30 August 2015

Not a Drop to Drink

Author: Mindy McGinnis
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

The last three paragraphs of this novel easily earned it a half a star from me.  It's a little bit heart wrenching and at the same time, it goes to show just how far Lynn's come over the course of this novel, which turned out to be very different than what I expected at the beginning.

To be fair, I probably could have seen the shift in the plot coming if I have read the synopsis on the jacket cover.  But, me being me, I wanted to go in blind.  It's always better that way (almost always).  So, as I made my way into the early stages of this novel, I expected it to be the tale between a daughter and a mother, and the struggle to decide whether to stay to defend the lake and the home they know, or try to venture south into the unknown in order to escape from the rather unforgiving climate.

It turns out, and rather quickly at that, that this book isn't about that at all.  A part of me is still bummed about the fact.  I think this novel could have been so engaging if it had focused on that sometimes precarious relationship between Lynn and Lauren, and how they both saw different sides of what was right for them (although, I will admit, McGinnis did an excellent job of doing this on the philosophical side, as I point back to the final three paragraphs of the novel).  Instead, that relationship falls to the wayside early on, and Lynn's relationship with others becomes the prime focus.  And, since this is a YA series and, for some reason, we can't have a YA series without - you guessed it - romance, even that type of relationship rears its ugly head.

The biggest issue I have with this novel is I felt no empathy towards these characters at all.  While Lynn shows a lot of character development throughout the novel, the others don't at all.  And it's not that they are hard to relate to.  If anything, they are so easy to relate to it's almost scary.  But there's just something lacking in the writing that makes me care and these characters and their outcomes.  This novel has a plot that could so easily have been heart wrenchingly unbearable, but it doesn't come out that way at all, which is why I didn't like it more.

The other big issue I have is the scene with the coyotes.  After all, we spend the entire novel with seemingly everyone running their mouth off about what a great shot Lynn is.  And throughout the novel, especially towards the end, McGinnis portrays her that way.  But with the coyotes?  How could she have missed?  I realize what it means to the plot, but I could not get over that pivotal moment throughout the entire rest of the novel, and it still bugs me a little now.

While hardly a thought provoking nailbiter, this novel does deliver a great, completely plausible future, completely terrifying world.  And the plot is packed with plenty of action and twists and turns to keep you reading.  It's also relatively short, which is an added bonus too.  So while I'm not gushing head over heels for it, I'll at least pick up the sequel from the library to check it out.

29 August 2015

The Host

Author: Stephenie Meyer
Series: The Host #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Get ready for a review almost as long as the book (just kidding, but also, not really)!

First of all, I'm not sure the marketing strategy for this book was well thought out and completely sound.  Having "Author of The Twilight Saga" slapped in huge, bold letters across the bottom only deterred me from reading it for the past two years or so that I've been debating reading this book or not.

I will say, The Host feels a bit like the Twilight books in Meyer's basic plot strategy.  First, we have the impossible love triangle - two humans and one parasite of a human.  Did I mention the parasite is inside one of the other humans?  Though Meyer takes it a step even further in this series, adding another human in, just to make sure it's all one big mess of feels and angst and hurt and anger.  Enough to go around for the whopping 619 pages.

I had to suspend a lot of disbelief for this story.  For starters, what intelligent life form would look at Earth and think, "Yeah, humans.  That seems like the next logical species we should inhabit."  Did they even do a lick of research before cryo freezing themselves and shoving them a century through space to get here?  Just spend one day observing this planet - people killing people, countries killing countries, religions killing religions - and it would be blatantly apparent that humans are not the right fit for Wanda's kind to use as Hosts.  Also (a thought I didn't just have until now), if the first wave has been here less than a decade, I would assume they came from the closest planet.  But Wanderer came from one of the ones over a century away, right?  How would they have known that long ago where to send the ship?  The sci-fi and space travel elements of this novel did not feel well thought out.

Then we get to the fact that this is an adult/new adult novel.  Thought Melanie starts out around sixteen in the flashbacks where we see her relationship with Jamie and Jared, she's now in her early twenties.  But, man, a lot of times she feels as immature and young as the Twilight girl.  And Meyer certainly did not convince me that Wanderer has lived, what, eight, other full grown lives, all of them spanning longer than the "short" human life span she points out?  I realize the cultural shock and adjustment of being on a new planet in a crazy, irrational host species would be a bit of a shock, but come on.  Wanda feels like she's a teenage girl as well.  Meyer can't seem to write a character outside of this mind frame.

