November 30, 2013

A Call for More Diversity

*Post inspired by #RBWL

If you guys haven't noticed, recently I've been broadening my horizons - reading more books from different genres, like Adult murder mysteries and historical, and middle grade fantasy and paranormal. I even read New adult! And suddenly, well, I've kind of started to wonder what happened to the diversity of YA? I can pretty much point to two "leading genres" in YA fiction.

Contemporary and Paranormal.

Those are our "big genres", the draw of YA. And don't forget the romance - there just is no story if there isn't romance in YA! So... when did we become so mainstream? When did almost every book become something that everyone has seen before?

It's like making your book YA is easy - put your character in high school, and give them romance. Nothing to see here, folks!

What I want, suddenly, is more diverse stories. I want to see interracial couples get together and not be shunned. I want to see more books about third-world countries and the problems there. I want to see more epic fantasy set in the desert, or underwater, and in the past. I want to see a main character that shops for groceries and uses food stamps. I want to see more pop-culture references, so I can remember what it was like to live in that time, or create an image of what it was like. And not fake pop-culture references, I want to see real ones - songs and movies and books that I could listen to or see or read if I wanted to.

I want to see more non-white characters in YA, and I want to see lots more historical and mysteries. I want to see American Indian historical, and more books about sports and drugs. I want to read one book where the society is entirely female. I want to read more fairytale dystopians, like Marissa Meyer's Cinder. I want to read a book where the bad guy wins the girl, and he's truly despicable but you can't help but love him.

I want to see more mythology books - all based in different countries, because every Greek or Norse mythology I read is based in America. I want to read more books based in China or Europe or Africa. I want to read about more normal homeschooled kids, and I want to read about book bloggers. I want to read a book written entirely in conversational text messages.

I want... I want everything. I want to read books about teens who aren't bad kids, and I want to read more books about kids who are in juvenile detention. I want to read about sexually transmitted diseases, like in Life After Now by Jessica Verdi, and Ten Things We Did by Sarah Mlynowski. I want to read about teen parents, and I want to read about kids who helped their parents build a house - because for about a year that was my life, and there is nothing more satisfying than living in a house that your family built with their hands. I want to read about female (and male) mechanics, and kids who don't wanna go to college. I want to read about dreamers and believers and the kids that no one understands. I want to read about country kids - and not the high class partiers that you've heard about, but the kids who go camping and four-wheeling and live miles away from the nearest stores. I want.... I want. I just want more creativity.

So... tell me. Do you feel like there should be more diversity in YA? There are so many ideas that were tossed around at the #RBWL that were fantastic. Books that I just might love, and would love to see done. And yet, none of them really happen. We love are tropes, that's for sure - but don't you think it's time to expand?

Do you want to see any of these ideas done, or do you have recommendations? Do you feel like YA is becoming cliched? Are you branching out, just like I am, in search of new material?
Meg's Signature

November 29, 2013

Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite (Parasitology, #1)
Parasite by Mira Grant
Series: Parasitology, #1
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.

I knew that I had become a creator of monsters. I did not know, before I ran out of choices, that I had become a monster myself.

My overall thoughts of Parasite go a little something like this - "ew ew ew gross gross gross scary scary scary surprising awesome still pretty gross but crazy weird and cool". That's kind of the best way to put it. I am thoroughly freaked out by the idea that intestinal tapeworms want to control these people's bodies. I am also thoroughly intrigued by this idea!

Parasite started out on a really gruesome scene - but kudos to Mira Grant, because I could picture it perfectly. Not that some squishy insides were what I wanted to see, but hey. I pictured it exactly the way it was explained, I think that was so good description there.

I figured out that I can't trust my instincts on Mira's characters, though. Because one character that I thoroughly trusted - didn't turn out to be all that trustworthy. Which is sad, because I liked them. It was upsetting.

I thought that the "worms" were chilling. It seems medically plausible to me, and the more I think about it the scarier the idea gets - which makes it a pretty good horror, actually. I liked that all of the explanations (even the scientific ones) were very thorough. It made it relatively easy to understand, but it did make the book quite long. The plot was kind of slow.

