Friday, August 31, 2012

The Last Free Cat by Jon Blake

I loved this book, with all my heart. I wasn't too sure about it, thinking the premise was too contrived and wouldn't be believable. But the whole book is action-packed and very cute.

First of all, Feela. That cat is magical. Put me under her spell from the moment she mewled hello. It was quite tender the way she instantly melted Jade's heart. Second, Jade herself is a great character. Strong, courageous, and independent. She doesn't shy away from adventure, and believes strongly in doing what's right for her beloved Feela. And then there's Kris. He's super intelligent, caring, and best of all, mysterious.

I loved the way the clues and hints unravel throughout the story. Jade has lived a rather sheltered life up until meeting Feela and Kris, and she learns the ways of the street very quickly, mostly from Kris' teachings and from her own experiences. There was a brilliant juxtaposition between what Kris could teach Jade and what Jade could show Kris. It brought a deeper level to their budding relationship.

So many good things about this book. Enjoyable, edge-of-my-seat things. But perhaps my favorite bit was that at it's core, this was a story about rebelling against corporations. A near-future world that looks very similar to our current one. Corporations rule and it is up a small band of warriors to rise up and get to the truth behind what the media is telling them. A good story for all teens to read and discuss.

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 8/29/12

REBEL HEART by Moira Young

It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.
What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants?

Besides the totally drool-worthy dude on the cover, I LOVED the first book, Blood Red Road. It was brilliant. Action-packed. And utterly original.  I seriously want to read this books so bad, I can taste it.

Release Date: October 30, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bound by Book-to-Movie Review: City of Ember

Book-to-Movie Law states that once you have read the book, you are bound by the media to go see the movie based on said book, and therefor compare to two.

This book was so much fun. I read it at break-neck speed and then went out to get the other three in the series. Then I proceeded to tell everyone I met how good the books are and how they should read them. When the movie was announced, I was ecstatic and couldn't wait to see how the producers and director translated such a visual book to the big screen.

They did not disappoint. The clothing, the sets, the music... it was all over the top and perfect. Actually, very understated too, in that I noticed all of these things individually, but together they formed such a perfect union that one design did not feel larger than the other.

Saoirse Ronan was brilliant as Lina. Harry Treadaway seemed a little old at first, but I quickly grew to like him. And of course, Bill Murray was great. That guy can't do wrong. So the movie was really good, too. Intense. Action-packed. And a brilliant translation of a difficult book. Well done!

Bottom Line: The book was amazing and the movie was fantastic. A win-win!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Words With Impact

Words are powerful. They have the ability to make a person laugh, cry, hurt, and feel incredible joy. Most often we use words to communicate in plain, everyday manners. But when we come across words that have greater impact - whether they are spoken to us or by us, or read somewhere - they can leave a major impression.

And then there are words that when we read or hear them, the insides of our ears tweak out. There aren't many such words out there that have this affect on me, but there are a few to note.

EERIE - Reading this words gives me the chills instantly. It comes with a strong flavor of the paranormal and spooky. Totally makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Hearing it spoken is often the same, because people seem to use this word to describe something they can't fully explain. I do like this word, but please use very sparingly, as to avoid creeping me out.

GRIN- Here is a word that seems harmless enough, no? And yet it always sounds malicious, even when it shouldn't. When someone "grin" instead of plain "smiles", they are definitely up to no good. When I read it in a book (Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, overuses this word) I expect hijink to ensue. If they don't, I get disappointed. Please folks, don't use grin if "smile" or "smirk" would work just as well.

ORBS - This word is simply obnoxious. To describe eyes, really?? See also: almond eyes, slits. Eyes should just be described as eyes. Their size and color can sometimes be helpful, but the term orbs is downright weird. Orbs feels like something from space, the future, or some sort of science. Orb eyes or an orb head are not romantic. Understood?

There are probably more, but these three in particular are words that I could do without in my vocabulary.

Do you have any you would like to eradicate from yours? 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 8/22/12

TIME BETWEEN US by Tamara Ireland Stone

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility. As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate—and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.

 *sigh* I am totally due for a good time travel story. Gotta admit that I have very high hopes for this book. It looks to be tender and intriguing and very romantic. Can't wait!

Release Date: October 9, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

WOW. Hold on to your hat when reading this book, it moves FAST.

There's great adventure in this edge-of-your-seat book. I seriously could not put it down and read feverishly through the chapters. The plot is very simple - Robie's plane goes down and her only means of survival is a yellow raft, the co-pilot Max, and a bag of skittles. Yet the book is incredibly intense, shocking, surprising, and most of all, inspiring. The whole time Robie is on the raft is so astounding, in the knowledge she has of sea life, to the paltry means of survival she can incorporate into the long days and nights. She experienced good things and bad things, but justified her actions to herself so that as the reader, I was right there with her for every step.

And the ending - The Ending! Won't say too much, other than it felt like a punch that knocked the wind out of me. Was so good. 

It took a bit to realize it, but I have actually read and loved a previous book by S.A. Bodeen, The Gardener.  She has a real talent for getting my so instantly hooked into her books that I devour them in one sitting and rave about them to my co-workers. I really want to read her first book, The Compound, as soon as possible. Highly recommended, especially to the outdoor adventure lover!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Mourning Emporium by Michelle Lovric

This book opens not long after the first book in the series, The Undrowned Child, leaves off. Which works very well to keep the momentum from the first book going. Without the fast pace of action, this story would be very slow. Still, I forced my way through and found that in the end I was pleased.

While I liked The Undrowned Child, I just couldn't get into this sequel. The action moves along at the same movie-action-scene way that it did in the first book, which pulled me through the chapters at an accelerated pace. It was fun to be aboard a ship tough, with the atmosphere being a little more cramped and claustrophobic. The budding romance between Teo and Renzo is cute, as they both grow older a little more each day.

And again, I totally loved the super cool power Teo has. Honestly, how cool would it be to see people's handwriting appear in the air above their heads? Seemingly useless info, but Teo manages to pull massive amounts of information about a person from their handwriting. I also like the way the mermaids speak. It's unique and funny and creative.

The ending of this book is pretty solid. I'm not sure if there will be another in the series, but I hope not. With such a sweet finale, I am content to stop right here.

Overall Rating: 3 Stars

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 8/15/12

BUTTER by Erin Jade Lange

A lonely obese boy everyone calls "Butter" is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death—live on the Internet—and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn’t go through with his plans?  

There is something about the synopsis that make me really want to read this book. Perhaps because it sounds like it could be real, like it could totally happen in today's bully-ridden world. I already know I will be rooting for Butter!

Release Date: September 18, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fear Street Flashback (31)

Why? Because FEAR STREET was like, my favorite series growing up.

Originally released in January, 1990.

This is a rare Fear Street title in that it is not one I have revisited since the first time reading through it. Not sure why, except that I remember thinking the plot was dumb, and then I spilled a little coffee on my copy and I was terrified of damaging it further. Silly, irrational kid thoughts. So I was both excited and apprehensive about reading Missing again.

Turns out this is definitely one of the weaker Fear Street installments. Mark and Cara are having a major house party on the night their parents disappear and it immediately seems weird for them to have so much concern so quickly. It also seems very unlikely that parents would just disappear without a trace and their two teenaged kids wouldn't quickly call the police.

And then with the addition of the out-of-place cousin Roger, there were too many elements that didn't line up. Still, I appreciated the slow build-up with tension until the final climax. And then final reveal was a big relief, almost, in it's very plausible explanation. I felt myself thinking "oh, it was just that??" and being very done with the book. As the fourth book ever in the Fear Street series, it shows how much better the lineup got over time.

Fear Rating: 1 out of 3 Screams

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wake by Amanda Hocking

I totally liked this book.  For a sea-creature/mermaid type thing, this story was wonderfully creepy. Shockingly so, with a brilliant version of the siren mythos and world. While I don't anticipate ever getting tired with mermaid stories, Wake had it's own twist to the paranormal and it was well worth it.

Gemma and Harper are two of the most independent, strong, and inspiring sisters I have read in a long time. They look out for each other, care for their Dad, are studious with their future plans, and even visit their insane Mother on a regular basis. These girls are great role models on how to be yourself and a member of your family at the same time.

But then there is Alex and Daniel. *swoon* I think I liked Daniel more, because the idea of a boyfriend living on a houseboat is pretty romantic. Daniel himself was super dreamy, too, always rushing to help Harper. I appreciated how the boys took their time to get involved with the girls. The delayed gratification only made me, as the reader, want to see the couples get together even more.

Amanda Hocking definitely writes a great story with this first book in the Watersong series. The only odd bit was that she uses the first name for Gemma and Harper's father, Brian. It is a little confusing, because Gemma and Harper call him Dad or father, so why the Brian? It pulled me away from the characters and I felt constantly interrupted. Other than the small detail, I found myself sailing through this book, picking it up every chance I could to read another chapter. The second book is called Lullaby, and promises to be equally goo, if not better than Wake!

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 8/8/12

FOXFIRE by Karen Kincy


Tavian has never forgotten his real mother, a shapeshifting Japanese fox spirit like himself, who abandoned him. On a trip to Japan, his homeland, he discovers that she’s alive. But a faceless ghost warns Tavian to stay away from her. Even worse, Tavian’s magi¬cal fox powers have vanished. Finding his mother in Tokyo’s seamy underworld may be his only chance to beat back the vicious dog spirits stalking him and his girlfriend Gwen—and to recover from a fatal magical illness eroding his human side.

I fell in love with Tavian in the first book in the Other series, appropriately titled Other. He was so sweet and cuddly. :) Now with his own story, I am excited to dig into Japanese culture and myth, as well as to spend more time with Tavian and Gwen.

Release Date: October 8, 2012

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Boy Recession by Flynn Meaney

This was a sweet high school read that will appeal to lots of different kinds of readers.

The premise is simple. During Kelly and Hunter's senior year of high school, a large number of boys transfer schools, leaving Julius High with a high girl to guy ratio. Something that I'm sure happens all the time. Suddenly the status of overlooked, geeky and nerdy boys skyrockets them to the same popularity of star quarterbacks. Flynn Meaney takes advantage of the situation, by creating lots of hilariously awkward moments between the various clicks of students, leaving no stereotype spared.

I loved the trio of friends in Kelly, Darcy, and Aviva. And then the boy group with Hunter, Derek, and Eugene was great as well. I found myself physically smiling whenever Kelly and Hunter got together. Those were definitely the best scenes in the book, the lightest moments, the most humorous parts. A cute book, with adorable characters. Recommended for summer beach reading!

Overall Rating: 4 Stars

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fictional Recipes (5)

Real Mermaids Don't Hold Their Breath is the second in a cute series by Helene Boudreau that has an added bonus of easy to make dessert recipes at the back of the book. The first book had Mug Cake, which was delicious. The recipe in this second book sounded weird at first... Chocolate Popcorn. But the scene where this late night snack appears is a super tender moment, so I decided to try my own hand at making this odd sounding (and odd looking!) treat.

First the ingredients, which were very simple. Popcorn kernels, brown sugar, chocolate chips, and butter. I chose Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips.
  Then melt the ingredients and pop the kernels.
For the final step, pour the warm mixture over the popcorn and mix until the tasty goodness touches every piece of popcorn. It looks a little funky and unfinished. 
But when I put the first taste in my mouth, I was pleasantly surprised. Beware, this stuff is addicting! The chocolate and brown sugar turned the plain popcorn into such yummy morsels that I couldn't stop eating them. This is a recipe I will definitely make again!

I'm looking forward to seeing the recipe in book number 3. If history proves anything, it's bound to be a tasty one!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday 8/1/12


She could save the world—or destroy it.

Sixteen year old Evangeline “Evie” Greene leads a charmed life, until she begins experiencing horrifying hallucinations. When an apocalyptic event decimates her Louisiana hometown, Evie realizes her hallucinations were actually visions of the future—and they’re still happening. Fighting for her life and desperate for answers, she must turn to her wrong-side-of-the-bayou classmate: Jack Deveaux.

But she can’t do either alone.

With his mile-long rap sheet, wicked grin, and bad attitude, Jack is like no boy Evie has ever known. Even though he once scorned her and everything she represented, he agrees to protect Evie on her quest. She knows she can’t totally depend on Jack. If he ever cast that wicked grin her way, could she possibly resist him?

Who can Evie trust?

As Jack and Evie race to find the source of her visions, they meet others who have gotten the same call. An ancient prophesy is being played out, and Evie is not the only one with special powers. A group of twenty-two teens has been chosen to reenact the ultimate battle between good and evil. But it’s not always clear who is on which side….

I've yet to read anything by Kresley Cole, but I know there are lots of devout readers out there. I'm looking forward to trying out her writing with this first book in a series. I like the dark and stormy look to the cover, but have to wonder how old the characters are supposed to be.

Release Date: October 2, 2012