Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bitter Frost ARC by Kailin Gow

All her life, Breena had always dreamed about fairies as though she lived among them...beautiful fairies living among mortals and living in Feyland. In her dreams, he was always there the breathtakingly handsome but dangerous Winter Prince, Kian, who is her intended. When Breena turns sixteen, she begins seeing fairies and other creatures mortals don t see. Her best friend Logan, suddenly acts very protective. Then she sees Kian, who seems intent on finding her and carrying her off to Feyland. That's fine and all, but for the fact that humans rarely survive a trip to Feyland, a kiss from a fairy generally means death to the human unless that human has fairy blood in them or is very strong, and although Kian seemed to be her intended, he seems to hate her and wants her dead.

I received this ARC as part of the Traveling ARCs Tours who sadly are stopping their tours.  I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review and sadly have to send the ARC on to the next person.  And for the record, the description is hardly accurate.  So don't go by what it says about the book.  Kian seems to hate her for all of two minutes.

First of all, the cover is beautiful.  It looks like the girl on the front has dipped her lip in dark blue iridescent glitter.  Her mouth is formed perfectly, too perfectly, and the skin is so pale that if you look closely you'll see ice on it.  I don't know if that's dark hair behind her or if it's just darkness and I think there are frozen flowers falling from the title.  It's a beautiful cover and it goes well with the story.  I don't know of another author lately that I've read that can paint a picture so beautifully like Kailin Gow.  She is an artist with words.  I have to write just one description so you can understand.  This is on page seven of the ARC in the prologue which you must never skip in a book.  I've said that before and I will say it again.  Much important information is in  that prologue, that's why the writer bothered to write it.   Continuing on:

     "The music grew louder, and I could hear its melody.  It was not like human music-no, not even
      the most beautiful concertos, most elaborate sonatas.  This was the music that humans try to make
      and fail-the language of the stars as they twinkle, they rhythm of the human heart as it beats, the
      glimmering harmony of all the planets and all the moons and all the secret melodies of nature."

Can you not hear that music in your mind and picture those words floating off into the midnight sky, like she wrote them in the air.  She has such a way with words.  If you love descriptions you'll love the way she does them.  But it's not too much.  It's not full of descriptions and nothing else, just when she does them, holy cow!

This is only part of what Breena, the main character dreams of every night. She dreams of playing in a palace with the Winter Prince Kian, and his sister, Shasta in a castle of gold.  She dreams every night of Kian and her, learning as children how to dance their dance for the wedding, for they are supposed to be married.  But then something terrible happens that separates the two courts and makes Breena and Kian enemies simply because of which court they belonged to and their marriage contract was voided.  But their contract runs deeper than paper, its an older contract, one of magic and feelings. Breena believes her dreams are just that, dreams. But,  when she finds a Pixie at her door on her 16th birthday, she finds out the truth.  Feyland is real, she's a Faery Princess of the Summer Court and her best friend, Logan is a werewolf.  What's more, all those beautiful paintings of the faery world she's been painting is a way for her to get into Feyland and Kian takes her prisoner at her house and takes her to Feyland.

Kian's intention is to take Breena to the Winter Queen and have her swapped for his sister Shasta who the Summer Queen has been holding hostage.  The courts have been at war for a long time and much damage has been done.  There is no way now that Breena and Kian can marry, they best they can hope for is that his mother will not torture Breena before he takes her to the Summer Court.  But Breena is only a halfling.  Her mother is human, her father the Summer King.  Will Breena be welcomed by the Summer Court with the Summer Queen in charge?  And a drunk satyr accidentally lets it slip that halflings are stronger than fairies because they can withstand faery magic/kisses and live so they are the strongest of humans and then they have magic as well.

