Spotlight Friday (22)

My apologies, friends!  Apparently, when a college girl goes on break, so does her mind.  I keep losing track of the days, especially with the holidays thrown in, for some reason.  So, to make it up to you, I will make this an exciting DOUBLE post!  Instead of 3 books I’m looking forward to, we’ll do 6!

Article 5 (Article 5, #1) by Kristen Simmons

Release Date: January 13, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don’t come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard for her to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It’s hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. 

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.

What’s To Like: Dystopias are hot.  This reeks of the Districts in the Hunger Games, which we didn’t get to see much of in the books.  Plus, I’m very interested in what’s going to happen with Ember and Chase.  Hello, it’s pretty hard to forgive someone who just arrested your mother (who you may never see again now), even if you love them.  Makes me wonder if Chase knows Ember loves him.

My review of Article 5

Wings of the Wicked (Angelfire, #2) by Courtney Allison Moulton

Release Date: January 31, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Balancing real life with the responsibility of being Heaven’s warrior is a challenge for Ellie. Her relationship with Will has become all business, though they both long for each other. And now that the secret of who she really is has come out, so have Hell’s strongest reapers. Grown bold and more vicious, the demonic threaten her in the light of day and stalk her in the night. 

Cadan, a demonic reaper, comes to her with information about Bastian’s new plan to destroy Ellie’s soul and use an ancient relic to wake all the souls of the damned and unleash them upon humanity. As she fights to stay ahead of Bastian’s schemes , the revelations about those closest to her awaken a dark power within Ellie that threatens to destroy everything—including herself. 

Treachery comes even from those whom she loves, and Ellie is broken by the deaths of those who stood beside her in this Heavenly war. Still, she must find a way to save the world, herself, and her love for Will. If she fails, there will be hell to pay. 

What’s To Like: I’m not exaggerating at all when I say Angelfire was one of the best books I read all year.  So I’m very interested to see what happens next…and to reread Angelfire, but that’s besides the point.  Anyway, this should be an amazing, thrilling sequel.  I hope.

My review of Wings of the Wicked

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

Release Date: February 16, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads):Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that’s just fine by her. She’s got her friends – the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She’s got her art – and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it’s hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they’re dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

What’s To Like: It sounds like Anna and the French Kiss, which was awesome.  Actually, this sounds a little quirkier, for some reason.  Ella sounds quirky, I guess.  Anyway, I’m all for a book with a cute guy and a gorgeous cover.  I mean, look at that thing!

A Beautiful Evil (Gods & Monsters, #2) by Kelly Keaton

Release Date: February 21, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)When Ari first arrived in the dilapidated city of New 2, all she wanted was to figure out who she was. But what she discovered was beyond her worst nightmare. Ari can already sense the evil growing inside her—a power the goddess Athena will stop at nothing to possess. 

Desperate to hold on to her humanity and protect her loved ones, Ari must fight back. But Athena’s playing mind games, not just with Ari but with those she cares about most. And Athena has a very special plan for the brooding and sexy Sebastian. 

Ari is determined to defeat Athena, but time is running out. With no other options, Ari must unleash the very thing she’s afraid of: herself.

What’s To Like: I read the first book in one sitting.  It was that good and gripping.  I like it when characters don’t shy away from cursing, because in books like this, I think it’s totally justified.  Life is hard.  This series is the perfect mix of action, dystopia, and Greek mythology (that’s my favorite part).  I believe the cover is an allusion to Medusa, with the hair turning into a snake.

My review of A Beautiful Evil.

Fever (The Chemical Garden, #2) by Lauren DeStefano

Release Date: February 21, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago – surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness. 

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous – and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the mansion…by any means necessary. 

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price – now that she has more to lose than ever.

What’s To Like: This is such a dangerous world, one where technology has become the enemy.  I find aspects of it fascinating and horrifying.  I’m not exactly sure how this one’s going to turn out without the sister wives and not taking place at the mansion.  I hope it’s just as good or better, but I’ll have to see.  I’m leery about sequels by debut authors.

My review of Fever

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

Release Date: February 21, 2012

Summary (from Goodreads)Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning…. Welcome to forever. 

BRIE’S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally. 

But now that she’s D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there’s Patrick, Brie’s mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after. 

With Patrick’s help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she’s ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

What’s To Like: I’ve always been fascinated by ghost stories and this definitely fits the bill, but from the ghost’s perspective as she tries to make sense of what happened.  I think it’ll be a very serious story, full of advice and truths.  It just has that vibe to it.  And those are always great to have on your shelf when you need someone who understands what you’re feeling.

Bleeding Hearts (Drake Chronicles, #4)

First Lines: “The fact that we have to fetch our baby sister home because she’s out later than we are is just sad,” Quinn grumbled.

One of my favorite vampire series.  I pine and yearn for these books when they’re coming out.  They’re so funny and action-packed.  The Drakes are just awesome.

