Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Title:  Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles Book I)  
Author:  Jessica Spotswood
Genre:  Young Adult
Publisher:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Format:  ARC acquired via LibraryThing
Release Date:  February 7, 2012

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric.  Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good.  But the truth is even worse, they’re witches.  And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters.  But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word…especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction.  Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra. 

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other (Summary courtesy of book jacket).

Born Wicked takes the reader into 1890s New England, but it is not the New England of our past, instead it is a vastly different world, a world run by the Brotherhood—an oppressive, religious group that lords over everyone and everything.  After taking control of New England from the witches, the Brotherhood has forbidden any one to use magic and everyone is required to attend religious services twice a week. They believe women have a “higher purpose,” that is to bear children and be a comfort to their husbands, obedient to the Brotherhood, pure of heart, meek of spirit and chaste of virtue. Women are forbidden to run businesses or study at university. The only choices given to women are to marry or to join the Sisterhood, the powerless female arm of the Brotherhood.  The Cahill sisters must navigate their way through this oppressive lifestyle, motherless and constantly in fear of being discovered.  Because the Cahill sisters are witches and discovery would mean the end of everything they know and love.

I enjoyed Born Wicked.  Spotswood has managed to write an original and engaging story in a genre full of copycats and lackluster storylines. She created memorable characters and a fascinating world. She gives us just enough back story to move things forward, but leaves us wanting more. I am extremely curious to learn more about the Brotherhood, how they came to power and why.  I also want to know the history of the witches and what caused them to lose power. I am hoping many of these questions will be answered in later books. Cate, Tess and Maura, the three Cahill sisters, are very well-written, dynamic characters.  There were many characters in this book who took me by surprise, not fitting the mold I expected them to fit. After reading the book jacket, I expected Finn Belastra, the “completely unsuitable” and “forbidden romance” to be one of those bad boy, brooding young adult characters, but he wasn’t.  And I loved him for it. Spotswood throws quite a few curveballs into this story, which is why I found it original and engaging. Things are never quite what you expect. Thank you for that, Ms. Spotswood, thank you.

I recommend picking up Born Wicked, especially if you are looking for something new and different. I really enjoyed it and I will be passing it on to my daughters, I think they will like it.  I can’t wait for the second book!

My grade for Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (February 28)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
·         Grab your current read
·         Open to a random page
·         Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
·         BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

My teaser this week is from page 33 of Passion by Lauren Kate:

"The pain on his face took hold of Luce's heart and squeezed, wringing her out completely. On top of all the pain and confusion she felt, seeing his agony was worse."

Please leave a link to your Tuesday Teaser and I will stop by and check it out! Happy Tuesday everyone!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Time Slice by Kerry Downing

Title:  Time Slice 
Author:  Kerry Downing
Genre:  Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher:  Camel Press
Format:  Kindle edition
Release Date:  June 10, 2011
    *book was provided by publishing company in return for an honest review and participation in a blog hop*

Newly retired workaholic Roy Washburn is not ready for a life of leisure. On a trip to the mall with his wife, he finds a small metal cylinder with odd markings. One nudge of the cylinder's triangle-shaped pointer and Roy finds himself embarking on an exciting new adventure in the Time Stream.  There he meets The Traveler, a tall, gangly being who shows Roy how to use the cylinder to visit other civilizations that co-exist on "his" Earth, each occupying a different, thin Time Slice. The Traveler solicits Roy's help in recovering an object invented by his murdered father and beyond his own reach. Roy is his last hope. At first it seems that the Traveler's wish might be easily granted. But after Roy's wife Emily becomes ill and his daughter's long-held resentments rise to the surface, he can no longer "travel" at a moment's notice. He also discovers the very real physical and mental risks involved in roaming the Time Stream. Despite the dangers, Roy is determined to help the Traveler. But he can't do it alone. Fortunately he has a loving wife and a core group of loyal friends. But first he must convince them--and his daughter--that he isn't crazy... (Summary courtesy of Amazon.com).