I liked the interviews and quotes at the beginning of each chapter - it made it easier to understand things about the doctors who created the worm, and the world who would actually take such a thing. It gave us a bit of backstory.

I figure that I have to talk a little about the characters before the review is over, so I'll tell you that I didn't really identify with Sal. It became obvious later on (as to why I couldn't), but at first it was a little off-putting. In the end, though, I think she was the perfect kind of heroine for this book. I kind of hated her dad, though. Not going to lie.

Some of the supporting characters, such as Sal's boyfriend Nathan, Tansey, and Adam were well done - I actually liked Nathan, but I'm sort of scared of Tansey and Adam's potential. Tansey outright terrifies me sometimes, but Adam seems like a sweet person. I just can't figure out what they're capable of yet!

All in all, Parasite was definitely an interesting read, and it raises lots of interesting questions. Should the parasites that gain control of those bodies be allowed to keep them? Is humanity really stupid enough to get a tapeworm to keep healthy? *neon sign: yes* Just, you know, lots of questions. I hope that the next book in this series helps to answer some of them!

Fun fact: After reading Parasite, I learned something scary - toxoplasma is real. So a lot of the medical terms that Mira Grant used are probably real, even if they have never been used as an "intestinal bodyguard".

November 28, 2013

Pawn by Aimee Carter

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1)
Pawn by Aimee Carter
Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1
Source: Negalley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: November 26, 2013

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.
Pawn was a big fat meh for me. I went into it with average expectations for a dystopian - I wasn't expected to be head over heels with it, but I kind of wanted to like it... the problem was that I just couldn't wrap my head around it.

The numberings, the testings, the Harts and the population law with fines... none of that made sense to me. For one, the number system is ridiculous. Depending on how high you score on a test, you're given a number. That number dictates who you are, what you'll do and how smart you are. The testing process is legitly messed up, yet no one seems to think that it's wrong? Some numbers are passed down, faked, and others are just not worth anything. I's are automatically sent into a wasteland to die.

Yet... everyone seems to think that this is okay. There's not even a murmur of discontentment anywhere. The Harts are in control. Why are they in control? We never get any plausible back story on them, nor do we really get a backstory on any of it... the believability level is zilch.

Since I don't really wanna go on a rampage, I'll move on to the characters. I found Kitty to be a pretty flat character. I never understood what motivated her, or why she did what she did - I couldn't really get into her mind. I liked that the story started out with an existing relationship, but there's a slight chance that it'll continue on the same path, which I find to be sad.

A lot of the twists to the plot were revealed early on, and I feel like the big surprise was saved up until the end for shock factor. And it did shock me, but not necessarily in a good way. My biggest problem with Pawn was without a doubt the unbelievable dystopian society. All in all, Pawn really wasn't for me. I didn't particularly enjoy it, but I didn't hate it either.

November 27, 2013

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)
Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits, #1
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
From acclaimed author Katie McGarry comes an explosive new tale of a good girl with a reckless streak, a street-smart guy with nothing to lose, and a romance forged in the fast lane 

The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.
"I scare the hell out of most people, but you will never have anything to fear from me. Choose. Love me or don't. But tell me now."

I've been trying to write this review for going on a week now, but I'm still having a bit of trouble forming my thoughts into actual, coherent words and sentences. To tell you the truth, I think I'm still kind of shell-shocked. I've always known that Isaiah was my favorite secondary character, but he's never really been built upon like he was in this one. He never really had a chance to shine... but in this one, my God he shines.

My first impression of Isaiah was what stayed with me. I loved the fact that he had tattoos, and that they really meant something to him. I loved that he stood out & stood up for what he believed in. To tell you the truth, I'm pretty much in love with him. Give me a bad boy who has tattoos and earrings... I'm pretty much always gonna love them. What made Isaiah really stand out, though, was that he was a bad guy. He's had a rough time at it, that's for sure, but he still wants to do what's right.

