Book Review: Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah

0-545-05055-3Book #1: Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Published January 2009 by Orchard Books|304 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Randa Abdel-Fattah’s new novel about about finding your place in life…and learning to accept yourself and your culture.

“At school I’m Aussie-blonde Jamie- one of the crowd. At home I’m Muslim Jamilah- driven mad by my Stone Age dad. I should win an Oscar for my acting skills. But I can’t keep it up for much longer…”

Jamie just wants to fit in. She doesn’t want to be seen as a stereotypical Muslim girl, so she does everything possible to hide that part of herself. Even if it means pushing her friends away because she’s afraid to let them know her dad forbids her from hanging out with boys or that she secretly loves to play the darabuka (Arabic drums).

What I Thought: I really liked it!  After reading Does My Head Look Big In This? last year (and really liking it- it was in the running for one of my favorite books), I knew I wanted to read Abdel-Fattah’s other books!  I really liked Jamie, and I feel like she’s someone we can all relate to because I think we all have parts of ourselves that we want to hide from others.  And with how some of her classmates treat people from other ethnic backgrounds, I don’t blame her for wanting to hide that part of herself, especially with how people see Muslims and people from Middle East. Abdel-Fattah did such a great job at showing how she struggles with her identity within two cultures.  I did like that she became more open at the end of the book, and that she revealed Jamilah to her classmates- and it really made me wish we saw a little bit more of that in the book!

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it, and it’s definitely worth reading!

Rebels By Accident CoverBook #2: Rebels By Accident by Patricia Dunn

Published December 2014 by Sourcebooks|223 pages

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Mariam Just Wants to Fit In.

That’s not easy when she’s the only Egyptian at her high school and her parents are super traditional. So when she sneaks into a party that gets busted, Mariam knows she’s in trouble…big trouble.

Convinced she needs more discipline and to reconnect with her roots, Mariam’s parents send her to Cairo to stay with her grandmother, her sittu.

But Marian’s strict sittu and the country of her heritage are nothing like she imagined, challenging everything Mariam once believed.

As Mariam searches for the courage to be true to herself, a teen named Asmaa calls on the people of Egypt to protest their president. The country is on the brink of revolution—and now, in her own way, so is Mariam.

What I Thought: I thought Rebels By Accident was just okay- overall, I’m feeling sort of ambivalent about it. There were some things about the book I thought were odd.  Like, Mariam’s parents, who are really strict, are somehow okay with sending her to Egypt to stay with her grandmother…with the best friend who she went to the party with. Really?  You think her BFF is a bad influence, and you’re really strict, and yet you’re completely okay with the two of them flying to Egypt by themselves?  I really don’t get it, but I’m hoping there’s a cultural aspect I’m missing.

I also thought there would be more about the dissent in Egypt, and yet we don’t get a lot of it.  I get that it’s before things really got going, but for some reason, I thought it would have a bigger role in the story.  I also felt like it was more of a fun outing that staying with her grandmother as a form of punishment.  I didn’t care for Mariam- we all have insecurities, but it seemed over the top with her, and a bit too stereotypical.  Also stereotypical was her best friend, who seemed to be trying a little too hard to learn everything possible about Egyptian culture (it could have been nice, but it was just annoying).

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s okay, but her parents sending her to Egypt made zero sense, I really wanted more of the dissent/political issues going on, and Mariam and her best friend fell flat.

Proxy CoverBook #3: Proxy by Alex London

Published June 2013 by Philomel Books|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Proxy #1

Genre: YA Dystopic

What It’s About: Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

What I Thought: Proxy was a book I was really intrigued by, but I end up thinking it was okay.  While the actual concept of a proxy is interesting, I didn’t really like it as much as I thought.  For some reason, I thought we see more from that part of it, but we only see Syd get one punishment.  I guess it makes sense, because you need to focus on one thing, but honestly, something about it didn’t work for me.  It was a lot more boring/uninteresting than I thought, and it’s a pretty forgettable book.  I did like that Proxy’s are named after literary figures.  And that Syd is gay added something to the book, though I can’t explain why.  It did seem like there might have more to that story line, and it fizzled and got lost in everything else going on.  Knox was obnoxious, and Syd is a little sympathetic, but overall, I wasn’t terribly invested in what happened to Syd.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s an interesting idea, but overall, pretty forgettable.  Even though the ending was interesting, it wasn’t enough to make me want to pick up the next book.

Book Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Fairest CoverBook: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Source/Format: borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Lunar Chronicles #3.5 (reading books 1-3 is definitely recommended before reading this one!)

Genre: YA Sci-Fi Fairy Tale Re-telling

What It’s About:

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told…until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

What I Thought:

I was super-excited when I found out there was going to be a Lunar Chronicles novella, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to read it after the series was finished (which is the norm for reading novellas- at least in my case) or now.  And I decided I couldn’t wait that long, and I really liked it!

