Weekly Recap 4/10/11

I didn’t get a lot of reading done this week because baseball season started back!  I went to three games this week (one of which included a post game concert by The Avett Brothers) and while it was awesome, I am wiped out!

Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney – This was okay.  I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love Finbar, so he drove me crazy.  But overall, it was cute and a funny idea for a book.

Plague (Gone, Bk 4) by Michael Grant – I really struggled through this.  Parts of the book were extremely disgusting. Overall, I felt like nothing was really happened and it was a filler book between the last book and the next one.  And a 500 page filler book is way too much.  I finally set a goal and decided that I was giving myself through today and then giving up.  I did end up finishing it, but it was a struggle.  I feel like this series started really strong and now the author is just trying to see what else he can throw in to keep selling books.

Weekly Recap 4/3/11

The YA Challenge is over!  YAY!!!!!  It was great.  I read a lot of books I’ve had sitting on my shelf that had never bubbled up to the top of my reading choices.  But I have a bunch of books I have wanted to read, but they weren’t worth a lot of points and Competitive Me would only read things that were worth a lot of points. Heh.  So now I have a few swap books to read, then I am wide open to read what I want!  Double YAY!!!!! :)

Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell – This was okay.  It wasn’t terrible, but I didn’t love it.  I found Gen and most of the other kids at the camp really annoying, but I think that might have been partly because they were really young.  There were parts that didn’t make sense (like having a cell signal in the middle of nowhere).  I kept waiting for Gen’s family to get better at some part of camp life.

The White Cat (The Curse Workers, Bk 1) by Holly Black – I liked this.  I found the world pretty interesting, though occasionally confusing.  I liked Cassel and his school friends.  The book was interesting and different and I’m interested to see where it goes in the next book.

The Girl Who Was on Fire edited by Leah Wilson – I liked this overall.  A couple of the essays didn’t hold my attention, but most of them were interesting and thought provoking. The essay The Politics of Mockingjay should have been more about the politics of Mockingjay and less about the politics of George W. Bush and how super smart and special the author of that essay is.  Reading this made me want to reread the series!

XVI by Julia Karr

XVI by Julia Karr

Nina Oberon’s life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she’ll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a “sex-teen” is Nina’s worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina’s mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother’s killer.

I am such a slacker!  I really should have written this review right after I read the book, but I didn’t and I’ve read 20+ books since then and honestly, I can’t remember details anymore!  Bad Jenna.

But I do remember liking it, so let’s start there.  I thought the world was really interesting, especially the Media, which reminded me a lot of Feed by M.T. Anderson.  It was pretty believable as a future to our society.  I also found the tier system really interesting and believable.  I did have trouble deciding how far in the future the book was supposed to be set.  At times, I thought it was only a short amount of time in the future, but then other times it seemed very far out.  It was a little distracting.  I would have liked to have find out more about what drove the society to have such a rigid tier system… how did we get there?

Overall, I like Nina.  She was occasionally kind of boring, but also pretty interesting.  I liked how protective she was of her sister. I really liked her grandparents.  Her friends… hm.  I loathed Sandy and was pretty annoyed every time she showed back up.  I didn’t like that Nina used … guy friend whose name I can’t remember … a lot.  I was kind of annoyed when Sal and … girl whose name I can’t remember … knew things about Nina’s parents and wouldn’t tell her stuff.  But I liked their little band (minus Sandy) for the most part.

I guess the end was setting up a sequel, which has the potential to be interesting, so I would give it a shot should it happen.  If there isn’t a sequel, the ending was definitely disappointing!

Read as part of the 2011 YA Debut Author Challenge.

“Weekly” Recap 3/27/11

Okay, so getting behind on In My Mailbox is not that big of a deal because I can look back at Goodreads and PBS and figure out what I’ve mailed and received.  Getting behind on Weekly Recaps is bad though!  Now I have to remember what I liked or didn’t like about stuff I read a while ago.  Here goes nothing!  This is 3 weeks worth of reading and I’ve been reading a lot trying to win a YA Reading Challenge on PaperBackSwap.

XVI by Julia Karr – Review coming (Debut Author)

Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors -This was okay.  It was pretty cute, but not super memorable.  I liked Alice and liked how she was trying to keep everything together.  I was kind of frustrated by how much she didn’t believe Errol was Cupid, especially towards the end.  I thought she was on board and then bam!  She didn’t still didn’t believe.  It got a little old.

Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg -This was adorable!  Pride & Prejudice is one of my favorite books ever, so I was probably a little bit predisposed to liking it, but I thought it was a lot of fun.  The way the original story was meshed into a new setting was really interesting.  I liked the way the characters were portrayed.  Even though they were basically the same characters, I liked that they weren’t just exact replicas of the original characters.

Me, The Missing, and The Dead by Jenny Valentine – This was just okay.  Lucas was strange and I had a hard time getting really invested in him.  I liked his grandparents the most. (This is a UK author, but I am not counting it towards my UK author total because I started skimming after a while.)

The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson – I loved this!  I liked all three of the sisters, but May the most, followed closely by Palmer.  I loved that they were all named after baseball players. ;)  I laughed with them, I cried with them, but most of all I just loved them.  (Third person limited multi-perspective)

Violence 101 by Denis Wright -It’s hard to say I liked this book because it’s about a kid that does all kinds of bad stuff, but I definitely found it very intriguing.  It was really interesting to see Hamish’s justifications for what his actions.  I definitely liked the first section more than the second section and though it wrapped up a little too neatly. (International Author [from somewhere other than US, Canada, UK, or Australia])

Indigo Blues by Danielle Joseph -I was pretty disappointed in this one.  I liked Shrinking Violet a lot, so I was looking forward to this book.  Indigo is annoying, self centered, and just all around unlikeable.  There were times I did like Adam, but especially at the beginning beginning, he was whiny and way too obsessed with Indigo.

Fat Cat by Robin Brande – I liked this a lot!  I occasionally found Cat annoying and I wanted her to actually stop and listen to herself sometimes, or listen to Matt or something!  But I really related to Cat and really enjoyed the book.

Inside Out  by Maria V. Snyder – I liked this!  Maria V. Snyder is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.  I really liked Trella, Cogan, and Riley.  I loved discovering the secrets of Inside and Outside with the characters.  The book totally sucked me in.  I was kind of sad when it was over.  I can’t wait to read Outside In!

Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott – This had sat on my shelf for a really long time and I’m glad I finally picked it up.  It wasn’t my favorite book by Elizabeth Scott (that would be Something, Maybe), but it was a really enjoyable read.  I really liked Dani.  She was easy to relate to and her struggle was really interesting.  I liked her relationships with Greg and Allison.  I couldn’t stand her mom!  She was frustrating.

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs – This was fun.  In terms of books about children of Greek/Roman gods, Percy Jackson was way better, but I did like the differences in this one.  I can’t say I loved it, but I enjoyed it.

The Heart Is Not a Size by Beth Kephart – I wanted to like this a lot more than I did.  I found the writing a bit frustrating.  I can’t really put my finger on why exactly, but I just felt like I was being talked at instead told a story I was part of.  I’m not sure that makes sense. LOL  But I just never got to the place where I cared about the characters and found the book a bit disappointing.

Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi – This book didn’t blow my mind, but it was enjoyable.  I kind of related to Maddy in some ways, like how it’s easier to be honest and “yourself” on the internet than it is in person sometimes.  It was a really cute book.

Devilish by Maureen Johnson – After reading and loving The Key to the Golden Firebird, I had high hopes for this one, but I didn’t love it.  It’s another book where I never really felt invested in the characters and more felt I was just reading to get to the end.

The Deathday Letter by Shaun David Hutchison – I almost always like books with a male protagonist, but I was a little unsure about this one at the beginning.  I know teenage boys are all about sex, but I was starting to think it was going to be too much for me to continue reading.  But I’m glad I did.  That aspect toned down somewhat.  The premise of the book was really interesting.  What would you do if you knew you had a day to live?  I really liked Ollie, Shane, and Ronnie by the end of the book.

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Description from Goodreads:

Ava has a secret. She is tired of her ultracool attitude, ultra-radical politics, and ultrablack clothing. She’s ready to try something new—she’s even ready to be someone new. Someone who fits in, someone with a gorgeous boyfriend, someone who wears pink.

Transferring to Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence is the perfect chance to try on a new identity. But just in case things don’t work out, Ava is hiding her new interests from her parents, and especially from her old girlfriend.

Secrets have a way of being hard to keep, though, and Ava finds that changing herself is more complicated than changing her wardrobe. Even getting involved in the school musical raises issues she never imagined. As she faces surprising choices and unforeseen consequences, Ava wonders if she will ever figure out who she really wants to be.

