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Friday, May 27, 2011

Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster

Title: Human.4
Author: Mike A. Lancaster

ISBN: 9781606840993

Publisher: Egmont

Page #: 231

Source: My public library


"Kyle Straker volunteered to be hypnotized at the annual community talent show, expecting the same old lame amateur acts. But when he wakes up, his world will never be the same. Televisions and computers no longer work, but a strange language streams across their screens. Everyone's behaving oddly. It's as if Kyle doesn't exist.

Is this nightmare a result of the hypnosis? Will Kyle wake up with a snap of fingers to roars of laughter? Or is this something much more sinister?

Narrated on a set of found cassette tapes at an unspecified point in the future, Human.4 is an absolutely chilling look at technology gone too far."
First Lines:

"When Danny Birnie told us that he had hypnotized his sister we all thought he was mad. Or lying. Or both."
Page 3

For some reason, I thought this book was going to be about robots or something. Don't ask me why. It was just something that popped into my head and didn't let go. But it wasn't... promise. In fact, it was a lot more than I expected.

This story is about four people who are hypnotized at a small talent show in their village. When they wake up, nothing is the same. Their families are different, their friends aren't interested, it seems like everyone is after them. Something happened while they were under hypnosis and they have no idea how to figure it out. All technology is down, so the four of them have to make their own conclusions... until they run into the boy who hypnotized them.

I really am going to try not to give away the ending. You only get glimpses of what might have happened to everyone until you get close to the end of the book. I don't know that I was shocked, but it definitely wasn't the ending I was expecting. But it was so much better than my brain had made it. Very unexpected and very thought provoking.

Can you imagine what you would do if everyone you knew acted like you weren't even there? If they all became a part of something you couldn't touch? I mean, we are talking everyone. Something about that really gives me the heebie-jeebies. Kyle has three other people to help him figure things out - luckily, one of those is a semi-friend of his. The other two are adults that he didn't know much about.

There's something very cool about the way this book was written. Each section is like a recorded side of a tape - something that was recorded after this story happened. There are notes along the story to define certain terms (like... golf. and other slang terms.) that make you realize the tapes are being listened to by "superior" seeming people. There are also notes that indicate that those people have studied the tapes in order to get a sense of what life was like in the past. It's a very cool way of telling a story - one that I think goes over really well in this book.

I will definitely be recommending this book to those are who are huge sci-fi fans. It fully fits the bill there. But I think other people who like the dystopian stuff might really get into this book as well. The book was super fast - I started it at lunchtime and finished a little after dinner (and no, I didn't read the whole time). Perhaps this book hypnotized me!

It's a great story and I think people will really fall in love with it. There's a lot to digest in the end and to think about our lives today. This is the author's first novel and I look forward to seeing what else he has in store for us!
Other Blog Reviews:

Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog
Helen's Book Blog
The Book... Spot
I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
Murdoch's Musings
Brooke Reviews
Luxury Reading

Bite Club by Rachel Caine

Title: Bite Club (Morganville Vampires #10)
Author: Rachel Caine
ISBN: 9780451233189
Publisher: New American Library
Page #: 337
Source: My public library

"After learning that vampires populate Morganville - and surviving a number of adventures with her new night-dwelling friends - college student Claire Danvers has come to realize that for the most part, the undead just want to live their lives.

But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.

There's a new extreme sport being broadcast over the Internet: bare-knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against one another - or, worse, against humans. Tracking the out-of-town signal leads Claire - accompanied by a loyal group of friends and frenemies - to discover that what began as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville.

And if they want to survive, they'll have to do a lot more than fight..."
First Lines:

"Looking back on it later, Claire thought she should have known trouble was coming. But in Morganville, anything could be trouble. Your college professor doesn't show for class? Probably got fanged by vampires."
Page 3

Check reviews of the past books in the series (The first four were pre-blog):
Glass Houses; The Dead Girls' Dance; Midnight Alley; Feast of Fools
Lord of Misrule
Carpe Corpus
Fade Out
Kiss of Death
Ghost Town

I am always leery of the covers on these books. There's something about them that is a little off-putting for me. But eventually I come to my senses and remember that I love the series. Then I'm good to go.

