Sep 13, 2013


Oh, hi!

My blog is moving to Wordpress - it's now

If you don't enjoy cat pictures, here's where my blog is going.

I disappeared months because it was my last semester of college ever!

And now I'm back and I've been reading and writing reviews like mad! Which will be over here!

Seriously, in the time I've been gone, cats started writing books. Not that I'm complaining...because that's just adorable.

Anyway, I have NEW book reviews for you! The 1st will be Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, which I finally read and loved. 

Feb 10, 2013

Major Crush

Major Crush by Jennifer Echols
Published: 8-1-2006 by Simon Pulse

Tired of the beauty-pagean circuit, Virginia Sauter tosses her tiara, pierces her nose, and auditions for the most unlikely of roles -- drum major of the high school marching band.

Virginia wins, but is forced to share the title with Drew, whose family has held the position for generations. Sure, Drew is hot, but because of his superior attitude, he and Virginia are constantly arguing. That is, until they share more than just their half-time salute...

But as the drum major's heated competition turns to sizzling romance, explosive rumors threaten everything -- including the band's success. Love seemed to be a sure hit, but Virginia and Drew may be marching straight into disaster.

This is a great book about marching band and some of the crazy situations that can happen when you put between 100 and 300 teens together for large amounts of time. I was in marching band in high school (French horn / mellophone) so I saw this book differently than someone who has never experienced that culture would. First of all, I have something to admit. The 1st time I saw this book at a Goodwill, I didn't buy it because of the friend I was with. She's into adult books, and her only YA likes are John Green books - and I was embarrassed of wanting to read a cute high school romance book. And you know what? I'm never gonna hesitate to read something I want to read because of someone else's opinion again. This book may be fluffy, but I loved it and will definitely go read some of the Jennifer Echols books everyone's raving about.

  • band geek personalities - So this is something that probably only makes sense if you know people in band. In this book, the personalities of the people in each section are true to real life. The trombone players are the ones goofing off and enjoying everything immature, the clarinets are mostly girls who have you could possibly need somehow concealed in their uniforms. Seriously, if you need mascara or lipgloss, the clarinets are your source. This book was really entertaining to me because it reflected my band experience so well with these personalities. 
  • Mr. Rush - Virginia's new band director isn't happy with the drum major situation either, and his methods of forcing Virginia and Drew to get along are hilariously strange. He curses in front of his students and he makes everyone at faculty meetings mad every time he goes to them. Each scene where Virginia goes up against Mr. Rush is a highlight. 
  • plot - The whole premise of this book is something I love. Virginia and Drew don't get along, yet they have to be drum majors and lead the band together. Band requires a lot of time, so they are thrown together often. I liked that both of them were stubborn for their own reasons - Drew because of his family  and Virginia because she wants to prove herself. 
  • anti-racism - This is a cute romance book, so I didn't at all expect it to take on racism, but it did. Virginia's school is in Alabama and has a separate contest for black girls so that they can't be Homecoming Queen, and apparently no one questioned this - um, what?! - until Mr. Rush came along. I appreciated that this book dealt with racist insults (something that unfortunately does still happen) and the reactions to them. Just because something is a "tradition" doesn't mean it shouldn't ever be changed or questioned. 

  • Walter - I found Walter annoying, possibly because I usually find it annoying when someone the main character is not interested in is crushing on them. I don't need someone to have a crush on the MC to see her as someone of value. There do exist stories that have nothing to do with love. I'm over-thinking this. Walter is annoying because he acts like Virginia is a horrible friend for not liking him back.

  • Mr. Rush made a show of stacking his papers, turning them just so on his desk. "Let me tell you what I know. I'm living in a town that's so small and remote, it doesn't have a McDonald's. I've taken a job that's so bad, the guy before me was dying to break out and start his stellar career as a mailman."   - Mr. Rush, pg. 40
  • He poked at Drew with the end of his trombone slide. I think this was a boy version of concern.   - Virginia, pg. 114

4 robots
A cute band geek romance, with just the right balance of side plot to keep it from being too gooey

Acquired: bought at Goodwill

Jan 20, 2013

Don't Stop Now

Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern
Published: 6-7-2011 by Feiwel and Friends

On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance. And who better to road-trip across the country with than Lil’s BFF, Josh. But here’s the thing: Lil loves Josh. And Josh doesn’t want to “ruin” their amazing friendship.
Josh has a car and his dad’s credit card. Lil has her cellphone and a hunch about where Penny is hiding. There’s something else she needs to find: Are she and Josh meant to be together?

