Saturday, October 22, 2011

Love Story

Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Released: 2011
Genre: YA Romance
Source: Bought

Erin is in a New York college, majoring in creative writing and far away from the horse farm her grandmother wants her to run someday. The horse farm she gave to the stable boy when she learned that Erin would not study business to prepare to run the farm. Erin's okay with toughing it out and living as a penniless artist, and she pours her frustration and fascination with the stable boy into her first story as a sexy romance - and is utterly thrown when that stable boy walks into her class in time to critique the story - about himself! The battle of the tales begins, as Erin and Hunter try to figure out what the other is saying in the thinly veiled stories, and maybe to rewrite the story between themselves.

Wow. Just - wow. I love love love love this book! It's so real, the emotions so big and life-size, the feelings of love and of betrayal so strong. The cast of roommates is very compelling, with all their eccentricities and ticks. And Erin and Hunter are such three-dimensional characters, layers being peeled back with each page, complicating their love story. What complicates it even more is their misreading of each other, so that in an inverse way, this book reads like a take on Pride and Prejudice.

The main shtick of the book - the stories that Erin and Hunter write - works really really well. The stories reveal clearly what they're thinking, and at times obscure what they're thinking, and the way they're interspersed throughout the narrative feels so natural. It's the stories that write the love story!

A thoroughly enjoyable read and one I'm likely to revisit again and again!


Author: Mandy Hubbard
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Released: 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Source: Library

Ever since her sixteenth birthday, Lexi has been drawn to swim every night. Her sixteenth birthday was also the night she killed her almost-boyfriend with the song she sings each time she swims. When Lexi finds out that she's cursed to be a siren, she thinks there's no hope and she must ostracize herself to keep all her friends safe. But Cole breaks down her barriers and Lexi finds herself hoping - until someone else promises hope of a different kind, and then Lexi doesn't know what to do.

The premise of this book is really great. The problem I had with it is the way that premise is executed. I didn't like the pacing of the book. It felt way too slow at times, and then with a rush everything happens at once, and then it's back to a lulling pace. There are really only two major plot points, when most good stories have three big turning points.

Besides, the relationship between Lexi and Erik seems off way before Lexi starts to notice anything, and it made me somewhat unsympathetic to Lexi as a result. Cole is great, and the relationship there is portrayed nicely - which is the point, I know, but did Lexi and Erik have to be together for so many lifeless pages before something happened?

So basically, not a book I'm likely to read again. A shame, because as I said, the premise is really great, and the ending tugs at the heartstrings, but it's too little too late.

Epic Fail

Author: Claire Lazebnik
Publisher: HarperTeen
Released: 2011
Genre: YA Romance
Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice
Source: Library

Elise Benton and her family moved to sunny LA, but she's not happy about it. Definitely not dazzled by the children of local stars in her high school, especially Derek Edwards, the most famous and most anti-social of them all. But when her older sister, Juliana, and Derek's friend, Chase, get serious about each other, Elise finds herself spending a lot of time with moody Derek - and finding out that appearances may be deceiving.

I love this book! I'd never read adaptations of Pride and Prejudice before, and seeing the story in a modern setting was really great! The story elements are all there, which made reading this sort of like a treasure hunt, waiting and watching for each plot turn to show up.

On its own, even without Jane Austen, this is still an amazing book. Claire's style is so effortless, and just sweeps you up into the twists and turns of the various relationships. Each character is so real, so rounded, and everything they do makes so much sense in context. And the Hollywood scene is so much fun - especially from the jaded and cynical viewpoints of Derek and Elise!

Derek is a really great character - like Darcy, he's totally unreadable for most of the book, and his hatred for Webster seems to make no sense, but it all eventually falls into place. I was waiting to see how Claire would handle Derek's sister - obviously she can't have been "compromised" by Webster as Darcy's sister is in Pride and Prejudice, since that doesn't make sense for modern-day Epic Fail - but the way Claire deals with that is brilliant, and fits right into the modern world!

