Thursday, December 30, 2010

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Here's a bit about the book: From Booklist
Gr. 9-12. Full of anger at her father, an alcoholic who abuses her mother, Pattyn begins to question her Mormon religion and her preordained, subservient role within it. She is confused by her mother's acceptance of the brutal abuse, and although she is furious at and terrified of her father, she still longs for his love and approval. As the consequences of her anger become more dramatic, her parents send her to spend the summer with her aunt on a Nevada ranch. There she finds the love and acceptance she craves, both from her aunt and from a college-age neighbor, Ethan. Told in elegant free verse, Burned envelopes the reader in Pattyn's highs and lows, her gradual opening to love, and her bouts of rage, confusion, and doubt. It exposes the mind of the abused, but regrettably offers no viable plan to deal with the abuser, a reality perhaps, but a plot element that may raise eyebrows in the adult community. Still, this will easily find rapid-fire circulation among its YA audience. A troubling but beautifully written novel. -Frances Bradburn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
My Take
Once I got this book from the library, I was a tad intimidated when I saw that it had be at least 500 pages.  Then I looked at the pages and realized this book was written in verse.  I'd never read a novel written in verse before this.  I've heard wonderful things about Ms. Hopkins books.  It's way overdue for me to read them.  I don't think there's much chance of me making my 100 book goal for the year, but I've come close.
Immediately I felt for Pattyn.  Her home life was horrible and she was reaching out for love.  She's trying to find some kind of self-worth while being raised in a society where females are considered nothing more than property.  If you're told you're worthless, how can you value yourself or feel as though you have a future worth hoping for? 
This book was lovely.  I read it quickly and found myself absorbed in Pattyns story.  It was tough to put down because I wanted to see where the story went.  Wow, did it go somewhere too.  It kept me turning the pages right up to the astounding conclusion.  I'm giving this one 4 1/2 kisses and plan to read more of Ellen Hopkins. 
I think this is scheduled to be my last post for the year.  What a fantastic year it's been too.  Thanks to all of my readers.  I can't tell you how wonderful it is knowing that you appreciate and read the reviews I post here.  I'm still reading to finish out the year and to get as close to that 100 books as I possibly can.  Stayed tuned and have a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Year of 100 Books!

I just wanted to send a quick post out.  I did it!  I read 100 books this year.  There have been some really great ones along the way and I've reviewed all of them.  Well I think I didn't review a couple of books on writing that I read.  Other than that, they're all here.  I wonder what next year will bring.  More great books to be sure.

I also want to thank all of you who have read my reviews.  Thanks for leaving comments and continuing to visit my blog.  I love sharing the great books I read with everyone.  I hope you'll keep stopping by and sending your comments.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Here's a blurb from Mr. John's website
The Challenge:

Piper has one month to get a paying gig for Dumb—the hottest new rock band in school.

The Deal:
If she does it, she'll become manager of the band and get her share of the profits, which she desperately needs since her parents raided her college fund.

The Catch:
Managing one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl who is ready to beat her up. And doing it all when she's deaf. With growing self-confidence, an unexpected romance, and a new understanding of her family's decision to buy a cochlear implant for her deaf baby sister, Piper just may discover her own inner rock star

My Take

Prior to reading this I heard tons of good buzz surrounding this book.  It lived up to every bit of it.  Pipers a great character.  I couldn't imagine what it's like going through life being moderately deaf.  We all struggle with our relationships at one time or another.  I would think it's even more difficult when people realize that you're deaf.

I did wrestle a bit with the fact that Piper feels she doesn't have a disability.  Technically, by definition, she does.  But I understood that she didn't want to be viewed as 'lesser than' or 'damaged goods'.  That I can totally understand and agree with.

There were parts of this book that were laugh-out-loud funny and others that were profoundly moving.  Piper tries to find a way to create harmony among the band members and discover who she is along the way.
I believe most kids 13 and up would appreciate this book.  Oh, and I think the cover is pretty sweet!  I'm giving it 4 1/2 rocking kisses!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2011 Debut Challenge

This year I'm going to participate in The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge.  I participated last year and managed to read 13 of those I had selected. 

