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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

 Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles - 4/5 stars

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

Rarely have I seen alternating POVs done quite as effectively as in this book. Brittany and Alex are from such different worlds that it's easy for them to dismiss the other as rich and snobby or a gangbanger loser. It could be easy for the reader to do likewise except then you see into the other person's life and it's clear that they're not a two-dimensional stereotype. 

[spoilers here on in]
It was easy to fall in love with the building chemistry between Brittany and Alex and then when they actually kiss for the first time - phwoar! I haven't read about characters with this much chemistry in a long while. While the ending might have been a bit cheesy and over the top, it was exactly what I wanted for them. 

Overall, I really loved Perfect Chemistry. It gave a really interesting look into latino gangs and the importance of not judging a book by its cover.

(reviewed from a library copy)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday...

So I finished If I Stay by Gayle Foreman just last week. I read it pretty much in one sitting - it's actually rather short - and even though I was pretty emotionally drained afterwards, I pretty much immediately wanted more. Lucky for me the sequel, Where She Went, is out soon. Unlucky for me it's not here NOW.

[if you haven't read If I Stay, this whole thing is pretty much going to be spoilery. Consider yourself warned!]

the premise: It's three years after the accident, after Mia walked out of Adam's life forever (I KNOW. WHAT?!). She's a star at Juliard and his band has really taken off. When Adam gets stuck in New York, chance brings Mia and Adam together for one night. Can they rekindle their love?

why I'm dying to read it: I really love stories where couples try to make things work again, especially when it's a couple like Mia and Adam. Not only does it feature awesome characters, Where She Went also takes place in my favourite city - NYC. I'm fairly sure I'm going to love it.

how long I have to wait: Until April 5. *sigh*

while you're waiting check out: Read the first book, If I Stay, if you haven't already. It's pretty much amazing. Have tissues on hand, though!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Dust City by Robert Paul Weston

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston - 4/5 stars

In Dust City, Weston asked the question, 'what if Fairy Tales were real? What if those characters evolved? What would that look like?' The result is a civilisation divided into hominids (humans, elves, goblins and the like) and animalia (everything else from wolves and foxes, to ravens and frogs). The fairies have seemingly left the building and their once powerful, life-changing fairy dust is sold on the street and by huge pharmaceutical companies for everything that ails you. The more expensive, the longer the effects.

When Henry, son of the big bad wolf, finds a letter from his dad implying that he was framed for double homicide (Little Red Riding Hood and her gran) by being forced to take bad dust, Henry breaks out of juvi to find out the truth behind his father's crime and whether the fairies have really left.

Naturally he's joined by a cast of characters including a giant, a she-wolf Fiona and a hominid, Jack (yes, that Jack with beans and all). While the premise may sound a bit camp, the actual novel is a gritty urban tale where fairy dust is equivalent to something like cocaine. Henry infiltrates a gang of dust dealers to find out the truth about his father and his various errands around the city make it clear that this is no fairytale.

I really liked Dust City because it reads like a fairy tale mash-up for guys, sort of like Fables (only for a younger audience). The world that Weston has created feels fleshed out and real and while the conclusion of the novel is a bit disappointing (or at least it was for a lover of fairytale happy endings like me), I still really enjoyed getting there.

Recommended for fans of fractured fairy tales and gritty urban fantasy. You can read an excerpt of Dust City on the main website, here!

(reviewed from a library copy)

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week hosted at Book Journey, Post the books completed last week, the books you're currently reading, and the books to be read this week. Please comment or leave a link to let me know what you're reading this week!

Read this week:

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles - Really, really liked this one. Talk about a love story to swoon over. Review coming later this week.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman - I knew it was going to be a tear-jerker and it lived up to its name. Really fantastic book. 

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston - Fantastic urban fantasy with a fairytale twist. Review coming tomorrow.

Currently reading:

Seven Kinds of Ordinary Catastrophes by Amber Kizer is pretty hilarious so far. I'm loving the narrative voice and the highschool-ness of it all. 

