm trees and barbed wires against an ombre background. It makes it look strangely freaky.

Overall Grade: B-

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Famous by Todd Strasser

Goodreads Description: "All Jamie Gordon wants to do is to take pictures of celebrities...and maybe to become famous herself. She's only fourteen, but already her pictures are sought after by fanzines and websites, and she's invited to all the best parties. And now she has the chance of a lifetime. She has been invited to spend a week with Willow Twine, taking pictures of the teen superstar's new chaste life. But when Jamie gets her hands on some sensational shots of Willow, she's suddenly in over her head. The pictures could make her career...and destroy Willow's. Everybody seems to want to get their hands on the photos, and Jamie has to decide what she really wants...and what she's willing to pay to get it."

My Review: I did not like this book very much, From the synopsis, I thought I was going to love it---I thought it was going to a funny and touching story about fame, like Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway...but what I got instead was a chaotic mess of different story lines and viewpoints told from different moments in the present and past and absolutely no character-building at all. To start with, I could NOT figure Jamie out at all---she seemed nice enough...yet she pointlessly disobeyed her mother because she wanted to be a paparazzi. She didn't even seem like a teenager rebelling; it just seemed like the author went, Oh, teens are rebellious, so I should have her fight with her mom some, and threw some awkward confrontations in there. She acted like she cared about what happened between her and her boyfriend...but they had no chemistry. They were like strangers, and I had no idea why they were together. And she seemed like she cared about her older brother, who had a crippling disease---but he was barely part of the story, had maybe a few lines dedicated to him. Many different storylines were going on at once---such as the one about her best friend's struggle to be famous---and none of them really seemed to fit together. The story was told through POVs, emails, police forms, letters, etc---and this was enjoyable...except for two things: 1) I could not figure out what was going on or who was who, and 2) Each chapter was a different period in time, jumping randomly around a space of two years, so I was VERY confused. Some plot lines just bored me---like her best friend's---and some plot lines made me want to read more---such as Willow's stalker. But Strasser never devoted much time to ANY of the plot lines. All in all, a chaotic, disorganized book with unnecessary elements tossed in. It would have done better as just Jamie's present-day POV about her time with Willow, plain and simple.

Cover: The cover was honestly the only really cool thing about this book. It's simple yet cool. The word "famous" is written in the most awesome font and the picture of the teen girl taking the photo just looks epic.

Overall Grade: C-

Boys, Girls And Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

Rosalind Wiseman Website Description: "Charlie Healey thinks Harmony Falls is the beginning of a whole new life. Middle School was brutal. Mean girls were all around her. But High School’s going to be Charlie’s big chance to start over and stay out of drama, except that on her first day who does she run into? None other than Will, her ex-best friend, who had moved away. Now he’s back, looking a lot cuter and hanging out with a questionable crew. But Charlie doesn’t understand just how questionable until an innocent delivery guy falls victim to a near-deadly hazing prank.All Charlie wanted to do was have a drama-free freshman year, but now she must decide whether to turn in her very best friend, who just told her he loves her, or live with the guilt of knowing what he did.Rosalind Wiseman’s first novel for young adults is a fresh, funny, and juicy read about friendship, betrayal, and how far some will go to be accepted."

My Review: Here's what I have to say: Wiseman is the author of the nonfiction book Queen Bees and Wannabes...and it shows. Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials is actually a pretty good chick-lit book. It's light and easy to read, it's funny, it's not totally mind-numbing, and the main character actually has a brain and a moral compass. And, contrary to the cover and the name of the book, it's not actually ALL about boys and romance, etc, etc. So, on the whole, as a fluffy chick-lit book? Yeah, it's good. But then Wiseman will slip some random sentence in here or there---narrating from Charlie's perspective---that makes no sense. A 15-year-old girl wouldn't be thinking in the terms of a sociologist who is an expert of the social relations between girls...and that's what Charlie did pretty frequently, she would say some sort of sentence that did NOT seem normal for a teenager to say. But that's my only tiny complaint. Otherwise, this was a solid and harmless book.

Cover: I don't think much of it. It's nothing.

Overall Grade: B+

Legend by Marie Lu

Goodreads Description: "What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills."

