Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Goodreads Summary:
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die. 

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. 

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

My Review:
I am a big fan of Maggie Stiefvater's "The Wolves of Mercy Falls" Series. I also really liked this book. But I would recommend that one not read this book in comparison to the other. Rather than reading this book as a Maggie Stiefvater fan, I would say to read this book as a fan of horse racing stories? Think Seabiscuit or The Black Stallion. This story does have a mythological twist to it, but it is not an overly present part of the story. This book takes place in our world, rather than a mythological one. The setting is an Island named Thisby which is off of of Ireland I am guessing, since the capaill uisce (water horse) is an Irish myth. This is the only place in the world where the deadly water horses come to shore each Fall. They are fierce creatures that can easily kill man and human alike. But at times are lured and captured by Humans to be raced every November at the Scorpio Races.

The story is a little slow to begin, I wasn't sure how much I liked it for a while as I was reading it. As I got further in and by the end I decided that I liked it a lot. The story is really good, I was probably just expecting something different when I had started reading the book, based on what I had previously read from the author. This story has a feel which is to me, much more classic than contemporary.

This story is told in alternating points of view. Puck (Kate) Connolly and Sean Kendrick who are both participants in the race. Puck is a first time racer, and the first female to ever enter into the races. Sean is a four time champion of the races. In the story the two characters come to know and help each other both before and after the outcome of the winner. Because the races are on true monsters which are very unpredictable, I had no idea how this story would end and who might win the races. I was happy with the way things turned out. 

I heard that this story is going to be made into a movie. I can see that it would be a good movie. There are some good characters and I can see how a movie like this would appeal to a large audience of all ages. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ashbury/Brookfield Books by Jaclyn Moriarty


Book 1: Feeling Sorry for Celia
Book 2: The Year of Secret Assignments (Published in Australia as Finding Cassie Crazy)
Book 3: The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie (Published in Australia as Becoming Bindy Mackenzie)
Book 4: The Ghosts of Ashbury High (Published in Australia as Dreaming of Amelia)

(The author is Australian and that is why her books are first published there. I don't know why the names were changed for the Americans?)

I just finished reading The Year of Secret Assignments in this series and I just want to take a moment to express how much I love this series... I really love these books!

Actually I haven't read book 3 yet (I know once I read it then there are no more to look forward to, so I'm saving that one for later, so I have something to really look forward to. I don't know how long I'll hold out!)

I didn't read them in the right order, but that's ok because they are companion books rather than a chronological series. All of them take place at Ashbury High (a private high school) or Brookfield High (the closest public high school) Many of the characters are the same throughout the 4 books but book tells the story of someone different.

These stories are all told through letters, emails, meeting notes, bulletins, and other written correspondence. I love how they are different from your average novel in that way.

These stories are HILARIOUS! but always have a serious issue that is addressed and resolved in one way or another. The humor in these stories is perfect. I find myself holding in my laughter when I am reading in public, but sometimes I just can't help it... and my laughter escapes. When I am reading in the privacy of my own home I don't hold back and there are a lot of laughs.

I wish my life were as fun and funny as these books. I wish there were a never ending supply of books in this series for me to enjoy forever. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Goodreads Summary:
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. 

My Review:
I <3 this book! I really loved Anna and the French Kiss and was hoping that I would feel the same way about Stephanie Perkins' second book. This definitely lived up to my hopes and dreams. This book makes me smile. If you've read and loved Anna and the French Kiss you'll know what I mean. If you haven't read it. Go read it!!

Lola is quite the unique character. She lives in San Francisco and is raised by her two gay dads. Her birth mother (the sometimes drug addicted, sometimes homeless sister of one of her dads) is not a welcome visitor in her life. Lola is happy and fun and quirky and she dresses every day in a different costume. I don't want to go too much into the story of the book but just with keeping those facts in mind you can see how this is a unique girl. I really liked the characters -- even the less than perfect ones. I was excited to see ANNA and ETIENNE ST CLAIR make their appearances in the story as well. I just think the love story is so cute and fun to follow.  I can't wait to see what happens in the next book (Isla and the Happily Ever After) and I really hope that we will get to see a bit of Lola and Cricket and what is to come for them in the future.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Silence (Hush, Hush Book 3) by Becca Fitzpatrick

Here is the summary copied from
The noise between Patch and Nora is gone. They've overcome the secrets riddled in Patch's dark past...bridged two irreconcilable worlds...faced heart-wrenching tests of betrayal, loyalty and trust...and all for a love that will transcend the boundary between heaven and earth. Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they've worked for—and their love—forever.

