Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: Evermore

Evermore by Alyson Noel
2.5 stars

Reasons for reading: YA Reading Challenge, it's really popular at my library, I've enjoyed some of the author's other books

Description: "Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch. Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste . . .

Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition. He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets. Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head. She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is. Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies."

My thoughts: This really didn't do it for me at all, though I seem to be in the minority. Teens love it and it got really good reviews. It just seemed so much like all the other vampire-type (now I see that Fallen Angels are taking over) books - sad teen girl and impossibly handsome and perfect immortal guy. I didn't find the explanation of how Damen came to be immortal very satisfying and I didn't understand how Ever was an immortal, too, when she's apparently died dozens of times throughout history. How does Damen keep finding her? The writing isn't bad and Ever is a well-drawn character - her crushing guilt over her family's death and the suffering caused by being able to hear people's thoughts really come through. There are a couple of near-death, heavy-duty-action scenes. And of course smoldering romance with Damen as well as the I hate you-I love you whirlwind every teen girl in love with a supernatural being needs. The addition of the ghost of Ever's little sister, Riley, is a good touch and gives Ever a thread to hang on to in her otherwise sad life. And I liked that Ever could see how people were feeling through their auras. So, I can absolutely see why teens love the series, but it really didn't do it for me.

Review: Virals

Virals by Kathy Reichs
3.5 stars

Reason for reading: Okra Picks Challenge

Description: "Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever. As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot--if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent. Fortunately, they are now more than friends--they're a pack. They are Virals."

First line: "A gunshot is the loudest sound in the universe."

My thoughts: I'm so behind, I actually read this last month! I've never read Kathy Reichs before, but have seen Bones, so I was glad to get the chance to read one of her books, even if it wasn't about Temperance. How Temperance and Tory were related was a bit confusing, Tory is something like her great-niece and Tory had only met her once or twice, though several characters point out how alike they are. Perhaps Tempe will show up in later books.

The story reminded me a fair bit of James Patterson's Maximum Ride books, with kids being turned into animal mutations by evil people. I liked the South Carolina setting - it was cool that it was set not only in Charleston but also on the outer-lying islands. The descriptions of the city and its landmarks as well as the islands and their beaches, make it obvious why it was chosen as an Okra Pick. The book didn't totally blow me away, but I'd recommend it to younger teen readers looking for adventure. It was an action-packed story and Tory is a feisty, super-intelligent (maybe a bit too crazy-smart, really, although I suppose that's another way she's like her great-aunt), dog-loving heroine.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: Mini Shopaholic

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

4 stars

Reasons for reading: I like the series!

Description: "Becky Brandon thought motherhood would be a breeze and that having a daughter was a dream come true: a shopping friend for life! But it’s trickier than she thought. Two-year-old Minnie has a quite different approach to shopping.Minnie creates havoc everywhere she goes, from Harrods to her own christening. Her favorite word is “Mine!” and she’s even trying to get into eBay! On top of everything else, Becky and Luke are still living with her parents (the deal on house #4 has fallen through), when suddenly there’s a huge financial crisis. With people having to “cut back,” Becky decides to throw a surprise party for Luke to cheer everyone up. But when costs start to spiral out of control, she must decide whether to accept help from an unexpected source—and therefore run the risk of hurting the person she loves. Will Becky be able to pull off the celebration of the year? Will she and Luke ever find a home of their own? Will Minnie ever learn to behave? And . . . most important . . . will Becky’s secret wishes ever come true?"

My thoughts: What is there to say? Fans know what to expect, and we get it. Even though I do often find Becky really annoying and the rest of the characters are getting pretty stock, it's still a fun series. And I suppose part of the reason they feel like stock characters is that we've gotten to know them -Becky's caring but often shrill drama queen mum, her dour eco-freak sister Jess, etc. And Becky has a good heart, that's why I stick with her. She's really shallow in a lot of ways, but she's really caring and when she really puts her mind to things, even if she makes a terrible mess, she follows through. Minnie is cute, if sometimes exasperating like all toddlers, is a chip off the old credit card, in addition to "Miiiiiiiiine!" she also frequently says "Starbucks, muffin" and "Visa?" Becky gets into some rather hilarious scrapes once again and trying to keep the party a secret nearly kills her. But in the end, she might just suprise us all...

Books read in 2010

So, I read 107 books last year, 3 more than 2009. I didn't do very well with reviewing this year, I'll have to step it up in 2011.