All that being said, you would think I could stand this novel about as much as I could stand reading the entirety of the Twilight novel.  But yet.... but yet!  Melanie is a rather strong, determined character (if only by the fact that she will not relent to the parasite trying to take over her body).  She's not your Bella Swan here at all.  Though she loves Jared and she can't believe Jared doesn't want her back and she can't believe he would even TOUCH her body knowing Wanda is controlling her, Mel's life doesn't revolve around Jared completely.  Instead, her life revolves around Jamie, her younger brother.  And the relationship that form between Wanda, Mel, and Jamie?  Kind of awesome, I'm not going to lie.  And the relationship between Wanda and Mel progresses surprisingly well.  There isn't one sudden tilting point where it all changes.  It's more of a natural progression, where you really can't just pick a spot in the book and say that's where it all changes.

Now, I'm not saying this book is great fiction.  It has way too much romantic drama for me to take it seriously in a lot of spaces, and I'm not sure Meyer and sci-fi are meant to go hand and hand.  But I will admit (I know, it surprises me too!) that I actually kind of, sort of, liked this book.  I finished it, after all, which is a feat of its own.  I doubt I'll ever read it again, and I doubt she's ever going to write the rest of the supposed series, but I wouldn't hate you for liking this story.  If she writes a sequel, I daresay I would probably read all 600+ pages of that one too.

28 August 2015

Pretties

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: Uglies #2
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Tally is back, and she's Pretty.  The Tally from the beginning of Uglies would have relished in this fact.  The Tally from the end of Uglies would have despaired, hoping someone was en route to bring her the cure.  This Tally doesn't think much about it at all, thanks to the lesion in her brain that dumbs her down and makes her shallow and careless.

United with Shay and Peris, and now friends with Shay's friends from pre-operation, Tally is living it up large in New Pretty Town.  But she's not just in it for the parties and gossip and the pleasure gardens.  She's trying to join the Crims, a group of new Pretties that seem determined to keep up with their Ugly tricks and schemes.

Pretties, somewhat like Uglies, is a slow burn of a read for the vast majority of the story (I'd say at least the first half).  Tally tries to navigate this new world and - thanks to the "bubbly" sensation of pulling tricks - to remember what her life was like before the operation.  She, with the help of Zane (Zane!) and the other Crims, has to try to clear her mind of the Pretty haze and remember why she's back in the city in the first place.  Pretties feels a bit like Uglies at times, the ending especially feeling a bit repetitive of the first novel.  And some of the teen drama between friends and love interests in a bit shallow and laughable (but these are still Pretties we're talking about).  At one point, the plot seems to veer sharply off course (cue Andrew) and I have to wonder what in the world made Westerfeld think to add that to the story.

But overall, Pretties feel like the naturally progression for the series.  Sure, Tally is still a bit self centered and trying at times, but she is trying to fight the good fight against the system, so I have to give her credit for that.  And I like the new characters that Westerfeld introduces in this story.  While the Prettiness of the setting and people wears on me a little, and perhaps does not age as well for me as Uglies has over the past decade, I still enjoy this book.  It's an easy read for a vacant day, and - no matter your feelings towards Tally - leaves you wanting to read the next one in the series.

20 August 2015

Paperweight

Author: Meg Haston
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

This is one of those books where I feel guilty for not liking it, since it's about a girl who is planning to kill herself.  I know she's a fictional character, but I can't help the guilty thought of, "What if my less than positive review makes her want to kill herself even more?"  But alas, this is where we are.

Sure, Stevie's life has not been perfect.  Her mother up and left her father, her brother, and herself one day.  Stevie doesn't know why, but she can't help to think that it's her fault.  That she wasn't enough to make her mother stay.

And then comes Eden, and Josh's tragic death that Stevie blames on herself.  (Sidenote - Eden and Stevie's weird relationship reminds me a lot of Alex and Pipe in Orange is the New Black, since we recently finished binging it the way Stevie binges alcohol and sweets).  And with less than a month left until the one year anniversary of Joshua's death, Stevie only has one thing on her mind - to slowly rot away until she dies of starvation on her brother's anniversary (although, personally, I think there are a lot more suitable ways for her to go about her plan that would be much more poetic and less of an issue with her predicaments).  Her father throws her plans for a twist, however, when he sends her to bulimic rehab.

It sounds like such a tragic story, and yet I hardly once every empathized with Stevie (am I a horrible person?  I can't help but wonder!).  Haston's writing unravels the plot in such a way that Stevie only serves to be this annoying main character wallowing in self pity, which makes it difficult to sympathize with her even though her backstory is sad.

Ironically, the only characters in this novel that I actually like are the minor ones - mainly Shrink (towards the middle to end) and Ashley.  And even then, it isn't nearly enough to pull this novel together and make it the heart wrenching tale it has the potential of being.

Perhaps it's because I set the bar too high for expectations after reading The Last Time We Say Goodbye earlier this year, which is a bit similar in the heart wrenching plot department (and made me bawl like a baby).  The writing is solid enough in this story, but Paperweight just doesn't serve the story worthy of the plot, with Stevie dragging the plot down, as skinny and light as she is.

19 August 2015

Uglies

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: Uglies #1
Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

I can't believe I haven't reviewed this book yet!  Has it really been that long since I last read it?  It doesn't seem possible, but time certainly seems to fly by quicker and quicker these days.  It's hard to believe it's been a decade since this book was released, and almost that long since I first read it.  Yet on the other hand, it's not that hard to believe at all, since that would be me smack dab in the middle of my teenage years, and Uglies was my first introduction (and thus, my first love) into the young adult genre.  As is the case, this novel - this whole series, as a fact - holds a special place in my heart, and thus my review may be a little biased by the sixteen-years-old version of myself.

Granted, it has a few plot holes.  Even the first time I read it, way back when, I realized this perfect little pretty society seemed unsustainable if people didn't seem to live very long, but people didn't really seem to work until into their twenties or so.  And the secrecy of the Smoke, held for almost two decades - if not longer - seems a little far fetched in this high tech society that seems like they ought to have infrared detectors and imaging in their helicopters and other flying machines.

But even with these faults, I still love this series.  It's even true that the main character, Tally, is very flawed.  She's extremely shallow, as are all the uglies.  All littlies and uglies want to be be pretties.  They spend sixteen years looking forward to the opportunity.  So when Tally meets Shay - who is much more closer to my own personality - Tally is practically personally insulted by the fact that Shay seems disinterested in the operation that will make her pretty.

Even a decade after its release, this novel holds such wonderful commentary on our society and how we view beauty and looks.  And I love the development of Tally's character through her journey in this novel, even if she can be a bit daft, shallow, and down right annoying at time.  Given the society she's grown up in and the brainwashing she's endured because of that upbringing, can you really blame her?

It's hard to explain why this series, and this novel in particular, are so special to me.  Maybe it's the hoverboards, and how it matches the exact concepts I had at the time I read it for the idea (the concept that Lexus, by the way, has now made into a reality, at least in prototypes).  Maybe it's the existence of Shay's character, who spits in the face of her society's ideologies of what it means to be pretty, and dares to just be herself.  Maybe it's something else entirely.  But I love it.  And I hope you will too.


18 August 2015

The Wicked Will Rise

Author: Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die #2
Rating: 1.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Given that I was not the biggest fan of Dorothy Must Die, I'm not exactly sure why I thought continuing this series would be a good idea.  But alas, it appears I am a gluten for punishment.

The plot of this book seems like it should Godsmack you with awesomeness, and yet I could barely get through it.  While the main character isn't annoying, per se, she certainly isn't captivating either.  I struggled with her in the initial novel of the series, and it does not get better the second time around.  In fact, she isn't much of anything, characteristic wise.  There is the balance between good and evil that she's struggling with, true, and the point that perhaps it isn't such a black and white line, but it's handled so poorly that it still feels like Amy has no character development at all.

All the characters in fact fall flat, as does the plot.  This story of skipping around Oz, trying to dislocate special bodyparts from twisted beloved characters and trying to get flying monkeys and crazy characters alike to join in the plot to overthrow Dorothy the Devil would seem to have enough twists and turns to keep readers interested.  Instead, it feels like mandatory reading for English class, and the writing is so boring that even the scenes that seem like they should be fascinating are either annoying or just boring. , It certainly has enough plot twists that it ought to be engaging and yet it isn't.  Thus I can safely say I won't be able to stomach another novel in this series (especially with the ending, which was a very strange twist that doesn't seem to make much sense and only further just seems to drag the plot out more).  I haven't given up on Paige but this series, Dorothy Must Die, is officially dead to me.

16 August 2015

Crystal Kingdom

Author: Amanda Hocking
Series: The Kanin Chronicles #3
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Oh, Amanda Hocking.  Why is it that, no matter how played out or disjointed your plot is or how juvenile the writing, I can't stop reading your books?  I started Crystal Kingdom yesterday, and only took a break to finish Ink and Blood before coming straight back to this story.  It doesn't matter how annoying I find Bryn and her narrative sometimes or how unplanned out the plot feels (a polar bear?  Really???), I had to know how this series ends (the ending by the way, is a bit underwhelming, even if it does wrap up nicely).

I think the fundamental problem that I have with this series is that it plays off my love for the Trylle series.  It wasn't that the Trylle was a groundbreaking series itself, but it was an interesting world.  And sure, those characters and plot suffered from a few of the same flaws, but the good and originality outweighed the bad.  If the Trylle series wasn't linked to this one, and if Wendy and Loki didn't make guest appearance, I doubt I would have even finished the series.  But maybe I would have; who knows.

Here, I just feel like Hocking is letting us down.  For one, the writing is far from stellar.  At least for the first few chapters, Hocking tries to make each chapter end on some dramatic last line, which leaves it feeling rather disjointed and over emphasized.  Then, as if to make up for the less than stellar dialogue that feels juvenile, Hocking throws in a few curse words and a random sex scene to try to make it "relevant" to young adult readers.  The lack of research in some areas and attention to detail got to me as well.

So in the end, yes, I'm disappointed with The Kanin Chronicles as a whole.  I doubt I'll be buying this trilogy to add to my collection.  It can stay at the bookstores and libraries, next to the Watersong series.  That being said, it could have been worse.  After all, it kept me reading all three novels through, and finishing it didn't make me want to tear my hair out like Watersong did.  It just also could have been much, much better.  But I haven't given up hope on Hocking completely yet.

Ink and Bone

Author: Rachel Caine
Series: The Great Library #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

A book about books?  A book about the great library?  Well, of course I had to read it!  Unfortunately, it appears that in Caine's alternate universe, the library is evil.

No!  Say it isn't so!  In this uniquely odd dystopian, The Great Library of Alexandra not only survived being burned and destroyed, but it has thrived, creating branches across the world.  The Great Library is in charge on controlling all the original works of literature ever written.  To do so, personal libraries were slowly destroyed over time.

This is how Jess's family makes its business.  They find, sometimes steal, original copies of books and sell them to the highest bidder.  The Great Library's stronghold on all works of literature also brings about the Burners - a group opposed to the Library's monopoly on literature and knowledge.

I guess I wasn't sure what, exactly, I expected from this novel.  I certainly didn't expect the technology of Mirroring or Translation, or the existence of Obscurists.  I thought this novel was going to be an alternate universe that still bordered on the realm of reality.  Instead, this fantastical inclusion of Caine's idea of "alchemy" pushed the book past the border, making it difficult for me to suspend my disbelief, which definitely took something away from the novel.

That being said, Ink and Bone has a great amount of action and suspense to keep the plot moving.  Unfortunately, it suffers slightly from character's development.  Relationships between characters are forced, quickly forming (it amazes me how quickly teenagers in YA novels these days find themselves 'in love') without the backbone of true development.  And while the characters themselves are interesting enough, the plot development is so heavy that the character development falls to the wayside, even of the more interesting characters (i.e. Jess and Wolfe for starters).

I think it's safe to say that this book didn't live up to my expectations, although my expectations were hardly reachable I suppose.  I expect any and every book about books to be an instant classic due to my literary obsession.  But while it wasn't all I thought it could be, it was certainly an interesting enough read.  And based on the ending, I'll be more than likely be picking up the next installment in the series when the time comes.

13 August 2015

A Whole New World

Author: Liz Braswell
Series: Twisted Tales #1
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

I love the cover of this novel.  It drew me in almost immediately.  Add to it the fact that this is a retelling based on Aladdin, one of my favorite Disney movies, and I just had to read it.  Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

The first 1/4 of this novel is pretty much the same at the 90s Disney movie - sometimes borrowing the exact dialogue if I'm not mistaken - before Jafar gets the lamp and is able to chain the genie to his whim before Aladdin even has a chance at the lamp.  This leaves Jasmine out of sorts, as Jafar immediately puts himself into a position of power.  Instead, Jasmine and Aladdin's love story takes another form, in another location - with the Street Rats.

Basically, this books takes the tale I grew up on and craps all over it.  I thought I would like it because it's basically a fractured fairy tale, but instead it feels like someone started watching the movie and then proceeded to go off on a terrible tangent.  The plot and writing are both subpar, barely being what I would call professional writing.  Even the beginning part of the novel where the author didn't even have to drum up the plot isn't even that interesting or well written.  The entire time I was reading the novel, I felt like I could have been better off just watching the movie and saving myself some time.

I don't consider myself a purist, but I definitely didn't think this story lived up to being a part of the Aladdin story.  The characters are not developed, neither the original characters or the ones from the movie.  The dialogue is almost laughable at times, and the plot is taxing to get through.  Perhaps the story is better told through the screen or perhaps a better author with a better original idea is needed.  But either way, I would watch the movie instead of reading this alternate tale, which is an author's poor attempt to take a children's movie and turn it into a YA novel while still using most of the same characters.  It just isn't a formula that works in this case.

09 August 2015

God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales

Author: Penn Jillette
Rating: 1 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Should I have tried this book?  God, No!

But I love Penn & Teller's magic show.  On our trip to Las Vegas this year for Valentine's Day, we had to hit up the Rio to experience it.  Even though they come right out and tell you that there is nothing magical about it, it's still an amazing experience, especially since I couldn't figure out how they did any of it.

I am not so much a fan of their BS! show.  My gripe with the show is the same issue I have with this book: the excessive expletives.  It's also Penn's voice, which is grating and rather smug and hard to listen to over any expanse of time.  Still, my hubby got this audiobook for our recent roadtrip so I thought I would give it a try with him.  I ended up having to put on headphones and listen to music to drown it out so I wouldn't claw my ears out.  It isn't just the cussing and Penn's voice.  As a well known "activist" for atheism, I thought I might learn some interesting insights from him on the topic.  Instead, I found myself hearing about his trips to strip clubs and his party with naked Elvis, in which everyone ended up naked in the pool together singing "kumbaya".  This book is less about the topic of religion and more about Penn's crazy personal stories, which just slightly relate to the topic of religion (if they do at all).  While he is an interesting character to be sure with some pretty crazy stories, this was just not my cup of tea.

Food: A Love Story

Author: Jim Gaffigan
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Jim Gaffigan's books are definitely best when served as an audio book.  I learned this with Dad is Fat.  Not that it is a bad read by any standards, but we were strolling through the library and happened to find it as an audio book.  Since I had read it and enjoyed it, I suggested it to my husband for his commute to work.  And while riding in the car with him and listening to Jim read the book, it was definitely funnier.  His audiobooks are basically like an extended version of his stand up, and it's awesome.

I am sure Food: A Love Story follows the same principle.  I didn't even bother trying to read the novel first this time; we went straight for the audiobook for our anniversary road trip to Charleston.  It is a riot.  Now, it's important to remember that Gaffigan is a comedian.  Therefore, do not expect to learn anything all the insightful about food from this novel (although I did learn I need to check out some New Mexican recipes because they apparently share our same love of green chilies). You are going to learn that veggies taste gross and that Jim Gaffigan is a manly man because he LOVES steak.  But it is a great, hysterical audiobook for a road trip or to break the monotony of your commute.  We actually ended up in stitches in a few parts, which might have made it dangerous for the husband to drive since he was bent over the steering wheel laughing.

As was the case with Dad is Fat, you are going to hear some recycled jokes from Gaffigan's stand up routines in Food: A Love Story.  There is the essential Hot Pockets (we actually ended up buying some at the food mart after listening to the spiel.  Hoooot pockets) monologue, the McD's story, and the mention of the must do Cinnabon.  But there is enough new material as well to keep you entertained for hours.

Enjoy. But make sure you have a snack on hand, because hours of reading/listening to Gaffigan talk about food is going to make you hungry.

07 August 2015

The Last Ever After

Author: Soman Chainani
Series: The School for Good and Evil #3
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

I really wanted to like this series.  After all, it's a twist on classic fairy tales and tries to redefine what it means to be a hero.  It's a classic recipe for success.  And yet, I just never got fully invested in the series.  It's not that Chainani is a bad writer.  He's not.  But the entire series feels so repetitive, as if he needed to flush the series out but didn't know how, so he kept using the same elements and themes over and over.  The Last Ever After, for example.  I got over 400 pages in (yes, this book clocks in at a staggering 650 pages, making it almost impossible to finish unless you have a strong will power) and realized the plot was basically at the exact same stage as the beginning of the novel.  There was no need for the book to be so long and tedious.

And sure, I understand the duality between Sophie and Agatha, the difference between good and evil, and how it isn't a black and white separation that's easy to state.  But it's so needlessly overdone, rehashing the same themes time and time again throughout the trilogy.  So while I liked the message and the moral at the end of the series, I hardly think it's worth the long road to get there.

I tried to like The Last Ever After and the entire School for Good and Evil series, I really did.  I refused to give up on this book, even when my hubby could see how frustrated I got and told me to just stop reading it.  And this book does have some quirky and charming, even giggle aloud funny moments.  But in the end, I'm kind of just thankful to finally be done with Agatha, Sophie, and Tedros and their annoying little love triangle.

05 August 2015

I'm with Cupid

Author: Anna Staniszewski
Series: Switched at First Kiss #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

This novel is definitely targeted to MG readers, but I've read other books by Anna Staniszewski that were so charming that I wanted to go ahead and give this one a try as well.  Lena is a reaper.  In what reminds me of Dead Like Me, she is tasked by her boss, Eddie, to give the touch of death to people on the brink.  Marcus, on the other hand, is a cupid.  He is tasked by his boss to give the touch of love.  And when Lena lets Marcus kiss her on a dare at a party so she can mark it off her list of things to do before she starts high school, things get interesting.

It's hard for me to read a love story about a boy and a girl in middle school.  I know kids are growing up faster and faster these days, and I know a lot of kids start dating in middle school (even though I couldn't date until my senior year in high school), but love?  At that age, I don't think kids can truly even grasp the meaning of the word, of the commitment and the responsibility.  Even Lena isn't sure about the whole love thing, although her disbelief stems from the fact that her father is a scientist, and after her mother left them, her father has bahumbugged love as nothing but a trick your brain plays on you.

I thought this novel was going to be charming, witty, and funny.  Instead, it was cute, but more than a little too mushy for me.  Sure, the novel digs a little into deeper topics – the declining health of an elderly love one for example.  But this book is basically the tale of the budding, will-they-won't-they story of Lena and Marcus.  For readers that love romance, sure, dive in.  But without the funny charm I expected from Staniszewski, this MG novel about young love doesn't hold much for older readers such as myself, even if it is a cute story.

03 August 2015

Made You Up

Author: Francesca Zappia
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

In what seems to be a growing trend, Made You Up is the story of Alex, a high school senior who just wants to have a normal life (and, apparently, meet the boy of her dreams).  She hates having to take pictures of everything she sees, trying to distinguish make believe from reality.  She hates having to do her perimeter checks, and she hates having to rely on her Magic 8 ball that is nothing but a tease.

Alex is charming, and most of us can relate to feeling out of place in high school.  Granted, not all of us suffer from paranoid schizophrenia the way Alex does.  If you can get past the fact that Made You Up is, at its core, just another YA romance story, and the fact that the plot is definitely a stretch on reality - the python, Miles's jobs, their history and original meet cute, the odd principle and his creepy crush... if you can get past all of that, then Made You Up is a cute, heart warming story (but it is a lot to look past).

I do think Zappia could have made this novel more of a gem if she had focused more on Alex's parents and her family relationships instead of her relationship/friendship with Miles.  I would have even been more satisfied with more exploration into the relationship/friendship with Tucker and a little less Miles, even if Miles is a well developed character in himself.

The one true thing Zappia does is she writes a story about a girl who has paranoid schizophrenia, but she doesn't let the disorder run the plot.  The story is about Alex, and her struggle to find true happiness in a world of grey, and not just about her disorder.

01 August 2015

The Stars Never Rise

Author: Rachel Vincent
Series: The Stars Never Rise #1
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Immortal souls.  Demonic possession.  And a love interest that is definitely one for the books.  I had no idea what to expect going into The Stars Never Rise (and now after, don't really see how the name really fits).  And the world is a bit difficult to grasp at first, but - and I can't exactly explain why - I couldn't put this books down.

If you get over the fact that Nina basically falls in love in about five minutes flat, she's actually not that bad of a heroine.  With a mother with a pill problem, it falls on her shoulders to take care of her younger sister in this odd, post apocalyptic world where humans are just limping on as a species and always afraid of demonic possession.  And Nina is willing to do whatever it takes to provide for her sister, so that they can soldier on until they can get out from under the thumb of their burdensome deadbeat of a mother (and Mellie definitely does not make it easy).

A bit predictable at times (I knew what was going to happen with Millie towards the beginning, and as soon as Nina meets her love interest, I knew that would be that), but I can honestly say I didn't see the plot playing out the way it does.  It's an interesting tale, certainly different than anything else I've read this year.  Though certainly not my favorite series by any standards, I'll be picking up the next novel in this series to see where Vincent takes it.