This tenth book (!!) in the series is about some of the local baddies creating a fight club for vamps and humans. You can imagine how that goes over. Not well. There seems to be a lot more raw emotion and bloody fighting in this book. That gives it a different feel from the other books. You also get a more in-depth look at Shane in this book. More about his life, how he views things, his damage, etc. It's nice to get another perspective a little bit.

I'm trying not to give away any spoilers, so sorry if this is a bit vague. There were a few surprises in the first couple of chapters. Namely, bringing back those characters I thought were gone. I also had forgotten how the end of the 9th book had left me in shock - it carries over and is explained more in this one.

You know, I always wonder what the author is going to come up with next. And I'm always surprised at the many story lines that are carried out in the series. I really enjoy that technology is being pulled in more and more - I mean, doesn't that seem like the logical thing to do? If you're living in a place where no one else knows it's run by vampires. You'd think info would get out there with all the tech at our disposal. Morganville has an answer for everything, though :).

Something occured to me while I was reading this book. I've been pretty involved in the series, but I just realized that this is one of the few vampire stories at the moment where the vamps are actually bad. One of my teens was complaining that vamps are all love interests now - instead of people being scared of them. Basically she thought the idea was ridiculous. I'm going to have to recommend this series to her, because the vamps are still the bad guys. Yes, there are a few lines blurred on that, but not without explanation. I think Caine does a great job showing the many sides to vamps - as in, they still have personalities and such. I guess that's a comment for the whole series, not just this book.

If you haven't picked up the first book in the series, I very much recommend that you do. They have recently republished the first four in two-book bound paperbacks. You should really get your hands on those. Especially if you're looking for a good vampire series that isn't too girly. I know I recommend them all the time to my teens.
Other Blog Reviews:

Becky's Barmy Book Blog
Book Addict
Fictional Fantasy
Gone with the Words
All Things Urban Fantasy
Fresh Fiction
Paperback Dolls

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (57)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Soul Thief (Demon Trappers #2)
by Jana Oliver
To be released: August 30, 2011

Summary from Barnes & Noble:
"Riley Blackthorne is beginning to learn that there are worse things than death by demon. And love is just one of them…

Seventeen-year-old Riley has about had it up to here. After the devastating battle at the Tabernacle, trappers are dead and injured, her boyfriend Simon is gravely injured, and now her beloved late father’s been illegally poached from his grave by a very powerful necromancer. As if that’s not enough, there's Ori, one sizzling hot freelance demon hunter who’s made himself Riley’s unofficial body guard, and Beck, a super over-protective “friend” who acts more like a grouchy granddad. With all the hassles, Riley’s almost ready to leave Atlanta altogether.

But as Atlanta’s demon count increases, the Vatican finally sends its own Demon Hunters to take care of the city’s “little” problem, and pandemonium breaks loose. Only Riley knows that she might be the center of Hell’s attention: an extremely powerful Grade 5 demon is stalking her, and her luck can't last forever…"

Sorry for the really long summary. I absolutely loved the first book in this series (see review). It was written so well - and I cannot wait to get my hands on the second book! I know it's going to be just as great. I can't wait to see what happens to Atlanta. :) If you haven't already, go check out the first book. You won't be sorry.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert

Title: Memento Nora
Author: Angie Smibert
ISBN: 9780761458296
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Page #: 184
Source: my public library

"On an otherwise glossy day, a blast goes off and a body thuds to the ground at Nora's feet. There are terrorist attacks in the city all the time, but Nora can't forget.

In Nora's world you don't have to put up with nightmares. Nora goes with her mother to TFC - a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. There, she can describe her horrible memory and take a pill to erase it so she can go on like nothing ever happened. But at TFC a chance encounter with a mysterious guy changes Nora's life. She doesn't take the pill. And when Nora learns the memory her mother has chosen to forget, she realizes that someone needs to remember.

With newfound friends Micah and Winter, Nora makes a comic book of their memories called Memento. Memento is an instant hit, but it sets off a dangerous chain of events. Will Nora, Micah, and Winter be forced to take the Big Pill that will erase their memories forever?

Angie Smibert's remarkable debut novel takes readers on a thrilling ride through a shadowy world where corporations secretly rule and consumerism is praised above all."
First Lines:

"I'm about to forget everything I'm going to tell you. So I'm only going to mention the parts that matter. To you, at least. The rest I'm going to keep to myself, for my self."
Page 1

Memento Nora is one of those books that sort of surprised me a lot. I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was. I've read several dystopian books lately and expected this one to be more of the same. But it had a little something extra that drew me in.

