We’ll Always Have Page 187, Edward

by Vee ( I know right? She’s back with a sweet goodbye to her beloved Twilight franchise.)

There’s a new break up that has the paparazzi abuzz…the much followed relationship that started in 2008 between The Twilight Movie Saga and millions of women all around the world has ended.  Spokespeople for both camps tell us that they’ve parted ways amicably and wish each other all things wonderful.  They promise to remain friends via DVD and BluRay sales and rentals.

I’m not gonna lie.  For me, it wasn’t always the perfect relationship but as I look back on it, with everything said and done, I will cherish our time together with love, scent of stale popcorn and all.

I remember sitting in the movie theater, as excited as a girl on her first date, to see the Twilight movie on November 21, 2008.  If this had been a first date for realsies I would have said the “dinner conversation” Edward provided left much to be desired, but boy was he a good kisser.  I think all sins were forgiven – cough…Bella’s ceaseless lip biting…cough…and wait, did Edward just say he read that guy’s mind and he’s thinking about HIS CAT?!…cough – the very moment they had their first kiss.  Oh.  My.

Ok, ok, ok, so I think it’s only right that we rewind just a little bit to touch on how we first met, these books and I.  Metaphorically speaking it was through a blind date set up by my homie, and yours, Tee.  True story.  I refused but finally for reasons I don’t remember – perhaps Tee just broke me down – I relented.  And it was as if a clever suitor was wooing me with his delicious, toe curling words.  Who isn’t a sucker for a dude that says stuff like:

You are my life now.”

Be safe.” (Written in free hand calligraphy, no less.)

And so the lion fell in love with the lamb.”  (Ha, ha!  Just kidding…that was kinda cheesy, but I was so lost in the romantical saga that I was too far gone to care.)

My fervor for the written story was how I forgave New Moon the movie for making vampires brittle like a piece of frail marble (ick, that was so weird), or how Eclipse never quite captured the deliciously smug Edward handling Jacob after Jacob kisses Bella.  (Jacob: “May the best man win.” Edward: “That sounds about right…pup.”)

Of course, throughout the release of all the movies, I continued to be distraught by Bella’s lip biting and weird choking noises to express distress.  Did she swallow a piece of an apple that was too big?  Maybe her allergies while in Forks were killing her?  No one could explain it to me.  Add to my concerns the pained face Edward made (and the grunting noises?!?!) when he kissed Bella.  I worried, wondering if the good was enough to outweigh the “other” stuff.  P.S.  I totally KNOW he’s “supposed to be in pain”, but still…my own pain was starting to get uncomfortable.

BUT, it is only fair that we do touch on the good, is it not?  (Indulge me.)

Um, there was that one part in New Moon where Bella jumps into a very shirtless Edward’s arms and saves him from the sun’s rays and what they might reveal.

Page 187, as I will forever call that scene, when Edward shows Bella how he, um, remodeled his bedroom in Eclipse.  And though it was never quite as good in the movie as it was in my head, it was, uh, pretty good.

Of course, then came Breaking Dawn Part One, and I saw a true glimmer of hope that the series just might end on the up and up.  I present to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury exhibit A: the headboard scene.  Need I say more?

I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on the characters beyond Bella and Edward that I enjoyed in this relationship.  They were like your boyfriend’s friends and/or family that you really, really like hanging out with maybe a little more than you will admit you like hanging out with him.  Charlie – no wait that goes more like this: Chaaaaaaaarlie, Jessica, Mike, Alice, Carlisle, Emmett.  Let’s K.I.T. you guys…love ya.

And so, with some trepidation, much like my first date back in 2008, I arrived at the movie theater to witness the last interpretation of the book series that made me sigh as I turned pages on late nights in my living room.  I know that’s a lot of pressure to put on anyone, so I once again resigned myself to focus on the parts I really loved in Breaking Dawn Part Two, hoping to blur out the parts I didn’t.

