Sunday, July 31, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren where bloggers get to share books they received and I’ve always wanted to do one since I started this blog so here we go. This is my first one!

I have a big list this week from all kinds of sources and I’m very excited about each and every one! A few days ago a lot of the books I requested from the library were in, so I gladly went and picked them up. I just read both The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (awesome) and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (double awesome). The rest are Ironside by Holly Black, EON by Alison Goodman and The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan.

I also went to Border’s to see what kind of deals I could get and while the shelves were surprisingly already picked clean, I managed to pick up some fun ones on sale: Lord of the Flies by William Golding, The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (from the Kingkiller Chronicles, my sister-in-law recommended it and I’m very excited to read) and A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (I love the HBO series and can’t wait to get my hands on this one!).

Then, in my actual mailbox I received Changing My Wardrobe by Deb Hanrahan (an indie that I’m reading now) and I also received What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty from Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (thanks Mary Stone!) which I (think) I won from Shelf Awareness. It’s an adult book but it looks like a superfun beach read and of course, we all know I love the beach.

Yes, that is a fluffy kitty tail/tush you see to the right.

And finally, my mom was very generous and bought me a few books because she’s a very nice mom: Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (I’m dying to finish this series and find out what happens between Sam and Grace!), Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (loving the old photos) and A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (yes, getting ahead of myself here since I haven’t read the first yet, but I couldn’t resist).

That’s what I got, and now I’m off to the beach for some R&R so tell me what you’re looking at this week!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Night Owl?

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about (mostly) books and reading. Today’s question is:

What’s the latest you’ve ever stayed up reading a book? Is staying up late reading a usual thing for you?

I am definitely a certified night owl. I’ve probably stayed up reading easily until 4 a.m. Sometimes I just can’t put down a book even though I know that staying up that late defies all reason and logic and humans do not naturally function that way. But I can’t help it! Usually I stay up this late when the plot is really picking up and moving toward something good and I. HAVE. TO. KNOW. WHAT. IT. IS. NOW! I can’t possibly wait until tomorrow like a civilized person would do.
Most nights however, I do read before bed for at least a few hours and it’s usually 1 or 2 a.m. before I actually hit the hay. I know this is pretty ridiculous too, but it feels relaxing to me and I figure as long as I’m laying down horizontally, my body is still at rest so that has to count, right? Right?!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review: Specials by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Specials
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse, May 9, 2006
Pages: Hardcover, 384
Series: #3 Uglies
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: “Special Circumstances”: The words have sent chills down Tally’s spine since her days as a repellent, rebellious ugly. Back then Specials were a sinister rumor — frighteningly beautiful, dangerously strong, breathtakingly fast. Ordinary pretties might live their whole lives without meeting a Special. But Tally’s never been ordinary.

And now she’s been turned into one of them: a superamped fighting machine, engineered to keep the uglies down and the pretties stupid.

The strength, the speed, and the clarity and focus of her thinking feel better than anything Tally can remember. Most of the time. One tiny corner of her heart still remembers something more. Still, it’s easy to tune that out — until Tally’s offered a chance to stamp out the rebels of the New Smoke permanently. It all comes down to one last choice: listen to that tiny, faint heartbeat, or carry out the mission she’s programmed to complete. Either way, Tally’s world will never be the same.

My Rating: (3.5/5)


Specials is a good ending to a good trilogy (err, wait there is a fourth novel). The Uglies series has been quite a journey and I really loved the creative details about this world. Specials certainly gave me a window into something I hadn’t experienced before.
At first I thought this series was all about the underlying message which I think is basically Scott Westerfeld holding up a mirror to society and saying “Take a good look, kids,” and I still think so. But I also think it’s about growing up and changing. Tally has gone through so many changes so of course she’s going to be different as she grows up but I think if she had never become a Special, she never would have become who she is today: a hero. She’s also a product of her environment but I think it’s a metaphor for how quickly we change when we’re young. That’s not a bad thing: it’s just the way we are and I think Scott showed this through Tally’s evolution over the series.
A lot of YA books focus on the characters’ feelings of adrenaline and how this leads to courage and bravery and I think this illustrates the invincibility most teens feel. Hell, I feel the same way and I’m in my 20s. To feel young is a state of mind and I think Scott paints a true picture of what it feels to be alive. 
I think Specials is the ending Uglies needs as a series though I know it has one more book in store for us. If you haven’t read the first two, pick them up!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Linger
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press, July 13, 2010
Pages: Hardcover, 360
Series: #2 The Wolves of Mercy Falls
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: In Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love — the light and the dark, the warm and the cold — in a way you will never forget.