Up Next: 

I'm in Florida this week on vacation (yayayay!) so I'm just taking my Kobo and not any actual print books. We'll see how I do. These are what I have in e-book to read next (amongst other things):


Body at the Tower by Y. S. Lee - I adored the first Agency book and am definitely looking forward to this!
This Girl is Different by J. J. Johnson - I've read the first bit of this a little while ago so am looking forward to picking it up again.
Boyfriends and Girlfriends by Alex Sanchez - I miss reading GLBTQ romances and Alex Sanchez always delivers.

What are you guys reading next?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton 3/5 (liked)

I have to say that in general I'm not a big fan of the paranormal genre and because of this, paranormal books generally have to work a little bit harder to get me to like them. With Darkness Becomes Her, I started out only lukewarm but by the end I was really into it.

Here's what Goodreads says it's about:

Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is.
Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very...different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.


I think what really made me like Darkness Becomes Her is the setting. I've loved New Orleans since reading Anne Rice's vampire books. Kelly Keaton made me fall in love with it all over again. I love the idea of New 2 being a hub for outsiders and so naturally that's where Ari feels at home.

Ari herself is both a strong character, but has moments of vulnerability which make her more believable as a character. Sure she's been trained as a bail bondsman so can take care of herself but when she gets locked up in a prison cell, she breaks down and cries like anyone would.

Supporting characters are fairly well done, though her love interest Sebastian starts out all broody and stand-offish and then seemingly does a 180 and is suddenly friendly and helpful. I would have liked that to have been more of a gradual process. I like both Sebastians, I just felt like they were two different characters.

The mythology aspect of it was cool. I hope we see more mythological monsters in future books since I love that kind of stuff (see my love for Percy Jackson). Overall Darkness Becomes Her felt a bit like Percy Jackson for 16 year old girls. (And I should mention that while the f-word sprinkled throughout felt in character, I wouldn't necessarily recommend this one to the same Percy Jackson audience).

This is just the beginning of a trilogy and I'm looking forward to more.

(reviewed from an e-galley - thanks S&S!)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano

So many people seem to be looking forward to this one that I almost feel guilty posting that I didn't love it. Nevertheless, it's the truth. I actually read this one before I had the blog so I'm reposting my review from Goodreads.

What if you knew exactly when you would die? 

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out. 

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home. 

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left. 

I liked the concept here even if it requires a major suspension of disbelief - that in the future boys only live to 25 and females only live to 20- but it wasn't really fleshed out all that much. To be fair, given the POV - a sixteen year old girl - maybe she really doesn't know all that much. Or maybe the author's saving that for future books. The whole premise just felt a bit handwavey, especially when you consider that people go through puberty/menopause, etc. at different times.

The characters themselves were a bit two-dimensional. The 'bad' guy seemed really really awful and the 'good' guy was really naive and sweet. The world just seemed like it could be really complex and in comparison, the characters seemed simple.

The book itself is really readable though; I ended up reading it in one sitting despite the flaws. It's really hard to pinpoint why I didn't love it.I suppose I just wanted it to be a bit more sophisticated.  The genetic aspect of it really intrigued me and we really didn't get that many details on that aspect of things.

I've read other good reviews of this one (and other reviews more in line with what I found), so if you're into the dystopian fiction thing, I'd still recommend picking it up and seeing for yourself. (Though if you're looking for dystopian fiction, I'd recommend Delirium by Lauren Oliver over this one).

(reviewed from an e-galley)

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Monday - What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week hosted at Book Journey, Post the books completed last week, the books you're currently reading, and the books to be read this week. Please comment or leave a link to let me know what you're reading this week!

Read this week:


Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton - Paranormal Romance type of thing with a mythological twist. I liked it and have a review ready to go for Thursday.

Her and You and Me by Lauren Strasnick - Contemporary drama/romance. I really really loved this one. My review is here!

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan - short snippets of a love story in alphabetical order. Adored it.