Time Slice is a time traveling story with an interesting twist. Our hero is not technically traveling through time, but rather slices of time that exist side-by-side. The explanation was a little bit over my head, but then again, I have never been much of a science person. I liked how Downing made his time traveling very unique and gave it an aspect of believability with the explanation. I could imagine that it might just be possible to slide from time slice to time slice, experiencing entirely new and amazing worlds. Downing’s writing really brought those different worlds to life. Not your usual sci-fi story.   

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Time Slice was not the science fiction, but rather the story of the deep love between a husband and a wife.  Roy and Emily have an intense connection, one that is a pleasure to read about. The real core of this story is the relationships between the characters:  Roy’s and Emily’s marriage, Roy’s strong circle of friends, his love for his granddaughter and his struggle to reconnect with his daughter. That is what makes this a story worth reading.

The story started to drag a bit in the middle, and there were a few times that I wondered where exactly the story was going.  I kept waiting for Roy to help The Traveler with his dilemma. I waited quite a while. Then, the ending felt a bit rushed, almost as if Downing wanted to wrap things up as quickly as possible.  The resolution to his issues with his daughter was definitely too rushed, and felt a bit false because of it. A little time spent stretching out the ending or pulling in the middle and expanding on the story at the end would have gone a long way toward making this an “A” story.

All in all, Time Slice was a pretty good book. Not a “knock-my-socks-off” kind of story, but one worth reading.  My grade for Time Slice by Kerry Downing:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #26

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. It is a great way for bloggers to make new friends and find new blogs to follow. Go to either blog, follow ALL the instructions and then add your link to the list. It’s just that easy!

This week’s question:

Activity!!! Take a picture or describe where you love to read the most...

Yay, fun! I love the picture taking questions!

Here is where I do most of my reading: 

This is my corner of the couch. Blanket, pillow, light, and the laptop close by. I read here all the time. This is probably the one place I can read in peace. If my husband is snoring, or my kids have taken over my room, I can come here and read. And despite being only about 3 feet from the sub-woofer and a speaker from the surround sound system, I can tune out the TV and read until my heart is content. But, I also read in bed before going to sleep, at the kitchen table, in the car while waiting for my kids and even in line at the grocery store (thank goodness I have a Kindle). I am in an equal-opportunity reader!

Where do you read the most? Leave me a link in the comment section and I will stop by and take a peek!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Teaser (February 21)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
·         Grab your current read
·         Open to a random page
·         Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
·         BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
·         Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

"The fire constricted, concentrating inside that one remaining human organ with a final, unbearable surge. The surge was answered by a deep, hollow-sounding thud. My heart stuttered twice, and then thudded quietly again just once more."  page 384 Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

Yes, I am reading Breaking Dawn....again. The Twilight Saga is my favorite series, and sometimes, I just feel the need to re-read it. I was extremely ill last week and needed something familiar and comforting, something I didn't have to think about or critique. And this was it.  And I am enjoying it just as much now as I did the very first time I read it.

Please leave a link to your Tuesday Teaser in the comment section and I will stop by and take a look!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #25

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. It is a great way for bloggers to make new friends and find new blogs to follow. Go to either blog, follow ALL the instructions and then add you link to the list. It’s just that easy!

This week’s question:

I like unique names for characters and am looking forward to coming up with some when I start writing. What's the most unique character name you've come across?

Eeeeek, this is a tough question. I don't know that I have found one specific character name that I found unique. I do think that Suzanne Collins came up with some incredibly unique names in her Hunger Games series. I also like the names of the characters in the Matched series by Ally Condie. Very original and I feel unique.

How about you, what names do you find unique? Leave a link to your Follow Friday in the comments and I will stop by and take a look!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review: Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

Title:  Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters 
Author:  Meredith Zeitlin
Genre:  Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher:  G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format:  Ebook (provided by publisher)
Release Date:  March 1, 2012

Kelsey Finkelstein is fourteen and FRUSTRATED. Every time she tries to live up to her awesome potential, her plans are foiled – by her impossible parents, her annoying little sister, and life in general. But with her first day of high school coming up, Kelsey is positive that things are going to change. Enlisting the help of her three best friends — sweet and quiet Em, theatrical Cass, and wild JoJo — Kelsey gets ready to rebrand herself and make the kind of mark she knows is her destiny. 