This is the story of three unlikely friends who stumble upon something huge in a world of terror. Okay, so maybe one unlikely friend for the other two :). Ahem, anyway... this book is set in a world that is very similar to our own - and based on events that have happened in the last few years. It builds on that whole terrorism concept that has become part of our lives (unfortunately). The story takes terror to a place that actually makes sense - almost corporate.

I loved the whole concept of taking a pill to forget terrifying things that happen to you. People almost do that already with how many mood enhancing drugs, right? Not so far off. But it's an interesting thought - would you choose to forget about it if you could? Or would you choose to remember?

Watching the semi-friendships form is very interesting. It's not like these characters become besties for life. It's more like they share a common interest, but they are so different that they are distrusting of each other. But there are friendships like that sometimes that are even more important to you than others. I liked the tiny blooming of a romance, and I was so glad that it didn't take over. It's really only a hint of one, but it gives the story that little kick.

The ending gives you a hint of a twist - but it's really more of the characters figuring things out. You almost get there before them, but I was still a little taken aback when it was all spelled out in the story. Unfortunately, it feels a little realistic. I remember thinking that this could really happen. That people can get in this deep.

I do think that lots of different readers are going to like this book. There's a little violence and the topics are a bit heavy, so it might be better for upper middle grade to older readers. But guys, girls, all of the above will enjoy this one. Especially if they are into dystopian novels - this is a really good start (it's length helps, for sure). I did read that there is going to be a sequel, so I look forward to reading it. This book stands alone really well, so feel free to pick it up!
Other Blog Reviews:

A Blog About Nothing
The Hate-Mongering Tart
Between the Covers
Cari's Book Blog
The Book Worms
Books With Bite
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Top of the Feud Chain by Lisi Harrison

Title: Top of the Feud Chain (Alphas #4)
Author: Lisi Harrison
ISBN: 9780316035828
Publisher: Poppy
Page #: 226
Source: From my public library

"Eccentric billionaire Shira Brazille founded the super-exclusive Alpha Academy on exotic Alpha Island to nurture the next generation of exceptional dancers, writers, musicians, and inventors. It's a dream come true for one hundred lucky girls, but those not measuring up can be sent home at any time, for any reason. The one left standing will win worldwide fame. Who will it be?

Skye Hamilton
Is stepping up her game as Shira sheds Alpha Academy girls faster than skin from a well-pumiced foot. There's just one thing standing in her way: island bad boy Taz Brazille. Can Skye keep a dancer's poise, or will Taz throw her off the music once and for all?

Allie A. Abbott
Finally knows who she really is, and nothing is going to bring her down. Not even AJ, who just can't let go of the past. But she can Bring. It. On. Allie's come too far to be sent home without a fight.

Charlie Deery
After bouncing like a dashboard hula doll between Allie and Darwin, Charlie finally has her BFF and Brazille beau by her side. But as the competition on Alpha Island reaches its boiling point, will her drive to win make her lose what matters most?

If at first you don't succeed, you're not an alpha."
First Lines:

"'Kick her butt, Skye!' Charlie Deery's forehead throbbed with tension as she squinted out at the race on the sun-flecked lake, but she forced her hands to keep clapping in support of her bestie."
Page 1

Here are my reviews for the first three books in this series:
Alphas (#1)
Movers and Fakers (#2)
Belle of the Brawl (#3)

I honestly didn't know this was the last book in the series until I got far enough to the end to realize what was coming. I was kinda shocked to realize there wouldn't be anymore. I mean, if it hadn't ended the way it did, I could imagine tons of books set on Alpha Island. Alas...

Well, the story has built and built from the first Alphas book - you had lots of characters to follow and figure out. In this last book, you really concentrate on the three best friends who have been growing throughout the first three books. It's nice to have a more narrow view - especially when you are flipping character point of view in each chapter.

The island has been left unattended and girls are challenging each other left and right for a chance to stay on the island. Losers get kicked off. Our three leading ladies get challenged to a flight - which lands them dumped in the middle of the desert. That's one of the things that made this book a lot different from the first three. The setting is totally changed and you get a new perspective on the girls.

