Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson

Picture 9Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson

Patient Name: Leigh Nolan

Age: 18 years

Presenting Concerns:
Leigh Nolan has just started her first year at Stiles College.  She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards than Rorschach blots), despite reporting that she thinks, “Psychology is a load of crap.”

Patient has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to solving her own…not so much.

Patient has a tendency to overanalyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved.  Like why doesn’t Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night?  Or why can’t she commit to taking the next step in their relationship?  And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much?  More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?

Aggravating factors include hyper-competitive fellow psych majors, a professor who’s badly in need of her own psychoanalysis, and mentoring a middle-school-aged girl who thinks Patient is, in a word, nave.

Preliminary treatment will include Introduction to Psychology, but may require more if she’s going to answer these questions and make it through her freshman year.

Diagnosis:
Psych Major Syndrome

This book was okay. There were parts of this book that I liked and moments that were laugh out loud funny. Sometimes I liked Leigh, but most of the time she frustrated and/or annoyed me. Andrew was a tool and yet Leigh stayed with him and defended him. She also was way toolazy and irresponsible for my taste. I never quite understood why Leigh hated Ellen (or vice versa). The whole mentoring storyline was just weird. Leigh’s confession to Rebekah about sex were totally inappropriate. I felt that Rebekah and Li were both extremely stereotypical characters. Li’s broken English and Rebekah’s use of the word “ain’t” rubbed me wrong.

I did like Ami and Nathan, and I liked Leigh when she was with them instead of with other characters.

The Debs by Susan McBride

Picture 8The Debs (The Debs, Bk 1) by Susan McBride

Laura Delacroix Bell — this dazzling trust fund girl’s size 14 figure doesn’t stop her from attracting the sexiest scoundrel in town, or the admiring eye of the Glass Slipper Club. However, a salacious secret could take her out of the running.
Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie — brainy, cynical, and maybe a tad judgmental, Mac would rather bury her nose in a good book than embrace her deb destiny. But being a debutante was her late mother’s dream.
Ginger Fore — this adorable tree-hugger wants to wear her grandmother’s vintage ball gown instead of splurging on an expensive dress. Yet when she gets tangled up with an older guy, Ginger will have plenty more to think about.
Jo-Lynn Bidwill — a former child beauty queen, Jo-Lynn is a bitchy vamp who makes it her mission in life to take out the debu-trash. And Jo-Lynn’s sights are set on Laura Bell.

I didn’t have high expectations for this book, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I don’t generally like books about snobby girls with a lot of brand name dropping.  This book definitely had some brand names in it, but it faded out after the first few chapters.  Or maybe I just stopped noticing.  Either way, it was good.

The three main characters – Laura, Mac, and Ginger – were all very likable and relatable.  Mac was my favorite, but I liked the other two as well.  I really liked their friendship.  Jo-Lynn was an interesting villain.  I wouldn’t say I liked her, but she was a good villain.

I’m looking forward to the next book in this series!

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

Picture 5Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?

Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn’t. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.

In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn’t know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…

I liked the story in this book, but I never felt connected to the characters.  I liked the Russian history and thought that part was pretty interesting.  Weaving in the Baba Yaga fairy tale was pretty cool too.

I liked Ethan, Anne, and Tess, but never felt like I really got to know them.  The end was also really strange.  I will give the author that the end wasn’t predictable, but it was just weird.  I was occasionally confused about who was on which side.

As for the cover, I really like the one in the picture up there.  However, the copy I have had this cover:

Picture 7

(Ignore the Amazon-added arrows on the sides.) Seriously – so freaking creepy!  I realize that Ethan is described as having ice blue eyes, but I could have lived without them staring at me every time I closed the book.

This is also the third book in a row I’ve read that was set in Chicago.  Not that that has anything to do with anything, but it was just weird.  I need to find a new city!

The Comeback Season by Jennifer Smith

Picture 3The Comeback Season by Jennifer Smith

The last place Ryan Walsh should be this afternoon is on a train heading to Wrigley Field. She should be in class, enduring yet another miserable day of her first year of high school. But for once, Ryan isn’t thinking about what she should be doing. She’s not worried about her lack of friends, or her suffering math grade, or how it’s been five whole years since the last time she was really and truly happy. Because she’s finally returning to the place that her father loved, where the two of them spent so many afternoons cheering on their team. And on this — the fifth anniversary of his death — it feels like there’s nowhere else in the world she should be.