This year I plan to read:

Wildefire by Karsten Knight
 Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
Possession by Elana Johnson
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
Like Mandarin by Kristen Hubbard
The Liar Society by Lisa & Laura Roecker
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Entwined by Heather Dixon
The Lucky Kind by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray
Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
The Iron With by Karen Mahoney

I have a quite a few more on my list to read, but hopefully I get to these 16 read for sure.  If you'd like to join in, stop by The Story Siren's blog (click link above) and check it out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You Wish by Mandy Hubbard

Here's a blurb from Ms. Hubbard's website: Kayla McHenry’s sweet sixteenth sucks! Her dad left, her grades dropped, and her BFF is dating the boy Kayla’s secretly loved for years. Blowing out her candles, Kayla thinks: I wish my birthday wishes actually came true. Because they never freakin’ do.
Kayla wakes the next day to a life-sized, bright pink My Little Pony outside her window. Then a year’s supply of gumballs arrives. And a boy named Ken with a disturbing resemblance to the doll of same name stalks her. As the ghosts of Kayla’s wishes-past appear, they take her on a wild ride… but they MUST STOP. Because when she was 15? She wished Ben Mackenzie would kiss her.

And Ben is her best friend’s boyfriend.

My Take

Let me say that I read this book right around the time of my birthday.  Quite coincidental. :o)  I thought Kayla was funny and charming.  I like Ann, Kayla's Raggedy Ann come-to-life.  My favorite doll growing up was Drowsy.  I bet she'd rock those pink and white polka dot jammies.

This book was fun and got the overall message across without pounding you over the head with it. I liked the story and kept waiting to see what was going to be next for Kayla. My favorite line from the book was, "I wonder what it woujld be like to have that kind of shimmering possibility, that kind of endless expanse of dreams. To just choose something and be good at it." I have to wonder too. ;o)

There were no drugs, drinking or sex in this book.  I would say 13 and up would appreciate this.  I'm giving it 4 1/2 sweet kisses!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Here's a quick bite from the book's amazon page: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

My Take

I know that this has been out awhile and I'm a little behind in just now reading it.  I'm definitely sorry that I didn't pick it up sooner.  This book really pulled me in.  I read it in two days, almost without stopping. 

Ms. Hawkins is a master and ending her chapters in a thrilling spot where you absolutely must keep reading to find out what happens.  Sophie is a great little character.  There are the typical mean witches (but they really are witches in this book).  Actually all her characters are well thought out and very intriguing.  Who wouldn't find a school full of witches, shapeshifters, faeries and even one vampire compelling?

I'm so looking forward to reading Demonglass.  I can't wait to see what happens to Sophie next.  This one is getting 4 big demonic kisses!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Love Drugged by James Klise

Here's a blurb from Mr. Klise's website: Love Drugged is about a Chicago teenager named Jamie Bates. Jamie's gay, but he's in no hurry to come out to anyone. In Jamie's view, what's the rush? He's only fifteen.

But when a classmate learns this secret, Jamie freaks out. He responds by doing what generations of gay boys have done before him: He begins dating a girl in his class, Celia Gamez.

Celia is fantastic. She's beautiful, funny, smart. Plus, she's super into Jamie.

Courtesy of Celia's dad, a wealthy doctor, Jamie gets his hands on a new drug - a little blue pill that promises to “cure” gay men. Love Drugged chronicles the weeks and months of Jamie's experiment with these pills, at the same time that his relationship with Celia heats up.

One teeny-tiny problem? The only way Jamie can get more of the drug is to steal it.

And that's not easy to do when the two things standing in the way of Jamie and the drug are Celia and her dad, neither of whom must ever find out that Jamie is gay! Or wait - WAS gay.

Oh, and there's one other thing: Without meaning to, Jamie develops a major crush on an older classmate named Ivan. NOT exactly part of the new plan...

Part comedy, part thriller, part star-crossed romance, Love Drugged examines the dangers of a life constructed almost entirely of lies ... especially the lies we tell ourselves.

My Take

This book was interesting.  Jamie's dire quest to be like everyone else kinda' broke my heart.  I will say that I'm not gay, but I think fitting in is a universal struggle.  Everyone, at one time or another has the desire to want to fit in.  And let's face it, love is love regardless of who it's between.

At what price does that blending come at?  Is it really worth it if it completely changes who you've become?  How sad to let the person you are slip into oblivion so that you may become someone like everyone else.

Jamie is a great character.  I feel his pain and his uncertainty.  I was always surprised at what he was going to do next.  I'd recommend this book and I like the cover.  It's pretty cool.  3 1/2 fabulous kisses for this one!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Here's a little bite from Ms. Balog's website: Eron De Marchelle isn’t supposed to feel a connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce human charges to sleep. While he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn’t encouraged to–after all, getting too involved in one human’s life would prevent him helping his other charges get their needed rest.

But he can’t deny that he feels something for Julia. Julia, with her fiery red hair and her sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. Eron has always felt protective of Julia . . . but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can’t seem to reach her . . .

Sandmen are forbidden from communicating with humans outside their dreams. But will Eron be willing to risk everything for a chance to be with the person he loves?

My Take

Ever since I heard that this was about the sandman falling for one of his charges, I knew I had to read this book.  It sounded so imaginative and fun.  I was right, it was all that and more.

