Friday, May 31, 2013

Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

After the grand explosion of her relationship, seventeen-year-old Max Scott developed what every girl in the history of the world has been waiting for: a way to get over being dumped. Now Max is the go-to guru for heartbroken high-school girls all over NYC. But when her ex unexpectedly shows up in her neighborhood, Max’s carefully controlled world starts to unravel. With her clients’ hearts hanging in the balance, Max will have to do the seemingly impossible: get over him once and for all.

Brilliant at bringing humor to the trials and tribulations of the lovestruck, #1 New York Times bestselling authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus have crafted a tale that will resonate with any girl who has ever been in love or had her heart broken. It brims with smart observations, features a pitch-perfect teen voice, and will attract fans of Jenny Han, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Barnholdt. Readers are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sharp spin on breaking up, making up, and getting even. (from GoodReads)

The premise of Over You was confusing at first, but once I got into the story, I enjoyed this book immensely. It was even hard to put down! I haven't read anything by these authors before (though I have seen The Nanny Diaries movie) so I'm looking forward to reading more of their work.

What I didn't understand when I first started Over You is that Max runs a business in which she helps heartbroken girls get over their ex-boyfriends. It's pretty legitimate: she uses the basement of her apartment as an office and has two assistants. She gets referrals from previous clients and uses a step-by-step process to help these teens. It's ingenious and I just loved how smart Max is. The fact that she set this whole thing up is pretty awesome. She spends a lot of money, which seems unrealistic until you realize she got a grant from a wealthy client (it must have been one huge check).

Max set up Ex, Inc in order to get over her own ex-boyfriend and when he decides to attend college in New York, her world is thrown upside down. But at the same time, Max meets cute Ben, who she has a growing attraction to. I'm sure you can guess how this pans out but I still loved every minute of it. Max begins acting like all the girls who need her assistance but ultimately gets through it.

Unfortunately there were some flaws in Over You. I already addressed the one about the money. First, the book switches POV between several characters and doesn't indicate the change and since it's in third person I would get confused easily. It doesn't help that two characters (Max and Taylor) have names that are androgynous so I was get even more confused. Also, I didn't like that Max dropped out of school and was just planning on getting her GED. I don't know any parents who would let their child do that and still expect them to go to college. Max was applying to schools like NYU, which definitely wouldn't take someone with a GED. She had a connection with one of the professors but I honestly don't know if that would be enough. She should have just been "homeschooled" by her parents and got a diploma from the public school.

Regardless of the above, I still really enjoyed Over You and I recommend it to anyone who likes romance and intelligent heroines.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/Harper Teen/304 pages. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Summary:In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect. (from GoodReads)

I just finished The Madman's Daughter about an hour ago and it was definitely one of the best books I've read in a long time! I've been in bit of reading funk but I'm happy to say that this book brought me out of it. This book isn't without its flaws but in my opinion the good outweighs the bad.

I've never read The Island of Dr. Moreau but now I really want to because I enjoyed this novel so much. I'd love to see where the author got her inspiration and see how that story pans out. I'm also excited that The Madman's Daughter is the first book of a trilogy. The ending was very unexpected so I'm glad we get to revisit the characters and story.

As soon as I began reading The Madman's Daughter I liked Juliet instantly. She's smart, hardworking and resourceful. What I liked even more is that she's not all butteflies and candy - there's a darkness inside her which made her a very interesting and complex character. It's an issue Juliet struggles with throughout the novel, if she's going to be as crazy as her father. When this novel is branded as a "Gothic thriller" they weren't joking. There is some gruesome stuff in here: animal vivisection, surgery, Frankenstein-esque medical procedures, murder, unethical experiments. Luckily I enjoyed the creepiness and the author created a very Gothic atmosphere. It was so interesting reading about the human-animal hybrids that Dr. Moreau created - the science was a little sketchy so I just suspended my disbelief. I wish there were pictures or something because it was hard to imagine what some of these creatures looked like.