My Rating: (4.5/5)

I am a huge fan of Shiver, the first in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, but now I’m an even bigger fan of Linger. This is one of my favorite follow-ups in a long time. Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is beautiful and sad at the same time, which made me feel for the characters and their predicaments even more this time around.

Sam and Grace are wonderful characters and they don’t disappoint, but Maggie added two more perspectives to the mix: a new character, Cole, and Isabel. I loved these characters and they couldn’t be more different from Sam and Grace, which provided a nice balance.

I like that Linger took a more scientific approach to explain the wolves — you don’t see that in most paranormal novels – and I think it worked. It wasn’t overly complex yet I found myself believing shifting could be possible and I like how Maggie makes this paranormal world seem completely normal. I think that’s what makes a great story.

For some reason I can’t explain how much I love this series in simple words. Once again I stayed up very late reading this book and considered starting Forever, the next in the series, right away because I couldn’t get enough but now I think I’ll try and pace myself and make the series last longer. I just don’t want it to be over!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Review: Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison

Book Title: Tris and Izzie
Author: Mette Ivie Harrison
Publisher: Egmont USA, expected date October 11, 2011
Pages: Kindle edition, 304
Source: netGalley
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: A modern retelling of the German fairytale “Tristan and Isolde,” Tris and Izzie is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until — she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

My Rating: (1/5)

While the cover of this book is absolutely fantastic, it unfortunately is extremely misleading. And, while I had heard there were several negative reviews, I still wanted to give it a chance but I really didn’t enjoy this book at all. Usually I have a lot to say when I don’t like a book and sometimes I think it’s good that readers are polarized in different directions. At least that way, readers feel something for it, whether good or bad. As for this novel, I just feel completely indifferent because I’m not so sure it’s that great of a book to begin with

Tris and Izzie is about older teenagers though it seems as if it was written for middle graders. The writing was very blunt and matter-of-fact which made it sound immature. All the characters had the same voice and I didn’t like any of them. The story jumps around constantly and characters seem to do and say random things without any apparent motivation behind it. Most of what happens is completely unrealistic and slightly ridiculous, although none of the characters think anything odd is going on.

One thing that really bothered me was the constant redundancy. Throughout the book, we are reminded of several things over and over again (like Izzie’s mom is a witch, or her dad died when she was little, etc.).

In short, I am unfortunately not a fan.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Title: How I Live Now
Author: Meg Rosoff
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books, August 5, 2004
Pages: Paperback, 194
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: “Every war has turning points and every person too.”
Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way. A riveting and astonishing story.

My Rating: (5/5)

This book blew me away. I read How I Live Now in just a few hours and every single moment I was engrossed, unable to put it down. The story is very unique for a dystopian in that it’s not overly complicated. The setting may as well be today and not some far away future, which is why I found it most unsettling.

Daisy’s brutally honest, insightful and imaginative thoughts gave her character a realness that I immediately bonded to. Meg Rosoff has the wonderful ability to create beautiful prose by writing very long sentences in such an effortless way. Because of this, Daisy’s thoughts were written like a very easy to read stream of consciousness full of color and details which gave her personality life. Later, Meg uses short and simple sentences that illustrate the emptiness Daisy feels.

While reading How I Live Now, I was taken to the beautiful English countryside along with Daisy and I yearned for the absolute bliss this simple life created. When the war hit, I too was in denial along with Daisy and her cousins that the war was an irrelevant problem, very far away. I too was catapulted into a kind of hell along with them when everything started to fall apart.

To give you fair warning, there is a taboo in this novel but I didn’t find it offensive. Details are sparse and the message is clear that the characters are aware of their unacceptable behavior and after all the characters are children and not adults, an important distinction. I think it’s included because it shows how the children’s version of reality is already unfolding without any adults around before consequences of war can even touch their lives.

The cover of this book is beautiful and while I borrowed this copy from the library, I can’t wait to get my own. I recommend this to anyone – boy, girl, man, woman, goat or dog. It’s a thrilling story and one that reminds me why I love reading so much.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review: Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Pretties
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse, November 1, 2005
Pages: Paperback, 370
Series: #2, Uglies
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: Tally has finally become pretty. Now her looks are beyond perfect, her clothes are awesome, her boyfriend is totally hot, and she’s completely popular. It’s everything she’s ever wanted.

