Friday, July 20, 2012

Lexapros And Cons by Aaron Karo

Goodreads Description: "Chuck Taylor’s OCD has rendered him a high school outcast. His endless routines and habitual hand washing threaten to scare away both his closest friend and the amazing new girl in town. Sure he happens to share the name of the icon behind the coolest sneakers in the world, but even Chuck knows his bizarre system of wearing different color “Cons” depending on his mood is completely crazy.
            In this hilariously candid debut novel from comedian Aaron Karo—who grew up with a few obsessions and compulsions of his own—very bad things are going to happen to Chuck. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because with graduation looming, Chuck finds himself with one last chance to face his inner demons, defend his best friend, and win over the girl of his dreams. No matter what happens, though, he’ll have to get his hands dirty."

My Review: Lexapros And Cons is the kind of book that everyone should read, because it is a very winning book. It rung very similar to The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Happyface by Stephen Emond, to me. All 3 books deal with misfit teenage boys who have problems (some of them regarding mental illnesses) and are not very happy people...and all they want is to fit in and to find their place in the world and to be happy. For that reason, I loved Lexapros And Cons. It was a great story about a boy with OCD and his struggles to overcome his issues and find happiness---something ANYONE can relate to, whether they have OCD or not. 
          Chuck was a character I could sympathize with greatly. On one hand, he was pathetic and sort of a sad and lonely figure, and this was heartbreaking. But then you got to hear his thoughts, and how they were snarling with sarcasm and anger and you realized he wasn't just some moron---he was an actual person who was intelligent and had the ability to be outgoing and extroverted. His OCD problems really rang true with me, because I have some obsessions and compulsions of my own (and no, I don't mean the whole I-like-my-room-neat-so-I-must-have-OCD! type of OCD every claims to have---I mean REAL compulsions), and I could COMPLETELY identify with Chuck's agonizing need to do his rituals---while also trying to stop doing them. 
          Also, I just loved the whole color-coding Converse with moods concept. I absolutely ADORE Converse, so even though it was sad that Chuck was stuck with this routine, I couldn't help but applaud his fabulous taste in sneaker. 
          The secondary characters were not as winning, though his best friend did get a little interesting as the book went on. Amy, on the other hand (his love interest), was pretty fascinating. Because she had red hair and bangs and was sassy and cool, I couldn't help but picture her as Amy Pond from Doctor Who! I also just liked her chill personality. 
          Chuck's struggles were sad and at times hilarious, but most of all, they rang true and honest and this is what made this book so easy to relate to and such a great read. It has lessons that all of us can learn from. 

Cover: It's rad! Seriously, who doesn't like Converse? Nice and bright. 

Overall Grade: A-

Monday, July 16, 2012

Babe In Boyland by Jody Gehrman

Goodreads Description: "When high school junior Natalie---or Dr. Aphrodite, as she calls herself when writing the relationship column for her school paper---is accused of knowing nothing about guys and giving girls bad relationship advice, she decides to investigate what guys really think and want. But the guys in her class won't give her straight or serious answers. The only solution? Disguising herself as a guy and spending a week at Underwood Academy, the private all-boy boarding school in town. There she learns a lot about guys and girls in ways she never expected-especially when she falls for her dreamy roommate, Emilio. How can she show him she likes him without blowing her cover?"

My Review: This book makes me sad. And do you wanna know WHY this book makes me sad? Because I had always wanted to read it so badly when I saw it at the stores, and I loved Gehrman's Triple Shot Bettys books, and I wanted SO badly for this book to be good---but it wasn't. It didn't live up to my expectations at all, and that severely disappointed me. That's not to say this book was all bad, because it wasn't. It was vaguely amusing at some parts...but definitely not good enough to please me, and here's why!
          First of all, this book is a TOTAL copy of the movie She's The Man! It'd be one thing if the plot was just girl-disguises-herself-at-boy's-school. That plot is a little more general and a lot of people have used it before, and can use it again. However, when Natalie fell for her roomate (AHEM, like Viola fell for Duke!) and got a catty mean girl trying to screw her over and blow her cover (AHEM, like her brother Sebastian's crazy ex-girlfriend, Monique!) the story got lame. I mean, come on. Jody Gehrman had a chance to make this plot original and unique---despite some similar factors with the movie---but she kept it virtually the same! Yeah, SOME things were different...but for the most part, it was like watching the movie. But it was less funny than the movie. Not exactly a good thing.
          Next, the whole undercover-reporter plot itself! What HAPPENED to that? It totally went down the drain! At first, Natalie seemed really driven and motivated to uncover all sorts of guy secrets, and I was really intrigued. But as the book went on, it became more about just keeping her cover and falling in love with Emilio, and less about the research. She actually barely DID any research. She just asked some lame questions to some guys for about thirty seconds, and that's it. And at the end of the book, she wrote a random article that didn't REALLY answer many questions or uncover many "secrets." So what, I ask, was the point of the whole plan?
          And lastly, Natalie herself. She was an okay character and all. She was smart and relatively sassy (I always like sass in a girl character. It makes her...I dunno, more fun.) But she was having SO much trouble keeping her cover that I was rolling my eyes. I know it can't be the easiest thing in the world, pretending to be a guy---but it honestly probably was not as hard as SHE was making it seem. She was acting like a total ditz!
          Anyway. I really, really, REALLY wanted to love this book, but unfortunately, I couldn't. It just wasn't very smart or funny or fresh. If anything, I had to force myself to keep reading by the end of the book. Oh well---better luck next time! 

