Wednesday, September 28, 2011

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Summary: (from back of book) It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper. She's tall,blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her small, stifling town in the Northwest and escape to and East Coast college., but gets pushed off course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path.
Review: My favorite thing about this book is the message that it sends. I think it was a unique idea and this journey of discovering self respect, standing up for yourself and finding beauty in all places was a really great one. This was a very character driven story and the plot wasn't all that action packed but I felt like each moment had some sort of significance to the overall theme of finding beauty within yourself. There was a mix of serious moments and moments that made me laugh, which I really liked. I thought Terra was a really easy character to relate to. What teenager can't relate to the feeling of being insecure with some part of their appearance? Anyone who has problems with self confidence should read this. I thought all the characters were pretty well rounded. Terra and her family were a really great plot line. i liked seeing the way they all changed over the course of the story. I don't want to spoil anything but i think the setting was also really great, especially in the second half. My only complaint was, as I mentioned, the plot was a little slow in some places and a little bit predictable but overall, this one was pretty good.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Summary: (from back of book). On her 12th birthday, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. Three bumpy years later, after a prom night spell gone horribly wrong, she;s exiled to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries and shapeshifters. By the end of her first day, Sophie has quite a scorecard:three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tag along ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Then  when a mysterious predator begins attacking students, and Sophie's only friend is the number one suspect, a horrifying plot begins to surface. Soon, Sophie is preparing for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
Review: I really enjoyed this book. Although, the idea of a magical boarding school isn't all that unique, in itself, I thought the way this one was done was really great. I thought the idea of a kind of reform twist was a great idea and Hex Hall is definitely a unique setting in more ways than one. There a lot of surprising plot twists that kept the plot moving and the story exciting, and the cliffhanger ending made me excited to see where the next book in this series will lead. I like the fact that although there is some romance in the story the romantic aspects didn't dominate the entire plot. I hope that in the next book we can learn more about the lives and histories of all Prodigium. I did think that most of the characters were pretty typical, and what I would expect from this type of setting. I liked the fact that Sophie was such a strong character. She was determined to stand up for her friend, and her declaration at the end of the novel made me like her even more. She was my favorite character by far though, I didn't enjoy the other character as much. They were all somewhat predictable and I wish thay had been more different. I also thought that the shifters and faeries should have been given a little more attention.  I think anyone who wants a light, exciting fantasy story should pick this one up.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Summary: (from book jacket) He'd never told me he loved me before. Nobody had ever told me they loved me before. When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole- a handsome, funny sports star who adore her- she can't believe she's finally found her soul mate... someone who truly loves and understands her. At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her close friend Zack, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all her time with another boy? As the months pass, though, Alex can no longer ignore Cole's small put downs, pinches, and increasingly violent threats. As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose "love" she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose- between her "true love"and herself.
Review: The main reason I was so excited to get my hands on this book was because I absolutely loved Hate List, and I was really excited to see what this author could do with a different, but just as serious, subject. I thought the second half of the book was much better than the first half, mainly because the relationship between Alex and Cole was such a slow build up that the plot dragged a little at times. However, once things became serious between the two and their problems steadily became worse, I was hooked. I thought Alex's thoughts and emotions regarding her realtionship with Cole were so realistic. I was so wrapped up in her struggle between her love for Cole and the realization that he had a problem. I really loved getting to know her as a character and following her along on her path to loving herself more than she ever has. Cole was also a really real character. It felt like I was hearing about real people instead of something out of the author's imagination. My only other problem was Bethany and Zack. I didn't think that either one of them acted like a very good friend upon discovering that their best friend had fallen into and abusive realtionship. I know Alex and even Cole didn't treat them very well, but your best friend needs your help, grow up a little. Other wise I thought this book was a really realistic look at an abusive relationship.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Die For Me by Amy Plum

Summary: (from book jacket) My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything. Suddenly,my sister, Georgia, and i were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. and i knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent. Mysterious,sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies...immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.While I'm fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart- as well as my life and my family's- in jeopardy for a chance at love?
  Review: This book was definitely an interesting read. Although it was a paranormal romance type story, I thought the paranormal aspects were pretty unique. There were a lot of interesting pieces to the life that Vincent and his friends lived. I liked the fact that I didn't feel like this was a story I had seen before. This paranormal romance had a different kind of challenges to making their relationship work. I thought the plot was a little slow at times. But that was mostly toward the beginning when the rest of the story was being set up. I thought Kate was a very strong character. I really liked her detemination that really showed through in some parts of the book. She is really not your typical mushy paranormal romance girl. Vincent and his friends are really cool characters. I like their attitude toward their job. My favorites are probably Vincent and Jules. they were both really funny and awesome and sweet guys. I think this is supposed to be the first of a series so i will be interested to see what happens there. Overall, this was a pretty good paranormal story.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

Summary:(from book jacket) Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that's hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around waiting for a bomb to fall. It's 1962, and it seems that the whole country is living in fear. When President Kennedy goes on television to say that Russia is sending nuclear missiles to Cuba, it only gets worse. Franny doesn't know how to deal with what's going on in the world- no more than she knows how to deal with what's going on with her family and friends. But somehow she's going to make it through.
Review: I really liked this book. I don't read very much historical fiction, but I am really glad I picked this one up. It's a pretty easy read and I think it was written for more of a middle grade audience, but it didn't matter. I finished this book quickly and although the plot was simple and the last couple of chapters were kind of annoying, I really enjoyed it. The plot was so believable, this time period was recreated flawlessly. The author grew up during this time and I could really tell. I also really liked the pictures that interspersed throughout the book that were from that time period. I thought they were really interesting and added a lot to the story. I also really liked getting to know all of the characters. Franny and her family and friends were all such unique characters and every single one was such a great addition to the story. I thought her family especially was a good look at the family dynamic during that time. I really hope that Wiles continues to write stories like this because this one was really cool. Anyone who is a fan of historical fiction and doesn't mind the fact that it is written for younger audiences, should definitely read this one.