Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What Happened To Goodbye

Dessin, S. (2011). What Happened to Goodbye. NY: Viking Press
YA Realistic Fiction / minor Romance sub-plot

3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads

This was my first Sarah Dessin novel, and it was nice. Yes, nice.  (My Nana hated that word because it is so very vague.)  The story moves slowly along and unravels bit by bit at an easy pace.  There is a great deal of predictability, but that was okay.  There just didn’t seem to be any urgency or intensity anywhere in the book.  The romance element was definitely just background, quietly there and something that you knew would eventually get around to being something.  Just in time for the book to end.  There were many “big moments” that would have added immense appeal to the book, but they didn’t happen. 

Fortunately, there are a lot of secondary characters in this book, and you get little glimpses into who they are to make it interesting and to make you care about hearing more about them.  

The book does touch on some issues to which many can relate: divorce, relocating, figuring out who you really are, figuring out your future, friendship, and commitment.  The main character’s responses to some of those issues are interesting, and there is closure in some places where the story came full circle, but not in others.
CLEAN-O-METER: no profanity (possibly a S**T or two. . .), no sexual situations, reference to underage drinking. 

This Is Not A Drill

McDowell, B. (2012). This is not a drill. NY: Penguin.
YA Fiction / Realistic Fiction

QuickNEasy, 224 pages, ages 12+

I gave this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, but I probably would give it more like 4 1/2 if I could.  I had an advance/uncorrected galley copy (thank you Penguin, for being at the TLA Conference!), so it's possible some of what held me back from giving it a 5 will be corrected when the book is released in October.
Unfortunately, the book is no longer fiction but realistic fiction given the world we live in and the number of school shooting incidents. It is a good story and shares a perspective that we don't often see or hear about: the thoughts and feelings of the shooter, told by the shooter in the midst of the crisis. The book is not a good example of what anyone should do in this situation (attempting psychology and heroics with someone who holds a gun), but it made the story interesting and gave us more insight into the Emery and Jake, the two teenagers.

Though the book has a romance angle, it's really background. I think boys would enjoy reading this as much as (maybe moreso?) than girls. The story is told alternating chapters between a high school senior girl and a high school senior boy. This was a good way to present the story, but this is also part of why I scaled my rating back from a 5 star.  You get the same events replayed twice - once told by Emery and once told by Jake. This got tedious for me and even though they were seeing things differently, there was still a lot of repetition.

The book says this is for ages 12 and up / 7th grade and up, and it's actually written at that level. Pretty basic writing; however, the language is pretty raw at parts, including very realistic, intense descriptions of war, death, and an F-bomb thrown-in. Realistic, given the character of the shooter, but maybe a little much for some 7th graders.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Carey, A. (2012). Once. NY: Harper Collins.
YA Fiction / Dystopian


This is the sequel to Eve, (click to see my review) and I have to say that after reading the free preview of the first nine chapters, I'm hooked.  (Though BLEH at the cover again and Eve is already back to making some boneheaded decisions. I hold out hope that she starts being smarter.)

Stay tuned for review.  Can't find it at the library (school or public) and too cheap to pay for download or hard copy, so patience!


Carey, A. (2011). Eve. NY: Harper Collins
YA Fiction / Dystopian

I must start by addressing the cover.  Again, the female from the back, with beautiful flowing locks cascading down her back and something indistinct in the distance. Bleh.  Can't we start getting a little more creative, here?  This is about the zillionth book I've seen with this type of cover.  At a minimum, her hair should be all nasty and tangly and her clothes ripped and gross -- at least to be in keeping with the story.

The story. . .  as usual, I liked the premise because for the most part, I like the dystopian setting.  The world's a wreck (or is it just the USA?) and the people are rebuilding.  The survivors have lost their smart genes and follow leaders who want to tell them what to do, where to do it, and how often, with zero tolerance and death to those who defy the government. The few rebels don't roll that way.

I like the mind games and psychology that is used on the females in the society, and it did cause me to pause and think how gullible we are to blindly believing the people who lead us, especially in times of desperation.

In Eve, everything moves very quickly and in order to enjoy the story, the reader is required to frequently suspend the disbelief or allow for numerous not-too-realistic stretches.  I don't particularly like Eve. For being so smart and creative and the finest female specimen in all the kingdom, she does some pretty stupid things.  And there doesn't seem to be much remorse for the wake of death and destruction she leaves behind her.

It was an entertaining read and though the ending was good, it didn't seem overly plausible either.  I generally don't tell details of the stories, but I must here, so be warned:
Are we really supposed to believe that these two young adults, so deeply in love, are going to just wave good-bye to each other? That Eve will just watch Caleb gimp slowly down the hill and into the mist? That there's not even going to be a hug or kiss or promise? That Eve wouldn't go inside and at least bring him back a glass of stinkin' water?? Ugh, the drama just didn't work here for me. ***END SPOILER***END ***END SPOILER ***END SPOILER******END SPOILER***END SPOILER***END***

Here's a trailer from HarperTeen. (again, the gorgeous hair. yeah, I'm just jealous.)

This is part of a planned trilogy, with book two, Once, already released.Will give the nine chapters a shot and then decide if I'll continue.
Wow, what an original cover. Siigh.