To my utter delight I can report that my last date with this movie series was divine.  Not only was the story what I’d hope it would look like on the silver screen, but as the girl turned vampire — gasp — gone were Bella’s annoying quirks!  Not one cacophonous sound coming from her throat, if there was any lip biting, I didn’t see it.  And (BONUS!), with Bella’s scrummy, yummy, human scent a thing of the past, kissy faces for Edward no longer included the look of a man smelling rotten egg; this was replaced by a really H-O-T vampire in love with his new bride, getting steamy and all bothered.

And then all-a-sudden (WARNING: DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE…TRUST ME JUST SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH…OK, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED…)…as I was saying, all-a-sudden, Carlisle’s head gets chopped off!  SAY whaaaaaaat?!?!  I know.  All sort of insanity ensues, to the point where I thought this was Melissa Rosenberg having a last, cruel laugh at my expense.  (She is and will forevermore be the byotch-who-stole-my-pads for the butchering of the first movie!)

So in the midst of insanity, just when I was about to cry and run out of the theater, sweet relief, they brought things back to what they were meant to be.  I’ve spoiled things enough already for those of you that didn’t heed my warning, so I won’t reveal what I mean by that…cuz it’s pretty fly.  Once sanity IS restored, the movie keeps the end rather true to the book in a most satisfying way.

I felt peace, happiness, a little breatheless from that crazay thing there at the end – but in a good way – and an all around sense of kumbaya.  Best break up everrrrrr.  And now, with a renewed sense of love  for my Twilight movies I can move on with my life.  I think I can actually watch Bella bite that lip knowing that perhaps, just maybe KStew decided that was going to be a character trait of pre-vampire Bella.  Edward and I will always have Breaking Dawn Part Two (and page 187), and we really do wish the best for each other as we move on with our lives.

Which is good since, now older and wiser maybe a little more mature even, I’m considering accepting a first date from this new guy who’s been giving me a bit of the stink eye for some time now.  Name’s Christian Grey, and word around town is he’s kinda dark and broody, filthy rich, knows how to play a mean piano sonata, loves to do the clever banter thing.  Wait a minute…

Burn for Burn

Burn for Burn (Book 1) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY…
THEY GET EVEN.

Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumours, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she’s ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she’s not the same girl anymore. And she’s ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won’t stop until they each had a taste. (Goodreads)

The Cover:

This cover is to die for gorgeous. Yes, these girls are too incredibly beautiful to all live in one tiny town and be teamed up together (because it just isn’t fair to the rest of us), but I still love it.

The Authors:

I need to get this out of the way immediately. HOLY SHIZZ, IT’S JENNY HAN AND SIOBHAN VIVIAN!  I love them both, especially Jenny’s Summer books, and I’m so jealous that not only are they best friends but now writing partners. This is a fabulous pairing.

OK, so we should talk about the book now.

The Story:

Burn for Burn focuses on three girls—who aren’t friends—living in a tiny place called Jar Island.  In order to truly understand the basic idea of the book, you need to know where each girl is coming from.

Mary is returning to the island after a few years away. She’s a sweet and timid girl who was once the victim of heartless bullying (is there any other kind?), mostly at the hand of one jerkwad extraordinaire, Reeve, the popular junior high boy who grew up to be that popular high school boy with zero depth and mega tool tendencies.

Lillia is that beautiful, popular girl who is just sort of over it.  Her best friend, Rennie is quite the nasty Queen Bee, bent on snagging Reeve (she can have him. For reals), continuing her evil reign as Cheer Captain, and devoting herself to maintaining her status as a pretty, popular, nasty little bish.  Lillia’s never been quite as nasty as Rennie, but in the past she’s been apathetic about it, eating up the attention she receives as one of the in crowd.  But now it’s like a light switch has flipped and part of her wants to fight it.  She’s tired of the popular kids, and angry at Rennie for what transpired one night at a wild college party.  Worse, it led to a possible hook-up between her old buddy Alex (also of the In Crowd) and her sweet little freshman sister. You don’t mess with a girl’s sister.

