Archive | September, 2012

Review: ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home—and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin—a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Woo! Amazon! Secrets! Forbidden love! Evil scientists! Yeah!

Those were my thoughts going into this book. I mean, everybody and his second cousin is talking about this book. It’s one of those Big Deal books. Oh, and I follow the author on Twitter, and she’s super-sweet, and her hair is so pretty it’s distracting. Clearly, this book is going to be amazing, right?!

I’m sorry to say that amazing author does not always equal amazing book. Origin was by no means horrible (look at all the people that LOVE this book), but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

First of all, I must say that I love the name Pia. Pia! It’s such a happy name, and also brings to mind the character on The Donut Man. The name Pia is also said to mean several different things in the story, which is always nice. I love a name with a good backstory. Pia herself wasn’t my favorite person. I didn’t dislike her, but I also didn’t feel much of anything for her. I don’t know why.

She’s an odd little thing, this Pia-girl. She’s been sheltered from the world by her “Uncles” and “Aunts” (the scientists) and spoonfed scientific knowledge. She’s incredibly bright but very trusting. After all, who doesn’t want to believe the very people who created you? Surely, they must be good! Her naivety is understandable, except… She’s been raised from birth to have a scientist’s calculating mind. She’s perfect in looks, in body, and in intelligence. One would think she would have a crackerjack mind for ferreting out the truth.

I know being raised in her glass box shaped Pia’s assumptions and that one of those assumptions is that Uncle Paolo and the rest are right and looking out for her own good, but I found her hesitancy to question those assumed truths so very frustrating! Scientists are supposed to question EVERYTHING! And yet it seems to take forever for Pia to make any progress.

Eio in girl form

Opposite of Pia is Eio, the sweet, blue-eyed village boy. While she is the one who thinks and reasons, he is the one who feeeeeeels and does. Sure, he’s an outsider like her, thanks to his mixed parentage, but he’s also the fiery-tempered, tree-hugging native who wants her to paint with all the colors of the wind. Okay, maybe not the last part, but this whole pairing feels so familiar. At least we can give Ms. Khoury props for making the female the rational, scientific one. Well, if a girl can be labelled rational after falling into mega-insta-love with a boy after three freaking days.

I’m sure there’s more, but as I try to write this review a few weeks after reading Origin, I’m shocked at how quickly the story has faded from my mind. Despite the interesting premise, the story felt rather rote. Rote and very YA lite, actually. For instance, there’s a big to-do about Pia learning the catalyst for the elysia potion. It’s supposed to be just too awful for her to handle. The problem is I read books like I Hunt Killers, so after all that build-up, the reveal just fell flat. Rationally, I knew that the revealed details were awful. The delivery just lacked punch.

However, I will say that the Wickham tests really shone for me. I understood how they fit in, I understood how Pia was supposed to see them, and I saw how we were supposed to see them, and it all happened! Yay! Oh, and the details of everyone’s final Wickham tests? Not bad at all. I thoroughly despised “Uncle” Paolo by the end. (Also, there’s this really cool scene with an anaconda that I highly recommend you read.)

So… yeah. Nice premise, predictable story, annoying characters. Meh. Thankfully, you’re free to make up your own mind, and you very well may disagree with me. That’s okay! I just won’t be picking up this book any time soon.

Points Added For: A heart-pounding anaconda scene, Uncle Paolo’s Wickham test, an interesting premise.

Points Subtracted For: One-dimensional supporting characters, insta-love, the whole native-and-the-white-person setup, no big shockers (I anticipated pretty much everything).

Good For Fans Of: Avatar, insta-love, stories set in the jungle.

Notes For Parents: Violence, language (not bad in the beginning, heavier in the end), kissing, philosophical questions regarding morality, murder.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

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Borders – One Year Later

In memoriam

Can you believe it’s been one year since Borders officially closed? I know! A whole year!

