Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much---if you don’t count her secret visits to the Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her. 

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle---who already has six wives---Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

This was our book club pick for this month, and I have to say-- without book club I never would have picked it up. Actually, I probably never would have even heard of it. Really, I thought this was a fascinating story....when I think of it as just a story. But when I think about the girls that live this life day in and day out, it actually makes me sick to my stomach.

I was talking to my husband about this book the other day and I said, "How can anyone be a part of something like this and think they are in the right?" And then as I got thinking about it, I realized that that same thing could be said about any religion nowadays by anyone of a differing religion. In fact, I said to him, "I wonder if someone is saying the exact same thing about our religion right now..." 

People have crazy ideas. People get brainwashed into doing horrible things and say that it's "God's will", like labeling it as orders from Diety will make it okay. Polygamy is just one of those things that I absolutely cannot wrap my head around. I don't understand how someone could force thirteen-year-old girls (babies!!) to marry old men (often men they are related to), have baby after baby after baby, and convince them that if they die in childbirth or while pregnant, that they are an abomination and won't go to heaven. That if they even look at other boys, if they read books, if they aren't subservient to their spouse, the Apostles, the Prophet, then they are of the devil and are going to hell. That if their child cries or misbehaves in the slightest, they have to torture them into submissive obedience. I thank God that I was not raised like that. I don't blame Kyra in the slightest for wanting to run. Actually, I applaud her strength. 

It breaks my heart that people live like this. There are so many religions today that are based on love, built through love, and have loving, faithful members. The "religion" and "way of life" talked about in this book is absolutely NOT about love. It's about dominance and control and fear. It was interesting to me to read this book because, like I said, I never would have read it otherwise. It really made me think about how thankful I am that I was raised by loving parents in a nurturing environment. Not everyone is so lucky. 

I would recommend this book simply because it was very well written and it's a story that will stay with you. It's a story that will make you re-evaluate your life. It will make you count your blessings. Not once, but over and over again.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher

Release Date: May 8, 2012
I'm Adrienne Haus, survivor of a mother-daughter book club. Most of us didn't want to join. My mother signed me up because I was stuck at home all summer, with my knee in a brace. CeeCee's parents forced her to join after cancelling her Paris trip because she bashed up their car. The members of "The Unbearable Book Club," CeeCee, Jill, Wallis, and I, were all going into eleventh grade A.P. English. But we weren't friends. We were literary prisoners, sweating, reading classics, and hanging out at the pool. If you want to find out how membership in a book club can end up with a person being dead, you can probably look us up under mother-daughter literary catastrophe. Or open this book and read my essay, which I'll turn in when I go back to school.

When I first started reading this, I thought, What a fun idea! A book in the form of a school essay? Neat!



Obviously I forgot how boring and poorly written the majority of high school essays are, and this one was no exception. First off, I read this entire book as though they were fifteen-year-olds (which I swear it says in the book). Apparently this is not the case, as the book description says that the girls are all going into ELEVENTH grade A.P. English. Which leads me to believe that: 1) the author has low expectations for her characters and/or missed the lesson on character development, or 2) the girls depicted in this book are just plain stupid. Really, the most likely conclusion is it's a bit of both. 

Second, I can't think of a single redeeming quality in any of the girls. Or their mothers for that matter. Books really didn't get discussed in their "book club"-all the girls locked themselves in the bathroom and talked about anything but books.

Third, Adrienne's mother had to be the worst literary parent I've read about in a long time (and that list includes crazy parents, absent parents, "checked-out" parents, etc, so she must have been REALLY bad to top my list.) I am a firm believer in the "parent first, friend second (or third or fourth...)" philosophy, and obviously Adrienne's mother was not. It seemed like she was overly lax in her parenting because she was so worried about "ruining their mother-daughter friendship." I'm just saying, if it were me, I'd say "Screw that" and lock her in a closet until she came to her senses and/or went back to school. Thank heavens I have sons and not daughters! :)

Anyway, I think they pretty much hit the nail on the head naming this one-- it was, in a word, unbearable. Don't waste your time! 

Happy Reading!