This book wasn't what I thought it was going to be. It was a lot more about Lil's relationship with Josh than it was about Penny. I think it was a little confused about what it was going to be about. The cover's tagline (Friend or Boyfriend?) describes it perfectly, while the blurb above makes it sound much different. 

  • vagueness - I appreciated how the author left it up to the reader to decide if Penny was really abused by her boyfriend. If her parents really did ignore her. Signs definitely point to yes in both cases, but things in life aren't black and white. 
  • Lil - I felt that Lil was easy to relate to for numerous reasons. She just graduated high school and is worried about the future, she's crushing on her closest guy friend, and she's willing to go to all lengths to make sure her friend is safe. 
  • tourist traps - The places that Lil and Josh stop at along their road trip are so off-the-wall crazy. They're interesting pieces of our weird country - things like the Corn Palace and the House on the Rock - collections of things that someone thought were worth building shrines to. 

  • Penny - Penny is an unreliable source of information. She's talked about frequently, yet seen rarely, making her a sort of dark cloud hanging over Lil and Josh. Penny's reaction to Lil driving for days just to make sure she's alright is way too casual. Penny has no concept of what friendship is, or of how big a deal running away and faking a kidnapping is. 
  • Josh - Sure, Josh would be a great friend to go on a road trip with - he's entertaining and has daddy issues that result in a bottomless credit card. But Josh doesn't seem like good boyfriend material. He's a loyal friend to Lil, but he's sometimes clueless and other times purposefully ignorant of Lil's feelings. I felt like he toyed with her emotions constantly. He would kiss her forehead or tell her she looked sexy but not want to be more than friends. I still can't decide if he was being clueless or if he was being a jerk. If he was confused about his own feelings toward her, that would have been fine if he'd just told her that. 

  • We drive until my eyes close, until the tape flips again, until we finally come to a stop, in a town Josh tells me in a dreamy whisper is called Wall, and I float behind him as he holds my hand and leads me to a bed that's not mine and I fall asleep.        - Lil  pg. 112
  • Josh starts, "So I had this idea while I was driving last night..."  My interest peaked, I'm certain he's about to finally reveal his undying devotion to me. Or at least that he'd like to make out some time. But instead he says, "Tambourines, man. Gotta get some tambourines."   Logically.    - Lil  pg. 147

3 robots
Mostly about Lil's desire to be more than friends with her BFF Josh, but the road trip brings all the highlights

If you're interested in weird tourist spots in the USA, I really like this book:

Acquired: bought

Jan 13, 2013

Get Well Soon

Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern
Published: 10-2-2007 by Feiwel and Friends

Anna Bloom is depressed—so depressed that her parents have committed her to a mental hospital with a bunch of other messed-up teens. Here, she meets a roommate with a secret (and a plastic baby), a doctor who focuses way too much on her weight, and a cute, shy boy who just might like her. But wait! Being trapped in a loony bin isn’t supposed to be about making friends, losing weight, and having a crush, is it?

I've always been pretty interested in reading Young Adult books about mental health. The first book I read that addressed a mental health disorder as part of the story was Deb Caletti's The Nature of Jade. In Get Well Soon, Anna's depression isn't just a part of the story - it's the reason for the entire plot. The story is loosely based on the author's own experience in a mental health hospital, yet this book manages to be funny as well as raw.

  • Anna - She's easy to empathize with, and her outlook on all the weird things going on in the mental hospital is unique and funny. It's easy to understand her anger and confusion with her parents, her fear about readjusting to "the real world", and the hope she finds when she makes friends with her fellow "inmates". 
  • the other patients - Everyone was interesting to read about. In the mental hospital, the teens' issues range from pregnancy to suicide to Satan worship. Each of Anna's friends has their own personal problems to work through while they're there. It was great to hear all of their opinions on life and the hospital. 
  • plot - Anna has to deal with ridiculous hospital stuff, like giving other people Appreciations, moving up to Level 3, and sticking out 2 fingers for permission to talk. There are rules that make no sense and forced interactions with other people during group therapy. Overall, the balance between Anna's personal life - finding love and hope - and her depression - working with her therapist and avoiding panic attacks - is perfect. 
  • Justin - I loved the mystery of Justin's past, and Anna noticing the small things about him. They're obsession with music and the way it factors into Justin's story was something I really enjoyed. There's no insta-love here, it's a slow romance that I thought was wonderful.