But beneath all the fun — the nonstop parties, the high-tech luxury, the total freedom — is a nagging sense that something is wrong. Something important. Then a message from Tally’s ugly past arrives. Reading it, Tally remembers what’s wrong with pretty life, and the fun stops cold.

Now she has to choose between fighting to forget what she knows and fighting for her life — because the authorities don’t intend to let anyone with this information survive.

My Rating: (4/5)

This was a great follow-up to Uglies and I really enjoyed reading it. Now in New Prettytown, Tally finally has what she’s always wanted but does she even know it?

The fun in this book is the continuation of the world that Scott Westerfeld created. In Uglies I could only gather so much about what it must be like to live as a Pretty, but now we’re filled in and it’s very satisfying. I love the futuristic details, like the hole in the wall that spits out whatever kind of clothing you want and the bedroom that does whatever you want, like get you breakfast. I’m completely envious and not-so-secretly hoping that is a perk in the future.

Another thing I really liked is the language that Scott created, which kind of reminds me of Newspeak from 1984, but in a really funny and addicting way (for a while after I read this, I tried to use words like “pretty-making” and “dizzy-making” in my everyday vocabulary!). The fun add-ons to their names (Tally-wa, Shay-la) are super fun, too.

It’s clear the question behind Pretties is this: Is ignorance really bliss? Most of the Pretties simply spend their time partying, drinking and living it up – but they’re more like bimbos than rock stars. There really isn’t a meaning to life anymore; rather, being a Pretty is just a way to mindlessly spend time and stay forever content.

This novel is a complete guilty pleasure to read, while at the same time left me pondering the message behind it creating a great mesh of fun and provocation. Pick it up it — it’s totally happy-making!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Title: Fallen
Author: Lauren Kate
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books,
December 8, 2009
Pages: Hardcover, 452 pages
Series: Fallen #1
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori. Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move. Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret … even if it kills her

My Rating: (1/5)
Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book at all. After reading the prologue, I thought the story showed some promise. The present day setting at Sword and Cross reform school seemed intriguing and surely the story would be more complex with twists and turns I couldn’t possibly expect. Nope. I quickly found out the prologue gave away the entire premise of the book in just a few short paragraphs so there was no guessing, no mystery and no more intrigue.

I liken this book to Beautiful Creatures as it was very long and filled with a whole lot of nothing until the final few chapters. The middle part was full of somewhat cheesy clues to hint at what the characters really were (Cam’s serpent necklace, anyone?) so I felt like the story was aimed at incredibly naive readers for that reason alone.

I’m a huge fan of fantastical elements in a story but for me, it has to be a perfect mesh of fantasy and reality to make the story believable. I think Fallen really failed at this. There were too many characters “in on it” for the story to make any sense. It felt like the entire school was a farce – just a way for Luce to get from point A to point B with no real substance.

Needless to say, Fallen disappointed me and I won’t be reading the rest of the series.

Summer Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Meredith from Mint Tea and a Good Book! You’ve won my Summer Giveaway including Beauty Queens by Libba Bray and summer-inspired beauty goodies by SEPHORA COLLECTION.

Thank you to all who entered and watch out for new giveaways. If you have any ideas for future contests, shoot me an email!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Shiver
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press, August 1 2009
Pages: Hardcover, 392
Series: #1 The Wolves of Mercy Falls
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: The cold. Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn’t know why. The heat. Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace…until now. The shiver. For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it’s spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

My Rating: (4/5)

From the first few pages of this book, I knew I loved it. I’ve kept away from it for so long because it was about wolves, which I associated with Twilight and those wolves really turned me off. So, imagine my surprise when I finally picked up Shiver and found it was nothing like Twilight!

This is such a beautiful story and what I liked most about it was Grace. I found her to be truly authentic and while she describes herself to be somewhat plain, from Sam’s view we find out she’s anything but. Switching between both Grace and Sam’s perspectives gave me a better view of the big picture and I felt like this gave more detail to a mostly straightforward story.

Maggie Stiefvater really nailed it when she created Sam and his pack. Unlike other shifter stories I can think of, Maggie perfectly transferred Sam’s presence as a wolf into his human character and I loved him in both roles. Some of the moments between Grace and Sam as a wolf were some of the loveliest and saddest of the entire novel and by the end, I was desperately trying to find a way for Sam to be both!