UPDATE 9/18/12: Gotta say -- I just read the first 9 chapters of Once,  and I'm going to read the whole thing.  Eve's already being stupid, but I'm sucked-in to the story and want to know what happens.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Num8ers (Numbers)

Ward, R. (2010). Numbers. NY: Scholastic
YA Fiction / Urban-Fantasy

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2010)
YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults

First, as a warning, there is quite a bit of language in this book.  If you are easily offended by the F-bomb, then stay away.  I'm no fan of obscene language, but at least it seemed appropriate for the London street kid dialogue.  They threw it around, much like others would say "shut up." It was really pretty innocuous, if one can say that about the F-bomb. There was also unprotected sexual situations with some description involved, which could be a showstopper.

So the story -- I loved this story.  I gave it 4 of 5 stars in part because of the language, but also because there were a few things that needed explaining and a few things that seemed improbable.  The characters were fantastic and complex, and I liked that for a pleasant change of pace, this wasn't the gorgeous teen girl falling for the hot bad boy. The two main characters, Jem and Spider, noticed the unusual about each other and went beyond the surface to see each other. Refreshing.

Numbers hits on a lot of modern issues - stereotyping, discrimination, drugs, poverty, bullying, to name a few; it makes you think.  I was fairly surprised several times and especially with the ending - didn't see that one coming though I probably should have had an inkling. And though this is a trilogy, really, this could be a stand-alone book, just as Jem's story. I am ALWAYS a fan of the stand-alone book.

I will probably read book 2, The Chaos, but only because I have an ARC of book 3, Infinity.  Hopefully, I will be glad I invested the time. 

Here's the book trailer Scholastic posted.  It makes it seem more sci-fi than I thought the book really was, but enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Dark Unwinding

Cameron, S. (2012). The Dark Unwinding. NY: Scholastic.
YA Fiction / Period Piece. Historical Fiction -- but not boring!

I really liked this book and gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.  I have decided I'm going to be very persnickety about giving out 5 stars any more, but this was close to getting it.

First, I must address the cover of this book. I had an ARC of this book, and the cover was just solid black / unfinished.  I drastically prefer that to what they ended up using for the book. Ugh. It's so like every other young adult book cover out there right now.  Add some blood splatters and it's Anna Dressed in Blood. I'm so tired of this look to books, and this book is so much more creative than that. 

Second, I was very interested to learn that the inspiration for the book was a Victorian estate in England called Welbeck Abbey, and the inspiration for a key character was the estate's owner, the fifth Duke of Portland.  I do believe I will do some research to find out more about the historical truths, and that is something because I usually avoid "history stuff" whenever I can.  So, if this can inspire me, I'm sure it can do the same with other readers.  A good thing!

About the book -- the characters are fantastic, with the winner being Uncle Tully because he's so eccentric, interesting, innocent, and real.  Katherine, the main character is richly developed and so easy to picture and even hear, and an excellent strong female heroine. Aunt Alice (boooo, hisssss), Mrs. Jefferies, Davy, Ben, and wonderful Mr. Babcock. . .  there just wasn't a poorly done character in the book. Even when the characters didn't have huge roles, they had huge impacts.  I knew the choice Katherine would make from the very beginning, but it was fun getting to the point where she made it. There was plenty of foreshadowing, but the ending was an unexpected turn and I was happy that it didn't quite resolve itself as I'd expected. 

So why not 5 stars? Sometimes the story jumped all over the place.  Sometimes the writing got a little basic. There were some things that happened that weren't fully explained and needed to be.

There's room here for a sequel, but I hope that Cameron doesn't go there.  What made this book interesting wouldn't be possible to create in a second installment. 

Days of Blood & Starlight

Read the first three chapters of the soon-to-be-released sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.


Thanks to EW's Shelf Life for providing the preview!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood

Blake, K. (2011). Anna Dressed in Blood. NY: Tor Teen.
YA Lit / Paranormal - Paranormal Romance?

Well, I made a mistake and didn't write-up this book quickly enough, and now I am stretching to remember how it ended.  Perhaps that's an indicator of the staying power of the book? Or just an indicator that I'm old and can't remember things. Or that I read a ton of books and this one didn't stand out??

What I know is that I enjoyed this book (I listened to this one thanks to AudioSync's summer of free downloads) and especially enjoyed finding out the real story about Anna.  That made her so much more interesting!  And Cas, the main character of the story has an interesting backstory as well, and apparently, current story that he's only beginning to realize is happening. 

You definitely have to suspend your disbelief that Anna could wipe-out the population she has killed over the years and the community mostly accepts it.  And *****SPOILER ALERT****** you have to believe that a popular high school kid can disappear and several teens witnessed his wicked death via Anna, and no one squeals, police don't hotly pursue, parents aren't squawking. ****** END OF SPOILER ******

I honestly can't remember how the book ended. . . clearly a sequel is coming, I know that much. And I remember being kind of dissatisfied with the ending.  I also was dissatisfied with the narrator of the audiobook.  His voice for the secondary main female character - whose name escapes me now - was BAD. Instead of sounding female, she sounded like a man trying to sound like a female Valley Girl with nearly a lisp. Not good.

It's got a good creepy factor going and might have been scary for me if I had been reading it instead of listening. Gonna give it a Goodreads 3 Stars as my memory doesn't recall me just LOVIN' this book. Liking it, yeah - what's not to like about ghosts and witches and VooDoo??