And for him, he thought that was staying away from Rachel; and not "tainting" her with his bad-boyness. She's a good girl, he says. And yeah, she is. I really liked Rachel. She was so innocent and weirdly shy, but the entire dynamic that Isaiah and Rachel had going on between them was magic. Plus, she gets cars. *applause* I'm so proud to find another (although decidedly fictional) girl who likes cars! I'm personally a little bit obsessed with them, so it's always nice to "meet" someone else who is. Also, this quote from her kind of couldn't be truer for me.

"I get cars. I like the feel of them. The sound of them."

The character development for both Isaiah & Rachel was phenomenal. I felt like they really got to know each other before they jumped into a relationship, and that kind of made the book for me. They were so cute & sweet together, as well as being incredibly intense and crazy together. A weird combination, but I think it was the best ever.

I enjoyed the cameo appearances of Beth & Noah, but I kind of felt like [since the story was all about Isaiah] they kind of skipped out for most of it. Also, Noah can be a bit of a jerk. *threatens Noah for being mean to Isaiah* Their familiarity was great, though. I guess that's what gives him a licence to be a jerk. ;) On that note, though, I also enjoyed the introduction of a new secondary character, Abby. She played a very important part. :P

Last but not least, I really enjoyed the drama in this one. The races were a wonderful touch, and the added bits with Eric were pretty much amazing. I loved the action & the suspense. I also loved the possibility of future books that comes from the end of this one - so many characters that need love!

All in all, Crash Into You was amazing. Dare You to may have let me down a little, but this one redeemed the whole series in my eyes. Definitely a keeper.

November 26, 2013

Top Ten Things I'm Thankful for

This weeks topic should be kind of interesting. I'm going to include a blend of bookish/not-so-bookish things. :) The topic for this week is "top ten things I'm thankful for".

1. My family. I love them all, and they're so supportive of me. I didn't originally tell them about the blog, but they found out... and they were proud. I love them so so much, and I can't imagine life without my family!

2. You guys. You support me every day on this blog - you read my reviews, enter the admittedly sparse giveaways that I host, and you're all so special. I treasure each and every comment and tweet that you send - you don't know this, but you make my life something wonderful.

3. Authors. You write. That makes you awesome in my book - you provide wonderful books for me to read, and to get lost in for a while. Each and every one of you deserves a huge hug for putting yourself out there for all of us readers.

4. Contemporary novels. Romance novels. Dystopian, Paranormal and Mythology books. Just books in general. I'm thankful for all of them, good and bad.

5. My blog. Without this blog, I would be the same person. It's given me an outlet to express my love of books, and to learn how to review. It's given me tons of fun people, and I'm sure that I'll love it forever. It changed me.

6. My pets. I have one dog, two cats, a few rabbits and a horse. I've always got an animal around.

7. Nitzan Schwarz of Drugs Called Books, Stephanie Verhaegen of Bookfever, Sophia of Loving Lit, Sarah of Book-A-Holic and Inky of Book Haven Extraordinaire for always being around and sharing such insightful and fun conversation. Without a doubt, these girls are my favorite bloggers and some of my best blogging buddies. I hope that they feel the same way!

8. My home. I've got a roof over my head and a floor under my feet for as long as I need it. That's something to be thankful for!

9. Standalone novels. This may sound like a dumb thing to be thankful for, but I'm thankful for standalone books. I can put less effort into them - if I want a quick read, I'll always go for a standalone. They don't require years of my life.

10. Thanksgiving! What other day of the year can you eat until you're simply stuffed and not feel guilty?

November 25, 2013

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle, #2
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same.

Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life.

Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...
Ronan Lynch lived with every sort of secret. His first secret was himself. He was brother to a liar and brother to an angel, son of a dream and son of a dreamer.

The Raven Boys was one of my favorite reads of 2012 - but for some reason, I was just dragging butt on this one. I had it, but I was waiting until I was "in the mood" for it. Thanks to Nitzan from Drugs Called Books, I read this much sooner than I would have if left to my own devices, because she made me re-read the end of The Raven Boys. So thanks for that, girly!