I’m looking forward to Linger, the next in the series. I hope it’s as good as this one!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton, December 2, 2010
Pages: Hardcover, 372
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near – misses end with the French kiss Anna – and readers – have long awaited?

My Rating: (4.5/5)

Parlez-vous francais? Non? Okay, I’ll do this review in English then. I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. Typically I’m that way with action books, but Anna and the French Kiss was packed with all sorts of high school and relationship drama, but in a good way.

Stephanie Perkins did a great job explaining Anna’s thought process throughout. I think you could hand this book to any guy and say, ‘See? This is how we think,’ because it was dead-on with everything from Anna’s overanalyzing to her obsessing over her relationship with Etienne (or St. Clair, depending on the day). It actually read to me as a diary what with all the sarcasm and sometimes snark. I also really like Anna because she isn’t a typically perfect protagonist who can do no wrong; in fact, she has a lot to learn about being a friend and how she interacts with others.

Etienne is a complex character and perfect love interest. While I love the evolution of his relationship with Anna (and yes, they are utterly perfect for each other), I don’t think this is a book just about a relationship; it’s about friends. All of Anna’s friends – at home and in France – are believable and realistic. You could probably see one of your best friends (or frenemies) in any one of these roles. They are all flawed of course, but funny, understanding, honest and they won’t take your crap.

Because of that, this book didn’t need any crazy plot twists or fantastical elements. It has the perfect mix of love, friendship and drama with just a hint of France. Pick it up, you’ll love it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers,
December 1, 2009
Pages: Hardcover, 563
Series: #1 (Caster Chronicles)
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

My Rating: (2/5)

I know there are many readers who loved this book and will totally disagree with me, but I just couldn’t get into Beautiful Creatures. I really wanted to and as I was reading I waited for the moment when I would start enjoying it but I just felt like reading this book was a chore.

One of my biggest pet peeves with this book was that it’s so long and the action didn’t even pick up until I was at least two thirds through the book. There was a lot of back history on the town and that’s not the part that bored me. Rather, Ethan and Lena spent so many days doing absolutely nothing and instead of skipping that part and giving the meat of the story, I guess I was supposed to be excited about… nothing much.

Most of the townspeople and classmates like Savannah and Emily were too one dimensionally evil and I hate to say it, but I just didn’t care about Ethan and Lena, especially as a couple. It felt like they talked more to each other in their heads than in real life, so I actually didn’t feel a real connection between them. Like I said, I can’t quite explain it but I just couldn’t get into them.

When the ball finally started rolling towards the end, I was very indifferent to the whole thing. Was I surprised about the ending? I guess. Was it satisfying? No. The pieces just didn’t fit together like I thought they would and I never had the “aha!” moment.

The reason I finished the book is because of what I did like about Beautiful Creatures. Amma and Macon were my two favorite characters by far and completely reminded me of a pulpy South: a superstitious seer and a Southern gentleman. I actually thought they would make a nice couple, you know, if they didn’t disgust each other. Link, Ridley and the Sisters are also some of my favorites and they had very distinct and colorful voices. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl definitely gave the supporting characters a rich depth that I felt the main characters were lacking.

Overall, I was disappointed with this book because of the good things I had heard, but I pushed through regardless. The book was clearly well written but I think it could have been shorter so that it had more of a punch. I am only slightly tempted to read the second in the series, Beautiful Darkness, because I am a little curious about where the story could possibly go. Meh, we’ll see.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Book Review: The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Dark and Hollow Places
Author: Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers, March 22, 2011
Pages: Hardcover, 377
Series: # 3 (Forest of Hands and Teeth)
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister’s face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters. Annah’s world stopped that day, and she’s been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn’t feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again. But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it’s up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return’s destruction?

My Rating: (3.5/5) 

The Dark and Hollow Places had a very different feel to it than the other two books in this series which I really liked. The Dark City was a place completely different than I, or the original characters in the series had imagined. Initially it was supposed to be a safe place that was highly protected from the Unconsecrated but it turned out to be a ragged shantytown where you can’t even trust your neighbor. It reminded me of a really far gone Gotham City meets the post-apocalyptic world in The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Annah, the newest character of the series, was extremely likable to me. She’s flawed, scarred, guarded and there’s a real grittiness to her that I didn’t find in Gabry; the girl has some fight in her. I guess the reason I like her over Gabry is because although Carrie Ryan puts both Annah and Gabry in many dire situations, I feel like Gabry is a little helpless and always has to be saved (by a boy, usually) while Annah doesn’t expect anyone to save her, so she’ll do whatever she needs to survive. Female characters like her are rare, although hopefully that trend is changing in YA. 

