Thursday, September 29, 2011

READING: You Are My Only by Beth Kephart

You Are My Only by Beth Kephart
Publication date: October 25th, 2011
Published by: Egmont USA
Source: NetGalley
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: 4/5
Emmy Rane is married at nineteen , a mother by twenty. Trapped in a life with a husband she no longer loves, Baby is her only joy. Then one sunny day in September, Emmy takes a few fateful steps away from her baby and returns to find her missing. All that is left behind is a yellow sock. Fourteen years later, Sophie, a homeschooled, reclusive teenage girl is forced to move frequently and abruptly from place to place, perpetually running from what her mother calls the “No Good.” One afternoon, Sophie breaks the rules, ventures out, and meets Joey and his two aunts. It is this loving family that opens Sophie’s eyes, giving her the courage to look into her past. What she discovers changes her world forever…

You Are My Only is a heart breaking story about a mother who lost her baby and a girl who is imprisoned by her mother in a life she didn't choose.

Beth Kephart is an amazing writer, no question about it. I've been meaning to read Dangerous Neighbors for a while now but I never got down to it. So my first ever Kephart book was You Are My Only thanks to Egmont and NetGalley.
Alternating between Emmy and Sophie POVs, Kephart gives us an inside into these girls' lives, the decisions they make and how these decisions affect them.

What got to me most in this book was that it was so sad! Both Emmy and Sophie are two very unhappy individuals, each one for the same reason: they never felt loved. Emmy's husband obviously never loved her and Sophie's mother doesn't know what love is, in my opinion. Most people think that it's because she loved Sophie so much that she did the things she did. I sincerely doubt it.
Wonderful thing is though that Emmy and Sophie, despite their abysmal lives, are both very capable of loving people back. Emmy loves her daughter, who was her whole world, and Sophie loves the warmth and kindness of her neighbors. Their heart and feelings are still intact, which is miraculous considering how they've been treated in their lives and that is something I loved about the book. That it manages to remain hopeful throughout, despite everything.

I recommend You Are My Only to anyone who wants to read something moving and beautifully written, with real character development.
Watch out for Beth Kephart, she is amazing.

*This book has been given to me by NetGalley free of charge 

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

READING: The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen

The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegan

Publication date: September 27th, 2011
Published by: Egmont
Genre: YA Paranormal, Angels
Rating: 3/5
Eligible for Debut Author Challenge 2011
Sasha is desperate to find out who murdered her father. When getting the answer means pledging her soul to Eryx, she unlocks a secret that puts her in grave danger—Sasha is Anabo, a daughter of Eve, and Eryx’s biggest threat.

A son of Hell, immortal, and bound to Earth forever, Jax looks for redemption in the Mephisto Covenant—God’s promise he will find peace in the love of an Anabo. After a thousand years, he’s finally found the girl he’s been searching for: Sasha.

With the threat of Eryx looming, Jax has to keep Sasha safe and win her over. But can he? Will Sasha love him and give up her mortal life?

Mephisto Covenant was not bad per se, but it left me with a "meh" feeling after finishing it. I get that Faegen had a fresh and unique story in her mind, but the execution of it was not the best. She got kinda lost.

Sasha was Anabo, which in Greek means "light". The verb "light", not the noun. So for a Greek girl like me to keep reading Anabo, Anabo, over and over again, it was like "Yes, but what are you lighting??" I know to everyone who isn't Greek it probably sounds weirdly exotic or whatever but to me, it sounded pretty funny. Skia, which is also Greek for "shadow" is a spot on word. But that's hardly Faegen's fault. I just mention it because reading it distracted me at times.

What I didn't like about Mephisto was its characters being so unrealistic. I mean sure, it's fiction you don't expect realistic characters. But the ones in Mephisto were either bad to the bone, violent and simply just mean, or ridiculously good, in the point I actually went "Bitch, please!" when I read Sasha's lines of self-righteousness. There wasn't any other character in the book. A little bit more, I don't know, human. And if there was, they were plain dumb. There was no diversity in character's personalities whatsoever, and that gets a little boring sometimes. I didn't want to root for the good guys because they got in my nerves but bad guys were portrayed so bad, that I had no other choice. Sasha in the book supposedly had free will and was not forced to chose between being Anabo or Mephisto. Unfortunately, readers don't have that luxury.

The love story. Um. I don't know. It was and wasn't believable at the same time. What was believable was that it took the whole book for them to do "THE SEX"! Which of course was a part of a marking thing between Jax and Sasha. Because God forbid two young people have sex just because they feel like it these days *gasps*
What wasn't believable was that Sasha fell for Jax right from the start only to have her memory erased and then fall for him all over again (like she had a choice pffttt).
Speaking of sex, yeah. The sex scene was kinda too descriptive for a YA book. Let me tell you, though. That is the least of this book's problems!