I don't know if y'all know this, but The Dream Thieves is told through Ronan's point of view, with select chapters from other characters. I quite enjoyed Ronan, because A) I have a huge book crush on him, and B) I can relate to a lot of the things that he does, even if I can't relate to others. He can do something totally awesome, *hint hint dreams* and he actually does care for people behind that tough facade. He may seem like a jerk, but trust me he's not. Really.

Adam was still kind of closed off and slightly awkward in this one - I don't really think that he truly understands what he's done via the ley line. (To tell you the truth, I only just figured it out myself!) I feel that maybe Adam was a little stifled - they're all watching him very closely, so they can make sure that nothing bad happens to him.

Noah wasn't in this one as much as he was in the first book. I'm not sure why, but in the long run it didn't really bother me, because whenever he was there he was welcomed. He does something so sweet and hilariously cute, though. You don't even know! I laughed. But it was still so cute!

Blue stayed as complicated as she was in the first book, but I think that there was some development on her part - she kind of seems sweeter and more light to me? I'm not sure why. I do sometimes think that she's awfully dense, though. Hopefully there's a future for her and Gansey, because I just really want them to be together.

Speaking of Gansey, I still have a crush on him. He's such a nerd, but I think that we would get along. How is it that someone so quirky can survive with a political mother, though? I would think that his creativity would have died long ago...

The character relationships were pretty much amazing. I love everyone's interactions together, and I especially love the fact that in the alternating points of view, they think about each other. It's not like they ignore their existence when they're away - they think of each other even then. They think of how things will impact their group, and even if they make the mistake of doing it anyway... well, they thought about it, and I'm proud of that development in them all.

This is kind of off-subject, but I sometimes wonder if Blue's family is a representation of the three fates from Greek mythology, or maybe just based off of them? Because that would be so cool! (And weird! But mostly cool!)

There are several twist to this new installment of The Raven Cycle, but I can't reveal them because of spoilers! Just know that I'm proud of Blue and I'm also proud of Ronan. I never saw a lot of those twists coming, and they handled them well. All in all, I really enjoyed this one. I have high hopes for the next read in this series!

November 24, 2013

Scene it Sunday: A New Feature

Scene it Sunday is an original feature that I came up with several weeks ago... and I'm just now getting around to launching it. I don't know how it'll turn out, but I just wanted something special to do on Sundays. My idea is this: I've watched several book to movie adaptions recently - even if I haven't read the book, I just have this really weird obsession with them. So I was thinking that I should start noting the differences that bothered me. Sometimes things get lost in translation, you know? So Scene it Sunday was born! Hopefully this will be a weekly feature. I was also thinking that maybe book-vs-movie and reviews would be in order. What do y'all think? (:

If you're interested, check back here next week on Sunday for the first installment!
*I don't claim to own the "Scene It!" trademark, neither do they have any connections with me.

November 23, 2013

The Morals of a Pirate

Piracy is a recent hot topic around the blogosphere - I've seen several recent cases of it, from Susan Dennard's sarcastic letter to a book pirater, to Lauren DeStefano's recent twitter conversation with a man  who is illegally redistributing her books.

This is personally upsetting to me.

An author should have no reason to tell someone that they're illegally reading their books. There shouldn't be readers complaining that books cost too much, or that it takes too long to illegally download it. There's no reason for that. Book lovers should just love books - without illegal downloading having to be involved.

Piracy is an issue that many authors are dealing with every day. And now, lets say that you're a pirater. (pirater? pirateer? piracist?) I don't know what your reasons are. I'm not going to assume that you know what you're doing is wrong, because we all make mistakes, and obviously it doesn't make you a bad person. For all I know, you use it like a personal library - read, delete, buy it if you liked it. I don't know. I can't hold it against you. Hopefully you realize the error of your ways soon, though.

