Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Social outcast Alexis starts to notice her sister is having some strange behavior. While it starts out fairly innocent, pretty soon Kasey is showing signs that something is very very wrong. Slowly Alexis comes to believe that her sister is possessed, and by an extremely malicious spirit. Now she must find the truth behind the secrets of the house they live in and try to free her sister from a hateful ghost before the ghost makes Alexis pay for challenging it.

Genre: supernatural, contemporary

Rating: 4.5/5

First off, this book cover is great. I love it. So creepy and very bright at the same time. Cover art is something I judge so harshly and it's nice to see this one looking so cool. The only way it could have been creepier was to employ and actual old ugly doll on the cover.

Meanwhile, this was a very taut thriller. The spirit in this case was completely malevolent. Her initial story might be sad, but there is nothing redeemable about this ghost. She's nasty, responsible for a string of deaths, and determined to kill anyone else in her way. This is an Exorcist possession, not a friendly one. Kasey does terrible things when possessed and is in desperate need of a throttling. While it was a bit convenient that cheerleader Megan is a specialist in spirits, she's at least an interesting character, being a popular preppy girl who is actually very nice. Alexis is also exposed to the attentions of Carter, a preppy, straightlaced guy who is severely misjudged by Alexis.

While the story itself is sometimes a bit predictable, it was still a very good book.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

Ashley's life is normal. She's struggling to graduate, has a boyfriend who may or may not be a loser, has great friends and goes to an inner city school that has its normal share of problems. But the problems become extreme when a math teacher absconds with the funds for prom and Ashley is sucked into helping pull off a new prom with no money. As Ashley tries to help patch together a prom, she begins to take a look at her own life. She has no plans, no goals, and it might be time for her to make something happen with herself, just like she's made something happen with prom.

Genre: contemporary

Rating: 4/5

A less serious book from Anderson, this one deals with a girl who is in almost every way a normal girl. She's not a good student, she's moderately popular, she makes really stupid decisions in the men department. Her parents aren't rich and they aren't dysfunctional, but she doesn't want to live at home. Her school is full of metal detectors and normal teenage chatter, rather than the small town or peaceful high schools sometimes written into YA novels. Ashley is likable, but she's no overachiever. She is slowly coming to the realization that if she doesn't figure out what she's going to do with her life, she's going to end up knocked up and living in a rut with her blue collar, lack luster boyfriend. It was an interesting take on high school life. Ashley is smart enough and nice enough, but it just takes her a while to get motivated to do anything. This is possibly a good book for readers who aren't straight A students and who don't know what they want to do with life, as Ashley thoughtfully realizes she might want something more in life than what she has.

Follow Friday (August 26)

Q. In books like the Sookie Stackhouse (True Blood) series the paranormal creature in question "comes out of the closet" and makes itself known to the world. Which mythical creature do you wish would come out of the closet, for real?

No, I don't want vampires or the traditional mythological creatures to show up. The biting thing doesn't appeal to me, werewolves smell like wet dog, and faeries are all ambivalent. I'd like some good, old fashioned demigods running around. I liked my Greek myths too much to not want a real Perseus or which ever monster hunter you think of.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Girl on the Other Side by Deborah Kerbel

Tabby Freeman and Lora Froggett go to the same school, but they live in totally opposite worlds. Tabby is rich, pretty, and the most popular girl in her class. But behind closed doors, her “perfect” life is rapidly coming apart at the seams.

On the other side, Lora is smart, timid, and the constant target of bullies. While struggling to survive the piranha-infested halls of her school, she becomes increasingly nervous that somebody might discover the unbearable truth about what’s been happening to her family.

Despite their differences, Tabby and Lora have something in common — they’re both harbouring dark secrets and a lot of pain. Although they’ve never been friends, a series of strange events causes their lives to crash together in ways neither could have ever imagined. And when the dust finally settles and all their secrets are forced out into the light, will the girls be saved … or destroyed?


Genre: contemporary

Rating: 4/5

This is an extremely short book that while heavy handed at some parts, is also a good look at the struggles of teenage life from both the side of a popular girl and one who is mercilessly picked on. Both of them come to the realization that they're lives aren't the only ones in turmoil. It's a bit cliche that Tabby's parents are suddenly loving, just like the students in the school seemed a sort of mean that generally isn't tolerated in a school (the physical restraining of Lora at one point in a public place would have been caught and punished in any school I've worked at). While Tabby is neglected, Lora is not only abused at school, but is under the stress of trying to take care of her family at home. She is by far the more sympathetic of the girls, which makes Tabby's sudden transformation into a nice girl anti-climatic.

