The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Goodreads Summary: "Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood... life before she became a vampire.

All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don't draw attention to yourself and, above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn't know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they know only as "her". As they come to realize that the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trus. But when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth?"

Review: That's right. I went there.

Honestly, it wasn't, you know, terrible. Compelling, certainly, as all of Stephenie Meyer's works are. I didn't particularly care for seeing familiar people from Bree's perspective (Carlisle, Jasper, etc.). Something about it felt off, but that might just be me.

Goodreads Shelves: fluffy



Forbidden Sea ARC Giveaway

My good friend Sheila, from the library I used to work at, is giving away a signed ARC of her book, Forbidden Sea, before it comes out next week! If you want to win a copy, go here and check it out!


Fascinating New Yorker Article

Also posted on my other blog.

I came across this article in the New Yorker today, about dystopian fiction in general, and focusing on The Hunger Games in particular.

Here's one of the points that really fascinates me:

Take the Hunger Games themselves. In the first book of Collins’s trilogy, Katniss explains that the games are a “punishment” for a failed uprising against the Capitol many years earlier, and they’re meant to be “humiliating as well as torturous.” The twenty-four child contestants, called tributes, are compelled to participate, and the people of their districts must watch the televised bloodbath. Yet residents of the richer districts (District 12, Katniss’s home, is a hardscrabble mining province) regard competing as “a huge honor,” and some young people, called Career Tributes, train all their lives for the games. When Katniss herself becomes a tribute (she volunteers, in order to save her younger sister), she’s taken to the Capitol and given a glamorous makeover and a wardrobe custom-designed for her by her own personal fashion maestro. She’s cheered by crowds, fĂȘted at galas, interviewed on national television, fed sumptuous meals, and housed in a suite filled with wondrous devices. She’s forced to live every teen-age girl’s dream. (Her professed claim to hate it all is undermined by the loving detail with which she describes every last goody.)
As a tool of practical propaganda, the games don’t make much sense. They lack that essential quality of the totalitarian spectacle: ideological coherence. You don’t demoralize and dehumanize a subject people by turning them into celebrities and coaching them on how to craft an appealing persona for a mass audience. (“Think of yourself among friends,” Katniss’s media handler urges.) Are the games a disciplinary measure or an extreme sporting event? A beauty pageant or an exercise in despotic terror? Given that the winning tribute’s district is “showered with prizes, largely consisting of food,” why isn’t it the poorer, hungrier districts that pool their resources to train Career Tributes, instead of the wealthier ones? And the practice of carrying off a population’s innocent children and commanding their parents to watch them be slaughtered for entertainment—wouldn’t that do more to provoke a rebellion than to head one off?
If, on the other hand, you consider the games as a fever-dream allegory of the adolescent social experience, they become perfectly intelligible. Adults dump teen-agers into the viper pit of high school, spouting a lot of sentimental drivel about what a wonderful stage of life it’s supposed to be. The rules are arbitrary, unfathomable, and subject to sudden change. A brutal social hierarchy prevails, with the rich, the good-looking, and the athletic lording their advantages over everyone else. To survive you have to be totally fake. Adults don’t seem to understand how high the stakes are; your whole life could be over, and they act like it’s just some “phase”! Everyone’s always watching you, scrutinizing your clothes or your friends and obsessing over whether you’re having sex or taking drugs or getting good enough grades, but no one cares who you really are or how you really feel about anything.

Read the rest of the article here. It also looks at conventions found in books such as Scott Westerfield's Uglies series, Lois Lowry's The Giver, James Dashner's The Maze Runner, and Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth.


Spells by Aprilynne Pike

Goodreads Page

Summary (via the author's website): "Six months have passed since Laurel saved the gateway to the faerie realm of Avalon. Now she must spend her summer there, honing her skills as a Fall faerie. But her human family and friends are still in mortal danger--and the gateway to Avalon is more compromised than ever.