My Review: I know, I know---kind of like the vampire/paranormal romance craze, there's now a dystopian craze going on, brought about by Suzanne Collins. And I understand that most of these dystopian authors are selling out because their books are very similar and they KNOW they'll sell. But even though the paranormal romance craze REALLY bothered me, I'm going to be honest: the dystopian one doesn't. Why? These books are AWESOME, and I don't care if these authors just want to cash in. That doesn't change the fact that the books are still awesome---which Legend totally is. Lu really DESCRIBED her characters and made me feel like I truly knew them. Both of them had pretty great personalities as well. On the whole, I liked Day better than June---but June was pretty cool. As far as dystopians go, the world wasn't explained as well as I'd have liked it, but maybe that's coming up in the next book. The plot also kind of confused me; I felt like the REAL plot came out only in the last 50 pages of the book. But on the whole, the action and adventure were interesting and well-paced, the characters were great (even the secondary ones, like Metias and Tess), and on the whole, this book is VERY enjoyable. I'd say fans of the Hunger Games trilogy, Enclave by Ann Aguirre, and Divergent by Veronica Roth would really love this book.

Cover: Nornally, I'd say this cover isn't much. It's cool-looking, and that's the most I can say---it's not pretty or intriguing. But it DOES fit the feel of the story so well that I'm going to have to say this is a pretty nice cover. It TOTALLY matches the feel of the book.

Overall Grade: A-

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

HarperTeen Description: ""You can't touch me," I whisper.

I'm lying, is what I don't tell him.

He can touch me, is what I'll never tell him.

But things happen when people touch me.

Strange things.

Bad things.

No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon.

But Juliette has plans of her own.

After a lifetime without freedom, she's finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she'd lost forever."

My Review: A more-than-mediocre debut, in my opinion. I wouldn't say that it was the BEST book ever, but as far as dystopian books go, it wasn't bad. I found it very similar to Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Both featured girls who live in a dystopian book and get locked up into a house and try to escape with someone who serves them at the house. And both don't really build the dystopian world. But hopefully, in the next book, there will be much more world-building and explaining of what The Reestablishment is, and what their master plan is. Mafi's writing wasn't BEAUTIFUL per se, but it was very creative and it conveyed Juliette's feelings and emotions and thoughts very well. The crossed out lines were very interesting because they showed Juliette's deeper thoughts, the ones she was afraid to tell even us. I really like the crossed out lines, I thought they were unique, although a lot of people hated them. There wasn't much character building of secondary characters such as Kenji and Adam's little brother, but the three main characters: Juliette, Adam, and Warner were explained pretty well. I wanted to know a lot more about Warner; hopefully we haven't seen the last of him! And as for people saying this book was like X-Men---I just didn't see it. Sure, she has some powers, but that's about it. Everything else is pure dystopia. All in all, I'll be happy to read the next book.

Cover: Definitely not a fan of this cover. It looked pretty at FIRST, but when I looked closely, it wasn't much. The girl looked evil or like she had tons of plastic surgery or something---not at ALL like I pictured Juliette (who I saw as kind of slender and delicate...). Anyway---not such a nice cover.

Overall Grade: B-

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Goodreads Description: "Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs."

My Review: The Replacement is not the kind of book you find any day. The main character, Mackie, was amazing. I think Yovanoff did an amazing job describing a teenage boy, especially one who was troubled, messed up, tough---and yet also strangely fragile and innocent. The town of Gentry she described was eerie and disturbing and her version of the fey was far different from any I've ever encountered before, and it was very fresh and unique, if not a little difficult to get used to and understand. The writing was not beautiful in the typical way, but it was still beautiful, and there was a strange human quality to her characters that just made it a really brilliant book, in my eyes. It was unique, twisted, rough and unpolished yet beautiful all at the same time, like a destroyed, poisonous diamond.

Cover: I swear, my heart literally STOPPED when I saw this cover. I think I died and went to Beautiful Cover Heaven. This is one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen on a book. The shimmery, metallic gray of the cover was gorgeous and the image of the old-fashioned baby carriage with the charms (against the fey) hanging above it was a beautiful, if not scary, image. And the words were amazing as well. It's ALL just gorgeous.

Overall Grade: A+

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Amazon Description: "When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind."