It was a likable book and very short for reluctant readers.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (8)


From the school library:

Funny Little Monkey- Finally having enough of his much larger brother's taunting, Arty joins a bizarre underground group at his school in this black comedy

Persistence of Memory- Erin finds that she has a split personality that is actually an age old vampire who some nasty people are trying to free from her.

All Just Glass- Former vampire hunter Sarah has been turned by a boy she thought she loved. Her mother has started a war with the vampires and has ordered her sister Aida to kill her.

Book rental from Booksfree:

Ivy- Raised in a family of thieves, Ivy becomes a model for a painter and must deal with her laudanum addiction.

13 to Life- A new boy in town brings danger and mystery with him for Jessie after her mother's death.

Slayed- Reluctant vampire slayer Daphne wishes for a normal life and meets her first potential boyfriend in the clan of a rival group of slayers.

Girl on the Other Side- Tabby and Lora are as different in their social groups as night and day, but their lives crash together as things start unraveling for both of them.

She Devils- True stories of the world's most notorious female serial killers.

Dark Mirror- Sent away to a reform school because of her magic abilities, Lady Victoria befriends people her age with powers who are proud to use them.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full-time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else.

Can she handle the taunts of "towel head," the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school?


Genre: contemporary

Rating: 5/5

Two 5 ratings in a row? Have I suddenly become nice in my reviews? No, I just happened upon two really good books. For someone who has taught students who wear the hijab, this book was eye opening about a religion that is often misunderstood in our country.

Amal is a brilliant girl and probably more liberated than most girls and certainly stands up for herself no matter how difficult that is. She runs into prejudice at school, but that isn't nearly as important as how she learns to deal with a crush on a boy she knows shy can't be physical with, befriends a cranky neighbor who makes Amal realize she had some preconceived notions of her own, and her frustration over her friend's culturally backwards mother. No matter what the situation, Amal makes sense of it in relation to her religion and Abdel-Fattah makes Islam accessible to people who may not understand it. Being a conservative Christian, I recognized and respect the similarities between the two religions. Some of the characterization is a little heavy handed, but the charm of the book makes that irrelevant. Everyone should read this book to get a look at a culture that is often misunderstood.

Follow Friday (August 19)

Q. If you could write yourself a part in a book, what book would it be and what role would you play in that book?

At this point it would be some book where I'm a badass and get the unwanted guy in the love triangle. Seriously, fantasies would do, or dystopian. Anything where I get to lead a rag tag group of survivors to eventual freedom. I have a hero complex. Just write me with a sword, a lot of people giving me respect, and maybe get a guy who looks like Thiago Alcantara or Benedikt Howedes. My tastes are simple.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Bad Queen by Carolyn Meyer

From the moment she was betrothed to the dauphin of France at age fourteen, perfection was demanded of Marie-Antoinette. Desperate for affection and subjected to constant scrutiny, this spirited young woman can’t help but want to let loose with elaborate parties, scandalous fashions, and even a forbidden love affair. Meanwhile, the peasants of France are suffering from increasing poverty and becoming outraged. They want to make the queen pay for her reckless extravagance—with her life.


Genre: historical

Rating: 5/5

Note: #5 for the YA Historical Fiction Challenge, #6 for the YA Series Challenge (Young Royals)

This is a brilliant historical fiction. Not only is the story engaging, but the history is solid and you quickly become sympathetic for Marie-Antoinette, a woman who had many flaws, but whose death and subsequent character assassination were completely undeserved. She was a frivolous woman and spend thrift, yes, but she never deliberately hurt any one and was really only the product of her upbringing and general unhappiness. Meyer makes this book not only accurate, but a really good read. Marie is easy to connect to, as her charm as well as her flaws come shining through. Had she been queen to another country or married to another man she might have been happy, but she was caught in the wrong country at the wrong time and made the scapegoat for many of the political and economic issues in France.

This is an excellent book about a woman who tried to be a good queen, but couldn't make her people happy and whose unhappiness led to her frivolous ways. A woman who was beautiful and charming, but who was also insecure and lonely.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Boys That Bite by Mari Mancusi

Two sisters--as different as the sun and the rain. For one, getting into the Blood Coven is to die for. But for the other, getting out could be lethal...When Sunny McDonald gets dragged to Club Fang by her twin sister Rayne, she doesn't expect to find anything besides a bunch of Goth kids playing at being vampires. But when some guy mistakes Sunny for her dark-side-loving sister and bites her on the neck, she finds out that his fangs are real--and deadly.