Things start out great—her arch-nemesis has moved across the country, giving Kelsey the perfect opportunity to stand out on the soccer team and finally catch the eye of her long-time crush. But soon enough, an evil junior’s thirst for revenge, a mysterious photographer, and a series of other catastrophes make it clear that just because Kelsey has a plan for greatness… it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is in on it (summary courtesy of Goodreads).

Kelsey just really wants her first year of high school to be the year; the year she shines on the soccer team, the year her crush finally realizes she’s alive and the year that everything will change for the better.  She is determined to make her dreams come true. But first she has to contend with her mom—well-meaning but clueless and constantly embarrassing, a junior who seems to have put Kelsey at the top of her “people I love to hate” list, a newspaper photographer with a knack for taking the wrong picture and the changing dynamics of her long-time group of friends. Maneuvering her way through the first year of high school may be more difficult than Kelsey ever imagined.    

Once in a while, a book comes along that makes you smile and leaves you with a good feeling deep in your soul. Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters is that book. I fell in love with this book almost immediately. Kelsey Finkelstein is the perfect teenager; she is bitingly sarcastic, funny and absolutely convinced that everything is about her. Zeitlin is able to completely grasp the concept of an awkward teenager making her way in the world and she accurately portrays exactly what a fourteen-year-old high school student is thinking and feeling.  Because of Zeitlin’s outstanding writing, the reader can practically hear what Kelsey’s mom refers to as “Typical Adolescent Behavior” coming through the pages. It’s been awhile since a book actually made me laugh out loud, but Freshman Year did just that. I am pretty sure the lady in the car next to me who saw me laughing hysterically while I waited for my son to get out of school thought I had recently escaped the insane asylum. No, that was just me enjoying the heck out of this book!

Kelsey Finkelstein just might be my new hero. She spouts some of the best one-liners I’ve ever read. Two of my favorites:  “Well, isn’t that the cherry on my sundae” and “Goody gumdrops. Pardon my elbows as I shove to the front of the line for that choice opportunity.”  Kelsey is perhaps one of the most dynamic characters I’ve read in a long time in a young adult novel. She actually learns from her mistakes and obviously grows as a person throughout the course of the novel. She’s not stagnant and unchanging; she makes mistakes, figures out what she did wrong and tries to make it better. The dynamic of Kelsey’s group of friends, Em, Cass and JoJo, is also played out very well. Zeitlin manages to show the reader what a real group of girls in high school is like as friends. They argue, they disagree and they sometimes do stupid things to each other, but in the end, the real friendships shine through.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is that Zeitlin doesn’t pull any punches or try to sugar-coat the high school experience. Guess what? Sometimes crappy things happen to good people who have the best intentions. Sometimes things work out for the best and sometimes they don’t. Life isn’t an episode of iCarly or Victorious, it’s not always fixed in half an hour. Zeitlin gives the reader a chance to see what life is like for a real girl who is dealing with real problems, and she does it in such a way that we as readers actually forget we are reading the story of a fictional character. Kelsey Finkelstein connects with the reader on a personal level, especially with the teenage girl who doesn’t think anything ever goes right in her life. Reading this book will not only make that teenage girl laugh, but it will give her someone she can relate to as well.  

I found Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters to be a fun, quirky and entertaining read. It was extremely funny, yet poignantly realistic. There is some mild language, teen drinking (which, coincidentally never ends well) and minor sexual content (kissing mostly).  I recommend this book for ages 14 and up. I do have one question, though. Where has Meredith Zeitlin been hiding and when can we expect more from her?

My grade for Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin: 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: What's Wrong With Me? by Daree Allen

Title:  What’s Wrong With Me?: A Girl’s Guide Book of Lessons Learned, Inspiration and Advice
Author:  Daree Allen
Genre:  Young Adult/Self-Help
Publisher:  Kharacter Distinction Books 
Format:  Paperback/Provided by Author
Release Date:  February 14, 2012
    *book was provided by author in exchange for an honest review and participation in a blog tour*

“What’s wrong with me?” It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves. Today’s age of everything-goes media messages and in-your-face sexuality has led many teenage girls grappling with self-esteem and self-worth. Author Daree Allen, MS guides girls through their young adulthood by teaching lessons shared from her own experiences in her debut offering, What’s Wrong With Me?: A Girl’s Guide Book of Lessons Learned, Inspiration and Advice. She offers self-empowering building blocks designed to strengthen young women’s inner truths in the face of relationships with themselves, others, and God. Fundamental to the inner truths are the foundational blocks that allow them to learn to love the skin they’re in, realize their dreams and make a positive impact on the world (synopsis courtesy of author/publisher).