Let’s go back in time to 2011 when the bankruptcy was announced. Remember the chaos, the horror, the grief? Moans over the end of traditional publishing, over books, over reading, over LIFE AS WE KNOW IT(!!) reached a fever pitch. Because if Borders, that noble box-store chain, could close, who would be next?
Readers clutched their hardcover darlings to their chests and eyed the remaining stores fearfully. Would Barnes & Noble be next? Books-A-Million? WOULD AMAZON SEIZE THE ONE RING AND RULE THEM ALL?!
Well, that’s what most people remember. (And in case anyone was wondering, Amazon did not turn into Sauron and squash competition with an iron fist. We’re still here!) I remember one thing from the Borders incident: The List. More specifically, I remember “Things We Never Told You: Ode to a Bookstore Death.”
You remember the list, right? Employees at some unidentified Borders store had used the freedom provided by the impending shutdown to write their manifesto, a list of all those things they wished they could’ve told their customers. (I’d have told them to just get a blog, but whatever.)
Ode To A Bookstore Death
When this list first appeared, I didn’t have a blog. I couldn’t really comment on its accuracy. (Well, its accuracy for me – I’m sure it was accurate for them.) But tada! I have a blog now! More importantly, I have a blog about being a bookshelver just like those poor Borders employees. So I thought that, in honor of the dearly departed Borders, I would go through each point and tell you my take.
Continue Reading →
12

Cover Love #12

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s Cover Love time! This week I chose a cover that’s atmospheric but not as dark as last my last Cover Love. (My mom was concerned by my taste in covers.)

Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnn! Do you see what I mean by atmospheric?

I have to admit, I first thought this book might be one of those depressing, introspective adult books. (You know, the kind where the woman spends the entire time complaining about her childhood and her marriage.) But the cover was just so pretty that I took a peek at the synopsis. Then BAM! I was seeing the cover in a whole new light!

The font should’ve tipped me off that it wasn’t straight adult fiction. Its flourishes seem to say fantasy, but they’re too angular, closer to the fonts used in This Dark Endeavour or Cinder. Finding out it’s what seems to be a contemporary paranormal makes perfect sense. The cityscape at the bottom also gives potential readers the heads up that the book will be grounded (at least somewhat) in the real world.

More than anything, I love the combination of the gloomy, saturated colors and the reflection in the rain puddle. As the book is about an alternate world that touches the real one, the visual metaphor of a girl’s reflection in a rain puddle is just perfect. It’s like Alice and her looking glass, but for the teen set.

According to Goodreads, The Shadow Society comes out next month, and if it’s anything as lovely as its cover, I think I’m going to pick it up.

What cover do you love this week?

To join Cover Love:

1. Follow Bookshelvers Anonymous as the host of the meme (my work, so I get credit. No stealing).
2. Find a cover that just makes you go wild with designer delight.
3. Highlight said cover in a Thursday post. Here and here are my two previous Cover Love posts for reference.
4. Link back to Bookshelvers Anonymous somewhere in your post (when I do other blogs’ memes, I put the meme button at the top of the page and then link in the button’s caption).
5. Consider adding the meme button somewhere on your blog so others can join also. This step isn’t required, but it’d be awfully nice. The HTML for the button is in my right sidebar, and I can help you through the adding process if you’d like.
6. Add your blog to the linky list at the bottom of this post – it makes it easier for all of us to find each other AND it’s a great way to generate traffic for your blog.

 

0

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Rub that sleep from your eyes, I have an announcement to make. Technically, I’m about to announce additions to the blog rather than changes, but “A-A-Additions” isn’t as catchy.

Yes, there are two semi-big things coming down the pipe that I think you all should know about. At least, they feel semi-big to me because I’m super-excited for both of them.

The first addition is the new form on my Contact page. The whole reason I started this blog was to be able to connect with other book lovers. I get to talk to a lot of you through Twitter or the comments section on different posts, but I wanted to make it even easier to connect, especially if you have specific questions that don’t relate to a post.

I wouldn’t have a clue of what to do without the patience and support of other bloggers. I pestered them about blogging things (design, features, ARCs, etc.), book things (have you read this? is it good? oh my goodness, did you hear about…?), and other subjects, and everyone was so incredibly patient. I still don’t feel like I know a heck of a lot, but I’d like to share what I do know if it would help any of you.