This is written with alternating chapters written from either Julia's or Eron's perspective.  It's a story of love.  Both giving yourself permission to fall in love and loving someone so much that letting go is the best thing you can do. 

Julia was a likable character.  I wanted to get a little closer to her.  I felt we got to know her but didn't feel terribly attached to her.  As I said, she was likable enough though.

Eron was a wonderful character.  His trying to make sense of the modern day world was humorous.  I think a guy like Eron would be easy to fall for.  He seemed dreamy to me (okay, bad pun, I know).

I'm giving this little gem 3 1/2 little kisses!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You by Charles Benoit

Here's a blurb from the Harper-Teen page for the book:  This wasn't the way it was supposed to go.

You're just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can't be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place?

There had to have been signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them? Maybe if you can figure out where it all went wrong, you can still make it right. Or is it already too late? Think fast, Kyle. Time's running out. How did this happen?

You is the riveting story of fifteen-year-old Kyle and the small choices he does and doesn't make that lead to his own destruction.

In his stunning young-adult debut, Charles Benoit mixes riveting tension with an insightful—and unsettling—portrait of an ordinary teen in a tale that is taut, powerful, and shattering.

My Take
This book pulled me in and held me there until the final words on the page.  I couldn't put it down and read it basically all in one sitting. 
Kyle is a likeable character.  I keep wanting more for him.  I want him to have Ashley as his girlfriend.  I want him to have good friends again.  I want his parents to see all the possibility in him and see that he needs help too.  Kyle is not really a bad kid...he's just a kid.  He's a teenager and that brings certain baggage with it.
I could feel Kyle's frustration too.  It's easy to see that if there's no possible way to pass, why bust your ass trying to catch up.  Not much point.  I so wanted someone to reach out to him. 
In the same respect, I try explaining to my son all the time how it's so easy to find yourself in a situation that can have far reaching consequences.  Consequences that suddenly, frightenly fall beyond your control.  It's too easy for people to point the finger at someone else and say, "I did that because I was compelled by this person or my situation or whatever.  It's a tougher thing to realize that we all make our own choices in life.  We are a product of the choices we've made over time.  We are where we are in life, due to our choices.  YOU is the story of Kyle Chase coming to realize that.  The writing is tight, intense and compelling.  I absolutely recommend that you read YOU. :)  Four big kisses!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Here's a quick bite from the goodreads page for The Mockingbirds: Some schools have honor codes.

Others have handbooks.

Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.

In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.

My Take
I had heard so many wonderful things about this book.  I was hopeful that I would like it as much as I'd heard everyone else did.  I was NOT disappointed.  I liked this book.  Alex's confusion over doing the right thing and her fear that she had somehow brought all of it upon herself was realistic.  Her friend's devotion to her was heartwarming. 
The concept of the Mockingbirds was thought provoking for me.  I think it was very well thought out and an interesting concept.  It was nice to see that students supported one another and didn't turn a blind eye to the seemly or illegal actions of some of their fellow students.   Instead of it being chaos there was a well-ordered system to ensure the offenders take responsibility for their actions.
I think too often today, parents don't have those tough talks with their boys about what constitutes consent and what does not.  I know that I have begun that process, due in part to this book.  I want to raise a boy more like Martin and less like Carter.
I was touched that Ms. Whitney shares her own story of date rape in the back of the book.  I also thought it was awesome that she shared some links to resources for assistance for young women.  There was minimal swearing, some alcohol, but no drugs in this book.  I definitely recommend picking this one up to read.  I'm giving it four gentle kisses!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rockin' the Anonymous Crit

The fabulous Shannon McMahon has an anonymous critique going on her blog.  Please stop by and offer up a few pearls of wisdom (as I know all readers of my blog have). :o)  Here's a link: Somewhere Between Fact and Fiction

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Here's a quick bite from the book's goodreads page: Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

My Take
Wow, Vera is quite a character!  I enjoyed this book a lot.  The characters were vibrant.  The writing was engaging. 
My heart went out to Vera once she and Charlie parted ways.  I loved how Vera wasn't willing to compromise herself or her beliefs for anyone.  She knows who she is and she won't be anything less.  This book dealt with some kinda' heavy issues, but kept the humor in things too.  I loved Vera's sarcasm. 
I think the only tiny nitpicks I have about it are 1- I kept waiting to hear the history of the Pagoda and I don't think we ever did.  2- I wanted to know what was in the envelope (you'll know which one I'm talking about if you read it).  It would have tied things up nicely in the end for me.  All in all, I loved this book.  The cover even kinda' rocks. :o)  I'm giving it 3 1/2 smooches!

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