  • parents / real life - I think Anna let her parents off the hook pretty easy considering they dropped her in a mental hospital. How do you reconnect with your parents after all that? I would be interested in reading about Anna readjusting to her home life and going back to school. She and her new friends all seemed pretty worried about how things were going to be for them when they leave.

  • It was Sean's turn to choose TV stations (why is it always his turn?), and he puts on "Full House" again. I don't get it: Is there a "Full House" channel that only mental hospitals subscribe to? Who else would?        - pg. 121
  • People sent me get well soon cards while I was in a mental hospital. There were fluffy little bunnies, floaty rainbows, and even a religious card. I could understand that Hallmark probably doesn't make "Get Sane Soon" cards, but still. Was I not well before? Am I well now? Who decides?    - pg. 190

5 robots
Honest and funny, full of unique characters and deep thoughts about life in general

Acquired: bought

Dec 20, 2012

The Queen of Everything

The Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti
Published: 11-2-2002 by Simon Pulse

People ask me all the time what having Vince MacKenzie for a father was like. What they mean is, was he always crazy?

High school junior Jordan MacKenzie's life was pretty typical: fractured family, new boyfriend, dead-end job. She'd been living with her father (the predictable optometrist) since her mother (the hippie holdover) had become too embarrassing to be around. Jordan felt that she finally had as normal a life as she could. Then came Gayle D'Angelo.

Jordan knew her father was dating Gayle and that Gayle was married. Jordan knew it was wrong and that her father was becoming someone she didn't recognize anymore, but what could she do about it? And how could she -- how could anyone -- have possibly guessed that this illicit love affair would implode in such a violent and disturbing way?

I like Deb Caletti's books a lot, but this wasn't one of my favorites. It kinda reminded me of Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, which was a depressing book. This book is about things going on in Jordan's life, but most of the things going on in her life are actually things going on in her dad's life and how they affect her.

  • Jordan's mom - While Jordan sees her mom as a slightly crazy hippie, I think she's a delightful crazy hippie. Jordan's mom seems to be a much more supportive parent than Jordan thinks she is. She also lives a zany and interesting life.
  • Jackson - Jackson is a sweet, patient, and unique guy. Jordan should have spent so much more time with Jackson than she did. He's quirky because he got lost by himself for a few days and followed sounds that no one else heard back home. He plays bagpipes and shows up whenever Jordan needs him, even if she doesn't realize she needs him. 

  • Kale - It's difficult to describe how much I hate this guy. He is such a jerk, and every time he showed up I cringed inside because he's just that much of a loser. Jordan wasted so much time with him even thought she knew the kind of guy he was.
  • Melissa - Yeah, as far as best friends go, Melissa isn't the greatest one. She doesn't really care that Kale is a disgusting person - she just gets obsessed with the fact that a boy is paying attention to Jordan. Melissa is a pretty flat character, and she gets annoyed at Jordan for silly reasons.
  • Jordan's dad - He's so selfish. He gets into a bad situation, and even though his is fully aware that seeing a married woman is a bad idea, he chooses to ignore the things he doesn't like. When Jordan tries to talk to her dad about what he's doing, he gets angry and pushes her away. He's extremely selfish, and it would have been a lot better for Jordan's life if he had at least attempted to be a decent parent.
  • I'm confused - You go into this book not knowing what happened, but Jordan is telling you the story after everything has already happened. It was a bit confusing, especially when Jordan refers to Big Mama, a character we aren't introduced to until very late in the story. It can add to a story if you don't know what's going to happen, because the characters don't know what's going to happen. But it was like Jordan existed in 2 times at once - the time when everything was happening, and the time after it happened.