Now, Sunny has less than a week to figure out how to reverse the bite, or else she's going to end up as the perpetually undead. And not only will she be a vampire, she'll also be bonded to Magnus--the bloodsucker who bit her--forever. And forever is a really long time...


Genre: fantasy; contemporary

Rating: 2.5/5

Note: #6 for the YA Series Challenge (Blood Coven Vampire Series)

I'll say one thing for this book, it read really fast. Unfortunately that was an indicator that it was on the shallow side. It reminded me of those Vampire Kisses novels in that way. Except these weren't as well written. There was some decent humor at parts, such as the vampire slayer who had hygiene issues and Sunny getting distracted reading fanfiction, things that a fan of Buffy would have picked up on and thought was funny, but the book really had no depth. More importantly, I didn't really find either Sunny or Rayne likable at all. And not in the "they have character flaws" sort of way either. Sunny whines throughout the entire novel about becoming a vampire in such a way that it's hard to have any sympathy for her. Rayne is only moderately better as her concerns basically boil down to sex and bemoaning the fact that she's not a vampire. Magnus is a one dimensional character who really gives no explanation as to why he's attracted to a high school teenager when he's hundreds of years old and she's given him no real reason to like her. It was in all, a shallow book. It didn't waste much of my time, but it was also forgettable.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (7)


Bought from Amazon:

In Lane Three, Alex Archer- A 15-year-old swimmer deals with personal struggles while trying to make the New Zealand 1960 Olympic team.

Friends Til the End- A young soccer player befriends a boy with leukemia. As the two become close, the soccer player's friends and family question if the relationship is good for him.

Fighting Ruben Wolfe- With his family struggling with finances, Cameron and his brother become involved in an illegal fight ring.

School Library:

Does My Head Look Big in This?- When Amal decides to wear the hijab full time, she must deal with the criticism of classmates and her crush on the cutest boy in school

Prom- After a teacher steals all the prom funds, Ash finds herself dragged into planning a prom with no money and begins to also get her life together

The Summoning- Chloe sees ghosts, unfortunately they also see her and she's now gotten herself locked up in a home for troubled teens and starts uncovering secrets

Ashes of Roses- Rose and her sister arrive in New York at the turn of the century and take jobs in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory before tragedy strikes

The City of the Beasts- Living with his aunt, Alexander goes along with her to the Amazon in search of the mysterious Beast

Bad Girls Don’t Die- Alexis's little sister is acting strange and Alexis is starting to wonder if something isn't taking over the young girl

Gilded Book rental:

The Ghost and the Goth- After dying in an unfortunate accident, former school queen Alona finds herself able to communicate with social outcast Will, where they work together to keep him out of a psych ward and her to save her soul

A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie- Obsessive compulsive Rene is convinced that if he doesn't follow certain patterns people around him will die

Friday, August 12, 2011

30 Day Book Meme (13)

Day 13- Your favorite author

CS Lewis

Easy enough choice. I loved him when I was a child, I love him still as an adult. There has never been an author who has influenced my life as much or stayed with me through it like him.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Follow Friday (August 11)

Q. How has your reading habits changed since you were a teen?

Not much except that I don't have as much time. I'm always been OCD when it comes to books. I have to have them around me or I'm not happy. I used to read more in the evening, but recently I'm just too tired. One of the only things that has majorly changed is that I used to finish books even after I realized I hated what I was reading. I no longer do that. "Life is too short to read bad books". I realize this now. If a book just isn't tolerable after a few chapters, I don't finish it. I've learned that 99 times out of a 100, that particular book either isn't for me or isn't going to get better.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

Genre: fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5

Note: #5 for the YA Series Challenge (The Iron Fey Series)

First off, this "faery" series probably has the best world building of any that I've read. It started a bit weak but got progressively better. Meghan is originally a bit dense, but shapes up better later on. I also originally didn't like either of her options for romance, and Ash suddenly went from slightly sociopathic to suddenly being all self sacrificial. I fail to think the love of a good woman changed him that much, but it wasn't as glaringly annoying as some forced love interests.