Humor, heart, and the joys of drama—on- and offstage—combine in Ava’s delight-fully colorful journey of self-discovery.

This book was great!  I really enjoyed Ava’s journey from being emo-goth to a Pastel to a Screw.  I liked how she didn’t know who she was and was trying to figure it out, even if she was going about it wrong.  That’s definitely relate able.  I think that’s what I liked the most about Ava – she felt pushed into a corner by her life and she understood herself enough to want to explore the rest of the world.  She wanted to to be have her own personality and desires, even if she wasn’t quite sure what that meant.

I really loved the Screws.  They were all really fun characters.  I liked how they fit multiple stereotypes, but just accepted each other in spite of (or maybe because of) their differences.  I especially loved Jen and Sam. I loved how smart all of the Screws were.  It made the book more fun as I learned random facts.

I really didn’t like Chloe and I never felt like she had any redeeming qualities.  I struggled a bit with Ava’s parents, but I liked them in the end.  Occasionally, I felt like the book entered into “and now we talk about stereotypes” mode, but it was usually interesting and passed pretty quickly.

Overall, this was a fantastic read that I’d recommend!

Read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge.

The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty

The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty

Description from Goodreads:

This is the story of Amelia and Riley, bad kids from bad Brookfield High who have transferred to Ashbury High for their final year. They’ve been in love since they were fourteen, they go out dancing every night, and sleep through school all day. And Ashbury can’t get enough of them.

Everyone’s trying to get their attention; even teachers are dressing differently, trying to make their classes more interesting. Everyone wants to be cooler, tougher, funnier, hoping to be invited into their cool, self-contained world.

But they don’t know that all Amelia can think about is her past — an idyllic time before she ran away from home. Riley thinks he’s losing her to the past, maybe even to a place further back in time. He turns to the students of Ashbury for help, and things get much, much worse.

In the tradition of the gothic novel, this is a story about ghosts, secrets, madness, passion, locked doors, femmes fatales, and that terrifying moment in the final year of high school when you realise that the future’s come to get you.

I’ve put off reviewing this book for a few days because I’m not really sure what I want to say.  On one hand, I did like the story.  I thought it was interesting and I wanted to keep reading to figure out what was going on.

On the other hand though, I kept thinking “OMG this book is loooooong.”  Once I got to Part 3, I was much more into it, but the first two sections of the book dragged.  Reading the same stories from different perspectives got old.  Yes, we learned something different each time, but by perspective #4, I was over it.  I also had a hard time understanding why Riley and Amelia were so interesting.  I think I struggled with this because it is Emily that is telling us they’re interesting and I had a hard time thinking of her as a credible narrator.  I liked Lydia a lot more, so I guess I fell on her side of thinking they’re just people.

But like I said, in the end, when things finally started to be revealed and interesting stuff actually happened, I was pretty into it, but if I hadn’t had friends tell me that the end is better than the beginning, I probably would have given up on it.

Read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge.

Weekly Recap 2/13/11

I didn’t post last week, so this is two weeks worth of reading. :)  I’m not really sure why, but my reading rate has seriously slowed down from last month.  Lots of busy days recently, I guess.

Books Read:

Princess Diaries (Princess Diaries, Bk 1) by Meg Cabot – This was a lot of fun.  It was pretty different than the movie, which threw me a bit, but I ended up liking the book a lot.  It was strange that her dad was alive in the book (he’s dead in the movie) and Mia already knew and didn’t like her grandmother.  Definitely will continue to read this series. (Book made into a movie)

Entangled by Cat ClarkeReview here (British Books Challenge, Debut Author Challenge)

Only the Good Spy Young (Gallagher Girls, Bk 4) by Ally Carter – I think I say this every time I read one of these books, but I really think I was a spy in another life.  I LOVE spy books.  The GG books are just so much fun.  I love the characters and the world they live in.  This book was my favorite of the four.  I couldn’t put it down because there was constantly something I needed to get to the bottom of.  I hate that I have to wait a year for the 5th book! (Set in a Boarding School)

The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty – Review to come (Aussie YA Challenge)

Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O’Malley – I still love these.  Scott and company are awesome!