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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Slide by Jill Hathaway

Release Date: March 27, 2012
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

I actually quite liked this book. It didn't blow me away, but it was pretty good. Here's why I feel the way I do:

I thought the concept of this book was an awesome one. With an idea like the one used for this story, I think an author could take some pretty stellar liberties with the twists and turns throughout the book. The reason this fell a bit flat for me was because I didn't think Hathaway was as daring as I hoped she'd be (or at least as I thought she COULD be). Let me reiterate: I liked this book. Quite a bit actually. It's one of the most original storylines that I've read in a while, but I would have liked a little more suspense.

Even though I liked the characters in this book, I thought they could have been a bit more developed. While the plot was well thought out and executed (even if it was a bit predictable), I think that a little more time could have been spent working out a few of the characters--namely, Vee's dad, her sister, and her best friend, Rollins. These three characters were fairly important to the story and I felt like I didn't know enough about them through much of the book. There were too many unanswered questions about them. (I'd tell you what the questions were, but it would need a giant, flashing SPOILER ALERT. So I will refrain.)

Overall, I would recommend this book. I thought it was a cool concept for a book and a pretty decent story. If you like a good suspense where everyone is a suspect, this is the book for you. Enjoy!

Happy Reading!

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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Jazz . . . Booze . . . Boys . . . It’s a dangerous combination.

Every girl wants what she can’t have. Seventeen-year-old Gloria Carmody wants the flapper lifestyle—and the bobbed hair, cigarettes, and music-filled nights that go with it. Now that she’s engaged to Sebastian Grey, scion of one of Chicago’s most powerful families, Gloria’s party days are over before they’ve even begun . . . or are they?

Clara Knowles, Gloria’s goody-two-shoes cousin, has arrived to make sure the high-society wedding comes off without a hitch—but Clara isn’t as lily-white as she appears. Seems she has some dirty little secrets of her own that she’ll do anything to keep hidden. . . .

Lorraine Dyer, Gloria’s social-climbing best friend, is tired of living in Gloria’s shadow. When Lorraine’s envy spills over into desperate spite, no one is safe. And someone’s going to be very sorry. . . .

From debut author Jillian Larkin, VIXEN is the first novel in the sexy, dangerous, and ridiculously romantic new series set in the Roaring Twenties . . . when anything goes.

How would it be to live in 1920s Chicago? With the jazz and the flappers and the Mob? I think it would have been fabulous, but maybe that's just me. So even though this book was pretty slow for the first half, I ended up loving it. Even during the times the story dragged, I didn't want to put it down. By the end of the book, I was cursing the fact that I didn't have the sequel on hand. Yes, it was really that good.

As much as I loved all the characters, Gloria was my favorite. So sue me if I am completely envious of her. I love, LOVE old Jazz music and for some wild reason the idea of being a Jazz singer in some smokey nightclub, with the killer dresses and heartbreaking emotion of the songs..... In another life, I WOULD BE GLORIA. No question.

At first I thought having the story told from THREE different perspectives was overkill, but once I got into the story it didn't bother me nearly as much. At times it was still a bit much, but also probably necessary. I would highly recommend this book. But be warned: it IS quite slow at first, but keep reading! And also be warned: Have the sequel ON HAND! :) Enjoy!

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Release Date: June 12, 2012
Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!

Is that seriously the only synopsis we get? It sure is. And so we begin...

You know when you see a baby and you have the knee-jerk reaction to say how cute he/she is, when in reality the baby is ugly as sin? That's kind of the reaction I have to this book. Let me explain: I certainly didn't LOVE this book, but it wasn't awful. So my immediate reaction is to say that "it was cute" even when I really didn't like it very much. Knee-jerk.

Did it have sexy, steamy make-out scenes? It sure did! But did those make-out scenes make me want to vomit in my mouth a little bit by the end of the book? Also a yes. There is a trend, it seems, with books right now that is pushing the boundaries of propriety. This is one out of a handful of books that have had a similar ending--all the while I am thinking that I am enjoying a cute story with a little bit of mystery, and what I'm really doing is building up to a highly disappointing and rather frustratingly unnecessary ending.

Another unexpected twist--this is a series. Or, at least, there will be one more book. Which I thought was strange for a contemporary romance/chick lit type book. It's been a really long time since I've read a series that didn't have any kind of magical, mystical undertones. I can't decide if it will be a good thing in this case or not. It certainly would give the author time to clear up confusion one way or another about the ending. However, right now, I can say one way or another whether I'll read the next book. So far, I'm leaning towards no. But curiosity could get the better of me. It's happened before.

Happy Reading!