We don’t really get much with Queen Levana, and she’s this mysterious, ominous villain that we didn’t really see a lot of in the series so far.  Understandable, since it’s Cinder’s story, and how it connects to Scarlet, Cress, and Winter (well, that’s what I’m assuming, given the series so far).  But there’s quite the connection between Levana and Cinder, and I really liked seeing why she hates Cinder, and the connection to both Cress and Winter.

I really liked seeing how Levana become the person she is, and I actually felt really bad for her.  She’s done some very horrible things that are not okay, but I do understand why she did those things, and it makes me really excited to read Winter- we definitely see Winter a little bit in this one, and I want to know more about her!  It also sheds a little more light on the Lunar people, so I’m definitely glad we get to see it way before things go down.

Another really interesting thing about it is that while it’s a prequel, taking place before the events of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter, I would also recommend reading it after Cinder, Scarlet and Cress, if you haven’t already read them.  It’s definitely easy to figure out at least one plot twist that I can think of.

Since I read the e-book, I didn’t get to see any of the artwork that’s supposed to be included in the print copies- which is unfortunate, because if they’re anything like that cover, I feel like I really missed out, and that the artwork is what would have pushed it from really liking Fairest to loving it.  At the same time, though, if it is as stunning as the cover (I mean, look at that cover, it’s gorgeous, and I want a print of that hanging up on my wall), it’s something I’d want to see in front of me, and not on a screen, you know?

Random Update: I was doing some book shopping at Mysterious Galaxy on Friday to avoid traffic, and I happened to see a copy of Fairest.  Knowing there was supposed to be artwork included, I flipped through, and was quite disappointed that the artwork was a drawing of Levana’s castle on the inside cover, and was the same image on both sides.  Granted, the summary doesn’t really specify, but something about it really made it seem like there was going to be all this beautiful artwork.  So you’re really not missing out on anything if you go for the digital or audio (assuming there is an audio, of course).


4 stars.  I really liked Fairest, and I loved seeing how Levana got to be the way we see her in the books.

Book Review Round-Up #7

Book Review Round-Up is a series of posts that I started to talk about all of the books I’ve been reading and want to talk about.

Book #1: A World Without Princes by Soman Chainani

A World Without Princes CoverSource/Format: borrowed the e-book from the library!

What It’s About: In the epic sequel to the New York Times bestselling novel, The School for Good and Evil, Sophie and Agatha are home, living out their Ever After. But life isn’t quite the fairy tale they expected. 

When Agatha secretly wishes she’d chosen a different happy ending, she reopens the gates to the School for Good and Evil. But the world she and Sophie once knew has changed.

Witches and princesses, warlocks and princes are no longer enemies. New bonds are forming; old bonds are being shattered. But underneath this uneasy arrangement, a war is brewing and a dangerous enemy rises. As Agatha and Sophie battle to restore peace, an unexpected threat could destroy everything, and everyone, they love—and this time, it comes from within.

What I Thought: I liked it!  Not as much as The School For Good And Evil, but I still liked it.  It definitely didn’t have the same appeal as the first one did, which, now that I think about it, did stand on its own fairly well.  But I also liked seeing the consequences of everything that happened in the first book, and how there was such a ripple effect.

Something about this one was really confusing, and I don’t know if I just wasn’t paying enough attention (I did have to go back and re-read certain parts because it made no sense) or if it’s because I needed to re-read the first book (which I should have done) or if it was just really confusing (which is possible but hard to tell because of the first two things I mentioned).  Still, I liked that it poked at fairy tales in general, which is one of my favorite things about the book.  It is very much about shades of gray, and yet there is something very black and white about it too.

You do see that balance is necessary, and what happens when you don’t have balance, but I don’t know that it was as obvious as the ideas of beauty being skin-deep and that you can’t judge someone based off of looks that we see in the first one.

Rating: 3 stars.  I felt like this one was a little more confusing than the first one, and that it lost some of the charm that the first one had.  But I’m still looking forward to reading the next one to see what happens.

Book #2: The Conspiracy Of Us by Maggie Hall

The Conspiracy Of Us CoverSource/Format: borrowed the e-book from the library!

What It’s About: To fight her destiny as the missing heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, sixteen-year-old Avery West must solve an ancient puzzle in a deadly race across Europe. Forbidden love and code-breaking, masked balls and explosions, destiny and dark secrets collide in this romantic thriller, in the vein of a YA DaVinci Code.

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. 

They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead. 

To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.

What I Thought: I was very much intrigued by the idea of YA Da Vinci Code, and I’m actually really glad that this book delivered on that!  I definitely liked it, but I didn’t love it.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun book, and if you’re into conspiracies, especially one where you have a secret group controlling everything, this is the book for you.

