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

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-

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Barnes & Noble Description: "Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.
Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.
Laurel's life is the very definition of normal . . . until the morning when she wakes up to discover a flower blooming from her back. As it turns out, nothing in Laurel's life is what it seems. Now, with the help of an alluring faerie sentry who holds the key to her true past, Laurel must race to save her human family from the centuries-old faerie enemies who walk among them."
My Review: Wings was AMAZING. It was enchanting, almost. It was beautifully written and the concept was amazing. Pike really took the idea of faeries and innovated them, so that they were unlike anything I had ever seen in a book before. Laurel was a wonderful character---very simple, intense, and almost innocent. There was an ethereal quality to her that I loved. The whole plot yanked me in and I had to keep reading, resulting in me staying up very late to finish it (and getting a massive headache---but oh well, it was worth it!). The characters were nice to read about and well-rounded, and the plot was interesting. More than that, the book was written in such a simple-yet-beautiful way that it reminded me, for some reason, of the simple children's fairy tales that we all read as kids---although this book was by no means childish. It just had the cadence of something more old-fashioned. I think Wings has the making of a classic in it, as a modern fairy tale.
Cover: At first, I didn't think much of the cover, but as I read on, I began to like it more and more. It was simple and delicate, yet beautiful---kind of like Laurel, or Wings, themselves. So now I actually really like this cover.
Overall Grade: A+

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saving Zoe by Alyson Noel

Amazon Description: "Meet fifteen-year-old Echo, a typical teen trying to survive high school without being totally traumatized by boy trouble, friend drama, and school issues. As if she didn't have enough on her plate, Echo is also still dealing with the murder of her sister Zoë. Although it's been over a year, Echo is still reeling from tragedy that changed everything. Beautiful and full of life, Zoë was the glue that held her family together, and although the two sisters were as different as night and day, they still had a bond that Echo can't let go of. When Zoë's old boyfriend Marc shows up one day with Zoë's diary, Echo doesn't think there's anything in there she doesn't already know. But as she gives in to curiosity and starts reading, she learns that her sister led a secret life that no one could have guessed--not even Echo."

My Review: To be honest, this book just creeped me out. I understand that Echo was dealing with loss and grief---but she was just such an odd character that I really couldn't figure her out. She seemed dull and awkward...but as if she was happy being dull and awkward. I could be wrong, but that's the feeling I got. Zoe was definitely the more interesting one---and she was DEAD. What does this tell you about the book? The scary part was, I could see a TON of regular teenage girls in Zoe. Zoe did a ton of things that I know teen girls do and this makes me fear for the safety and sanity of teenage girls everywhere. And, okay, I'll be totally honest: when Echo started emulating Zoe and basically STEALING her life, I felt slightly nauseous. Here she was, pretending to be her DEAD SISTER...and she was okay with it. I mean, I understand that, in doing so, she was unconsciously trying to bring Zoe back...but it was still weird. That said---it's not as if this is a bad book. Contrary to that, it was haunting and strange, which is good, considering it's not supposed to be something funny and fluffy. Noel probably wanted the reader to feel uncomfortable with the strange things that happened in the book. Unfortunately, it was just too odd for me. This isn't a book I'll be reading again, although I will say that it is worth reading at least once---if anything, to teach against the dangers of internet predators.

Cover: Three girls, nothing special. The font is nothing special either. They could have done MUCH better.

Overall Grade: C+

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lifted by Wendy Toliver

Back Of The Book Description: "Poppy Browne had never stolen anything in her life before moving to Pleasant Acres and meeting Mary Jane and Whitney. But when Poppy walks out of the mall with her two new friends and her first pair of stolen jeans, she's hooked.

Before long, Poppy is lifting whenever she gets the urge---it's never about the merchandise, it's always about the thrill. But when her secret gets out, the girls in Poppy's clique turn on one another. As she watches her life collapse around her, Poppy must decide where her loyalties lie...and how far she'll go to protect herself."

My Review: This was a very enjoyable book, in my opinion. Too often, I find that female protagonists go in two directions: they're either A) fluffy, girly, vapid, and silly, or B) so tomboy-ish and logical that you can't tell they're girls. Poppy was neither of these; she was a very realistic girl. She liked shopping and buying things, yet she also like to get good grades and stay true to her slighty sarcastic nature. She wasn't horrendously mean, but she wasn't the sweetest Snow White either. She liked to decorate her own clothes, but she wasn't some fashion genius wunderkind. Her voice was just very true to normal teens today, and I sympathized with her struggles with shoplifting. I could also great empathize with her struggles with her mother over academics and the need to always be 100% the best---someone a TON of teens today can understand and relate to. I was also pleasantly surprised by her friends, Mary Jane and Whitney. They were the pretty rich girls who adopted Poppy and introduced her to lifting. I assumed that they were fair-weather friends, or mean girls deep down, but they surprised me by being very good friends to Poppy, even till the end. The plot was interesting, and even though it moved at a slightly sluggish pace, it still kept me reading, so that's a plus. There was romance, but it did not dominate the book AT ALL, something I liked. Why do all YA authors assume that teens only care about love? Wrong! All in all, I really liked the book---yes, for the plot, but more for the realistic, enjoyable characters.

Cover: I would have liked it more if it showed something concerning stealing---like a girl slipping something into her purse or something---but this cover nicely shows the depression that came to Poppy more and more, as she lifted, so it was an appropriate cover; just not very eye-catching.

Overall Grade: A-

Friday, November 11, 2011

Seizure by Kathy Reichs

Goodreads Description: "Ever since Tory Brennan and her friends rescued Cooper, a kidnapped wolf pup with a rare strain of canine parvovirus, they've turned from regular kids into a crime-solving pack. But now the very place that brought them together - the Loggerhead Island Research Institute - is out of funding and will have to shut down. That is, unless the Virals can figure out a way to save it.

So when Tory learns of an old Charleston legend about a famous she-pirate, Anne Bonney, whose fortune was never found, she can't believe her luck - buried treasure is exactly what she needs to save the Institute on Loggerhead! Trouble is, she and her friends aren't the only ones looking for it. And this time, the Virals' special powers may not be enough to dig them out of trouble . . ."

My Review: This was a great book! Virals (the first book) took me some time to warm up to---probably because it had a very slow beginning---but I jumped right into this one and loved it from the get-go. Since the group was already fully aware about their powers, the beginning was MUCH less slow than Virals; instead, it headed straight to the action in a decent amount of time. Tory was as sassy, sarcastic, and awesome as ever, and I liked how Reichs is taking Ben and Tory's relationship slowly. I really dislike books where the boy and girl hate/don't-care-about each other for live five minutes, and then they're in love. Hello, how is that realistic? Anyway... The mystery in this one was also a lot more interesting. I'm sure I'm not the only one saying that pirates > the environment (in regards of a mystery, anyway...). The action was pretty exciting and---I have to say this---I loved the Bones reference Reichs threw in there. (Bones is the name of a TV show that features Temperance Brennan; a character of Reichs' other book series, AND the great-aunt of Tory.) In fact, Seizure was so interesting, and such a good, compelling book, that it made me go back and read Virals all over again---and I loved Virals more this time! Fans of the Bones TV show, criminal/detective shows, the Maximum Ride books, or basically anything with action, adventure, science, and a TOUCH of fantasy would love this series.

Cover: I liked the cover of Virals better---it was a little more intriguing---but I will say that while the Virals cover properly displayed the fear the Virals were feeling during the book, the cover of Seizure does a good job of showing how they're starting to get used to their powers and throw themselves into action.

Overall Grade: A+