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She Blinded Me with Science: Reached by Allie Condie

Hello!

Sometimes I read a book, and a few months go by before I realize that I forgot to review it. So here we are with a review for Reached by Ally Condie, which I read in December!

Reached by Ally CondieCassia’s journey began with an error, a momentary glitch in the otherwise perfect façade of the Society. After crossing canyons to break free, she waits, silk and paper smuggled against her skin, ready for the final chapter. The wait is over.

One young woman has raged against those who threaten to keep away what matters most—family, love, choice. Her quiet revolution is about to explode into full-scale rebellion. Cassia, Ky, and Xander return to the Society to save the one thing they have been denied for so long…the power to choose.

Okay. I really, really had great hopes for this book, the final in the Matched trilogy. I loved the first book, and was hoping the third book would make up for a lack-luster second book.  Unfortunately, I was kinda disappointed.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed Reached and this series as a whole, but that’s because Condie did such an amazing job with Matched. The final two books just didn’t match up. I love the main characters, especially Cassia and enjoyed seeing how things turned out for them, but I just wasn’t in love with this book.

First, I had a hard time with the multiple narrators. I’ve read books with multiple narrators that didn’t trip me up, but I found myself getting majorly confused about who was narrating at times. I say this even though the names were on the top of the page! I kept having to look up to find out who was speaking. But, I will say that I did enjoy reading Xander’s side of the story, which was pretty interesting! And there was a new character who I think was a great addition to the story!

Second, the science behind the plague and it’s cure was a little too much for me. I felt a little bored and lost when the characters were discussing the reasons for the mutation and all that. It just seemed to me that all of this explanation was too much and instead of adding to the story in a positive way, the story was bogged down under the weight of it. Actually, I would say, she blinded me with science!

One thing I did enjoy was seeing the way in which once a tiny ounce of freedom had been given people began to create with it. I’ve always loved Condie’s focus on creation (of art and culture) an intriguing part of this story and seeing the urge to create spread to so many more on a larger scale was very cool.

So, all in all, did I love Reached? No. Did I hate it? No. Was I a little disappointed with this series? Yes. Reached and the Matched trilogy was still an interesting read, but it just didn’t resonate me the way others did.  I would, however, still recommend it to high school readers and up who enjoy dystopian fiction.

Author: Ally Condie

Publisher: Dutton (November 13, 2012)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 512 pages

Series: third book in the Matched trilogy

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:  Reached (Matched Trilogy Book 3)

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I Like Dragons! Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Well hi there!

Have I told you how much I love audiobooks? Well, I do! So, let’s talk about an audiobook I recently finished, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, because it’s really stinkin’ good!Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

So, I love fantasy but when I first read the summary for Seraphina I thought, “Dragons? Hmmm….not really my thing…”. So, I hesitated and didn’t read it. Then, I heard great things from other book bloggers and decided that it was time to read it, dragons and all.

I am so glad I did! I think I like dragons! Seraphina was a beautiful story of a girl with great talent but also a potentially dangerous secret. Hartman is definitely skilled at building a fantasy world. Everything from the society’s history, religion, customs, philosophy, fashion and music was so richly constructed. Seraphina’s world draws you in and quickly engulfs you.

I was attached to and loved Seraphina as a heroine. She is intelligent, brave, determined, sensitive, kindhearted, witty and easily able to connect with. If I lived in this made up fantasy land I think we’d hit it off pretty well. :) Her growth as a character comes with learning to accept her whole self and trust those who love her. All the supporting characters are three-dimensional as well, in the beginning I wasn’t sure if I liked Princess Glisselda, for example, but she greatly evolves throughout the story from a giddy princess to a mature young woman.

And there is romance. Yes…that’s right. *winks*

I didn’t realize until I finished reading that Seraphina is the first book in a series and that Dracomachia, book two, is slated to be released this coming July! YAY!!!

I feel like Seraphina is a little bit of a mix between Libba Bray’s The Gemma Doyle trilogy and Fire by Kristin Cashore – it just has similarities while also being its own story. So, if you were a fan of either books mentioned above, or you’re just a fantasy fan you’ll probably love Seraphina like I did!