There’s definitely a lot of action, but everything we learn about this secret group and the prophecy aren’t sticking with me. There are quite a few details throughout the book, and other than connections to the Circle throughout history, nothing really stands out, and it hasn’t even been that long since I’ve read it.  I think I may need to re-read it again to refresh my memory, but I still am looking forward to reading the next one because I’m really curious about the different interpretations of the prophecy and they’re still sort of right about everything going on.

Rating: 3 stars.  I didn’t love it, but I did like it, and it’s action-packed and fast-paced- I just wish the details stuck with me more!

Book #3: Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Sloppy Firsts CoverSource/Format: own the e-book!

What It’s About: When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

A fresh, funny, utterly compelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment—from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.

What I Thought: Here’s the thing with Sloppy Firsts…I liked it, and it was a cute book, but I totally read it at the wrong time.  I…kind of feel like I’m too old for the book.  Don’t get me wrong, Jessica is totally easy to relate to and I can see why people love this boo  I was definitely reminded of The Princess Diaries, and Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging (and there’s another one I remember reading but I can’t remember the name of it.  I think it came out around the same time as Princess Diaries and Angus, though), so if you love those books, you’ll love Sloppy Firsts.

I think Sloppy Firsts is the kind of book that teenage-me would have loved.  As an adult, I felt like Jessica couldn’t see that everything was going to be okay eventually.  And I hate that I think that, because I think what she’s going through and how she’s feeling is perfectly normal and understandable and valid and very much one that happens a lot.  (I’m pretty sure I’d react similarly).  I do wish we saw Hope at some point in the book- either a letter back or something, because I really just wanted to see the best friend that Jessica misses…and to see the person that no one will ever measure up to.  (That was definitely a point where I wanted to tell her that it’s okay to have other friends, even though Hope is gone and will always be her best friend).

Rating: 3 stars.  I didn’t love it but it is a cute book.  I just wish I had read it in high school, because teenage Nicole would have loved it.

Book Review Round-Up #6

Book Review Round-Up is a series of posts I started to talk about the books I’ve been reading and want to talk about.  The idea was inspired by a weird reading funk I’ve been in.  Enjoy!

Book #1: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice CoverSource/Format: borrowed the e-book from the library!

What It’s About: Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody.  Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the “slut stall” in the girls’ bathroom: “Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers” and “Alice got an abortion last semester.” After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they “know” about Alice–and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.

What I Thought:  I thought The Truth About Alice was just okay.  I was intrigued by it, since I’ve seen it floating around, and decided to give it a read.  I do like that it’s a different take on slut-shaming and bullying, and that you see how other people see Alice.  And I really like how Mathieu plays with the stereotypes- the popular girl hosting the party (Elaine), the former best friend (Kelsie), the best friend of the guy who died in a car accident because of Alice (Brandon), and the nerd who has a crush on Alice and is the only person willing to talk to her (Kurt).  These are the people who tell Alice’s story before we finally hear from Alice herself at the end of the book.  I found myself hating pretty much all of the characters (except for Kurt who is pretty awesome, and Elaine, the popular girl because at least she owned it).  I feel like we don’t really get to know who Alice really is, because we pretty much see her through the eyes of other people.  It makes me wish we got more than one chapter at the end of the book from her perspective.

I kind of don’t blame her for not speaking up (at least that we see) because I’d probably do the same thing in her position.  It is sort of frustrating, but her classmates also seem like the sort of people who wouldn’t care what really happened, if they’re anything like Elaine, Kelsie and Brandon.  While the idea of multiple narrators was interesting, especially given that we don’t really see Alice’s side, something about it didn’t completely work for me.

Rating: 2 stars.  It was just okay, and it was an interesting way to tell a story that also didn’t work as well as it could have.

Book #2: Everything Leads To You by Nina LaCour

Everything Leads To You CoverSource/Format: borrowed the e-book from the library

What It’s About: A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…she’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

What I Thought: Everything Leads To You is one of those books that everyone seems to love, and while I liked it, I didn’t love it.  I liked the mystery of the letter from a John Wayne-type of character, and how it led to Ava.  Their romance didn’t quite work for me, just because it seemed like Emi was just into Ava to figure out the mystery and everything that happened when Ava was little.  But I still liked that is was a whirlwind of a romance and you could tell they cared for each other, and that love is love, no matter who it is you love really came through.  I loved that Emi was so interested in set design, and she seems to be doing well in the field, considering how young she is.  It really is a good summer book, but with all of the set design and film stuff, it was slightly hard for me to connect with it as a book…but I do think it would be great as a movie or t.v. show.

It is a cute, quick read, so if that’s what you’re looking for, this is a book definitely worth checking out.

Rating: 3 stars.  It is cute, and I loved Emi’s love of set design, and the connection to a silver-screen legend.

Book #3: Unsouled  by Neal Shusterman

UnSouled coverSource/Format: borrowed the e-book from the library

What It’s About: Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard, the last safe haven for AWOL Unwinds. But for the first time, they’re not just running away from something. This time, they’re running toward answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, and learn why the shadowy figures behind unwinding are so afraid of her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever.

