Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ballerinas and bad boys - a dysfunctional romantic combination

Crash (book 1) & Clash (book 2)
Nicole Williams
Genre: TFDR (Twisted fustercluck dysfunctional romance)
Rating: 4 (Crash) 3 (Clash)
Content Rating: PG-13 (Crash) strong PG-13/weak R (Clash)
Cover Love: Fun, although Clash was better
Instalove Factor: Not really

Publisher’s Summary (Crash):
Jude Ryder and Lucy Larson are this generation's Romeo and Juliet: Explosive. Sizzling. Tragic.

A steamy summer encounter with bad boy Jude means trouble for Lucy. Her sights are set on becoming a ballerina, and she won't let anything get in her way . . . except Jude.

He's got a rap sheet, dangerous mood swings, and a name that's been sighed, shouted, and cursed by who knows how many girls.

Jude's a cancer, the kind of guy who's fated to ruin the lives of girls like Lucy—and he tells her so.

But as rumors run rampant and reputations are destroyed, Lucy's not listening to Jude's warning. Is tragedy waiting in the wings? This racy romance is hot, hot, hot!

Publisher’s Summary (Clash):

The steamy sequel to Crash!

Their Romeo-and-Juliet-level passion is the only thing Jude and Lucy agree on. That, and fighting all the time . . .

Also not helping? Lucy's raging jealousy of the cheerleader who's wormed her way into Jude's life.

While trying to hang on to her quintessential bad boy and also training to be the top ballet dancer in her class, Lucy knows something's going to give . . . soon.

How can she live without the boy she loves? How can she live with herself if she gives up on her dreams? If Lucy doesn't make the right choice, she could lose everything.

My Review:

These types of trainwreck disaster books seem to be all the rage right now, and I have to admit, I did get sucked In for a bit, but I’m done now. (until I find another one I just can’t live without). This one was surprisingly not as cheesy ridiculous as the others (read Beautiful Disaster).

Here’s how it went down. I was looking at Beautiful Disaster on Amazon. At the bottom, it told me a few books other people bought. Easy and Crash were among the list. I clicked on Crash, it looked good, but I didn’t do anything about it. Then, I was on GoodReads, and a friend had just added it to her TBR list and had a couple of comments she’d posted as she read it. Then, I went to Google Books and read the first few pages to see if I’d like it. I was hooked. Like an Alaskan salmon during fishing season.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

“Summers turn me into a sucker. That’s why I was glad this one was almost over.

Every year since puberty, from mid-June to early September, I’d been sure I was going to meet the real-world equivalent to Prince Charmin. Call me old-fashioned, call me hopelessly romantic, you could even call me a fool, but whatever I was, I knew the end result--I was a sucker. To date, I’d never found a guy who was worthy to stand in Prince C’s shadow; no real surprise there, as I’d discovered more and more that guys were something of a pain in the ass. But here, working on my tan at Sapphire Lake’s public beach just a couple of weeks before I was all set to start my senior year at a new school, I’d just found me a Prince Hot Damn.”

I love the main Character, Lucy Larson. She is such a spitfire and strong and opinionated. She has goals and a dysfunctional family, and a crazy confused teenage life. She knows what she wants and goes for it. So, when Jude Ryder enters the scene and turns her world upside down, you understand why she makes the decisions she does.

I think that’s what I liked the most about this book, it’s pretty realistic (I said pretty. There is one scene that involves a football game that is entirely unrealistic), and I liked the book a lot. The twist at the end was amazing (I totally didn’t see it coming) and the struggle their relationship goes through is pretty believable, and I loved the ending. I read it dang fast and purchased the next in the series immediately after. In all reality, though, I think that the first book was perfect the way it was, ending and all.