My Review:
I have really enjoyed this series so far, I think I like each book more and more. So I was surprised and a little excited when I found out that this is not the last book of the series (as I had thought) but that there is still another one to follow. I look forward to that one, as this one ends with a lot of questions about what will happen next.

This story starts out with Nora being held prisoner, and while she is later released (thanks to Patch) her memory has been erased. She can not remember the last 5 months, and therefore, has forgotten her entire relationship with Patch. I was having a hard time remembering the details of the first two books, since it had been so long since I'd read them. But since Nora didn't remember any of those details either I didn't feel too behind. As Nora relearned her past, it helped me to remember too, so thanks for that review Becca Fitzpatrick.

This book brings the conflict between Archangels, Fallen Angels, Nephilim, and some Humans all together! Nora and Patch each have their own causes to support but above all, they support each other first. The love story part in this book is cute and sweet. It's hard to believe that as much as Patch (or Jev, as we might call him in this book) loves Nora, this all started out with him wanting to kill her... seriously... but oh well now it's a nice love story. (Between an immortal, therefore old fallen angel and a 16, or now 17 year old girl. I will only be creeped out by that for a little bit longer) Patch really comes through for Nora in this book, he sacrifices a lot for her, and goes through a lot of pain to benefit her.

I really do like this series and I think that Silence might be the best one so far. I am rooting for Nora and Patch and hope that in the end, there can be some kind of peaceful happy resolution for all human to angel, and anywhere in between.

Friday, October 14, 2011

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Goodreads Summary:
New to town, Beatrice is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet loner who hasn't made a new friend since third grade. Something about him, though, gets to Bea, and soon they form an unexpected friendship. It's not romance, exactly - but it's definitely love. Still, Bea can't quite dispel Jonah's gloom and doom - and as she finds out his family history, she understands why. Can Bea help Jonah? Or is he destined to vanish?

My Review:
I will start with the end... crying! This book made me cry, and kind of a lot. 
This is a story about a boy and a girl, but they don't fall in love and they don't live happily ever after. Bea and Jonah are "just friends" but they are best friends and wouldn't want their relationship to be any other way despite what other feelings might be between them. The friendship they share is the most important relationship that both Bea and Jonah have. This is, in part, because Jonah hasn't really had a friend in such a long time, and Bea is such a loyal friend. When reading this book I found that I could relate a lot to the friendship between the two characters in small ways with many of my high school and post high school girl/guy friendships. I guess that's is why it really hit me in the not so happy ending. I guess I should have guessed somewhat by the title, that there would be some GOODBYE's to endure, but it was still rough for me!! I mean it!! But this book is so unique, and quirky, which are qualities that I personally appreciate, and therefore, I recommend this book. Just be warned. THIS DOES NOT END HAPPILY :). I know all of that doesn't tell you too much about what the story is actually about, so I will borrow a bit more of explanation from author Maggie Stiefvater (because it was based on her recommendation of this book that I read it in the first place, and I like her review)

The best favor I can do to everyone considering reading this book is to tell them that it's not a YA romance. Once you get that out of the way, you can enjoy this book for what it is: a quirky, intelligent YA novel about two lost teens finding their way back to normalcy -- or not. 
While the two main characters -- nicknamed "Ghost Boy" and "Robot Girl" -- in this book are earnestly 3D, the real star of this novel is the late night radio program that both of them listen to. The quirky and sincere and bizarre and fascinating callers enchant both the narrator and the reader, and ultimately, this book ended up on my five star list because the show and the ending remained in my head for longer than it took me to read the book. 
I think this one also goes on my top five YAs that ought to be movies list -- I can see it perfectly in my head. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien

My Review ~ I will try not to spoil much here:

This story starts out where Birthmarked leaves off, after Gaia has escaped the wall of the Enclave with her baby sister Maya, and has set off to find her grandmother's settlement in the wasteland. When she finally comes across a matriarchal community called Sylum, where women are far more scarce than men. 