Cover: It's so funny how I don't like the book but I LOVE the cover! The photo is simply adorable and funny and I love the fonts used in the title. Very dramatic and fun. I also liked the lime green and yellow colors used; they really made the book pop off the shelf whenever I saw it at the store. 

Overall Grade: C-

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody

Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I’m sorry, I’m feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment.
Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.
But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else decide which book I read for English. And whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!
Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever.
But don’t take my word for it. Read the book and decide for yourself.  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream in frustration. Or maybe that’s just me. After all, it’s my life."

My Review: A solid job! My Life Undecided wasn't quite the funniest---or the best---chick-lit I have ever read, but it was still a pretty good book! Brooklyn's character was hilarious. I loved how she kept making stupid mistake after mistake. It was bad for her, but hilarious for ME. She sometimes came off a bit superficial-whiny-teenage-brat...but I guess that was sort of the point. She was SUPPOSED to be that way, and by the end of the book, she's definitely relaxed and matured and become a better person. I liked seeing her personal growth; it was very obvious and open. The romance in the book was very low-key, which was nice. I didn't want the whole book to be about boys, boys, boys, because to me? That's really boring. Good thing Brody didn't make it that way! Strangely enough, I liked Brooklyn's story line with visiting Mrs. Moody at the nursing home the best! Normally I wouldn't be too crazy over the whole visiting-an-old-person-and-learning-from-them plot (because it's a bit overdone), but Mrs. Moody was hilarious and I LOVED hearing about her Choose Your Adventure storybooks. Those made me laugh till my stomach hurt. Also! The whole blogging plot! Yeah. Hmmm. It was definitely interesting, I'll give it that. At times I felt like rolling my eyes---because really, who needs bloggers to decide whether you're going to go to watch a certain TV show? Brooklyn seemed a tad pathetically dependent on her blog. But I guess that was also sort of the point---and she became less attached to the blog as the story went on, so that problem resolved itself. The whole blogging plot itself was pretty clever though, I'll give Brody that. A unique spin on an accident-and-disaster prone teenager's life!

Cover: I really do love the colors of the cover. Pale blue, lavender, and lilac? Yes please! The girl's pose is also funny and cute, even if she looks a bit mental, and that's not really how I pictured Brooklyn. 

Overall Grade: B+

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dark Of The Moon by Tracy Barrett