Entangled by Cat Clarke

Entangled by Cat Clarke

Description from Goodreads:

The same questions whirl round and round in my head:
What does he want from me?
How could I have let this happen?
AM I GOING TO DIE?

17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with a table, pens and paper – and no clue how she got here.

As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she’s tried to forget. There’s falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there’s something missing. As hard as she’s trying to remember, is there something she just can’t see?

Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?

A story of dark secrets, intense friendship and electrifying attraction.

I loved this book!  It totally sucked me in and I couldn’t put it down.  I just wanted answers, so I had to keep reading.  I had a pretty good idea of what had happened, but I wanted confirmation on what I thought I knew.

Grace was a really interesting character.  I liked her, but she drove me nuts.  Sometimes I loved her, sometimes she drove me crazy, sometimes she made me laugh, and sometimes she made me cry.  She felt very real and authentic and just interesting.

I really liked how the story unraveled.  Grace was telling her own story, but she was very honest about it.  I would have liked to have gotten to know Sal, Nat, and Devon better, but I think the level the reader understands them makes sense because it’s all Grace’s perspective.

Without giving any spoilers, I was kind of sad when the book ended.  Though I understood what had happened and where it ends makes sense, I wanted to know more.

Definitely recommend this book to anyone and I can’t wait for another book by Cat Clarke!

Read as part of the British Books Challenge and Debut Author Challenge.

Weekly Recap 1/30/11

Books read this week:

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta – Have I mentioned how I am in love with MM’s writing? :) Review here (Aussie Challenge, Melina Marchetta Challenge, Realistic Fiction)

The Half-life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin – I am kind of torn on this book.  On one hand, I really liked Hank.  His Asberger’s made him an interesting and honest character.  On the other hand, I didn’t like Liana much at all.  Her motivations didn’t make sense to me and I really didn’t understand her dad’s hypochondria or the resolution of that story line.  I really felt like Liana’s story was missing something that would have made me relate to her or have empathy for her, but I didn’t. (Romance)

Origins (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan’s Diaries, Bk 1) by L.J Smith, Kevin Williamson, Julie Plec – This was fun.  It was the story that is laid out on the show, so there weren’t any surprises.  I wish I knew who actually wrote the book.  It is actually listed as “based on the books by L.J. Smith and the show by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec.”  The writing was definitely better than the original Vampire Diaries book I read last fall. (First in Series)

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Description from Goodreads:

Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastians, a boys’ school that’s pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom.  Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player.  The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about.

Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, along, and without an inkling who she really is.  Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

Oh my goodness! I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved this book!  Seriously – I wish these characters were real so I could move to Australia and be friends with them.  The characters were just amazing and their story sucked me in.

I loved Francesca.  She was so realistic as a teenager trying to figure out who she is and where she fits.  I loved that she was pushed out of her comfort zone, forced to make friends with the girls and boys at St. Sebastian, and starts to discover that she likes it out in reality.  She was just a wonderful character that I laughed with, I cried with, and just wanted to be friends with.

I liked Francesca’s family, especially her relationship with her brother.  It was sweet.  For all her dad’s faults, he was trying to figure out how to help his wife and raise two kids.  His grocery shopping accomplishments made me laugh.  I liked Francesca’s childhood relationship with her mother and how being like her mother caused Francesca to learn about herself and grow throughout the book.  And of course, the extended family was great.  I have a big family, so I could see some of the people I’m related to in Francesca’s family.

The girls of St. Sebastian were loads of fun.  I liked that Siobhan, Tara, and Justine did stay in the stereotypes that they originally were in Francesca’s mind – the slut, the activist, and the nerd.  They were really well rounded, pretty normal teenagers.  I liked how much they believed in Francesca even when she didn’t realize it or understand it.

And finally the boys – Will, Thomas, and Jimmy.  Will I loved and hated.  He frustrated me, but I came to love him.  Jimmy was awesome!  I loved how he was completely comfortable in the Spinelli house and brought both Francesca and her mother out of their shells a little bit.  His banter with Francesca was hilarious.  And Thomas Mackee – yum!  I loved his bad boy attitude that didn’t stand the test of time.  I couldn’t help but laugh as he because friends with Francesca and her friends despite his best efforts.

I highly recommend this to anyone.  It was just amazing.  I can’t wait for The Piper’s Son to come out in March for more Thomas Mackee!

Read as part of the Aussie YA Challenge and my Melina Marchetta challenge.