The form is pasted below and is also on my Contact page. If you have any questions about being a bookshelver, working in a bookstore, blogging, reading, or anything else, please drop me a note. Every single question you ask will be answered, either privately (if you give me a way to contact you) or in a post. Help me help you!

Loading… Second order of business. I’ve thought long and hard about how to best utilize my favorite aspect of the blog, the book reviews. I wanted to give people a way to buy the books immediately if the review so moves them, but in a way that doesn’t benefit Amazon. As a bookshelver, I’m pretty much bound by oath to glare distrustfully at that site.

As of this week, I am a The Book Depository affiliate. What that means is that I’ll be placing a widget and links to TBD in my sidebar and reviews. You may have already noticed them. Using the widget will give you all easy access to cheap books. TBD has low prices on millions of books, they don’t charge shipping, AND they ship internationally. When you buy using my link, I’ll receive 5% of the sale. So, say, for every $10 book sold, I’ll get 50 cents. All of the proceeds will then be collected and funneled back into the blog to fund giveaways, so the more you buy, the more books I’ll be able to give to you!

That’s a win-win if I’ve ever heard one.

To recap, there’s a new form on the Contacts page for any question, big or small, that you all might have. I’m also teaming up with The Book Depository to give my readers a way to buy books, and all of the net proceeds (still gotta pay taxes and tithe) will be used for giveaways. So there you have it. If you have any questions/comments/concerns, comment below… or use the handy-dandy new form!

4

Review: ALONG FOR THE RIDE by Sarah Dessen

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

I must tell you the truth. Please withhold any shocked gasps, looks of amazement, or head-shakes of disdain. Though I am a self-titled YA blogger, I tend to shy away from contemporary books and therefore… have never read a Sarah Dessen book.

Not one.

I know, I know. I knew I had to remedy the situation this summer, so I turned to Twitter for advice. Ms. Chandra from Indigo Teen Blog and Ms. Melanie Fishbane who knows practically everything suggested Along for the Ride. Yay them!
Along for the Ride was about how I expected it to be, for the most part. There’s a troubled boy and a troubled girl. They meet, they rub each other the wrong way just a little but not too much, they become friends, romance ensues, and they start to heal each other’s hurts. There’ll be some misunderstanding, everything seems jeopardized, then awwwww, happy ending.

Typical romance plot. Given the light and airy cover, I would’ve been disappointed by anything else.

For the most part, I liked Auden. I related to her. Though not to the same degree, I am also sometimes baffled by “girl things” – vapid chattering about boys, details regarding makeup, hair, nail polish, or clothes, and certain social conventions regarding other people.

So when she stands in a doorway and stares at three girls boogying their way around an empty store to Elvis’ rockabilly music and retreats rather than join in, I totally get it. Being completely overwhelmed by an office drowned in glaring pink and orange? I totally get that, too.

What I don’t get was Auden’s decision to take a tumble in the dunes with some random boy her first night in town, considering she’d never even KISSED a boy before (to my knowledge). (Oh, and you promised me no sex, Chandra and Melanie!) I think the point was to make her acceptance into the kids’ social circle harder, but couldn’t Dessen have accomplished that with Auden’s standoffishness alone? I didn’t get it at all.

Another thing I liked combined with something I didn’t get was the girls Auden eventually befriends. They’re a delightful trio, Maggie especially. Girly and silly, yet sharp and funny, they’re just the kind of girls that anyone could be friends with. They’re the ones who started the nine o’clock dance-off in the store, and they’re the ones who help Auden learn the rules of society.

They’re also the ones who like to smoke, drink, sleep around, and club-hop, never mind that they’re underage. Geez. Would it kill the contemporary genre to give me ONE book where being completely stupid and illegal isn’t advocated? I don’t expect all books to be devoid of these elements, because kids really do go out and do these things. It’s realistic, I get it. But what isn’t realistic is making it seem like EVERYONE does these things, except for maybe the poor, repressed, geeky kids who don’t know any better.

Sorry. Sore spot. Moving on.

