Monday, August 26, 2013

Smart Girls Get What They Want



                                            

Smart Girls Get What They Want

By Sarah Strohmeyer


Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren't the most popular girls in school, they aren't too worried. After all, real life will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. But when an unexpected event proves they're missing out on the full high-school experience, it's time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. The trio makes a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge and totally rock it.


Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she'll have to get over her fear of public speaking—and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed; it could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but has always stayed behind the scenes—until now.



These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want—but that might mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . . .

Genres: YA, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Published: March 26, 2013

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Smart Girls Get What They Want may have been one of the most suprising books of the year. I was expecting to slightly enjoy it, but I wasn't expecting to love it. You see, I've read one other book by Sarah Strohmeyer; How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True. (I hate typing out that name, it's so long!) And it was cute fluff, but it wasn't a book that really stuck with me at all. So I expected the same to be true of this book. 


But, obviously, I was wrong.



No, Smart Girls isn't some deep, philosophical book of wonders. But it's not a fluff read either. It's light, but not fluff; I can't even explain it that well, so let's just quit on that note.



The characters were relatable. Gigi, Neerja and Bea were smart girls, but not stereotypical smart girls. For example, they aren't 'fashionably challenged' or whatever. Ugh, I hate that stereotype in books. And there's no dramatic split or whatever that happens in so many books with a group of best friends. (I mean, if that's what the book's actually about, then I'm fine with it, but it seems like so many books just throw it in there to add some more drama to the already boiling pot of dramatic-ness.)



Ava was another character that defied the norm. I don't really see many characters like Ava. She's not simply a stock character, and I liked that.



And oh, mah gosh. I fell in love with Mike. He's not some Edward Cullen-wannabe; he's different. At first, I really hated him, but over the course of the book I started to like him more on more. And the ending...*sigh*.



One last thing before I wrap this review up; this book actually made me want to ski. And I hate skiing. 



I would definitely recommend this book. It's light, but it has some good messages in it as well, and the characters are awesome. This book has convinced me to try some more Sarah Strohmeyer books!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Musing Mondays 8/19

MusingMondays5

Musing Mondays!

Musing Monday is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Today I will muse about this topic:

"Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it."

Well, I am lucky enough to be reading Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter! I have been wanting this one for a while; Ally Carter is one of my favorite authors. I LOVE it so far; we get to see a side of Hale that hasn't been shown in the previous books, (and, HIS NAME!!!) and it has that addicting quality that's present in all of Ally Carter's stories!

What did you muse about today?



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lily by S. Smith

Lily (Seed Savers,#2)

Lily

By S. Smith

 

Blurb: What if the key to the future is buried in your past?

After her friends disappear amid suspicions to their link with the underground Seed Savers Movement, Lily digs around to learn more.

The truth she uncovers sets her on a path fraught with uncertainty.

How will Lily decide which way to turn, or whom she can trust?

Genres: Juvenile/YA, Dystopian

Published: November 2012

Series: Seed Savers by S. Smith (book 2)

My Rating: 4 stars

**A free copy was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.**

I liked this book a lot. As in Seed Savers it was a really quick read, and the little quirks I noticed in Seed Savers have all been fixed in this sequel.

Lily is told in first person, which initially I had some reservations about. It's my opinion that you should probably not switch from third person to first person (Seed Savers was told in third person), but I think the story really benifitted from this switch, so I ended up liking it a lot.

We get to know Lily more in this story, which I really liked, seeing as she dropped out of Seed Savers in the middle, and we weren't able to get to know her as much as Clare and Dante. I think she may be my favorite out of the three so far; I got to know her better because of the first person switch.

The book has a few nice twists to keep the plot from becoming predictable, and introduces some new (and newish) characters. I liked Arturo a lot.

This series fills the void for younger-audience dystopians. Even so, older readers will love it too! I enjoyed Lily, and after that ending, I can say with confidence I will be reading the next one in the series.







Waiting For Dusk by Nancy Pennick

Waiting for Dusk

Waiting For Dusk

By Nancy Pennick

 

Blurb: Read a book.
Fall asleep.
Meet a boy.
Is it real or just a dream?
Katie’s everyday life suddenly turns exciting when she travels back in time and meets the boy of her dreams. Thinking of nothing else, willing to leave the real world behind, she’s determined to find out if it’s all a dream or not. Returning again and again, Katie almost has her answers until one day her precious book goes missing.
Genres: YA, Romance, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Published: November 27, 2012
Series: N/A
My Rating: 2.5 stars
**A free copy of this book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.**

Waiting For Dusk is the kind of book that I should love. I love time travel stories, and the blurb made this book sound amazing. So why didn't I enjoy this one?