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

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

I keep talking about how sick I am of Dystopian novels, yet here I am....reviewing another one. The ironic thing about this book is how many times I'd pass it at the bookstore or online, read the blurb and NOT buy it. (Exact number of times is undetermined, but it was A LOT!!) Then I started hearing little whispers about how amazing this book was.... and I STILL didn't buy it. I did, however, borrow it from a friend. AND NOW I'M WISHING I WOULD HAVE BOUGHT IT.

I think my "hang up" about this book (other than it being Dystopian) was the ages of the main characters. I know they are still considered "young adult" but fifteen just seemed too young for them to be saving the world and all that jazz. Yes, this is me now eating my words.... Chomp, chomp, gag, chomp,swallow, gag.


Honestly, the last thing on my mind when I was reading this book was the fact that they were both fifteen years old. June and Day were both very mature, well-developed characters, and they acted older than their number-of-years. I loved reading the book from both June's perspective--she was, for lack of a more appropriate word, bad@$$-- and also from Day's perspective. It was hard to hate Day for what he was doing, so I gave up trying. His heart was in the right place, even if he went about it in a highly criminal way. :)

I loved this book. Get it from the library, borrow it from a friend, or for heaven's sakes, JUST BUY IT!! You'll be glad you did.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Easy by Tammara Webber

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, stalked by her ex’s frat brother, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Her econ professor gives her an email address for Landon, the class tutor, who shows her that she’s still the same intelligent girl she’s always been. As Jacqueline becomes interested in more from her tutor than a better grade, his teasing responses make the feeling seem mutual. There’s just one problem—their only interactions are through email.

Meanwhile, a guy in her econ class proves his worth the first night she meets him. Nothing like her popular ex or her brainy tutor, Lucas sits on the back row, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. At a downtown club, he disappears after several dances that leave her on fire. When he asks if he can sketch her, alone in her room, she agrees—hoping for more.

Then Jacqueline discovers a withheld connection between her supportive tutor and her seductive classmate, her ex comes back into the picture, and her stalker escalates his attention by spreading rumors that they’ve hooked up. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

Author Recommendation: Mature Young Adults (language, drinking, sexual situations)

Let me start with a warning: SEE THIS (^^^^^^^^^^)?? She's not kidding. Is there sex in this? Yes. Is it slightly graphic? Yes! Is there a bit of strong language here and there? YES! Did I like this book anyway? Yes I did.

Once I got past the opening scene, I actually flew through this book. I read it in one sitting and couldn't put it down. As for the opening scene (spoiler alert!), you meet the main character Jacqueline (who is a sophomore in college) as she's leaving a Halloween frat party early. As she opens the door to get into her truck, someone comes up behind her, slams her facedown into the seat of her truck and tries to rape her. Luckily she is saved by someone, but it was still probably the hardest-to-read opening scene of a book I've ever come across.

Other than the rather shocking beginning, I actually really liked this book. I liked Jacqueline and her love interests. I had a really hard time deciding who I liked more- Landon or Lucas, but I came to a solid conclusion by the end of the book. I also liked that Jacqueline took self defense classes to learn how to protect herself. And come on, the lawnmower??? I laughed and cringed at the same time. I've thought a lot about learning self defense. I've never needed it, thank goodness, but you never know. There may be a time when I DO need it (knock on wood) and this motivated me even more to learn--even if it's just a little. I like the idea of a girl (woman) that can take care of herself. Overall, most of this book was pretty predictable, but there were at least one or two things that weren't, which was nice. 

On a side note: I didn't know this until recently, but apparently there isn't really a genre for Mature Young Adult books. I think they are sometimes a bit too much to be classified as YOUNG Adult, but would get lost and forgotten in the Adult Fiction genre. From what I've been told by the author of this book, Tammara Webber, some people are trying to push a "New Adult" genre for those college-set, in-between books. While I think the name is ridiculous, I most definitely think there should be some kind of classification YA and Adult. I think that since there is such a huge gray area between the two genres, some books that are inappropriate for teenagers are getting lumped into the YA section when they are way too mature for them. This book, for instance. I liked it, but I'm in my my mid-twenties! Would I recommend this to a friend my age? Yes, probably. Would I recommend it to a teenager? Heck freaking no! 

So I'm curious what your thoughts are about a "New Adult" genre? Do you think there should be one? Or do you think mature YA books should put in one category or the other? Curious to know your thoughts.

Happy Reading!