Author: Rachel Hartman

Publisher: Listening Library (July 10, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 13 hrs and 15 mins

Narrator(s): Many Williams and Justine Eyre

Series: First in the Seraphina series

YA/MG: YA/MG

Buy the Book: Seraphina

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Charming With A Twist: Welcome Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Welcome back to BookTasty!

I loved participating in the 2012 Debut Author Challenge.  It introduced me to new authors like Shelley Coriell and their debut books, like Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe.

Welcome Caller This Is Chloe by Shelley CoriellBig-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

This debut novel was charming, just like Chloe herself.  It was a fun story about pushing through hard times and about being there for those you care about. The book starts out lighthearted and fun but takes a twist for the more serious.

Chloe, although charming is also blind to the reality of life around her. She doesn’t realize that some people really do have real struggles that you can’t completely wipe away with a game or laughter. Seeing Chloe like this at the start of the novel you can understand why Chloe’s friends ditched her the way they did (although in my opinion that’s not the way to deal with your friendships so I’m not excusing them). I completely connected to Chloe with the whole friendship and relationship struggles as I dealt with situations that are almost exactly like Chloe’s in middle and high school. I know exactly what it feels like to not be allowed at the usual lunch table or to have rude (and blatantly untrue) things written about you in the bathroom.  High school girls are mean.

Despite all this social junk (and family junk because Chloe is dealing with that, too) Chloe matures a lot throughout the story. She not only learns how to be on her own and experience solitude, and she also learns how to just be okay in the sadness and confusion that life sometimes brings. But Chloe also learns what it means to be there for others in those difficult times.  Like the book, Chloe’s story starts out fun and lighthearted but takes a turn for the more serious.  She is a better balance of these two sides in the end.

I don’t know if Welcome Caller, This is Chloe is standalone or not, but I would love to read more about Chloe, Duncan and the staff at 88.8. This book was a really good read and recommend it to middle grades and high school readers as well as those who are older (like me!).

Author: Shelley Coriell

Publisher: Amulet Books (May 1, 2012)

Format: e-book

Length: 299 pages

Series: standalone

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book:  Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe

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Just Finished: Born Wicked

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Summer vacation is completely fabulous! I get to spend time with my husband and friends and do whatever I want because I don’t have to be at work! LOVE IT!!

So, with all this free time I’ve been reading (a lot!). Today I finished reading Born Wicked the first book in Jessica Spotswood’s Cahill Witch Chronicles. I really really liked this book a lot and my review will come soon!

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A Comeptetive Streak: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Well hello there!

Today I’m reviewing dystopian romance, The Selection by Kiera Cass.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them The Selection by Kiera Casssince birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secrett love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

I’ve wanted to read The Selection ever since I first saw the cover. Covers that have girls in pretty gowns is pretty much “a go” for me! This gown is stunning. I want it so bad!

I received the audiobook from the generous folks at Harper Audio (Harper Collins) – thank you! The Selection is Kiera Cass’ debut novel and it was a fun listen, though not without its flaws. I found the story pretty slow at first, but once America gets to the palace things start to pick up. After a few chapters of wondering if I’d get into this story, I suddenly found myself really wondering what would happen next and was anxious to get back to it! (This is why I listen to audiobooks while running people-it makes me want to run more just so I can listen!)

Cass is pretty creative in turning the premise of a The Bachelor type competition and weaving it into a dystopian setting. The Bachelor and Bachelorette TV shows have always intrigued me so I liked this as the means for which the monarchy chooses their next queen. This reminded me of one of my favorite books, The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale – they are different takes on this whole royal contest idea. I also love the fact that society is split up into different castes based on the type of work you do.

I also liked that we got an insider’s view of the whole story behind the pageantry. America is both likable yet frustrating at times. I like her down to earth nature and the fact that despite this humbleness she does get caught up in the contest and her new life in the palace, just as any girl would! She also finds her competitive streak although she originally hates the competition. She frustrates me a little because she contradicts herself a lot throughout the story. At times Cass’ dialog can be a little trite and some of the things America says don’t seem to fit her personality.