When it comes time to protect those she loves, will she depend on David, her human boyfriend, for help? Or will she turn to Tamani, the electrifying faerie with whom her connection is undeniable?"

Review: So, let me say this. I hate David. Not personally, in the "I want him to die" sense. But... I don't want Laurel to want him. He's boring! And if she chooses him, she, by extension, becomes boring. And if there's anything I'm opposed to, it's boring people.

Anyway, aside from that beef, I kind of liked Spells. I was very into it. It was easy to read, and it went very quickly. There was a little action, but not too much, which I liked, and ... yeah. I find I don't have too much to say about it, actually. Aside from the whole David thing.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book



Dramarama by E. Lockhart

Goodreads Page

Summary (via the author's website): "Two theater-mad, self-invented, fabulositon Ohio teenagers.
One boy, one girl.
One gay, one straight.
One black, one white.
It’s a season of hormones,
gold lamé,
hissy fits,
jazz hands,
song and dance,
true love,
and unitards that will determine their future–and test their friendship."

Review: That's it? That's the ending? That's how the Big Drama Camp Experience turned out? I... I don't know how to feel about that.

I really like E. Lockhart, because she takes girls who could take over the world and sets them loose to wreak havoc and figure out their place in the world.

I also like her because it's not all about "getting the guy." Sure, it's nice to get the guy, and sometimes it works out that way, but people don't go around finding their soulmates around every corner. More often, they date boys, and they kiss boys, and then they admit that, no, we're not really clicking. Have a nice day. Or at least, they should.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book, thought-provoking



The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Goodreads Page

Summary (via the author's website): "When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind."

Review: Um... so, yeah. Intense. I was totally a fan. As aforementioned, I was really iffy about listening on audio at first. Then I got through the first disc and realized it was a good choice. The narrator was really good about keeping the voices separate (although sometimes I wasn't sure if Theresa and Thomas were talking out loud or in their heads, but the author was good about specifying, for the most part), and throwing in characterization.

The story was really interesting: the mysteries got wrapped up neatly enough to feel satisfying, while at the same time, more elements were thrown in at the last minute to still end on a cliffhanger. So I liked that.

I really liked their slang. It rather reminded me of Ender's Game and the way they talked at Battle School. In fact, the whole thing reminded me of Ender's Game... in a good way. (Not that anything could remind me of Ender's Game in a bad way.)

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, thought-provoking



The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Goodreads Page

Summary (via the author's website): "Life is looking up for D.J. Schwenk. She’s made it to eleventh grade, she’s reconnecting with her best friend, and she’s got kind of a thing going with Brian Nelson. Best of all, she’s playing for the Red Bend High School football team—as the first girl linebacker in northern Wisconsin.

But then the season goes suddenly, horribly wrong: her brother Win is put in the hospital by a devastating blow during a game. Once again, D.J. is forced to step up and be there for her family. As her life turns completely upside down, she discovers she’s a lot stronger than she – or anyone – ever thought.

This hilarious, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant sequel to the acclaimed novel Dairy Queen takes D.J. and all the Schwenks from Labor Day to an unforgettable Thanksgiving Day game."

Review: Catherine Gilbert Murdock for the win! That's right; I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.

I'm really excited to read Front and Center. Especially since I've noticed a trend in the first two books that Brian acts like a jerk... and then Aaron shows up.  hmm.... o_O

I think Dairy Queen was a little funnier, but The Off Season had me smiling a lot, and I like that. Plus, I really did cry a little.

Goodreads Shelves: addictive, fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book, thought-provoking



Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis

Goodreads Page

Summary (via the publisher's website): "I'd love a cup of coffee. . . . I wish she didn't hide how pretty she is. . . . I hope she didn't find out what Ben said about her. . . . I wish I knew how many calories were in a bite of muffin. . . .

Joy is used to Hearing Whispers. She's used to walking down the street and instantly knowing people's deepest, darkest desires. She uses this talent for good—to make people happy and give them what they want. But for her older sister, Jessica, the family gift is a curse, and she uses it to make people's lives—especially Joy's—miserable. Still, when Joy Hears Jessica Whisper I want to kill my Hearing dead, and kill me too if that's what it takes, she knows she has to save her sister, even if it means deserting her friends, stealing a car, and running away with a boy she barely knows—a boy who may have a dark secret of his own."

Review: Interesting read. I liked her ability, and I liked the glimpse of character development that I saw. I feel like I got a really good feel for her character in the beginning (despite kind of wanting to smack her), and I liked seeing her change and grow in the second half of the book.

I haven't said this so far about any books I've read that have sequels coming out in the future, but I really want to read another book about Joy. I want to see what kind of kick-A person she can be when she's not being a toady.

Goodreads Shelves: fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book



The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Goodreads Page

Summary (via the author's website): "Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world... and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer... and becoming his prey herself."

Review: So, I pegged the profession of the killer from early on. And to be honest, I don't know how I felt about the romance. On the one hand, I love it. I'm all about the lovey-dovey stuff -- just as much as the "and then he looked at me twice" stuff, which, come to think of it, might be what was lacking for me.

In summary, it was a good book; well-written, interesting, fairly clever. And, THANK GOODNESS, she showed instead of telling, which, as aforementioned, has been driving me nuts lately.

Goodreads Shelves: fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book



48 Hour Book Challenge Finish Line

In summary:

Time spent reading: 15 hours (my goal, that I never actually wrote down, was 12)
Books finished: 2 - The Squad and the audiobook of The Maze Runner
Books read in entirety: 3 - The Body Finder, Whisper, and The Off Season
Books started: 1 - Dramarama, which I'm going to finish approximately half an hour from now.

Concluding thoughts: I hope I'm not entering the final weeks of a show next year, because that really cut into my reading time.


The Squad: Perfect Cover by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Goodreads Summary:  "Bayport High’s Varsity cheer squad is made up of the hottest of the hot. But this A-list is dangerous in more ways than one. The Squad is actually a cover for the most highly trained group of underage government operatives the United States has ever assembled. They have the perfect cover, because, beyond herkeys and highlights, no one expects anything from a cheerleader."

Review: So. Remember how I have a problem with telling? Yeah... I got really annoyed with Toby telling me how sarcastic she was, instead of just being sarcastic. In fact, I wanted to create a drinking game, wherein I did a shot every time she refrained from making a sarcastic comment. (Of course, she never said what the sarcastic thing she didn't say was.) Alas, I don't drink.

My other hangup was pretty basic: I didn't believe it. I couldn't suspend my disbelief. Seriously? A bunch of cheerleaders are supergeniuses in disguise and go around saving the free world all the time?? And they make this anti-social hacker girl seduce men, despite receiving no training? And they don't even know the identity of their bosses, who they've never met in person (which smells like Alias to me; I'm just sayin')? Anyway, suffice it to say, I wasn't terribly impressed.

I did like the boy, though. The dialogue he and Toby had was pretty good, and he actually made me laugh a couple times, so good job, The Boy.

Goodreads Shelves: fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book


#48hbc check-in number 1

Time spent reading so far: 2 hours
Book progress: finished The Squad, started The Body Finder


48 Hour Book Challenge Starting Line

Finally! Home from everything, ready to read into the wee hours of the night. It'll be great. I'm starting roughly now, at about 11pm, and I'll go until the same time on Sunday. If all goes well, I should be able to read at least 12 hours. That's my goal. I'm starting with finishing my (what has become a) disinterested skim of The Squad. I plan to start The Body Finder tonight.


Hey, it's an award!

Look! Jennifer over at Reading With Tequila gave me The Versatile Blogger award! Thanks!

The Rules for the award are:
1. Thank the person who gave you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 
bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (in no particular order…)
4. Contact the 
bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.

Here goes! 

7 Things About Me:
1. It is one of my ambitions to own a dog some day.
2. Because of a cornea scar, I'm legally blind in one eye.
3. I am addicted to buying DVDs.
4. I'm working on becoming a Joss Whedon fangirl (by which I mean I'm almost done with season 2 of Buffy, and I own Serenity, Dr. Horrible, Season 1 of Dollhouse, and 2 copies of Firefly).
5. I'm afraid of Mountain Dew. Because it's yellow.
6. I have never seen Bambi, The Fox and the Hound, or Lady and the Tramp.
7. I can play the tuba (hence the first half of my screen name).

And here are the bloggers I'm passing the award on to (in no particular order):
Whitney at She Is Too Fond Of Books
Kirthi at Pages
Chelsey at Fake Librarian Girl
John at Dreaming in Books
Katelyn at The Bookshelf Sophisticate
Heather at Books and Quilts
Sara at Along For the Ride


Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here's what I'm waiting for:

Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

Summary (via publisher's website): "Miles Vorkosigan is back!

Kibou-daini is a planet obsessed with cheating death. Barrayaran Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan can hardly disapprove—he’s been cheating death his whole life, on the theory that turnabout is fair play. But when a Kibou-daini cryocorp—an immortal company whose job it is to shepherd its all-too-mortal frozen patrons into an unknown future—attempts to expand its franchise into the Barrayaran Empire, Emperor Gregor dispatches his top troubleshooter Miles to check it out.

On Kibou-daini, Miles discovers generational conflict over money and resources is heating up, even as refugees displaced in time skew the meaning of generation past repair. Here he finds a young boy with a passion for pets and a dangerous secret, a Snow White trapped in an icy coffin who burns to re-write her own tale, and a mysterious crone who is the very embodiment of the warning Don’t mess with the secretary. Bribery, corruption, conspiracy, kidnapping—something is rotten on Kibou-daini, and it isn’t due to power outages in the Cryocombs. And Miles is in the middle—of trouble!"

So... this isn't a YA book. You might have picked up on that. It isn't my intention to only read YA/children's books on this blog (it's new; give me a little time, eh?), and hopefully soon I'll get around to reading some "older books," as it were. If nothing else, I'll definitely be reading this one when it comes out in November. (I'll be reading my pre-ordered hardback copy, in fact.)

Fun fact: If you have a huge burning desire to figure out what the heck I'm talking about in my poll over on the right side, this happens to be a clue to that.


48 Hour Book Challenge

Have you guys heard of this? I heard about it last year, a couple weeks after it went down. I'm so excited to do it this year! If you have some free time this weekend, go check this out!

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Summary (via the publisher): "In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?"

Review: Ok, here's my thing. Telling bugs me. In writing, they tell you to show, don't tell. So when I come across someone telling me something, instead of showing it to me, I tend to have a problem with it.* Like in this book. Mary, why the heck are you so in love with Travis? Travis is the Paris in this story; his only apparent purpose is to be pretty** and be in love with you. And be a total pansy, which is another requirement, if you're going to be a Paris***. I see absolutely no reason for you to be in love with him, besides the fact that you told me you're in love with him. That's it. That's all. Mary, what are we going to do with you?

Other than that, it was actually a pretty good book.

Goodreads Shelves: fluffy, is-this-a-kissing-book, pretentious


*This, as it so happens, is the reason why I'm on Team Jacob. On days I admit to having read that particular series, that is.
**I assume he's pretty; I'm not sure why, but I think it might be because he acts pretty.
*That would be Paris of Troy. You know the one who started the Trojan War? Yeah, him.

Man, oh man!

I'm so excited! I won a giveaway over at The Bookshelf Sophisticate!!

 I won a signed copy of Angel Star, plus a whole bunch of swag!

Read Katelyn's review of Angel Star here, and her interview with the author, Jennifer Murgia, here!
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