Currently Reading:

Dust City by Robert Paul Weston - Henry's dad was the Big Bad Wolf and is in prison for the double-homicide of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. Henry himself is on the run from a juvenile detention center and trying to figure out the truth about his dad and the mysterious Fairy Dust that people use to solve all their ailments. So far it's an awesome fractured fairy tale action-adventure. I think it would be  good recommended read for boys.

Up Next: 

I didn't get to two of my reads from last week, so I'd still like to read Perfect Chemistry & Radiance but am also looking forward to...


I still haven't got around to reading If I Stay and with the sequel around the corner I decided I should really read it.

Infinity looks like a fun action-adventure type read and sometimes I need those in my life :D

What are you guys reading this week?

Friday, February 11, 2011

I win! \o/

Some good things that have happened lately!

I won Pluto's Ghost by Sheree Fitch from Just Deb! I got it in the mail a couple weeks ago and am so looking forward to reading this as part of the Canadian MG/YA challenge. If you haven't joined, it's not too late! Pop over to her blog for details.

The other thing: I won a Stylish Blogger award! Hoorah! I put my blog together sort of haphazardly and am still working on a banner for it, so am tickled to receive this! Thank you, Somer @ Bird's Eye Review!

As part of winning, I have to tell you 7 things about myself. Here are seven non-book-related things:

  1. I have a lovely trouble making cat called Ziggy 
  2. I was a 'band' geek in highschool and played cello
  3. I really enjoy watching White Collar, Castle, Doctor Who and sometimes Glee
  4. New York is probably my favourite city and I've visited it once a year for the past three years
  5. My favourite Canadian city is probably Toronto and I visit it much more often than once a year
  6. I love art and have a membership to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (hence the visits)
  7. I write creatively in my spare time but it's not something I really think I'll ever make a living out of.
There we are! Now to pick 15 5 stylish blogs... (I don't follow that many blogs!) 

  • Thank the awesome person who gave you the award
  • Post 7 random things about yourself
  • Give the award to 15 (or however many) other blogs
  • Contact the blogger and let them know they have won!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Read My Review: Love

I'm a sucker for romance and I'm surprised that I haven't reviewed more romance books. Soon, my pretties! One book that comes to mind when I think about love is Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Check out my review and you'll see why! 

If you want to participate, click the above picture to check out the other reviews.

Review: Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick

Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick - 4/5 stars

I met Fred first.
Fred: Hot. Enigmatic. Alex’s first friend in her lonely new town. Maybe her first…everything.
I met Adina the following Monday.
Adina: Fred’s twin sister. Cold. Troubled. Trouble.
I kissed him.
She pressed her mouth to my mouth.
People warn Alex to steer clear of the twins, but Alex is drawn to them. She wants to be part of their crazy world…no matter the consequences.

Not gonna lie, I was sort of hoping for some polyamorous action (spoiler!) but while that didn't happen, I still really really enjoyed this. The writing style is sparse, which is my favourite kind, and really pulled me in. The chapters are short and have a sort of moody disconnectedness sometimes but that was perfect for the atmosphere of the novel. 

At 171 pages, it's a fairly quick read but that's not to say that nothing happens because lots happens. Adina is the perfect crazy protective/jealous sister and Fred is protective of her too in his own way. While Adina is anorexic, Fred seems unwilling to come to terms with it. With an absentee father, they're left to their own devices and as a result are very insular until they meet Alex.

I found the relationships between the twins, between Alex and her mother and her father believable and more fleshed out than you would think, considering the page length. Alex's narrative voice is slightly snarky and pitch-perfect teenage girl. When Adina makes a comment about Alex's weight (because, let's face it, she's a bitch), Alex starts to feel self-conscious (until she realizes that not eating = crazy person).

I wish I would have swooned a bit more over the relationship between Fred and Alex but as it is, it is a rather sweet friendship that develops into something more. This is less a romance and more a story about friendship (and crazy twins). 

Overall - really loved the writing style. Wish more YA authors wrote like this. Reminded me slightly of Francesca Lia Block and I don't know why because it's not as imaginative as FLB but maybe the short chapters? No idea. Either way, pick this one up if you have an hour to spare - honestly, it won't take you long and it's a good read. 