Ms. Allen has written a self-help book intended to show older teens that there is someone out there who understands what they are going through, sort of a “been there, done that” handbook for teens. I admire her tenacity and ability to admit the mistakes she made in her life in an effort to show young ladies that there really are people who are able to understand them and their problems.  Allen packs this easy-to-read, informative book with advice about just about everything, from body image, dating and sex to personal finance and discovering one’s life purpose. And she doesn’t pull any punches; she tells it like it is. That was refreshing. What’s Wrong With Me? also has a strong religious message, and uses scripture to help point girls in the right direction.

There were some really great things in this book. I liked Allen’s “Further Reading” at the end of each chapter. It gives the reader an opportunity to expand on the message of that chapter. I also liked the various sidebars contained throughout the book; in particular the advice about taking care of oneself through diet was well-written. I felt that chapter six was the best chapter in the book, with some really solid advice about choosing your friends wisely, and letting go of toxic friendships.  My favorite quote in the book is contained in chapter six:  “Don’t underestimate the value of having the right people in your life. Toxic relationships, friendships, and family members drain your energy and—if you’re not careful—can make you lose sight of your focus, distorting it.  With some people, there comes a time to stop trying to be their friend and let them go. Toxic people will only bring you down.”  Very well said and very true. 

There were also some things about the book that I felt needed some work. There were a few instances in the book in which Allen skimmed over some issues that I felt should not have been skimmed over.  I believe subjects such as anorexia, bulimia and suicide are problems that deserve a bit more attention than a mention at the end of a chapter (though I appreciated the addition of hotline numbers for the aforementioned). I also felt that Allen took a rather negative view of marriage. I understand that she was approaching the subject of marriage from the perspective of a divorced, single mother, but in a self-help book for young woman, other perspectives should be explored. There are marriages that are stable and lasting, not all (or even most) men leave. The other side of the coin should have been shown.  Finally, I was a bit put off by the frequent references to “White folks,” as was my 17-year-old daughter, who read several chapters of the book. To quote her: “Teenage girls are pretty much the same, no matter what our skin color is. We all have a lot of the same problems.”

All in all, What Wrong With Me? is a good book. It is filled with some really solid advice for dealing with the different problems that arise in a lot of teenage girls’ lives. I think this book would be great for church youth groups, teen bible studies or girl groups. Having an adult mentor to guide the girls through the book would be very beneficial. 

My grade for What's Wrong With Me?:  


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday #24

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. It is a great way for bloggers to make new friends and find new blogs to follow. Go to either blog, follow ALL the instructions and then add you link to the list. It’s just that easy!

This week’s question:

What would your prefer: reading your favorite book over and over again until you got sick of it OR reading 100s of mediocre books? And why?

Sadly, as of late, I have read a bunch of mediocre books and some books that I really did NOT enjoy. In fact, earlier today, I was thinking about how I really just want to pick up one of my trusted, often-read books and snuggle up with it. And lose myself.  For me, reading is a form of escape. When I read a mediocre book, I don't lose myself and I don't get that escape. I think that is why I read books I love over and over. They allow me to get away from my world for a little while.  So, I guess my answer is:  read my favorite book over and over again. 

How about you? Leave a link in the comment section and I will stop by and check out your hop. 

Review: Halflings by Heather Burch

Title:  Halflings 
Author:  Heather Burch
Genre:  Young Adult/Paranormal
Publisher:  Zondervan
Format:  NetGalley/Kindle
Release Date:  February 1, 2012

After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves Halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret-and the wings that come with it.

A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys' powers, as well as her role in a scientist's dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world (summary courtesy publisher via NetGalley).