Clash is the sequel. It follows Jude and Lucy through college (they’re attending different ones since they have different focuses--which I liked). This book was a little more drama-filled and unbelievable than the first. I kind of wish I hadn’t read it, but I just wanted to know more about Jude and Lucy. Their relationship goes through a lot more ups and downs, and the things that Jude asks of her I think are a little farfetched (“Yea, Lucy, I know this super hot cheerleader is following me around and wants me to take a shot from her chest at the party and has the hots for me and you and I hardly spend any time together, but trust me, there’s nothing going on.”). I don’t like how Lucy’s asked to believe--without ANY doubts or suspicions--that nothing’s going on between Jude and that cheerleader. The scenarios that are set up and that she walks into, how is she to believe anything else.

There’s LOTS of steamy scenes in this one, about a bajillion more than the first book, which got kind of tiresome. And the ending was sooo cheesy, I loved it so much!! :) Not gonna lie, I’m a sucker for an HEA here. Overall, I liked this book, and Nicole really is a talented writer.

So, my recommendation, read Crash and skip Clash. But, you’ll probably get sucked into the sequel, too. Okay, happy reading, my friends!!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A fresh spin on Romeo & Juliette, but not fresh enough

Mystic City
Author: Theo Lawrence
Genre: YA Dystopian/Sci-fi
Rating: 3/5
Content Rating: PG (Some drug use/make-out scenes)
Cover Love: So in love
Instalove Factor: Not really
Spoiler Alert: None

Publisher’s Summary:
Aria Rose, youngest scion of one of Mystic City's two ruling rival families, finds herself betrothed to Thomas Foster, the son of her parents' sworn enemies. The union of the two will end the generations-long political feud—and unite all those living in the Aeries, the privileged upper reaches of the city, against the banished mystics who dwell below in the Depths. But Aria doesn't remember falling in love with Thomas; in fact, she wakes one day with huge gaps in her memory. And she can't conceive why her parents would have agreed to unite with the Fosters in the first place. Only when Aria meets Hunter, a gorgeous rebel mystic from the Depths, does she start to have glimmers of recollection—and to understand that he holds the key to unlocking her past. The choices she makes can save or doom the city—including herself.

My Review:

There were a few pretty impressive things about Mystic City.
  1. This is Theo’s debut novel
  2. It’s a female progtag POV written by a male author
  3. The world was pretty impressive

The idea behind the story, to me, was intriguing. I loved the idea of a Romeo and Juliet-esque story set in a dystopian/sci-fi future Manhattan. I got a very good visual sense of the Waterworld-type setting with the lower half of the city underwater and everything pretty much being built on cat walks.

I loved that Aria woke up one morning, remembering nothing, but being told she was in love with their family’s sworn enemy’s son. I loved that, while she trusted her family and what they told her, she still was unsure of a few things and wanted to pry.

But that’s where the loving stopped and reality busted in.

Do away with the prequel. Just skip it. I got the wrong idea from reading it so I had an incorrect mindset while reading the whole rest of the book. It doesn’t have any “need to know” info so just don’t bother.

The MC was pretty weak. She really didn’t take much action at all, just kind of stood there and let life (read: abusive father, overbearing mother, superficial best friend, back stabbing brother, and  lying fiancé) push and pull her around. It wasn’t until the end of the book that she actually started making her own decisions that I really got into it.

More of Tuck. There wasn’t nearly enough page time for this peripheral character. As it stands, I don’t know why he was even in the book except to act as a chauffeur when Aria needed one and no other character was available. I think he would have added A LOT to the story, so I would’ve liked to see more of him. In fact, I would have liked to see all the characters fleshed out more. They were too two dimensional.

There were too many times where I got this strong sense of déjà vu about Harry Potter while reading this. (ie - Aria’s looking for an address, but the houses skip over the number she’s looking for. She does something that triggers the “door bell” and the two houses spread apart and there appears her missing house. Order of the Phoenix, anyone?)

Ugh. It’s a series. And it’s a long book. Probably about a quarter of the book didn’t need to be included. Nothing happened. She would be at work. Or out eating with her friends. Or just filling space with text on a page. There really was a lot of filler in here. And I’m sure not invested enough to pick up the second book. Sorry.