My Review: Full of action and suspense, and with a quirky and intriguing cast of characters, The Maze Runner is a REALLY good book. At first, when I realized it was a society of only teen boys, I was afraid, because I thought it would go in the savage, they're-not-civilized-anymore-and-they're-killing-and-fighting-each-other Lord of the Flies of direction---but it didn't! The boys, for the most part, had built up a civilized society, a republic of sorts. Very refreshing. Also, the plot was VERY intriguing. Normally, when I read a dystopian book, I can figure out the evil mastermind plot and who the bad guys are in like three chapters, but in this book, even at the end, I had a MILLION questions. It DID get kind of frustrating at times, because you got SO few answers, so the book was, a lot of the times, pretty confusing. The action was well-thought-out and not just senseless fighting and stabbing and stuff, and the setting was really creepy and weird, but cool; I could picture it all perfectly in my head This is the start to an awesome dystopian trilogy.

Cover: The cover is kind of gloomy and not very eyecatching...but I think that's the point. Because the Maze and the Glade aren't supposed to be that cheerful anyway. I do like the electricity wires and stuff hung up in the mazes---it shows the creepiness of having people live in and near something that should NOT be lived in or near by.

Overall Grade: A-


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Goodreads Description: "Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but for Lily Sanderson, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily has a secret, and it’s not her huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid—she’s a Thalassinian princess. When she discovered three years ago that her mother was actually a human, Lily finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been going to Seaview High ever since. Living on land has its problems—like her obnoxious biker-boy neighbor, Quince Fletcher—but it has that one major perk: Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type—when they bond, it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily ever after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned."

My Review: A fun, frothy (heh) chick-lit read. It's nothing EXTREMELY special but it's girly and sweet. Anyone fond of enchanting fantasy sort of things and pearls and...well, just GIRLYNESS will love this book! The romance is cute, all the details about her mermaid life are cute, everything is just really cute. I wouldn't say it's tremendously well-written, but it kept me reading and intrigued, and I laughed out loud a few times, so it was definitely on the right track. As far as YA chick-lit books go, this one was pretty good, and the cute little magical touch (I won't call it paranormal---that sounds far too serious for this book) made it all the more adorable. I consider this a grown-up version of the middle-grade book The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler, which is not at all a bad thing, since that's a pretty good MG series!

Cover: I'm sorry, I find this cover ADORABLE. The color theme is all aquatic and cute and her makeup is so cool! I'm sure mermaids in the story don't really look like that, but it's a fantastic way to portray mermaids on the cover of a book! It's really pretty!

Overall Grade: A-

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver

Amazon Description: "Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on…

Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen."

My Review: This book was a very spunky and fresh take on paranormal YA books. There was no evil-yet-good demon prince and there were no swooning girls in flowing ball gowns on the cover (as you can clearly see, the girl on the cover is wearing skinny jeans and Converse!). Riley is a pretty hilarious character, when she's not busy being snarky at Beck. Speaking of Beck---what an awesome character! Young and hilarious and full of wry wit and dry sarcasm and unwilling to take authority... He was one of the most interesting characters in the book. The book also had a good appropriate mix of humor, romance, action, and sadness; when Riley's dad died, it was truly heartbreaking, because we actually got to meet her dad and get to know him. The action was interesting and I LOVED Oliver's take on demons; it was witty and fresh and new. This is definitely a series I'm going to be following.

Cover: I love this cover! The colors are cool, as is the background, and the font is also cool as well. And the image of the girl is just cool as well. Everything is just...cool.

Overall Grade: A-

She's So Dead To Us by Kieran Scott

Amazon Description: "Ally Ryan would rather be in Maryland. She would rather be anywhere, in fact, than Orchard Hill, site of her downfall. Well, not hers exactly—but when your father’s hedge fund goes south and all your friends lose their trust funds, things don’t look so sunny for you. Her mother moved her to Maryland to flee the shame, but now they’re moving back. Back to the country-club, new-car-every-year, my-family-came-over-on-the-Mayflower lifestyle that Ally has outgrown. One bright spot, however, is gorgeous, intense Jake Graydon. But it won’t be easy for the two of them to be together—not if his friends (her former friends) have anything to say about it. Is Ally ready to get thrown back into the drama of the life she left behind?"