Adult Books

Full of Grace

2. Black Powder War

3. Little White Lies

Empire of Ivory

The Other Queen

6. Heart and Soul

Summer Blowout

8. Passion

9. Big Cherry Holler

10. Olive Kitteridge

11. A Reliable Wife

12. Dear Fatty

Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

Under Orders

15. Roses

16. Black Hills

17. Victory of Eagles

18. The Year of the Flood

Jane Bites back

20. Pretty in Ink

21. Death Masks

Shoot to Thrill

23. The Red Leather Diary

24. Take a Chance on Me

16 Lighthouse Road

26. I Take This Man

27. Bitter is the New Black

gods in Alabama

29. Fly me to the Moon

Shem Creek

31. Island of the Sequined Love Nun

32. Juliet, Naked

33. Men and Dogs

34. Blood Rites

The Man of my Dreams

36. Dead Beat

37. Proven Guilty

38. White Night

Stalking Susan

40. Dating Game

41. Small Favor

Wild Ride

43. Turn Coat

44. All is Vanity

45. Changes

Summer at Tiffany

47. Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime

Three Girls and Their Brother

49. You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up

Still Life

51. Star Island

52. Red's Hot Honky-Tonk Bar

Big Red Tequila

54. Some Like it Hot-Buttered

All You Need is Love

56. Her Royal Spyness

57. The Outcast

58. South of Broad

Keep Your Mouth Shut & Wear Beige

60. Room

61. The Art of Racing in the Rain

62. The Bikini Car Wash

63. This Time Together

64. Manhunting

65. Tongues of Serpents

66. A Vintage Affair

Children's and YA Books

Zombie Blondes

2. Splendor: a Luxe novel

3. Rampant

4. The Key to the Golden Firebird

5. The Hunger Games

6. Revelations: a Blue Bloods novel

7. Dragonbreath

The Cupcake Queen

9. Catching Fire

Getting the Girl

11. Son of the Mob

12. Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover

13. Amazing Maurice...Educated Rodents

14. A Northern Light

15. Scarlett Fever

16. School's Out - Forever

17. How Not To Be Popular


The Espressologist

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Hearts at Stake

The Treasure Map of Boys

23. What I Saw and How I Lied

24. Very LeFreak

25. Secret Society

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour


28. The Dark Divine

29. Mockingjay

When You Reach Me

31. Front and Center

32. Airborn

33. Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters

34. Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning

35. Pretty Dead

36. Bright Young Things

37. Virals

38. Hush, Hush

My Life, the Musical

40. The Fortunes of Indigo Skye

41. The Kid Table

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2011 YA Reading Challenge

Even though I didn't quite complete it in 2010, I'm going to try again. This challenge is being newly-hosted by Jamie, so thanks to her for taking it on!

Here's what I have so far for my "Fun Size" level of 20 books.

1. Evermore by Alyson Noel
2. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
3. Loser/Queen by Jodi Lynn Anderson

4. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
5. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
6. Siren by Tricia Rayburn
7. Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund
8. Zombies vs Unicorns by Holly Black
9 Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst
10. The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
11. Matched by Ally Condie
12. Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde
13. Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Southern Literature Challenge

Hooray, I love Southern lit!

I'm going to participate in Level 4: Y'all come back now, y'hear! Read 4 books

Here they are!

1. Somebody Everybody Listens to by Suzanne Supplee
2. Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
3. The House on Tradd Street by Karen White
4. Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty

2011 Debut Author Challenge

Details are here.

The goal is to read at least 12 books by authors making their YA debut in 2011. Here's the start of my list (subject to change!):

1. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
2. Timeless by Alexandra Monir
3. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
4. Wither by Lauren De Stefano
5. Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Colourful Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Colourful Reading Challenge

Thanks to Rebecca for hosting it! It was a fun way to get some books off the TBR list.

Here's my list:
1. Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
2. The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson
3. Black Hills by Nora Roberts
4. The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti
5. Keep Your Mouth Shut and Wear Beige by Cathleen Gilles Seidel
6. Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning by Danette Haworth
7. The Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel
8. Little White Lies by Gemma Townley
9. Revelations: a Blue Bloods novel by Melissa de la Cruz

My favourite was Empire of Ivory, because I love the series. I also really liked Black Hills and The Fortunes of Indigo Skye. While not my favourite by Maureen Johnson, The Key to the Golden Firebird was also good. The rest were pretty much average. I'd say my least favourite was Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning - it wasn't bad, it just felt like I'd read it all before.

2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Well, I didn't get this one quite finished. I aimed for 25 books and got to 23, with a couple of last-minute challenge overlaps and one that I finished a day late. Didn't get them all reviewed, either, though I may catch those up. Unfortunately, like a lot of other challenges I was involved in this year, this one seemed to peter out on the challenge blog and it seemed like no-one was really coordinating it any more, which was a bummer. Still, it was fun and a good way to squeeze in my required YA reading!

My favourite books were The Hunger Games and Amy and Roger's Epic Detour. I think my least favourite was the Dark Divine or maybe My Life: The Musical.

1. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
2. Ruined by Paula Morris
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
4. Splendor: a Luxe novel by Anna Godbersen
5. The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore (finished a day late!)
6. Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn
7. Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
8. School's Out Forever by James Patterson
9. Specials by Scott Westerfeld
10. My Life: The Musical by Maryrose Wood
11. Fire by Kristin Cashore
12. Pretty Dead by Francesa Lia Block

13. Getting the Girl by Susan Juby
14. Secret Society by Tom Dolby
15. Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
16. The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti
17. Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
18. Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford
19. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
20. Dark Divine by Bree Despain
21. Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
22. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
23. The Kid Table by Andrea Seigel