I originally wanted to give it a 2.5 but decided to up it to a 3. Don’t ask me why. I guess because it wasn’t entirely bad. The thing that disappointed me the most was the amount of potential this book had and it didn't live up to it. But, as always, pick it up and decide for yourself, you may be thoroughly impressed.

Happy Reading!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Freebee Friday!

Holy. Crap.

Have you all seen this yet? I can't wait to see the movie. I really enjoyed the first 3 books in the series (4 and on were just okay).


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I got a phone call the other day from Co-Worker Justin that went a little something like this:

"IT doesn't have enough new big computer screens for everyone so they're going to take one of yours and give it to me." [We recently got new computers for the entire newspaper]

"No, they aren't."

"Yeah, I just got done talking to Ray and Rick. They're going to take one of your two and give it to me."

"I'd like to see them try. I'm not giving up one of my screens."

"They talked to Michelle [the IT director], and she gave the okay."

Now, Michelle and I are friends, so my first thought was, She wouldn't do that to me! But I answered with, "Over my dead, lifeless, cold body will they take one of my screens. I will hang onto it with clawed fingers."

To which Justin laughed at me and told me he was just kidding and, "But IT really doesn't have enough screens for everyone."

Not my problem. Everyone already has screens, just not my wicked cool larger-than-life screens. :)

So, for the next couple of days IT and I have been laughing around about the whole "joke".

Yes, my desk is usually this messy
Until this morning. When I came into work to find this. Now can you see what's missing? MY SECOND COMPUTER SCREEN! And it was the bigger of the two, too!

Texts to Michelle

Me: This best be a joke!!!!
Michelle: What?
Michelle: I think someone is messing with u
Me: I think so too :) it's actually a pretty good one.

Then I found the note.

"Ransom" note 
So I made up missing posters and posted them throughout IT. I'm still trying to figure out if this is all a joke or not. If it is, well played, IT. Well played. *Slow claps*.

If it isn't I'm trying to calm myself down that it isn't the end of the world. But in reality, it is. I loved my two computer screens. A lot. I was able to get a lot more work done and it acted as a barrier between me and anyone who sat at my desk.


I'll keep you updated as this investigation progresses.


UPDATE: Thanks to amazing detective skills (moi) and the fact that certain someones like to gloat (Rick), my monitor is sitting back on my desk. Where it belongs. Sorry Justin.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Freebee Friday!

Today's going to be a "nontraditional" type of Freebee Friday!

One of the many things I love to do is cook. This was an expiramental meal that I made and Hubby really liked. I got the potato recipe from Pinterest, tweaked it a bit, and then just did whatever I could with the chicken.

Awesomeness is what resulted. So, I thought I'd share the recipe with you all.
Chicken ingredients
Chicken breasts (enough to feed however many people are eating)
Flour for coating
Parmesan Herb dressing for coating (I get this at Fred Meyer in the refrigerated section. You can use any dressing you like, just make sure it's thick and flavorful)
Panko crumbs for coating
"New" potatoes

New potatoes (likewise on quantity). Now, new potatoes are basically just small potatoes--but not Russets--so I tend to just use smaller red potatoes. But Yukons and others would work just as well.
Olive Oil
Chopped garlic
Kosher salt & pepper to taste
Ingredients for potatoes
Parmesan cheese

French green beans (or any vegetable you prefer)

Boil your potatoes in salted water until they're fork tender. Depending on your altitude, size of the potatoes, etc, this takes around 15 - 20 minutes. While the potatoes are boiling, I prepare the chicken. Wash it, trim it, and then set it aside. Filll three bowls, one with flower, one with the dressing, and the third with Panko crumbs.

Dunking station
This is how this is gonna work, and it's gonna get messy.

Take your chicken, dredge it in the dressing, coat it in the flour, dredge it again in the dressing, and finish it in the Panko crumbs. Tada! Now your fingertips should be about an inch thicker. Wash your hands and repeat. You'll be surprised about the amount of dressing you go through on this.