I promise not to give away the ending, but I will say this... I was totally surprised. I could not have even imagined where the story was going to go - and it was done perfectly. Once I started thinking about it, all the pieces fell into place and I wondered at the awesomeness of the author. :)

I will definitely be recommending this series to girls of all ages - especially now that it's a completed series. Those are an easier sell than ones that are in flux. I think anyone who loves chick lit will love these books, but you gotta start with the first one! I do hope we hear more from Alpha Island someday. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Other Blog Reviews:

I'm sure I'm completely wrong about this... but I couldn't find any reviews online! Just book seller websites. If you've read it, shoot me an email or comment and I'll add you to the list. This just means more people need to read it. So get on that!

Words Like Silver

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (56)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

A Long Long Sleep
by Anna Sheehan
To be released: August 09, 2011

Summary from Baker and Taylor:
"Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew.
Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose— hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire— is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes— or be left without any future at all."

This book sounds fantastic! I absolutely love the cover. It sounds a little like Sleeping Beauty, but has a huge twist if it's at all based on it. I'm pretty sure this is a debut author as well. Doesn't get any better! It seems like this book is a little sci fi, a little romance, and a retelling. Sounds like so much fun. I've seen a few reviews about this book being awesome... so I'm excited for when it comes out!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Title: Bumped
Author: Megan McCafferty
ISBN: 9780061962745
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page #: 232
Source: My public library

"When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody's doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls' lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither of them could have imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common."
First Lines:

"I'm sixteen. Pregnant. And the most important person on the planet.
According to the Babiez R U ad, anyway."
Page 1

I couldn't really get a read on the cover when I first saw it. But when I read that it was about pregger teens, I was sold. Had to find out what this book was about. The whole summary bit above (from the book flap) is pretty comprehensive about the story line.

This is probably the most original dystopian novel I've ever read. Typically there's a lot of technology, gray, and crazy shiz happening. There's something very bright and fun about this novel that doesn't scream DYSTOPIAN at you. But it is. And it's approached in a really wonderful way.

It's a world of girls fighting over preggie contracts and finding the right match through their agents (effectively). One thing I really loved was how the author really thought about how things would go down if such a virus did take hold. People would start marketing pregnancy to teens in a huge way! As in, cutesy t-shirts, silly slogans, hit songs, etc. She really thought of it all. And I think it really was well done.

You know, the author did a really good job also pulling in all the aspects of this future world without hitting you over the head with them. You don't realize what some things are until much later because they're never handed to you on a platter. It's much more subtle than that. And I appreciate the detail. You get much more involved in the story of the sisters without feeling the need of picturing them in some futuristic way (as you do in many sci fi-ish books).

There are two main topics in this book and they are both heavy hitters: Teen Pregnancy and Religion. Seriously, could you find two more nervous-making topics?! You will definitely feel bashed over the head with all the religious talk, but that's sort of the point in the story. And there were more than a few moments where I felt a bit uncomfortable about the whole teen preg concept, but again... the point. I was just impressed at how things all came together.

I really will be recommending this to my older/more mature teen readers. It's a bit ... graphic. Ish. It has to be with all the birthing talk and "breedy bits"... so I can't hold it against the book. But I think it might be a little much for some younger readers. I'm not sure this book is for everyone, but I think it's a well-written and unique story. And I didn't realize this was the start of a series, so I was bummed that there wasn't a true ending. You can bet that I'll be in line for the next one when it comes out!
Other Blog Reviews:

Blogger Book Review
Book Love Blog
Candace's Book Blog
A Lovely Little Book Blog
Book, Line and Sinker
The Reader Bee
Reading Angel

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky

Title: The Time-Traveling Fashionista
Author: Bianca Turetsky
ISBN: 9780316105422
Publisher: Poppy; Little Brown and Company
Page #: 263
Source: My public library

"Louise Lambert has always dreamed of movie starlets and exquisite gowns, and longs for the day when she can fill the closet of her normal suburban home with stylish treasures. But when she receives a mysterious invitation to a vintage fashion sale in the male, her once painfully average life is magically transformed into a time-travel adventure.