The best part were some of the minor characters. Grimalkin, the cait sith, was easily the most interesting character with his fluid alliances and sarcasm. The pack rats were also extremely charming and I hope they show up again. The climax was rather rushed. It felt like the book was building up to something that was resolved in one chapter. That being said, this series was much better written than most falling into the craze for faeries lately. This series will probably be liked more by teenagers than most others just because of the better writing. Excellent start to a series.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

30 Day Book Meme (12)

Day 12- A book you used to love that you don't any more

Specific books I don't know. I suppose as a genre I used to read a lot of Christian fiction as a teenager until I realized a lot of it is poorly written and that began to bother me a lot.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

30 Day Book Meme (11)

Day 11- A book you hated


I hated every moment of this hipster tripe. Teenagers do not talk or act like this. This book was ridiculous on every level and I haven't hated a book as much as I did this one in a long time.

Monday, August 8, 2011

When Rose Wakes by Christopher Golden

Ever since sixteen-year-old Rose DuBois woke up from months in a coma with absolutely no memories, she’s had to start from scratch. She knows she loves her two aunts who take care of her, and that they all used to live in France, but everything else from her life before is a blank.Rose tries to push through the memory gaps and start her new life, attending high school and living in Boston with her aunts, who have seriously old world ideas. Especially when it comes to boys. But despite their seemingly irrational fears and odd superstitions, they insist Rose not worry about the eerie dreams she’s having, vivid nightmares that she comes to realize are strangely like the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. The evil witch, the friendly fairies, a curse that puts an entire town to sleep—Rose relives the frightening story every night. And when a mysterious raven-haired woman starts following her, Rose begins to wonder if she is the dormant princess. And now that she’s awake, she’s in terrible, terrible danger. . . .


Genre: fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5

Notes: #5 of Modern Retellings of Classics Challenge (Sleeping Beauty)

Trying to take the story of Sleeping Beauty and make it more "real", this book succeeds on some levels, but on others really annoys me by falling into some over used cliches. One of those is the cliche where the adults decide not to tell the teenager the truth in the interest of "protecting" them, which inevitably leads to the teenager putting themself in more danger when it could have been avoided had everyone been honest. Rose easily could have dealt with what her aunts kept from her, but their decision to lie simply put Rose in more danger and made her think she was insane. While it wasn't exactly a cliche, we're still supposed to like Jared even though he gets irritated when Rose backs out of having sex with him. While it might be understandable, it's still out of character for a boy who is supposed to be a model of heroism in this novel. Then there's the very, very loose end of Rose's brother, which makes the book seem like it should have some sort of sequel when it doesn't.

While there are glaring issues with the book, it's still appealing. The concept of amnesia and waking from a coma are handled believably and have a different take on things. Rose is a tough girl who dishes it back out to bullies even without knowing who she really is. Her romance with Jared is one dimensional, but her trying to find a place in her school is well done. It was worth a read even if the flaws were pretty obvious.

30 Day Book Meme (10)

Day 10- Your favorite classic book


I'd probably read this book again if it weren't the size of a cinder block. But the abridged version misses out on a lot of detail. The original is the only way to go, but it is enormous. I read it freshmen year of college sitting outside of classes waiting for profs.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

30 Day Book Meme (9)

Day 09- A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving


It wasn't so much I thought I wouldn't like it as I figured it would be uninspired or not good? Anyway, it ended up being a charming book and I loved it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (6)


Bought from Wal-Mart:

Nightshade: After saving a human, alpha wolf leader Calla questions her destiny and future marriage to another shapeshifter and what she's been told all her life.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King: On her sixteenth birthday, Chloe suddenly gains fast reflexes, strength and claws. If that's not strange enough, she realizes someone is determined to kill her and she only has nine lives to lose.

Shiver: Graces spends her time watching wolves in the woods. Sam is a wolf who is only human part of the year. Grace suddenly realizes her favorite wolf reminds her of Sam, who is determined to stay human.

Book rental from Booksfree:

Ten Cents a Dance: With her mother sick, teenage Ruby is forced to support her family in the 40s. Her answer is to become a taxi dancer, or girl who dances with lonely men for a fee. Ruby soon finds herself more and more drawn into the underworld of Chicago.

Boys that Bite: After being mistaken for her twin, Sunny has a week to save herself from becoming eternally undead and bonded to the vampire who accidentally bit her forever.

The Lipstick Laws: At Penford High, vicious queen bee Britney Taylor rules the roost. School outcast April attracts her attention, much to April's delight, but what she wants from April might not be worth the price tag of popularity.