But seriously, stop this piracy - support the authors. You love their work, why not let them know by actually buying their books? Helping them pay their bills? In the words of Paula Stokes,
If 10,000 kids pirate your book, no one gets paid and maybe no one knows your book was popular. If 10,000 kids check your book out of the library, librarians notice and they order more copies, or they order your next book, or they read and nominate your book for awards, or they invite you to come speak, or they tell other librarians about your book, or they recommend your book to teens, who then maybe buy your next book or recommend it to more teens. Librarians can be incredibly powerful allies for authors, if you let them.

So, what if you illegally downloaded their book? And you really loved it. You're dying for the sequel to come out, so you can pirate it as well. But...the series gets discontinued. You never find out what happened, because the first book didn't sell enough copies. You contributed to that, however indirectly. You hurt the author. You hurt the series. And you'll never know what happens.

Think about that next time you try to get a "freebie". Remember, pirates had bad hygiene - and few friends.

Edit: I would like to state the fact that my opinion on this has changed since I've become a blogger. Before then, I really didn't think it mattered. By becoming a blogger, it's made me realize the effect that simple things like this have on people. Just thought about this, after I posted the post.

November 21, 2013

Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

Between You and Me
Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
Series: N/A
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Growing up in small-town Oklahoma, cousins Logan and Kelsey Wade were raised like sisters. Rarely separated, they became each other’s lifelines, escaping into the small joys of childhood to survive the increasing chaos in their family. Then one day Logan woke up and Kelsey and her parents were gone.

Years later, Kelsey has been propelled by her relentless parents to mega-stardom, her voice a radio fixture and her face on billboards worldwide. Meanwhile, Logan is trying to carve out her own life in New York City despite the constant reminders of her cousin’s absence. Though she has long since stopped trying to solve the mystery of their last hours together, the inexplicably fractured memories haunt her.

Then on Logan’s twenty-seventh birthday, she gets the call that she’s been longing for—and dreading. Before she can second-guess herself, she’s on a plane to L.A. to reunite with Kelsey and the parents who ripped them apart, but Logan will soon learn that some family secrets are kept hidden for a reason.
Honestly, the most that I took away from Between You and Me was the fact that I didn't particularly like it. Sadness doesn't even begin to describe how I felt about the familial relationships in this book - it doesn't even begin to cover it at all. I can't imagine having a family that only wanted you because of what you could do for them, which is what Kelsey has. And to tell you the truth, I feel so so bad for her, and I don't even really know how she feels about it - because her cousin Logan is the main character, and there are no alternating points of view.

Logan runs the show, and to be honest I really didn't like Logan. Not to say that she was unfeeling or anything... but girl was a little cold! Not to mention the fact that she had terrible taste in men, only thought about herself, and completely abandoned her immediate family... let's just say that we wouldn't get along.

I just didn't like her. On top of being unfeeling and cold, she was also incredibly dense. Like the kind where you just want to be able to hit them over the head with information - that's how I felt about her.

To make matters worse, I really couldn't follow along with the story very well. There was a lot of skipping around, coupled with unneeded drama. There's no scene where Logan gets hired to be Kelsey's assistant - first few chapters she's just staying there, and the suddenly she's the assistant. I don't understand how we made the jump, honestly. The "fractured memories" didn't even come up until 3/4 through the book, and it was just for added drama. It didn't add to the story in any way - in my opinion, of course.

I feel so much for Kelsey for some reason, but I can also say that I don't particularly care for her personality. She does what she's told, and anything that she does by herself is remarkably immature, because she's been sheltered for most of her life. She behaves like a teenager. Her problems & quasi relationship with Aaron do not bring that up. She still behaves like a teenager. She lets her parents control her without ever fighting for it - and they suck. They push her so hard. So hard. Everything has to be perfect, and if you're sick it doesn't matter sweetie... we've got you covered. This girl is on stage 24/7, and it's obvious that it's starting to wear on her. The more the book progressed, the more I just felt horrible for Kelsey - who is, again, not our main character.

The ending was terrible too - nothing was resolved, and that was what I was counting on. Now I still have no idea what happened, and to be honest I don't really care anymore. It just... ended. All in all, I really didn't enjoy Between You and Me. I would recommend giving it a shot if you enjoyed The Nanny Diaries.

