Sunday, February 20, 2011

Phantom Universe by Laura Kreitzer

Summary Provided by Goodreads:
Sold into slavery to pirates at the young age of four, Summer learns to survive the rough seas of subterfuge and thieves through silence. When the boat she’s lived on most of her life is destroyed, Summer finds herself washed up on the shore of a new world, a phantom universe full of the bizarre and extraordinary. She meets Gage, the one boy who understands the girl with no speech. But when their lives are put on the line, will Summer finally call out? Or will all be lost in the fathomless depth of silence?

My Thoughts:
I bought this book on my nook for $4.99, so I really excited about that. What sparked my interest was that the author, Laura Kreitzer wrote on her blog that she wrote this book to raise awareness on human trafficking. Many people do not realize how serious a problem this really is, and they also don’t realize that it is happening right here in the United States, not just in third world countries. That being said, I really wanted to read this book, because I too feel very strongly about this issue.

Summer, being a slave since she was four years old has learned to keep her mouth shut. She knows that speaking will get her whipped and burned. She has learned to communicate with her best friend, Landon through other ways. I loved Summer and Landon together. Both being slaves on the same ship, they help each other out, and they became friends when Landon saved her from being raped. Landon taught her how to read and write and has never made her feel bad for not speaking. They understand each other and it is a wonderful friendship. One night, they escape the ship and somehow, along with millions of other people are transported 200 years into the future. In the year 2210 Summer learns who she really is, falls in love (with a beautiful 18 year old named Gage), makes friends (with a group of people who I really enjoyed getting to know) and found her voice.

I thought this book was good, not the best I ever read, but good and interesting. I thought it had a nice moving pace, I liked the characters, and I thought the plot was original. My problems with Phantom Universe were that I spent the entire book being confused. It wasn’t a good confused either. Some books, I can’t wait to find out the answers because I am so invested. In this book, I couldn’t wait to find out just so I can stop being confused! The book answered some of my questions, but many were left unanswered. Book two in the Summer Chronicle series is scheduled for July 2011. I’m not sure yet if I am going to read it. I might because I did like the characters and would like to find out what happens to them.

Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper

Summary Provided by Goodreads:
Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has traveled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. A stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions, ranging from the deprivation that the truly poor suffered to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich: all bound up with a lacy and thrilling plot, as Grace races to unravel the fraud about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.

My Thoughts:
I’ll be honest, I thought I was going to enjoy this book a lot more then I actually had. I love reading historical based novels, but Fallen Grace was just to slow. Even towards the end of the book when everything is supposed to come together and all the questions are answered, I was bored.

I enjoyed learning about Victorian Era London and I learned a lot about the funeral business. I was not aware that so much went into a Victorian funeral. I knew about mourning clothes, but had no idea that rich people would hire “mutes”, girls who sat in the back (or the front) of the funeral and grieved. At the end of the book, Hooper added a “Historical Notes from the Author” section, which was really great! It helped me to understand the story a little more.

I liked the chemistry between the two sisters, Grace and Lily. They had so little, but they made it work because they had each other. Grace had a lot to deal with, and caring for her older, yet slower sister was hard, but she never complained, she just did what she had to do. I liked Grace’s character a lot. She was strong, smart, and brave.

Fallen Grace is told in the third person narrative. I didn’t think I was going to like that, but it worked perfectly and gave the story a little bit extra.

I gave this story three stars on goodreads. I think I was just expecting something different, but I couldn’t tell you what that was. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In My Mailbox! (3)

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme created by The Story Siren to share with everyone the books they bought, borrowed, or received for review.

These are the books that I purchased this week:

  Forget You-Jennifer Echols
The Iron Witch-Karen Mahoney
Going Too Far-Jennifer Echols
Madame Tussaud-Michelle Moran

I'm reading Forget You now and I'm loving it! I can't wait to get to read the rest of them!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Summary Provided by Dutton Books:
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Étienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

My Thoughts:
It’s very, very rare that a book can make me cry hysterically while at the same time making me feel like a million bucks! This novel is beautiful, amazing, real, funny, and wonderful. The list of adjectives describing the awesomeness of this book can go on forever! It’s that great! Honestly, the only problem with this book is that it ended! I love this book so much I even went up to some random girl at Barnes & Noble last night and told her to she has to read it because it’s the greatest book ever!

Anna and the French Kiss is about Anna, whose father forces her to go to an American boarding school in Paris because he thinks it will be an amazing learning experience for her. Anna is reluctant because she doesn’t want to leave her friends and little brother back home. On her first night alone in Paris, she meets her neighbor, Meredith, who introduces Anna to all of her friends, including the gorgeous, Étienne St. Clair, who everyone calls St. Clair. St. Clair is every girl’s fantasy-beautiful, sweet, smart and bi-lingual (he knows French and English). He’s also American, born in San Francisco, but raised in London, so he’s got that cute English accent that’s just swoon-worthy. St. Clair is a great guy and it really shows.

St. Clair has this horrible father that I just wanted to kill. His father bullies and controls his mom and him, and when his mother is dying of cancer-his jerk of a father won’t even let him visit her. It was very stressful and I was crying for St Clair.

All of the characters were well developed. Even thought the narrative was Anna, I had a good connection with all the supporting characters. St. Clair especially because as mature as he is, he is still afraid of his father and the things he could do to his mom and him and he had to learn to stand up for himself.

Anna and St. Clair have this wonderful connection and I loved watching them go from strangers to best friends. St. Clair had a girlfriend, which kept messing things up, and Anna had this sort-of, but not really boyfriend back home but I wasn’t going to give up on the two of them falling in love. Anna and the French Kiss is a beautifully written love story and Stephanie Perkins delivered! I was also pleased that it wasn’t a “love at first sight” story, it was a love that happened gradually, which is more realistic and hard to find in today’s YA books. This book is the ultimate love story, but it’s also so much more. It’s about growing up and finding yourself.

If I could give this book 100 stars, I would. But, unfortunately goodreads only goes up to five. I would recommend this book to everyone I know, and as I said earlier, even random people at the bookstore! 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

Summary Provided by Simon Pulse:
The small town of Cryer's Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn't that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain.

When a second student goes missing—someone close to Kendall's heart—the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall's not sure she can hold it together. When she starts hearing the voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she's losing her grip on reality. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school—messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there—Kendall decides that crazy or not, she'd never forgive herself if she didn't act on her suspicions.

Something's not right in Cryer's Cross—and Kendall's about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

My Thoughts:
Ok, so this book was terrifying. I literally was not able to put it down and I read it in 2 and ½ hours. I needed to know what was going on and my heart was beating so fast I seriously thought I was about to have an anxiety attack. I finished the book around 1am and the last page scared the hell out of me that I wasn’t able to fall asleep for another hour. So I recommend finishing this book sometime in the morning so you’ll have those daytime hours to get over the ending before bed.

I really liked the characters in Cryer’s Cross, especially Kendall. McMann wrote Kendall’s OCD perfectly, which made the reader experience the OCD right along with her. Kendall was strong, loyal and funny. Kendall’s best friend and kind-of boyfriend, Nico, is the second person in the town to disappear. It was so nerve racking when Nico disappeared. I was able to feel the pain that Kendall was experiencing and it was heartbreaking. I kept going through different scenarios about what could have happened to him (I was wrong about every single one of them, BTW). Then there is the new kid in town, Jacían. Him and his family move into the small town of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (by small town I mean 212 people!) around the same town that the first girl disappears. Jacían is a complex character and he starts off basically being a rude and standoffish guy, but by the end of the story I really liked him, and someone I wish we could have seen more of.

Cryer’s Cross is a great read. The story is captivating and you won’t be able to stop reading until you figure out what the hell is going on in this small town! I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it. I also loved the cover! It fit perfectly with the story. I always analyze the cover of the books I read, and sometimes I have no clue why the cover looks the way it does, but this one was perfect! 

Love, Kristina

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Summary Provided by Walker Books for Young Readers:
Carlos Fuentes doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colorado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path-just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren't easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord.

When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He's even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor's daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he's usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart.

As the danger grows for Carlos, he's shocked to discover that it's this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he's never even dreamed possible?

My Thoughts:
Rules of Attraction is the companion novel to Perfect Chemistry. While Perfect Chemistry is about Alex and Brittany, the main characters in Rules of Attraction are Carlos (Alex’s little brother) and Kiara. You don’t have to read Perfect Chemistry to read Rules of Attraction, but I would recommend that you do. Both stories are amazing!! Simone Elkeles writing is addicting and she had me falling in love with all the characters.

I loved Carlos even more then I loved Alex, which I didn’t think was possible. I’m such a sucker for the bad-ass boy with a big heart. Carlos doesn’t allow anyone to see the real him, whose actually very sweet and thoughtful. He acts like an ass hole to push people away before they can leave him. Carlos is also the kind of guy that would rather look bad then ask someone for help, adding to his bad-boy image. This is a photo of Alex and Carlos (and the author) from the book trailer of Rules of Attraction and this exactly how I pictured both of them to be. Perfect casting! (Order: "Alex", Simone Elkeles, "Carlos")

I also enjoyed getting to know Kiara. I first thought that she was going to be a carbon copy of Brittany, but Kiara is what Brittany was when her guard was down. Kiara was overall a great person, and I think the perfect person to make Carlos feel that he is worth something and deserves better in his life.

It seemed that Kiara and Carlos’ relationship didn’t flow as well as Alex and Brittany’s did. For me, it was BAM-they are so in love and can never be apart. It almost seemed forced because it was getting towards the end of the novel and something had to happen. Other then that, I absolutely loved this book and I can’t wait to read it, as well as Perfect Chemistry all over again!

There was also another cheesy epilogue and I loved it!

Simone Elkeles third novel in the series, Chain Reaction, is due out in May 2011 and is about Luis (Alex and Carlos’ younger brother), and of course, I can not wait to read it! 

For those who are interested, here is the (really cheesy, but cute) book trailer for Rules of Attraction

Love, Kristina

Saturday, February 12, 2011

In My Mailbox! (2)

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly post created by The Story Siren to share with everyone the books they bought, borrowed, or received for review.

Here are my books that I purchased and borrowed this week: 

~Vixen by Jillian Larkin (borrowed)
~The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade (borrowed)
~Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann (bought)
~The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver (bought)
~The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting (bought)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Summary Provided by Goodreads:
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

My Thoughts:
What led me to read this book was the amazing reviews I kept reading about it. It only took me a few hours to read and I really enjoyed it. There was one thing I hated and it happened at the very end. I don’t want to give anything away so I am not going to say what it was. Other then that, I thought the story was well-written and original. I love the dedication from Lauren Oliver, I thought it was beautiful.

I really liked the world that Oliver created in Delirium, besides the fact that it was terrifying, it also felt so real. The main character, Lena lives in a world where amor deliria nervosa is a very dangerous disease. People who are affected by it experience headaches, sweats, delusions, they stop eating and sleeping, and some people suffer so bad that they commit suicide from the pain. The government has made falling in love illegal, and if a person does not follow the rules (according to The Book of Shhh) then they are tortured and killed. Once a person turns 18, they get the “procedure”-rendering them unable to have any feelings or emotions and basically live blindly through life, almost like a lobotomy.

I really liked the character of Lena. She was so afraid to fall in love and end up like her mom, who killed herself, that she could not wait to get the procedure done and live her life exactly the way the government tells her to. That’s right-not only does the government take away your thought process and feelings, they also tell you who you are going to marry, how much money you are going to make, what you will do for a living, and how many children you will have.  Lena eventually meets Alex, who I absolutely loved! Alex shows her what it means to actually be a person who has their own thoughts and emotions. He opened Lena’s eyes to a whole new world, and I loved watching them fall in love.

This story makes you think about love and what it means to be in love. As much pain as love actually does cause a person, it is something that everybody needs. 

Love, Kristina

Across The Universe by Beth Revis

Summary Provided by Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

My Thoughts:
Across The Universe is a wonderful, creative, and original debut novel. Set hundreds of years into the future, the story follows Amy, frozen while still on Earth to be woken up 300 years later on another planet, and Elder, born and raised on the ship, Godspeed, and future leader of the ship’s residents.

Let me start by saying that the first chapter terrified me. Reading about Amy and her parents being frozen alive was surreal. Beth Revis’ vivid writing made me feel that I was the one being frozen. After that initial chapter, the next hundred pages or so went kind of slow for me. I thought about “breaking up” with it, but boy am I glad I didn’t! Once I hit the half way mark, I was not able to put the book down for a second. I wanted, no I NEEDED to know what was going to happen!

Godspeed had many, many secrets and Amy and Elder were trying to figure them out. I loved being able to piece together the puzzle until I learned the truth. The book also had me asking myself some ethical types of questions, and some of them I had a hard time answering.

I would recommend this book to my friends. At first I was hesitant about reading it because I don’t normally enjoy science fiction stories, but I am so happy that I gave this book a chance!

Also, how pretty is the cover? I love it!

*This is a 2011 Debut Author*

Love, Kristina

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Summary Provided by Goodreads:  
Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back? The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.

My Thoughts:
I found this book really interesting. Stolen is basically a long letter written by Gemma, who, while waiting for her flight, gets a cup of coffee where she is drugged and kidnapped by a young man named Ty. This letter is for him. Ty brings Gemma to the Australian outback and attempts to keep her “safe”, by not allowing her to leave. The difference between Ty and other kidnappers you read about is Ty really doesn’t want to hurt her, he thinks he is helping her. He doesn’t lock her up, he takes care of her when she gets hurt, he gives her freedom, and he doesn’t rape her. He even tells her that her body is her own and he would never take something she didn’t want to give him. He just loves her and thinks he is giving her a better life. Obviously, Ty has issues since he kidnapped her in the first place, but as kidnappers go, he could have been a lot worse.

I have a degree in Psychology and I’m pretty good at figuring out the human brain and what makes people do what they do, but I keep wondering if Gemma came to love Ty because of Stockholm Syndrome, or because she actually loved the person he was.

I wish we could have understood more about Ty. We learn a little bit about his past-orphan, homeless, prostitute, but I would have liked to see more, but then again when people are sick, you never really understand why they do the things that they do. He wants Gemma to love the land and nature as much as he does and teaches her many things about it. Ty does everything in his power to make Gemma comfortable; not understanding the only thing she wants is to go home.

Some parts dragged on for me. But overall, I thought it was a good read that made me think about what it means to be human. 

Love, Kristina

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

Summary Provided by Harlequin Teen:
My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

My Thoughts:
Love, Love, Love. I love Meghan. I love Puck. I REALLY love Ash. I love everything about this book. I love the cover, the page design, the plot, Nevernever. I even love the big, bad, evil Iron Fey. Which really, The Iron Fey aren’t “bad”, there just different and trying to survive too.

In the third book of The Iron Fey series, it’s up to Meghan, Puck, Ash, and Grimalkin to go into the heart of the Iron Fey realm to stop a war before all of the Winter and Summer Fey are destroyed. I never had any issues with Meghan as a character, and she just grew so much more in this book. She’s even more kick-ass then before! Puck was still the same funny, Puck, but I think he was a little rougher around the edges. Then there is Ash, beautiful, amazing Ash. All I wanted to do throughout the entire book was hug him. I also love Puck and Ash’s scenes together. It’s so funny how much they hate each other, yet care about each other at the same time.  

I enjoyed seeing a softer side to Queen Mab. She really does love Ash, and I liked seeing that play out.

Watching Meghan and Ash love story unfold was heartbreaking. She being a Summer Princess with Iron Fey powers and him being the Winter Prince, you knew the odds were always against them. I still have hope for them.

Julie Kagawa is an amazing storyteller. She created this vivid world of Nevernever and really brought it to life in her writing. I felt like I was there with the characters, experiencing exactly what they were going through. No moment is boring in The Iron Queen, there is so much action and plot twists that there is no good time to stop reading. You just have to keep on reading till you hit the last page. This is a series that just keeps getting better and better!

The next book, The Iron Knight is Ash’s story. It should be out later this year, but I am not sure if I can wait for it. Maybe I could break into Harlequin Teen and steal the manuscript. Yeah, that’s what I am going to do! 

Love, Kristina

Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Summary Provided by Simon & Schuster:
Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria. Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in.
But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?

My Thoughts:
First off, let’s start by discussing how gorgeous the cover is. It’s what drew me to the book in the first place. I loved the colors and the way the title was written I kept outlining it with my finger. I also really loved the design on the first page of each chapter. Choker is a very beautifully designed book.

Ok, now to the actual book review. Cara is your typical teenage outcast. She’s invisible, lonely, and misses her best friend, Zoe, who she hasn’t seen in years. I would say that Cara and Zoe’s friendship wasn’t a healthy one, both being kind of obsessed with the other. One day at lunch, Cara chokes on a carrot, earning the nickname, “choker”, but also getting the attention of popular boy, Ethan. Cara doesn’t think her life could get any worse. Then one day, her childhood best friend, Zoe, is in her room and asks to stay for a few days. Cara is so happy to have her friend back and Zoe helps her in becoming more confident. She starts flirting and hanging out with Ethan, she dresses better, makes friends, and does really well at her track meet. Things are not peachy though, because the popular girls, the girls who gave Cara her nickname, are being murdered.

This was a fast read for me. At 233 pages, it only took me a little over an hour. The ending definitely surprised me, and I was not expecting it. The characters bothered me a little though. Zoe was just insane, Cara annoyed me and was really stupid when it came to her friendship with Zoe, and the popular girls were so typical that there was nothing surprising about them. I enjoyed Ethan’s character though. He wasn’t a jerk, and at first I thought he was only being nice to Cara because his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Alexis (could also be credited as Popular girl # 1/Mean girl #1), wanted him to, but that wasn’t the case. Ethan was just a really nice guy who liked Cara and wanted to get to know her.

Overall, I gave this book 3 stars on goodreads. It definitely had potential, and there were some good parts to it that I enjoyed.

*This is 2011 Debut Author* 

Love, Kristina

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Summary Provided by Goodreads: When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

My Thoughts: Perfect Chemistry is an excellent book. I thought it was just going to be a cute, simple love story about two people from completely different backgrounds, but it was so much more than that! The story, told through a dual-narration, is about Brittany Ellis, the stereotypical popular, blond, rich, cheerleader and Alex Fuentes, the Spanish gang member from the wrong side of the tracks. Brittany hides her family secrets with her perfect appearance, and Alex, who plays the part of the bad boy thug, is really a smart, caring person who is just trying to protect his family, and little brothers from gang life. I loved knowing both Brittany’s and Alex’s POV, because I love when the author goes beneath the surface of a character so the reader can find out who they really are. What I also really liked about Alex is he is so much more than a gang member, he’s loyal, and confident, and unlike many other gang members we see in movies, or read about in books, he knows what he is doing is wrong, and refuses to do certain things, such as dealing drugs. Alex struggles every day with his choices and doesn’t see a way out, until he meets Brittany.

I just really loved this book. As soon as I finished, I was ready to read it again. Right now I am reading, Rules of Attraction, which is about Alex’s little brother, Carlos, and I am loving is so far. Simone Elkeles just has a way with words that is absolutely perfect!

Love, Kristina

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Summary Provided my Goodreads:
A sweet and touching modern love story, told through dictionary entries.

basis, n.
There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this little novel. I first saw it at Borders, and thought it seemed interesting and different. I picked it up from my public library, and had it read in an hour. It’s short-only about 200 pages. What drew me to this “love story” was the originality of it. The story is told through letters of the alphabet. I laughed out loud at some of the parts. The writing felt real, like I was apart of the narrator’s relationship with his unnamed girlfriend. The story really made me think about all different types of relationships. It tackled the boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic perfectly, and also included relationships with family and friends.

I recommend reading this book. It’s short, sweet, and real. It’s simple, and too the point. It’s a modern love story. 

Love, Kristina

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 Debut Author Challenge!

I am super excited to say that I will be participating in the 2011 Debut Author Challenge! What's that you ask? Well, the 2011 Debut Author Challenge (DAC) is hosted by The Story Siren and the purpose of the DAC is to read at least twelve novels from a Young Adult author whose debut book is coming out in 2011. There are so many amazing books coming out this year and I'm happy to be able to read as many as I can and share them with the world! If you would like to participate in the 2011 DAC, you may do so here.

The Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck

Summary Provided by Sterling Publishing: 
Would you risk it all to change your destiny?

The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she'd be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world.

But that's exactly what happened.

Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

Tiger's Curse is the exciting first volume in an epic fantasy-romance that will leave you breathless and yearning for more.

My Thoughts: 
The Tiger’s Curse is a wonderful story about a girl named Kelsey and a prince named Ren. It's the beginning of the summer and Kelsey gets a job at a traveling circus where her job is too sell tickets and souvenirs, help out with the animals and feed the beautiful, white tiger, named Dhiren. Kelsey feels drawn to the tiger and realizes he is not like animals. Believing that he can understand her, Kelsey spends more and more time with Dhiren, even nicknaming him Ren. She talks to him, reads him stories about cats, and eventually she has enough courage to pet him. One day, a mysterious Indian man, Mr. Kadam comes to the circus and purchases Ren, allowing him to go back to India. Mr. Kadam asks Kelsey to go with them and help care for the tiger. Kelsey, who has become very attached to Ren, agrees. Once in India, Kelsey finds out her beloved tiger is actually a 300 year old prince, who along with his brother, Kishan, was cursed to spend eternity as tigers. The brothers are only able to be human for twenty four minutes in every twenty four hour day. It’s up to Kelsey, with the help of Ren and Mr. Kadam, to break the curse so Ren and Kishan can be human again.

The Tiger's Curse started out slow for me, but once I was hooked I could not put it down. I fell in love with Ren. He was a great character and when he was in his tiger form, I couldn’t wait for him to be human again. Ren is everything a girl could want in a guy. He's loyal, thoughtful, sweet, funny, mysterious, sensitive, brave, kind, and who could forget absolutely gorgeous! He's confident, but not arrogant, and I really enjoyed his character overall. Kelsey on the other hand bothered me a lot. While she was strong and loyal, and I loved that she was risking her life to save someone she has just met, she also pissed me off a lot. One minute she is in love with Ren, the next she's being very nasty to him and wants him to stay away from her. What she did in the end to Ren, actually made my teary-eyed.

The Tiger's Curse is a captivating, original story and deserves much praise. The second book in the saga, The Tiger’s Quest comes out in June 2011 and I can not wait!!!!

Love, Kristina
*This is a 2011 Debut Author*

Saturday, February 5, 2011

In My Mailbox! (1)

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly post created by The Story Siren to share with everyone the books that were bought, received for review, and borrowed from friends or the library during the week.

Here is my first IMM post!

Books I bought: 

 ~Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper
~Willow by Julia Hoban
~Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
~White Cat by Holly Black

Books I borrowed from the library:

~Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins 
~The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan 
 ~Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Split by Swati Avasthi

Summary Provided by Random House:
Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.

At least so far.

Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. 

My Thoughts: 
Swati Avasthi first novel, Split, is a beautifully written story about a boy trying to deal with his past. Jace leaves his home in Chicago after his extremely abusive father beats him up and kicks him out of the house. Jace travels to New Mexico to live with his older brother, Christian. Christian is 22 years old and left home when he was 17 and Jace was 11. Jace had not seen him since then.

I've read a lot of books that have abuse as a common theme, but this one was different in a wonderful way. Some of the story is told in flashbacks but the majority of it is Jace trying to figure out a life without abuse, and also worrying if he will end up just like his father.

I borrowed this book from the library, finished it within a few hours, then bought a copy for myself at Amazon. Split is a very emotional and raw read. The author does a wonderful job with Jace's narrative and as a reader, I felt everything Jace felt. She even did a great job developing Christian's character who is also dealing with the abuse. Their father was a sick, disgusting man and the brothers, along with Christian's girlfriend, who knew nothing about the abuse until Jace came along, help each other to deal and move on.

This touching novel stays with you weeks after you finished reading it.

Love, Kristina

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce

Summary Provided by HarperTeen: 
Ever since Viola's boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes.

Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can't deny that he's falling for Viola. But it's only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she's in love with Jinn as well . . . and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.
My Thoughts: 
I freakin loved this book!!  As You Wish is a perfect book to read over and over again while cuddled in a blanket on a rainy day! Viola, who was dumped by her boyfriend, Lawrence last year, has never been able to get over it. Even though her and Lawrence are best friends, she still feels betrayed.  She's lonely and unhappy, and wishes she belonged--Enter the magical genie Jinn! Just like in the classic, genie fairytale, Viola gets three wishes that Jinn has to grant.

Viola and Jinn fall in love, but after she makes her three wishes, Jinn will be gone from her life forever. I could not put this book down because I needed to know what happened. If Jinn and Viola did not end up together, I was going to throw my book across the room....**SPOILER ALERT**....I did not throw my book across the room! The ending was perfect!

Many times in books, the lead female character bothers me. They are too winy to deal with. Viola complains a lot about feeling invisible and not belonging since Lawrence came out of the closet and broke up with her, but let's face it, this is something that every single teenager has felt. We all at one point or another in our life has felt  "invisible in a crowded room". I admired Viola. I thought Viola was strong, selfless, thoughtful, and smart. I also enjoyed Lawrence's character. He was sweet and caring, and brought a lot to the story. Jinn was my favorite. He started off as kind of a sarcastic douche, but once he opened up, it was easy for me (oops, I mean Viola) to fall in love with him! I could not stop picturing Jinn as Aladdin, who I had a childhood crush on, even though he was a cartoon. I know, lame.  

The only thing I did not like about this book is the cover. The publishers could have done so much with the cover of this novel. But whatever, the book was still amazing!

Jackson Pearce is a wonderful, funny, and talented writer. As You Wish was her first book that she wrote while in college (which in itself is really cool!).  I've read and reviewed Sisters Red already and I am excited for Sweetly, due out in August 2011!

Love, Kristina
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