My initial reaction to Halflings:

This book left me scratching my head, for a variety of reasons. Not one single question put forth in this book was answered at the end. Usually when a book gives you some type of mystery or question to be explored and answered, even if sequels are planned, the author will give you some answers. I knew about as much when I finished the book as I did when I started it. Too many things were left unexplored and unanswered.  Another thing I had a difficult time with was the occasional slip from third person to first person.  The first couple of times it happened, I assumed it was because I was reading an ARC and it was simply a mistake. But it kept happening. I finally realized about half way through the book that those occasional slips were actually the characters thinking to themselves. To me, it just looked like an editing mistake. Quotations marks or a simple “she thought” would have fixed that problem. Sometimes, the story line was a bit difficult to follow because time didn’t flow consistently throughout the story. It would jump forward and back in time, leaving me stumped as to what exactly was happening. A lot of this could have been solved with editing.

I also found it difficult to connect with any of the characters. The boys and their personalities were built solely on their looks. Every time any of them appeared in the story, the reader heard about “muscles under shirts, muscles flexing, and muscles rippling” or their hair and how it flowed around them. The one character I felt had the most potential to be interesting was never given any other characterization other than a description of what his long, blond hair was doing while he fought, or walked, or ran. Oh, and he liked candy. After about ten chapters, I was beyond tired of hearing the boys being described. I know what they look like, move on!  The main character Nikki, was really hard to figure out. Sometimes she seemed confident and put-together, other times she seemed wishy-washy. Other times, she came across as a petulant brat. Burch seemed to put action before characterization, which was disappointing.  A little bit of character-building could have gone a long way toward making this a better book.          

Unfortunately, I had a bigger issue with this book than some unanswered questions, editing issues and lack of character development. Let’s just say that I have read this book before. Only that time, its title was Twilight. Maybe this book should have been called Twilight 2.0—The Angel Version. I thought maybe I was just imagining things, but then I decided to jot down the similarities I found between the two. It was definitely not my imagination. Similarities to Twilight (*may contain spoilers*):
·         Paranormal boy(s)
·         Girl that needs protecting
·         Boy breaks the rules to see the girl.
·         They are “inexplicably drawn to each other.”
·         The boys are gorgeous, often referred to as “Greek Gods.”
·         The boys move with unnatural speed,
·         One of the boys can “pick up a thought or two.”
·         Almost a direct quote from Twilight (and one of the most famous): “…there was a tiny part and she wasn’t sure how powerful that part was…”
·         The boys can drive really fast because their reflexes are better than a humans.
·         The girl feels “a gaping, empty hole” in her chest after a break-up, clutches her chest to keep the pain in.
·         The boys have fantastic hearing, can hear things others can’t.
·         The boys move faster than the eye can see, they even say “You can’t outrun us.”
·         One of the boys struggles to achieve goodness despite what he is.
·         Girl loves both boys.

Do you see what I mean? I’m sure it’s flattering to Stephenie Meyer that so many authors copy her, but we as readers want to see something new. Halflings is definitely not that something new.

I tried to enjoy Halflings, I really did.  I tried to ignore the fact that it was really just a blatant rip-off of one of my favorite books. Unfortunately, I couldn’t overlook it. Writing a book that follows a formula (Paranormal Hot Guy + Girl Who Needs Protection = Bestseller) is not entertaining or original. As readers, we’ve been there and done that. We want originality, not a re-worked version of a previous bestseller.  Sadly, Burch doesn’t give us that originality. I wish she had. 

My grade for Halflings by Heather Burch: 


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

Title:  New Girl
Author:  Paige Harbison
Genre:  Young Adult
Publisher:  HarlequinTeen
Format:  NetGalley/Kindle
Release Date:  January 31, 2012

New Girl is a contemporary young-adult novel inspired by the classic 1938 romantic suspense bestseller, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

They call her “New Girl”… Ever since she arrived at the exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy that is what she is called. The new girl, unknown, but not unnoticed, because of her, Becca Normandy. Her picture is everywhere. Her name is on everyone’s lips.  “New Girl” doesn’t compare. And the only reason she is at Manderly is because Becca is missing and a spot opened up. Everyone treats her like it is her fault. Everyone that is except Max Holloway. But everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend, only she is gone and the new girl is there, replacing her. Except it isn’t that easy. Becca’s life must have been so much better, if you believe what everyone tells you.  And maybe she is still out there, waiting to take it back (Summary adapted from the summary provided by Harlequin Teen via NetGalley).