A big part of the novel was the love triangle between Juliet, Montgomery (her father's assistant and her best friend before the scandal) and Edward (a runaway they meet on the ship). I loved the relationship between Juliet and Montgomery because they had a lot of history from before the novel is set. I could see the connection and enjoyed the scenes between  the two. Unfortunately the author tried to force a love triangle with Edward which didn't work. He's a superfluous character to begin with (except for the twist at the end) and I just wish he was in the story without being a romantic interest. Especially when it's obvious that most of Juliet's feelings lie with Montgomery.

There are multiple twists at the end of the story and I'm just glad that there are more books in this series. I didn't like how the book ended so I can't wait to see what happens next. The Madman's Daughter is an exciting, atmospheric and creepy novel, which might not be for everyone. But if you enjoy Gothic horror, I recommend checking this out.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2013/Balzer + Bray/420 pages.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 139

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Inhuman by Kat Falls

In a world ravaged by mutation, a teenage girl must travel into the forbidden Savage Zone to recover lost artifacts or her father’s life is forfeit.

America has been ravaged by a war that has left the eastern half of the country riddled with mutation. Many of the people there exhibit varying degrees of animal traits. Even the plantlife has gone feral.

Crossing from west to east is supposed to be forbidden, but sometimes it’s necessary. Some enter the Savage Zone to provide humanitarian relief. Sixteen-year-old Lane’s father goes there to retrieve lost artifacts—he is a Fetch. It’s a dangerous life, but rewarding—until he’s caught.

Desperate to save her father, Lane agrees to complete his latest job. That means leaving behind her life of comfort and risking life and limb—and her very DNA—in the Savage Zone. But she’s not alone. In order to complete her objective, Lane strikes a deal with handsome, roguish Rafe. In exchange for his help as a guide, Lane is supposed to sneak him back west. But though Rafe doesn’t exhibit any signs of “manimal” mutation, he’s hardly civilized . . . and he may not be trustworthy. (from GoodReads)

Well I love dystopias so I'm definitely looking forward to this. I really like the idea of animal mutations, and it's a similar theme to the novel I'm reading now, The Madman's Daughter. Inhuman will be released September 24, 2013.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 84

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Freebie: Top Ten Sequels I'm Dying to Read

1. Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton
This is one of my favorite fantasy trilogies and I can't believe I still haven't read the concluding novel! I really need to buy this book.

2. Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
Another series that I adore and also need to buy the book to add to my shelf. I hope Ally Carter keeps writing about Kat and Hale after this.

3. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
When this is released it will be the last novel of The Mortal Instruments Series, so I'm looking forward to see how it ends (especially since I thought City of Glass was the end).

4. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
I didn't love Insurgent but I'm still excited to read this book, especially with the movie coming out soon!

5. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
I need to know what happens now that Amy and Elder are on a new planet!

6. Prodigy by Marie Lu
I thought Legend was very good and exciting so of course I need to get this!

7. Just One Year by Gayle Forman
I absolutely loved Just One Day and need the sequel now.

8. Unsouled by Neal Shusterman
I had never heard of this trilogy before a friend recommended the first novel to me but now I love it. Fans of sci fi need to pick these up!

9. In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin
I love how the titles form one big sentence so I'm pretty much reading it just for that! Well, I actually enjoy the story.

10. Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes
The first fantasy novel blew me away so I'm excited to continue the story.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book vs. Movie: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby movie has been highly anticipated and I was excited to see the movie for several reasons. I'm a big fan of the novel and I also adore Leonardo DiCaprio - so I expected this to be a winning combination. Luckily for me I really enjoyed the film and think every reader of The Great Gatsby should check it out.

Even though I really liked the movie, I think it depends on how much you like the book too. My sister loves the novel and it's one of her favorites, so she was annoyed at the minor changes made during the adaptation. On the other hand, I liked the book but I didn't mind the changes at all. I think the one change was a great way to explain how Nick Carroway is narrating the story, since movies don't really lend themselves to lengthy voiceovers.