(reviewed from library copy)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday...

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme where we basically whine about the books we want to read NOW. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine
Today's Waiting on Wednesday is Huntress by the fabulous Malinda Lo and is the sequel to Ash.

the premise: nothing too unusual - nature is all out of whack so two seventeen year old girls are chosen to go visit the Fairy Queen and figure out what's going on. (Really? Teen girls? Oh well, we all know they get shit done). Naturally everyone else in their party is useless and the girls begin to rely on each other and fall in love but do they have what it takes to save the kingdom? And are they willing to do what it takes even if it means tearing them apart?

why I'm dying to read it: I really enjoyed Ash and this one sounds even better. Action adventure + romance? Yes please!! I didn't find the romance in Ash particularly swoon-worthy so I'm hoping Huntress will be a bit more intense. (Plus, have you seen that cover? SWOON!)

how long I have to wait: April 5th - enough time to reread Ash!

while you're waiting check out: Definitely check out Ash and if you like your romance with a side of action/adventure, also check out Fire by Kristin Cashore.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Review: Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

When seventeen-year-old Ellie starts seeing reapers - monstrous creatures who devour humans and send their souls to Hell - she finds herself on the front lines of a supernatural war between archangels and the Fallen and faced with the possible destruction of her soul. 

A mysterious boy named Will reveals she is the reincarnation of an ancient warrior, the only one capable of wielding swords of angelfire to fight the reapers, and he is an immortal sworn to protect her in battle. Now that Ellie's powers have been awakened, a powerful reaper called Bastian has come forward to challenge her. He has employed a fierce assassin to eliminate her - an assassin who has already killed her once. 

While balancing her dwindling social life and reaper-hunting duties, she and Will discover Bastian is searching for a dormant creature believed to be a true soul reaper. Bastian plans to use this weapon to ignite the End of Days and to destroy Ellie's soul, ending her rebirth cycle forever. Now, she must face an army of Bastian's most frightening reapers, prevent the soul reaper from consuming her soul, and uncover the secrets of her past lives - including truths that may be too frightening to remember.


Angelfire is a bit of a tricky book to write a review for because there were things that I liked a lot and then there were things that I wish had been edited out.

For instance: empowered female who can literally kick ass but then dresses up as a 'sexy' nurse for Hallowe'en.
For instance: cool fight sequences but with villains who monologue cheesily through them.
For instance: cool, funny, smart BFF who all but disappears by the end of the book.
For instance: hunky Guardian (think Watcher a la Giles, only younger & hotter) but... no wait, there is no bad there. Will was all good. *grin*

Overall it was a bit hit and miss with me. I do think it will have enormous teen appeal and I almost wish it didn't have so much underage drinking/swearing so I could recommend it to younger kids but as it is, it's true to the highschool experience (well, as true as Ellie's experience can be).

With all the fight scenes and that, it would make a good videogame or film, I thought. With the way Hollywood is picking up rights to YA books lately, that may be a reality soon.

Angelfire is the first book in a trilogy.

(reviewed from ARC provided by publisher - Thanks, HarperTeen!)

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's Monday What Are You Reading?

New weekly meme time! It's Monday What Are You Reading? is hosted by Book Journey.

Post the books completed last week, the books you're currently reading, and the books to be read this week. Please comment or leave a link to let me know what you're reading this week!

Completed Last Week


Finished Library Wars today (liked it! Lots of freedom of information makes my inner library dork happy) and read Angelfire by C. A. Moulton last week. Review coming soon.

Currently Reading

I kept picking up books this week, getting halfway through and then putting them down, so only reading one book at the moment. So weird to just be reading just one book. Will probably change that soon... Darkness Becomes Her is fairly typical Paranormal fare so far but I'm hoping it'll pick up.

Books to be Read

Perfect Chemistry for the POC challenge, Radiance because I think it will be a good one to booktalk for grade 7's and Her and Me and You because I've been wanting to read it since I first saw it. 