Breena has agreed to go with Kian because she simply has no other choice.  They've already had to battle minotaurs and a Pixie at her house when Kian led her away.  Logan shows up and Breena tries to go with him only to find out that she's made a bargain with Kian. (If you should find yourself with a faery, never make a bargain.  They are ironclad!)  Logan morphs into a werewolf and while the two of them battle, the Pixie King steels Breena away while they can only watch.  Breena works on her magic in the dungeon she is kept in as she pretends to consider the Pixie King's proposal, marriage giving him rights to the Summer Court or become his concubine.  In an escape attempt, Kian is captured and a guilty conscience makes Breena insist she and Logan go back.  In that attempt, Logan is killed and Breena blames herself.  While consoling her, Kian and Breena kiss and find that the magic of love is stronger than a contract on paper or any other kind of magic and they realize their feelings for each other.

But the Winter and Summer Courts have plans of their own.  Both Breena and Kian are in constant danger even though they are in a "safe" house.  They could be discovered at any time.  Kian teaches Breena about Fey customs and history and how to use her magic and how to fight.  Which will come in handy as the Summer Court captures Breena and arrests her because she was banished from Feyland as a baby.  While the Winter Court is capturing Kian and taking him back to the Winter Queen for not bringing Breena to her.  Besides they tell him, they have a much better prisoner.  Who could be better than the halfling banished at birth?  Who will be able to save Breena?  What will happen if there is peace between Summer and Winter?

Magic and love are the two most powerful forces in Feyland in Kailin Gow's novel.  The two combined , to me, would seem to me to be unstoppable.  This is truly a faery tale with magic, love and politics and war.  The next book is already out called Forever Frost and then the next  is Silver Frost which comes out in 2011.  The Sparklesoup website shows a total of five books in the series.

I read this in a few hours.  Definitely a quick read.  It's just a short book with a great love story and the beginning of a great faery tale.  Anyone that loves faery tales should love this.  Very PG rated for the word concubine and maybe some other words with the same meaning.  Nothing else.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

I know this one has been around for a little while but I was compelled by the title to read it.  I had my own summer when I turned pretty and I wanted to read about Belly's.  Mine wasn't near as dramatic as hers.  Belly, Steven and their mother had been going to Cousins beach to meet Conrad, Jeremiah, and Susannah at her beach house since before Belly had been born.  And she'd had a crush on Conrad for about as long.  He was of course the dark, moody, silent type.  Jeremiah was the opposite and a buffer between the two of them.  Every summer before,  Belly had always been left out of things, it was always the three guys and her left alone because she was too young.  But this year, things were different.  She was almost sixteen and had turned into a girl instead of just Belly.  Both boys noticed as soon as she got out of the car.  But Conrad was even more unattainable this year and then Belly finds out that Susannah and Mr. Fisher, that's what she'd always called him, were getting a divorce.  And she gets her first boyfriend and she can't understand Conrad's looks at her.  Confessions are made, revelations are made and soon the summer is over.

This is a  quick book to read somewhat lighthearted.  But it deals with some heavy topics, divorce, and the death of a parent.  So I can't really say light reading.  But it doesn't dwell on the fact that a parent may die.  It takes a positive stance and says maybe it won't happen and we'll be back here next year.  The first chapter of the next book is in this book and reveals what happened.  It will make you want to read what happens to Belly the next summer.  I've already placed an order for it.  I read this book for enjoyment and I was entertained.  I was just as confused as Belly as to why Conrad was treating her the way he was.  He seemed to flirt with her and then get a girlfriend just because she had a boyfriend.  I had no idea what was going on with Susannah.  I really loved letting my mind go and being that teenager again.  And remembering my eternal crush.  So I totally recommend this to anyone that wants to reminisce.  There may have been some bad language, but that was about it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever.


It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding--and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift.

I have had this novel hanging around for months and always read good things about it.  The author is on the Crossroads Tour and I've been commenting on her interviews saying I am going to read her book next.  Well, I can finally say I read it and I was blown away by it.  Why did I wait so long?  It's the first ghost story I've read since Ruined by Paula Morris and I have to say it was one of the best this year.  It seems like the end of the year is going to go out with a bang as far as what I'm reading.

