Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Picture 2Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

Scarlett is the third of four children in the Martin family. The Martins live in and manage a shabby hotel in NYC that dates back to the 1920s. When Scarlett turns 15, she is put in charge of one of the hotel’s 27 rooms- the Empire Suite. Into this room moves Mrs. Amberson, a failed 1970s starlet who has returned to New York to write her memoirs. Soon, Scarlett is taking dictation, running around town with Mrs. Amberson, and getting caught up in her Auntie Mame-meets-Bianca Jagger adventures.

In the midst of all this, Scarlett falls in love – or so she thinks – and it takes Mrs. Amberson to help her see the light.

There were parts of this book that I liked, but overall I thought it was just okay.  I liked Scarlett and Spencer a lot, and Lola grew on me through the book.  The rest of the family (Mom, Dad, and Marlene) and Mrs. Amberson weren’t very likable.  The plot took a long time to come about.  The tone in the first half of the book seemed different than the second half.  At various times, I wasn’t sure who to cheer for and who was the “bad guy.”  I didn’t like how the family forced the hotel on the kids.  I know family businesses take a lot of hands, but it just seemed like the kids were being forced to either work in the hotel or work to support the family.

I really liked Spencer and Scarlett’s relationship and the idea of the play, though having it in a parking garage makes no sense.

Troy High by Shana Norris

troyhighTroy High by Shana Norris

Narrated by Cassie, a shy outsider who fears that an epic high school rivalry is about to go up in flames, the story follows the Trojans and Spartans as they declare war on the football field. After the beautiful Elena—who used to be the captain of the Spartan cheerleaders—transfers to Troy High and falls madly in love with Cassie’s brother Perry, the Spartans vow that the annual homecoming game will never be forgotten.

The Trojans and Spartans pull wicked pranks on each other as homecoming approaches. And the Spartans’ wildcard football star, Ackley, promises to take down the Trojans’ offensive line. But the stakes are raised when Cassie is forced to choose between the boy she loves (a Spartan) and loyalty to her family and school. Troy High will seduce readers with its incendiary cast of mythic proportions.

I’ve always been a fan of Greek mythology and history, so I had high hopes for this book.  Overall, it was really cute.  Parts of the story were very recognizable as the story of Helen of Troy, which I thought was very creative.  It was fun figuring out which characters matched the historical counterparts.  I did a pretty good job figuring that out – the author’s note at the end lays out the characters and I didn’t pick up on one character, but got all of the others.  The ending was resolved very quickly.  I felt like there should have been more explanation as to what had happened, but instead it just ended.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

catchingfireCatching Fire (The Hunger Games, Bk 2) by Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Wow.  I don’t really have a lot of coherent thoughts.  It was good.  Really really good.  Totally worth the wait and I can’t believe that I have to wait a year for Book 3.  I want to know what is going to happen!  It was different than The Hunger Games and I think I liked THG better in a way, butI definitely liked this one a lot.

I am not sure I am okay with the way it ended.  I can’t explain that without giving away the ending, but I just don’t know what to think or feel.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Picture 2Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, Bk 1) by Richelle Mead

St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

I’ve heard that this series was good for a while and have had the first book for about a month, but honestly, I’m getting a little tired of all the vampires in YA books.  I think Twilight and House of Night burned me out and left me uninterested.  I’ve started the Morganville Vampire series and thought it was alright, but I couldn’t bring myself to start this series.

So after much prompting from my friend Nicole, I started it.  I’m so glad I did!  This book is so different from any of the other vampire books I’ve read recently.  I really liked Rose.  I like that she’s strong and a fighter.  She’s willing to put “normal teenage things” on hold to be better a better guardian.  There were a couple times when Lissa annoyed me, but for the most part, I liked her.  I love Dimitri, too.  I am excited to read the rest of the series!

Richelle Mead is one of the authors I should get to meet at the Decatur Book Festival.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Picture 5The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.

Well, if you’ve been reading my blog at all, you know I love this book.  I just read it for the second time so I am refreshed on everything and ready for Catching Fire.  Reading the book again, I liked it just as much as I did the first time.  The book is fantastic in my opinion.  It has a little of everything – survival, grief, hope, family, romance, action, adventure, complexity…  So good!  Katniss is strong, smart, resourceful, and very likable.

I recently found a fan forum for the book and it has been very interesting reading others opinions of various characters.  It has really gotten me thinking.  The book is in Katniss’ point of view, so everything we know is tempered by her feelings.  Many people on the forum mentioned not liking a certain character because Katniss doesn’t like the character.  It just seems so odd to me because I feel there are many clues in the book that this character’s actions are not motivated by the things Katniss thinks they are.  (I know that sentence was vague, but I don’t want to give away anything.)  On the flip side, there is a character that Katniss likes a lot that I don’t care for.   I don’t really know what point I’m trying to make, just that it is interesting how a character’s opinions can shade our feelings about the people and events in books.

Anyway!  Can’t wait for Tuesday!

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce

Picture 1As You Wish by Jackson Pearce

Ever since Viola’s boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes.

Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can’t deny that he’s falling for Viola. But it’s only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she’s in love with Jinn as well . . . and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.

Jackson Pearce spins a magical tale about star-crossed lovers, what it means to belong . . . and how important it is to be careful what you wish for.