The main troublemakers in the book were Auden’s family. Her dad is a self-centered idiot, too wrapped up in his work-in-progress to see that he’s making the same mistakes with his second wife that he did with his first. Seriously, I would’ve snapped and killed the man myself. Auden’s mom is a hard-nosed intellectual who demands autocratic perfection from her daughter. Pink and all things girly are to be despised because they’re weak. She’s supposed to be pretty in the book, but I kept hearing and see Leonard’s mom from The Big Bang Theory, because they sounded so much alike. Auden’s brother is a drifting loser who flits from one European country to the next and calls home only to ask for more money… until he ends up dating a girl exactly like his mother.

Because that totally seems like a good idea.

Here, Auden frustrated me the most. I know dysfunction is really hard to see from within the dysfunctional unit, but it took her foreeeeeever to see that they were all seriously screwed up. I wanted to smack her every time she sided with her father over her stepmother, every time she failed to consider even common courtesy. (Stepmom is so tired that she’s bawling? Offer to take the baby for a second, you numbskull.)

One thing I did like was that Dessen didn’t make Auden skew full-on girly to counteract her mother’s staunch I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR creed. As some of the girls, especially Maggie and Heidi, proved, you can love pink and kiss boys and dance to music and still be razor-sharp intellectually.

I’m focusing on Auden here, because – while cute and sweet – Eli didn’t do much for me. He seemed a little stock to me. Again, perfectly nice, but he didn’t seem unique, swoon-worthy.

I also liked the ending. Some of the conclusions I didn’t quite believe (lookin’ at you, Hollis and girlfriend), but it was still sweet and satisfying. I love forehead kisses.

It may seem like I’m being awfully dour on this book, but that’s only because of my tastes and expectations. I’m a fantasy/adventure/dystopian kind of girl. I like meat and detailed, exciting characters, not rom-com cliches. (Never really could get into rom-coms – drove my roommate crazy when I picked apart her movies.) I have also inferred that Sarah Dessen writes “Like, the best romantic contemporaries EVER! OMG!!” To me, Along For The Ride wasn’t the best.

But it was good. It was light. It was fluffy. It deserves to stay on the summer reading list, and I may, in time, pick up another Dessen. I consider this experiment a cautious success.

Points Added For: Maggie (because she’s awesome), literary names (maybe not Thisbe, but I think Auden is pretty), a sweet ending.

Points Subtracted For: A frustrating lack of communication, major dysfunction, unnecessary teen idiocy, the cover (when does Auden EVER wear any pink other than that one jacket?!).

Good For Fans Of: Other Dessen books, Deb Caletti books, Jennifer Echols books, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, My Life Next Door by Hunter Fitzpatrick.

Notes For Parents: Underage drinking and club-hopping, sex (nothing shown, just mentioned afterward), language, tense family moments.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

4

Stuck In A Good Book Giveaway Hop

Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Stuck In Books

Hooray, it’s giveaway time! I’m so excited for this giveaway, because I’ve been holding on to one specific book that I’ve been dying to give away.

I have for one lucky lady or gentleman my beloved ARC of The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. I was seriously stuck in this book. I didn’t want to leave!

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone’s power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

You can read my full review here, but below are just a few reasons why this book was so amazing.

  • The action. The story opens amidst the ruins of a past battle and quickly spirals into barely controlled mayhem. The rest of the book has intense fight scenes, death, betrayal, monster typhoons, and much more.
  • The continued themes. Ms. Carson worked with some freaking fantastic themes in her first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns. Rather than either abandoning those themes or going down the same, tired road, she manages to revisit those questions and yet reveal angles that hadn’t been discussed in the previous book. Continuity of that sort is amazingly rare.
  • The cunning. Elisa especially is fan-freaking-tastic. She’s like a mini-Machiavelli, able to study all the angles and strike at her enemies’ weaknesses. 
  • The characters. Again, I love Elisa. She has this deep, calculating mind, but her heart is so tender, and she has such human insecurities. Her supporting cast is filled with fun, detailed characters. Old friends come back to delight, and new friends make the story even richer.
  • THE ROMANCE. Trust me, there’s enough of the action/adventure/mind games stuff to thrill anyone, but the romance! Oh my gosh, the romance will make you melt. Personally, my toes curled.