The big problem I had with the story was Kathryn/Kate/Katie. I didn't connect with her at all. I thought that she was a bit Mary Sue-ish.

Another problem was that the book didn't teach me too much about life in the 1920s. This was what I was honestly really hoping for; a pre-depresssion era book. But though I learned one or two things about 1927, I didn't learn as much as I wanted to.

Third, the way the characters talk, even when Kate's in modern days, sounds much older. It didn't sound real; at least, to me it didn't.

Here's one example I noted;

"Gee, Erin, I hadn't thought about it."

There's more, but this is the only one I wrote down.

The whole story moves rather slowly. There are a few parts that show promise of picking up the plot, but I flet like they didn't get used too much. (SPOILER: thought the author was going to turn Ty into a creepy, dangerous stalker, but that didn't happen.)

The book gets a lot better when it's nearing the end. In fact, the end was probably four stars worthy. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen. But the last couple pages weren't enough to completely redeem the story in my eyes.

I didn't hate this book; but I didn't really love it either.

 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Grace Happens by Jan M. Czech

Grace Happens

Grace Happens

By Jan M. Czech

 

Blurb: Grace’s mother is a movie star. World travel, famous people, and movie sets are her life. So are bodyguards, paparazzi, and constant chaos. Grace dreams of a normal life with regular school and real friends. She also dreams of knowing her father, whose identity her mother has never revealed. When her secretive mother announces they’re going to Martha’s Vineyard for the summer, Grace doesn’t know the island holds the keys to her family history. But once the connection becomes clear, she can’t resist searching for some answers. Grace makes some surprising moves along the way, from making a friend and piercing her ears to developing a strong suspicion of who her father is.
Genres: YA, Mystery, Realistic Fiction
Published: April 5, 2007
Series: N/A
My Rating: 4 stars
This book was by no means perfect. In fact, I really considered throwing it across the room when I first started, because it was soooo boring. I didn't like Grace, and I didn't like the plot. But then...I changed my mind.

Well, kind of. I still didn't like Grace. Every other chapter ends with her getting mad at her mom for not telling her enough about her father, even though her mother is just trying to protect Grace, and saying something along the lines of, "Why didn't you tell me, mother!?"

And some of the other characters just seem to be there to be there. Like Tanya Sutton, for example. She served almost no purpose in the plot whatsoever, other than it seemed like the author wanted a mean girl in the story. Yeah, characters weren't the strong suit of this novel. The one character I really did like doesn't come in until the end, and it would spoil the book to much, so I can't say too much about them, either.

What made me change my mind about this book, though, was the mystery aspect. I love a nice mystery, and while it was short, Grace trying to figure out the identity of her father, the clues, and the big reveal made this book worth while.

And the ending is sweet, too. It almost redeemed Grace in my eyes. Keyword being almost.

Grace Happens is not my favorite book of all time, but it was still pretty good. I liked it a lot, and in my opinion, it is definitely a keeper!

 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Way Life Was Forever by Carey Corp

The Way Life Was Forever

The Way Life Was Forever

By Carey Corp

Blurb: Sun-dwellers are foul monsters that eat a human’s flesh from their bones…or so sixteen-year-old Lyra has always been taught. To keep their citizens safe, her colony seals itself into the vaults by day.

Moonwalkers are horrible beasts that feed on the blood of men…at least, that is what Perseus was told. The only sure survival for his people is to lock themselves into their repositories each night.

Both labeled as undesirable by their respective kinds, a fated meeting in the forbidden forest offers Lyra and Perseus an unexpected chance at happiness. If they can overcome their own prejudices and discover the truth about one another before time runs out.

Can the sun-dweller and the moonwalker learn that when reality is distorted by hate and terror sometimes the only thing to truly fear is fear itself?

THE WAY LIFE WAS FOREVER – a YA short story from award-winning author, Carey Corp.
Genres: YA, Dystopian, Paranormal, Science Fiction
Published: November 12, 2011
Series: N/A
My Rating: 3 stars
URG! Book, I am extremely confused right now!

On one hand, I LOVED the writing style. It reminded me a bit of Hunger Games and how Suzanne Collins wrote. (Yeah, that's a pretty big compliment coming from me, the Hunger Games junkie...)

And, the plot was interesting. But this sentence, people, is where I start the 'on the other hand...'

The story's short. There, I said it. It is waaay to short, though. If Carey Corp had made this into a full blown book, oh my gosh I'd have loved it. But the teensiness of this novelette makes it necessary to use insta-love...on caffeine. For example: Romeo and Juliet was pretty much the fastest I've ever read about people falling in 'love.' And then I read this book. THEY BEAT ROMEO AND JULIET.