Suddenly on board a luxurious cruise ship a hundred years ago, Louise relishes the glamour of this opulent age and slips into a life of secrets, drama and decadence."
First Lines:

"The invitation arrived on an ordinary Thursday. When Louise Lambert came home from swim practice that April afternoon, as she did every Thursday afternoon, it was lying on top of a pile of mail on the antique, oak hall table."
Page 3

When I picked up this book and flipped through it, I knew I had to read it. Mostly because of the illustrations. The quick flip showed me several cool pictures and it made me wonder how they fit into the story. So yes... I read this book for the pictures :).

It's the story of Louise - a lover of all vintage fashion. When she tries on a particular dress, it transports her to a time and place she never expected to be. She transforms into a new person, an actress who wore the dress before her. She is then pulled into the life and tries to make sense of what is going on. Then she realizes what ship she's on...

I'm not sure if I'm giving anything away by saying this, but the ship she ends up on is the Titanic. So, of course, she kinda freaks out. One of my favorite things about this story is that it really seems to bring the story of the Titanic to life. It's not seen from the view of someone from that age. It's looking at things from our perspective, really. Which makes the whole thing very interesting to me. I guess it's that modern "fight for your survival" thing that is different from that time.

I dunno how accurate the history is (I'm sure it's very accurate, for the sake of the author), but I really felt connected to the characters in the story. And I really did feel like I had been transported back in time with Louisa. That whole part is just really well written.

In the end, I did wish for a little more about what happens after. I'm trying not to give it away. The beginning of the book is building up to a specific event and I would have like to see how that turned out. But I loved how a few things came full circle - you're not sure what's real and what's not real.

I will definitely be recommending this book to girls who love fashion and history. The whole concept of living the life of the person who wore that garment is very cool. It makes vintage fashion seem a little more interesting in my eyes. There was a bit more fashion information in this book than I knew what to do with, but I know lots of girls will love it. And it's perfect for younger girls as Louisa is in seventh grade.

I really look forward to the next book in this series. There's a whole lot of fun stuff on The Time-Traveling Fashionista website, so give that a look. And definitely give this book a try. So fast and fun!
Other Blog Reviews:

Michelle's Cozy YA Blog
Eve's Fan Garden
The Book Scout
Booking Mama
Dreaming in Books
Reclusive Bibliophile
Reading Nook

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Dark and Hollow Places
Author: Carrie Ryan
ISBN: 9780385738590
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Page #: 374
Source: My public library

"There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.

But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And how it's up to Annah - can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?"
First Lines:

"The city used to be something once. I've seen pictures of the way it gleamed - sun so bright off windows it could burn your eyes. At night, lights shouted from steel like catcalls, loud and lewd, while all day long white-gloved men rushed to open doors for women who tottered about on sky-scraper heels."
Page 1

I could not possibly be more in love with the Forest of Hands and Teeth books than I am. But this latest book has pushed that even a little more. *sigh* love. See my other reviews:
The Forest of Hands and Teeth
The Dead Tossed Waves

Okay, so these books are about zombies... but not in the typical zombie terms. The Unconsecrated, the Mudo, the Plague Rats. Can you imagine a world where they have taken over and it was only a matter of time until you became one of them!? Yikes. But the three books are about people who are surviving and trying to figure out how to stay alive and rebuild.

This third book in the series was absolutely my favorite. Perhaps it's because I already loved the first two and knew I'd love this one. But this third one pulled me in and I couldn't shake loose even if I'd wanted to (which I didn't). And there was nonstop action that creeped me out most of the time - enough that I had to put the book down, stand up, have an all-over heebie-jeebie dance, and sit down to read again.

Unlike the first book, the third one pulls in characters from the second one. The first one almost seems stand-alone-ish in that respect. But it's interesting to see the characters from a different perspective. You hear about our main girl Annah in the second book, but you don't get as much of a feel for her. But I found myself really loving her throughout this book. All of the girls in Ryan's stories are pretty darn kick-ass and I love that. Annah is no different.

While the whole mudo thing gives me the heebie jeebies, I really love the concept. I've often thought that here in NYC, something could spread like wildfire in a matter of hours. It would take nothing around here. Mostly because people don't even notice what's going on around them. I found it interesting that this third book is set in a city (ahem) just like this one. I can only imagine what it would be like.

Honestly, if you haven't read any of the Forest of Hands and Teeth books, you need to do it right now. Each one just gets better and better. They are super creepy (to me, at least), so I'm gonna recommend them for older teens. But really, it's great for everyone. Just violent. Well written violence :). These are some of my favorite books of... ever.