Cam, the rewound boy, is plotting to take down the organization that created him. Because he knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human.

With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, the paths of Connor, Lev, Cam, and Risa will converge explosively–and everyone will be changed.

What I Thought: I really liked Unsouled!  It really is a good addition to the series, and I feel like each book reveals more about this world and how unwinding came into being.  I liked seeing the chapters focusing on the people who came up with the science behind unwinding, and how it was help, not be the the thing that started an entire industry…and how the thing that would mean unwinding would end was hidden and destroyed because it would mean that entire industry would be destroyed. It is definitely something that you can see happening today, and I think it’s something that will always be relevant to whatever’s going on.

I also really like all of the different perspectives you see in the book, and it’s something that’s done really well. You see all of the different sides of what’s going on, and it really makes what’s going on even more interesting and really adds to what’s happening.  I really loved a connection to UnWind, and there is one part of it that makes so much more sense now that we have some more pieces to the puzzle.  Everything really is starting to fall into place, and I can’t wait to see how it all ends.

Rating: 4 stars.  I didn’t love it but I still really liked it because it makes you think so much!

Book Review Round-Up #5: The ARC Edition

Book Review Round-Up is a series of posts I started to talk about all of the books I’ve been reading but haven’t been able to talk about!

*A Quick Note: All three books I am talking about were received from, which hasn’t influenced my reviews or thoughts on the books in any way.

Book #1: Down From The Mountain by Elizabeth Fixmer

Down From The Mountain CoverBook Info: Published March 1 by Albert Whitman Teen, read the e-ARC

What It’s About: Eva just wants to be a good disciple of Righteous Path. She grew up knowing that she’s among the chosen few to be saved from Armageddon. Lately, though, being saved feels awfully treacherous. Ever since they moved to the compound in Colorado, their food supplies have dwindled even while their leader, Ezekiel, has stockpiled weapons. The only money comes from the jewelry Eva makes and sells down in Boulder–a purpose she’ll serve until she becomes one of Ezekiel’s wives. But a college student named Trevor and the other “heathens” she meets on her trips beyond the compound are far different from what she’s been led to believe. Now Eva doesn’t know which is more dangerous–the outside world, or Brother Ezekiel’s plans.

What I Thought: I thought Down From The Mountain was okay.  There is something fascinating to me about reading books about people in cults but this one didn’t quite work for me.  There are a lot of things that are pretty stereotypical of cults, but also a couple of things that seemed really odd.  Like, Narnia was mentioned several times but it didn’t really seem to fit with everything else going on.  You really do feel like you know what’s going on at the compound, and you really feel like you know what’s going on with Eva there and in the outside world, but I also wish we had more of her life before Righteous Path.  And more about Righteous Path.  The ending also seemed a little rushed, and I felt like we could have seen more of her life after leaving Righteous Path.  There is something about the book that made it seem like it was set far earlier than it was, but that might be because of all the time spent on the compound.  It is a pretty predictable book, and how everything went wasn’t surprising.  and it’s been just over a week since I’ve read it…and it’s pretty forgettable.  Nothing has really stayed with me since finishing it. It’s not bad, it’s just not for me.

Rating: 2 stars.  It’s okay, but also a little forgettable and not for me.

Book #2: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us CoverBook Info: Published March 24, 2015 by Algonquin Young Readers, read the e-ARC

What It’s About: “Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices — one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

What I Thought: I actually spent a lot of the book really confused about what was happening.  I know Ori got the justice she deserved or whatever, but I honestly am really unclear about how that happened.  I feel like I need to read it at least once or twice more just to figure out what on earth happened.  There was the whole escaping prison, and all of the dead girls who were at the prison and it’s definitely a mess of a confusing story.  I found I couldn’t connect with anyone, and I really wanted to know more about Ori, who is still shrouded in mystery…to me, at least.  I kind of felt like things made less sense at it went on, especially since things weren’t explained…either that, or it was super-subtle and I wasn’t paying enough attention to what was going on.

It is an interesting way to tell a story, and I think it’s the sort of story that needs at least 2 or 3 reads for everything to sink and make sense.  I will say that it was hard to put down, and it is page-turner because you want to know what happens.

I don’t know if I’m necessarily the right reader for this book, because I do like having answers to my questions, and I do like things to make sense, but with the right reader, I can see how this would be an awesome book.

Rating: 2 stars.  It’s definitely hard to put down, and there is a really creepy aspect that I love, but I think I need to read at least once more for everything to sink in.