I’ve been loathe to give away my ARC, but now I can. Why? BECAUSE THE REAL THING IS FINALLY OUT, AND I BOUGHT MYSELF A COPY! *laughs crazily* I shall call it Squishy and it shall be mine and it shall be my Squishy. Yes, indeed, The Crown of Embers just came out on the 18th, and I’m trying my best to give it a boost by highlighting it here in a giveaway hop. Of course, if you don’t win (or even if you do and want to own a finished copy), you can always click my Book Depository widget to the right and buy yourself a copy!

Now for the nitty-gritty. You do NOT have to be a follower to enter this giveaway! However, you WILL earn more entries by becoming a follower, so I strongly suggest it. 🙂 Here are the other details:

– This giveaway is US/CAN only. (Sorry, shipping sucks.)
– You must be 13 years old or older.
– Only one IP address per entry. I’m sorry if you and your flatmate both want to enter, but this is my way to weed out cheaters.
– The chosen winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email with their mailing address.
– If said winner does not respond in the time specified, a new winner will be chosen.
Enter the Rafflecopter below, and then use this link to continue hopping.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

60

Wishlist Wednesday #12

Totally the property of Pen to Paper

Forget every other book I’ve ever whined about wanting on this blog. All of them. Forget them. The book I’m about to show you is THE book that I want. In fact, whenever I do finally get my hands on this book, I strongly suspect that I will just not show up for work for the first time in my entire life.

LOOK!

Sybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

This heart-pounding sequel to Grave Mercy serves betrayal, treachery, and danger in equal measure, bringing readers back to fifteenth century Brittany and will keep them on the edge of their seats.

Is anybody else having trouble breathing? No? That’s just me? I have literally been looking forward to this book from the moment I finished Grave Mercy. If you haven’t read Grave Mercy, I suggest you read my review and then buy it post haste. I also suggest you read my interview with Ms. Robin herself!

But, you might be wondering, what has me so excited other than the fact that it’s the sequel to one of my favorite books OF THE ENTIRE YEAR?

Okay, first, nun assassins. Really, how can you beat a hook like that? NUN. ASSASSINS.

Second, it’s about Sybella. Grave Mercy was solidly Ismae’s book, and Sybella had very few appearances. Yet every time she appeared, she stole the show. Frankly, she’s a bit nuts! That and she’s more powerful than even Ismae, which is saying something. I can’t wait to see what kind of danger she puts herself into, especially considering I’m pretty sure I know who her father is…

Third, we’re returning to Brittany, which is GREAT news. Ms. Robin has done her research to an extent that flabbergasted me. Despite being a solid six hundred years removed from present day, fifteenth century Brittany felt so very alive. I can’t wait to disappear into that world again.

Fourth, the returning characters. I don’t know who all will return, but we’ve already been promised at least a token appearance from Ismae and Duval. Anne will probably play a role in the proceedings, as well (and maybe Isabeau?). We’ll probably hear from Annith, too, as the third book will be her story. I also can’t wait to meet new faces, if they’re anywhere near as fantastic as the returning cast.

Fifth, the wounded knight in the dungeon. I don’t think I’m allowed to say who he is, but let me just say that when I heard, I was rendered speechless. Then, when I could speak again, I flipped out. I am SO excited to read what happens and to find out how he impacts man-hater Sybella.

At the moment, I’m kind of like this:

What are you wishing for this Wednesday?

17

Little Shelver And The Magical Library

Liō is the property of Mark Tatulli, and is a fantastic comic strip.
Like most people, I don’t remember a lot about being really little. Even things I think I remember usually turn out to be false memories cobbled from old photo albums. But for all the gaps in my memory, I do remember going to the library with my mom.

When I was little, we would go to the library with the owls in the rafters. Sometimes they were there, sometimes they weren’t, but it was always such a thrill to peer up into the shadows and see those fuzzy little creatures snoozing on the beam above the door. After looking for the owls, my mom and I would go inside, bag in hand, ready to snoop out new adventures.