I really hope we get more about these characters - there's so much more to know! It's not so much a cliffhanger as a non-ending. I do hope there's more, but I haven't heard about any more in this series. If you have, please let me know! :) Happy reading (and don't get too freaked out).
Other Blog Reviews:

Mundie Moms
Novel Novice
A Blog About Nothing
Bewitched Bookworms
Hooked to Books
Edifying and Edgy
Electrifying Reviews
Reading Teen

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Title: Beauty Queens
Author: Libba Bray
ISBN: 9780439895972
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Page #: 390
Source: ARC from the publisher

"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."
First Lines:

"This book begins with a plane crash. We do not want you to worry about this. According to the U.S. Department of Unnecessary Statistics, your chances of dying in a plane crash are one in half a million. Whereas your chances of losing your bathing suit bottoms to a strong tide are two to one."
Page 1

I think three terms can fully describe this book: Snark. Feminism. Footnotes.

Seriously. That just about sums it up for me.
Okay, okay. So it's a story about a plane full of beauty queens that goes down in a jungle that seems unoccupied. They find out later that the government has a secret op going on there. Excitement ensues.

I think my favorite thing about this book is really the whole snarkiness of the whole thing. I was a little worried at the beginning of the book that I was going to end up hating a few of the characters. But you spend each chapter getting to know them each a little more.

The beginning of the book starts with the crash. The author even warns you about it. But seriously, I was not a fan of the beginning. Perhaps I can just imagine the crash happening and what you'd be faced with. And it's almost treated as hum-ho in this book. I understand why - it's a clever, humorous book. No need to weigh it down with serious plane crash stuff. I mean, one girl even has a tray sticking out of her forehead for the duration of the book. Craziness.

I love the footnotes. For each product mentioned, there's a snarky footnote attached. It's just super-clever and I fully give the author props for it. I'm sure lots of people will get a kick out of this book, just on principle. There is a ton of feminist stuff - mostly because of the whole beauty queen shtick. Almost counteracting it.

I know that lots of people will love the book, but I think I'm recommending it for older teens only. There's a bit of the sexual stuff and the whole scary crash stuff in the beginning. Otherwise, I know it will go over really well. Funny, little mystery, very snarky, good book.
Other Blog Reviews:

Eve's Fan Garden
Waking Brain Cells
My Bookish Ways
Karissa's Reading Review
Youth Services Corner
Book Addict Katie
Reading Rants

Waiting on Wednesday (55)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Ashes, Ashes
by Jo Treggiari
To be released: June 1, 2011

Summary from Baker and Taylor:
"In a future Manhattan devastated by environmental catastrophes and epidemics, Lucy survives alone until vicious hounds hunt her and force her to join Aidan, but soon they learn that she is the target of the Sweepers."

I'm always excited for the next dystopian fiction. This one sounds wonderful - even if they are wrecking my city :). I'm excited to read this one, for sure. How about you?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

Title: The Cinderella Society Author: Kay Cassidy ISBN: 9781606840177 Publisher: Edgmont Page #: 303 Source: ARC won sometime last year. Yes, late ARC review again. Summary:
"Sixteen-year-old Jess Parker survives by staying invisible. Then she gets the chance of a lifetime: an invitation to join the Cinderella Society, a secret club of some of the most popular girls in school, where makeovers are the first order of official business. Catching the eye of her popular crush, and with a chance to finally fit in, Jess feels like she's found her fairy tale.

Until the Wickeds - led by Jess's archenemy - begin targeting innocent girls, and Jess learns that there's more to being a Cindy than reinventing yourself from the outside. She's become part of a centuries-old battle of good vs. evil, and now the Cindys need Jess on special assignment. Is honoring her new sisterhood worth destroying her dream life?"
First Lines:

"There are moments in life when you know things will never be the same. When you're called to the edge of adventure and given the chance to break free, uninhibited by your past, and claim the life you were meant to live.
Relax. This was totally not that kind of day."
Page 1

From the cover and title of this book, I was expecting something a little different. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth and intensity of this novel. I wasn't expecting to cheer for girl power in a book with the name Cinderella. Seriously.

The story is of a girl named Jess who moves around a lot and is constantly in a new school. Her latest school has found her with instant enemies and not enough time to find friends. At the start of her summer, she is asked to join a secret society... so, of course she thinks she's being punked. Instead, she finds herself pulled into this group of girls who are out to save the world. At least it seems that way.

