Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

This book made my heart ache.

In a good way.

Even thinking about it now, I feel like I'm having a mild heart attack.

Seriously, it took me a couple of chapters to really get into the story, but after that, I was literally clutching my chest for fear that my heart was actually going to burst. I loved this book. Loved.

The funny thing is, I don't really recall loving the "companion book" Anna and the French Kiss. I remember I liked it, but this, Lola and the Boy Next Door, was by far and away one of the very best books I've read in a very long while. It tugged at pretty much every emotion in my body and I'm sure the story will stay with me for a very long time. 

I absolutely adored Cricket. I thought he had the world's stupidest name--Really? Cricket? Only crackheads and rich people give their kids dumb names like "Cricket" (and "Calliope" for that matter.) Fortunately for the Bell twins, their parents are the latter of the two. Anyway, I loved how good he was to Lola, especially in glaring comparison to her "hot rocker (read: douchebag) boyfriend". I loved all of Cricket's weird quirks, from his rubber bands to his inventions to his fast (nervous) talking. I thought he was probably the sweetest, most endearing male character ever. Yes, he possibly even trumped Peeta (from The Hunger Games). 

Anyway, I know this came out a bit ago, and I'm just slow getting to reading it, but YOU HAVE TO BUY THIS. LIKE, NOW. In a perfect world, you would have bought it yesterday, read it in one sitting like I did, and you'd now be commiserating with me that it's over. Let's shoot for group commiserating tomorrow. Okay? ;)

Happy Reading! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Release Date: March 13, 2012

Willa's secret plan seems all too simple.

Take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa's turn as Robin Hood at her new high school is anything but. Bilking her "friends"—known to everyone as the Glitterati—without them suspecting a thing is far from easy. Learning how to break into lockers and Beemers is as hard as she'd thought it would be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are bullied just for being different, is more fun than she'd expected.

The complication Willa didn't expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, VP's most notorious ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her—evening the social playing field between the haves and have-nots. There's no time for flirting, especially with conceited trust-funders like Aidan. But when the cops start investigating the string of thefts at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could Aidan wind up being the person that Willa trusts most? 

Have you ever seen the BBC series Robin Hood? The ones with Jonas Armstrong? As far as Robin Hood goes, he was pretty much the best. And the hottest. I'd let him rob me any day. Okay, that was a little dirty, but you get my point right? I loved that version of Robin Hood. In the literary world, I loved Janette Rallison's take on Robin Hood (or Robbin' Hoodlum, as it turned out) in My Unfair Godmother. I think it would be safe to say that I am a fan of most things "Robin Hood". 

Notice I said *most*.

I really wanted to like this book.
I tried!

I think the biggest problem for me was this:
It just wasn't believable. A fifteen year old girl turns into a master thief in a matter of weeks, going from pick-pocketing to robbing mansions like it's nothing.  I thought the idea of Willa stealing thousands of dollars worth of stuff, to buy one dress here or a shirt there for lower-income teenage girls was a bit ridiculous. I kept thinking, Wouldn't just giving her the thousand dollars, since her dad is out of work, be more helpful than giving her a REALLY expensive shirt?? Or in another instance, Instead of stealing all that crap to pawn and then giving that cash to a girl to help her pay for a tutor so she doesn't lose her scholarship, why don't YOU, Miss 3.8 GPA, tutor her yourself?? Like I said, it just didn't do it for me. 

I think the other major issue I had was the ending of the book. I haven't come across such a random ending since I read Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. For those of you that read it, you might know what I'm talking about--how there was a lot of build-up to a rather lacking finale. In this book, Pretty Crooked, I felt like the story was actually a really great idea that was very poorly executed, and by the end of the book, it seemed like even the author was tired of the story, since it just simply....stopped. Ended. There were so many loose ends and things left unexplained-it was just sad. 

I wouldn't recommend this, but it's not because of anything inappropriate or vulgar. It's actually quite "clean". The reason I wouldn't recommend it is because, when I was reading it, I was bored. That's not to say you won't love it though. You have a couple of weeks to decide before it's released, but I suggest to get it from your local library instead of forking out twenty bucks for it.

Happy Reading!

**I received this egalley from the publisher for the purpose of review.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Crimson Crown Cover Reveal!

I can't even express how excited I am for this book. Like, pee my pants and be proud kind of excited. Days like today are days that I wish it was fall. Why, oh, why must I be forced to wait for this amazingness?? Anyway, this is the fourth and final book in the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. Here's the GORGEOUS cover, and a synopsis! (SPOILER ALERT!) Enjoy. :)

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed— Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.