Then there’s Kat. God, I love her.  Kat was once best friends withe Lillia and Rennie.  Now she’s the resident bad girl from the wrong side of town.  Ousted from the inner circle of Rennie and the gang at the beginning of high school and instantly marked as trash, Kat has no problem being a bitch.  She had this secretive summer friendship with Alex that turned into a little bit of a fling until it seemed that Lillia’s little sister, Nadia stepped in, apparently primed to follow in her sister’s perfectly popular footsteps.  And since Rennie continues to make Kat’s school life miserable, Kat decides to finally get back at her and Alex and the whole crew for the years they’ve spent tormenting her.

Burn for Burn is a book about revenge. Mary, Lillia and Kat come together after a chance encounter in the ladies room (cuz it’s where we hang) and craft a meticulously laid out plan to basically destroy Reeve, Rennie and Alex.  No one can know they’re friends or they might suspect.  This is most important for Lillia who’s in the lion’s den every day and has to spend time actually pretending to like these people.  She definitely has the hardest job being that Rennie is constantly in her face being an idiot, Reeve continues his reign as Super Douche and Alex continues trying to hide this one-night stand he apparently had with Lillia’s baby sis. And oh, the evil plans come together beautifully. I mean, I cringed, but I also laughed. In fact, I almost felt bad for the first victim. Almost.  And since it goes without a hitch, this only emboldens the girls.

Throughout the book we get glimpses into the past of each girl; we find out what is truly driving them and how they came to be exactly where they are. There are details about Kat’s early friendship with Lillia and Rennie, Mary’s “friendship” with Reeve, and what ultimately drove her to the breaking point, and also the sad truth about what happened to Lillia the night she left her sister at Alex’s house to go to a party with Rennie. It’s all there in painfully vivid detail.

Fair warning, though there are some funny moments in this book, there is darkness.  Issues like bullying, date rape, suicide are all there. While they aren’t in any way glorified, they are certainly not tame subjects.  I think the authors handled these issues with honesty, but they may not be for the faint of heart or those looking for a cute, girly read.  And being the first in a series, this book takes an awfully strange twist at the end–one I didn’t see coming, even though it was hinted at ever so delicately early on.  You will not see a final resolution to the story, but you’ll meet some very interesting characters along the way.

The writing here is, of course, absolutely flawless. The dialogue is spot on as in all of Han’s and Vivian’s novels, but this is a departure for both of them.  Think of it as being similar to their other writings (a little edgier like Vivian) but with a bit of supernatural thrown in. I’m not talking wolves or vampires or anything, but there is something that isn’t completely normal going on. It’s like a weird combo of Heathers and Mean Girls  with some magic. Sort of.  And not the cute kind of magic. The Stephen King’s Carrie kind.

Crush Intensity: 4/5 This book may not be for everyone, but I think if you like either of these authors (and how could you not, hello) or if you’re willing to try something a little different, this is a good option.  I completely enjoyed it and I’m very interested in the rest of the series.  It was really good. I read it in a day.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children’s for sending me a copy of Burn for Burn.

Casting Call- The Body Finder

Welcome to our feature, Casting Call, hosted along with my good friends at Gone Pecan, The Book Addict’s Guide, The Grown Up YA and Teen Lit Rocks.  Each week we’ll be dream casting some of our favorite books and blogging about it. And we’d love for you to join us!

This week we are discussing one of my favorite books, The Body Finder, which I discovered thanks to my awesome friends over at Gone Pecan. They told me it was good (they were right). They told me it was creepy (right again) and they told me that the male love interest was practically at Michael Moscovitz levels of swoonworthiness, which is very high praise (and yes, they were right. Eeeeee! I know!).  If you’ve not read this series, do yourself a favor and add it to your TBR list like, pronto.

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes that the dead leave behind in the world… and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find the dead birds her cat had tired of playing with. But now that a serial killer has begun terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, she realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet on her quest to find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved to find herself hoping that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer… and becoming his prey herself. (Goodreads)

If you’ve already read my review you’ll see that when I initially cast this book I had a terrible time because, who, may I ask, is awesome enough to be Jay?  It’s practically impossible to find someone!  So, my choices here are going to be no big surprise, but in all truth, as I’ve continued reading the series, this is the closest I’ve come in finding actual people who look the way I envision Violet and Jay.