Book #3: Disappear Home by Laura Hurwitz

Disappear Home CoverBook Info: Published March 1, 2015 by Albert Whitman Teen, read the e-ARC

What It’s About: In 1970, as the hippie movement is losing its innocence, Shoshanna and her six-year-old sister, Mara, escape from Sweet Earth Farm, a declining commune, run by their tyrannical and abusive father, Adam. Their mother, Ella, takes them to San Francisco, where they meet one of her old friends, Judy, and the four of them decide to head off and try to make a life together. Finding a safe haven at the farm of kind, elderly Avery Elliot, the four of them find some measure of peace and stability. Then their mother’s crippling depression returns. Confused and paranoid, Ella is convinced that she and the girls must leave before Adam finds them and exacts revenge. The girls don’t wish to leave the only stable home they’ve ever had. But as Ella grows worse and worse, events conspire to leave them to face a choice they never could have imagined. Shoshanna has always watched over her sister and once again she has to watch over her ailing mother. Will she ever live a “normal” life?

What I Thought: I wanted to like Disappear Home, but found that I couldn’t.  I honestly didn’t get why they were terrified of Adam, and how horrible Sweet Earth Farm was, and I feel like if we had spent some time there with Mara, Shoshanna and their mom, them leaving would have more more sense and given everything more context.  It was very moving at the end, but I felt like it was too late at that point.  We definitely are told what’s going on, and I wish we saw what was happening.

I understand why the mom acted the way she did, and she did have the sense to get the kids out of there, but at the same time, I disliked her so much.  It was just so hard to care about any of them, even the girls, and it was hard to get invested in their story when I feel like we know so little about them.

It also didn’t really feel like it was set in the 70’s either.  Granted, this book takes place during a time long before I was born, so I don’t really know what the 70’s were like, but it really could have happened at any point in time.

Rating: 1 star.  It was an interesting premise, but I couldn’t get into it, and it felt like too much was missing.

Book Review Round-Up #4

Book Review Round-Up is a new feature where I talk about several of the books I’ve been reading lately.

Book #1: Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos

Ask Me No Questions CoverSource/Format: own the e-book!

What It’s About: “You forget. You forget you don’t really exist here, that this isn’t your home.” 

Since emigrating from Bangladesh, fourteen-year-old Nadira and her family have been living in New York City on expired visas, hoping to realize their dream of becoming legal U.S. citizens. But after 9/11, everything changes. Suddenly being Muslim means you are dangerous — a suspected terrorist. 

When Nadira’s father is arrested and detained at the U.S.-Canadian border, Nadira and her older sister, Aisha, are told to carry on as if everything is the same. The teachers at Flushing High don’t ask any questions, but Aisha falls apart. Nothing matters to her anymore — not even college. 

It’s up to Nadira to be the strong one and bring her family back together again.

What I Thought: Even though Ask Me No Questions was just okay for me, I’m still really glad I read it.  This book really got me thinking about so many things- like what it’s like to be an illegal immigrant, and a Muslim in a post-9/11 world, and what happens when there’s a huge possibility of being deported.  While it’s not an issue I pay a lot of attention to, it does seem like most of the focus is on those who are coming from Central America, particularly Mexico, but I do think a lot of it is because it’s not something I pay attention to, and also partly because I live in San Diego, which does border part of Mexico.

As much as I appreciate how much it made me think, I really wish we saw more of their life before seeking asylum in Canada. I know we got random glimpses of it through flashbacks (which were really confusing because they randomly appeared with no warning) but I think it really would have shed more light on what it was like for them coming to the U.S. and what they had to go through to become U.S. citizens.

Rating: 2 stars.  I definitely had some issues with Ask Me No Questions, but I still feel like it’s a really important book to read! It definitely got me thinking about so many things.

Book #2: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Adaptation CoverSource/Format: Own the e-book!

What It’s About: Reese can’t remember anything from the time between the accident and the day she woke up almost a month later. She only knows one thing: She’s different now.

Across North America, flocks of birds hurl themselves into airplanes, causing at least a dozen to crash. Thousands of people die. Fearing terrorism, the United States government grounds all flights, and millions of travelers are stranded.

Reese and her debate team partner and longtime crush David are in Arizona when it happens. Everyone knows the world will never be the same. On their drive home to San Francisco, along a stretch of empty highway at night in the middle of Nevada, a bird flies into their headlights. The car flips over. When they wake up in a military hospital, the doctor won’t tell them what happened, where they are—or how they’ve been miraculously healed.

Things become even stranger when Reese returns home. San Francisco feels like a different place with police enforcing curfew, hazmat teams collecting dead birds, and a strange presence that seems to be following her. When Reese unexpectedly collides with the beautiful Amber Gray, her search for the truth is forced in an entirely new direction—and threatens to expose a vast global conspiracy that the government has worked for decades to keep secret.