I’m sure my mom kept an eye on me the entire time, but I remember going down each row, checking each shelf for a fun book. Sometimes, my mom would help me use the computer to find a specific book, but not always. The library was the first place where I started to notice the names of the people who wrote the books that I loved. Eric Hill’s Spot books, H.A. Rey’s Curious George, and all things Dr. Seuss and Patricia Polacco were special favorites. I knew exactly where to find each of those authors in my section and carefully checked to make sure I wasn’t missing any of their new books.

Then, one glorious day, my mom decided it was time I get a library card. Actually, I think I remember begging vigorously, the same way I had when I’d wanted to learn to read. So, at the age of five, I went to the front desk and hid behind my mom as she asked for a library card. My mom signed the back and then put my name in parentheses. (You’re not allowed your own library card for real until you’re 12, much to my dismay.)

I still have that card. It’s yellowed and faded, but it’s mine. Before I started working at the bookstore, the library was the place to be. We went every two to four weeks to grab a fresh batch of books. I would troll each row as methodically as I had when I was five, scanning the titles for something new. That’s how I found Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief, my favorite book of all time. That’s how I found most of my favorite books, actually. And once I was done gathering my books (never more than fifty, as I found out after I hit the regulated limit), I would carry the bag to the counter and place my new books in a neat stack with my faded library card on top.

The library is a place of adventure. It’s a place of learning and growth. It’s a magical place where one little rectangular piece of plastic is the key to other worlds. Libraries, to be frank, are fantastic.

What’s your first library-related memory? How long have you had your card?

You can find the rest of the Lio library series at GoComics (it ran 9/3-9/7/12).

16

Review: THE GHOST AND THE GOTH By Stacey Kade

Alona Dare–Senior in high school, co-captain of the cheerleading squad, Homecoming Queen three years in a row, voted most likely to marry a movie star… and newly dead.

I’m the girl you hated in high school. Is it my fault I was born with it all-good looks, silky blond hair, a hot bod, and a keen sense of what everyone else should not be wearing? But my life isn’t perfect, especially since I died. Run over by a bus of band geeks—is there anything more humiliating? As it turns out, yes—watching your boyfriend and friends move on with life, only days after your funeral. And you wouldn’t believe what they’re saying about me now that they think I can’t hear them. To top it off, I’m starting to disappear, flickering in and out of existence. I don’t know where I go when I’m gone, but it’s not good. Where is that freaking white light already?

Will Killian–Senior in high school, outcast, dubbed “Will Kill” by the popular crowd for the unearthly aura around him, voted most likely to rob a bank…and a ghost-talker.

I can see, hear, and touch the dead. Unfortunately, they can also see, hear and touch me. Yeah, because surviving high school isn’t hard enough already. I’ve done my best to hide my “gift.” After all, my dad, who shared my ability, killed himself because of it when I was fifteen. But lately, pretending to be normal has gotten a lot harder. A new ghost—an anonymous, seething cloud of negative energy with the capacity to throw me around—is pursuing me with a vengeance. My mom, who knows nothing about what I can do, is worrying about the increase in odd incidents, my shrink is tossing around terms like “temporary confinement for psychiatric evaluation,” and my principal, who thinks I’m a disruption and a faker, is searching for every way possible to get rid of me. How many weeks until graduation?

Oh my gosh, what a fun book! I almost didn’t pick up The Ghost and the Goth, because I really don’t do ghost books. I’m so glad I did, though. It looked so light and fluffy, and it kind of is, but that’s okay. I had a list of expectations ready as I settled down with this book, and Ms. Kade delivered.

For instance, I expected Ms. Kade to use the new stereotypes. Or maybe I should call them the new character molds? I’m not sure. See, back in the day, cheerleaders were always perfect girls from perfect homes and had absolutely zero reason to be rude little witches other than the fact that they were spoiled. Goths were goths. They were freaky, and that was that. Nowadays, everyone has some tragic backstory, a psychological/developmental reason for being the way they are. That’s the new mold, and Ms. Kade follows the new mold.

And that was okay with me. Like I said, I knew this book would be light and fluffy. Still, Alona’s problems at home added a bit of heft to her personality, and I liked it. I also liked the fact that Goth boy Will isn’t really Goth. (As he points out, he often wears a navy blue t-shirt, not a black one. And being able to see ghosts is a great reason to act a bit weird.)

