Saturday, July 21, 2012

Size 12 And Ready To Rock by Meg Cabot

Plot Sketch: Heather Wells is back at it again in Size 12 And Ready To Rock, putting her fallen pop star street smarts to good use solving crime after crime.  This time, it's all about her former rival, boyfriend-stealing, future sister-in-law and a stalkery scary murderish dude.  The usual characters are all there to help find the guy during a rock-n-roll camp for teens hosted at none other than Heather's own Death Dorm.

Verdict:  I love me some Heather Wells.  I really do.  These are adult books that are suitable for older teens.  They do have some references to sex and drugs in them, whatever you would find in a college dorm really since Heather is the residence hall assistant manager person.  And there's blood and murder because well, they're mysteries.  Meg's writing style in this installment is on-par with her other adult work in this one, which since there was an almost five-year gap between Big Boned and this one, I was happy to see.

I love the characters, and I love that the major characters grew and overcame personal obstacles they had faced in earlier books.  When a series comes together over a wider arc, I think it makes us all happy, right? 

Something I didn't like though was the amount of extraneous characters.  I felt like there were way too many names in the book for characters that didn't actually have to make an appearance.  I kept thinking who is this guy?  And why does she know this girl again?  I would have liked to have seen the character list shortened to ones that were pertinent to the story with a few extras sprinkled here and there.  But it felt just the opposite.

The pacing and plot - though predictable - both served for light entertainment.  And as always, I loved the songs at the beginning of the chapters.  I gobbled it up, and if you haven't had the chance to check out Heather Wells yet, you should definitely start at the beginning with Size 12 Is Not Fat.  Size 12 And Ready To Rock is #4 in the series.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Recap: Young At ♥: The Looking Glass Wars Edition [Local] [Events]

We held our first ever Young At ♥ Book Club for Adults who read YA at Bookman's Mesa on Thursday, June 21st. Phew. That felt like a mouthful.  So how did it happen?  Here's the lowdown:

We chilled out in the cafe and the three of us chatted all things The Looking Glass Wars for about forty minutes.  We talked about how much we loved Hatter Madigan and what a great character he was.  We talked about Alyss's plight and how her time on earth followed the historical account of the real Alice Liddell whom Lewis Carroll (whose real name was Charles Dodgson) based the books on - how the real Alice actually did date Prince Leopold and all kinds of fun tidbits like that.

We chatted about Dodge and Alyss and how we hope that they get together in the next books.  We talked about Jack of Diamonds and how much we abhorred his demeanor and actions.  We talked about the Cat and how unique of an assassin he was.

We also talked about how we individually connected (or in some cases did not connect) with the characters. We talked about what we understood in the world, got some enlightenment from each other about our interpretations of the world, and what a fun and unique element the Heart Crystal was even though we didn't even begin to understand what it was, where it came from, or where it got its power.

Pamela and Lizzie were my partners in crime for the discussion.  Oh what fun we had, giving away a copy of Hatter M and a copy of The Espressologist for next month's read.  Won't you join us this month?  The Espressologist by Kristina Springer is a whopping 184 pages long with lots to discuss.  Download a copy - be it Kindle, Nook, Kobo, etc.  Pick one up from Bookman's or order one online if you can't get to Bookman's in time.  We've got more door prizes this month including an espresso bundle from Bookman's and a copy of next month's book by local-ish Jannie Lee Simner (Tucson), Bones of Faerie and Espressologist bookmarks for all.  So get to Bookman's Mesa on July 19th at 7pm in the cafe!

July 19th: The Espressologist by Kristina Springer
August 16th: Bones of Faerie by Jannie Lee Simner
Check out the schedule and what we're reading all year.