Violet

I chose Emma Roberts almost a year ago, when I read the first book, not realizing, of course, that I would later choose her (like two weeks ago) to be Anna in Anna and the French Kiss. While I apologize for the repetition, I definitely maintain that she is a good choice in my mind (for both characters). ER has that sweet, pretty, everyday girl quality that is believable and that is in no way intimidating. She’s a beautiful young woman, but she comes across as though she can be you or me (cough, many years ago, but whatevs). And the fact that she played Nancy Drew and that Violet is oh so very Nancy Drew and is always going places she shouldn’t just added to the draw.

Jay

I know, right? There are just certain actors that I always choose because they should be in every movie ever made forever and ever amen. Honestly though, Aaron Johnson has played in several different films (and I can’t decide if I like him better in Kick-ass or Nowhere Boy), and I’ve always liked him and his ability to play a younger, more boyish guy even though he’s actually a grown up.  And while I think there’s really no one who can be the perfect Jay, this guy comes pretty close.

And what about you?  Tell me your picks for The Body Finder and be sure to link up at Teen Lit Rocks. Also, stop by and see picks from our other blogging friends:

Gone Pecan

The Book Addict’s Guide

The Grown Up YA

Teen Lit Rocks 

 

Happy Friday!

Top Ten Tuesday- Halloween Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the gals over at The Broke and The Bookish. This week we are discussing creepy, spooky stuff to get you into the Halloween Spirit. I love scary stuff! I mean, except for The Exorcist and blood and guts stuff and The Amityville Horror and those creepy twins in The Shining.  Otherwise, scary stuff is totally my thing (as long as covering your eyes is OK because that’s totally how I watch American Horror Story).  Books are entirely different because they can be so much scarier–it all depends on your imagination.

Here’s what I’ve got (and fair warning, they aren’t all scary, but they are very Halloweenish).

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs– Creepy children are, well, creepy. And take a gander at the weird pics in this book.  Crazy!  In all honesty, the children in the book aren’t at all scary, in fact, their wonderfully quirky. But the monsters chasing them? Well, that’s a different story.

2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling– Wizards and spells and very, very VERY bad guys who want to kill The Boy Who Lived?  I love this series.  Everything about it screams Halloween.

3. The Enemy by Charles Higson– I’ve mentioned this book so many times before because it is a fantastic zombie book.  And then there’s this whole power struggle between the surviving kids, all of them trying to decide where to go, what to do, etc before their next-door neighbor/gym teacher/uncle tries to eat their brains.  Good stuff. Very suspenseful.

4. Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman– There are some serious bad guys in this book, and because it’s so realistically done (meaning it’s not set it some mythical world but in a believably modern-day setting) it seems less far-fetched and more plausible, making it that much creepier.

5. This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers– Another zombie book. This one had me with its quiet descriptions of life for the kids boarded up inside a school trying to survive the raging Zombiepocalypse going on around them.  It’s so, so very quiet. The only thing you can hear, other than the discussions and arguments of the group inside, is the constant scratching a clawing at the doors by the zombie who are outside, chomping at the bit to get in and devour the school’s new residents.

6. Insatiable by Meg Cabot– This is not a scary book, but it is a fun, vampire book about a girl who falls for the wrong guy. He’s like the King of the Vampires, or the Dark Lord or something vampy–but he’s way sexy. I mean, like super-crazy hot.  In real life this is not a good reason to date the wrong guy, but in books it’s quite advisable to date them or at least have a serious make out session with them. You know, just ’cause you can.  And the MC, Meena, isn’t your typical Bella-type. She fights her desire, along with her mega-hotty sidekick (seriously, the girl is surrounded by attractive men), and decides she may not necessarily be the girl who’ll forsake everything to become a vampire for the undead guy she loves.  It’s a really cute book.

7. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting– My friends over at Gone Pecan encouraged me to read this series a while back, citing that they were awfully creepy books and whoa mama, they weren’t lying.  The main character can hear “echoes” from dead people, leading her to their killer.  The author always lets you into the mind of the serial killers as well. It’s been my experience that serial killers are always, always creepy and the ones in this series are not an exception.  Sometimes, the images from the book, flash in my mind when I’m talking my dog for a walk after dark.  You wouldn’t believe how fast I run home when that happens.

8. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson– Ghosts and Jack the Ripper. Is there anything scarier?  I think not.

9. Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready– These aren’t your typical ghost books, because they aren’t really scary. That being said, in this series, anyone under a certain age can see dead people.  There is no way that is normal and can be anything but totally creepy, yet somehow, because the main theme is a love story (the MC’s boyfriend dies and now his ghost follows her around and it’s so, so good and not in any way cheesy), it’s less scary and more swoony. And that is coming from someone who is NOT a huge fan of paranormal garbage.

10. Abandon by Meg Cabot- This was a real departure for Cabot. The series revolves around Pierce, a girl who has had a near-death experience. She actually died briefly and in that time, she traveled to the Underworld where she was held captive by John, also known as Hades. He continues to follow her around as she tries to piece together what has happened and decide whether she is drawn to him or wants to escape him. I really love these books because I love Cabot’s writing and because John is way hot.  I can’t lie.

The Last Echo

The Last Echo (The Body Finder #3) by Kimberly Derting

Violet kept her morbid ability to sense dead bodies a secret from everyone except her family and her childhood-best-friend-turned-boyfriend, Jay Heaton. That is until forensic psychologist Sara Priest discovered Violet’s talent and invited her to use her gift to track down murderers. Now, as she works with an eclectic group of individuals—including mysterious and dangerously attractive Rafe—it’s Violet’s job to help those who have been murdered by bringing their killers to justice.

When Violet discovers the body of a college girl killed by “the girlfriend collector” she is determined to solve the case. But now the serial killer is on the lookout for a new “relationship” and Violet may have caught his eye. (Goodreads)

If you haven’t read the first two books in The Body Finder series don’t let me ruin it for you. Read them!  You should not be missing out on that much Jay awesomeness.  Otherwise be warned, there will be spoilers here.

The Story:

Violet, hearer of dead people, is now working with Sara (of the tight-pony-tailed Saras) and her group of…psychics? Freaks? Misfits? All of the above?  They’re trying to help catch serial killers.  Violet’s ability to hear echos from dead bodies (and their killers) has helped locate the victim of the newest crazypants on the loose.  With the team— Krystal, Gemma and the über pouty-faced Rafe—Violet begins to hunt for this new serial killer.

At the same time, Violet is still attempting to be a normal high school girl.  She has homework and a boyfriend and a curfew. She has parents who take away her cell phone when she’s in trouble. But it all begins to take a backseat to  her job.  And things begin to affect her relationship with Jay, aka Mr. Sweet Hot Perfection. Jay is always worried about her (probably because she does some really stupid things. OMG Violet, do NOT go in there, Ok? Just call the police). He has a hard time relating to Violet’s work because it’s super-secretive and even worse, he’s pretty certain that Rafe, the guy Violet has to spend tons of time with, has the hots for his woman.

What I Liked:

Jay, obviously.  I really wish there’d been more of him and less of Rafe. Even with his struggle with jealousy this time around, he handles it as all literary boyfriends should because he is the most awesome boyfriend ever.

I, of course, loved Violet. I’m amazed at what does not scare this girl, but I love that even when she is truly afraid she presses on to find the answers and the closure so desperately needed.  Yes, she suffers from that common YA Heroine condition of I’m Clueless About Boys Who Want Me Syndrome (don’t worry Vi, I had a nasty case of that too), but she’s otherwise bright and extremely driven.  I’m really into this freaky weird gift she has, how she struggles with it and how she desperately wants NOT to have it.

The serial killer here was, I thought, the creepiest so far. They’ve been good in all of the books, but I really felt that Derting outdid herself with this particular villain.  He’s a monster who doesn’t believe himself to be evil and as I saw larger glimpses of him it only served to make him more frightening.