     Now, once again, the queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible. Tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.

      Navigating the cutthroat world of blueblood politics has never been more dangerous, and former streetlord Han Alister seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?

      A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.

**Just one quick note: I am "officially" taking the month of March off. I'm going to be down in bed for a bit after March 1st, which means I may or may not get quite a bit of reading done. So, if you still see reviews twice a week like normal, just know that YES, I AM STILL "OFFICIALLY" ON A BREAK. :) I just don't want you all expecting reviews and not seeing anything new. Who knows? I may keep my books on the shelf and watch lots of chick flicks while I have a good excuse to! Anyway...
Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

First Date by Krista McGee

Release Date: January 10, 2012 
Addy Davidson discovers God's unexpected plans for her life when a reality TV show turns her quiet existence on its head.

The orphaned daughter of missionaries, Addy is quite content to stay in the shadows and never draw attention to herself. But when she's selected for a reality TV show to try to become the President son's prom date-a show she didn't audition for-she's suddenly in America's spotlight.

The lights, the make-up, the competitions, and the blogs discussing every move she makes all make Addy incredibly uncomfortable. But through her time at The Mansion, Addy comes to realize that first impressions aren't always right, that hiding out may not be what God had planned for her life, and that her faith should affect everything she does. It may just be that her selection wasn't random at all and that she's on this show "for such a time as this."

I actually quite liked this book. I wouldn't say I loved it, but I definitely liked it. I thought it was a fun, light, uplifting read. It was pretty predictable, but that possibly made me like it more, instead of less, surprisingly. 

I have a small confession. Don't judge me for it. One of my favorite movies ever is Chasing Liberty. It stars Mandy Moore (love her!) as the "first daughter" who falls in love. So let's get real-- this book was right up my alley. :)
Now I don't usually gravitate towards books that mention religion, but it's not because I don't like them. I guess it's more because they're just not the kind of books I read on a regular basis. I have to say that it was quite refreshing to read about a teenager that was firmly planted in her beliefs without being pushy or obnoxious about it with people who weren't as comfortable with religion. 

I really liked Jonathon and how "down to earth" he was. He wasn't at all what I (or Addy) expected. He wasn't stuffy or conceited or fake. I thought he was so sweet when he'd talk about his family, and I liked his interactions with Addy. Especially his first interaction-- oh, how I laughed!
Overall, I liked this book. I would definitely recommend it, and it's appropriate for even pre-teens. It's so difficult to find Young Adult books that are actually appropriate for young adults nowadays, but this one is most certainly one to check out!

Happy Reading!

**I received this egalley from the publisher for the purpose of review. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

This is another one of those books that I checked out from the library months and months ago, took it home to collect dust, and then returned it to the library. I have a few books at home doing this very thing as I type. Anyway, this was my second attempt at checking a "Kindle book" out from my local library. The difference in checking this out (again) is that this time I actually read the book! Go me!

I'm not really sure what I expected from this, to be honest. I haven't read any of Rachel Cohn and David Leviathan's previous works, including Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (I saw the movie though! It was just okay.) I guess that basically sums up how I felt about this book. I liked it, but overall, it was just okay. There were parts of it that I really enjoyed ("Shrilly". Ha!) and other parts that I thought were a bit lacking (Romance!!). 
I love the idea of the notebook though. I am a wuss (always have been) and I never would have been brave enough to do something like this. Especially in New York City! Talk about a city full of crazies. :) I can definitely relate to Dash and Lily in the respect that it's so much easier to write about your hopes and dreams and fears and aspirations, even more so when they are meant for a stranger, than to talk about them out loud. I guess that's what drew me into the book and kept me reading. There were times when I laughed out loud as I read but other times when I was a bit disappointed with the story in general.

Sadly, this book didn't play out the way I imagined it would, and while it was still a pretty decent story, it was often too wordy to really draw me in as much as I wanted it to. Plus, that Dash sure had a potty mouth sometimes. If I were his mother, I'd never have soap in my house, because he'd always be washing his mouth out with it. Just sayin'....  :)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

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 could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable.

I have to say, this is most definitely NOT a book for everyone. And I would NEVER recommend it to a teen. But as an adult, and a mother, it was a little bit fascinating to me. Probably because I can completely remove myself from the story and look at it more as a "study in crazy parenting" among other things.