What are YOU reading?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: I Know It's Over by C. K. Kelly Martin

In I Know It's Over, Nick, 16, finds out that his girlfriend is pregnant. They were careful, they used condoms, but accidents do happen. The book is told through entirely Nick's point of view which makes for a really intimate portrait of teen pregnancy.

Oddly enough the only other book I've read about teen pregnancy was Slam by Nick Hornby and that is also told from the father's point of view. In Slam, the protagonist gets sent forward in time to see what it might be like to be a father. In I Know It's Over, Nick finds out that Sasha is pregnant and then we go back in time to when they first met. Both narrative techniques were really effective.

Being in Nick's head for the entirety of the book meant that we really get to know him as a character. C. K. Kelly Martin writes him with depth and humanity. He plays hockey and enjoys art class. He enjoys fooling around with a girl friend but then he's also capable of an all-consuming monogamous relationship. Nick is such a believable character and since this is such a character-driven book, it makes for a really strong novel.

Obviously since this is novel is about teen pregnancy, there's bound to be sex scenes. They're written, like the whole novel really, with a frankness that fits in with Nick's character. No flowery language here which is refreshing.

Overall, I really liked I Know It's Over. I picked it up at the recommendation of a blogger (as if I can remember who it is, now) and I'm glad I did. I would put this one in the hands of older teens, or at least mature teens. Oh, and have a tissue handy - you may need it. I did.

(reviewed from an e-book from the library)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Read My Review: Adventure/Travel

Two posts today because today is also Read My Review day! This week's theme is Adventure/Travel and I'm linking to my review of Lost Hero by Rick Riordan. Not only is this jam-packed with adventure, it takes place all over North America (including Canada! *beams*). I definitely recommend it to adventure seekers!

Waiting on Wednesday...

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme where we basically whine about the books we want to read NOW. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine

This week's book, Forgotten by Cat Patrick, sounds a lot like 50 First Dates.

the premise: 16-year old London goes to bed every night and wakes up with no memories. All she has are the notes that she writes herself. As you can imagine, this makes life tricky. When she starts experiencing disturbing visions, she realizes that she needs to uncover her past before it destroys her future.

why I'm dying to read it: Come on, amnesia is the oldest trick in the book and there's a reason for that - it's compelling. This sounds like a great mix of romance, mystery and psychological thriller.

how long I have to wait: Until Juuuune!! Hopefully I don't forget about it!

while you're waiting, check out: For more girls with disturbing visions and psychological drama, try Numbers by Rachel Ward. I'm reading it right now and loving it. For a sweeter view of amnesia, rent 50 First Dates :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

(previously posted at my library's teen blog but I really liked the book so thought I would cross-post)

So let's talk about Delirium by Lauren Oliver. From the first time I heard the premise - in the future there's a cure for love - I was intrigued. Here's the deal: In the future love is the enemy. It's a disease, something to be feared. When you reach 18 you get the cure. Lena can't wait. Her mom was so lovesick that she killed herself and Lena is afraid of going down the same path. Lena has always been the good girl, following the rules and not asking too many questions, but when she meets a mysterious outsider everything she knows is turned on its head. What happens when Lena suddenly finds herself questioning things?

What happens when 95 days before the procedure Lena falls in love?

Some reviewers (looking at you, Publisher's Weekly) have found Oliver's world building lacking. That wasn't the case for me. I thought she did a good job of weaving in nursery rhymes and rules and things that made me feel like this world could and did exist. I found the characters to be believable and Lena's actual character change from good girl to rebel was really well done. The actual romance, since this is a story about love, was really intense and well done too. My only nitpick is that the ending felt too abrupt. Without spoiling you, it ended with a bang and then there wasn't a whole lot of resolution so I wish that had been done a bit better (but you do end up feeling as shocked as the characters).

On the whole, I really liked it and I'm recommending it to you, especially if you like dystopian worlds and especially if you like your love stories intense and slightly out of control.

(reviewed from a review copy from HarperTeen - thank you!)
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