Goodreads Description: "Ariadne is destined to become a goddess of the moon. She leads a lonely life, filled with hours of rigorous training by stern priestesses. Her former friends no longer dare to look at her, much less speak to her. All that she has left are her mother and her beloved, misshapen brother Asterion, who must be held captive below the palace for his own safety.
So when a ship arrives one spring day, bearing a tribute of slaves from Athens, Ariadne sneaks out to meet it. These newcomers don’t know the ways of Krete; perhaps they won’t be afraid of a girl who will someday be a powerful goddess. And indeed she meets Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Ariadne finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and soon they form a friendship—one that could perhaps become something more.
Yet Theseus is doomed to die as an offering to the Minotaur, that monster beneath the palace—unless he can kill the beast first. And that "monster" is Ariadne’s brother . . ."
My Review: Hmmm. This book is sort of hard to review. For starters, I can tell you that I absolutely LOVE Greek mythology. So when I realized that this book was a retelling of the Minotaur's story, I was like, Yeah! Bring it on! And after having read's my opinion. If you're expecting another cliche YA paranormal romance, DON'T pick up this book. Also, if you're expecting a humorous and exciting Percy Jackson-esq adventure, DON'T pick up this book. Dark of the Moon was a very unique spin on the Minotaur's story, but it was also written in an adult, realistic way. The way Barrett re-imagined the Minotaur's story was quite frankly impressive---she put a TOTALLY new spin on it! However...she failed in the aspect where she didn't really EXPLAIN her new spin. I mean, I got the gist of it---but the world she created was very intricate, and she didn't do a very good job making it easy to understand for the readers. It was like she half-expected you to know all the basic facts of their customs and traditions, and that she was just continuing off from there. And I'm actually REALLY good at Greek mythology! But I didn't know ANY of this. (I actually don't even know if it's fact, or she made it all up.) That was my first complaint. My second complaint was the writing. I felt like the plot was interesting ENOUGH...but Barrett didn't do a good job keeping her readers hooked! Her writing was okay, but it sometimes came out really chaotic and random and sort of...flat. You didn't really care about the characters or anything, because half the time you had no idea what was going on. I read it and it was okay, but it's not the kind of book I'd ever re-read. I feel like Barrett had a good idea going, but she relayed it all wrong. Not enough clarity on the rituals and religion of the people of Krete, and not enough depth in the writing. But the CONCEPT she had was pretty fascinating, I'll admit (if you can understand it...).
Cover: The cover is nice! Sort of different from all the other YA books out there---it doesn't feature some gorgeous girl in a Greek goddess dress (which it totally could have). I like the curling red designs and the stone background---and the font of the title! It's unique, and sort of art-y. 
Overall Grade: C-

Friday, July 13, 2012

Just One Wish by Janette Rallison

Goodreads Description: "Seventeen-year-old Annika Truman knows about the power of positive thinking. With a little brother who has cancer, it's all she ever hears about. And in order to help Jeremy, she will go to the ends of the earth (or at least as far as Hollywood) to help him believe he can survive his upcoming surgery.

But Annika's plan to convince Jeremy that a magic genie will grant him any wish throws her a curveball when he unexpectedly wishes that his television idol would visit him. Annika suddenly finds herself in the desperate predicament of getting access to a hunky star actor and convincing him to come home with her. Piece of cake, right?

Janette Rallison's proven talent for laugh-out-loud humor, teen romance, and deep-hearted storytelling shines in a novel that will have readers laughing and crying at the same time."

My Review: Janette Rallison strikes again! She is honestly becoming my favorite chick-lit author. Just like all of her other books, Just One Wish is light-hearted and interesting without becoming a cliche---and it's so funny that I almost died of laughter at some parts. The plot made this book awesome! The crazy things Annika did to meet Steve---well, let's just say I had to put the book down at some parts, because I couldn't stop laughing. It was honestly like watching one of those comedy movies where the main characters do all these insane things to achieve their goals. It was wonderful. And, to balance all that humor out, Rallison threw in the bittersweet wrench that was Annika's little brother, Jeremy, who was struggling with cancer. Just when things to too funny, Annika---and we, the readers---would remember WHY she was doing all these mental things, and it really added depth to the book. I liked Annika's character; she was very determined and stubborn and courageous. I was impressed by her determination to meet Steve. And when she had her tiny moments of weakness---when she allowed herself to feel the fear for her brother, and to feel the Grim Reaper creeping up on her (legitimately)---it made me feel bad for her. She was a very strong and honest character. I also really was won over by how Rallison made Steve a nice guy. For some reason, a lot of YA authors portray movie stars as jerks---and while SOME celebrities may be jerks, they can't ALL be horrible people, right? They have lives and families and emotions, too. So I was glad when Steve was portrayed realistically, and not as the cliche "handsome, arrogant Hollywood jerk", a route Rallison could easily have taken. I also liked how Annika didn't really deny her feelings for Steve---how refreshing! Denial gets kind of annoying, eventually. Anyway, back to the point: this book was sweet. It was pretty short and very to-the-point. No words wasted. It was funny, but also very painful at times, which made it all the better. I highly recommend it, as I've done with all of Rallison's other books that I've read. 

Cover: Ehhh. It's not exactly the BEST cover, because it's very simple---which I guess is sort of the point---but the color is kind of depressing. And then, when I was searching online, I found another cover that was basically the same, but had a more peppy color, so I liked it a lot better. Here is the other cover. 

Overall Grade: A+

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

Goodreads Description: "Finding your one true love can be a Grimm experience! After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, sophomore Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah’s gum-chewing, cell phone–carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. Showing why she’s only Fair—because she’s not a very good fairy student—Chrissy mistakenly sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah’s class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably handsome Black Knight. Laughs abound in this clever fairy tale twist from a master of romantic comedy."