Want to come?  Join the Facebook event and tell your friends!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi [Book Inspection]

Plot Sketch: Aria was born in Reverie, where they are safe from the Aether storms.  Aria's mom, Lumina, is a geneticist who not only designed Aria, but whose work is top secret and has taken her to Bliss, another pod away from Reverie.  Lumina hasn't contacted Aria every day like she usually does which alerts Aria that something is wrong.  She asks and is told that the link is just down and that everything is okay.  So, she seduces Soren Hess, the Director of Security's son, to see if she can get any information out of him.  In the process, she enters a closed section of Reverie, meets an Outsider who saves her from being strangled by Soren, and gets framed for the fire that Soren started.  The result?  Her banishment to the Outside. The Aether. The Death Shop where there are a million ways to die.  The story follows her and her Outsider as they search for Lumina and someone else the Outsider lost.

Verdict:  The writing is solid.  The characters?  I have this amazing connection to them even though I have no connection to the world they come from.  I care about them.  You will too.  Rossi does an amazing job making her characters distinguishable even though the third person limited perspective shifts from chapter to chapter.  If I missed the shift in view, I knew it, and I'd flip back to verify.  As far as plot goes, there are some holes.  Times where characters know things that there was no foundation laid for that knowledge.  But these are minimal, and as prevalent as these are in the dystopian fad, I'm willing to overlook the three I counted for the overall story.

The world is fascinating.  Combining genetics with apocalypse with different societies mostly isolated from each other all trying to survive.  The rules are solid for the world.  The fantasy elements not too much of a stretch.

If you're a fan of dystopias like Wither, The Selection, and Matched, you'll like Under the Never Sky.  Additionally, if you have interest in virtual realities, interesting weather, and science fiction, you will definitely enjoy this one.  I can see fans of Firefly, Dexter's Laboratory, and dare I say Coheed & Cambria? will like this story of perseverance, angst, wit, and love.

And my favorite quote?  Here ya go:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Plot Sketch: Calder is a merman.  Merpeople are born and made... sort of like vampires, mermaids (but only the females) can reinvigorate the dead.  And when Calder fell overboard as a child, that's exactly what his new mermother did.  She made him into a merperson.  And then she went and got herself killed and left her three daughters - Pavati, Talullah, and Maris - and Calder with a mission of revenge: Kill Jason Hancock.  See, merpeople don't just swim around frolicking with lobsters and eels all day... they kill people.   Killer Merpeople.  In the Caribbean, Lake Michigan, pretty much anywhere that has water deep enough to dive.  And here's the kicker:  when merpeople get out of the water?  They get legs and walk like humans.  So this is the story of Calder, his sisters, and a man so ingrained to be scared of the water because there might be monsters in it, and an epic tale of revenge.

Verdict:  This was a very well-written book.  The prose was beautiful and lyrical and when I went to read it, it engulfed me.  The problem for me came when I put it down.  It didn't call out to me to pick it back up.  Sirens these merpeople were not... to me.  It came during a very very busy time in I-Heart-Monster-land (wherein I was planning a wedding and playing wedding photographer and sister of the groom O_o) so I could be a little skewed on this topic as my pillow called to me first and foremost throughout most of this time.  I just wish there was a little bit more spark between me and this story.  The characters were interesting, developed-enough, and diverse.  I enjoyed that it was told from a male perspective instead of the predictable female one.  I thought the dialog was crisp and poignant.  I thought the structure was superb, leaving just enough mystery to keep me guessing at character motivations and guessing what would happen next, and giving me enough exposition to understand events as they happened.  The cover and title don't lend themselves to someone picking it up off of a shelf because its gorgeous and shiny (and shiny it actually is)... but the contents should.  I really do think my pillow created an interference shield between my brain and this tale.  So recommend?  Only if you don't go into it expecting Ariel and her sisters and King Triton with singing and dancing sea life, and only if you don't ever want to swim in any body of water again.  I mean, there could be killer merpeople lurking ready to suck the happy right out of you and feed on your energy.  It could happen. And with that remote possibility, I'll stay in the house, and keep to the mountains where I'll take my chances with land-based monsters like yetis, thankyouverymuch.