This story also has another love triangle of course, but with a twist. The story finally gives Catcher the limelight rather than Elias which is fine for me since Catcher has much more depth as a character. Some of the scenes between Catcher and Annah were pretty steamy whereas Elias and Gabry are just so clingy.

The Dark and Hollow Places was a good end to the series and I enjoyed this book the most. There was more action and rawness to it and the Dark City was a much scarier place than the Forest of Hands and Teeth which, looking back, looks like a safe haven. This series had a lot of ups and downs for me but overall I enjoyed reading. Plus, gotta love those covers.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Book Review: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Title: The Scorch Trials
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers, October 12, 2010
Pages: Hardcover, 360
Series: Maze Runner, #2
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.

In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.

Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.

The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?

My Rating: (4.5/5)

This was an excellent follow-up to The Maze Runner by James Dashner. The first book captivated me so much, I couldn’t put it down and the second one did not disappoint. I read this book in the same way: barely able to put it down, thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it, agonizing over it afterwards.

It’s true, everything is different in this book and there is an entire new cast of characters to get to know, but James Dashner makes sure we get to know the important ones and the others, unfortunately, are cast aside. So it must be in times like this. Although the boys are not in the Glade any longer, they are in a new kind of hell, but it seems like they’re actually in the real world now. That’s what makes this book so interesting: after the Glade, do the boys really need to stick together now? Should they? It’s a great experiment to see how they relate to one another now that they’re out of the bubble, so to speak.

Another great think about The Scorch Trials is James Dashner’s ability to bring on the creep. And by that, I mean everything is creepy from the beginning of the book until the end. I’m not sure if this is reality or if everyone is living in some kind of matrix. Although we’re given more clues about the overall arc of the story, I’m still pretty clueless as to what’s going on. Just like Thomas, I’m not sure who to trust and the people I thought I could trust, I’ve realized I can’t. Or can I?

The Scorch Trials is a great YA thriller and I’m beyond excited to get my hands on The Death Cure, the last in the trilogy that comes out this fall. I can’t wait!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Summer Giveaway! Beauty Queens by Libba Bray + Summer Inspired Beauty Goodies

Kick-off your summer in style! To jumpstart the summer and my new blog, I’m hosting a giveaway featuring: 

  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Hardcover)
    (see my review here)
  • Fun, summer-inspired goodies by SEPHORA COLLECTION including:
         – Super Shimmer Lip Gloss in Summer Crush
         – Nail Lacquer in Teeny Bikini
         – Nano Eyeliner in Golden Sand

Contest Rules:

  • You must be 13 years or older
  • You must reside in the US or Canada only
  • One entry per person
  • Ends Sunday, July 17, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. EST

To enter, simply fill out the form below!

Book Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Uglies
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse, February 8, 2005
Pages: Paperback, 425
Series: Uglies #1
Buy it on Amazon

From Goodreads: Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. Not for her license — for turning pretty. In Tally’s world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to be pretty. She’d rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world — and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

My Rating: (3/5)

This was a fun and quick read for me. The future world that Scott Westerfeld created was very intriguing and described so well that I felt I could imagine it perfectly in my head. There was clearly a contrast between Uglyville (dull, boring, etc.) and New Pretty Town (fun, colorful, exciting).

The premise of Uglies is very sad: Tally spends her whole life pining for the time when she turns 16 so she can be “pretty” and go live in New Pretty Town to finally have fun. It’s a representation of the importance society puts on looks, but it also reflects the feelings of teens who just want to fit in. Tally doesn’t want to be the prettiest girl after her surgery, she just wants to look like the rest of the popular kids who live in New Pretty Town. Sameness is desired while uniqueness is seen as ugly with no exceptions.

I think Scott Westerfeld did a good job making his point though I wish there was a little more explanation of the world Tally lives in. For instance, I’m not sure what the deal is with the adults in this world. Her parents and teachers seem to be just as clueless as Tally. Apparently that’s just the way life is in this world, but I’m still wondering why?

A great idea for a book, this story just needs a little more fine tuning for me.