Also, the ending was kind of...demanding a sequel, let's say. It didn't feel complete. But again, that ties in with the whole shortness complaint.

Would I recommend this? I honestly don't know. It really won't be a huge waste of your time if you do read it, (it takes like ten minutes to read) but, you might be a bit disappointed with how the story plays out.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: Seed Savers

Seed Savers (Treasure, #1)

Seed Savers

By S. Smith

Blurb: Clare, Dante, and Lily live in a future where gardening and owning seeds is against the law. Some, however, encourage the children to change the future, and instruct them in the old ways.

Can the children learn enough before being stopped by GRIM, the government agency controlling the nation's food?

And can children really change the future?

Genres: Juvenile, Dystopian
 
Published: April 17, 2012
 
Series: Seed Savers by S. Smith (book 1)
 
My Rating: 3 stars
 
**A free copy of this review was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.**

This is going to be a difficult review to write, because while I noticed some flaws in the book, it was a quick, fun read.

I'll start with what I liked. First, I think that this would be a nice dystopian for someone who would like to read something from this genre, but wants a tamer, non-violent story. The dystopian society is lighter than many of the societies in other dystopian books; it's not too different from today, except that it is now illegal to grow food. Some people have chosen to rebel, however, and are known as 'seed savers.' So I think this would appeal to many people, younger readers in particular.

Second, the book moved quickly and didn't drag on unecessarily. The beginning of the book actually seemed to move a bit too quickly, but it slows down to a reasonable pace later.

There are a couple things that I wasn't a big fan of, though. At times, the conversations in the book felt a bit stilted; again, I noticed this mainly at the beginning, but it happened ocassionally throughout the whole book.

And I wish the characters had been a little more developed; I didn't really feel a connection with them; I got to know Clare and Dante a little bit more towards the end of the story, but I still felt that they were a bit undeveloped.

Lastly, there were a few typos, but they weren't very prominent and didn't keep me from enjoying the story. Honestly, I didn't notice them all that much; maybe three times at the very most. I just thought I should mention it.

All in all, three stars for a quick read that could use some fine-tuning.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: Just Like Magic

Just Like Magic

Just Like Magic

By Elizabeth Townsend

 
Blurb: Ella Merton has always had one dream-to enter fine society and meet her prince. But now, on the brink of her debut, her life has become a nightmare. Her beloved father is dead, her family is financially ruined, and her stepsisters are plotting to keep her in the kitchen. She's willing to fight for her dreams, but all her struggles are getting her nowhere! Can a very un-fairy godmother, a few unexpected friends, a large, shaggy dog, and a pumpkin pie help her find her "happily ever after"-just like magic?
 
Genre: YA, Romance, Retellings
 
Published: October 21, 2012
 
Series: N/A
 
My Rating: 3.5 stars
 
I have read my fair share of Cinderella retellings (read: I have read so many I can't even remember them all). This is a nice retelling that doesn't stray too far from the main tale, but still manages to add some original ideas, some that I haven't come across in most retellings.

The main difference between this tale and others is that there is no magic in this retelling. But that wasn't what really stood out to me; what I liked best is that the stepmother isn't really evil, she's simply a pushover and does whatever the evil stepsisters, Lucy and Gerta, want. I don't think I've ever come across that before, and I found that fascinating for some reason.

Like I said before, it doesn't deviate from the original plot, but that's not bad. The last retelling I read had tried to put such a new spin on the Cinderella retelling that I wouldn't have known it was a Cinderella story unless it had said on the blurb. So I'm really glad that the author didn't veer off from the traditional storyline.

There's a lot of character growth from Ella. She starts off as a complete brat, but she has changed completely by the end of the story.

If you like retellings, this is a book worth picking up!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: The War Inside

The War Inside (The Horizons Trilogy, #1)

The War Inside

By M. Kircher

Blurb: The end of the world is only just the beginning. So eighteen-year-old Thea discovers when her solitary life on a dying Earth is shattered by a mysterious dream, a devastating choice, and a strange gift that propels her on a journey towards the restoration of all mankind.

Thea is bitter and alone; eking out her miserable life on the sunless, cloud-covered Earth she inhabits. A terrifying dream convinces her to save the life of an injured girl, and despite her misgivings, Thea decides to rescue sixteen-year-old Viviana. She soon learns that gentle Viv has a life-threatening infection, as well as a freakish patch of glowing skin over her heart. When this light spreads to Thea, causing her palms to glow, she is forced to trust Caden, an arrogant, lazy, and annoyingly handsome boy she utterly despises. Caden has a map to the last city on Earth, and the only place that might have a cure for both Viv's infection and the strange light on Thea's hands. As the trio embark on a journey through the barren wilderness, Thea and Caden discover, and try to fight, their mounting attraction to each other. Along the way they are joined by Rain, Naomi, and Enoch who explain that the light is not a curse, but a powerful gift meant to heal the polluted Earth and reconnect the remnants of humanity. When the group learns that Viv is the key to this planet-wide redemption, and that there are deadly shadows who will do anything to keep humans in the darkness forever, they each must make the difficult decision to help Viv fulfill her destiny...and save the world.

