Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program--or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan--or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date:
May 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Series: n/a
Pages:  390
Rating: 4 stars
I truly loved this book. There were moments while reading it that I started laughing (and occasionally snorting) and had my husband worrying about my sanity. It was a satirical feel-good story (if really those two items can be grouped together) about girls finding themselves...and kicking ass...while wearing heels and applying lip gloss.
It was nice watching all the of contestants grow through the book. And while they might not all have gotten exactly what they wanted at the beginning of the story, there was still a happy ending. And the footnotes, pageant biographies and commercial breaks were hilarious!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

All teenagers have problems, but few of them can match those of Aislinn, who has the power to see faeries. Quite understandably, she wishes that she could share her friends' obliviousness and tries hard to avoid these invisible intruders. But one faery in particular refuses to leave her alone. Keenan the Summer King is convinced beyond all reasoning that Aislinn is the queen he has been seeking for nine centuries. What's a 21st-century girl to do when she's stalked by a suitor nobody else can see? A debut fantasy romance for the ages; superlative summer read.

Reading Level: 13+
Publication Date: April 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Series: Wicked Lovely; book 1
Pages:  328
Rating: 3 stars
I enjoyed reading this book, though more so of the beginning and ending than the middle. The second half, while good, just didn't feel like it was a part of the same book. After all, for the entire first half of the story Aislinn fears the fey and wants nothing to do with them (even has a few rules about them) and yet she is dumb enough to party with them.
I really did not like Keenan at all. He is selfish and arrogant, which most Kings are, but I thought he could have been portrayed a little more sympathetic towards Aislinn. He does, after all, know how she feels...and perhaps we could have seen more of that side.

I did not particularly care for the way the story was constantly jumping viewpoints, but this was the only true fault I had with the book. I really enjoyed the ending and I'm anxious to get the next book in the series.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Reading Level: 13+
Publication Date:
March 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Series: n/a
Pages:  472
Rating: 3 stars
 When I picked this book up from my library, I hadn't realized this was a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale. I had only read the back cover and was enchanted by Aprilynne Pike's (author of Wings) description: "Entwined is a riveting read -- a delectable fairy tale with everything a good story should have: breathtaking romance; powerful and even frightening magic; a rich, beautiful setting; and, of course, dancing!" Sounds delightful!

Now, of course, if I had been smart enough to read the inside flap before diving into the book, I would have realized that this is a retelling. But I didn't, so it wasn't until Azalea's eleventh sister was born that I went...hmm...

And to be honest, that was the only thing that kept me going for this book. It was beautifully written, but at the same time, I felt myself wanting to doze off while I was reading. I'm not really sure what it was about the book, but I just couldn't get myself into it -- and The Twelve Dancing Princesses is my second most favorite fairy tale. (Nothing tops Rapunzel. Nothing.) So while I did like the story, it didn't captivate me like I had hoped it would. Unlike other stories, when I put this book down, I wasn't drawn to hurry up what I was doing so that I could get back to reading.

The only thing that truly irked me about the story was the "romance." By the end of the story, three of the sisters have fallen in love, but I felt jaded out of watching their romances blossom. However, I would recommend this story to all fairy tale lovers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In My Mailbox [1]

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

From the Library:
  •  Entwined by Heather Dixon
  • Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr
  • The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
  • Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Review: Zombie Blondes by Brian James

From the moment Hannah Sanders arrived in town, she felt there was something wrong.

A lot of houses were for sale, and the town seemed infected by an unearthly quiet. And then, on Hannah’s first day of classes, she ran into a group of cheerleaders—the most popular girls in school.

The odd thing was that they were nearly identical in appearance: blonde, beautiful, and deathly pale.

But Hannah wants desperately to fit in—regardless of what her friend Lukas is telling her: if she doesn’t watch her back, she’s going to be blonde and popular and dead—just like all the other zombies in this town. . . .

Reading Level: 12+
Publication Date:
June 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Series: n/a
Pages:  232
Rating: 3 stars

This book had a refreshing view on zombies. All the zombie books I've ever read (or zombie movies I've seen) have always portrayed zombies to be mindless freaks. They can't think for themselves and they only want one thing -- to eat brains. 