My Review: I LOVED THIS BOOK! Okay, got that out of the way. I mean, honestly, I LOVED this book. Why? There are many reasons, and I'll just go ahead and start. First of all: humor. I love humor in books. That's probably why I read so many light-hearted YA chick-lits. They're a bit low on the intelligence, but high on humor. And who doesn't want to laugh while reading a book? Especially if they're reading in a hot, boring summer day like I was. Second of all: SAVANNAH! I loved her! She's the kind of girl you wish was your best friend. Kind of ditzy, self-absorbed, and vain in the beginning, she had matured and become quite a bit more intelligent by the end of the book. She was also nice the whole time throughout, so I liked that. I hate when authors make a girl who likes fashion MEAN, because apparently being a girly-girl = being a total jerk. Right. Anyway, I also---and this is gonna sound weird!---liked how Savannah was pretty and she admitted it. Heroines of chick-lit books (or any books that star a teenage girl) are usually "plain" (or they THINK they are) and "studious" and "above all the other shallow, giggly, glittery girly-girls". At the risk of sounding like one of those cliche giggly girls, PUH-LEASE! I am so over this stereotype. Girls can be feminine and giggly AND be smart and nice and great characters. This is something a lot of YA authors still don't understand, and it bothers me a lot. So props to Rallison, for having a great main character! And third of all: THE PLOT! And the setting! Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! I love fairy tales and magic and the Middle Ages (well, the cliche IDEA of the Middle Ages, not the actual dark Middle Ages), so this book was seriously so much fun for me to read. Did Rallison get a ton of facts about the Middle Ages wrong? Yup. Did it bother me? Not really. The book wasn't really meant to be realistic and serious (if the whole troll, dragon and FAIRY thing didn't give it away...) so those little things didn't bother me. Overall, this book was amazing. It was funny, it was interesting to read, the main character wasn't annoying, and the plot went off in so many different directions that it always kept you wondering what was going to happen next. Anyone who likes humor, fairy tales, or chick-lit should read this book!

Cover: Cute, isn't it? That's obviously supposed to be Chrissy, Savannah's "helpful" fairy godmother. I still don't know why they featured Chrissy on the cover instead of Savannah, but the cover is still adorable! I love the little star wand.

Overall Grade: A+

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

Amazon Description: "Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next?

Morris Award–finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives."

My Review: I risk sounding like a total jerk---or an ignorant jerk---when I say this, but I really DON'T like emotional, moody sort of books. I mean, I'll read them and sometimes they're even good, but for the most part, authors like John Green and Sarah Dessen? Not my cup of tea. I'm not INSULTING these authors or these types of books---I'm just saying they're not my thing. So when I picked up The Disenchantments, I thought, Here we go again---another "emotional" book. And to be honest? I wasn't even going to read it...but the cover made me change my mind, because it was so nice. (Shallow!) Anyway...I read the book while I was on vacation in Rhode Island (irrelevant, I know), and you know what? I was proved wrong! I liked this book, a lot! Yeah, it had some faults---but they were minor faults, nothing big enough to get truly annoyed over. The book was interesting and emotional and heartbreaking in a non-cheesy way (which is good, for me, because the only time I like cheese is when it's on my food). I liked the whole plot line with the band being on tour, because instead of just sitting around at home moping, Colby and the girls were actually on the road, living life. It made the book a bit more fresh. Also, I'm sorry, but I REALLY appreciated the way LaCour presented the characters: deep, intellectual, kind people...but also teenagers who mess up and can be wacky and weird. Too often, in these "deep" books that I detest, the teenagers are all deep emotions and wise thoughts and formal ways of talking, and not enough REAL teenage slang and REAL teenage actions. Because let's be honest: what teen talks, or acts, as if they're in a Charles Dickens novel? Answer: NONE! Which is why I'm glad LaCour's characters didn't act that way! I also just loved the characters' personalities themselves, they were quirky yet normal enough that I didn't feel unsettled. All in all, this book IS, at the end, an emotional roller-coaster---but it's a pleasant, intriguing, and realistic one, filled with more than just fake drama, which is why I liked this book.

Cover: It's awesome, isn't it? I mean, it's the reason I picked up the book and even started reading it---but look at the rainbow colors! And the image itself! It's amazing! And I totally LOVE the band name (and book name) The Disenchantments. That's seriously an amazing name.

Overall Grade: A-