  • This photo, ripped up and discarded in anger, did not belong here at our house. This photo of a man who was not even one of us, dressed up for an occasion we were not a part of. It frightened me. Frightened me in a way that I had never felt before. It was the sudden realization that terrible things might not just be for other people.     - pg. 103
  • "I think I'm going nuts," I said to the cat. But I heard it. It did. I stood up, as if that might help my ears somehow. God, I felt so crazy, but I could have sworn I heard the sound of bagpipes coming from the direction of the creek.        - Jordan  pg. 332-333
2 robots
Deb Caletti writes about bad family situations so well, but I found it hard to enjoy this book

Acquired: swapped for on

Dec 13, 2012

The Death Cure

The Death Cure by James Dashner
Published: 10-11-2011 by Delacorte

Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says.
The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.
Will anyone survive the Death Cure?

My opinion of this series is a little strange. I thought the 1st book, The Maze Runner, was just ok. The 2nd book, The Scorch Trials, was action packed and awesome. This book was a big letdown for me, which sucks, but that's just my opinion.

  • Cranks - The scenes with Cranks in the deteriorating city were intense. These scenes were probably my favorite parts of the book. The subplot of one of the group being infected and slowly going insane was, to me, more interesting than what was going on with WICKED. It was also an emotional punch in the gut.
  • Brenda - I love how Brenda, and really most of the girls in these books, are not afraid to embrace the butt-kicking that comes with being somehow connected to WICKED. Brenda is not the most fleshed-out character, but I like her. She's smart and not dead weight in the face of danger. I can't remember much of what went on in the Scorch Trials with Brenda, so maybe she is more of a developed character and I just don't remember the details.

  • short chapters - The chapters in this book are way too short. They average about 5 pages each, although I am completely guessing - this isn't mathematical at all. It was horribly distracting for there to be a new chapter so often. There are 73 chapters in this book! I just...why? In most books I read, I barely notice the chapters because they are normal length, and I like not noticing the chapters.
  • epic conclusion? - I thought this book was a big step down action-wise from The Scorch Trials. There's a lot of description of people being shot with weapons, and other action-y things, but it doesn't feel like action. There's not a lot of dialogue either. Thomas does a lot of thinking and warring with himself.
  • indecision - Is WICKED bad? Is WICKED good? What do we do in either of these situations? It's still unclear if the villain is really the villain. This doesn't bother me, but Thomas thinking about it constantly was annoying after awhile. Stop thinking and do something! Also, there was very minimal recap from the 2nd book, which I read a long time ago, so I would have liked a refresher on what happened.
  • the group - In The Maze Runner there was clearly a tight-knit group. They had to work together to survive and to escape. In The Scorch Trials, the group expanded a bit, but was also called into question. In this book, Thomas and a few others were separated from everyone else. Basically, the core group was really small and I forgot where some of those characters came from, and I missed some of the other characters I was familiar with.
2 robots
Not the action-packed satisfyingly epic conclusion that I was looking forward to

Acquired: bought

Dec 6, 2012

Beautiful Darkness

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Published: 10-12-2010 by Little, Brown

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

I really liked the first book in this series, Beautiful Creatures. Overall, I thought this book was too long and not nearly as exciting as I had hoped. I mean, the summary does say life-ending, so I don't think I was wrong to expect excitement.

  • Liv - Once I got over there being a girl who could be the harbinger of yet another YA love triangle (please, please don't be), I realized I like Liv. She's smart, quirky, and gutsy. And also about 99% less whiny than Lena. She made me realize how much I don't really care for Lena.
  • enthralling - There is something about these books that is charming and funny. There was more of it in the 1st book, but it still exists in this one. I think this charm may come, in part, from the setting, but I don't think it can be pinned down.