I will admit that the beginning of the movie is hard to get into. If you're not used to the style of director Baz Luhrmann, you will be very confused. He also directed Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge and this version of The Great Gatsby has a similar feel and atmosphere as those two films. There is a lot of green screen/CGI in the beginning and one of the first scenes is filmed with a lot of different cameras and quick takes. If the whole movie was like that I probably would have hated the adaptation. Luckily that style is only found in the beginning and the rest of the movie is filmed a little more normally.

All the important elements of the novel are found in the book, including the green light, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg and the themes of opulence, wealth and the loss of the American dream. Leonardo DiCaprio did a fantastic job as Gatsby and I really hope he finally wins an Oscar for this role! I thought the other actors did well too, but Leo steals every scene he's in.

Overall, the essence of the novel is captured in the film adaptation and I think it's a really good movie by itself. I can't compare it to the previous adaptations since I haven't seen them, but it has to be one of the better ones. If you're a fan of the book don't miss out on this movie!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 138

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released soon.

Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

If she sink, she be no witch and shall be drowned. If she float, she be a witch and must be hanged.

Meg Lytton has always known she is different-that she bears a dark and powerful gift. But in 1554 England, in service at Woodstock Palace to the banished Tudor princess Elizabeth, it has never been more dangerous to practise witchcraft. Meg knows she must guard her secret carefully from the many suspicious eyes watching over the princess and her companions. One wrong move could mean her life, and the life of Elizabeth, rightful heir to the English throne.

With witchfinder Marcus Dent determined to have Meg's hand in marriage, and Meg's own family conspiring against the English queen, there isn't a single person Meg can trust. Certainly not the enigmatic young Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, despite her undeniable feelings. But when all the world turns against her, Meg must open her heart to a dangerous choice.

The Secret Circle meets The Other Boleyn Girl in Witchstruck, the first book of the magical Tudor Witch trilogy. (from GoodReads)

Well I can never turn away a book about the Tudors, so it looks like I'll be reading this! Luckily it sounds very exciting. Witchstruck will be released September 24, 2013.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 83

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Favorite Covers of Books I've Read

1. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

2. Across the Universe by Beth Revis

3. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

4. Wither by Lauren DeStefano

5. The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

6. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

7. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

8. Matched by Ally Condie

9. The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

10. Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 137

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for readers and bloggers to see what new books are going to be coming out.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent. (from GoodReads)

This cover was just revealed and it looks awesome! I'm really looking forward to see how this ends, and especially the new movie for Divergent!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 82

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

1. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
I read this in my ninth grade global studies class because it's about a young boy growing up in Apartheid in South Africa. Mark lived in poverty surrounded by racism, disease, abuse and other horrible things. Luckily the story has a relatively happy ending.

2. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
This should be on everyone's list because many people have read it. For those who don't know it's about keeping rape a secret.

3. Easy by Tammara Weber
This is similar to Speak but the main character is a victim of attempted rape.

4. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Forbidden is such a good book but it's about incest between a brother and a sister. By the end you'll be rooting for them to get together.

5. Illegal by Bettina Restrepo
This isn't my favorite book ever but it's about illegal immigration.

6. Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult
Only the strong of heart should read this book because it's about the sexual abuse of a little boy. Pretty much every Jodi Picoult book could be on this list, though.

7. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
This was such a hard read too! It's about a girl who was kidnapped when she was younger and has been abused by her captor for years.

8. Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara
Wren suffers from depression after her boyfriend is killed in a car accident.

9. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Quinn is accused of cheating on her Marine boyfriend, which is the ultimate sin in a military town. Also deals with homophobia.

10. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Twenty Boy Summer deals with the death of a secret boyfriend.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 136

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released.

He's Gone by Deb Caletti

“What do you think happened to your husband, Mrs. Keller?”

The Sunday morning starts like any other, aside from the slight hangover. Dani Keller wakes up on her Seattle houseboat, a headache building behind her eyes from the wine she drank at a party the night before. But on this particular Sunday morning, she’s surprised to see that her husband, Ian, is not home. As the hours pass, Dani fills her day with small things. But still, Ian does not return. Irritation shifts to worry, worry slides almost imperceptibly into panic. And then, like a relentless blackness, the terrible realization hits Dani: He’s gone.

As the police work methodically through all the logical explanations—he’s hurt, he’s run off, he’s been killed—Dani searches frantically for a clue as to whether Ian is in fact dead or alive. And, slowly, she unpacks their relationship, holding each moment up to the light: from its intense, adulterous beginning, to the grandeur of their new love, to the difficulties of forever. She examines all the sins she can—and cannot—remember. As the days pass, Dani will plumb the depths of her conscience, turning over and revealing the darkest of her secrets in order to discover the hard truth—about herself, her husband, and their lives together. (from GoodReads)

I love Deb Caletti but this book is an adult novel! So I hope it will be just as good as her YA books. He's Gone will be released May 14, 2013.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 81

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books To Read When You Need Something Light and Fun

1. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
This is one of my favorite books because it's so funny! I remember trying not to laugh out loud as I was reading this in public.

2. V is For Virgin by Kelly Oram
This book is awesome because it's so cute! Val starts a campaign to get students to think seriously about sex and sexuality, as she's seduced by a real ladies' man!

3. Freshmen Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin
Even though it's been a long time since I was a freshmen in high school, I could still relate to all the shenanigans that Kelsey and her friends get into, though I think she got into a lot more trouble than I did!

4. How Not to be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler
I read this so long ago, but I remember how the main character decided to do things that would make her unpopular, but then everyone started copying her. It was so funny.

5. Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker
This is another book that I read a long time ago, but it was an adorable summer romance read!

6. Serial Hottie by Kelly Oram
I'm repeating authors on here, but I don't care. The protagonist thinks her hot new neighbor is a serial killer. It makes for some awkward encounters, but it's hilarious.

7. Past Perfect by Leila Sales
This book has more of a story compared to Mostly Good Girls but I still loved it! Chelsea works at Revolutionary War reenactment village (like Williamsburg).

8. Secrets of My Hollywood Life Jen Calonita
Such a fun read if you're interested in Hollywood stars and how they live.

9. Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita
I reread this book every summer because I love it so much! Sam is a camp counselor at an overnight camp and there's even a summer romance.

10. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Scarlett lives in her family's hotel in NYC and gets herself into shenanigans as well. The book is complete with a fun cast of characters.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend attention.

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling...(from GoodReads)

I was really excited to read Shut Out because I love the concept! I wanted to see how this hook-up strike would go and I think it's super cool how Kody Keplinger incorporated her inspiration into the book (it's a slight retelling of the Greek play Lysistrata).

I think Kody Keplinger is a wonderful writer, which is especially impressive given how young she is! I think she's around my age which is crazy. But pretty awesome, too! The dialogue was realistic, which is always important in YA. I liked how the girls banded together in order to stop the feud (which is pretty ridiculous, if you ask me). Lissa becomes the leader and I really enjoyed her character. She just felt so real and  multi-dimensional: she has anxiety and OCD tendencies, but she's also super smart and sweet.

The romance with Cash Sterling (ok, what kind of name is that?) was very hot and steamy and obviously everyone was rooting for them to be together. Randy didn't seem too bad in the beginning, but than you realize that Cash is the much better choice.

My favorite part of Shut Out was the girl power and feminism. I liked the message that girls shouldn't be defined by their sexuality and that these double standards between men and women are ridiculous. Seeing that in YA was awesome and I hope the readers get a lot out of this theme.

Overall, I enjoyed Shut Out and loved the concept! I'm actually considering reading Lysistrata now!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: Christmas gift

2011/Poppy/273 pages.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 135

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for readers and bloggers to see what new books are coming out soon.

Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

Love, power, and magic collide with war in the second book of the Falling Kingdoms series

Auranos has fallen and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now united as one country called Mytica. But still, magic beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world...

When the evil King Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of events that will forever change the face of this land, forcing Cleo the dethroned princess, Magnus the reluctant heir, Lucia the haunted sorceress, and Jonas the desperate rebel to take steps they never could have imagined. (from GoodReads)

I really enjoyed the first novel in this series, Falling Kingdoms, and I can't wait to return to the world of Auranos! Rebel Spring will be released December 3, 2013.