It's kinda cute the way they use Cinderella wordisms. The groups of girls are Cindys. Their enemies are the Wickeds. The bad girls' boyfriends are called Villains. And the good girls' boys are called Charmings. I mean, seriously. So cute. But don't be taken in by the whole cutesy-ness of it all. The girls are just a tiny part of a larger organization that are dealing with mean girls at an almost worldly scale.

One of the messages throughout the story that I really enjoyed was the whole "be true to yourself" thing. It's very girl power. Anything against that is wicked talk. While this is definitely chick lit, the book has a lot more to offer than just boys and clothes and glittery unicorns. It's about protecting people who are weaker, learning to be positive, and fighting smart against difficult enemies. A lot more than I was expecting, but in a good way.

I think this story will be really good for all girls. Really. Who doesn't need to hear the empowering message of girls who can stand up for themselves. It almost has a message about bullying and not giving in to it. That could really help a lot of girls. Is it bad that I now have a book list going through my head on bullying to support this? Yikes.

Anyway, great book and I really look forward to the next one. Apparently it comes out later this year.
Other Blog Reviews:

Katie's Book Blog
Kinnelon Library Teen Blog
Steph Su Reads
Jessica Lawlor
Truth Be Told
Book Angel's Booktopia
Harmony Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (54)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

by Maggie Stiefvater
To be released: July 12, 2011

Summary from Baker and Taylor:
"In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in."

I absolutely loved Shiver and Linger. You cannot deny that Stiefvater is a fantastic author. I think I'd read just about anything she writes. And I've been completely pulled in by this series. If I remember correctly, this is the final book in the trilogy. I'm so excited to see how this is concluded. Love it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
ISBN: 9780525423645
Publisher: Penguin
Page #: 366
Source: ARC from the publisher (late review, I know)

"In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one... until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no one else has ever dared follow - between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic."
First Lines:

"Now that I've found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night? My wings aren't white or feathery; they're green, made of silk, which shudders in the wind and bends when I move - first in a circle, then in a line, finally in a shape of my own invention."
Page 3

I've had this book in my TBR pile for ages. It was about time for me to dust it off to read. There are way too many older ARCs in my pile - I'm trying to clear them out :).

So, this book is about the future where people are given exactly the things they need to have a happy and healthy life. Exact portions of food, exact matches for marriage partners, exact amounts of exercise and leisure time... and so on. Cassia is happy with her life - until something strange happens after her Matching ceremony. Then she starts to see things in a new light.

While this is very much a dystopian novel, it's also very much about romance. Without the romantic aspect, Cassia would never have started questioning things. So that is a huge part of the story - she has to choose between two guys. And with those guys, two vastly different lives. In fact, you're not sure there actually is a choice - because if Cassia went against the wishes of the society, I have no idea what would have happened.

That was one thing I felt was a little lacking - the explanation of the Society. I do understand that they have Officials watching over them to make sure things happen the way they are supposed to. And we start to see the cracks in the system as the book goes on. But it really makes me wonder how the whole thing is set up. Hopefully this is something we get in the future books... the hierarchy... who is in charge... where did this whole Society plan come from... etc.

Even though I was wishing for more explanation, I really did enjoy this book. It's also a great story about family sticking together and being a central unit. And about friendship - but that was something else I was wishing more of. It would have been nice to get a sense of the lives of our characters before the big Matching ceremony. That would have helped me to understand the changes later on.

All in all, I think this is a very thought-inducing story that many people will love. Especially that whole dystopian aspect - it really pulls you in. And perhaps my curiosity about how the whole society works is what will keep me reading the next book in the series. I am, of course, interested to see how Cassia turns out - what happens to her. I feel a huge adventure coming... but in this unknown world, I have no idea how that will play out.

I think this book will be great for all teens, really. From 7th grade on up. The topics are fairly universal and you start to side with characters. It will be a great one to recommend to all those people who have read the Uglies (Westerfeld) series and loved it. This is a great step from that.
Other Blog Reviews:

Always Lost in Stories
Truth Be Told
Kinnelon Library Teen Blog
Fantastic Book Review
There's a Book
She Reads - She Blogs
Katie's Book Blog

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