What I Thought: I really liked Adaptation!  I read it for a brand new book club I’m a part of, and I liked it a lot more than Huntress (which I really need to re-read because I totally read it at the wrong time).  Anyway, the idea that birds are causing these plane crashes, and no one knows what’s going on, but we finally learn what happens as Reese gets more and more caught up in what happened.  The whole thing with Amber was interesting, even when things go wrong, but I still really liked their relationship.  And I also really liked her relationship with David- they did go through some really bizarre things together, and it makes sense that it bring them closer together.  I was surprised by the possibility of a love triangle, but it really doesn’t feel gimmicky at all, which is a nice change from most of the love triangles out there.  And as much as I love romance, I also liked that it wasn’t central to the plot (even though Reese does try to figure out who she is, in the midst of all of the craziness).

There is something sort of sci-fi-ish about the book, and it’s a distant future that has so many possibilities to it, some of which could go very, very wrong.  And that’s what drew me in, the hint of things I can’t even begin to imagine in terms of science and technology and medicine.  It made the book super-interesting, and it really makes me want to read the sequel!

Rating: 4 stars.  I didn’t completely love it (and I find the idea of a minor being allowed to sign a non-disclosure agreement to be really hard to believe) but it’s still a really great read.

Book #3: Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Throne Of Glass CoverSource/Format: own the e-book!

What It’s About: After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. 

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. 

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. 

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

What I Thought: I’m glad I finally read Throne Of Glass!  It’s one of those books I feel like everyone has read except for me, but I’m glad I read it!  I liked this super-secret competition to become the King’s Champion, and I liked seeing her as an underdog, going up against men who clearly underestimate her.  I really liked Celaena and thought she was pretty sassy.

But there were some things I wasn’t sure about.  Like, why did the king decide to get rid of magic?  It was mentioned, but never explained.  And I really wish we saw more of Celaena’s life before going to the castle, because it was hard to see her as this really bad-ass famous assassin that everyone’s terrified of.  We only get the briefest of glimpses of her life before, and I wish we had more of it, because I felt like I needed more back story for her.  I also felt like training was too easy for her, and she bounced back way too quickly after a year of hard labor in a salt mine.

Still, I really liked the story, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for her.

Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it, but felt like a few things were really odd and hard to overlook.

Book Review Round-Up #3

Book Review Round-Up is a new feature where I talk about several of the books I’ve been reading lately.

Book #1: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Waistcoats & Weaponry CoverSource/Format: borrowed the e-book from the library

What It’s About: Class is back in session…

Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style–with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what–or who–they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine’s proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.

What I Thought: This was such a fun book to read!  I mean, her books are always fun to read, so this isn’t unusual or anything.  I love seeing what Sophronia is up to, and I was quite surprised by how the book ended! I really didn’t see that coming!  And I also want to see how that plays out in the next book!  But I also want to see how things go with Sidheag and some of the events that happen in this one that we see much more of in the Parasol Protectorate series.  It really makes me want to go back and listen to that series to refresh my memory! Anyway, I’m curious to see if Sophronia will end up with someone (and who it would be), and I really am looking forward to reading the rest of the series to see how things turn out.  Especially with everything that keeps happening!

Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it but didn’t love it.  While it’s a fun book that makes you wonder where things are headed, it also didn’t have the appeal that the other books did.

Book #2: Breaker by Emma Raveling

Breaker CoverSource/Format: own the e-book!

What It’s About: War. Prophecy. Freedom.

She fought for herself.

She fought for friendship and love.

Now, Kendra Irisavie fights for the survival of her world.

War rages on, leaving no one untouched. Destruction rips through elemental communities and terror flourishes in its wake. Suspicion soars, order fractures, and loyalties crumble despite Kendra’s desperate attempts to protect everyone she holds dear.

When an organized Aquidae army launches a series of merciless assaults, Kendra and her friends set out to end the bloodshed once and for all. With the fate of elementals hanging in balance, the Shadow and sondaleur hunt each other down in a brutal match of cunning and will.

Kendra has trained for this her entire life. But in a ravaged world where trust is scarce and no life is sacred, she soon realizes her battle may be against an invincible enemy and that her darkest days lie ahead.

Twists and turns shape her harrowing odyssey, leading to a stunning climax that challenges everything she believes in.

Torn between destiny and autonomy, Kendra must finally decide whether the cost of freedom is too high.

Heartbreaking decisions, turbulent alliances, and shattering revelations collide in Breaker, the explosive conclusion to the Ondine Quartet.

What I Thought: I just loved Breaker!  You really couldn’t ask for a better ending to a great series!  There was part of me that didn’t want to finish reading because  didn’t want it to be over and yet I needed to know how it all ended.  We do find out who the Shadow is, and I was surprised and yet not surprised by who it was.  I mean, it really was perfect, but there was a small part of me that thought it would be someone closer to everything.  I’m glad it wasn’t, because that would have been horrible, and yet that’s totally what I was expecting.  There were a couple of character deaths that had me completely shocked, and one, I had to go back and re-read a few chapters because I couldn’t believe I missed it…only to not see even the slightest of hints. Maybe I need to re-read it again to see if I can find it…

Anyway, it really was a heart-breaking but hopeful end to the series, and I really want things to work out for Kendra, with being called to the ocean and then coming back with no memories…I hope they come back! Because I really want her to remember things.