New Girl is narrated by a young lady, who has recently been given admission to a prestigious boarding school, Manderly, in New Hampshire. After she arrives, she discovers that the only reason she is there is because another student, Becca, has gone missing.  Now she must fight against the assumption that she is trying to replace Becca, in every way imaginable.  The reader does not find out the narrator’s name until the very end of the book, so don’t think you just missed it along the way (like I did at first--*grin*). 

New Girl is probably the least enjoyable novel I have read this year. Granted, it’s early in the year, but I have read approximately ten books and this is at the top of my “I didn’t like this” list. There were several times as I read that I literally felt my mouth hanging open because I couldn’t believe that this was happening in a novel intended for the young adult audience (which we all know includes teens). Because of the nature of my job and having teenagers myself, I do read novels with an eye toward the appropriateness for tweens and teens (after all, the blog is called Mom Reads My Books). This one should NOT be read by anyone under the age of 16 and then your teen better be relatively mature. I am a pretty easy-going mom, I don’t usually censor what my girls read, but I am very hesitant to let my girls read this book.  Harbison glorified drinking, drugs and sex throughout the entire book.  The most popular girl at school turned out to be the one who slept around the most and got everyone to start partying.  If Harbison is going to continue to write for young adults, she needs to keep her audience in mind. Or start marketing her books to adults.    

While the premise of the story is great, the execution is poorly done. It is very unrealistic.  No parent in their right mind would ship their straight-A, college-bound, well-behaved daughter off to boarding school during her senior year, especially based on the fact that she last expressed interest in attending it when she was in junior high.  Teachers and parents are not as oblivious as New Girl makes them seem, or as infrequently seen as Harbison would have her readers believe. Harbison also expects the intelligent reader to believe that an entire school full of people will suddenly become hard-core partiers, despite the insinuation that most, if not all, of the students were pretty tame prior to Becca arriving at school.  There was only a cursory mention of classes and school work. This was a boarding school that seemed to forget the “school” part.  Really, it seemed as if the only thing any of the students at Manderly Academy did was party. And party some more. Basically, I found the entire premise of the story difficult to believe.    

There is not one character in this book that has any redeeming qualities. The majority of the girls in the book were vapid, horrid girls who lived to be snotty and rude. The worst character by far was the missing girl, Becca. She was mean, emotionally stunted and selfish. And those may have been her best qualities. The young men were no better; their main goal in life seemed to be to have sex. I didn’t have an ounce of sympathy for anyone in this book except for maybe the main character. Who wants to read a book in which you are unable to relate to any of the characters?

Reading New Girl was like watching a really bad episode of Gossip Girl or something similar. Every clich├ęd bad thing teenagers have ever done—or may ever do—was in this book:  sex, drugs, drinking, lying, swearing and general overall rule breaking.  You name it; the teens in this book did it.  I felt like I was driving past a horrific train wreck and I couldn’t look away. 

And just a minor point, but I really felt like the main character’s name reveal was very anti-climatic. After devoting so much time to reading this entire book that I really didn’t enjoy, I was hopeful that the main character’s name would be some eye-opening, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel moment that would make the book worth reading. It wasn’t. I actually had to go back and re-read it to make sure I hadn’t missed something, because I really thought it would have some deeper meaning to tie in with the story. Ummm, yeah, so not the case; it’s just a common, everyday name.   

I will not be recommending New Girl to anyone.  It is filled with gratuitous sex, extremely bad language, and even a rape. It disturbed me and I am a grown woman who has practically seen it all.  I don’t feel that this book is appropriate for any one under the age of 17 or 18.

My grade for New Girl by Paige Harbison:


Monday, February 6, 2012

Teaser Tuesday--February 7

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
·         Grab your current read
·         Open to a random page
·         Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
·         BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser!