Crush Intensity: 4/5 I really love this series. Every book has been strong and Derting has kept the creepy storylines fresh and the romance alive.  I’m looking forward to the next book which is due out in 2013.

Extras: You can find more info about the series here.

City of Lost Souls

City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare

The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace freed from captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing, so is the boy she hates: her brother Sebastian, who is determined to bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

The Clave’s magic cannot locate either boy, but Jace can’t stay away from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith’s magic has wrought – Jace and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become a servant of evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other.

Only a few people believe that Jace can still be saved. Together, Alec, Magnus, Simon, and Isabelle bargain with the sinister Seelie Queen, contemplate deals with demons, and turn at last to the merciless, weapon-making Iron Sisters, who might be able to forge a weapon that can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. If the Iron Sisters can’t help, their only hope is to challenge Heaven and Hell – a risk that could claim their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary is playing a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

Love. Blood. Betrayal. Revenge. Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series. (Goodreads)

The Story:

If you’re reading this review of the FIFTH (count ’em) book in the Mortal Instruments series, I’m going to assume you’ve read the other four and that I don’t have to bring you up to speed, so I digress.

Jace and Mr. Evilpants himself, Sebastian, are connected in some kooky, dark magic-infested way.  They’re like twin souls, with Sebastian manipulating Jace, molding him into some weird best-buddy. And Jace, clearly under a strange spell, agrees to everything because he thinks Sebastian is the bees knees. Poor Sebastian; he’s just misunderstood, you guys!

While Jace and Sebastian have up and disappeared, Clary and the Lightwoods are totally out of their tree, desperately trying to find the new BFFS and save Jace from Sebastian and from the Clave since they now believe that Jace is aligned with Sebastian.  Of course, all their attempts are in vain because those two crazy kids are next to impossible to find. When Jace shows up, desperate to see Clary and bring her to The Dark Side, an even scarier truth is revealed. The bond Jace and Sebastian have cannot be severed by any normal method.  To harm one of the boys would directly impact the other. Rats!

Clary, in her awesomely stubborn way, comes up with an extremely crackpot, dangerous way to save her lovely, lovely man. I mean, he doesn’t think he needs saving, but Clary decides to do it and the only person she lets in on her plan is Simon, the best friend who puts all other besties to shame.

As with all Mortal Instruments books, there are other important storylines: Magnus and Alec, Isabelle and Simon (be still my heart! These two are so cute!) and some wolfy business, but the most important story is the one that focuses directly on Sebastian because his evil plans will ultimately affect everyone.

My Take:

Overall , I still really love these characters. I love the incredible world Clare has imagined.  And she’s so gifted at the teasers (there are some great Infernal Devices references that I’d love to assume I understand, although I’m certain I’m way off). And there are other positives. I’ve loved watching Simon grow into this strong, amazing, butt-kicking character who, at his heart, is still an utter nerd.  And there’s always an underlying love I have for Clary and Jace and this intense, lovely relationship they have.

But honestly this book was missing some of the charm of the other books.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.  There was nothing inherently wrong with the story (although some of the Stepford Jace parts were a little slow), but it dragged a bit for me.  It wasn’t until the last third of the book, when something very specific happens with Jace, that the pace picked up. Then it was on like Donkey Kong—but in a book that’s 534 pages that’s quite a few chapters to get through before feeling truly engrossed.  I feel like such a traitor saying this, but I think when the final book comes out I’ll be ready to say goodbye to this series.

But don’t quote me on that. I still love Jace.

Crush Intensity: 3.75/5  There were a few parts I really loved. There were some great ID references.  And there was lots of other stuff that just didn’t do it for me this time around, but the end reeled me back in.
Memorable Quote:

Watching me play Scrabble is enough to make most women swoon. Imagine if I actually put in some effort.

I’m sure you can guess who said that.

Hallowed

Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand

For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought.

Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning. (Goodreads)

Hallowed is the sequel to Unearthly (which I loved).  If you’ve not read the first book be warned. This will be quite the spoilery treat.