This book is adorable.  First of all, the spine is pink.  I am a sucker for pink.  If it is pink, I will love it.  My friends  laugh at me when I can’t find stuff in my purse because the inside of my purse is pink, as is my wallet, iPhone cover, and iPod cover.  It’s all a blur.  Much like I was predisposed to like A Little Bit Wicked by Kristen Chenoweth, just looking at the cover (sans dust jacket, though I like that too) makes me happy.

But anyway!  What’s inside is fantastic too!  The characters are sweet and realistic.  I loved switching between Jinn’s POV and Viola’s POV.  I wouldn’t have minded throwing a chapter or two from Lawrence’s POV in, either.  The all of the characters were really easy to read about and very likeable.  I loved Viola’s journey and how strong she was to not take the easy way out.  The dialogue is realistic and funny too.  I want to be friends with Jinn, Viola, and Lawrence (not to mention Ollie and Xander!).

There were things in the book that really could have been very cliche, but I felt that the book came off as very original.  It could have been very Aladdin, but it really wasn’t, though I may have thrown in my own “Ixnay on the wishing for more wishes!”

In other pop culture references, this quote kept popping in my head while I was reading the book: “That day, she was amazed to discover that when he was saying “As you wish”, what he meant was, “I love you.” And even more amazing was the day she realized she truly loved him back.” <~ Funny stuff here

Jackson Pearce is one of the authors I should get to meet at the Decatur Book Festival.

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

Picture 1 Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

16-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science…and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she’s happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother’s estate.

There, Miranda finds new friends and an island with a mysterious, mystical history, presenting her with facts her logical, scientific mind can’t make sense of. She also meets Leo, who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship…and reality.

Is Leo hiding something? Or is he something that she never could have imagined?

I really wanted to like this book more than I did.  I loved the idea.  A big house on the beach, a mysterious island (off the coast of Georgia!), merfolk and other mythological creatures… it sounds fantastic.  There were parts that I really did like, but there were things I didn’t like as well.  The book just seemed to be lacking something.  I felt the end wrapped up to quickly and it left me feeling a big unresolved.  I turned the page at the end and thought, “Wait, that’s it?”

The “romance” happened too fast – from “I don’t know you” to “I love you” in like a day.  The summer people were cliche and kind of annoying.  I didn’t understand or like Miranda’s mother.  Her behavior seems so out of character from what Miranda explains at the beginning of the book and I didn’t feel like it was explained why she suddenly behaved differently because she was on the island.

Maybe there will be a sequel because I liked it well enough, but I’d like to know what happens next.

Aimee Friedman is one of the authors I should get to meet at the Decatur Book Festival.

The Book of Luke by Jenny O’Connell

Picture 4The Book of Luke by Jenny O’Connell

Emily Abbott has always been considered the Girl Most Likely to Be Nice — but lately being nice hasn’t done her any good. Her parents have decided to move the family from Chicago back to their hometown of Boston in the middle of Emily’s senior year. Only Emily’s first real boyfriend, Sean, is in Chicago, and so is her shot at class valedictorian and early admission to the Ivy League. What’s a nice girl to do?

Then Sean dumps Emily on moving day and her father announces he’s staying behind in Chicago “to tie up loose ends,” and Emily decides that what a nice girl needs to do is to stop being nice.

She reconnects with her best friends in Boston, Josie and Lucy, only to discover that they too have been on the receiving end of some glaring Guy Don’ts. So when the girls have to come up with something to put in the senior class time capsule, they know exactly what to do. They’ll create a not-so-nice reference guide for future generations of guys — an instruction book that teaches them the right way to treat girls.

But when her friends draft Emily to test out their tips on Luke Preston — the hottest, most popular guy in school, who just broke up with Josie by email — Emily soon finds that Luke is the trickiest of test subjects . . . and that even a nice girl like Emily has a few things to learn about love.

I had a really hard time getting into this book and almost gave up on it.  Emily was really whiny for the first 50 pages.  But I stuck with it and ended up liking it more than I expected.  I ended up liking Emily and Luke and their story.  The book wasn’t overly memorable or anything, but it was cute and an easy read.  I liked the “lessons” at the beginning of each chapter.  Some of them are so true!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

parttimeindianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

What a great book!  It was so well written and the comics were perfect.  I found myself laughing and crying along with Junior many times.  There were many aspects of this book that are “tough” to deal with – racism, rez life, Junior’s reality – but overall the book ended on such a positive note.  For all the tears and hilarity, in the end it was the story of Junior being accepted by the world around him (on and off the rez) and accepting himself and his potential.  I recommend this book to anyone.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: “If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing.”

Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

Picture 6 Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she’s got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showing pretty girls–and his “party” lifestyle–all over the Internet, and her mom, who was once one of her dad’s girlfriends, is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for far too long, Hannah has learned how to stay out of sight…and that’s how she likes it.

Of course, being unknown isn’t helping her get noticed by gorgeous, confident Josh, who Hannah knows is her soul mate. Between trying to figure out a way to get him to notice her, dealing with her parents, and wondering why she can’t stop thinking about another guy, Finn, Hannah feels like she’s going crazy. She’s determined to make things work out the way she wants….only what she wants may not be what she needs.

This book is so great!  I really liked Hannah.  She seemed very real.  I enjoyed reading about her relationship struggles with her mother, father, friends, and boys.  There was just a sweetness about this book.  I really liked Teagan and Finn and how their relationships with Hannah help her grow.

This is the second Elizabeth Scott book I’ve read.  Perfect You was good, but I liked Hannah more than I liked Kate, which made this book more enjoyable.