Don't miss THE WAR INSIDE, an exciting young adult dystopian/fantasy novel by debut author M. Kircher.
 
Genres: Adventure, Dystopian, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, YA, Science Fiction
 
Published: July 28, 2013
 
My Rating: 3.5 stars
 
**A free copy of this book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.**

I really enjoyed this story. I finished it in a day!

The War Inside is, in my opinion, a very original dystopian. I've never read anything similar to it. That is something that is becoming harder and harder to find now, and that is a huge reason I liked this book so much.

Also, the descriptions in this book were wonderful. I could picture everything very clearly! The author described things in an interesting way; she didn't just say something like, 'the leaf was green.' Instead it's: 'The leaf as green. Really green. Such a vibrant hue that it hurt her eyes to look at it.'

Another thing I loved was Thea's transformation throughout the book. She's the kind of character that you read about and desperately hope she'll get better as the story goes along. Well, Thea does, and it's very natural, not forced like I feared it might be.

There were a few things that I didn't totally like, though. The main one is that Viv doesn't seem to act her age. She's apparently sixteen, and I thought she acted more tween-ish. While I really liked Viv's character, I just didn't see her as a sixteen year old.

Also, this might just be me, I think the blurb might give out a wee bit too much information. Naomi and Enoch did not make an appearance in the story until I was 55% into the book, but they're mentioned in the blurb.

Other than that, it was a great story that I really enjoyed. I will definitely be reading the second book when it comes out!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: His Kiss

   
                                       

His Kiss

By Melanie Marks


Blurb: Ally’s world was totally on track: the right boyfriend, the right school committees, the right plans. But then she kisses the school “bad boy.” And now nothing is right. Nothing! Because all she can think about is … His Kiss.


Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Romance

Published: November 23, 2011

Series: N/A

My Rating: 4 stars

I feel bad to admitting it, people; but I have wrongly judged a book by its cover. Sigh. I'm sorry. So, because I did that, His Kiss was a very pleasant suprise for me-which only made me like the book more!


First off, Griffin was pretty adorable. He's a bad boy, but under that, he's really sweet. And then there's Ally, who doesn't know which boy to choose; she and Griffin obviously have some chemistry, but she's more of a 'vanilla' kind of girl. Her struggles about liking Griffin were fun to read about, and it didn't get so played out as to get exasperating. 



Melanie Marks did a great job portraying all the conflicting emotions Ally feels. I was actually tearing up when she was talking about watching Aiden with another girl! TEARING UP! 



And, while the book is short, it's still juuust the right length for this type of story; not so long that it gets tedious, and not so short that it feels too rushed.



This is such an adorable story. It's short and sweet, and that was what I needed at the time I read this. I really enjoyed it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Review: How I Lost You


                                       

How I Lost You

By Janet Gurtler


Blurb: There are a few things Grace Anderson knows for sure. One is that nothing will ever come between her and her best friend, Kya Kessler. They have a pact. Buds Before Studs. Sisters Before Misters. But in the summer before senior year, life throws out challenges they never expected. And suddenly the person who's always been there starts to need the favor returned. Grace and Kya are forced to question how much a best friend can forgive. And the answer is not what they expected.

Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Published: April 23, 2013

Series: N/A

My Rating; 4 stars

This book was so good. I haven't read a Contemporary YA this wonderful in a long time, trust me. I finished it in a day, and barely ever stopped reading!


What makes this book so good are the characters. Their struggles and emotions are portrayed in a very realistic way. My Favorite character was definitely Levi.



Another thing I liked was the fact that the main characters, Grace and Kya, are female paintballers. I mean, when did you last read a book with female paintballers as the main characters? I even got to learn a teensy bit about the sport, though I admittedly didn't know very much about it to start with. 



But the thing that I loved most about How I Lost You was the ending.              (SPOILER!!! In many a book I have read about friends growing apart, the friends get back together and promise to be best friends forever, or something like that. Which is nice and all, but that doesn't always happen in real life. Sometimes, you forgive each otherj, but you just know you'll never be as close to the person you once were...I'll stop here so I don't give everything away.)



In closing, I really liked How I Lost You, and I would definitely recommend it!