So, let’s play a little catch up.  Clara is an angel—not some dark, annoying, I’ve-just-been-tossed-out-of-heaven emo poser, but the real deal. An actual angel on a mission. FROM GOD. The first time I read that I was like sa-weet, a new twist!

Things aren’t particularly perfect for our girl though because after spending months learning about her purpose—saving the ultra-hot Christian—Clara forsakes her mission to save her boyfriend, Tucker (and oh yes, he’s so very worth it).  I wanted her to do this of course, because Cynthia Hand had me at hello, baby. The romance here was so sweet and holy cow, I fell for it all hook, line and sinker, just like Clara.

Christian who? Exactly.

So, Clara rescues Tucker from a horrible fire instead of saving Christian, only to find out (DUM DUM DUM—that’s my soap opera music) that Christian makes it out alive anyway because he’s an angel and he was trying to save her too, believing that she was his mission as well.

I know!

Hallowed picks up immediately after all this blessed awesomeness.  Clara absolutely loves Tucker, but she’s feeling a teensy bit guilty about the whole Christian thing.  In some weird way these two are drawn together now more than ever.  Those feelings continue to intensify as Clara begins to learn more about life as an angel, something Tucker tries but will never truly understand. Things only get worse when Clara begins to have new, ominous visions of a funeral. And the person she goes to for comfort here is …wait for it…Christian.

Oh, love triangles can be so frustrating can’t they?  And Clara can’t see that she’s shutting Tucker out because she’s so sick with worry over whose funeral she’s attending in this creepy vision.  None of this—the worry, the growing attraction to Christian, the deeper attachment she feels to her angelic family—is altogether good for that whole Tucker/Clara situation.

My Feelings:

There were things I really liked about this book: Tucker, Clara’s friends, and the basic premise of an angel seeking her calling from God while battling her very human desire to do her own thing.

This time around, however, I didn’t love Clara as much as I previously did.  She’s already wracked with guilt over the whole missed calling thing from the first book, now we add to it her constant worry over who in the heck may be dying in the near future. And I get both of those things. I was with her there.

What was more difficult to swallow was the love triangle.  Both guys are good. I see your dilemma here Clara, I really do. But seriously, will you just make a decision already?????!!!!!!  When she was with Tucker she loved him. Except that she was lusting after Christian (which, you know, was all the time). And man, Christian totally knows it and,  like any guy, he clearly has no problem with it.  He wants her too.  I just wanted Clara to stop already. Or start. Or do something other than what she was doing. And she does—it just feels like forever that she’s contemplating it all.

And while I liked Christian and enjoyed the opportunity to get to know him better, I felt this book was truly lacking one truly spectacular element that its predecessor had: Tucker.  Oh, he’s there, but not enough.  Or maybe I’m over analyzing it all. Who knows? I still enjoyed the book and would recommend it, but honestly I wasn’t swept away like I was the first time around.

Crush Intensity: 3/5 . The third book in the series, Boundless, will be in stores January 2013.

Soundtrack: I’m sticking with the song I chose for the first book.  Run by Snow Patrol. It just fits this series.  I can’t even explain it.

TGIF- July 20th

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads.

This week we get to pick any past TGIF topic we want. I LOVE THIS IDEA!!! Mostly because I am very easily excited about the smallest things, but partly because I’ve only been participating in TGIF for a little while.  I feel as if I’ve missed out on some fun discussions.

So..drumroll because I’m sure you’re DYING to know my choice right? Ahem.

I want to discuss series finales, ones I loved, ones I, um, didn’t feel quite so happy about.  I mean, the end of a series is a HUGE DEAL. I get very psyched/stressed about the whole thing.  How I remember a series hinges on that last book.  And usually, if I really, really love a series, I have a hard time admitting that I didn’t LOVE the the last book. My loyalty always wins out. Also, I’m a glass is half full kind of girl, so I’ll always look for the positive–but some endings are better than others.