The story begins with an unsure Aura, racing to her boyfriend's house.  Why is she unsure?  All sixteen year old girls are insecure about their relationships, but Logan, Aura's boyfriend is a huge egomaniac or diva as they call him and musician who gives the audience all they want and more.  So, he has groupies and we all know what groupies do.  And Aura and Logan have never done that before.  But it's his seventeenth birthday and Aura is going to give him the perfect birthday present, herself.  The band has a gig where two record execs show up and both want to sign them, but they can't because of Logan being under eighteen.  So they head home to the after party at Logan's house where he gets drunk and on top of that drinks something called Liquid Stupid.  It's so potent that his finger and toes start to go numb and of course he can't perform.  He can't even properly kiss Aura.  She yells and gets mad at him so he takes a little packet our of the drawer saying it's a sample of shampoo and he goes to the bathroom to take a cold shower and wake up.  Moments later he appears at the foot of the bed, a violet hued ghost.  Aura can see ghosts.  Anyone born after a certain time can.  She is broken hearted and doesn't believe it,  She throws her shirt back on inside out and backwards then runs to the bathroom where his brother and sister are performing CPR and his little brother is  running to get their father's defibrillator.  But it's too late once you're a ghost.  And that's when Aura sees the white lines of cocaine on the bathroom counter.  He used cocaine after all the alcohol.  Of course he's dead.  But she doesn't understand why he didn't cross over.

In the meantime, she's got a sexy Scottish partner for a thesis project that requires them to be alone in the dark.  She loves his accent and the further from Logan's death she gets, the more attracted she is to her partner Zach.  They each have big secrets they are keeping from each other, though and until they come out they can't really become close.  Zach knows she is sleeping with Logan's ghost, but of course they can't do anything.  Logan's family are like walking zombies.  Only his little brother can see him and Logan is starting to go Shade where a ghost becomes so angry and filled with rage that it becomes black and can hide in the shadows.  No one can track it and it can go anywhere it wants, whereas regular ghosts are violet in color and can only visit places they've been before.  To top all of that off, Logan's parents are suing the record company that gave Logan the cocaine and Aura will have to testify as to what she was doing in the room with Logan the night he died.

Smith-Ready builds likable characters-all of them.  Logan, Zach and Aura are the most fully fleshed out but there are a few extras that have minor roles such as Aura's best friend Megan.  Every one's motivations are clear.  Aura's Aunt Gina wants her to move on because she's been through a similar experience and knows it will only end in heartache.  Logan loves her, selfishly, he can't even touch her, he can't protect her, he can't do anything but talk to her.  Zach on the other hand can do more and wants to, but he wants her completely, without her still attached to Logan.  And Aura, she just wants to help Logan cross over.  Whatever it takes.  But she's not sure how and she wants to find out what caused the Shift.  But it seems like that will all be answered in another book called Shift which I can hardly wait for!  It comes out in early May of next year according to Amazon.  I read this novel in a few hours, alternating between tears and laughter and feeling Aura's pain.  I even felt some of Logan's pain but my favorite character was Zach because he told her he was patient, but "no' a saint.'  I love that accent.  I also loved that Logan was Irish and Zach was Scottish.  That rivalry might come up, later, too.  You will not be disappointed with this novel.  Descriptions are crisp, people are likable and the plot thickens as you go along.  It's up there with Paranormalcy, The Duff, Torment and Tyger, Tyger as this years top favorites.  Oh, and Speak.  But I think that one should be in a class by itself.

Heather in Sandwich

Thursday, October 21, 2010

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier.  On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers

First a BIG THANK YOU!  to Amber at Down the Rabbit Hole for this book.  I won a contest at her blog and in second place, I won this book and  Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison that I am currently reading.  You should also visit her site because she has a list of all the current giveaways going on and it's so easy to click from the list to the site and go right back to her site.  Plus she has great giveaways! So thanks Amber!

13 Reasons Why is labeled suspenseful realistic fiction by it's author.  It's gotten numerous awards including Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers.  I first read about this book at Fluidity of Time  back in August.  I knew I wanted to read it, but I put it on the back burner.  It's kind of a heavy topic.  But as the months have gone by, my interest has grown.  I doubted that a man would understand a teenage girl enough to empathize with her and whatever problems he gave her to express her feelings  in a way that was realistic.I think men don't tend to get feelings, certainly not the up and down feelings of a lonely teenage girl trying to fit in with an undeserved reputation.  But I was wrong.  Maybe Jay Asher has emotions that he's not afraid to get in touch with because he wrote about Hannah's feelings perfectly.  It wasn't overly emotional and in the end she took the blame for taking her life, but Mr. Asher is meticulous in pointing out where things started going wrong, how it made Hannah feel and then it took on what Hannah called, "the snowball affect."

Hannah was new to town and she kissed a boy.  And that was it.  And from then on her life was irrevocably changed.  The boy said they did more.  The rumors became more true than the truth and her life was effected by that one little lie.  And then another lie on top of it.  And more things happened and because it was easier to believe the lies than the truth she lost friends and Clay, the boy telling the story is too scared to ask her out because she's more experienced than him.  But he's not sure that's true, because there are only rumors. 

Clay comes home from school and finds this box leaning against the door addressed to him, no return address.  He opens it up and finds cassette tapes inside numbered and lettered.  Clay isn't even sure he has anything to listen to a cassette tape on until he remembers his father's tape player on his workbench in the garage.  He starts listening to Hannah's voice and rejects the idea that he should have received these tapes.  It's a prank.  Someone else should have gotten them until she says something that makes him certain he's on the list.  The rules are simple.  Listen and pass them on.  Clay agonizingly listens to them and talks to her in his head.  He finds out things he didn't know.  Things he would have done to help her.  He swipes a Walkman from his friend's car so he can wander the streets and listen to the tapes.  He goes through a whole range of emotions.  It's truly heartbreaking to see him go through these tapes alone waiting to find out why he is on them and then when he is on them, it's even more heartbreaking.  But he listens to the end.  And it gets so much worse.  At one point he has to vomit, his emotions are so unbearable.  The next morning, he sends the tapes on to the next person, having not slept all night.  Then he heads to school.  He feels awful for sending the tapes, but he sends them anyway.  At school though, there is a girl, a girl he used to have a crush on.  And she's completely withdrawn and changed from the way she used to be.  He sees her in the hallway, does he get involved or does he go to class, he's already late.  The teacher has seen him.  You have to read the book to find out what happens.

 This novel was flawless in the emotions of the characters.  Hannah started out happy and you could see the hope and you heard her voice through the tapes and you felt Clay's emotions and those of some other characters that interacted with him during his wanderings and each one felt real and genuine for that character.  I thought Clay was strong even though he was vulnerable, showing his emotions, crying, reliving her moments on the tapes.  And you could see Hannah slowly going into depression on the tapes, almost as if she had started recording them when she was happy and then progressively her mood deteriorated.  Everyone let her down.  The final let down, was the worst.  She said the words and he still let her go.  The last person to get those tapes will be  the most devastated, but we never see that.  But once you read it, you'll understand why.  In the end, there is barely a mention of how she died, the focus is more on her state of  mind.

I think there should be several copies of this on every middle and senior high school book shelf in English classes as well as the libraries.  It brings up a very difficult subject, and addresses it in a non preachy, non depressing way.  The message basically says, "I would have helped you if you'd only asked for it, or if I had only known."  Our young adults and middle graders need to know that there are people that are ready to help them.  Mr. Asher puts the numbers of help lines in the book.  He also answers some questions about format and how he came up with the idea for the book in the back.  He almost lost a friend to suicide when he was younger.  It also mentions some of the warning signs of what to look for when you think someone is going to commit suicide.  I do not think this novel will spur anyone on to commit suicide.  I think it will nudge them to seek help.