Because the ruler of these people in Sylum has saved both her and her sister's life, she is indebted to them. They respect and honor her for being female, and value her skills as a midwife. In many ways they treat her well, and better than she had been treated both on the outside and inside of the walls of the Enclave. But, because of Gaia's unwillingness to respect and value all of the customs and laws of Sylum, she is also harshly punished at times. Gaia suffers from what I will call a strange version of Stockholm Syndrome where she has to fight her internal struggle to both value and help this new community to thrive, while also wanting to rebel against it's laws and government.

I'll blame it on her inner confusion, but I found that at at times  she would make sacrifices for one cause or another (even when she was not sure if it was the right thing to do) that had potentially catastrophic consequences. Other times where it seemed obvious what she should do to help someone that needed her, she would do nothing and leave someone she was really indebted to, without her help. I really didn't agree with a lot of her decisions in this book. This is something that really bothered me when I was reading this book. But I understand that not every character in every story is going to do what I want them to do. While I'm talking about things that I personally don't like, I will also say that I get queasy with the talk of the pregnancy exams and uterus issues, and blood and things of the like. This was in the first book and is here again because of course Gaia is a midwife. I know it's necessary but it makes me queasy! There I've said it. 

On to brighter things! Given the male-to-female ration here, Gaia has no shortage for love interests. And because the love triangle is a very common theme in many stories, Gaia is unique in having more than just two options to choose from!

I really enjoyed Birthmarked and I also really enjoyed the story told in Prized as well (aside from my already mentioned issues) I look forward to continuing this series and seeing where it goes. Because this story and even the culture and setting of Prized was so different from Birthmarked, I would really like to see the two 'worlds' of the two books collide and see how that plays out. I am hoping that is where book number three will be headed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Goodreads Summary:
Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies.

My Review:
This was a really entertaining read for me. It was kind of fun to consider the concept of "remembering" only the future and having no memories of the past. It's tough to believe London and Luke's relationship would be able to progress as far as it did when her memory hit a reset button every morning at 4:33am. Her knowledge of him and their relationship was based only on her notes to herself from the days before and her attraction to him each time she saw him... but this is a work of fiction so I'm not complaining too much... I liked how in the end she was able to remember something very important which gave a purpose to the story. But even without the purpose, I liked the characters, and like I said, it was an entertaining story and a fun concept.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

My summary of this book:
This is a story of a girl named Amy who is dealing with the recent and tragic death of her father. Each member of her family dealt with her fathers loss differently. Her twin brother was sent away to rehab, while her mother moved to Connecticut for a fresh start. Amy was left all alone in California for three months to finish out the year of school.

During the summer (before her senior year, no less) when it is time for her to move to the new Connecticut home with her mother, Amy has to do all of the traveling in the family car. Amy no longer drives since her father's accident, so the driver of the car will be Roger. Roger is a college sophomore who needs to get to Philadelphia and  who needs to deal with some problems of his own. Although the two character's mothers are old friends, Amy & Roger hardly know each other... but they are about to spend a lot of time together!

On their journey across country and into a new phases of their own lives, the two learn a lot about each other, and about themselves. 

My review:
This was such a great book! I'm confident that any YA book lover will love Amy & Roger.

I liked that there was a multimedia feel to this book. Each chapter title was the title of a song that related somehow to the physical or emotional place of the characters in their journey. There were maps, scrapbook photos, road trip itinerary, gas station receipts, emails, iPod play-lists, souvenirs, and fun facts sprinkled throughout the book. This was done in a way that helped to really bring out the emotions and experiences of any good road trip, while not taking away from the story itself. 

I think that both of the main characters were very likable and I like how their friendship developed naturally with each new experience on the detour. I especially felt for Amy with all of the problems she was dealing with in her family, the worst of all being the death of her father. She felt like she was not the same person anymore and she felt that there were things she would or could never do after he died. She learned along the way that she can still be whoever she wants to be. 

Roger is very fun and adorable. He has an ex-girlfriend that weighs heavy on his mind throughout the trip. A big reason for him taking this trip is an opportunity to fix the situation with her. I do not want to spoil the book for anyone who has not read it, but I will say that both Amy and Roger have brighter and happier futures ahead of them once the detour comes to an end. 

Overall I give this book a big happy smile! I look forward to reading future books written by Morgan Matson.