I also expected some great dynamics between Alona and Will. Boy, does Ms. Kade deliver on this one! Alona has honed herself to be able to cut someone down with just a word or a look, so she has some moments of positively wicked snark that had me smirking. Will, on the other hand, is just as snarky, but he’s also a kind-hearted boy with a great deal of responsibility on his shoulders. Also, despite the fact that they’re on completely different ends of the popularity spectrum, Will’s had a crush on Alona since the sixth grade, which makes their arrangement… interesting.

A developing romance? I expected that. I mean, just look at the cover. They’ve got the whole romantic tension thing going on from the get-go, which is alright, because Will is oddly cute. There’s definitely no insta-love here. There’s no love at all. Just catty attraction that was so fun to read.

But I didn’t expect the big reveal. From the beginning, Will thinks he knows who the ghost trying to kill him is and why it’s out to get him. I’m not saying he’s right and I’m not saying he’s wrong. I just didn’t expect the twist at the end that made me go “Ohhhhhhhh.” It wasn’t quite as straightforward as I thought it would be, and I liked that.

I also didn’t expect the logic behind the ghost method. I never got how ghosts are supposed to be ethereal enough to pass through walls but corporeal enough to, you know, throw things and scribble ominous messages. Totally illogical. But Ms. Kade laid out a pretty solid explanation for why certain things happen certain ways, which is pretty neat. I allow certain leaps of faith in my books (it’s fictional, after all), but I expect everything to be logical and orderly. Cause and effect must still preside over events.

Okay, pause. You see that nice little list above? That’s me trying to be a responsible, even-keeled reviewer. But the reader in me just wants to sit in a corner and giggle before chucking the book at your heads while chanting, “Read the fun, fluffy book! Read the fun, fluffy book!”

I would LOVE to see this book turned into a movie. Will’s principal is a great enough jerk to be a fantastic secondary villain, Will’s friend Joonie is just the kind of quirk that make a TV movie a success, the various ghosts that bug the snot out of Alona are a riot, and Will and Alona just have this great chemistry that begs to be translated onto the screen.

So what are you waiting for? Read the fun, fluffy book!

Points Added For: Will and his hotness, Alona and her snark, being logical, being fun and fluffy, Will’s mom.

Points Subtracted For: All the language (the story would’ve been fine without it).

Good For Fans Of: Snark ghosts, fluffy books, romantic tension.

Notes For Parents: Moderate-to-heavy language, ghosts, an Ouija board, drinking, Alona’s attitude regarding body types, Will’s attitude regarding legs (he likes them a lot), homosexuality, homophobia.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

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Cover Love #11

I’ve got a pretty, I’ve got a pretty, I’ve got a pretty hey hey hey hey. Go on, finish the song. I’ll wait.

Anyways! I picked an awfully pretty one this week, in my opinion. Well, that is, my version of pretty. The kind of pretty that makes me sit back and go “Oooooooh” and then scramble for the synopsis to find out what’s going on.

Aries, Clementine, Michael, and Mason have survived the first wave of the apocalypse that wiped out most of the world’s population and turned many of the rest into murderous Baggers. Now they’re hiding out in an abandoned house in Vancouver with a ragtag group of fellow teen survivors, trying to figure out their next move.

     Aries is trying to lead, but it’s hard to be a leader when there are no easy answers and every move feels wrong. Clementine is desperate to find her brother Heath, but it’s impossible to know where he’d be, assuming he’s alive. Michael is haunted by the memories of his actions during his harrowing struggle to survive. And Mason is struggling with something far worse: the fear that he may be a danger to his friends.

     As the Baggers begin to create a new world order, these four teens will have to trust and rely on each other in order to survive.

 Not much to say about this one other than “Lookee lookee lookee!” I’m a sucker for dark, saturated covers. Add a post-apocalyptic setting, a cracked and ruined road leading to a possibly abandoned metropolis, and a beat-up white van leaking blood, and I’m all there. Squee!

What cover are you loving this week?

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