*Potential Series Spoilers ahead*

Violet Hill seems to be turning in Violent Hill.  The Hel-Blar are showing up en masse and it doesn’t help that the Blood Moon is coming up.  Lucy’s cousin Christabel, oblivious to the danger, moves in with Lucy’s family.  Christa immediately gains the attention of Connor Drake, who finds her bookish tendencies to be charming.  And when Christa is kidnapped by the Hel-Blar, who think she’s Lucy, Connor immediately jumps into action.  Can he save her and the precarious balance that is vampire politics?

The cover is gorgeous.  I love how you can vaguely make out the vamp in the top left corner.  It must be darker on my copy because he’s a bit harder to see.

Alright.  So.  Honestly, this book is no different from the others.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Ms. Harvey has found a formula that works and she sticks with it.  There is humor infused with action and intrigue, which is really funny when scary characters start sassing back.  Love it.

As for our leads in this one, Christabel and Connor, they were probably the most reader-relatable characters.  Both are total geeks.  Christa always has her head in a book and Connor is a sci-fi enthusiast who can feed you Star Wars trivia until you throw up.  His words, not mine.  That said, we really don’t get to see them as much as we have the characters in the previous 2 books.  This was formatted much like the first, with 3 narrators instead of just 2.  This meant that the story jumped to an extra–but necessary–plot line that didn’t involve the cute couple and thus meant we didn’t get to see them as much.  That was a bit saddening because I really would have liked to see more of Connor.

There are some fun moments in the story that caused me to smile or giggle.  Most of those involved Lucy, to no one’s surprise.  That girl has gotten more face time than anyone else.  And I’m pretty cool with that because of how funny she is.

For some reason–and I’m totally not complaining–my copy has this bonus story in the back called “Lost Girls”.  It’s set in 1983 and revolves around Helena, before she became a Drake.  It was so cool and epic and would it be possible to turn that into a full-fledged story?  I mean really, Helena’s got more spunk in her than I’ve gotten to see in any of the other books.  I knew she was a badass, but this went to a new level.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

First Lines: Dear friend, I am writing to you because she said you listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.  Please don’t try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don’t want you to do that.

I kid you not, this book has been on my Goodreads to-read list since 2008 and I’ve only now actually read it.  And the only reason I even did that was because of the movie news about it.  (If you don’t know, they’re turning it into a movie starring Logan Leman and Emma Watson.)  I kept hearing about the movie, but I didn’t know enough about the book to follow the news. Thus, I had to read this.

Charlie is a freshman in high school who really doesn’t say or do much.  He likes to sit back and watch people, to try to figure them out.  Then he meets Patrick and his sister Sam, who quickly become his best friends.  As Charlie begins to fall for Sam, who falls for another guy, Charlie learns that life isn’t simple or easy.

The story is told through letters to an anonymous stranger that Charlie overheard someone talking about.  It’s sort of strange to get used to, but once you find the flow, it’s just fine.  It definitely made it easy to find stopping points.

The story was good.  It wasn’t great and it wasn’t my favorite, but it was good.  Charlie is generally a likable kid, but sometimes, he just lets people walk all over him and it’s so hard to respect him after that.  But I really liked Sam and Patrick and seeing their struggles.

I’m curious to know what the perks of being a wallflower actually are.  There didn’t seem to be many perks at all, unless you count how good a listener Charlie was.  Otherwise, Charlie was suffering from anxiety, mental breakdowns, loneliness, being invisible to people, and drugs.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I mean, I tend to be a wallflower myself, so I was really looking for something profound about how awesome it was to be a wallflower.  Didn’t happen.

Speaking of being profound, I think this book tried too hard to be profound.  Many times, Charlie started getting philosophical and I would mentally skip those parts because they were just dry and sometimes, at least to me, didn’t make much sense.

Overall, it’s not bad.  Give it a whirl if you want.  Especially if you want to see the movie, because this may help you follow it.  I’m not exactly sure how they’re going to go about narrating the movie or how they’re going to deal with some of the issues the book brings up.

On a side note, this was written in the early 1990s, so there are references to mix tapes, video rental stores, and VHS tapes.  And no cell phones.  That was the weirdest one to remember we didn’t have.  They’ve become so ubiquitous that I forgot there was a time we didn’t have them.  And how’s that for an awesome word?  Ubiquitous.

Last Breath (Morganville Vampires, #11)

First Lines: Shane’s lips felt like velvet against the nape of her neck, and Claire shivered in delight as his breath warmed the skin there.  She leaned back against him with a sigh.

Morganville, Morganville, you did it again!  You have completely enthralled me and turned what I know about you on its head.  No wonder this is the one of the few series I’ve stayed with past about 6 or 7 books.