  • Lena - Uuugh, Lena. I know you are grieving and you were a bit strange before that, but  what are you doing? Every time Lena acted rationally, she came up with some new crazy reason to go off and do something stupid. Then she would get mad at Ethan for whatever he was doing while she was destroying things, but never appreciating him when he was trying to help her.
  • length - This book is so long. The 1st one was really long as well. While I like that this isn't a series cranking out a 200 page book every year where nothing happens, I also dislike giant lengthy books crammed with non-action. Beautiful Darkness has a lot of back and forth as far as plot goes - lots of thinking and flashbacking, not a lot of anything actually happening until the end. And that bugs me.
  • claiming - SPOILERS! Hey, look at that - another book that ends with a claiming in which Lena yet again does not decide if she's going to be a light or dark Caster. Two things about this: 1. Is it really that hard to pick a side? Light or Dark - they're even capitalized (which is annoying). Don't they have Star Wars? The Dark Side is clearly not a good thing. 2. Again? You really need two very thick books worth of time to choose? I understand that the time passing is way shorter than it feels to people reading about it, but if I wait a year for a sequel, something significant should happen. Is this whole series going to be a buildup to you picking? Because it's on book 4 now and I don't think I can read for that long unless major things happen.

  • My voice echoed across the chamber, and I noticed an intricate chandelier hanging from the high, vaulted ceiling. It was made of some kind of smooth, white polished horn, or was it bone? The ironwork held long tapered candles that lit the room with a delicate flickering light, illuminating some corners while leaving other dark and unexposed.           - pg. 177
  • "L, look at this."   Ridley's head whipped toward me, and I froze. I had called Liv "L." There was only one L in my life. Even though Live didn't notice, Ridley did.     - Ethan  pg. 375
3 robots
Still a great setting and premise, but not as exciting as the 1st book

Acquired: swapped for on

Nov 29, 2012

Flora Segunda

Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Published: 1-1-2007 by Harcourt

Flora knows better than to take shortcuts in her family home, Crackpot Hall--the house has eleven thousand rooms, and ever since her mother banished the magickal butler, those rooms move around at random. But Flora is late for school, so she takes the unpredictable elevator anyway. Huge mistake. Lost in her own house, she stumbles upon the long-banished butler--and into a mind-blowing muddle of intrigue and betrayal that changes her world forever.

Flora Segunda is a magical book, a little confusing sometimes, but very entertaining and charming. Flora is thirteen going on fourteen, and she's not the least bit afraid of adventure. This is definitely a trait I enjoy in a main character.

  • Flora - Flora is a spitfire. She's seriously awesome and a little bit (ok, very) disobedient. She's fourteen but she's out to kick butt and be a ranger, which is basically a spy, just like her idol, Nini Mo. She doesn't spend a lot of time planning things, but she manages to get things done her way.
  • plot - Everything is pretty much against Flora - even some of the people she thought were on her side. Despite this, Flora does what she believes is right, and she does so with no hesitation. It's adventurous the whole way through. It's more fantasy than paranormal and I think we need more of that in general.
  • magic - I'm not completely sure I understand what Flora's magic is, but the magical atmosphere of this book is great. Flora's house has an elevator that goes wherever it pleases, eleven thousand rooms, and a strange purple guy she never knew existed.

  • capitalization - There were Dainty Pirates who were also known by other names, there were monster-birds who came out of nowhere and were really creepy, and there were mansions with capitalized names that also had nonhuman creatures who were either living inside the houses or were the houses - I'm not exactly sure. One of my biggest bookish pet peeves is the capitalization of regular words. House. Butler. Elevator. It makes me confused and my brain stumbles for a second. I just don't understand the need for it. 
  • Valefor - I would hope that if you live in a somewhat magical house and find a magical butler, that he would be nice. Valefor is a manipulative jerk. He takes advantage of Flora and this puts here in great danger. He's also extremely selfish. And purple. Although I guess being purple isn't a bad thing.

  • But the stupid Elevator did not let me off at the Hallway of Laborious Desire. No, the stupid Elevator had slowly and silently borne me upward, gently floating as on a summer swell, and though I banged and shouted, the Elevator did not slow or stop. Past the second floor it went, past a third floor - we'd never had a third floor before - upward and upward it went, smooth and steady, until with a grinding whine, it stopped. The golden outer doors opened to a thick darkness.          - pg. 18-19
  • He wiggled a little wave in my direction and dissolved into a froth of purple. Well, he could pout all he wanted; my plan did not hinge on him, anyway, though I had hoped to get him to help Udo and me with our disguises, and maybe whip us up a nice snack before we went to tackle the Warlord.            - I don't know the pg. #....oops
3 robots
A book with a brave and adventurous heroine, great writing, and unnecessary capitalizing

Acquired: swapped for on