Ryan is once again filled with hope as she makes her way to the game. Good luck is often hard to come by at a place like Wrigley Field, but it’s on this day that she meets Nick, the new kid from her school, who seems to love the Cubs nearly as much as she does. But Nick carries with him a secret that makes Ryan wonder if anyone can ever really escape their past, or believe in the promise of those reassuring words: “Wait till next year.” Is it too much for Ryan to hope that this year, this season, might be her comeback season?

I kind of have mixed feelings on this book. I liked the baseball aspect of it, though it was a little hard to get behind the Cubs.  I’m don’t have a lot of love for the Lovable Losers.  But I totally understand Nick and Ryan’s (and her dad’s) love for the team.  I’ve been a Braves fan for as long as I can remember, so I’ve spent a lot of time cheering for them no matter the outcome of the season.  I mean, seriously – 14 Division titles in a row with only one World Series?  And now they’re not even getting that close to winning the division.  It can get depressing.  But I love them and I’ll always cheer for them.  I thought the baseball heavy sections of the book were interesting and I liked the insight that they gained from the sport.  I totally believe in the restorative power of baseball. :)

That said, the writing in the book was a little distracting.  The present tense was a little grating after a while.  I think I would have liked it more if it was in first person from Ryan’s perspective.  The book was also occasionally overly descriptive or confusingly descriptive.  For example, “Nick stands with his arms folded, eyeing her as if not quite sure what to say.  He sways a little, his hands shoved in his pockets…”  So his arms are folded and his hands are in his pockets?  That’s some serious flexibility.  Or does he shove his hands into his pocket as he sways?  There were several little things like that that were just really distracting.

There was a lot of sad stuff in this book.  It was a little overwhelming at times.

The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

expressologist The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

What’s your drink of choice? Is it a small pumpkin spice latte? Then you’re lots of fun and a bit sassy. Or a medium americano? You prefer simplicity in life. Or perhaps it’s a small decaf soy sugar-free hazelnut caffe latte? Some might call you a yuppie.

Seventeen-year-old barista Jane Turner has this theory that you can tell a lot about a person by their regular coffee drink. She scribbles it all down in a notebook and calls it Espressology. So it’s not a totally crazy idea when Jane starts hooking up some of her friends based on their coffee orders. Like her best friend, Em, a medium hot chocolate, and Cam, a toffee nut latte. But when her boss, Derek, gets wind of Jane’s Espressology, he makes it an in-store holiday promotion, promising customers their perfect matches for the price of their favorite coffee.

Things are going better than Derek could ever have hoped, so why is Jane so freaked out? Does it have anything to do with Em dating Cam? She’s the one who set them up! She should be happy for them, right? With overtones of Jane Austen’s Emma and brimming with humor and heart, this sweet, frothy debut will be savored by readers.

I love the idea of this book, but the execution was not great.  The characters felt very flat and there was no development.  I didn’t like Jane at all.  The whole skipping school thing made no sense.  The dialogue was very stilted.  And the book, especially the end, was very predictable.  There were fun/funny moments, but in the end, the book wasn’t overly enjoyable.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Picture 1Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that’s what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Um, wow.  I don’t really have coherent words right now.  This book is fantastic.  The world the authors created is incredible.  I really liked the story and the atmosphere and the characters and … the book.  :)  All of it.  Seriously.  Lena and Ethan were fantastic characters.  Despite the paranormal going on around them, I felt they always reacted in a way that made sense for teenagers.  The romance between them felt very natural – it didn’t happen all of a sudden and it flowed out of friendship.  I loved that the book was from Ethan’s perspective.  I loved how important family was in the book since so many YA books seem to not have any family around.  The paranormal aspect of the book was really interesting and not what I was expecting. The setting of the book was really cool too.

I loved the references to To Kill a Mockingbird.  This book had a similar feel to that one in some ways, which I liked considering To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book ever.  All of the history and literary references were fantastic too.

