There You’ll Find Me

First Lines: Sometimes I think about when I was little, and my older brothers would take me out to fly kites.  “Give it some slack!” Will would yell.  It was almost painful to watch, that kite of mine.

Two things originally got my attention for this book: the cover and the premise.  It sounds silly that I’m breaking it down like that because–obviously–those are the first two things that catch anyone’s attention about a book.  But these are the two things that kept me from never reading it when I learned more about it.

Finley’s brother was murdered two years ago and she hasn’t fully gotten over it yet.  Taking his journal, she’s headed to Ireland to see what he saw and connect with him and God.  But things don’t go as planned when she meets Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and vampire movie star.  They strike a deal: Beckett will help her find all the places her brother went if she’ll be his assistant.  The pressure starts getting to Finley, breaking her down.  Between school, auditions for a prestigious music school, and whatever is happening between her and Becket, Finley’s cracking.  Is she going to make it through, with God’s help?

I mentioned above that I almost didn’t read this.  I didn’t realize it was Christian lit until shortly before I grabbed it at the library.  Christian lit just isn’t my cup of tea.  Frankly, it makes me uncomfortable having people discuss religion that openly.  Where I’m from, that only happens in church.

So I almost didn’t read it because of that.  However, I really wanted to see this plot play out.  A normal girl having a romantic relationship with an actor?  Sign me up!  (Can I get a heartthrob actor of my own while we’re at it?)  So I tried to overlook the religion as much as I could and just focus on the story.

Beckett was such a sweetheart.  I’d take him any day.  And Finley, she had her problems, but I also liked her character.  Every character was flawed, but that made the story seem more real.  I feel like some YA lit is, to quote one of my friends, moving toward “insta-love”, where the main characters fall completely in love within just days or weeks.  This didn’t have that, not really.  I respect stories like that.

Psych, Seasons 1-4

Fake psychic.  Real detectives.

If you’ve been hanging around this blog long enough, you know I’m in love with Netflix instant streaming.  I watch movies and tv shows there all the time.  Well, about two years ago, one of my friends told me about Psych.  At first, I wasn’t interested, but once I watched it, I fell head over heels for it.

The premise sounds silly and, honestly, it is.  Shawn Spencer grew up having his father, a cop, teach him how to be extremely observant.  Now, in his late 20s, Shawn pretends to be a psychic to help the Santa Barbara Police solve mysteries that are otherwise “unsolvable”.  His best friend, Burton “Gus” Guster, helps Shawn sound reasonable and solve the mysteries.

I love this show.  The jokes and the drama mixed together are just fantastic.  I can’t believe there aren’t more shows on TV that really mix the two the way Psych does.  On Netflix, it’s officially called a “dramedy”, which is a mix of comedy and drama.  That’s accurate.  It’s sort of like what CSI would be like if they were funny and didn’t focus on the forensics as much.

Now, Shawn and Gus wouldn’t be anywhere if it weren’t for the help of Juliet O’Hara and Carlton Lassiter, officers on the SBPD.  I love the interactions with Shawn and Gus because, while Juliet is a little more open to the idea that Shawn is psychic, Lassiter thinks it’s a complete ruse (and he’d be right, but he doesn’t know that).  It’s just so funny, because Shawn has pet names for both of them, none of Lassie’s being flattering.

Over the four seasons that I’ve watched so far, there have been some dumber episodes.  But overall, they’re usually highly entertaining and sometimes wildly suspenseful.  I find myself yelling things at my computer or verbalizing my sympathies for characters.  Also, since this “business” of Shawn’s operates outside the SBPD, he gets to help some nuts too crazy to be taken seriously by the cops.  Those are probably some of the more entertaining episodes because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

I highly recommend this show, especially if you love comedies and crime shows like CSI or NCIS or whatever other show is out there like that.  This show gives you a healthy dose of both.  I can literally watch 5 episodes in a row and not get tired of it.

I feel like I should include a list of my favorite episodes.  So here we go:

1.6 “Weekend Warriors”

2.9 “Bounty Hunters!”