Elise is really fun - not exactly like Elizabeth Bennett, but with the same cynical attitude, fierce loyalty, and misplaced prejudice. I actually found Juliana a slightly more relatable than Jane Bennett, as well as Chase - they're still unbearably (but lovingly unbearably) optimistic and lovey-dovey, but Juliana gets half-mean to sister Layla at one point, and there I felt like cheering!

Such a great book! I may just buy this one!

Angel Fire

Author: L.A. Weatherly
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: December 2011
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: Angel Trilogy
Source: ARC from Publisher

After their failed attempt to stop the Second Wave of angels entering their world to feed off humans' energy - making them utterly devoted to angels and irreparably damaged - Alex and Willow head south to regroup and figure out what their next steps should be - while dodging the fanatics ready to turn them in to the angels for death. To their surprise, a group of Angel Killers is already in Mexico City, and they team up to plan the complete destruction of all angles. But nothing can change the fact that Willow is half-angel, and she has to deal with the suspicions and mistrust of the group. Which is partly why she is so happy when Seb shows up - Seb, another half-angel. Alex isn't so happy with Seb's appearance, not least because he commands so much of Willow's time and attention. And on top of that, the team isn't even aware of the extreme danger they're walking into with their supposedly fail-proof plan...

What a great second book in the trilogy! In Angel Burn, we got to know Alex and Willow, and how badly the angels affect our world. In Angel Fire, we care so much about these characters and this world that when the book just jumps right into their problems and pain, we can feel it all along with them.

I love the alternating viewpoints. L.A. Weatherly does it so skillfully - keeping Willow's first-person narrative, but jumping between Alex, Seb, and even Raziel! Seeing all sides of the story makes for such a rich, satisfying experience. And it keeps you biting your nails when you see Raziel's scheming and the AK's helpless entrapment...

And I really love the relationships in this book! I already said that Alex and Willow became my favorite YA couple after Angel Burn, and this book is no different, though with the addition of Seb, things get interesting... I won't give it away, because guessing what would happen to Willow's relationship with these two guys is part of what makes the book so compelling.

It's the emotions that drive this book rather than solely action, and in fact there are only a few action scenes - but the constant ride of emotions is so amazing. You really feel the despair, triumph, pain, searing love, betrayal... It totally jumps off the page right at you!

And now we have to wait a whole year for Angel Fever! Can I hold out that long?

(By the way - the UK version was released in October, and has a different cover:
I personally think the UK covers are sooo much better - aside from the fact that they match each other, they also capture the emotion of the books. What do you think?)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The False Princess

Author: Eilis O'Neal
Publisher: Egmont
Released: 2011
Genre: YA Fantasy

Nalia has grown up being groomed to take the throne someday, but after she turns sixteen, the king and queen and their two wizard advisers tell her of the plot that had been concocted at the princess's birth, switching the real princess with a stand-in to prevent the murder that the oracle prophesied. Now called Sinda, she has to try to adjust to life as a commoner. But when she stumbles across something that sounds like it threatens the future of the crown, Sinda involves herself in the world of intrigue to save as many as she could - including herself.

The False Princess is really amazing. The book eases into the story, giving us a good look at the characters and what they're like before plunging into the real plot, which I always like. And then once the real plot starts, it's one surprise after another, with the tension building and building as each attempt to uncover the truth is thwarted, as each brush with danger is overcome. Sinda is a thoroughly likable character, as are Kiernan and Orianne and Mika. Feeling sympathy for these characters makes it easier to root for them on their path to the truth, and it heightened the suspense when I found out that one of them might not survive to the end.

And the ending - such a satisfying ending. I love how the climax of the story rushes through the events, and then there are a few pages of Sinda reflecting. That last bit of slowing down and easing into the finish - the glorious finish - is so perfect.

Definitely a book I'll revisit sometime!

In My Mailbox 24

In My Mailbox is a meme created by Kristi of The Story Siren, where bloggers share the contents of their mailbox that week - books bought, borrowed, received... It's a great way to see lots of new books all at once, and leads to great coveting and more buying!