Gooey fingers
By the time you're done with the chicken, your potatoes should be close to done. Drain them and place them on a cookie sheet that's been liberally coated with olive oil. You don't want them to stick when they cook, but you don't want a pool for them to swim in, either.

Coated chicken
Once they're laid out, squash them with a masher or a large serving fork so they end up looking like this. Drizzle them with olive oil (I'm a huge fan of the EVOO, in case you didn't pick up on that. I'm also a fan of garlic.) Take your diced garlic and put a generous amount on each potato. Sprinkle with your thyme and rosemary, salt & pepper. Don't be afraid with the salt. Be generous. But keep in mind that we're not brining the poor things. Last, top with the shredded parmesan.

Ready for the oven
Move your oven rack to the top (or next to the top if yours is like mine and almost touches the coils), at 400 and cook your potatoes for 20-25 minutes. I like mine more on the crispy side, so I go the full 25 minutes. What's great about this recipe is that the tops stay soft, but the bottoms get all nice and crunchy.

While your potatoes are cooking, we can cook our chicken. I cook mine in a pan, seasoned with EVOO, on medium heat. About 8 - 10 minutes on each side. I like to make sure the coating is crispy. When the chicken is done, I usually put it on a plate and tent it with foil while I cook my beans.
In a pan, heat up a little bit of EVOO, add the beans and toss until they're slightly tender and a brighter shade of green. Squirt with lemon juice (fresh) and coarse kosher salt (Here's a tip. When cooking the chicken or the beans, you can substitute the EVOO with chicken broth and it works just as well. And even tastes good).

Prepare your presentation and, voila! A yummy, somewhat easy meal. And it tastes great. Honest. :)


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Days like this make furloughs so worth it

Yesterday was far from boring at work. Working at a newspaper the day after an election like that is full of excited energy and good spirits. Plus good food. Pam and I went into Mission Impossible mode and scored ourselves some yummy breakfast burritos and the day was just generally good.

Then the afternoon hit. And it got exponentially better.

Cop cars
Here’s the layout of my little neck of the woods: My “office” sits against a row of windows. So does Pam’s (right next to mine). I was typing away, wondering how fast the rest of my day would drag by when she came into my cubie office and told me to look out the window.

Across the street from the newspaper is a government building--The Bureau of Reclamation. My father-in-law works there. Anyway, sitting in the street and their parking lot, blocking off the ENTIRE street, were four marked cop cars, a K-9 unit, and an undercover cop car. Their lights were flashing, they’d brought out the orange cones, and they were all standing, bouncer style, in the road, refusing any car that tried to go down that road.

Before I knew it, pretty much the entire news department (as well as advertising and finance) were crammed around our windows trying to get an idea of what was going on.

Now, the first thing you need to know about me in situations like this is that I get excited. I mean, EXCITED, excited. I jump around like a sugar-hyped toddler and get kind of obnoxious and out of control. But I don’t care when I’m in this state. The only thing that matters is that I find out what’s going on; and I can be pretty dang resourceful.

I called my father-in-law to ask him what was up, but he was out of town on business so didn't know. Dang. Strike one. Then I saw a buddy of mine out there talking to the cross-armed cop. “Logan will tell me!” I cried out and then ran out into the parking lot--barefoot--to see what he’d found out.

“The cop was pretty tight-lipped,” Logan said. “But he did tell me that Homeland Security called them in.”

Homeland freaking Security?!?!?!

It’s days like these that make coming into work worth it. “This is so exciting!” I said. Followed promptly by, “It makes all the furloughs worth it!” (At this point I’m literally jumping up and down in the parking lot, punching the air. See, told ya, obnoxious. But in the cutest way possible, promise).

So, back into the building I scampered, remembering that I have another contact in the quarantined building. I sent her an email.

Me: Is everything okay???

My friend: Yes, why??