The core of the story was not all bad, but there was so much crap going on, enough to ruin any good idea that might be lurking in the back of Faegen's mind.

I know a lot of people who liked Mephisto Covenant a lot. To each is own, I guess. It's not total rubbish but not a gem either. For me, it's somewhere between bad and mediocre. Oh, and really really really looooong! Long book+uncharismatic and dull characters=yawn fest.
Also (I keep remembering things I didn't like lol) again, Mephisto is kinda ( a lot!!) on the religious side and I'm not into that. But that's just my thing.
And to end on a happier tone, Mephisto appears to be a stand alone. Not a trilogy. I repeat: NOT a trilogy. That's always a plus for me.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

READING: The Girl Of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson

The Girl Of Fire And Thorns by Rae Carson

Publication date: September 20th, 2011
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Genre: YA Fantasy, Christian
Rating: 2/5
Eligible for Debut Author Challenge 2011
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

What I expected from Girl Of Fire And Thorns was nothing less than an exciting fantasy adventure, full of magic and woe. Unfortunately, there was no magic nor woe. Only far too many yawns :(

I think what went wrong with GOFAT was the story and the way it was told. And that was in a very boring way, let me tell you. Especially the part with Elisa's journey through the desert, oh my God! Why did it have to be so chaotic and long? I  could get to like the story eventually I think, had it been more fast paced and had more action happening.
The blue stone in Elisa's bellybutton meaning she is a gift from God-I won't even go there. I'm not religious so it sounded like a joke to me. Come to think of it, even if I was religious it would still sound like a joke.
Also at first, Elisa is portrayed like an ugly duckling of sorts. Kinda chubby and a bit on the ugly side. No problem with that whatsoever. What did bother me though was that after her dreadful desert journey she loses a lot of weight and somehow she becomes prettier and when she looks in the mirror and sees her new self, it's when she has the outmost confidence in herself that she will succeed in her mission. Because otherwise she was like "Meh". 
Are you freaking kidding me?????What was that?
Fat: king doesn't like her/no ability to do anything more than eat/basically a loser and
Skinny: king falls immediately in love with her/she achieves all her goals ??
Sorry, but no.

What I did like was Humberto's character. He seemed to me like the only "real" person in the book. His actions, feelings, all justified. And kudos to Carson for having the guts to write him the way she did in the end.
And just as the plot was beginning to get a little bit interesting and I'm thinking "That's how the book should start", it's over. The end.

If you're religious, you'll absolutely love The Girl Of Fire And Thorns, as it's basically  Elisa's holy mission and Elisa herself is a devoted believer. I am not religious which may have contributed to me not liking the book so much. Honestly though, I doubt it.
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Friday, September 16, 2011

READING: Tris&Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Tris&Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Publication date: October 11th, 2011
Published by: Egmont
Genre: YA Paranormal, Magic
Rating: 2/5
A modern retelling of the German fairytale "Tristan and Isolde", Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

Ah, another disappoint YA novel. There seems to be so many lately, I wasn't even remotely surprised by this.

Tris&Izzie is supposed to be a retelling of a Celtic legend "Tristan and Iseult" -title has many variations and the story itself has many origins. From what I know of the original story, Tris&Izzie is pretty close. Well, closer to the movie "Tristan&Izolde", if you ask me. But I have no problem with that, it's a retelling after all. What I had a problem with was the way the author chose to completely butcher her teen characters.

Izzie is in high school and in love with what appears to be a great guy, Mark. Hot, an athlete and very good to her. She meets Tristan, who is also hot(duh)and a transfer student to her school. She also has a best friend, Branna, who was remarkably obnoxious from the very first page. Now Izzie, thinks that she must absolutely find Branna a boyfriend so she could be as wonderfully awesome as she herself is with Mark and the four of them could go out on double dates. Her mother is a witch so when she finds a love potion in her desk, she immediately knows what to do: give the potion to Branna and Tristan so they could be in love for ever. However, her mother warned her that the potion will make two people fall in love with each other for eternity, therefore it's very VERY dangerous. But did she listen? No. She thought she was doing the right thing and stole the potion after all. What happens next…well, you can easily guess.