30 Day Book Meme (8)

Day 08- An overrated book


Before everyone gets offended by my choice, I'm just saying that this book is overrated. Just because people love something doesn't mean it lives up to the hype. For something that has generated the hysteria of Harry Potter, this book does not have the literary merit of Harry Potter. I'm not judging people who love it, just saying it's wildly overrated in my opinion.

Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman

Bickering frenemies Meg and Shar are doing some serious damage at a midnight sample sale when the fashionistas find themselves arguing over a pair of shoes-with fatal consequences. One innocent bystander later, the girls are suddenly at the mercy of Hades, Lord of the Underworld himself. To make them atone for what they've done, Hades forces the teens to become special-assignment Sirens, luring to the Underworld an individual whose unholy contract is up.


Genre: fantasy

Rating: 3.5

A nice take on an odd couple adventure, Shar and Meg are very different, but it's nice that both of them are likable. So often Shar would have been portrayed as "bad" simply because she was the girly, popular one of the two. She and Meg share an equal amount of time getting on each other's nerves, as Meg's hippy ways are as obnoxious to Shar as Shar's fashion consciousness is to Meg. They really do end up learning to like each other and work together.

Some of the scenarios the girls find themselves in is a bit far fetched and Hades' interest in Shar sometimes borders uncomfortably towards rape. As someone who enjoys mythology, I was a bit disappointed that Hades was turned into an easy villain, something he wasn't really in mythology, and also a hound dog, something else he was far less of than any of the other gods. It just felt like he was an easy choice to pick on. So while this book was enjoyable for a light read, there were definitely some things I wasn't wild about.

Friday, August 5, 2011

30 Day Book Meme (7)

Day 07- Most underrated book


I love this book. It's a neo-goth steampunk supernatural novel. And if that's not enough there's a love story. Wooding managed to take a ridiculous bunch of genres and made them work together. This book is scary and suspenseful and would translate to an awesome movie if anyone paid it any attention.

Follow Friday (August 5)

Q. Talk about the book that most changed or influenced your life (was it a book that turned you from an average to avid reader, did it help you deal with a particularly difficult situation, does it bring you comfort every time you read it?).

I was never and average reader so there was not really one book that lead me to reading. I would say the book that played a huge and memorable part of my school career was Treasure Island. I don't even like the book all that much, but our teacher read it to us out loud after lunch and all the other kids just loved it. I think that was the point that I realized how much excitement a particular book could cause and sort of lead me to want to be a librarian. To this day I still am not a Stevenson fan, but I remember 20 kids piling up on pillows after lunch every day wanting to hear about the black spot.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

30 Day Book Meme (6)

Day 06- A book that makes you sad


Traitor has to be one of the most depressing WWII YA novels on the face of the earth. And it doesn't even have anything to do with the Holocaust. I'm not saying the book was bad by any means, just that it makes you want to fling yourself off a bridge afterward. The conclusion is logical, but completely hopeless.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (5): Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves

There is no summary for this book. I'm honestly just judging this book by its cover, the fact that the author claims it's supernatural and the fact that I'm a sucker for Jack the Ripper stuff. This is a complete mystery book, but I'm definitely going to find it when it's published.

By These Ten Bones by Claire Dunkle

Maddie lives in a feudal Scottish village with a nearly abandoned castle by a loch. After an itinerant old man, Ned, accompanied by a mute woodcarving boy, stops to trade for a time, her nightmares of bones and ruin are soon followed by a mysterious attack on the boy, Paul, who is found bleeding, raked by claws, and feverish. The villagers attribute the attack to the Water Horse, which is believed to rise from the loch to wreak havoc periodically. Maddie eventually pierces Paul's silence, which is voluntary, and his secret, which is not.


Genre: supernatural; historical

Rating: 4/5

Note: #4 of the YA Historical Fiction Challenge

A rather quick and direct read, I've become accustomed to Dunkle's writing style after reading her Hollow Kingdom series. Dunkle tends to write very passive male characters, and this book is no different. Paul is just there as sort of a catalyst and really does nothing on his own. Maddie is the proactive part of the relationship, though it's not an irrational situation considering there are very few marriageable men in the town and it is at least believable that a single male, no matter how odd or personality deficient he may seem would garner attention. The historical aspect of the book is very nice. Everything isn't clean and comfortable, living at this time was hard and filled with superstition, which is very evident here. Life is fairly cheap and death is just sort of accepted. The werewolf part of the novel was a different take on werewolves, as it actually sort of tried to tie them into reality a little. It was at least something different. So on the one hand this was a rather superficial novel, but that didn't make it bad.