I listened to The Selection as part of the 2012 YA Audiobook Challenge and although I did think the story was entertaining I wasn’t a huge fan of the narrator. Her voice was pretty monotone and she didn’t change-up any voices for the different characters. Now, although I didn’t like the narrator, I still enjoyed the book as a whole, despite the flaws. I also think my students would absolutely love this book so I’ll definitely be adding it to our library catalog. The story ends pretty abruptly and I actually had to check my iPod to see if I missed some tracks, but I didn’t. Although I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, the story was still fun and I’ll definitely be looking for the sequels (its supposed to be a trilogy)! Sometimes it’s okay to just enjoy a book for the story and ignore any faults it may have. The Selection has such a fun story you can just sit back and enjoy!

Girls from middle grades to high school and up, who are always up for a book with some romance, will enjoy The Selection and seeing how America fares in the contest to be queen. Also, get excited (!) because it sounds like the CW is making a pilot for the The Selection series. To read more about this check out Kiera Cass’ website.

Author: Kiera Cass

Publisher: Harper Audio (April 24, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 8 hrs and 7 mins

Narrator(s): Amy Rubinate

Series: First in The Selection trilogy

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: The Selection (Selection – Trilogy)

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Waiting On Wednesday: Small Medium at Large

Hello everyone!

Waiting on WednesdayWaiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, where book bloggers get to showcase the upcoming titles they’re excited about.  I love this meme because it helps me know what soon to be released books to add to my To Read List!

The book I’m highlighting this week is Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy.  A few months ago I saw this book get some notice on a few other blogs so I’ve had my eye on it for a little while now and it is scheduled to be released July 3, 2012  (my husband’s birthday!!).

Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy

After she’s hit by lightning at a wedding, twelve-year-old Lilah Bloom develops a new talent: she can hear dead people. Among them, there’s her over opinionated Bubby Dora; a prissy fashion designer; and an approval-seeking clown who livens up a séance. With Bubby Dora leading the way, these and other sweetly imperfect ghosts haunt Lilah through seventh grade, and help her face her one big fear: talking to—and possibly going to the seventh-grade dance with—her crush, Andrew Finkel.

Doesn’t this sound like a cute middle grades read?  I love the idea of gaining a supernatural gift a lightning strike – it sounds so superhero-esque!
Now, I do have a review Advanced Reader Copy that the lovely Joanne Levy sent my way (THANKS SO MUCH!)  so keep your eye posted in July for a Small Medium at Large Giveaway and interview with the author!  I can’t wait to get started reading this one!

In the mean time, check out Joanne Levy’s blog and website for more news on Small Medium at Large!

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I Honestly Didn’t See it Coming: The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

Hello!

I’m finally reviewing The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg; I finished it like two weeks ago and have been so crazy busy!  The last month of the school year is when everything ramps up and there are tons of activities going on.

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess RothenbergOkay, so on to the book, which I read as part of the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge.

BRIE’S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.
But now that she’s D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there’s Patrick, Brie’s mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after. With Patrick’s help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she’s ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

I believe I received this book (an Advanced Reader Copy) from another blogger, but I can’t remember who (bad Tina!) because it was a few months ago and I didn’t write it down.  If the book gifter is reading this, THANK YOU and I’M SORRY for forgetting!

I must admit that it took a little while for me to really get into The Catastrophic History of You and Me (TCHoYaM).  I kept reading a few pages, then putting it down and picking it back up again.  It was a vicious cycle, that I finally mastered and I’m so very glad I did!  If you read it and feel the same way I did in the beginning, please persevere and keep reading, you’ll be happy in the end that you did.

One of my favorite things about TCHoYaM is the way in which Rothenberg uses song titles as chapter titles.  This was super creative and fun and really help set the scene and tone for each chapter.  Plus I had a blast trying to figure out if I recognized the songs by their titles!

At times TCHoYaM is really witty and humorous, but it is also the story of a girl coming to peace with her grief.  I believe Rothenberg combined both of these elements in a thoughtful manner that doesn’t seem contrived.  Brie, herself is a pretty funny girl.  She inserts funny little comments in her narration that had me chuckling to my self as I turned the pages and her throwback “your mom” jokes are so bad they’re hilarious.