My "artistic photo
Me: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, WHY???? :) There are 4 cops outside in your parking lot, blocking off the street. Homeland Security called them in!!!! We want details! :)

To which I received no response. So, we were all freaking out (in a good way) trying to see what’s going on. One guy was tweeting about Homeland Security trying to get a response, we were listening to the scanners, texting and calling and emailing everyone under the sun.

Finally, one of my bosses got a text from a friend that works over there, too: “Suspicious package in a car in the parking lot. They brought in a drug dog who found something that warrants a bomb robot to come in.”

Holy $&%*!!!  This is getting exciting!!

A few of our diligent employees
We joked around that it was a disgruntled voter who wasn't happy with last night’s election results and the closest government building was the Bureau.

Logan and I went outside to take pictures when we saw the robot enter the scene. We sneaked up, making sure we stayed on the newspaper’s property, and got the okay from the cop to take pictures and commenced photo taking.

Joe showed up, one of our awesome photographers, with his $10,000 camera and telephoto lens straight off the Hubble telescope. We tried to talk him into climbing a tree for a better vantage but he didn't buy it. 
Joe's photo of the robot
There wasn't much going on other than the robot occasionally rolling or moving his arm, but he was pretty cute. A lot like the robot from Short Circuit. Things started to die down. I was getting hungry and cold, so we meandered back inside.

Where I finally got an email from my friend.

Friend: Here's a picture of Rover. So apparently it is a package that's been left on the passenger tire (inside the well) of a Tahoe. The fellow who drove it last is in training somewhere off-site. They're trying to get a hold of him to see if he left his half-eaten lunch or whatever it is on the tire. Personally, I think it's probably his dirty laundry!

My friend's photo of the rover making
it's appearance
We continued to watch out our windows and the bouncer packed up the cones, the fire truck left, the street opened up, and it was like nothing happened at all. Then I got another email explaining what triggered the panic.

Friend: Turns out the suspicious package contained. . . Cheetos.

Great. Now the poor dog’s probably going to get fired and all he was was hungry.

Happy Thursday, my friends!

The bomb scare


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I laughed so hard, I cried.

Serriously, though, I'm writing book reviews like a fiend!!

Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to Getting Girls
Author: Tallulah Darling
Content Rating: R for “strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of "’bow chicka wow wow’”
Coffee Beans: 4.5
Favorite Line: Holy crap, there were so many.
Personal Recommendation: Read it. Now
Cover Appeal: So awesome it’s beyond words
Instalove Factor: None
Spoliers: No

Publisher’s Summary:

Why the hell can't chicks be more like guys?

That question plagues high school senior Sam Cruz. Sam is perfectly happy being a player. He just wishes girls wouldn't change the game from sex to relationships. It makes him look like an asshole. But when Sam's best friend, Ally Klinger, gets dumped, she begs him to transform her into someone who can screw around then screw off. No risk of heartbreak that way. It's Sam's chance to create the perfect female AND cheer up his best friend. Armed with Sam's Three Step Guide to Backseat Success, Ally gets the game better than Sam thought she would and before long, Sam has his wish: the female version of himself. Too bad it's driving him nuts. Told from Sam's and Ally's alternating POVs, Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide to Getting Girls is a fast-paced romantic comedy that follows these teens as they navigate the minefield of sex, love, and friendship.

This book contains strong language, drinking, euphemisms, and lots of "bow chicka wow wow."

My Review:

Holy hell. Was this book funny! I’m not talking, “Yeah, I cracked a smile a few times” funny, but “I laughed out loud and got strange looks from strangers” funny. Like, on every page.  I loved the hilarious banter between Ally and Sam. Their one liners and inside jokes. The scenes and situations that Tallulah wrote I could picture in my head at every second, which made the hilarity of what was going on even more real. I mean, this should be a movie. Granted, it probably wouldn’t be appropriate for the kiddos out there because of all the bow chicka wow wow.