One minor gripe I have is that occasionally the Southern stereotypes felt a little overboard.  I have lived in the south my whole life and have a lot of family from small towns, so yeah, I’d agree that a lot of it was true to life, but there were a few things that kind of rubbed me wrong.  I dunno.  I felt that Ethan and his mother thought it wasn’t okay to be Southern at all.  I agree that Confederate battle reenactments and smallmindness aren’t okay, but I’m kind of fond of my accent.  And I lived in Summerville, SC for a large chunk of my childhood and I don’t remember it being a one screen theater small town.  It was more suburb of Charleston.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Picture 3Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.
With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.
But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

To start of, I’ll say that I liked this book.  I was entertained.  Nora was a pretty interesting and likable character.  That said, I had a few issues with the book.  The part that bugged me most was that I felt too much like I was reading Twilight with different characters occasionally.  The story seemed very similar.  I never really understood exactly what Patch saw in Nora or Nora saw in Patch and didn’t find the book all that romantic.  There were a couple other things about the ending that never quite came together for me, but I’ll leave those out as they’d be spoilers.

I thought the fallen angel mythology that Fitzpatrick created was really interesting and I am interested to see what happens in the sequel.  And the cover is so pretty!  I love it.

P.S. Sorry I’ve been such a slacker blogger recently.  Work has been crazy and usually around Thursday I realize that I didn’t do Teaser Tuesday or Waiting on Wednesday.  I need to get back in the habit!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Picture 1The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, Bk 1) by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark.
The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl springs up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable.
And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

This book was fantastic!  If I didn’t read it over Thanksgiving with a lot of family and football around, I would have finished it in one sitting.  I wanted to keep reading and when I wasn’t reading, I kept thinking about the book.  The book was intriguing – there were so many mysteries introduced.  Of course, since this is the first of a series, many of those questions weren’t answered, which is driving me crazy now.  I want to know what happens next!

I really liked Thomas and the people around him.  The setting was really interesting with the civilization inside the Glade and the Maze with the Grievers.  There was very little about this book that was predictable, which is great in my opinion!  I definitely recommend this book, though I wish there wasn’t a wait to find out what happens next!

Demon Princess: Reign or Shine by Michelle Rowen

Picture 2Demon Princess: Reign or Shine by Michelle Rowen

As if trying to fit in at a new school isn’t stressful enough, sixteen-year-old Nikki Donovan just found out that her long-lost father is, in fact, the demon king of the Shadowlands—the world that separates and protects us from the Underworld. When she is brought there by the mysterious—and surprisingly cute—messenger Michael, she learns that her father is dying, and he wants her to assume the throne. To complicate matters, a war is brewing between the Shadowlands and the Underworld, her half-demon qualities are manifesting, and her growing feelings for Michael are completely forbidden. Ruling a kingdom, navigating a secret crush, and still making it home by curfew—what’s a teenage demon princess to do?

This was a pretty fun book.  It was kind of predictable, but enjoyable.  Nikki and Michael are good characters and I liked reading their story.  I think this will an interesting series and am looking forward to the next book!

Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Picture 1Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, Bk 4) by Richelle Mead

How far will Rose go to keep her promise?

The recent Strigoi attack at St. Vladimir’s Academy was the deadliest ever in the school’s history, claiming the lives of Moroi students, teachers, and guardians alike. Even worse, the Strigoi took some of their victims with them. . . including Dimitri.

He’d rather die than be one of them, and now Rose must abandon her best friend, Lissa—the one she has sworn to protect no matter what—and keep the promise Dimitri begged her to make long ago. But with everything at stake, how can she possibly destroy the person she loves most?

I’m going to try to say what I thought about this book without being too spoilery.  I really liked the first three books in the series.  I’ve always thought Rose was a fantastic female character.  But in this book, I found myself extremely annoyed with her many times.  One section of the book had me saying “You’ve got to be kidding me!” every time I turned the page.  Not a good thing.

I thought the first 400 pages of the book were kind of tedious and occasionally boring.  Liking the series is the only thing that kept me going.  I did like parts of it, but many times I just wanted the book to get on with the action.  I also really missed the characters from the first books.  Rose’s trips to Lissa’s mind didn’t really take the place of interactions with these characters.  Lissa is a character I struggle to like occasionally anyway, but in this book she just pissed me off.  I know the explanation for it, but I still didn’t like it.

All that said, I did really like the last 100 pages.  Things finally happened and there were revelations and such.  I’ll definitely read the next book, but I’m hoping it’s back to the standards of the first three books.