November 20, 2013

Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Time After Time (Time Between Us, #2)
Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone
Series: Time Between Us, #2
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Calling Anna and Bennett’s romance long distance is an understatement: she’s from 1995 Chicago and he’s a time traveler from 2012 San Francisco. The two of them never should have met, but they did. They fell in love, even though they knew they shouldn't. And they found a way to stay together, against all odds.

It’s not a perfect arrangement, though, with Bennett unable to stay in the past for more than brief visits, skipping out on big chunks of his present in order to be with Anna in hers. They each are confident that they’ll find a way to make things work...until Bennett witnesses a single event he never should have seen (and certainly never expected to). Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future he doesn't want?

Told from Bennett’s point of view, Time After Time will satisfy readers looking for a fresh, exciting, and beautifully-written love story, both those who are eager to find out what’s next for Time Between Us's Anna and Bennett and those discovering their story for the first time.

I remember when I read Time Between Us, I thought it was a pretty good read. I liked it, I liked Anna and Bennett, but I thought that it was a little cliched. I still ended up giving it four stars, though.

Time After Time was a completely different experience for me. I just couldn't shake the thought, throughout the book, that Anna and Bennett just shouldn't be together. They're from completely different worlds! They'd never really be able to keep up an actual relationship - I mean, they could never live together or get married and have kids, because Bennett doesn't belong in 1995, and Anna can't go to 2012. All that they're doing is causing a whole bunch of heartache for themselves.

So really, I couldn't fall for them as a couple. Several times I just wanted Anna and Bennett to let each other go, to just live in the moment. I found myself not wanting them to work out.

I had to push myself through parts of this book, because I felt like the plot just moved so slow! There was a definite bumpedita theme going on here, and the fact remains that the romance just wasn't working for me. The next thing that bothered me was the time travel - I loved it in the first book, I really did.

But in this one, I kept questioning it and everything that Bennett did with it. I couldn't help but think about the fact that he has inadvertently caused a lot of the things that shouldn't have happened. He's messed up a lot of stories, that's for sure.

All in all, Time After Time just wasn't for me. The time travel just didn't work, and I found myself hoping that the lead couple would just break it off.

November 19, 2013

Top Ten Books I Would Recommend to My Sister

This week's topic is one that I really like, because I'm always trying to get my sister to read, and there are a lot of books that I would recommend to her!

1. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healey - I recently read this one and really loved it, so of course I want her to read it! I really think that she would enjoy the illustrations and the great humor.

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)2. Starcrossed series by Josephine Angelini - I've always thought that she would like this series, because it has similar characteristics to The Tiger Saga, which is the only set of books that I've ever succeeded in getting her to read. (Side note: I love mythology!)

3. Splintered by A.G. Howard - I want her to read this one because she so enjoys the new Alice in Wonderland movie, which I think shares a lot with this book and she guessed that it was about Alice in Wonderland based on the cover. ;)

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - I know that this really wouldn't be her thing (at first) but I think that she would end up enjoying it.

5. Across the Universe by Beth Revis - I didn't really love this one or anything, but I feel like she would really like it. I'm not just saying that. ;)

6. The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar - I tried to push this one on her when it first came out, and needless to say it didn't work. But maybe someday she'll read it!

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)7. Divergent by Veronica Roth - I have tried to explain to her how awesome it is that a guy gets stabbed in the eye with a butter knife, but she still does not appear to be interested in this one! Maybe I'll get her to read it after the movie. (That's how she ended up reading The Hunger Games!)

8. Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon - Nick. Zombies. Awesome-ness all around. I've kind of given up hoping that she'll read this one, but maybe.

9. The Diviners by Libba Bray - In my opinion, this is the best creepy read ever, and I want her to read it to experience the chills and beauty of this book!

10. Cinder by Marissa Meyer - I really think that she'd like this. A dystopian/sci-fi with a touch of fairytales? I hope that someday she gives it a chance.