2.12 “The Old and the Restless”

3.8 “Gus Walks Into A Bank…”

3.15 “Tuesday the 17th”

3.16 “An Evening With Mr. Yang”  (There’s no way I’m leaving this off the list.  Best.  Episode.  EVER.)

4.9 “Shawn Takes A Shot In The Dark”

4.16 “Mr. Yin Presents…”

That’s another thing I didn’t mention.  The titles of these episodes are hysterical!  These don’t highlight it as well as episodes like “The Devil is in the Details and the Upstairs Bedroom”, “Murder?…Anyone?…Anyone?…Bueller?”, “Talk Derby to Me”, “Meat is Murder, But Murder is Also Murder”, “Gus’s Dad May Have Killed An Old Guy”, “Shawn (and Gus) Of The Dead”, and “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me, Oops He’s Dead!” do.  I giggle a lot when I see these titles.  The one that got me giggling the most was “Poker?  I Barely Know Her!”  But I have a juvenile sense of humor, I hear.

Anyway, I highly recommend Psych.  It’s definitely in the top 5 of my favorite TV shows.

Goliath (Leviathan, #3)

First Lines: “Siberia,” Alek said.  The word slipped cold and hard from his tongue, as forbidding as the landscape passing below.

It’s the conclusion to the amazing Leviathan series and I couldn’t have been more excited when I got my hands on it.  I’d only walked into the library to pick up what I had on hold and maybe one other small book (yeah, like that was a wise idea on my part).  Instead, I came away with this, which is over 500 pages of awesomeness.

*Yo, it’s the final book in the trilogy.  Yes, there are series spoilers ahead.*

Oh forget it.  I can’t do this summary justice.  I’m copying it from Goodreads: Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies.

The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is at it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy.

Awesome, isn’t it?  The best part about this story, besides the action, love (on Deryn’s end), and friendship between Alek and Deryn, is the illustrations.  They totally make the story easier to understand when you can see exactly what a perspicious loris looks like.  Or the Leviathan itself for that matter.  Westerfeld makes a world completely its own and tries to sink you into it quickly.

I’ve been with this series since the beginning, so I’ve been dying to see what became of Alek and Deryn at the end.  Would Deryn ever tell Alek that she was a girl?  What would Alek’s reaction be?  And if Deryn revealed the truth, would she also tell Alek that she was in love with him?

As if that wasn’t enough to keep me reading, its backdrop is WWI, so there’s plenty of action.  It seems like just when things start to slow down, something blows up or goes wrong and it’s up to Deryn to save them.  That never got old.  You really didn’t know what was going to come next.

It was a really good trilogy, I must say.  Now I’m excited to see what Westerfeld pumps out next.  Will it be another sci-fi, like this and Uglies were?  Probably.  The question remains, when will it be set?  Westerfeld is a magician when it comes to crafting stories like this.

Spotlight Friday (16)

Hola, amigos!  It’s that time of the week again, where we *SQUEE* over upcoming books that look amazing!  (Personally, I’m thinking this is my favorite day of the week.  Of course, it could just be that it’s Friday as well.  But you’ve got to admit these are awesome books.)  Without further ado, let’s get this party started!

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

Release Date: December 27, 2011

Summary (from Goodreads): I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

What’s To Like: A new trend in YA books is to have illustrations occasionally in the story.  (P.S., I’m loving this.)  My roommate actually got her hands on a very early ARC and said it was a really good read, but she didn’t have the pictures to go along with it, so she felt she was missing parts.  Anyway, I’m super excited.  It reminds me, in some respects, of Thirteen Reasons Why.  For some reason, I just get that vibe from it.

My review of Why We Broke Up.

Everneath (Everneath, #1) by Brodi Ashton

Release Date: January 24, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads): Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld… this time forever. 

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists. 

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen. 

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s…

What’s To Like: Hello, look at this thing!  It’s basically another Persephone-Hades story, which I adore, but are getting a little old now.  However, I’m still pumped to read this because I’m hoping to see something new in this that I haven’t seen in the others.  Plus, I just love the “what if” question that comes with this: What if you only had six months left to “live”?  What would you do?  Who would you see?  Would you say goodbye?  I’m excited to see how Nikki handles this.

My review of Everneath.