30 Day Book Meme (5)

Day 05- A book that makes you happy


I have always loved Alice in Wonderland. It is so insane and so fantastic that I can't help to love its insanity. Everything about this book is a fairy tale and a fever dream all wrapped up in one and it never fails to make me happy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (Aug 2)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

" ' It's easy to hide one's true self with beauty, don't you think? No one ever looks past the outside to see the filth that truly lies inside.'"
- Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray, p. 197

30 Day Book Meme (4)

Day 04- Favorite book of your favorite series


Dawn Treader was my favorite of the series, maybe because more happened it in. And I liked Caspian and this was the one where he really got to be a hero.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Ethan Wate, a high school sophomore, plans to escape his small Southern town as soon as he can. Life has been difficult since his mother died; his father, a writer, has withdrawn into his study. Then Lena Duchannes arrives, and this strange new girl is the very one who has been occupying his dreams. She and her kin are Casters, beings who have supernatural powers. Getting to know her exposes Ethan to time travel, mortal danger, and love. The teens can hardly bear to be apart, but Lena's 16th birthday, when she will be Claimed for dark or light, is only 6 months away. To save her, they fight supernatural powers and the prejudice of closed-minded people. Yet, good and evil are not clearly delineated, nor are they necessarily at odds.


Genre: supernatural; fantasy; romance; gothic

Rating: 5/5

Note: #4 for the YA Series Challenge (Beautiful Creatures Series)

This is a modern gothic romance done right. I've seen so many YA and even adult series try and fail at this genre, it was refreshing to see one get it completely right. Atmospheric and dark, nothing is quite what it seems. The areas between good and evil are blurred into a gray where maybe nothing is really strictly good OR evil. How else could you explain good demons or people who wanted desperately to be good turning bad? Good people make choices with terrible results, but in the end how much of it is fate and how much is it people making fate work for themselves?

Lena and Ethan's romance is intense and could have easily become ridiculous, but it was believable that two people so different from everyone around them would be drawn together. Lena has a penchant for being melodramatic, but there's always someone to tell her so rather than so many books where characters are either allowed to mope around forever or do ridiculous things. Ethan and Lena are both proactive about trying to find an answer to things, but there is no real answer. No one just solves the mystery and everything goes on its way, Lena makes a choice and there are serious consequences.

There are also lovely family members here. Macon might be strange and genuinely scary, but he loves Lena like a daughter. Amma is Ethan's only parent now, with the death of his mother and break down of his father. Various family members do everything they can to protect Lena and Ethan and I've never wanted to stand up and cheer harder in a book when Macon shows up at the PTA meeting to singlehandedly take the entire town of Gatlin to task. If he was infuriating for not telling Lena the truth before, he completely redeemed himself for every frustrating decision he'd made beforehand.

And the characters were not only battling real evil, but also the evil that is part of every day life, with judgmental town members and hateful cheerleaders and people who like pointing out others short comings without realizing their own. This is a beautiful read that might be long, but never slows down on the way to its cataclysmic ending.

Hero Interlude: Matt Damon Defends Teachers to Some Aggressive Interviewers

As a teacher myself, I'm very used to being disrespected by the media and the government, both of whom seem to often think that just because someone became a teacher with tenure, it's because we want to be lazy and not work while keeping our jobs. Going into my sixth year of teaching, I can tell you that it is one of the hardest, most stressful jobs a person can have. It doesn't pay well, it often gets trashed by the media, and it's time consuming, not to mention the actual stress of teaching some kids who are severe behavior problems. We get blamed for things, we have to deal with irrational parents, we have legal hoops to jump through, and recently the government has decided that we need more standards placed on use because "we aren't doing our job".

So let me say here, if I didn't love what I do, I wouldn't do it. I'd be in my back up career by this point. Many people who started out wanting to be teachers are by now, which implies to me that the ones who stick around love what they do.

Which leaves us with Matt Damon, who while speaking at a rally for teachers in Washington, was aggressively questioned by an interviewer and a cameraman as to why he would stand up for a group that "doesn't have incentive to work". Matt does his teachers proud by destroying both their arguments.

Not safe for work, as Damon uses some choice language to get his point across.

Monday, August 1, 2011

30 Day Book Meme (3)

Day 03- Your favorite series


Maybe one of the only series I've actually finished, I love The Chronicles of Narnia when I was younger. This is probably the series that made me realize I loved fantasy. I remember watching the old Wonder Works adaptation of the books on PBS. These books were my crash course in world building and imagination and I still love them.