November 18, 2013

Day One by Nate Kenyon

Day One
Day One by Nate Kenyon
Series: N/A
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Scandal-plagued hacker journalist John Hawke is hot on the trail of the explosive story that might save his career. James Weller, the former CEO of giant technology company Eclipse, has founded a new start-up, and he’s agreed to let Hawke do a profile on him. Hawke knows something very big is in the works at Eclipse---and he wants to use the profile as a foot in the door to find out more.

After he arrives in Weller’s office in New York City, a seemingly normal day quickly turns into a nightmare as anything with an Internet connection begins to malfunction. Hawke receives a call from his frantic wife just before the phones go dead. Soon he and a small band of survivors are struggling for their very lives as they find themselves thrust into the middle of a war zone---with no obvious enemy in sight.

The bridges and tunnels have been destroyed. New York City is under attack from a deadly and brilliant enemy that can be anywhere and can occupy anything with a computer chip. Somehow Hawke must find a way back to his pregnant wife and young son. Their lives depend upon it . . . and so does the rest of the human race.

I really thought that I would like Day One. I'm a member of the tin foil hat group, so the idea wasn't really that implausible to me, and I thought that it would a great addition to the dystopian genre. I was a tad bit wrong there - unfortunately, I just didn't love this one. It was okay, it just wasn't what I was looking for.

Let's start with our main character, Hawke. I just couldn't connect with him. He was too nervous, too jumpy. I also probably had a hard time connecting with him because he's a guy. Let's just throw that out there. He just wasn't the take-charge, bad-ass guy that I would want around in this situation.

The secondary characters all fell really flat for me as well - they were just names on a page. There was a time when I couldn't even differentiate between them, but as the book wore on... they started to disappear, so it became a lot easier. They weren't any better, but there wasn't near as many.

But I have got to move on from the characters, I'm just depressing myself by talking about them. Let's move on to the storyline - an invisible enemy that can take anyone down with a computer chip. If it has an internet connection, it's on to you. It knows exactly where you're at, and what it needs to do to take you down. Probable.

But let's add this tiny SPOILER-it's just a computer. A computer that is thinking and making decisions for itself - that's the improbable part. I believe that machines are tracking you, and that people can track you using them... but machines just can't think on their own. There is no algorithm that they can be taught that will make them think on their own. There's always somebody behind the desk.-SPOILER END.

That spoiler makes it all improbable. This is where my freaked-outed-ness went downhill. Because at that point, the story just lost all of it's meaning for me. Before the reveal, I obviously assumed that it was a covert government operation or something, when it wasn't.

Another pet peeve of mine [in this book] was the overload of details. I generally like details, but there came a point when it just became too much. The flashbacks were interesting, and they added some depth to Hawke, but I feel like that was their only purpose. I never learned any information that helped with the storyline from these, so I'm assuming that it was only to add depth.

Now I ask... what is the point? Day One ends with a fairly open ending, and I'm honestly not even sure how we got there. All in all, this one just wasn't for me.

November 16, 2013

Do Other Readers' Opinions Influence Yours?

Honestly, I think that everyone's opinion influences someone else's. If you read a book and review it, chances are high that if five people read your review then read the book, three of those five people will agree with you. For instance, when I read a book with a buddy, I feel like my opinion (and theirs) influences us all greatly - and if we talk it out, it becomes our opinion too.

We're like this big mass mind of book reviews. Now, this is no way meant to be offensive, but all of the beloved books of the world - did you hear about them from a rave review? Did you ever wonder if maybe possibly... I don't know. Their review influenced yours, and suddenly it's like a big hive mind?

Maybe if you hadn't read that particular review (or any review of that book) before you started it, you would have formed really good, uninfluenced thoughts about it. But... I always kind of wonder if every review you read taints your perception of that book. That maybe subconsciously, we didn't really love that book - we only liked it, but because every one else loved it, we were tricked into thinking that we loved it too.

But that could also go vice versa. If you read a LOT of reviews, both good and bad, for each book that you read, does that mean that NONE of their thoughts influence you, just like if you'd never read a review of it in the first place? It's such a hard call. Personally, if I know that I'm going to read a book soon, I avoid pretty much all reviews of it. Personal preference and all that. But do you think that other peoples' thoughts and opinions influence yours? Discuss!