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Release Date: January 17, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine

-despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she’s far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can’t control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she’s reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy’s motives aren’t quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

For fans of best-sellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the fine line between life and death.

What’s To Like: I know the description says it’s like Before I Fall and If I Stay, but I’m thinking parts of it sound like The Body Finder.  Either way, I’m totally excited to read this book.  The dead coming back to life is my cup of tea.  I’m just interested to see how this story plays out.

My review of Fracture.

Texas Gothic

First Lines: The goat was in the tree again.  I hadn’t even known goats could climb trees.  I had been livestock-sitting for three days before I’d figured out how the darned things kept getting out of their pen.

Since Halloween is only 6 days away, I decided it was time to read something scary and freaky.  Given the cover, I figured I should put my bets on this one for that.  And while I didn’t think it was really scary or freaky, it was highly entertaining and a fabulous ghost mystery.

Amy Goodnight has always tried to balance “normal” with her family of witches.  It hasn’t been easy, especially when she has to keep her family from talking about their abilities.  Now, Amy and her sister Phin are house-sitting for their aunt in Texas.  It should have been normal and uneventful, but it’s been anything but.  There’s someone in the house with them…and he isn’t alive.  He’s a powerful ghost with more power than the Goodnights combined, which is disconcerting to say the least.  Who is he?  What does he want?  And can Amy and Phin figure out what’s going on without getting into trouble, especially with Ben McCulloch, their disbelieving neighbor?

I love a good, sarcastic lead and Amy was that.  She tried to balance the normal world with the world her family created and when it didn’t work, she fired off some really awesome retorts.  It was great fun, especially to see what kind of situations Amy got herself into.  Which were silly and frequent.

The other characters were zany and awesome in their own ways.  Phin didn’t understand sarcasm, Ben was trying to be steadfastly normal, and Mark was adorable in his own way.  It was always sweet to see the different styles of characters in the story.

I just love Ms. Clement-Moore’s style of writing.  It’s so entertaining and she comes up with some of the funniest analogies, metaphors, and sayings that I’ve ever read.  I love seeing a new phrase or description of a scene that makes me giggle.  There were quite a few of them.

I’m so looking forward to whatever else Ms. Clement-Moore can through my way next.  I love the infusion of magic in her stories.  Magic is amazing, so it’s no wondering I’m drawn to it all the time.

Lola and the Boy Next Door

First Lines: I have three simple wishes.  They’re really not too much to ask.

Once I read Anna and the French Kiss, I knew Stephanie Perkins was going to be an author to watch out for.  Anna was just so explosive on the YA market.  Lola, however, failed to completely live up to my expectations.

Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…it’s costume.  She never wears the same outfit twice and loves to design her own things.  Her life is pretty perfect, from her best friend to her hot rocker boyfriend. But when the dreaded Bell twins move back in next door, Lola’s world is turned upside down.   Now that Cricket’s back and out of his sister’s shadow, can Lola stay away from him like she wants to?

First off, I love the cover.  It probably took me half the book to fall in love with it, though.  There’s so much of the story that plays into it that at first I was just like, “Ok, cute, but so what?”  But after reading it, I can spot all the little details that are mentioned in the story on it.  Plus, the boy gets hotter the more you know about Cricket.

I thought it was going to play out exactly like Anna did, following the same standard plot, but it didn’t exactly.  The general idea is the same (and really, you know how this will end before you read it), but it was fundamentally different as well.  Unlike Anna, Lola’s already got a boyfriend when this story starts.  This changes the game a little.  I guess you could say it’s like what Etienne’s point of view would be…if he was a girl…

I guess I was just a little disappointed with it.  I loved Anna so much because I could relate to it on so many levels.  But Lola was a lot harder.  Both Lola and Cricket were unique in ways that I just can’t relate back to myself.  I still liked them, don’t get me wrong, but it really helps when I can attach myself to something in each of them and I couldn’t do it.

It was still cute and worth the time.  Don’t doubt that.  I caught myself swooning a little in parts.  But if you expect this to be formulaically like Anna, prepare to be disappointed.  I fell for Anna, but I didn’t fall for Lola.