So, here’s my warning to you about this book if you’re thinking about reading it: If you go into this with the mindset that this is supposed to be some serious, profound book, you’re going to be disappointed. Possibly even disgusted. But, if you go into this book with the mindset of “it is what it is”, you’ll appreciate what Ally’s trying to do and Sam’s struggle with turning his best friend into himself. That’s how I was able to enjoy this book as much as I did and read it in less than a day.

The book, obviously, is about sex. And while that’s a vulgar topic for a YA book to be about, Tallulah does it in a way that somehow, is completely un-vulgar. She has mad skill in the dialogue department and the setup of the relationship between Ally and Sam right from the beginning. I think it’s because alternating chapters are told from either Sam or Ally’s POV.

Which coincidentally was also a problem I had with this book.

There were several times I thought I was reading Ally’s POV only to remember it was Sam’s head I was in. Talk about confusing. The only other thing I had an issue with, was when a certain secret was spilled, suddenly everyone knew, but I don't remember ever reading a scene where the friends were told about said secret. It just all of a sudden, was.

I especially enjoyed the relationship development between Ally and Sam. Given their history and backgrounds, the pace in which the evolution happened was totally believable. Especially the end. Which I won’t spoil for you. But I'll for sure be on the prowl for more of Tallulah's books. 

Some funny lines:

“Yo, fry Ninja, step down.” --Ally
“Monkey humping credit card baller,” I mutter. “I don’t think so.” --Sam
“Having just gushed like chicks in a tampon commercial, I feel I need to get this speech back on a more manly track. ‘So deal with it.’ There. Balls back.” --Sam

I want you to go and read it for yourself, laugh until your sides hurt and you get cautious looks from strangers, and then pass the book on to a friend.  


Like, seriously.

AND the book trailer is pretty kick ass. :) 

Happy reading, my friends!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A well-written book about a sensitive topic

Author: Tammara Webber
Genre: NA (New Adult)
Content Rating: R for, you know…
Coffee Beans: 4
Favorite Line:
Personal Recommendation: Read it. Now
Cover Appeal: Awesome sauce
Instalove Factor: None present
Spoliers: Yes, sort of. But I warn you when

Publisher’s Summary:

A girl who believes trust can be misplaced, promises are made to be broken, and loyalty is an illusion. A boy who believes truth is relative, lies can mask unbearable pain, and guilt is eternal. Will what they find in each other validate their conclusions, or disprove them all?

When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup two months into sophomore year. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she's single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, and failing a class for the first time in her life.

Leaving a party alone, Jacqueline is assaulted by her ex's frat brother. Rescued by a stranger who seems to be in the right place at the right time, she wants nothing more than to forget the attack and that night--but her savior, Lucas, sits on the back row of her econ class, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. Her friends nominate him to be the perfect rebound.

When her attacker turns stalker, Jacqueline has a choice: crumple in defeat or learn to fight back. Lucas remains protective, but he's hiding secrets of his own. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.

My Review:

Easy is a very convoluted, detailed book. And not in a bad way. I tried explaining it to my friend when she asked what it was about, and I realized, at the end of my sloppy description, that there is A LOT going on in the story. Let’s see if I can make it better this time around.

Mostly, this book is about Jacqueline’s journey through coping with the fact that she was assaulted and almost raped by someone she knew, and then her relationship with Lucas. But mostly her relationship with Lucas and him helping her and her being empowered to deal with what happened to her.

See? Even that was messy.  *sigh*

Let’s get out of the way what I didn’t like (and this is a bit of a spoiler, so skip a head if you don’t want to read this). There were two things.

1.       She has this attraction to Lucas, a guy in her econ class. He’s super cute, a bad boy, and according to her friends--the perfect rebound guy from her recent break-up. So, she toys with him. He plays along. They make out and then at class the next day, they completely ignore each other like nothing ever happened. Like the hadn’t even met!! That, to me, was frustrating and a tad unbelievable. But not a deal breaker.

2.       Because of said break-up, (and the assault) she’s in a hot, emotional mess, and skips two weeks of her econ class because her ex is taking it, too. The teacher says she can take up tutoring with the TA (who she’s never met) to catch up on what she missed and then get a project assignment to make up for her midterm. His name is Landon.