Without giving anything away, there is a massive plot twist that makes so much sense after the fact that I’m actually disappointed in myself for not seeing it coming.  Seriously – I had no idea!  I don’t want to do any spoilers so I will stop there, but you’ll understand my thoughts on this when you read it!

All in all, it wasn’t my favorite read of the year, but I did truly enjoy it and I recommend The Catastrophic History of You and Me as a cute read for anyone in the older middle school grades and up.

Author: Jess Rothenberg

Publisher: Dial Books (February 21, 2012)

Format: Paperback (ARC)

Length: 375 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: The Catastrophic History of You And Me

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Book Trailer of the Week: After the Snow

After the Snow by SD CrockettAfter the Snow by S.D. Crockett is a book I received from NetGalley a little while ago. It’s S.D. Crockett’s first novel and its centered in a post-apocalyptic United Kingdom and follows teenager Willo, who is struggling to survive in a frozen terrain while searching for his family. I like that After the Snow has a male main character, something I always struggle to enjoy, because this one sounds really intriguing.

Lets take a look at that cover, which is absolutely gorgeous in its stark simplicity.

Watch the book trailer to find out more about S.D. Crockett’s debut novel.

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I’m a Fairy Tale Fan: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Hola! It’s time for a book review!

Cinder by Marissa MeyerA forbidden romance. A deadly plague. Earth’s fate hinges on one girl…

Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the center of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

I adore fairy tales. Always have. I also love fairy tales re-told. I love a well done retelling of a favorite classic, and they’re even better when there is a little twist thrown in. Cinder is Marissa Meyer’s debut novel and she has created a science fiction Cinderella and done it very well. What a bold and cool idea! Actually, parts of it reminded me of one of my favorite sci-fi shows of all time, Firefly. It was mainly the use of the Chinese language and the science fiction backdrop, but also the mix of the super sterile futuristic settings (like the research hospital) and the dirty, crowded medieval town-ish setting (like the market where Cinder’s booth is located). Additionally Cinder reminded me a little of Kaylee, from Firefly, who is a tomboyish mechanic but is also sweet and feminine like Cinder. Kaylee Firefly

Cinder is a fun character. I like that she is both smart and strong but also deeply insecure and vulnerable. She knows who she is and works with what she has, but also is sharply aware of how the rest of the world views her. Cinder feels the pain of people treating her like she’s nothing, but doesn’t let it consume or inhibit her. Sometimes I thought she was a little whiny, in the way she buts heads with her evil stepmother, but it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the story. It could have been the narrator’s interpretation of Cinder that I just wasn’t fond of. Overall, however the narrator, Rebecca Soler, did a great job and I actually liked her better in this story than others I’ve heard her narrate.

The story is set in a futuristic, and slightly dystopian, China. The city of New Beijing is exactly what I would think a crowded plague ridden city would be like – crowded, dirty, and bustling. But, on the other hand, New Beijing is also a bastion of technological innovation and scientific research. Knowing that China is a major world power today adds to the believability of this setting. Also, an Asian retelling of Cinderella makes the story more exotic than your average everyday European backdrop.

Romance. Yes it is a huge factor in every fairy tale. To be honest though, I wasn’t that impressed with Prince Kai. Maybe, there will be more of him to appreciate and get to know in the following books, but for now I think his character was a little bit lacking. Oh well.

I’ll also add that I loved the plot twist. Although I did suspect it earlier on, my guessing didn’t ruin the story for me. Actually I was so excited that I yelled, “I knew it! I knew it!” while driving (and listening).

Speaking of listening, I received the audiobook version of the Cinder from Macmillan Audio, which was so nice of them! Thank you to MacMillan! So, this book counts toward both the 2012 Debut Author Challenge and the 2012 Young Adult Audiobook Challenge. YAY!

Cinder is a read that will be enjoyed by older middle grade readers and up who are looking for a new and interesting take on a classic fairy tale.

Author: Marissa Meyer

Publisher: Macmillan Audio (January 3, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 10 hours and 6 minutes

Narrator(s): Rebecca Soler

Series: First in a series, The Lunar Chronicles

YA/MG: MG/YA

Buy the Book: Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles