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The Best of 2010

I've only been blogging since the very end of June, so this doesn't include books I've read in the first half of the year. However, here's a list of all the books that I've given 5 stars (in my old rating system) and anything between A- and A+ (in my new rating system). I've included an excerpt of each review.

The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint. "Despite my less-than-high expectations, this was an incredible book... Imogene is a spunky, strong female protagonist, and I am such a sucker for those. She's tough and rebellious, and when she moves to Newford, she decides to bury her less-than-pristine past (it involves knives) and, without changing her punk image, wants to be a little tamer. I admired her strength countless times throughout the book; she was fearless in the face of both the bullies and the faeries, yet still flawed."

Hate List  by Jennifer Brown. "But Hate List made me tear up a total of five times throughout those 405 pages. It was such a wrenching book. I can't even imagine what it has to be like when everyone thinks you're guilty, including yourself. I love that Valerie is so real. At times she can border on whiny, and I did find her pre-shooting morbidness a little disconcerting, but in the end, she's just a flawed person.... [T]his harrowing and raw book is something I really would recommend to everyone."

City of Bones  by Cassandra Clare. "...Jace is a little bit obnoxious here and there, but it's all part of his uber-hot charm. Oh, yes, he's uber-uber-uber-hot. He's the embodiment of hotness. Squared. I love his clever comments (especially that cuckoo thing - I can't get over the awesomeness of that) and his witty remarks. They make great comic relief without getting in the way of the story... I'm probably the last person in the world who hadn't read it, but if you haven't, you must. It's not an option."

Mockingbird  by Kathryn Erskine. "Mockingbird was powerful and honest. No matter how old you are, it's still a moving read, and definitely worth being picked up. It's really eye-opening to see the world through Caitlin's eyes, how she doesn't always understand idioms or why when people smile they're not always happy. Some people found her affinity for art to be cliché, but I thought it added a nice touch to the story even if it is used a lot."

North of Beautiful  by Justina Chen-Headley. "As soon as I finished the book, that brilliant, eloquent thought popped up: "Oh man." This book is definitely worth of an "oh man". Also the five awards it won, but the "oh man", too. The narrator, Terra Rose Cooper, has one of those voices that are so nice and easy and entertaining to read, but at the same time is somehow real and raw and emotional. From the hooking first sentence (because, oh yes, that is how you start a novel), the voice drags you in and in and in, and the next thing you know, you're crying for Terra and laughing for Terra, and after a while, you're pretty darn sure you are Terra."

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. "The characters weren't the only amazing thing about this book - the writing was wonderful. As Samantha learns and matures and grows, there are these passages that are written so heartbreakingly, so truthfully and honestly and realistically, that I had to read them a few times to ingrain them in memory. Before I Fall had the kind of writing that makes your chest hurt a little bit, and you can bet my brain was going in overdrive as I was simultaneously reading and analyzing analyzing analyzing the structure, the words, the sentences, the emotion, so perfectly captured." 

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott. "One thing I have to say is this book isn't for the faint of heart. It's disturbing, intense, and heartbreaking all at once. If you don't think you can handle it, you probably shouldn't read it. But if you can, I highly, highly recommend it... This book doesn't open your eyes - it tears them open. Read it, if you can."

Liar  by Justine Larbalestier. "So when I picked up this book, I wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't this. I didn't anticipate being completely swept in to the point where I had to struggle to put it down. I never thought there would be passages that were so honest and heartbreaking and confusing that I would read them over and over again until the words were ingrained in my skull. And it definitely never occurred to me that this would became my favorite book, ever... That was the most amazing facet of the story, simply that you can't tell what part of the narration is true... The ending blew my mind. I would honestly count this ending as the best ending I have ever read in a book. It's been two months since I read this, and I still think about that ending. The last line echoes in my mind over and over again."

The DUFF  by Kody Keplinger. "Bianca is absolutely amazing. She's sarcastic, cynical, drenched with wit, and one hundred percent honest... Bianca doesn't just have a voice, the pages leak voice. Every word is sopped with it, each one unmistakably hers. She's smart and even funny at times, while still maintaining the seriousness of the story... This is an edgy book. It has sex scenes that the author was clearly not afraid to write, and so it's more for a mature teen audience - not something you'd want to hand to a tween."

Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel. "This is definitely the best-written character I've read in such a long time - she was well-developed, honest, and so imperfect. I loved that the author didn't shy away from all the evil things she did before, all the murders and tortures and cruelties, and yet made her a sympathetic character without making everything seem sugar-coated and false. She was sorrowful and intelligent and mature... So many parts were practically like poetry, because they were so beautiful and haunting and heartbreaking."

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff. "This book is the very definition of different, and its characters are no exception. Mackie was quite possibly the most real and surreal character I've ever read about... The Replacement was definitely creepy and ominous, and it brought "dark" to entirely new levels. This wasn't dark like forbidden-love or sexually-abused-child - this was dark like pitch black, middle of the night, what the hell is happening dark." 

Definitely some common themes here!

So what are some of your favorite 2010 books? What did you think of the books on my list? 

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour: Review

Title: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour
Author: Morgan Matson
Release Date: May 4th, 2010
Published By: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Rating: 4.40 stars
Amazon Rating: 4.73 stars

Synopsis: Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road -- diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

Review: The best way to describe this book is sweet. Although it did deal with more difficult, painful subjects like the death of a father, it largely focused on the budding romance between Amy and Roger. It was cute, with parts that are guaranteed to make you smile, and traveled along at a nice pace. Roger and Amy were both developed characters with distinct personalities, and I appreciated that Amy never got too whiny or depressing or moody despite the grief she felt. It was easy to relate to her, because we've all experienced loss one way or another (or at least we know someone who has), and the story remained relatively light.

The one thing I didn't really like as much was that this book was very predictable. I knew what was going to happen long before it did, so while I ultimately enjoyed it, I wouldn't say this book was particularly special or memorable. Some parts bordered on unbelievable, like when there were little mistakes and they ended up sharing a hotel room with just one bed and so they were forced to sleep in the same bed. 

What was original with this book was the sort of scrapbook format it was in. There were little receipts and pictures scattered throughout the pages, and most interesting of all, the playlists the characters listened to during the car rides. It was a different experience to be listening to the music while reading (although, naturally, I wasn't able to do this with every playlist), and I actually ended up discovering a couple new artists I really like. 

All in all, this is a cute read with a sweet romance that many will enjoy. It's in a unique format that provides a new experience, and so while this book won't stay in your memory long because of the predictability, it's definitely something fans of teen romance should give a try. 

Grade: B-

Boy Toy: Review

Title: Boy Toy
Author: Barry Lyga
Release Date: September 24th, 2007
Published By: Houghton Mifflin
Goodreads Rating: 4.05 stars
Amazon Rating: 4.18 stars

Synopsis: A riveting and disturbing novel about a seventh-grade boy who has a very adult relationship with his female teacher. Josh Mendel has a secret. Unfortunately, everyone knows what it is. Five years ago, Josh's life changed. Drastically. And everyone in his school, his town-seems like the world-thinks they understand. But they don't-they can't. And now, about to graduate from high school, Josh is still trying to sort through the pieces. First there's Rachel, the girl he thought he'd lost years ago. She's back, and she's determined to be part of his life, whether he wants her there or not. Then there are college decisions to make, and the toughest baseball game of his life coming up, and a coach who won't stop pushing Josh all the way to the brink. And then there's Eve. Her return brings with it all the memories of Josh's past. It's time for Josh to face the truth about what happened. If only he know what the truth was...

Review: This book was powerful. I can't say it was an enjoyable read, especially given the events that occurred within it, but it definitely affected me. I found this to be well-written with very well-developed characters, but I had trouble reading through quite a few of the parts simply because they disturbed me too much.

I'm all for not censuring literature and I wouldn't call this book inappropriate - it's just definitely meant only for people who are perfectly fine with reading extremely intense sex scenes. These scenes were very graphic, and were also repulsive (as the author intended) because they were between a twelve-year-old boy and his teacher. I do kind of wish the author had toned it down a bit so I could fully appreciate the book, but of course I respect the truth and honesty with which the author portrayed it.

Other than that, this was a gripping book. I felt like things were a little too fairy-tale-ending-where-everything-wraps-up-neatly at the end, but it was a gritty read about what can be a taboo subject. It explores something as complex as molestation and the conflicting and confusing emotions that come with it quite well, and I would like to read other books by this author for sure. 

Grade: A-

A Day in My Adventurous Life (braving sleeping juniors, dangerous hall monitors, and the Locker that Ate My Soul)

I'm sure all of you are very much interested in my life. (This is the part where you nod and say with forced brightness, "But of course!") Thus, I decided to chronicle a day in my life (last Tuesday, as a matter of fact) filled with my humorous commentary that you all know and love (this is another part where you nod and say, "But of course!"). I cut out all the boring parts, so you may get the impression that my life is more exciting than it is. (Trust me. It is not very exciting. At all. It's mostly rather angsty. Such are the woes of adolescence.)

5:10 am. I wake up at this obscenely early time and crawl out of bed. It's still pitch dark outside, but I manage to drag myself through the frigid air onto my desk and study. (It's called being an overachiever. I don't recommend it.)

6:25 am. Time to "get up for real". I do all the boring stuff where I eat breakfast, brush my teeth, shiver violently while pulling on my clothes, battle the dog for my gloves... the usual. Oh, and there was a spider. In my room. I totally reacted super-calmly and squished it before going on my way.

6:59 am. Leave the house. My mom is hyperventilating about how I'm going to be late.

6:59 and thirty seconds am. Arrive at the bus stop. Guess I wasn't late. Luckily, my dad works at home, so he lets me stay in the nice, warm car while I wait. A few unfortunate kids huddle together, their faces purple and their bodies shuddering too fast for me to make out who exactly got unlucky.

7:01 am. This is the time the bus is supposed to arrive. It hasn't.

7:15 am. The bus arrives. I brace myself and hurtle out the door, screaming as the obscene cold freezes over every drop of blood in my body. The five seconds it takes to throw myself onto the bus stretches for several years, but I finally make it to the sort-of-warmth.

7:25 am. ...And we arrive at school. Repeat the screaming-as-the-obscene-cold-etc. I begin the trek to my locker.

7:26 am. I pass through the freshman hallway. Everyone there is running around and screaming, and I say hi to a few people.

7:27 am. The sophomore hallway. They're still relatively enthused, but around a quarter of them sit in front of their lockers, faces tucked into their laps.

7:28 am. Junior hallway. It's almost completely silent, with everyone curled into the fetal position, using their backpacks and textbooks as pillows. Many have extra sweatshirts pulled over them as blankets.

7:29 am. And finally, the senior hallway. No one's even sleeping - they just lie on the floor, perfectly still with their eyes wide open. I suspect they are in a catatonic state.

7:30 am. At last, I arrive at my locker. It's in the math wing, so basically there are about three other people who have lockers there. I call it Siberia for more than just the below-zero temperatures. I will spare you the details of my excruciatingly non-existent social life, but suffice to know that I spent the next half-hour walking around with friends.

8:00 am. Homeroom. I discover some kid I didn't know existed has been in my homeroom for the past four months. Huh.

8:04 am. I have first hour free (yay), so I debate my choices: hang out at my locker, go to commons and get work done, or go to the upper caf and stare aimlessly out the window. For once, I decide to be productive, and so I go to commons.

I spend the first half hour laboring over a paper, and at last it's ready to print. The question, though, is whether the printer's ready as well. I hit print and sidle over the hulking machine. After a few concerning minutes, it begins to tremble, and soon it gets more and more violent by the second.

Random lights on it flash eye-searing shades of red so bright I collapse to the musty carpet, covering my leaking eyes. The printer's shuddering reaches its peak, and it nearly tumbles off the table. Luckily, the monitor thinks fast and shoves it back on its place with a well-placed elbow shot.

I hesitantly get back to my feet and eye the tray. Instead of neatly printed paper, ink spurts out. I twist out of the way, and only one black dot lands on my sweater. Some random gunk comes out as well, including a gray-ish eraser and a beanie bag that smacks me in the face, but finally my lovely paper zooms out, hits the wall, and crumples into a ball.

Good enough.

9:01 am. With my paper tucked safely in my duct-taped, falling-apart-anyway folder, I head to history and take a seat in front. The guy on my left has a bucket of cookies, but for reasons I can't understand, he refuses to give me any. Even after I explain that he and I are totally BFF and thus he should give me cookies.

I spend the rest of class staring at the cookies.

When my teacher dismisses us, I cast one last longing look at the bucket and leave with my friends to French II.

9:52 am. We get there soon enough and slide into seats at our customary table. A fourth friend soon joins us, and we all complain about a chemistry quiz.

"What an awful quiz," Friend #1 says.

Friend #2 nods in agreement. "Simply awful."

"I found it not only awful, but dreadful!" Friend #3 proclaims.

"Dreadful! What a perfect word!" I nod vigorously to go along with my statement, in case Friend #3 didn't pick up on my enthusiasm.

We discuss what a perfect word "dreadful" is until class starts. Which is approximately 10:25. Hm.

10:25 am. The teacher talks in French for a while. I wonder briefly what he's saying, and then return to my daydreams.

10:46 am. Class ends. Friend #1, #2, #3, and I leave together, but then Friend #3 slips away to a class. Friend #1 and #3 join me in my adventure through the people-traffic and we grab seats at the tiny square-inch of cafeteria table left.

Yes. I realize it is not even 11 am and I am having lunch. At first I found this obscene (you may have noticed I call many things that; this is because the world itself is inherently obscene), but after a few weeks, I've begun to find myself ravenous at 10:30. This is alarming, especially on the weekends.

A few more people join our table. I will again spare you the details of my profound conversations on such topics as "who's hotter? celebrity x or celebrity y?", "I failed my physics quiz! I got an 85!", "I'm going to fail my math quiz! IZZY HELP ME STUDY!", "I'm going to fail my chemistry quiz! FRIEND #3 HELP ME STUDY!", "why do we have so much homework", "why are we such neurotic little overachievers", and finally, "have you guys noticed that the lunch monitor guy has been standing behind our table and staring at us for the past forty-five minutes with a scary grin on his face?"

Oh. Sorry. Guess I didn't spare you.

11:40 am. I leave my friends and go to Freshmen Leadership, which is basically a fancy name for "public speaking". I think I would prefer a leadership class.

Today I get to give my speech. Oh joy. We're lucky because we get to pick our own speech topics, except I thought I would be all clever and choose unicorn mythology. It turns out this was not a good idea. It is not enjoyable to be up at 2 in the morning researching for your speech, because if it is that obscenely late/early, I better get websites with good graphics. But nooo, instead I get eye-searingly pink backgrounds and mind-explodingly sparkly buttons and a gigantic white rhinoceros bellowing out of my speakers.

One guy goes, and then I'm given the dubious honor of going second. I grimace and root around my backpack for my notecards.

I get a handful of random papers and lint.

"Before the end of class would be nice," my teacher informs me.

I scrape around the bottom of my backpack and examine every pocket, before I get hit with a minor flashback. I remember holding my notecards in my room, spying a spider, screaming, and flinging those precious notecards away.

And then leaving the house.

I swallow and go to the front of the room, racking my brain for anything I can remember about unicorns.

I come up with nothing.

"Uh, feel free to start whenever you're ready," my teacher grumbles, already scribbling a novella's worth of text on my rubric.

"Unicorns are an important part of modern society," I improvise. "You see them everyday on the way to school - or, you know, your bus stop. However you roll. You see them when you play robot unicorn attack, because really, who wouldn't spend their free time having a robot unicorn shoot rainbows at metallic stars?" I kept going like this for several minutes. I finished with, "So the next time you see a unicorn, maybe you'll think of the evolving mythology behind it, from Ctesias's imaginative descriptions to the elegant tapestries of the medieval times."

I think I failed.

12:34 pm. Math time. I think about how yummy curry is.

1:31 pm. American lit. Friend #4 and I open up our laptops and go to Gmail. Although we sit RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER, we communicate by gchatting. We are just so cool.

2:22 pm. Financial mathematics. Just - you don't want to know. I do warn you, this class is not for the faint of heart.

2:23 pm. I think I fall asleep with my eyes open. Either that, or I enter a coma.

3:18 pm. Last class of the day, astronomy! I took it as an elective because I thought it would be such a nice, relaxing class to end the day with.


4:10 pm. School is over!

4:20 pm. I make it out to the buses just in time to run with my bus, screaming and waving my arms until the bus driver sees me and opens the doors. Or, you know, not.

4:45 pm. Arrive at the bus stop again. It's nearly completely dark. If it wasn't for the fact that I live in the tiniest suburban town ever, I would be scared. I begin the freezing, "long" trudge home. Ipod in hand, of course.

5:00 pm. Home sweet home. I begin my homework.

Or, actually, first I check my email. Then I respond to my emails. Then I see who's online, and of course I have a few BRIEF conversations. Then I obsessively check and recheck my blog stats. And my blog. And my blog comments. Then back to my email.

Then, at last, I'm ready to start my homework -

Oh. Dinner.

7:15 pm. Begin eating dinner.

7:30 pm. Finish eating, panic about failing high school, and actually start my homework and work non-stop.

10:45 pm. Finish my homework. At orientation, they told us we would have an average of two hours of homework a day.

That is such a lie.

10:45 and thirty seconds pm. Fall asleep with my face on the keyboard.

Sisters Red: Review

Title: Sisters Red
Author: Jackson Pearce
Release Date: June 7th, 2010
Published By: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Rating: 3.83 stars

Synopsis: Scarlet March lives to hunt the Fenris--the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead. 

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts ferociously alongside her. But even as more girls' bodies pile up in the city and the Fenris seem to be gaining power, Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves. She finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax and Scarlett's only friend--but does loving him mean betraying her sister and all that they've worked for?

Review: I absolutely loved the whole concept behind this book. I've read re-told fairy tales before, sure, but I don't think I've ever come across a retelling quite as good as this one. It seems more like it was inspired by Red Riding Hood than actually retold, and that's what makes it awesome. Rosie and Scarlet are two sisters (Scarlet being the older, and the Rosie the younger) who have devoted their lives to fighting the Fenris (wolves who look like handsome men and prey on young women) and protecting other girls.

That's a huge twist from the sickly sweet little girl skipping through the woods and tricked by the Big Bad Wolf! Jackson Pearce is clearly a master at complexity, too. Rosie and Scarlet felt like real people with real personalities. Scarlet is scarred all over from when she protected Rosie from a Fenris when they were young, and all she cares about is slaughtering wolves. But Rosie - the younger one, the prettier one, the slightly-more-innocent one - really just wants to be a normal girl, a girl who can admit her love with Silas and take classes at the community center and be like her old friends. These two personalities were completely believable and well-developed.

This book manages to have both action and plot development and ample character development, making it a near-perfect read. There were just two small things I didn't like as much. One was the plot twist - I definitely saw it coming, but it didn't really ruin the experience too much. The other was that I had a little trouble relating to Scarlet; her POV just didn't convince me of her obsession with killing the Fenris. Rosie was much easier to relate to.

Overall, this is an excellent read (with an absolutely gorgeous cover) that I recommend to everyone! Well, almost everyone. There is some violence. I'm a generally squeamish person by nature, and I did cringe a little at one or two places, but it's honestly not that bad. I hope everyone who's okay with blood finds a copy of this and reads it!

Grade: B

In My Mailbox (15)

Not a bad week :)


The Princess of Las Pulgas by C. Lee McKenzie. After Carlie's dad dies from cancer, her family begins to have financial trouble. It gets so bad that they have to move from their nice, suburban town Channing to dirty, poor, urban Las Pulgas ("the fleas"). Everything is different, from their tiny apartment to their new school filled with a way tougher crowd. Carlie's grief and distress is mistaken for aloofness by her classmates, and so one of the students nicknames her "Princess". In this new city, nothing is easy - nor is it as it seems. I've already started reading this one, but I was quite excited to receive it! It was published on the 15th, but it's an ARC! The first one I've ever gotten!


Right Behind You by Gail Giles. When he was nine, Kip set another child on fire. Now, after years in a juvenile ward, he is ready for a fresh start. But the ghosts of his past soon demand justice, and he must reveal his painful secret. How can Kip tell anyone that he really is--or was--a murderer? This book sounds intense and fascinating, and I'm eager to explore a character as complex as Kip must be.

Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter. Polly Martin decided to swear off boys after a long line of dating failures in junior year, and just figure herself out over the summer. Her grandmother, a famous love advice columnist, moves in with her, except turns out to be a man-crazy sexagenarian! Soon, Polly finds herself unable to stop falling for Xander, a skateboarder. Things get complicated further when she goes on a camping trip with three too many ex-boyfriends and Xander, and she's finally forced to face her emotions. This seems like a cute and interesting read, and besides, skater boys? That doesn't even need to be questioned.

The Space Between the Trees by Katie Williams. This story was supposed to be about Evie how she hasn't made a friend in years, how she tends to stretch the truth (especially about her so-called relationship with college drop-out Jonah Luks), and how she finally comes into her own once she learns to just be herself but it isn't. Because when her classmate Elizabeth "Zabet" McCabe's murdered body is found in the woods, everything changes and Evie's life is never the same again. This book has a gorgeous cover; you can't tell from the picture, but those branches stick out a little bit, so it looks really neat. The synopsis wasn't very detailed, but it still sounds like an intriguing, albeit creepy, read that I'm excited to start!

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway. Three sisters, April, May, and June, all regain powers they had in childhood when their parents divorce, and these come in handy for high school. April can see the future, May can literally disappear, and June can read minds. But when April gets a vision of disaster, the girls come together to save the day and reconcile their strained family. They realize that no matter what happens, powers or no powers, they’ll always have each other. Because there’s one thing stronger than magic: sisterhood. I think the cover for this one's really cool, and while I'm a bit hesitant to read a paranormal, this seems to be different from many of the werewolf/vampire/angel/fairy books I don't enjoy as much.

Matched by Allie Condi. I don't think anything even needs to be said about this one! ;)


I've seen these a lot, so I thought it might be fun to try here!

Ask me a question, any question (silly and serious are both welcome!), and I'll make a post a few days later with all the questions up and links to your blog (or Google profile if you don't have one).

But seriously. Ask away. I'll be sad if no one asks anything. You don't want me to be sad, do you?

Hunger: Review

Title: Hunger
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Release Date: October 18th, 2010
Published By: Harcourt Graphia
Goodreads Rating: 3.72 stars

Synopsis: “Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?

Review: Hunger was definitely a strange book, and not one I initially liked. It had a kind of surreal tone to it, with heart-wrenching prose that sometimes felt like punches to the gut, and while I normally like that, the weirdness of the plot threw me off a bit. When I got used to the fact that this is in no way a regular paranormal book (I wouldn't call it paranormal, period, and this absolutely isn't exactly traditional fantasy), I started to enjoy it. But maybe "enjoy" isn't the right word. This is the sort of book that makes you think.

I've read too many anoxrexia/bulimia books to count, but if you think this is like any number of those books, you're wrong. It was refreshing to read a totally different approach to eating disorders, and it's also nice to keep in mind that a portion of the proceeds earned when you purchase a copy goes to a charity for such disorders. (Unfortunately, I didn't know about this and so I got mine from the library.) And though this book could get depressing at times, there were clever things the author wormed into the pages, little humorous asides and remarks that could make you smile.

Lisa was an excellent character. She had a full, well-rounded personality that was given a lot of focus despite the book's short length, because the paranormal parts weren't melting in the spotlight like a lot of books I've read. In the under-200 pages, Lisa grew as a character in a way that felt natural for someone who struggled with self-esteem and self-worth issues, which are something that everyone has to face when they're teenagers. She's easy to relate to and didn't feel boring or flat at any point.

The only thing I didn't like as much about this book was its length. As has been mentioned, it's quite short, and while it didn't feel like it had an abrupt ending, I do think a little more could have been done with it. I was a little surprised at one point when I realized there were only twenty pages left, and I think that some of the characters could have been explored more. 

Overall, this was a surprisingly excellent read that can make you really think. While not overly-angsty, it's powerful but manages to have humor in it, especially with the characterized Death. Hunger is an odd little book that will stay with you long after you've put it down.

Grade: B+

Zan-Gah: Review

Title: Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure
Author: Allen Richard Shickman 
Release Date: July 15th, 2007
Published By: Earthshaker Books
Goodreads Rating: 3.49 stars
Amazon Rating: 4.24 stars

Synopsis: Zan-Gah, seeking his lost twin brother in a savage prehistoric world, encounters adventure, suffering, conflict, captivity, and final victory. In three years hero passes from an uncertain boyhood to a tried and proven manhood and a position of leadership among his people. Themes include survival, brotherhood, cultures, gender roles, psychological trauma, and nature's wonders and terrors. This is the electronic version of Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure, which has been awarded Mom's Choice Gold Medal for Series, the Eric Hoffer Notable Book Award, and was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year.

Review: I've read historical fiction before, but I can only remember reading just one prehistoric book before, all the way back in elementary school. I remember it as this gigantic, thick book, but looking it up now, it had about 300 pages, haha. In any case, it was a book I greatly enjoyed, so I was looking forward to this one. 

One of the first things that jumped out at me is that there is a lot of action and violence in this book. I don't think that it's in any way inappropriate for children, because it never got overly bloody or gruesome. I think the author dealt with the inevitable violence of those times in an excellent way. The action scenes were written well and could be quite suspenseful at times.

I thought Zan-Gah was a strong and brave character, but I never really got to know him. I realize this is an adventure story and so it's plot-focused, but I still would like it if he had a more developed personality. This would have made his character growth more interesting because we would have gotten to know more about his flaws and who he is.

Other than that, the only problem I had with this book was the pacing. I feel like it glossed over many parts, thereby cramming a lot of time and events into one quick read. It felt strange as I read this for an entire year to pass in twenty pages and then have one day last thirty. I've read the other reviews and no one has mentioned this, so perhaps it's just me who felt this way.

This is an exciting book that both girls and boys can enjoy - I feel like boys could relate well to Zan-Gah, and girls to Lissa-Na (who is an intelligent and strong character). It's packed with suspenseful action scenes and even has some character growth, although I do wish the characters, particularly Zan-Gah, were more developed and the pacing better.

Grade: C

Note: I received this book from the publisher. This is no way affected my review.

The Ghost and the Goth: Review

Title: The Ghost and the Goth
Author: Stacey Kade
Release Date: June 29th, 2010
Published By: Hyperion Book CH
Goodreads Rating: 3.91 stars

Synopsis: After a close encounter with the front end of a school bus, Alona Dare goes from Homecoming Queen to Queen of the Dead. Now she’s stuck here in spirit form with no sign of the big, bright light coming to take her away. To make matters worse, the only person who might be able to help her is Will Killian, a total loser/outcast type who hates the social elite. He alone can see and hear her, but he wants nothing to do with the former mean girl of Groundsboro High.

Can they get over their mutual distrust—and this weird attraction between them—to work together before Alona vanishes for good and Will is locked up for seeing things that don’t exist? 

Review: I really didn't expect to like this book very much, because a lot of reviews I read called it fluffy, shallow, boring, etc. And while this wasn't exactly as deep as the ocean, I enjoyed this a whole lot more than I thought I would and it was a cute read with a few deeper messages.

The first thing that jumped out at me when I read this was how funny it was. Although I didn't initially like Alona all too much, she definitely had a humorous voice, and that made this easy to read. She acts like the stereotypical shallow, vain cheerleader despite her cracking wit, but as you continue through the book, you find that there's a lot more to her than meets the eye. She doesn't have the perfect life because of family issues, and it's great to watch her develop into a nicer person. I like that she realistically didn't suddenly become the sweetest girl in the world, but she did improve at a natural, believable rate.

Will, the other point of view, was fun to read as well because he had his fair share of sarcastic remarks to make. Unlike Alona, he's an outsider at school and most people judge him to be a goth, even though he isn't. He has the gift of seeing ghosts, but that means everyone thinks he's crazy and so he has to see a shrink, who isn't exactly the most selfless, kindest guy in the universe. I also must say that the author did a great job of writing a male POV - he sounded like an actual guy instead of a girl stuck in a dude's body. 

This book isn't serious and it has plenty of funny situations that will have you smiling, but it does touch on deeper subjects like alcohol and suicide. Never does it feel preachy or like the author is trying to cram something meaningful in, so it all balanced out. The only thing that bothered me was that while I understand this is meant to be a light, enjoyable read, some of the characters were portrayed as one-dimensional "evil" people, like Will's shrink or the principal.

Still, this was cute and fun enough to make up for that, so I didn't really mind that much. I would recommend this to anyone who doesn't want to read anything too depressing (like using this as a break between dark, serious books) and just wants something light and enjoyable. A warning, though - it's hard to unglue your fingers from this one!

Grade: B

8 Facts of My Week (6)

Just one this time, actually.

Dear Heart,

...I told you so.


If you want to share your high school love stories (like especially the ones where you ended up as a smart, sexy, successful, happy person anyway?), that is so welcome.

Compromised: Review

Title: Compromised
Author: Heidi Ayarbe
Release Date: April 21st, 2010
Published by: Harper Collins
Goodreads Rating: 3.92 stars
Amazon Rating: 4.86 stars

Synopsis: With a con-man dad and a long-gone mom, the only thing that makes sense to Maya is science. In fact, every time her dad’s cons go wrong, she has a scientific way to fix it, to keep both of them safe and together.

Only this time Maya’s scientific method doesn’t work. She finds herself stuck in an orphanage, and then living on the street, where scientific laws don’t apply, with two unlikely allies, and she has to learn to live on instinct alone. But when Maya goes off in search of an aunt she’s never met in hopes of finding some semblance of stability in her chaotic world, she finds something even more important: her own strength.

Review: I found this book had incredibly honest characters. Maya is a very smart girl who relies a lot on science to get her through things, but it never came across as irritating to read about her spouting off facts or dealing with things by creating a plan with the scientific method. She's always lived a relatively sheltered life, so of course it's a big jump for her to be in an orphanage filled with tough, cynical kids, let alone the street, but she continues to be brave and strong instead of feeling sorry for herself all the time.

Nicole was also an excellent character. I didn't like her at first, but there was a lot more to her than on the surface, and I felt a great deal of sympathy when I learned more about her. But she's more than just the depressed-girl-with-a-horrible-life, because she has such a developed personality, from her extensive knowledge of mobsters to her ability to memorize everything she hears. Her friendship with Maya developed nicely and never felt false or forced.

The plot was original and an intriguing glimpse at something often overlooked not just in YA books but media in general, homelessness. It's a honest view of the hardships suffered by those who live on the streets, and doesn't shy away from the more difficult aspects of the subject. The one thing I didn't find realistic, however, was how Maya was so reluctant to shoplift even when there was no other way for her to get the food or medicine she needed. I could understand it if she was just uncomfortable doing it, but if you really need medicine, there's no other way to get it, and you know you really can get away with it, you're not going to refuse to shoplift for moral reasons.

At times, I had difficulty connecting with Maya. I can't pinpoint exactly why, but when sad things happened, I never really felt distraught, and it's usually easy for books and movies to send me into tears. I will say that at the biggest, saddest part, I felt like I'd been punched in the gut, so even if like me you have trouble relating to her, the book can still impact you.

Overall, I enjoyed this book with its raw story and powerful message. I wish I could have gotten more into it, but I did like it and I would recommend it to those who can handle reads on the more depressing side of things.

Grade: B-

Aces Up: Review

Title: Aces Up
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Release Date: August 10th, 2010
Published by: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Rating: 3.43 stars
Amazon Rating: 4.2 stars

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old high school senior Shannon Card needs money. And lots of it. She's been admitted to Wellesley, but her dad just lost his job, and somehow she has to come up with a year of tuition herself. But Shannon's dream of making big bucks waitressing at the local casino, the Collosio, disappears faster than a gambler's lucky streak. Her boss is a tyrant, her coworker is nuts, and her chances of balancing a tray full of drinks while wearing high-heeled shoes are slim to none. Worse, time is running out, and Shannon hasn't made even half the money she'd hoped.

When Shannon receives a mysterious invitation to join Aces Up, a secret network of highly talented college poker players, at first she thinks No way. She has enough to worry about: keeping her job, winning the coveted math scholarship at school, and tutoring her secret crush, Max. But when Shannon musters up the nerve to kiss Max and he doesn't react at all, the allure of Aces Up and its sexy eighteen-year-old leader, Cole, is suddenly too powerful to ignore.

Soon Shannon's caught up in a web of lies and deceit that makes worrying about tuition money or a high school crush seem like kid stuff. Still, when the money's this good, is the fear of getting caught reason enough to fold?

This fun, sexy, recession-proof story is a bubbly summer read with surprising depth—great for fans of Sarah Mlynowski.

Review: I adored another book by the author, One Night that Changes Everything, so I had very high expectations for this. And I did enjoy it - the synopsis was correct in calling it "bubbly", because this was fun and light, and while it did have a little more to it, it's more of a relaxing read than anything else. 

Shannon is a likeable character, and one thing I loved about her was that she was very realistic. She wasn't the prettiest, skinniest girl in the world, just an average teenager, which was shown right away in the beginning of the book when she, a size eight, attempts to squeeze into a size two dress she's required to wear. Probably the best thing about her was her voice. There was humor on nearly every page, and it made her like Shannon all the more. Most of it, while not hilarious, was certainly enough to make me crack a smile.

The one thing I didn't like so much about her were the choices she made. A lot of them were rather stupid, including the decision to work as a cocktail waitress as a seventeen-year-old. I understand that she really wants to go to that college and she needs the money, but there are other ways than getting a fake ID, dressing up in super-tight dresses and painful high heels, and waitressing for rude gamblers, to get money. 

The other characters were, for the most part, great. Mackenzie, while air-headed, in the end proved herself to be a nice person and I liked her. If I knew her in real life, I doubt she and I would be friends, but you have to like a character who goes into screaming spasms when she sees Prada boots. Max was swoon-worthy, although Cole... not so much. From the moment he, you know, kidnapped her, I kind of saw that he wasn't going to win Nice Guy of the Year award, so I never understood Shannon's attraction to him. Typically guys, no matter how hot they may look, aren't the best choice of boyfriends if you meet them when they shove you into dark rooms and lock the door.

The plot, while sometimes unbelievable (mainly because of Shannon's choices), was definitely unique. It was a fascinating situation to read about, and I have to wonder where the author gets her ideas! This was a quick, light read and I would absolutely put this among the most entertaining books I've read this year. 

Grade: B-

8 Facts of My Week (6)

1. Someone googled "Should bald heads be buttered?" and got to my blog. I'm not sure which is more concerning, the fact that someone would search that or the fact that they got to my blog that way.

2. I finally got all my Christmas shopping done! I managed to get all the people on my list gifts at one mall, which was great, although I may need to get one more thing because I realized too late that the gifts I got for two equally close friends are unbalanced. (I got one a relatively big elephant plushie and the other a bracelet, not immediately noticing the rather large discrepancy because the bracelet was over-priced and the plushie had like 100000% reduced price.)

3. I have achieved my lifetime goal: to listen to 2 AM at 2 AM. (2 AM being an amazing Korean boy band, who I happen to be listening to as I write this.) Friday night, I was sleeping over at a friend's house, and instead of considering the fact that I had a math competition on Saturday, we stayed up all night talking and listening to k-pop. (My school, which is pretty much 105% Asian kids, has turned me into a k-pop fan despite the fact that I'm not even Korean.)

4. On Tuesday, I spent most of the day freaking out about a speech I had to give in a public speaking class on - wait for it - unicorns. UNICORNS. When I first got the speech topic, I thought it was the most awesome thing in the world, but then you start to realize that it's absolutely frustrating to be up at one in the morning, eyes practically bleeding from the effort it takes to keep them open, reading a ridiculously colorful site about unicorns. In any case, I was incredibly nervous, but I managed to build up the strength to walk to class.

Just as I had one of those movie-type moments where you realize that all you can do is try your best so you shouldn't worry because it won't help you at all, where you realize the world is a wonderful place filled with rainbows and smilies and unicorns (especially unicorns), and that everyone is beautiful and perfect in every single way (YES EVERY SINGLE WAY) - and my teacher was absent.

5. A chemistry lab murdered my grade at the very last week of the grading period of first trimester (which sent me from an A to a B+), and sent me into spirals of nail-chewing, bubble-wrap-popping, wall-clawing anxiety. At the very very very last moment, however, we got back another graded lab, which I did surprisingly well on, and my grade un-suicided, going right back to an A (barely, but still.)

6. Why is it that so-called teen classic movies never go over well with me? I hated Clueless, and The Breakfast Club wasn't much better. (I fail to understand why you would commit suicide because you got a B. I have to be among the most neurotic people in the world when it comes to grades, but I wouldn't suicide over a B.) Juno had funny moments, but I didn't like it very much either. Pretty much the only one I actually really liked was Mean Girls, but I don't see how it's possible to NOT love it.

7. I discovered that I have an amazing ability to lose not just pencils and pens but flash drives. For the past few weeks, I've restocked my pencil case nearly every weekend only to find it completely void of writing utensils by the end of the week. Even worse, my flash drive with Super-Important Fancy Information keeps getting left behind. I've been lucky thus far because of friends/teachers rescuing it for me, but I just know one day I'm going to drop it somewhere and it'll end up as a pile of ashes five miles beneath the surface of the earth.

8. I decided to end with some eye candy for you :) (An apology to any males who feel excluded!)

Also, see here!

Tell Me a Secret: Review

Title: Tell Me a Secret
Author: Holly Cupala  
Release Date: June 22nd, 2010 
Published by: Harper Collins
Goodreads Rating: 4.08 stars
Amazon Rating: 4.3 stars

Synopsis: Tell me a secret, and I'll tell you one…

In the five years since her bad-girl sister Xanda’s death, Miranda Mathison has wondered about the secret her sister took to the grave, and what really happened the night she died. Now, just as Miranda is on the cusp of her dreams—a best friend to unlock her sister’s world, a ticket to art school, and a boyfriend to fly her away from it all—Miranda has a secret all her own.

Then two lines on a pregnancy test confirm her worst fears. Stripped of her former life, Miranda must make a choice with tremendous consequences and finally face her sister’s demons and her own.

In this powerful debut novel, stunning new talent Holly Cupala illuminates the dark struggle of a girl who must let go of her past to find a way into her own future.

Review: I have to admit, I wasn't very excited about this one when I initially got it from the library. Sure, I'd heard plenty of exciting things from people and raving reviews, but the synopsis just didn't sound that intriguing to me. I have read a million books about girls that pregnant and two million books about girls who lose a family member, so I wasn't sure how this one could be so different. 

But it was. There were so many amazing things about this book I could talk about, but one of the best were the characters. Rand (the nickname Xanda had given her when she was eleven to make her sound more hard-core) is strong and intelligent, but still not fully mature and we are shown that. She wants to be like her sister was - a "bad" girl, the kind that sneaks out at night and parties and has hot boyfriends who whisk them away from unhappy lives - and it seems like she's close to getting that.

Delaney, her best friend, is a lot like Xanda was and she draws Rand in to the world her sister lived in. She's not exactly the nicest person in the world, and while we learn a little of why she does what she does, it's not to used to say that it's okay for her to be cruel. Rand also gains an extremely intelligent boyfriend, Kamran, and she hopes that she can elope with him like Xanda planned to elope with her boyfriend, before she died.

Except everything goes wrong. Rand gets pregnant, Kamran breaks up with her, and Delaney grows farther and farther away from the model best friend. Her parents are far from supportive of her decision to keep the baby, and then Rand starts to find out things about her sister she didn't know, that she didn't want to know. 

One of the best features of the book was the writing. Each sentence was stark and beautiful and crafted with emotion infused with every word. As I read through this, I kept thinking, This author can really write. Not every book can make you feel like Tell Me a Secret does. 

Overall, this was a fantastic book. At times it felt like the bad things happening to Rand were a little too much, but the prose was gorgeous and the characters well-developed and well-portrayed. I would recommend this to anyone who wants an honest contemporary read. 

Grade: A-

Sorta Like a Rock Star: Review

Synopsis: Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom's boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber's optimism--and her way of life, can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope? With an oddball cast of characters, and a heartwarming, inspiring story, this novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope.

Details: Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick, 362 pages, 4.27 stars on Goodreads

Review: I have to admit, I was a bit unsure about this one when I first considered reading it. "Princess of hope"? "Unyielding optimism"? I was scared this would be one of those stories where horrible incident after horrible incident occurs and the protagonist is still stupidly happy and hopeful in a way that only makes you frustrated because no one can possibly be that perfect in the face of such awfulness. But trust me, Sorta Like a Rock Star was in no way like that. 

Amber Appleton is the most fantastic character since the character that invented sliced bread. (See what I did there?) Sometimes the things she thinks feel a little strange to me (like calling herself the princess/rock star of hope), but she's such an absolutely awesome and flawed character that I can overlook that. Her voice was so real and strong and honest that even though she could be so optimistic, it felt true. The one thing I noticed about Amber was that her voice seemed younger than she is. I probably would have pinned her at thirteen or fourteen instead of seventeen, but that's just a minor nitpick. 

All the other characters were just as amazing. The synopsis was right when it called it an "oddball cast", because each one was quirky and developed and so wonderfully fleshed-out. Private Jackson, for instance, was more than just traumatized ex-soldier. I absolutely loved how he wrote and read haikus - these are the kind of character traits that give someone more depth, and they come from intimately knowing your character, even if he or she plays a more minor role.

A lot of people call this book an inspirational read, and it is. This is a story about overcoming adversity with optimism and cheer, but that you don't have to be perfect to do so. It's about braving your way through the hardest of times and not being afraid to rely on other people or be relied on yourself. But there's more to this than a handful of lessons wrapped up in smooth pages and a shiny cover - this is truly Amber's story, with laughs and tears and face-stretching grins, and that makes it something anyone can enjoy.

Grade: A-

The Math Test of Horror

You know that math test that everyone says is really hard, and all the upperclassmen say that every year, everyone fails? Yeah, I had it yesterday. (Yesterday meaning Friday, although this post won't be published until Tuesday.)

I arrived a couple minutes late and sat down in my seat, and looked around. Everyone already had their tests, and a few girls were sniffling and wiping their eyes as they stared down at their paper. I swallowed. I had thought the upperclassmen were just trying to freak us out, but now I was starting to get a bit nervous.

My teacher navigated his way through the web of tables and dropped the test in front of me. I took a deep breath and turned it over.

The first page had three problems. I quickly flicked through the rest and saw there were seven in total (I'm in an advanced math class, so seven problems is a lot for an hour). Not too bad, I thought, reading the first problem. I know how to do this.

By the time I finished the second problem, a boy next to me had apparently finished the third and turned to the next page. He froze, his eyes wide, and then started to cry.

I shifted uncomfortably in my seat as I started on the third problem. He probably didn't study enough or something. I mean, I studied a lot. I should be fine. But even in my head, the words sounded shaky. I bit the inside of my cheek. Concentrate, Izzy. You can do this. The third problem took longer than the first two, but I finally got it.

I glanced at my watch - about half an hour left, which meant I spent half the time on a little less than half the test. Sweat beaded at my forehead; the problems would only get harder, and I already wasn't doing too well time-wise. Don't panic! I reprimanded myself.

The boy on my other side - a tough, macho boy, I must add - turned the page.

And promptly burst into tears.

I swallowed and, cringing, turned the page. Taking another deep but shaky breath, I read the first question.

A series of expletives ran through my mind. I attempted to do something, but didn't get very far. After staring at it for another couple minutes, I finally decided, Okay, I'll just go back to it. No sense in wasting time on something I can't think of at the moment.

I read the second question.

It wasn't that bad. I mean, it was harder than the first page for sure, but I had a pretty good idea how to go about solving it, so after about five minutes, I had the solution written all nicely in the space provided.

Time for the third question. Don't worry. You have plenty of time, and really only three questions left. It's not that bad. 

"Fifteen minutes left!"

The girl behind me whimpered, "Oh my God." A few guys on the other side of the room (there are four girls, including myself, and eleven guys in my class) began to sob.

And that was when it occurred to me that I was royally screwed. A numb pit formed in my stomach, and I felt dizzy. Focus, focus, focus! You have to do this! You worked so hard for that A, and you're not going to lose it on the last (one-hundred-point) test of the trimester! FOCUS! I read the third problem. Reread it. Read it one more time. And started to solve.

Five minutes later, I realized I made a major, major, MAJOR mistake, as evidenced by the seven paragraphs my solution already was. I crossed it out in a frenzy, and then realized I had two more unanswered questions and only ten more minutes. I drew an arrow to the giant crossed-out mess and scribbled, "Please ignore the fact that this is crossed out. THIS IS MY ANSWER." At least I could attempt to perhaps get a point or two of partial credit.

I then moved on to the last unattempted question, which basically required two steps. The first one was challenging, but I got it with two minutes to go. Some girl started saying, "Ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod," without cease for the final 120 seconds.

And how did I spent that time?

I panicked. By this time, Ohmygodohmygodohmygod Girl and I were the only ones not in tears. I stared at my paper until time was up, then handed in my paper and silently left the room. One of my friends came up to me thirty seconds later and said brightly, "So how was your test?"

Logic of Demons: Review

Synopsis: What would you do if the love of your life was murdered by a deranged killer? Would you become a vigilante and seek retribution? And would this revenge affect those you care for in the afterlife? LOGIC OF DEMONS The Quest for Nadine's Soul takes you on a journey inside the psyches of men and women forced to deal with the spiritual consequences of their decisions. Through the lives of a demon, two Angels, and a mysterious teenage girl, a plethora of politically and socially relevant issues ranging from the roots of genocide and sex trafficking to child conscription and religious fundamentalism are addressed in this fantasy thriller. Life as well as the afterlife converge in this novel to explain certain peculiarities of the human condition. Whether you are God fearing individual or an atheist, LOGIC OF DEMONS The Quest for Nadine's Soul addresses moral and theological issues of interest for people of all backgrounds.

Details: Logic of Demons by H. A. Goodman, 272 pages, 3.50 stars on Goodreads

Why I Picked This Up: I received this one for review from the author. It seemed like it could be an interesting read, although I worried it might be too preachy.

Characters: Devin was an interesting character. He was flawed, which made him believable, but I didn't always understand the decisions he made. In the beginning of the book, for instance, he finds his wife's killer (who raped her before murdering her) and kills him. I could understand him doing this given how driven by rage he was, but what I didn't understand was when a "voice" appeared and started trying to convince him to go through with it, he didn't find that strange.    

Another thing that bothered me was when he was in the afterlife and wanted, more than anything, to reunite with his wife and unborn child. Yet despite how much he wants this, he continues to make impulsive decisions over and over again, not even thinking them through. I would have thought that he would be as careful as possible to ensure that he would end up with his wife and child again.

Plot: This book had one of the twistiest plots I've read in a long time! It had me constantly guessing who was lying, who was telling the truth, who are really the good guys, as I went through the pages. The ending in particular was something I definitely hadn't seen coming, but it was fantastic and worked perfectly with the story.

One thing I found was that the book addressed a great deal of issues and held a lot of meaning and things to think about. As I said earlier, I was a little wary of this one because I worried it might come across too preachy or the religious undertones too strong for me, an atheist. However, this was definitely not the case! No matter what you believe, this book can still make you ponder the situations it presents, and this makes Logic of Demons a very interesting read.

What I didn't like as much about this book was the fact that the dialogue and thoughts of the characters sometimes felt stilted or forced, and that some things are explained that really don't need to. Each time this happened, it jarred me out of the story for a second.

Cover: The fire in the background is neat and the fonts work together, but I don't like the man on the front. He looks more like something from Sims 3 than an actual person, and his face seems depressed, tired, and drawn. Other than that, this is an eye-catching cover.

First Line: He couldn't stop staring at the ultrasound image.

Overall: Devin was a believable character, but frustrated me at times with his impulsive and sometimes not-so-believable decisions. However, the plot was jammed with twists and turns, as well as intriguing moral and religious issues. At times it felt like there were too many issues stuffed in one book, but they still gave something to think about. The writing could have been a little more polished. I would say this is more of an adult book than a YA, although both readers of those genres might enjoy this.

Plot - 4/5
Characters - 2/5
Impact - 3/5
Writing - 2/5
Inability to put it down - 2/5

Total - 52% = C

Note: I received this book for review from the author. This in no way affected the review I wrote.

In My Mailbox (14)

I didn't get to write an IMM post last week, so this one will be a bit longer than usual!

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn: "LET THE WICKED BE ASHAMED, AMD LET THEM BE SILENT IN THE GRAVE." 

These ominous words, slashed from the pages of a book of Psalms, are the last threat that the darling of London society, Sir Edward Grey, receives from his killer. Before he can show them to Nicholas Brisbane, the private inquiry agent he has retained for his protection, Sir Edward collapses and dies at his London home, in the presence of his wife, Julia, and a roomful of dinner guests. 

Prepared to accept that Edward's death was due to a long-standing physical infirmity, Julia is outraged when Brisbane visits and suggests that Sir Edward has been murdered. It is a reaction she comes to regret when she discovers the damning paper for herself, and realizes the truth.

Determined to bring her husband's murderer to justice, Julia engages the enigmatic Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's demise. Dismissing his warnings that the investigation will be difficult, if not impossible, Julia presses forward, following a trail of clues that lead her to even more unpleasant truths, and ever closer to a killer who waits expectantly for her arrival.

Murder? Mystery? Romance? ENGLISH MEN? I'm there.

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan: The world's most celebrated team of science writers explores the origins of human life on Earth--a wonderfully entertaining and awe-inspiring excursion through more than a billion years of evolution. Beginning with a vivid account of Darwin and his theory of evolution, the authors set out to reconstruct the forgotten links in our chain of being, thus illuminating our ability to understand and change ourselves. 

This sounds like a fascinating read! I adored Sagan's Dragons of Eden, and I hear this one is even better, so I can't wait!

Survival of the Prettiest by Nancy L. Etcoff: In this provocative, witty, and thoroughly researched inquiry into what we find beautiful and why, Nancy Etcoff skewers one of our culture's most enduring myths, that the pursuit of beauty is a learned behavior. Etcoff, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and a practicing psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, skewers the enduring myth that the pursuit of beauty is a learned behavior.

Etcoff puts forth that beauty is neither a cultural construction, an invention of the fashion industry, nor a backlash against feminism, but instead is in our biology. It's an essential and ineradicable part of human nature that is revered and ferociously pursued in nearly every civilizatoin—and for good reason. Those features to which we are most attracted are often signals of fertility and fecundity. When seen in the context of a Darwinian struggle for survival, our sometimes extreme attempts to attain beauty—both to become beautiful ourselves and to acquire an attractive partner—become understandable. Moreover, if we come to understand how the desire for beauty is innate, then we can begin to work in our interests, and not soley for the interests of our genetic tendencies.

This one sounds intriguing! I'm actually quite excited to begin this.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr: All teenagers have problems, but few of them can match those of Aislinn, who has the power to see faeries. Quite understandably, she wishes that she could share her friends' obliviousness and tries hard to avoid these invisible intruders. But one faery in particular refuses to leave her alone. Keenan the Summer King is convinced beyond all reasoning that Aislinn is the queen he has been seeking for nine centuries. What's a 21st-century girl to do when she's stalked by a suitor nobody else can see? A debut fantasy romance for the ages; superlative summer read.

I'm a bit tired of all the fairy-vampire-werewolf-zombie-angel stories out there, but I've heard so many good things about this one, I just had to give it a try. 

Grace by Elizabeth Scott: Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.

Told in spare, powerful prose by acclaimed author Elizabeth Scott, this tale of a dystopian near future will haunt readers long after they've reached the final page.

Scott has beautiful writing, and that made me fall in love with her Living Dead Girl, so I'm sure this one will be just as good, if not better!

Logic of Demons by H. A. Goodman: Received for review. I've already read it, and the review will be up tomorrow.

Zan-Gah by Allan Richard Schickman : Received for review.