My teaser this week is from Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin:

"And what if I get a part and she doesn't? That would definitely give her a tiny taste of the pain she's caused me this year. Which would totally serve her right.

Oh, petty revenge, don't knock it till you try it." pg. 133

Thanks for stopping by! Leave a link in the comment section to your Tuesday Teaser and I will stop by and check it out!

Hunger Games Chapter 5

"No one will forget me. Not my look, not my name. Katniss. The girl who was on fire."  Katniss Everdeen, Chapter 5, page 70

Chapter 5 of The Hunger Games finds our District 12 tribute, Katniss, going through the humiliating process of being "groomed" for the upcoming introduction of the Tributes.  Katniss is plucked, scrubbed clean and has had her nails done. It is in this chapter that we meet Katniss' stylist, Cinna. Cinna is perhaps the most normal person Katniss has met in the Capitol, he is clean-shaven and attractive, without unnatural skin coloring and he doesn't use the affected accent heard by so many residents of the Capitol. She immediately likes him. Cinna prepares Katniss for the Opening Ceremonies and tells her what she will be wearing. It is customary for Tributes to dress to indicate the industry of their District. District 12's industry is coal and Katniss has grown accustomed to seeing the Tributes dressed in coal miner's outfits and this is what she fully expects Cinna to force her to wear.  But Cinna has a different idea.

"You're not afraid of fire, are you, Katniss?" Cinna, Chapter 5, page 66.

My answer:  "YES!!" Maybe with more exclamation points behind it.  But Cinna convinces Katniss (and Portia manages to convince Peeta) to wear the outfits with the synthetic fire. Okkkkaaaaaayyyyyy.... Ummm, yeah, not me. Here's the picture from the movie before they light them on fire (you can see it in Cinna's hand).

This chapter was probably the one in which I started to figure out exactly how Peeta really feels about Katniss.  It's just evident in the way he talks to her and the way he acts around her. I also like chapter five because it is the chapter in which Cinna is introduced and he is one of my favorite characters. 


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hunger Games Read-Along

Hello all!

I am participating in a Hunger Games Read-Along hosted by The Howling Turtle this month! I would like to invite you to take a few moments to stop by and check out the various chapters. This is no ordinary read-along; each chapter will be hosted by a different blog and (hopefully) each chapter post will be unique and interesting and give you some new insight into this wonderful book! I will posting on Monday, February 6, I get to give my commentary on Chapter 5! Just click on the link under the button and it will take you directly to the list of chapters and their participating blogs.

Can't wait to see you there!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday (23)

Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View and Alison at Alison Can Read. It is a great way for bloggers to make new friends and find new blogs to follow. Go to either blog, and check out the featured blog of the week.  Follow ALL the instructions and add your link to the list. It’s just that easy!

This week's question:

"Define what characteristics your favorite books share. Do they all have a kickass heroine or is the hot love interest the Alpha Male?"

My favorite books don't really have definitive characteristics. I am an equal-opportunity book lover. There are books that I never in a million years would have thought I would enjoy that have become some of my favorite books (Game of Thrones series, Water for Elephants). I love a story that grabs my attention and holds it and characters that are interesting and dynamic. For me, those two things are an integral part of any story and must be present to even begin to hold my interest.  And I don't want a recycled, formulaic story. Give me some originality, please. 

This isn't to say that I don't love a gorgeous male character or a strong female lead. But I don't base what I read on those factors. Besides, what I find gorgeous might be ugly to someone else and what I consider strong in a female character might seem wishy-washy to another reader.

So, do your favorite books have certain characteristics in common?  Leave a link in the comment section and I will hop by!

Review: Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Title:  Incarnate (New Soul #1)
Author:  Jodi Meadows
Genre:  Young Adult
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Format:  NetGalley/Kindle
Release Date:  January 31, 2012

For the last five thousand years, the same one million souls have always been reincarnated into new bodies, retaining their minds, memories, and skill sets of past lifetimes. Always, that is, until once. Eighteen years ago Ana, the newsoul—nosoul, some call her—was born in another’s place.