November 15, 2013

Freak of Nature by Julia Crane

Freak of Nature (IFICS, #1)
Freak of Nature by Julia Crane
Series: IFICS, #1
Source: Bought
Publisher: Valknut Press
Publication Date: February 2, 2013
Donate Body to Science. Check.
When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life–and her body–stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

Kaitlyn finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a handsome, brilliant scientist who can’t get over the guilt he feels knowing she was once a vibrant, beautiful young woman. He never expected a science project to affect him the way she does. As he tries to help her rediscover her past, he finds himself falling for the brave girl struggling to find her place and acceptance between the human and computer worlds.
Freak of Nature was a disappointing read for me. I went into it expecting the cyborg girl, Kate, to have some awesome insights and to have real, actual feelings. And while it does say that Kate has feelings, well, I never felt them. She goes about everything so robotically that it was hard to see anything else. She approaches everything as if it's a chore. Which, let's face it, sucks.

I couldn't connect with her on any level, and most of the time her character just confused me. I had no idea where some of her logic came from, and her narration was spotty at best. I was often left wondering how and why I got from one place to the other. Sometimes it was so bad that I went back and re-read, only to still not understand what had happened.

But let's talk about what really got me on this one-- the romance. There was absolutely no build up. It happened pretty dang instantaneously, and to make matters worse, the guy says that it "happened gradually" which was completely untrue. It happened three to five chapters in. It was really hard for me to believe that they even liked each other, and I saw no chemistry in their interactions. No spark.

Nothing, nada, zilch-- I didn't understand the idea that they were in love-- I never really felt it from either of them. Their kisses just felt like a meeting of parts, and don't even get me started on them having sex. O.o

All in all, Freak of Nature just didn't work out for me. I found it hard to believe that Kate as a cyborg had feelings, and I also felt that it all fell into place way too easily. Let's get real, in a top secret area like that; it would be a lot harder to get a new job or escape. (That does not mean what you think it does.)

November 14, 2013

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles, #1)
Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles, #1
Source: Bought
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.
I see no proof, only words, but words can be powerful. Words can be what puts a boy to death.

I really wish that I could give Perfect Ruin a bazillion of million stars. But I can't. Don't get me wrong at all - I quite enjoyed it! But I can't discount the fact that I just didn't love the characters. The atmosphere was wonderful, and the prose was superb; but I wanted the characters to have deeper personalities, and more motive.

Morgan was okay. Sometimes I liked her, but most of the time she was kind of meh-ish for me. I loved that there was an existing romance - I'm seeing this trend more and more often in YA books, and I'm loving it! Basil and Morgan were so adorable together; and I liked that their romance was more sweet than steamy. I have to admit that the whole idea of "betrothal" upsets me, though. It's just... depressing. The idea that someone else chooses who you're going to be with for the rest of your life - and you have no say. I mean, it's working so far in Basil and Morgan's case, but who knows if that'll last. We ARE talking about YA here. I hope that it lasts, though; because as I said before, it's adorable.

I'm not going to lie here - Morgan's best friend, Pen, kind of miffs me. I keep expecting her to betray them all and do something drastic, which so far hasn't been proven true. But I don't trust her. I just can't explain it any better than that. I feel like something about her

I liked the air of "mystery" (oooOOOOooohhh) that surrounded Judas. I never really thought that he murdered the girl, because he just puts off a good guy vibe, which I have to admit was pretty nice. I do wonder if there will be a love triangle later in the series, though. This both thrills and upsets me, and I'm not sure which feeling will win out in the end.

I have a few philosophical questions and theories about the book, but I won't delve into them. I'm afraid you'll all run away screaming "WHY COULDN'T YOU JUST ACCEPT IT!" LOL. The ending was fabulous - my only problem was that I felt like it could have gone on just a bit longer... I mean, it just... ended. What am I supposed to do with my life until the next book comes out?!