*SERIES SPOILERS AHEAD!  Really, at this point, I can’t even possibly pretend I can make it spoiler free.*

In this installment, things are as crazy as ever in Morganville.  For the most part, Claire is left to her own devices most of the time–and she’s not complaining.  This means more time with Shane. But as usual, something isn’t right in Morganville.  Vampires are disappearing without a trace just as Claire begins seeing a stranger in town named Magnus.  Is it a coincidence that the last person to see these missing vamps is Magnus?  Claire thinks not.  But is Magnus a vampire or is he something else entirely?  And if he’s able to make vampire disappear, what can he do to the humans?

I was up way later than I wanted to be one night reading this because something completely unexpected and full of tension happened just before I was going to put down the book and go to bed.  So naturally, I had to stay up until something was resolved and I could go to bed with peace of mind.  Even after that, the next morning I had to finish the book.

As usual, the characters are fantastic.  Claire and Shane are my favorite main characters, but I’m not knocking Michael or Eve.  The whole group is funny and strong and heartfelt.  I know every time I go into one of these books that I’m going to come out loving the characters even more than I did before.

As for minor characters, can I possibly write a review without mentioning Myrnin?  He totally showed his true colors (madness and all) in this one.  It was really great to see, even though we don’t know if he’s truly sane.  That’s part of the fun.  It makes him that much more brilliant and funny and scary.  When he’s lost it, watch out.  But I wouldn’t change him at all.  He’s Myrnin.

Once I finished reading, there were some things I thought had been done poorly.  One vital moment could have been taken somewhere more productive and less cliched.  At the time I was reading, though, I wanted the cliche.  I wanted that result badly.  I stayed up late for it.  So because of that, I don’t feel like I can fairly dock marks for the book because at the time, it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

Say Anything

She’s got everything going for her.  He’s going for her with everything he’s got.

I watched this for the first time last night.  I really didn’t know much about it, besides what I read in the summary.  I really just wanted to see it to figure out what was so cool about the boombox scene and understand the references to it in other movies, such as Easy A.

Lloyd doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life or where he’s going.  Diane’s had everything planned most of her life and knows exactly what she’s going to do.  All Lloyd knows is that he wants to be with Diane and he’s going to chase after her with everything he’s got.

It wasn’t a bad movie, but it was good for reasons I didn’t know it would be.  I knew it was going to be a romance, but I didn’t know there was more to the story.  Diane has to deal with some very real family issues that can tear her family to pieces.  That made her and the story more complex, seeing how it all worked out.

Right away, I related to Diane.  I ended high school much the same way she did and at times, I felt the same, like no one really got to know me in school.  So I liked her right from the get-go.  Lloyd was sweet, but he’s definitely not like most of our romantic leads nowadays.  Lloyd was a huge softie when it came to Diane, which is different than it is with current romantic leads.  I wish I could spit this out better.  He just came off as a bit of a pansy at times when Diane was involved.

And after seeing this, what exactly was the point of the boombox scene?  It was anticlimactic from what I was thinking it was.  I thought it was pretty much going to mirror Easy A, but it wasn’t like that at all.  Maybe I just don’t get it, in an age where boomboxes really don’t exist anymore.  It was cute, don’t get me wrong,but I just don’t see what he big deal is.

Regardless, Lloyd has made my list of Guys I Will Now Compare All Other Guys To.  It’s an impressive list, but one I feel guys do no appreciate.  Wonder why.

Oh, one last thing.  I loved that Joan Cusack played Lloyd’s older sister, considering she’s really John Cusack’s older sister.  That was just some fun irony I latched onto right at the beginning.

Stay With Me

First Lines: A hundred and two days.  That’s probably about average, but it didn’t seem close to that long, especially in the beginning, that first month or so.  It was just getting to that sweet spot, where everything is perfect for a while.  A short while.  Before it starts to fade–little by little, usually.

There was so much about this book that caught my attention when I was just searching through upcoming books a few months back.  The beautiful cover, the dog, and the plot that sounded a bit like Perfect Chemistry.

Cece and Mack were an unlikely couple.  Cece is a straight A student while Mack is a dropout just trying to scrape together some money working at a diner.  Soon, the two are spending all of their time together, bonding over a dog, and everything is perfect.  Then Mack makes a huge mistake that makes everything they worked for impossible.  As Cece and Mack try to figure out where they stand now, they begin to wonder what happens to the relationship when one of them just can’t stay?

I really liked it.  It was told in alternating points of view between Mack and Cece.  They both come from a world I’m not familiar with, but Mr. Griffin makes it possible to relate to it or at least understand it.  You throw dogs into the mix and I am so there.  I used to be terrified of dogs, but now they’re adorable friends.  Puppies make the world go ’round.

I digress.  What I liked most about this was how real it was.  It was a little like Perfect Chemistry, but it was nowhere close to being the same book.  I give kudos to PC for how real it is, but Stay With Me was even more real in one key aspect, one that I cannot share because it is a spoiler.  My apologies.  Just trust me on the fact that when you finish this book, you’ll see how much more real it is than most YA books.

All that praise said, it wasn’t perfect.  There were times the action lagged and I got bored.  There were a couple of times I couldn’t exactly follow what was happening.  But overall, it is completely worth the time.