In my opinion, Izzie was an immature, self-centered, shallow girl. And also kinda cruel. She thinks Branna is unhappy because she doesn't have a boyfriend and isn't as "popular" and "happy" as she is with her precious Mark. And what does she do? She decides to trick Branna into drinking a freaking love potion which will make her fall in love with a guy she just met.  No, no, and no! What the hell? Who do you think you are? How can I possibly read this and still regard Izzie as the love struck heroine and sympathize with her? Pfff not gonna happen.
Branna was not innocent in all this, either. You know right from the start that she hates Izzie. I mean real hatred. You can tell by the way she talks to her and her condescending tone. Izzie of course, total idiot that she is, has no clue. And even after all the horrible things Branna does and says about her, she's all "Aw, my bestie! I love her!" Seriously???I would have never spoken to that girl again! Do teen girls in books have no self-respect anymore? None?? Don't let me start on that guy Mel who was about to trick a girl into drinking a love potion, only to be reprimanded by Izzie (um, really now??). Not only that, but because Izzie doesn't like him, she wants to ask Mark to kick him off his clique so other students would shun him and he'd be forced to change schools. 

Needless to say I was never convinced of Tris and Izzie's epic love. So everything in the book happened for absolutely no reason for me.

To be honest, I was really appalled by the way teens were portrayed in Tris&Izzie. Like all they think about is how they look in tight clothes and getting themselves a boyfriend and let him define them throughout their high school years(maybe after that as well). A story based on a 12th century fairy tale about wonderful love between two people should definitely not have protagonists that remind you of people who you hated in high school. Not my kind of heroes. 
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Monday, September 12, 2011

My Andy...

I didn't know Andy Whitfield personally.
I loved him regardless.
This is a very sad day for me as a little piece of me died with him.
I'll miss you, Andy.May you rest in peace.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

READING: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Publication date: May 26th, 2011
Published by: Jamie McGuire, LLC
Genre: YA/Adult Contemporary
Rating: 5/5
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend America, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’ apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

Getting into Beautiful Disaster, apart from knowing it would be awesome since every friend of mine has told me so, I thought it was gonna be more or less a Perfect Chemistry kind of YA contemporary novel. Bad boy meets responsible girl, they date, something bad happens but they get over it, they date again and live happily ever after.

Yeah, right!
Beautiful Disaster was miles away from that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Perfect Chemistry was not good in comparison, far from it. I love PC with all my heart. Believe me, when I was done with Beautiful Disaster I longed for the "simplicity" of Perfect Chemistry! But no. BD was so emotionally draining that I still don't know if I love it or hate it for making me feel giddy with excitement one minute, only to leave me feeling miserable the next.

Beautiful Disaster is about the love between two college students: Travis Maddox and Abby (aka Pigeon/Pidge) Abernathy. They come from completely different backgrounds but how they ended up emotionally because of it, is exactly the same. They are both apparently very troubled and they have a lot of things in their minds and in their hearts that they definitely need to work out. But just when you think the combination of each other's baggage will end up in total chaos, by the end you accept that they can't live without it, this beautiful disaster they create when they are together.

Travis is not the typical bad boy who meets the girl of his dream and gets his shit together immediately and everything is fine and dandy from then on. He does finds the girl of his dreams, yes. At about 30% of the book. Throughout the rest, he tries desperately to figure out how to hold on to her, how not to lose her because of course a girl like Abby deserves someone better than him. And he gets obsessed. Very. Punching anyone that even glances her way, obsessed. I'm telling you, he did some things that freaked me out A LOT! And all the while I was thinking "Why isn't Abby freaking out??She's right next to him. Is she gonna let this or that slide?"
She did freak out and she did let a lot slide. Why? Because before Travis she felt no affection for any man. No boyfriends to speak of, a dead-beat dad who treats her like crap and then Travis, who adores her with every fiber of his being  and she knows it, no matter what he does. Does that justifies her attitude  towards his actions? I don't know. I don't know what I'd do if I was in her shoes, feeling something so strong. All I know is that if there is any person in the world that could put up with Travis's obsessive behavior is Abby, and if anyone could deal with Abby's tantrums is Travis. They are a perfect, catastrophic match.

Beautiful Disaster had some amazingly intense and powerful scenes I will never forget. For example, Travis singing "(I Can Get No)Satisfaction" by Rolling Stones in the school cafeteria, their break up(don't worry, there were numerous!I'm not spoiling anything)when he begs her to get back together (getting shivers just thinking about it), every scene in Travis's bedroom, I could go on and on. 

When it's all said and done, I don't know if Beautiful Disaster is a good book or not. All I know is that it had a huge impact on me, stirred something in me and I know I will never forget it.
I really hope you feel the same when you read it, because it's moments like this that I fully comprehend my love for reading.