Rating: 5 stars for being an awesome book that really tied everything together.

Book #3: Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown

Perfect Escape CoverSource/Format: own the e-book!

What It’s About: Kendra has always felt overshadowed by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him to live a life of carefully coordinated routines. The only way Kendra can stand out next to Grayson is to be perfect, and she has perfection down to an art — until a cheating scandal threatens her flawless reputation.

Behind the wheel of her car, with Grayson asleep beside her, Kendra decides to drive away from it all — with enough distance, maybe she’ll be able to figure everything out. But eventually, Kendra must stop running and come to terms with herself, her brother, and her past.

With undeniable grace and humor, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the emotional highs and lows of a complex sibling relationship.

What I Thought: I liked Perfect Escape!  Not as much as I loved Hate List (because, really, I love that book so much, and it’s really hard to not compare every other Jennifer Brown book to that one, which is sort of unfair), but I still really related to both Kendra and Grayson.  I could definitely relate to Kendra, and how she felt like she needed to be the perfect child, especially with everything going on with Grayson.  You did get how people treated her because of it, and that was completely horrible of them.  Seriously, it made me so angry.  Anyway, it was really easy to understand why Kendra acted the way she did, and I think it’s something we can all relate to in some way.  Still, I didn’t completely love Kendra, and felt like she didn’t really get what Grayson was going through, and saw him more as a problem than an actual person going through something.  And I felt like she really didn’t seem to learn from her mistakes.

I also really understood Grayson, and how he felt.  I’ve struggled with depression for a long time, and I can totally relate to wanting to be normal, even though there really isn’t a normal.  I also really felt for him, because it definitely seemed like his parents weren’t quite sure what to do and that they seemed to walk around on eggshells because of the fact that he has OCD.

And the ending!  It just sort of…ended.  I really wanted more resolution with what happened when they got back home.

Rating: 3 stars.  I liked, and I could relate to both Grayson and Kendra, but I also found myself annoyed with both Kendra and how the book ended.

Book Review Round-Up #2

Book review round-up is a new feature, where I talk about a few of the books I’ve been reading.  It was inspired by a weird blogging/reading funk I’ve been in, and this is the 2nd one!

Book #1: Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

Mine Till Midnight CoverSource/Format: borrowed the e-book from the library

What It’s About: When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship—but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter…

What I Thought: I thought Mine Till Midnight was okay.  I really felt like there wasn’t any chemistry between Amelia and Cam, and it was hard to root for them and care about their happily ever after.  I so did not feel it between them. That’s pretty much it, because I really can’t recall anything else.

Rating: 2 stars.  Pretty much because I didn’t feel it between Amelia and Cam.

Book #2: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll Bones CoverSource/Format: borrowed from the library

What It’s About: Zach, Alice, and Poppy, friends from a Pennsylvania middle school who have long enjoyed acting out imaginary adventures with dolls and action figures, embark on a real-life quest to Ohio to bury a doll made from the ashes of a dead girl.

What I Thought: I thought Doll Bones was okay.  If I were in elementary school or middle school, I’d probably love the adventure but it didn’t quite work for me.  I think because one of them was way more into imaginary adventures than the other two, and it seemed weird that no one would notice a few kids wandering around by themselves for a while. I know they need to in order to fulfill their quest, but something about it made it hard to get into.  It is clear that there’s a very established story in the world they created, and that is a story I’d love to read…it seems much more interesting than the three kids growing out of their imaginary adventures.  But I do think some people will like it, even if it wasn’t for me.

Rating: 2 stars, for reasons I mentioned above.

Book #3: The Truth About Air And Water by Katherine Owen

The Truth About Air And Water CoverSource/Format: I own the e-book!

What It’s About: They share an epic love but one moment changes everything. A life together that seemed certain is shattered. One learns you never love the same way twice; the other learns what it means to come home. You only think you know how this love story goes, but do you really know how an epic love can end?

What I Thought: I am so glad that there’s a sequel to This Much Is True!  I really liked seeing what was going on with Tally and Elvis, and even though things were rough for them, like really rough, they did get through it.  And I really hope that there’s another book, because I feel like their story is far from over.  It definitely stands on its own, and even though you don’t need to read the first book in order to know what’s going on in this book, I think it’s a really good idea to read the first one in order to fully get how much these two have been through.  It has more of an impact when you understand everything that’s happened.  And I just loved it, and it was heart-breaking but not heart-breaking and angsty the way This Much Is True was.  I don’t know if it’s because of the weird reading funk I’ve been going through, but it didn’t hit me emotionally the way I thought it was.

Rating: 5 stars for being such a great story, and for keeping their story…very true to them, and who they are as a couple and as people.

Book Review Round-Up #1

I haven’t been blogging a lot lately, and have pretty much been sticking to Top Ten Tuesday posts and a movie review (for Insurgent), but I have been reading…and since I want to talk about what I’ve been reading, I thought I’d do a few posts where I talk a little about the books I’ve been reading.  This is the first of several review round-ups I’m working on, so enjoy!

Book #1: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been Gone CoverFormat/Source: borrowed the e-book from the library

What It’s About: Emily is about to take some risks and have the most unexpected summer ever in this new novel from the bestselling author of Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour.

Before Sloane, Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, and she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—someone who yanks you out of your shell.

But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list with thirteen bizarre tasks that Emily would never try. But what if they can lead her to Sloane

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Wait…what?

Getting through Sloane’s list will mean a lot of firsts, and with a whole summer ahead of her—and with the unexpected help of the handsome Frank Porter—who knows what she’ll find.

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

What I Thought: Since You’ve Been Gone is an okay book.  It’s definitely a cute book, and I liked seeing Emily get out of her comfort zone.  I wasn’t completely into the book, mostly because who Emily was seemed to be really dependent on Sloane being around, and if Sloane wasn’t around, Emily wasn’t much of anyone.  It really did feel like her entire life and personality and identity revolved around Sloane.  While I can relate to your identity revolving around someone or something, it really felt irritating in this book, especially since she seemed to have latched onto a few different people, only for the something really similar to happen again.  I felt like Sloane was also a really shitty friend, especially with how she just left Emily with no explanation, and just a list of things to do.  Even though her explanation at the end of the book made sense, it was really hard to care, no matter how hard I tried.  The characters weren’t memorable, and I felt like her friendship with Sloane was built up to be bigger and more important than I felt it was.  I think teenage me would have liked it, but for adult me, it was too boring and felt pretty tame.  I did like the random playlists throughout the book, and I wish I had thought to check out some of the songs before I had to return it to the library.  I don’t know that I’d buy it, because it would be silly buying it just for the playlists, but I’d definitely check it out from the library again just for that.

Rating: 2 stars.  It’s cute but Sloane just seemed like an (understandably) not so great person, while Emily seemed really dependent on others for her identity.

Book #2: Huntress by Malinda Lo

Huntress CoverFormat/Source: borrowed the paperback from a friend

What It’s About: Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo’s highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and romance.

What I Thought: I liked Huntress!  I think I would have liked it more if I hadn’t read it at a time when focusing on anything except staring blankly into space.  Timing really is important when it comes to reading, because I felt like nature hanging in the balance really didn’t come through.  I think a few other things didn’t make a lot of sense when I was reading it, but I honestly can’t remember what they are now!  She did create a really interesting world, from what I can remember and after reading Adaptation recently (and really liking that world), I do want to go back and re-read it, since I really do think I read it at the wrong time, and my thoughts on the book suffered because of it.  Anyway, I liked that Kaede and Taisin live in a world where same-sex marriage is rare but also…not a big deal at all, especially when it comes to arranged marriages and marrying for alliances.

Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it and I really wish I had read it at a time when I had more energy to focus on it, because I think I would have like it a lot more.  I’m definitely going to have to re-read it.

Book #3: Waterfall by Lauren Kate

Waterfall CoverSource/Format: e-book from the library

What It’s About: Eureka’s tears have flooded the earth, and now Atlantis is rising, bringing with it its evil king, Atlas. Eureka is the only one who can stop him, but first she must learn how to fight. She travels across the ocean with Cat, her family, and Ander, the gorgeous and mysterious Seedbearer who promises to help her find Solon, an enigmatic lost Seedbearer who knows how to defeat Atlas.

Once on land, Eureka is taunted by gossipwitches, a group of displaced Atlantean sorceresses, and ambushed by locals struggling to survive amid the destruction her tears have wrought. And she feels no closer to facing Atlas or saving the world when Solon lets slip that love is Ander’s weakness, and that any affection he feels toward her makes him age faster.

Trying to make sense of the dark world her sorrow has created, Eureka receives startling insight from an enchanted pond. Her bewildering reflection reveals a soul-crushing secret: if she’s strong enough, Eureka can draw on this knowledge to defeat Atlas—unless her broken heart is just what he needs to fuel his rising kingdom…

In Waterfall, Eureka has the chance to save the world. But she’ll have to give up everything—even love.

What I Thought: To be honest, I remember nothing about Waterfall.  Seriously.  I have it rated 4 stars, and I could not even begin to tell you why.  I really couldn’t.  Obviously, I didn’t love it or anything, and I’m pretty sure that I didn’t like it the way I liked the first book.  Actually…I did like the place where Solon lives- it felt like a really pretty place.  I just wish I had more thoughts!

Rating: 4 stars.  I wish I could remember why.  Maybe I’ll do an updated review on this one if I find myself re-reading it.