My Review: This is a pretty good book! The best part about it was the main character, Ally: she was very realistic, fresh, and sassy. As far as main characters go, she was a very good one. Jake was also a pretty good character---I liked how they made him a little flawed and not just the prototypical Prince Charming. Jake and Ally's rocky relationship and numerous struggles also made the book more enjoyable, because they seemed more realistic. In most romance YA books, the couple has, like, ONE problem, and that problem barely constitutes as...a problem. It has you rolling your eyes and thinking, Okay, we ALL know you're going to end up together, so please just shut up and get over it. But with this book? No way! There were definitely parts---like the ending, which is a cliffhanger, and makes me want to read the sequel!---where I was like, Okay, there is NO way they're going to end up together. No. Way. So the drama makes it intriguing. The fighting between the girls was okay---it seemed kind of weak to me, probably because I just got done reading a book that properly depicts seriously vicious and brutal girl fighting (Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers)---but it was okay, it didn't ruin the book. And the description of the quaint, wealthy little town she lived in with its nicknames for its shops and the wealthy people (the "Cresties") made it more fun to read, because settings like that are just cute.

Cover: This cover is okay, I suppose: it shows a girl ostracized by a group of girls and one guy, which happens in the book, so it's true. The font is cute as well. But I like this version of the cover much better; it's much more chic.

Overall Grade: B+

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Goodreads Description: "Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined. Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home. When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change. But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart."

My Review: A very enjoyable book. Kagawa stayed true to traditional faery elements such as the Seelie and Unseelie courts the the traditional Shakespearean character, but that doesn't mean the book was bad. It was just highly predictable---which, in this case, was okay. The main character, Meghan, was enjoyable to read about because she wasn't as lame or weak as most female protagonists tend to be (I have deep issues about this). Ash was a nice character, but very typical of paranormal romance books. Honestly, I thought Puck and Grim were the most enjoyable characters to read about because they were hilarious. Also, I just really liked this book because of the world Kagawa described. Not many faery books actually describe the world of Faerie---most of them take place in the mortal world. I I LOVED the fact that Meghan actually gets to go to the faery realm. It made this book awesome. I can't wait to read the next book.

Cover: I'm not so fond of the model---I don't think she's that pretty or nice to look at---but the words and the flowery design are pretty. Although I'm still not sure why they gave this cover an icy, winter-esque feel when Meghan belongs to the Summer Court...

Overall Grade: A-

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Goodreads Description: "Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be."

My Review: This book was horrifying---but in a good way. I wouldn't say that I enjoyed this book, because enjoying this book would be like enjoying a punch in the stomach: painful. But I did appreciate it, and I did like how it was well-written and very thought-provoking. In most "mean girl books", the mean girl gets a taste of her own medicine, realizes she was bad, apologizes to everyone, they forgive her, and life goes on, as she becomes a sweeter person...which is such garbage. I liked how realistic this book was. It didn't make excuses for Regina's meanness and it didn't try to make Regina seem like some nice, innocent person who got caught up in the wrong crowd. Because Regina still has the mean girl bone in her, as readers can see when she viciously fights back. She's not all sweetness-and-sugar. But it WAS amazing, getting inside Regina's head: she was a mess of anger, fear, depression, worry, guilt, and a whole wash of other emotions. I liked how just because she said she was sorry to some people she was evil to, they didn't just forgive her...because in real life, sometimes an apology is NOT enough. However, the book did show Regina as becoming aware as to how terrible she was and regretting her decisions and wishing she could take them back, which seemed like good progress for a character. The book was brutal and honest and real. The only bad part about the book was the ending---it seemed kind of sudden and weak, compared to the rest of the book, as if the author had gotten tired of writing. But otherwise... This book wasn't some lighthearted read, but it was a raw, real look at mean kids and bullying that I think almost everyone in junior high and high school should read.

Cover: At first, I didn't really understand the cover, but as the book went on, I understood the significance of the cover---such as the red locker and the new lock---so I appreciated it more. I liked how it wasn't all black and gloomy and Goth-looking; too many of these "dark" books tend to have covers like that...when in fact, even when kids are depressed, that doesn't necessarily mean they wear all black and read Sylvia Plath.

Overall Grade: A-