Anyone else seeing what’s being set up here? To me, it was completely obvious that they were the same guy. Like, 100%, no bones about it. I can’t believe Jacqueline didn’t pick up on it.

So those were the only two issues I had. The rest is all good.

The writing of Tammara is very, very good. It seems, with these types of books (I don’t know if they have an official genre or not. But you know the ones; Beautiful Disaster, Crash/Clash, 50 Shades), writing seems to come secondary to all the other “stuff”. But with Tammara, writing and telling the story comes first. And it’s soooo well done. All of it.

I enjoyed the characters immensely. Jacqueline was a real person with believable actions and thoughts, her friend Erin was saucy and offered strength, wisdom, and comedic relief. And Lucas was actually a strong male character in this book. And not just physically strong (cuz he was that, too), but he was mature and reasonable and was kinda just a normal guy (thank you, Tammara. There aren’t enough Lucas’ in YA/NA/Crossover books).

I LOVED how Tammara talked about the importance of a female knowing that being raped isn’t their fault. That it’s not something to be ashamed of, and it’s okay to get help. She delivered all the important information and the truth of the situation in a natural way and at no time did I feel like I was reading a PSA (public service announcement).

I’ll tell you this, I’m signing up for a self-defense class after reading this book.

One thing I do wish, that she added a little more to the stalker element of the story. I think that would have added a bit more depth to the plot, given it a bit more to sink my teeth into.

And I loved that this was a standalone book. Can you tell that I’m not really into books that are setting up a series?

Happy reading, my friends!


Monday, November 5, 2012

An original concept that didn’t leave me disappointed

By: Jessica Khoury
Genre: YA, light sci-fi
Rating: PG
Coffee Beans: 3.5
Spoilers: None

First Line: “I’m told that the day I was born, Uncle Paolo held me against his white lab coat and whispered, ‘She is perfect.’ Sixteen years later, they’re still repeating the word.”
Favorite Line: I did have one, and I flagged it, but for some reason, my Nook (Newt) didn’t save it.
Cover Appeal: Pretty intriguing
Instalove Factor: A little, but it’s more like it grew quickly
Personal Recommendation: Read it

Publisher’s Summary:

The jungle hides a girl who cannot die.

An electrifying action-romance that's as thoughtful as it is tragic.

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Origin is a beautifully told, shocking new way to look at an age-old desire: to live forever, no matter the cost.

My Review:

Hahaha! Okay, sorry for that opening, but I just watched the trailer for the book and saw what they think Eio looks like. He’s like 26 in that clip! He’s almost 18 in the book. LOL.

Moving on…

I’d seen this book cover around, and it’s pretty darn intriguing. A jungle scene, with the cutout of a woman’s figure. The summary grabbed my attention even more. When my friend read it and told me I had to do the same, I was sold.

I was really surprised with the concept of this story. I mean, how original and brilliant is that? I was also happy to see that it was a standalone book. (I’m getting kind of tired of seemingly ALL YA books being turned into series. Present company excluded, of course).

The book is a fair length, about 300 pages on Newt. And it was good. But for some reason, it kind of dragged for me in the begging. It felt like forever for me to the halfway mark. Once there, though, the rest sprinted by.

The thing I loved most about this book were the characters. They came to life and were all so completely different. Her cold mother, the vivacious Mrs. Fields, her bi-polar Uncle Paolo, her meek father. And the gentle yet fierce Eio and conflicted yet driven Pia. I was impressed with the amount of active characters Khoury had in her story. I was able to keep them all straight, though, and they all had distinct personalities and purposes.