Incarnate is the story of this one new soul, raised in isolation by a mother who is ashamed of her. On her eighteenth birthday Ana decides to set out alone for Heart, the capital city, to find out why she was born. Ana hopes knowing why will show her what she is supposed to do with the one lifetime she’s been given. Led to believe that nosouls are worthless, she has trouble accepting the kindness of Sam, a 5,000–year–old teenager who rescues her from a frozen lake she jumped in to escape the Sylph, shadow monsters that live in the Range. Sam offers to take her to Heart, where he is assigned as her guardian. They begin to develop feelings for each other, but that is complicated by the fact that Sam is afraid to love someone who, for all they know, will only live once, who will disappear from his world too quickly. But in Heart, Ana is surrounded by people who see her as a danger and an ugly omen for the future—what if nosouls replace more people? The only way Ana can save herself is to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, and find the answer to the question of whether she will be reborn like Sam and the rest of the inhabitants of Heart (summary courtesy of Harpercollins).

Incarnate is a beautifully woven tale of a world where change is not often seen. While technological advancements do exist, who will invent them is never a mystery. Everyone knows everything about everyone. Diaries are archived in the library for all to access; stories of past lives are lovingly retold time and time again. When Ana arrives, Heart is suddenly faced with something they haven’t seen for 5,000 years—a new person or a new soul. Ana is discriminated against and even hated from the day she is born. Because of her, or so she believes, another soul was not reborn. And that is something many people can’t forget.

Once Ana leaves her house and Li—the mother who hates her—she discovers a world she knew nothing about. A world where pain is not her teacher and people actually care about her and what happens to her.  Ana learns so much during her time with Sam, including how to trust and how to love. Ana finds friends in Heart, but she also finds enemies, those who believe she shouldn’t exist and will do anything to make that happen.  Hopefully the mystery that is her existence can be solved before her time runs out.

Incarnate is an absolutely amazing novel! It appeals to the reader in so many ways. It has mystery, action, suspense, and romance.  Jodi Meadows outdoes herself (and quite frankly, a few others) in this, her debut novel. She knows how to write a novel that is appealing to readers of a variety of genres and she does it flawlessly. The mystery of Ana’s existence keeps the reader guessing from the very beginning—who is she, why is she here, will she come back if she dies? We get action—strange creatures called the Sylph, attacking dragons and heart-stopping chases. But the best part, we get a superbly written romance. Meadows is able to completely capture the hesitant yet urgent sense of new love, the fear of opening oneself so completely to another person, and the wonder of discovering love.  The doubt we all have felt when we first fall in love is magnified in Ana because of the horrible treatment she received growing up. Meadows write a love story that is sweet, yet intense, innocent yet passionate and just flat-out good.

The characters in Incarnate are well-developed and dynamic. Despite the fact that every character save Ana has been alive for 5,000 years, they still manage to show growth and development throughout the story. I enjoyed learning about the various characters reincarnations and how they had lived during those reincarnations. Ana is a perfect heroine; despite the horror and the abuse suffered in her early life and the hate that surrounds her, she perseveres. She learns as many skills as she can, she studies as much as possible to discover where she came from and she fights for the person she loves. Ana is a character to be admired.

The mystery of Heart, the temple of Janan and why millions of souls are continually reincarnated is such an intriguing story that it can’t help but keep the reader engrossed in the story. Meadows weaves this mystery throughout the whole book, never letting it fade into the background and giving the reader just enough information to keep them wanting more. And I definitely want more. I am anxiously awaiting my chance to see exactly what the city of Heart holds, not only for readers, but for its inhabitants as well.

I loved this book; I can’t wait for the next in the series. I loved reading a book that wasn’t about vampires, werewolves or angels, something that is becoming all too common in the young adult genre. Also, there is no love triangle, another aspect of young adult novels that is becoming a bit overdone.  That is something to be excited about. Meadows is able to write a love story that relies on the tension between the characters for its conflict, rather than pulling in a third person to create conflict. Meadows is to be commended for her choice to stray for the typical young adult paranormal formula.

If you get a chance, I highly recommend picking this book up. You will not be disappointed. I will be recommending this book to both of my daughters, as well as my teacher and librarian friends.

My grade for Incarnate by Jodi Meadows: