A BOOK : The Lifeguard

After talking about the summer series by Jenny Han yesterday, it made me want to read a book set in summer. So I did!

Introducing:

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The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal

Sirena’s parents have just divorced, and instead of going to summer camp like she does every year with her best friend, this high school almost senior is sent to stay with her aunt at a small beach town. Sirena spends her days drawing, walking her aunt’s dog, wandering around the town, and of course- noticing the extremely attractive lifeguard (see above). Something about him draws her to him and she gets pretty smitten/obsessive quite quickly.

This is something mentioned on the backcover– there is a paranormal element to this novel! It is why I ended up deciding to read this, because I wanted to see how Blumenthal would smash together paranormalcy with a somewhat normal sounding plot (girl goes away for the summer to discover herself).

If you are looking for an extremely summery novel, this one definitely screams SUMMER. It’s written in a laid back style, with a lot of references to the water and the beach. There are also several unique characters living at the beach that Sirena gets to know. Sirena is an artist, and explores her craft with the help of a very special older man.

So! If you want your next book to be fun, with a very big “attractive boy! ah!” story line and a little of a supernatural element to it, this book might just be something you will want to pick up!

Add it to your to read shelf on Goodreads.com

HEY guess what!

YOU can win an arc of Sarah Mylnowski’s newest book!!! Check out this entry to learn how to enter! It is super easy and guess what you get? A free awesome book 🙂

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A BOOK : Alice in Zombieland

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Alice in Zombieland
Gena Showalter

Published 2012

She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

Adventures in Zombieland!

Alrighty, it took me a while to decide if I would read this novel or not. I finally did. My thoughts? It wasn’t the kind of book I was personally looking for, but I think if you are really into paranormal romance type novels and/or kind of interested in reading about zombies, but aren’t really sure if you want to take the plunge, and/or interested in different ways zombies are manifested then this might be the book for you!

Some thoughts:

1. Unfortunately I am not as familiar with the Alice in Wonderland story, so besides a few obvious references (I think there was a Cheshire cat character? Named Kat? I just assumed that was a reference) I didn’t notice this as a retelling of Alice in Wonderland or related in any real way. I was in this for the zombies, not necessarily any retelling or Wonderland aspect. So my advice is to go into this not expecting that, or if you are hesitant to read this because you aren’t a big Alice in Wonderland fan, don’t worry about it.

2. Speaking of zombies, this was the first type like this I have ever seen. The zombies were more like spiritual beings that some could see and some couldn’t see. As a result, the fighting was interesting as well as the technicalities that went into the zombies’ existence. Also, the humans that were able to see the zombies tended to have some sort of power themselves. All of this is still undiscovered confusing territory for Alice, so the reader gets to learn things right alongside her. It was evident that this was a very well thought out world.

3. There is a lot of romance! This book does come with a very attractive violet-eyed bad boy character. If you are looking for a story where the girl is swept up by a perfect seeming boy then this definitely may be your book. While the main boy lead has a lot of issues with always getting his way and being the leader, Alice is a stubborn girl and holds her own pretty well.

4. This isn’t *just* a romantical kind of novel. I loved the friendship between Alice and her best friend that you meet fairly early on. Her loyalty to her friend made me really happy and it was admirable to see her cling on to her friend instead of ditching the friend once everything got crazy.

5. I will say one thing that really bothered me, and it was a small thing. Everyone was so taken aback by how many questions Alice asked once Alice learned that zombies do exist. For some reason that drove me nuts, because of course she is going to be curious!! If I were her I would want to know every single thing that was going on!! Zombies are real! Wouldn’t it be strange if she wasn’t asking questions?

I suppose there is a reason for this as there are potential traitors and more than meets the eye in this novel (there isn’t just one human group trying to deal with the zombies–dun dun dunnnnnnn), so they are going to be worried about some random girl asking a lot of questions, but some of the scenes I just wanted to pop in and yell “ANSWER HER QUESTION!” And of course, the nature of this book is that Alice pretty much asks the questions the readers are thinking themselves, so of course I am going to want her questions answered as soon as possible so I know what is going on. But still. It stuck with me enough to write about it- haha.

Alrighty!

This is the first in the White Rabbit chronicles. The second book is: Through the Zombie Glass 

Add it to your TBR shelf on Goodreads
Check out this review on Katie’s Book Blog and this video review by Charley Reads for Alice in Zombieland if you want to hear more about the book!

Have a great day, guys!

A BOOK: The Summoning

Hello, how are you? I am good because I just read a book that was EXACTLY what I was looking for:

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The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
book 1 in The Darkest Powers Trilogy

I have been trying to find a series lately that dealt with paranormal things, was set in the current world, and was not overly focused on romance.

This was that.

The main character Chloe gets put into a home for teenagers with mental illnesses because she thinks she sees a ghost at school and starts FREAKING OUT. As most people would do. She suddenly ends up living with two other girls and three other guys in this extremely structured environment. Of course it turns out that everyone and everything has a secret and she has to try to figure them out while proving that she is well and stable enough to leave the home immediately.

What I loved is that Chloe is not focused on boys! Yes, they are a part of the story and yes there are glances between her and certain individuals of the XY chromosome population, but she is putting figuring out what the heck is going on and her own health above everything else. I love that. LOVE IT.

Certain secrets that were pretty obvious that I won’t mention here were dragged out a little too long, but honestly that did not bother me that much other than a brief annoyance. Other secrets I found pretty hard to guess, and kept me going through parts where I was getting anxious.

One neat thing I found was Chloe’s obsession with movies and trying to frame what was happening around her in that light. Framing her reality in “if this were a movie” terms was how she tried to objectively look at a situation or try to face something she was afraid of. I liked getting insight to her thinking and handling life process.

So! This is a great if you want a little paranormal-ness that is similar to a lot of things you may have read before, but still is different and its own story. I had a lot of fun reading this and I am looking forward to continuing the series.

End of post stuff:

Add this book to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
Next book up in this trilogy is The Awakening.
You can try out the first three chapters over at Harpercollins to see if you will like it!

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

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I don’t know what I was expecting, but this book was completely not what I expected. I ended up REALLY liking it, mainly because I found the setting so interesting. It is set in a society where humans actually know vampires exist, and some humans even completely idolize them. Most of the vampires live in these things called Coldtowns where they throw lavish parties and live what seems like extraordinarily exotic lives. They have their own video channels and twitter feeds and everything. Humans live among them and they are able to do so because there is this delicate balance where there is only a finite number of people in the towns and as a result a finite amount of blood. Not all vampires live in these Coldtowns and as a result the average joe schmo is still in danger of vampire attacks if they make poor decisions. Of course, this story starts off in the aftermath of a poor decision.

The main character is this girl named Tana and you follow her as she tries to fix terrible things as a result has to deal with even MORE terrible things.

Some of the things I liked?

  • I said it above, but I will say it again. I just find the spin on vampires such a breathtakingly fresh take on them. The vampires are terrifying most of the time. The whole concept of them being worshiped by people who watch them through the tv and computer skills is so applicable to what happens today. That desire to be what you see on the screen not being realistic is such a big yet still subtle theme in this book.
  • Tana. Tana makes decisions that I wouldn’t, but I feel like they are completely realistic to her character. I also found a lot of her decisions to be admirable, even if they were not always the safest.
  • Because of the nature of the world, there is always something terrible that could happen and all throughout reading this I just wanted to know what would happen!
  • This is set in the United States, but they acknowledge how other countries handled the knowledge of vampires existing. Major plus, right there!

Overall? I advise to at least TRY this one whether you are a vampire fanatic or a non vampire fan. I read this a few weeks ago, and now that I am writing about it I want to reread it again. Its the kind of story that sticks with you.

Review: Before I Fall

Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver
Published March 2010
Harpercollins

What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all: looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. Living the last day of her life seven times during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

Summary and photo from BN.com

So I’m re-reading this one, because it is literally one of my favorite books. Honestly? I have no clue why. Hurray for blog posts though, because I am going to work out why this book just hits something inside of me every time I read it, and why I just find myself craving it.

1. Part of me is apparently stuck in high school, and obsessed with trying to figure out this whole popularity thing. I cared about it in high school, but didn’t analyze it. Now that I am outside of high school, I cannot stop trying to figure out how the heck this all works. It has something to do with confidence and looks and the context. But still, I just can’t stop burrowing my head into this craziness and try to get inside the lives and heads of these girls. When I was driving to work the other day and out of the book, I realized how grateful I am to not be in high school, but part of me just wants to go again and just be a fly on the wall and figure out all the connections and… stuff.

2. The writing. Some people don’t like the MC, Sam, some people don’t like the overlying narration, but I just LOVE IT. Lauren Oliver zooms in and then zooms out and you get the big picture and the small picture, all from this seventeen (I think?) year-old girl, so it is still a skewed picture. I love how lyrical the writing can get in certain parts, and I love how overall the writing has this slippery feel to it, where it just slides you into the book.

3. My relationship with Sam was so love-hate. The way she treated others was ridiculous, and the way she knew what she was doing was wrong was even more ridiculous. But with that being said, it was so real. It brought me back to this flashback from like third grade. I was friends with one of the really popular girls in school and one of the really unpopular girls asked her to go to a baseball game with her. I kept mouthing “NO” to the popular girl, and the other girl was like “shut up Jenny!” I don’t even remember why I did it . I had nothing against this girl, she was just the person that wasn’t “enough”. Before I Fall made me remember a lot of the times I didn’t go out of my way to stick up for people I should have, and the people I unintentionally hurt just by being lame. This book is especially relevant today, now that bullying is being more acknowledged and people are actually support prevention. This is a must for a school library, public library, and personal library.

4. I’ve always been a fan of the whole “groundhog” experience. Sam relives her last day over and over. The power of being able to do whatever seems intoxicating to me. What would I do if I had not consequences? No fear? It also has the urgency of life. There is this moment in the book where Sam is just able to appreciate everything and while it is soooo hard and soooo exhausting to live every day and every moment in a appreciative state, it is also soooo medicinal. I just re-read it, and it was a good topper to the last week of NEGATIVITY and SICKNESS. Getting to that point in Before I Fall when Sam looks at her mom and simply loves her was a good way for me to shut the door of being angry-at-the-world Jenny and I think it is so important to live in that moment of gratitude, regardless of hard it can be. Also, this book is full of do-overs and consequences. I think if I had the ability of reliving one day over for a certain amount of times, and then continue on with my life I would totally take the chance. It is like being able to make mistakes without having the lasting negative consequences, but still gaining the wisdom from the mistake. Awesome.

5. I’m not going to talk a lot about this, but I think the love story in this is super sweet, especially since it wasn’t the main focus of the book. The whole hero aspect? Ummm, AWWW. Also, I loved watching how Sam goes from point a to point b to point c in her thoughts and feelings, and I love when she is trying to do right during her days. It’s just all adorable. And the contrast between certain boy and another boy? A landslide. It is amazing what good can go from good relationships.

Honestly, even though I have just finished this book, the crazy part of me kind of sort of wants to read it again. Already!

Overall Review: High fives all around for this one. An enjoyable story with remarkable writing, Before I Fall is a great book reaching all different ages. I would personally be comfortable giving this to anyone starting in jr. high and up. It’s an interesting commentary on growing up, popularity, and priorities. Wonderful book!
No extra words…. just read! The end.

Review: Eona

Eona
by Allison Goodman
Published April 2011
Penguin
SEQUEL to EON

Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled “Emperor” Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power-and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . .

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and its surprises, is the conclusion to an epic only Alison Goodman could create.

Photo and summary from Goodreads.com

*contains minor general spoilers, nothing specific though*

Fantastic! By the end of it I was taken aback by how long this book actually ends up being. It’s about 500 pages, but it does not feel like it. From the beginning to the end, I was intently focused on what was going to happen and the relationships and the power and the questions of gender. If you like the Alanna books by Tamora Pierce, I think you will love this. In the first book Eon the main character must pretend to be a boy in her request to be a dragoneye, which is essential a person who can wield the power of these magical dragons, which is similar to Alanna’s quest to become a knight and having to pretend to be a boy to get through the training and program. Eona is about the character, Eona, accepting her femininity and learning what that means to her and the people in her life.

1. The world in this is pretty awesome. According to the back of the book, Goodman draws upon some Asian cultures a little bit, and also just early civilizations. So, while it is a wholly different world and history, it has a lot of roots in our own past, which really gives the world a stability to it. From what I understand, Eona’s country draws power over the lands from the 12 dragons, each attached to a person called a dragoneye. Eona is one of those people, which you already know if you have read the first book. The thing that is BIG though, is only boys can be dragoneyes (GASP) and so, Eona is the first girl dragoneye in FOREVER. In Eona more people are revealed the true identity and so it’s neat to see the reactions in the unveil. They vary from betrayal, to hope. All in all this is about Eona trying to help establish the kingdom, establish herself, and well, figure out what the heck is going on in her heart.

2. This is kind of a side point, bu t one of the characters is transgendered, and has to stop dressing up as a woman and go in disguise as her born gender. One of my FAVORITE parts is when she shows her vulnerability, and talks about how she’s afraid dressing up as a man is putting distance between her and the man she loves. Seeing such a strong character speak something so heartbreakingly honest outloud just killed me.

3. Speaking of that character, I LOVE all of the side characters in Eona. I cannot think of the last book where there were as many side characters with so.much.depth. So not only did Alison Goodman create a thorough world, but she filled it with real people and cultures. It’s fantastic. So even when Eona was making me angry, I at least was able o find solace in the characters around her. I am pro-Allison Goodman staying in this world and just working on more stories for the characters in the book! I would love to see more perspectives.

4. While we are on the topic of people, I will say Eona drove me NUTS. To some extent I understand her thought process, but I wish she would just be HONEST. Obviously, she has never watched Buffy, because the big thing you learn in that show is the importance of being honest to your friends. It physically tore me apart, her lack of honesty and I did everything in my power to try to sway her into telling at least someone. Obviously, I wasn’t much help. Sorry guys:P.

5. I will say, Eona has to deal with a lot of hard stuff, one of them being balancing going from absolutely no power, to suddenly power EVERYWHERE. It is also addresses different kind of power: the power of a woman, the power of a man, your duty when you have power, your equality with other people with power and perhaps others that I may be missing. Personally I enjoyed the tension of Eona recognizing her womanhood, and how she now must relate to the men around her. It is really hard for her to determine the motivations of the people around her, and that is something that I wonder about in life. How much does being a woman in power affect the people around you and how people relate to you as opposed to being a man in power? It is fascinating.

Overall Review: While I got super angry in this, I wouldn’t say it is for lack of quality of the writing, if anything it speaks of good writing. This is fantastic for girls and boys I’d say 13+ (give or take). Personally, I think this is along the lines of The Hunger Games where it is good for boys and girls. I am pretty sure I am going to read this in the future again (maybe), and if not if I have a daughter I definitely am going to have her read this.
Interesting side note: When trying to decide if this is good for girls and boys, I realized I felt like I had to justify this as something a boy should and could and would read, just because the narrator is a girl. I never feel the need to justify a book for girls if the narrator is a boy. When I was writing the above it just made me go, hmm.

Review: Shatter Me

Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi
November 15, 2011
Harper Collins
ARC

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Summary and photo from Goodreads.com

Alrighty! I received an arc of this through work, and I’m really glad I was able to get my hands on it! Honestly, for me I wasn’t so sure if I would like this book as much as I did at first. The cover threw me off– when I saw it, all I could think about high fashion intensity with loud music and, well, intense people. Pretty much I just thought INTENSITY, but not in the kind of intensity I tend to read. Does that make sense? No? Well, anyway then, I ended up REALLY liking this. Here’s why:

1. I have to say, when it comes to YA writing this book is pretty much one of my favorites, writing wise. It is a SUPER close first person narration, and it ends up being extremely poetic as Tahereh Mafi does her best to put the reader in Juliette’s mind and helps us to feel what she feels and understand her exact emotional state. One of the things I love about Mafi’s writing is she writes Juliette’s real thoughts and what she really wants to say in a lot of situations but has it crossed off, so you get to see what she is really thinking and you also you get to see the times when her thoughts and what she actually says don’t correlate.

Example:

“‘Are you not hungry?’ Words dipped in sugar. His gloved hand touches my wrist and I nearly sprain it in my haste to distance myself from him.

I could eat every person in this room. ‘No, thank you.'”

This alone made me completely fall in love with Mafi’s writing. I mean. Look at that! And the intentional sentence fragments. Intentional sentence fragments are exactly my style of writing. I love them.

Another sample of good writing:

“The guns
click
click
click
Every moment is loaded.”

Isn’t that beautiful?

2. To explain further, based on the cover I wasn’t sure what kind of main character I would be getting. I was expecting someone snotty and someone who thinks she’s queen of the world (AND the bees knees. Gasp!). This is why covers should be taken with a grain of salt. Juliette is far from the confident, bees knees girl/intensefashionwoman shown on the cover. In this you get to see her go from being terrified of herself and hating herself, to beginning to accept herself. Her progression was slow, and kind of annoying sometimes (because who doesn’t get annoyed when you see someone awesome be a jerk to themselves?), but I think it was a good level of realistic. Also, she is more than the power she has. As a person she is so well-rounded and so strong and doesn’t end up just being the poor damsel-in-distress or the superwoman who does everything right. Throughout the book, she ends up getting to be the savior and the saved.

3. The main boys in Shatter Me are very different than each other in a good way and a bad way. Basically, one of them is a complete and utter jerk, while the other is completely wonderful. With the jerk one, it’s cool because Mafi makes sure that you understand more of where he came from and why he is the way he is. With the wonderful one, his cuteness makes you forget that he is too good to be true until you finish the book. This is supposed to be a series, so maybe we’ll get to see more of the wonderful boy’s flaws. But regardless, he was still suuppppeeerrr wonderful:)!!! As a little warning, there is a lot of intimacy in this book. No deed was actually done, but there are a lot of extremely close moments and since you’re in Mafi’s head, you’re really immersed into it!

4. The world this book is set in is a post-apocalyptic America, from what I understand. On the back of my copy it compares the world to Hunger Games and I think it’s an honest comparison. We don’t get to learn a lot about the society set up and exactly what happened, other than natural resources being all used up (causing food shortages and water shortages and, well, everything shortages) and weather systems getting all screwed up, thus leading to a “revolution” which turned into a bunch of power hungry people pretending to try to fix things, but instead are making everything worse. There are of course mysteries and lies and rebellions and a lot to look forward to!

5. So from the beginning you learn Juliette has the power to kill people just by touching them, which is the main reason why she is so screwed up mentally at the beginning of the story. The power thing is really cool, because as time goes on you learn there is more to it than just touching people and killing them. Also, it’s cool because you have so many different reactions to it– from the scared run away people, to the people who want to use her as a weapon. While certain people and their terrible motives made me SO ANGRY, it was a good kind of angry that made me realize I was a lot more invested in this character than I thought I was!

Overall Review: I’m not sure if I’m going to read this one again, but I am sure I’m going to do my darnedest to read the second! The ending is SUPER DUPER interesting, and makes me want to know more. Also, I’m looking forward to reading more of Mafi’s writing! If you like intense love scenes, strong female leads, poetic writing, and a little bit of the paranormal mixed in, Shatter Me would be perfect for you
HEY GUESS WHAT!!!: This comes out November 15th!