Pia lives in a converted greenhouse, and while that would completely AWESOME to have, they are in the middle of the Amazon jungle and I had a hard time believing that she wasn’t boiling to death all the time. I did believe, though, the subtle personality and thought process change that Pia was going through as she analyzed her desires and purposes in life. The introduction of Mrs. Field’s and Eio shook up her world, challenged everything she believed in and thought was right. And she made wrong decisions when it was important for her to make the right ones. But that made her human, something she’d been struggling with.
Plenty of action, and secrets, and disturbing Wickam tests, I really enjoyed this book that examined the motivation of the human heart with our sometimes, not so wholesome desires.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

A decent (read gory) zombie-A-pocolypse book

The Infects

By: Sean Beaudoin
Genre: YA Zombie-A-pocolypse
Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012
Rating: PG-13 for all sorts of awesome-I-won’t-be-able-to-eat-for-a-week gore
Coffee Beans: A solid 3.5
Spoilers: No
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review (Oh, and don’t read this while eating. Trust me.)

First Line: “The neighborhood was trashed, funeral pyres in the distance burning against a raw pink sky.”
Favorite Line: “Duff was an ancient janitor who had been at Rebozzo’s since before the Romans invented aqueducts. He’d probably ridden out the Flood in his mop bucket.” (ebook, pf 32)
Cover Appeal: I like it
Instalove Factor: None present
Personal Recommendation: Worth the read. If you’re into zombies and gore

Publisher’s Summary:

A feast for the brain, this gory and genuinely hilarious take on zombie culture simultaneously skewers, pays tribute to, and elevates the horror genre.

Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an "Inward Trek." As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of "infects" shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate "Zombie Rules" almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back. Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read — whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten — and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

My Review:

So, I just finished reading this book, and while it was good, I can’t help but be a little disappointed. From the description from the publisher, I was expecting something more like the movie Zombieland (--> "You almost knocked over your alcohol with your knife." bahahaha!). And while there were some chuckle-worthy parts, it was, in the end, just okay.

I enjoyed the voice of the MC, Nero/Nick, and I know that it will appeal to a lot of the male readers out there—especially with the addition of the flesh-eating zombies. I enjoyed the two punch-in-the-face twists at the beginning of the book (totally didn't see those coming), and the interesting turn of events during the middle. I enjoyed the grisly DISGUSTING details Sean goes into when the kids are being attacked by the undead. Seriously. I was eating dinner. And then I wasn't  It happened just like that. I think I lost my appetite for about 3 days after reading those scenes. But that’s something that Sean rocks at: painting an “I’m so there” scene in a surprising limited amount of words.

There was a lot about this book that was jarring for me. The introduction of left-field elements half-way through the book, that for me, didn’t need to be there. The writing style at times, etc. And I have to say, that towards the end, I got a little muddled with what was going on and confused about how everything was going to be pulled together. There seemed like there were a lot of loose ends that didn’t need to be there in the first place because they didn’t add anything to the story (ie – The Dude and his involvement with Fresh Bucket. It played no part what-so-ever in the progression of the plot. Yeah, his initial involvement with the company, that happened way off stage, years ago, did, but the rest of his role in the book was obsolete).  I’m thinking they’re going to try to push this into a series…

There were only a few other things that I felt meh about: I got the epub from the publisher, and the formatting was all weird. Half the letters were missing, there was some weird code in place of a certain sequence of letters (06 = ff, __ = fl, etc) I felt like a spy with a secret decoder ring. And to go along with that, the “rules” were all messed up, too. For me, to make that kind of thing work, there needed to be more of them and they needed to be more entertaining.  Also, a the story moves on, you find out that (little spoiler here) Nero hears the voice of The Rock in his head. Which doesn’t pop up as much as it should in order for it to have worked for me. I also got confused as to the tense of the story. It’s written in 3rd person, but when the voice popped up, I always got the impression it was in 1st. Then I was ripped out of the story as it jogged back to 3rd. I would’ve liked to have seen the entire story written in 1st.

Okay, so it may sound like I didn’t like this book, but I did! It’s definitely for a certain crowd (mainly boys who like zombies), but for anyone else out there who just likes a good book, it’s for them, too. So pick it up, it’s worth your time.

Happy reading, my friends!