"You were going to say why you chose Eastern," he prompted.
"It's hard to explain," I said, shrugging. "I guess it just fell right."
He smiled as he opened his menu. "I know what you mean." 
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

READING: Vengeance by Kate Brian

Vengeance by Kate Brian

Publication date: September 6th, 2011
Published by: Simon&Schuster
Genre: YA Contemporary, Mystery
Rating: 3,5/5
After the devastating events at Reed's birthday party, Noelle is determined to put the past to rest, but Reed is adament about rebuilding Billings. Coming up against endless roadblocks from the headmaster, not to mention Billings alumni, Reed will not let her legacy end with a pile of rubble.

As if that weren't enough, old ghosts come back to haunt to the Billings Girls. Reed has been through the ringer in her time at Easton and she starts to wonder if maybe she can even make it out of this place alive.
My review contains some spoilers from previous Private books, but NOT from Vengeance, assuming you have read every other book before it. 

The end is not near, it's here! After 14 installments and 2 prequels, the Private series has come to an end.

Going into Vengeance I thought that initially at least, there would be more talk about Mr. Lange's death and you know, more grief, and that it would take more time for the girls to go back to thinking about boyfriends and frenemies. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and it made Vengeance's start kinda awkward for me. Even Noelle, his own daughter, seemed not so thrown over the fact that her father was murdered only a couple of months ago. I don't know, personally I thought it was weird.

In addition, the great revelation in the end definitely felt rushed and not thought out at all. It was not convincing in the slightest and to be honest, I felt kinda silly reading it. I guess there was no more drama to dig up and no more people left to be the murders/victims. That's why I think the series had reached its peak with Revelation(book #8) and the rest was just plain good, with the exception of the St.Barths books which I didn't like at all. 

I did expect a way better ending to an all time favorite series of mine and one that kept me awake many a nights. I will never forget the amazing time I had reading the Private books, especially my favorite out of the bunch, Last Christmas. I am really looking forward to Kate Brian's future works!
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

In My Mailbox (42)

::Thanks to the Story Siren for hosting IMM::

*The Pledge by Kimberly Derting (GoodReads)
(can't wait to read it!!!)

*Vengeance by Kate Brian (GoodReads)
(last book in the Private series *snif* can't believe it's over!)


*A very very short first look at Fever, book 2 in the Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren Destefano. Actually, I got this a while back but I always forget to mention it for some reason :/

What did you get in your mailbox? 
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

READING : Never Have I Ever by Sara Shepard

Never Have I Ever by Sara Shepard

Publication date: August 2nd, 2011
Published by: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary, Mystery
Rating: 4/5
My perfect life was a lie.

Now I’d do anything to uncover the truth.

Not long ago, I had everything a girl could wish for: amazing friends, an adorable boyfriend, a loving family. But none of them know that I’m gone—that I’m dead. To solve my murder, my long-lost twin sister, Emma, has taken my place. She sleeps in my room, wears my clothes, and calls my parents Mom and Dad.

And my killer is watching her every move.

I remember little from my life, just flashes and flickers, so all I can do is follow along as Emma tries to solve the mystery of my disappearance. But the deeper she digs, the more suspects she uncovers. It turns out my friends and I played a lot of games—games that ruined people’s lives. Anyone could want revenge . . . anyone could want me—and now Emma—dead.
I admit it, I have a soft spot for Sara Shepard. I absolutely love Pretty Little Liars and same goes with The Lying Game series. 

I can't say I enjoyed Never Have I Ever as much as I enjoyed The Lying Game, but I liked it well enough. It had its good and bad moments.
I'm loving Emma and Ethan and all the twists and the mystery. I liked the "little" pranks that the members of The Lying Games participate in, which mostly Sutton had thought of. A little extreme, yes, but so are the lives they live, their romances, everything, so the extremeness and impossibility of the pranks don't really bother me or seem weird to me.
What annoyed me a little bit this time around, were some of Emma's alleged friends, like the Twitter Twins-they are completely silly and the twitter idea not good enough, in my opinion. Also a problem I had while reading The Lying Game as well was that I sometimes got confused about whose POV I'm reading each time. Is it Sutton or Emma? Their voices are pretty similar although they shouldn't be. It would be much more interesting if Sutton got her bitchy self back and see how she reacts to Emma's actions and decisions. 

I'm more than anxiously waiting for book #3, Two Truths And A Lie, coming out February 2012. I trust and respect Sara too much to live her series unfinished. However, she should start thinking of a way that would distinguish The Lying Game series from Pretty Little Liars because I hate to say it, but they are starting have a lot of similarities! The Lying Game series has to take a different path in order for it to stand out.

PS. What's up with The Lying Game TV series? They really just read the book and went "OK we'll keep the names, toss everything else out?",didn't they?
And Blair Redford? Seriously? As if having to endure him in 90210 wasn't enough!

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