When I first had the option of reading this book last year as an ARC, I turned it down. The book description just didn't hook me.  I am a religious person, and "teen pregnancy" is not something I condone, especially when it's for profit.

Finally, curiousity got the better of me, and I finally picked it up. Once I did, it was like a train wreck. I couldn't look away, even though it was horrific. Could you even imagine girls, ages 11-18, having sex, with the intention of getting pregnant, and then getting paid for it all, baby included? Can you imagine girls buying fake baby bumps to wear under their clothes to look cooler? Can you imagine parents encouraging this?? It's seriously sick.

But also kind of interesting. Obviously this isn't the world we live in (thank goodness), but it could be one day. The chance that there'd be a virus someday that makes anyone over the age of 18 sterile? Not that hard to imagine. And it's scary, isn't it? That our world could come to this?

This is definitely a controversial topic, which is why I'd say read this at your own risk. I didn't love it, and I didn't hate it. It was really just interesting to me. But it is a somewhat graphic crash course in sex education, and I'd say highly inappropriate for teenagers. Again, read at your own risk.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

Have you ever been so stoked for a book to come out and when it finally does, you read it and are a little bit disappointed?

Don't get me wrong-- I really liked this book. It just wasn't as good as I was hoping. Part of that could be because I read such an awesome book before picking this one up. Or part of it could have been me comparing it to The Goddess Test. Either way, it just wasn't quite what I expected.

I thought this was an interesting take on the Hades/Persephone myth. But the book just kind of throws you into it from page one without much explanation. I don't know that I loved all the "jumping around" in Nikki's timeline, but I did feel like everything was adequately explained by the end of the book.

It was kind of fun to have this book set in Utah, where I'm from. I don't think I've ever read a book set in Utah. Athough since I'm not very familiar with Park City, I still had to do as much imagining as I do with any other book. :)

The chacracters. I had mixed feelings about most of them, to be honest. I didn't think there was amazing character development, but the one person in the whole book that I really liked was Jack. He was the one constant, which I guess was kind of the point. And it's kind of funny- I usually go for the "bad boy" in books, and Jack wasn't anywhere close. It didn't stop me from swooning though!

I know what you're thinking.... She REALLY liked this book? I couldn't tell! But honestly, I did like it quite a bit. I'm excited to read the next book in the series, which won't likely be out until early next year. I know this is kind of a "blah" review, but this really wasn't a very memorable book for me. I remember really liking it as I was reading it, but when I finished, I wasn't "dying" to tell everyone about it. Which is a bit disappointing. You know?

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

"These violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
Which as they kiss consume."
—Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The most tragic love story in history . . .

Juliet Capulet didn't take her own life. She was murdered by the person she trusted most, her new husband, Romeo Montague, a sacrifice made to ensure his own immortality. But what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet would be granted eternity, as well, and would become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For 700 years, she's fought Romeo for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Until the day she meets someone she's forbidden to love, and Romeo, oh Romeo, will do everything in his power to destroy that love.

I have officially found my first buy-worthy book of the year!

I don't think I can rave ENOUGH about this book. Which, actually, is kind of funny because I kept seeing this on Amazon in my recommendations and I'd always skip over it because of my deep-rooted loathing for all things Shakespeare. However, when my local library started offering Kindle books that I could checkout, I was anxious to try it. I decided to check this book out and finally attempt reading it. What did I have to lose??

I am now kicking myself for not buying this immediately when it came out last summer. I can't believe I wasted all that time! Argh.

If you are expecting a retelling of Romeo and Juliet with this book, you've come to the wrong place. The book descrpition pretty much lays out the storyline for you-- Romeo murders Juliet to become immortal and work for the Mercenaries. Juliet, as she's dying, is also offered eternal life--but it's granted by the Ambassadors of Light. Every so often, Juliet gets an assignment to "inhabit" a body for a short time in order to bring together soul mates. When that happens, Romeo is also set to work trying to convince one the "soul mates" to take the same bargain he did-- murder the person they love in order to gain eternal life.

When Juliet gets assigned to a new small town, the unthinkable happens for her. She falls in love, and it goes against everything she's working for. In fact, it's absolutely forbidden. So does she do her job and forever be without the one she loves, or follow her heart and risk his death?

I LOVED this book. I don't know how else to say it. When I finished reading it, I wanted to read it again. And again. And again. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone that loves a good (and at times, heart-breaking) love story. Seriously read this now. It'll most definitely be on my "Favorite Books of 2012" list.

Happy Reading!