There is a rape scene in it, but it is not graphic.  And another rape scene with a few more details.  So maybe for 8th graders and up.  I don't remember bad language.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Humming of Numbers by Joni Sensel

Aidan is poised to take his monastic vows—until a girl enters the abbey, one who hums of the number eleven. Aidan has the ability to hear the humming of numbers, a buzzing energy given off by living things. He is captivated and tormented by the mysterious girl, Lana, who has some unusual abilities of her own. How can he become a monk when his mind is filled with impure thoughts?

Before he can begin to sort his feelings out, the Vikings raid. Only Aidan and Lana can save the village from certain, violent death—and only if they learn to trust in their mysterious talents.

I picked this book up at the library because the title interested me.  It is YA though it talks about sex and rape. It's almost 250 pages long, but it's a small book so it doesn't seem like that.  It takes place in 10th century Ireland.  That seems bleak enough in itself for me, but the main character Aidan is training to be a monk.  Only he is tempted by women, not that there are any in the Abbey (I thought monks lived in a monastery, but that's what it's called).  He also has a weird talent, ability, thing he can do.  He hears numbers humming from living things and over the years he's developed a theory about what the different numbers mean.  What numbers he can trust, what numbers make a great leader, what number makes a liar, a fighter so when the local nobleman shows up with his bastard daughter looking for her to be taught a lesson for cheating Pilgrims out of their money, he hears a number he's never heard before an eleven.  He is intrigued by her and because of it, his test as a novice is to be responsible for her while she serves her sentence in the Abbey.  But she follows him the very same day he is given this duty, while he is on an errand and in so doing, both their lives are saved because Viking raiders hit the Abbey and the fields and village.

Aidan learns more of Lana while they hide until it is safe, more than makes him comfortable and she won't admit it, but he feels certainly that she is a witch.  She has knowledge of trees and prays for them to protect them and thanks them in prayers just as he would thank God.  And when he is close to her, he has lusty thoughts, ones a monk, a novice rather, should not have.  He leaves her to find out what has happened and finds the Abbey stripped of everything including most of it's monks.  Only a handful remain who insist on sticking to their rigid schedule of prayers despite the bodies all around them.  Aidan leaves in disgust to find his family and finds his oldest brother who has lost his own wife and child as well as their parents, their brother and the Vikings have taken their sister and the nobleman's son and are holed up in the Brewster's Inn.  A plan is formed and with Lana's help Aidan  goes in to rescue the nobleman's son and make the Viking's come out to be ambushed by the villagers.  But, does Aidan have as much faith in Lana's capabilities as he does in his God?

We learn all about Aidan, his thoughts, feelings, desires, hopes from the narrator.  We only know the other characters through what they tell us, but Lana is somewhat easy to figure out.  A young woman who doesn't want to be kept from knowledge just because she's a girl, rebellious and intelligent.  Most of the other characters are so unimportant that they don't matter.

The book was slow to start, and not exactly exciting until the plan was put into action which is only about the last third of the book.  Yes, Aidan did a few exciting things on his own in the middle like sinking the Viking's boats, which I thought was a stupid idea, but the Viking's also had his sister.  In all,  it was okay.  I'm glad I didn't buy it, but the writer has promise.  In fact, I googled her and she has a fantasy series out that is doing very well, so maybe that is more her speed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Torment by Lauren Kate

How many lives do you need to live before you find someone worth dying for? In the aftermath of what happened at Sword & Cross, Luce has been hidden away by her cursed angelic boyfriend, Daniel, in a new school filled with Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans. Daniel promises she will be safe here, protected from those who would kill her. At the school Luce discovers what the Shadows that have followed her all her life mean - and how to manipulate them to see into her other lives. Yet the more Luce learns about herself, the more she realizes that the past is her only key to unlocking her future...and that Daniel hasn't told her everything. What if his version of the past isn't actually the way things happened...what if Luce was really meant to be with someone else? (Summary from Good Reads)

I was almost afraid to read this book because I loved Fallen, Lauren Kate's first novel.  There was no way she could top it.  I was mistaken.  If Fallen was great, then Torment was ten times that!  Luce is much more grown up and starting to question why?  She's pouty in the beginning but begins to grow up as she is sequestered in another school once again for her protection. The prologue is a must.  Don't ever skip a prologue in a book.  It often has more information than the whole book itself and this one tells you so much.  If you don't read it, you won't understand what's going on, a little like Luce most of the time. After the prologue,  the novel begins with Luce on a plane suspicious of the man sitting beside her.  She can't wait to see Daniel and she seems to be young, innocent, and in love.  When she gets off the plane, of course, Daniel is there and she feels like she is home in his arms.

They drive off in a car that was hers once in another life time, an Alpha Romero.  But Luce soon starts to pout when she learns she won't be able to see Daniel while she's at the new school.  In fact, she wastes several hours of their drive, not talking at all because she's angry at him.  Finally they talk a little and he flies her in his arms the rest of the way to the school.  It's for Nephilim kids, one parent human, one parent angel.  Most of the Nephilim kids have special powers, some more interesting than others.  And in Nephilim classes, Luce learns for the first time about the shadows that she's run from all her life.  They can show her glimpses into her past if she can learn how to use them.

Though he's supposed to stay away from her, Daniel visits Luce, he's unable to stay away from her.  But they seem to  end up in fights every time as Luce questions him more and more and begins to stop taking things at face value.  Like how many parents and families had to face her death and suffer the grief of her loss because of Daniel.  Could he have just stayed away from her and let her lead a Daniel free life?  And she's being hunted by something that keeps mistaking another student for her.  Two attacks are made on the student until she finally leaves school.  The only thing that saves Luce is her impulsive decision to bleach her dark hair blond.

And then there is Miles, a boy Luce could have feelings for if it weren't for her eternal love for Daniel.  She gets flustered around him and finds so many great things about him.  She compares him to Daniel and finds that he's more open, easy to get along with, friendly, trustworthy, etc... but he isn't Daniel and she's supposed to love Daniel.  I was a little confused about why any boy would go after Luce when they knew the Daniel and Luce story.  Apparently its a bed time story for any kid that knows an angel.  So if you know they are fated to be together, then why try to win Luce's heart.  It would just end in heart break, right?  And the same for Daniel.  Why bother when he waits for her lifetime after lifetime?  Must be something we don't know.  Maybe Luce actually has a choice in this after all.  I don't know.

The end is another battle scene but it's Cam and Daniel and their group fighting against a new opponent at Luce's.  Actually in the backyard at Thanksgiving.  Everyone invited themselves and angels, demons and Nephilim and humans sat down together.  The end is inevitable for Luce.  She's been controlled by Daniel and kept in the dark by everyone and she's tired of it.  She makes a choice and goes with it.  And just as inevitably, Daniel makes his choice as he always will, to be with her.

Don't read the Amazon website for Torment with the questions and answers with Lauren Kate because it has what I consider spoilers for Torment.  Ahh, now I've tempted you.  Just don't read it.  After you finish and catch your breath, read the interview with Lauren Kate.  Sounds like the next book will top this one.  I absolutely don't know how she wove such a tangled story together and I have no idea how she'll weave the next one together but I have complete faith in her storytelling abilities. 

I know people write about character development and plot lines etc, but I just choose to read a book for pleasure.  This book gave me pleasure to read it.  It's all I ask of a book.  Take me away from the swirl in my mind, the troubles in my life and put me in your world.  And I totally was there every step of  the way from Daniel's hug to flying in his arms to the battle at the end, I felt every emotion and saw everything through every one's eyes. That's a great book to me!

Heather in Sandwich

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face. But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley. Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone. (Summary from Good Reads.)

OMG!  Like you've got to read this book.  Like it changed my life.  Like , I mean you know!  JK!

Actually this book wasn't anything like that.  It was a great book filled with wonderful characters and had a great storyline.  Bianca or B as she is called is sarcastic, secretive and surprising.  That combination makes a great character, but combine it with a story line that goes up and down and set in high school and it makes for a great story.  Casey is B's best friend, an amazon at 6'1" next to B's 5'2" and B considers her to be as beautiful as if she'd just stepped off the cover of teen Vogue.  Casey is always making B open up about what's wrong when B would rather just bottle things up.  So whenever she says, "Every thing's fine." Casey warns her closest friends that means she's lying.  Jessica, the third in their trio of friends is blond and beautiful according to B and tends to look at life just a little too optimistically for B.  She's a realist.  She has to be because life at home isn't exactly rosy.  Her mom, a motivational speaker, has been gone for two months and she and her dad don't talk about it.  She sees the handwriting on the wall, but her dad pretends all is well until the divorce papers show up in the mail.

B  is kind of like the designated driver in this book, though the girls don't drink.  They go to a teen club called "The Nest" where she sits at the bar and drinks Cherry Cokes and talks to the thirty year old bartender, Joe.  She watches her friends dance the night away, never joining in.  She keeps herself from having fun it seems on purpose, setting herself apart from those who are having fun.  She seems to enjoy her misery even when her friends come out of the crowed and ask her to join them.  Then, the hated Wesley Rush plops down beside her and tells her she's the DUFF.  She has no idea what that is until he tells her she's the Designated Ugly Fat Friend.  Soon, Wesley is wearing Cherry Coke all over himself while B's sharp tongue tells him where to go and what to do with himself.  She is so angry she makes her friends leave early and when she explains she got in a fight with him, they both sigh like he's the hottest boy in town.  Which unfortunately he is, though B calls him a man whore.  She neglects to tell them about the DUFF part of the conversation and Casey teases her endlessly about liking him.  But, the next time they're at the Nest, Wesley takes the same seat and pisses her off again and things are so bad at home that for some reason, she kisses him.  She only stops when his hand strays a little too high and  then she slaps him hard.  But she realizes when she's kissing him she can't think about her problems and he becomes, in the author's words "like a drug" to her.

B and Wesley's relationship becomes more complicated as her home life becomes more complicated.  Her father begins drinking again and he is a mean drunk, though she only sees this once.  Wesley and B are assigned an English project together and have to work on it at his house since her father is drinking and unpredictable.  She finds out things about his home life that make them have more in common than she realized.  She continues to visit him even after the paper is turned in and keeps the "relationship" a secret from Casey and Jessica.  Things become more complicated when Jessica's brother comes home because he and B were involved at one time before she and Casey were friends with Jessica.  Then Toby Tucker, B's long time crush suddenly asks her out and she begins dating him, but she can't stop comparing him to Wesley.  And throughout the whole story, Wesley calls B the insulting name of Duffy and doesn't realize it hurts her every time he uses it.

Things get even more complicated for B when her mom returns to confront her father, meet Toby, and then Toby, Casey and Jessica all go to the Nest together.  She's sure Wesley will be there and she's not sure how to handle it.  For once in her life, she doesn't know what to do.  The unflappable B, is a bundle of nerves because even though she doesn't want to admit it, she has feelings for Wesley, not love, "because romantic love takes years upon years to  build upon."  And why would Wesley Rush, rich, handsome, a guy who could have any girl in the school, want her?  After all, he thinks of her as the DUFF.

As far as the characters go, I think they were developed just enough so that we could see them and then they told their own story.  Some weren't very developed, but then they didn't lend much to the story so they didn't need to be, like the best friends.  They were just side dishes to the main course.

I loved this book!  I think Kody Keplinger should not go to college but keep writing.  I think she will have her imagination drained if she goes to college and she's got a great imagination.  The book jacket says she's eighteen and attending Ithaca college.  I hope she makes enough to buy a house, a cozy little writing shack and continue writing.  She doesn't need college when she can write like this!

Now, that being said, this is definitely for older teens definitely high school at least 16 or older.  There is a lot of sex, but not graphic at all.  A lot of swearing but not gratuitous.  It's just the way this character is.  And the issues of divorce and an alcoholic parent are touched on, not really a lesson on how to deal with it.

Heather in Sandwich

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants.

A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?

Hmm.  What a great cover!  So enticing calling to me begging me to open the cover.  So, I did.  And I trudged through the sluggish beginning of the book.  My mind started to wander and I decided to go to sleep.  I tried it again last night and forced myself to finish it.  The action definitely picked up, but maybe a little too late to redeem itself.  It might just give Bleeding Violet a run for it's money as one of the weirder novels I've read this year.  Anyway, none of this helps you understand what it's about.

Mackie Doyle is a changeling.  No one has ever come out and said it, but he knows he is not supposed to be here and that he is a freak.  He has a few friends at school and they seem to be good friends.  I have a problem with the characters because they never fall out of their very narrow roles they are given.  Danny and Dennis are the inventors/clowns.  Roswell is the rescuer, but never asks Mackie, "Why are you sick?  What's wrong with you?"  There's this big pink elephant standing in the middle of the town of Gentry and nobody wants to talk about it except for the very determined Tate who's little sister was just buried.  She isn't sad, she's angry because she swears that wasn't her sister, it was a replacement.  Tate doesn't follow the rules.

It seems that Gentry has been having children disappear on a regular basis for years and turned a blind eye to it.  And Mackie gets drawn into the lies and deceptions and doesn't like it when it touches too close to home.  Now, as I said, the beginning of the book is slow.  Mackie is sick all the time and he's lusting after the popular girl and always having to go home early, which Roswell dutiful does.  Pretty boring stuff.  Then things change and get all existential and I have no idea what's going on.  Page 138 here is some of the conversation edited for brevity's sake.  " So we just give them some kind of distraction. (Mackie says) Another lie."
Carlina, an underground dweller we'll call her, says "No, what we're giving them is the unvarnished truth.  They just don't know it.  When you go out onstage, you'll be closer to yourself than you've ever been, and that's a beautiful thing.  It's what they paid to see."  Mackie-"I just feel nervous, though.  I feel weird and freakish and pointless, and nobody wants to see that.  I can't be what they paid for." Carlina- "Then you have to feel like that, then let it go and do your job.  We'll go out onto the stage in a minute, and when we do, you have to make them believe that whatever you show them is the real you because sometimes being believed in is just what it means not to die."  Huh?  If I wanted to think that hard, I'd have read Freud or Nietzsche.  I still don't understand what it all means.

The good news it slowly starts to pick up from there even if doesn't make sense.  In one world it does, in the other world it doesn't.  But then the two worlds collide and Mackie is in the middle and does something so selfless that I thought surely something would intervene.  Gentry's people have all been playing roles just like Mackie's friends and no one has ever questioned the rules.  The rules are to bring prosperity and abundance to Gentry, but it's been raining for weeks and the lake in the town drained before Mackie was born.  And children disappear from their homes and are replaced by look alikes.  And Mackie wants it stopped.  He can't believe it, that people put up with this.  And as the worlds come together on All Souls Day, Mackie has a plan.  To save Tate's little sister before she's sacrificed and save at least one child from being killed from this heinous underground world.  You'll have to read to see if he succeeded and what the plan is and everything that goes on.  The end is touching and makes the reading of it worthwhile and I see why the author wrote it the way she did.  Even some of the existential stuff made some sense, but when you read it in the middle of the book, unless you are very perceptive, you're going to go "What the hell is she going on about?".  In fact, it's probably a book that you need to read twice.  Because once you get to the end, things make sense that didn't before and if you reread it understanding everything, I think I for one would like it much better.  The best thing I can say about it is that Mackie is pure and innocent and truly tries to be the best he can be.  He feels guilty for what he is and tries in every way to make up for it.  And I think that is what drives him to his ultimate gift.  Oh, just read the book.  Twice!

There isn't much profanity and very little sexual reference, some kissing.  Maybe for ages 13 and up but it is very dark so perhaps 14 and older.  It talks about ripping babies throats out and dead living things.  It's, as the cover shows, very dark.  But redemptive in the end.


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