This week's haul:
Wolfsbane, Andrea Cremer (Nightshade #2)
Hex Hall, Rachel Hawkins (Hex Hall #1)
The False Princess, Eilis O'Neal

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In My Mailbox 23

In My Mailbox is a meme created by Kristi of The Story Siren, where bloggers share the contents of their mailbox that week - books bought, borrowed, received... It's a great way to see lots of new books all at once, and leads to great coveting and more buying!

This week, I came home every day to find at least two books in the mail waiting for me. I wasn't kidding when I said I went on a book-buying binge!
In my mailbox this week:

Received ARC:
Wings of the Wicked, Courtney Allison Moulton (Angelfire #2)


 Dead Beautiful, Yvonne Woon
Wildefire, Karsten Knight
Forget You, Jennifer Echols

Captivate, Carrie Jones (Need #2)
Entice, Carrie Jones (Need #3) 
Glimmerglass, Jenna Black (Faeriewalker #1)
Sirensong, Jenna Black (Faeriewalker #3)

Supernaturally, Kiersten White
Remember When, Nora Roberts & J.D. Robb

Demonglass, Rachel Hawkins (Hex Hall #2)
 The False Princess, Eilis O'Neal

And a whole slew of J.D. Robb's "In Death" books - finally, after checking them out millions of time from the library, I get to actually own them! Exciting times!


Epic Fail, Claire Lazebnik
Ripple, Mandy Hubbard

What's in your mailbox?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Forget You

Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Released: 2010
Genre: YA Romance


In their words:
 There's a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four-year old girlfriend. Like Zoey's fear that the whole town will find out about her mom's nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she's the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football-player Brandon.
But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there's one thing she can't remember at all - the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug - of all people - suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life - a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon and strangely full of Doug.

I read this book right after Going Too Far, and coming off that, I expected real characters, natural relationships, and true-to-life emotions and events. While I wouldn't go so far to say I was disappointed, I will say that this book was a bit of a let-down. I would have wanted to see more of Zoey before the crash so I could judge what kind of person she is, because after the crash nothing is the same and I couldn't tell if I even liked Zoey. Honestly, she's supposed to be a good girl, even a model person, but I did feel like she was almost a slut. She sleeps with Brandon for comfort after her mom attempts suicide, I get that, but when she forces Doug to almost have sex with her, when she thinks she's still with Brandon - and how thick can you get, thinking Brandon is your boyfriend when you've been counseling his escapades with girls all summer long? - I couldn't figure out what Jennifer wanted the reader to think about Zoey there. She didn't think she loved Doug - which is another point, how could she change so drastically in one night, to tell Doug she loves him and then go right back to hating him? - so when she wants to have sex with him, I get that she wants to get her memory back, but to me that's a bit slutty.

The relationship between Zoey and Doug progresses nicely after the crash, but there are just too many questions about Zoey and before the crash that I couldn't fully get into the story.

Going Too Far

Author: Jennifer Echols
Publisher: MTV Books
Released: 2009
Genre: YA Romance

In their words:
All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far... and almost doesn't make it back.
John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won't soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won't be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge - and over...

What they don't say: Meg gets arrested by John, and part of her punishment when she's arrested involves spending a lot of time with him. And they both fall for each other, but there are plenty of real complications in the way as they both have o learn to trust and to get past their pasts.

I'd been reading a lot of good things about Jennifer Echols, and Going Too Far does not disappoint. The characters are real, the emotions are raw, and you feel every bit of the story along with Meg and John. The relationship develops naturally, so that when everything blows up and they still get back together, it makes sense, and more than that, as the reader you're rooting for them both by that time.

I love how the positions are reversed in this story - it's usually the bad boy that the good girl is attracted to, but here it's the other way around. And there are real layers to both characters in the book. Meg is not a stereotypical "bad girl," which makes sense, as she is the heroine, but John is also not a stereotypical "good guy" either. They're real, complex characters, and they both have to learn to deal with traumatic events - and the way they do that, separately and together, is what makes this story.

A good read, with both fun and tender moments.