The zombies in this book, however, are beautiful, athletic and popular. Everyone in the small town of Maplecrest adores the popular girls, except for the only person to even acknowledge Hannah on her first day of school, Lukas. From the moment we first meet Lukas, he tells Hannah that the popular girls are zombies and if she's not careful, they're going to make her one of them.

The story did hold my interest, but moved at kind of a slow pace for me. I got a bit irritated that all Hannah and Lukas ever seemed to do was argue over the existence of zombies. Honestly, I felt she almost deserved to be turned into a zombie herself for failing to see there was something unnatural about the popular girls.

I do have to say that while I understand the author's need to make all the cheerleaders resemble one another, the fact that all their names had to start with the letter M became confusing for me. I had a hard time remembering which M cheerleader was who until I read a few paragraphs into their conversation.

Overall, I did enjoy the story, though I wish the book had ended differently. The last few chapters definitely took me by surprise and left me wondering what has happened to Hannah since the book ended.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

Reading Level: 13+
Publication Date: August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Series: Paranormalcy; book 1
Pages:  335
Rating: 1 star
The description on the book jacket really made me excited to read this book. I'm a huge fan of paranormal and fantasy...and also a sucker for romance. So to find a book about a girl who works for the Paranormal Containment Agency and has her ex-boyfriend faerie and current love interest shape-shifter vying for her attentions, how could I not want to read this book??
The first couple paragraphs of the book seemed pretty interesting. Evie is working to tag a vampire and not the least bit worried that he wants to suck her blood because she can see what he really looks like. Pretty cool. But then she pulls out her pink taser with rhinestones, which she lovingly refers to as Tasey and it went downhill from there for me.
I definitely did not connect with Evie at all. I got a little tired hearing about Evie's favorite show. And instead of living the story through her, I felt like the story was being told to me. I would have liked to know more about her on a personal level, but I felt secluded from her...almost as if I were her mermaid friend and was only able to watch her through my aquarium.
And as for the romance...what romance? I was sorely disappointed that the most romance there was for Evie was basically on a second grade level. Though she supposedly had a relationship with Reth (who comes across to me as a creepy jerk, which makes me wonder what she saw in him in the first place) she acts silly around her infatuation, Lend.

The ending felt not only very anticlimactic to me, but also a little rushed. Everything was over in a matter of pages and Evie really didn't have to do to much to save the day. I might have liked the story better if the heroine had been stronger.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her...until Patch comes along.

With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

Reading Level: 14+
Publication Date: September 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
Series: Hush Hush; book 1
Pages:  391
Rating: 4 stars

Yum. Not only is the man on the cover absolutely delicious, but so is the story.

I have to admit that I was a bit iffy when I read the prologue. I had the worst feeling that the story was going to consist of horrible flashbacks between the present and 1565, but that was definitely not the case. Minus two sections of the book, which were only a handful of pages together, there were no flashbacks at all -- and those two flashbacks were more present day.

I found Nora to be likable enough, though I didn't feel myself really connecting with her character. She mentioned briefly about her father's death and that she didn't want to move out of the farmhouse, as that was her only connection left to him, but she never touched on what her relationship with him had been like. She seems to have a good enough relationship with her mom, but as she's always away on business it felt like that aspect was forced simply to make parts of the plot work.

 The only character I found to be very lacking would be Nora's best friend, Vee Sky. I felt like her character was always wanting to talk about sex and boys, and made me wonder why her and Nora were really friends -- as Nora didn't have the least bit of interest in any of the guys at her school.

But from the second that Patch was introduced, I was hooked on the book. He seemed to steal the spotlight, in my opinion. Everything about him came across as sexy, from his physical description to the seductive way he toyed with Nora.

The plot was pretty fast paced and kept the story moving nicely -- with lots of sexual tension -- though I'm curious about how the next book in the series will pick up where this one left off. Without revealing much, I'll simply say that the story hinted that the ending wasn't possible for Nora and Patch to be together in that way, and happened.