For example, I loved, beyond words, Forever Princess, the final book in The Princess Diaries series.  Here we got to see Mia graduate high school, we got to find out where she’s going to college, to  see what happens with the Genovian elections and we got to see JP (that stupid Corn Hater) go down. Even better, we found out that Michael knew all along that Mia was smelling his neck as a way of calming down.  Oh, and he’s pretty much perfection, as we all knew he’d grow up to be. Hello, it was obvious to some of us thankyouverymuch.

And then there’s Where She Went by Gayle Forman.  Oh, you guys, I was so afraid to read the sequel to a book as beautiful and moving as If I Stay.  I can’t believe it, but I actually love WSW even more.  It’s all because of Adam, his pain, his deterioration, and about the opportunity to catch up with Mia, to see how she’s doing all these years later. I needed to know that she was alright. And I needed to see Adam get the healing and the love he so desperately deserved.

Oh, and then there’s We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han. Holy wow, I love this series. Conrad has been such a d-bag at times, so it was wonderful to see him as a grown up.  It was great to actually have the opportunity to be annoyed with Belly for some of her stupid mistakes (all while totally relating to her and to her love for Suzanne and her boys).  I was so happy to see the young woman Belly grew into and to finally see her end up with the Fisher boy she was always meant to be with–but only after she’d found her way as an individual.

Then there were the let downs. Be warned. The spoilers here are aplenty as, I feel I must rant.

I had such mixed feelings about Mockingjay. For the most part, I liked it. I loved that life in District 13 wasn’t the perfect Utopia we were all hoping for.  I loved getting more Gale and more Finnick (Finnick! Don’t make me cry).  And even though I felt bad for him, I was totally into the whole Crazy Peeta storyline.

I was very unhappy with Gale’s story (yes, I’m biased as I’m totally Team Gale).  He just sort of petered out at the end. He never visited Katniss in the hospital and then he just skulked off to District 2 never to be heard from again. After all they’d been through? Really? I know he felt guilty, but that wasn’t believable to me. And I really wanted Katniss to do two things: 1)To tear Prez Snow’s head off and pee down his throat and 2) To make a definitive choice between Gale and Peeta. Neither thing happened. She wimped out with Snow (and then made some weird comment later about continuing the Hunger Games in Prim’s memory. I’m sorry but, WTF?) and she ends up with Peeta, (who I believe was the right choice for her)—but it was more like they ended up together because no one else was around since Gale was busy spreading his awesome around District 2.

So did I have some issues with the book? Hell to the yes. But somehow I still liked it.

Breaking Dawn and I had some rough moments too, but we made it through every freaking page (there were a lot of them). I was very happy that Stephenie Meyers did some things I felt I needed: she gave me closure with every character I cared about.  She gave me the wedding and honeymoon I really wanted to see. But holy freaking sparkly vampires, did I need an entire third of the book narrated by Jacob?  And did I need that whole Rosemary’s baby thing? I’ll answer that. No.  She lost me a bit there.  Overall, I was happy with how the series ended, but that middle portion bored me.  Also, I hate Jacob. The less I get of him the better.

What about you? Any series endings that you loved or hated?

The Hunt

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Don’t Sweat.  Don’t Laugh.  Don’t draw attention to yourself.  And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.
Gene is different from everyone else around him.  He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood.  Gene is a human, and he knows the rules.  Keep the truth a secret.  It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.
When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him.  He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity? (Goodreads)

The Story:

Gene is guy living in a darkly imagined world where humans are almost extinct.  He lives as the others do—staying away from sunlight, feasting on the raw meat of animals, showing virtually no emotion—but it’s all a rouse. It’s how he survives.  Gene has to pretend he’s one of them, otherwise he’ll be killed. Or devoured is more like it.

As fate would have it, Gene is chosen by lottery to participate in an incredible event. He and a few others will train to hunt and kill the last remaining humans in the world.  He has to keep up the guise, continue to make the others believe he’s like them, in order to save his own life.  The training will bring them uncomfortably close to him and will make him more conspicuous than he’s ever been. And worse if he gets through the training period, he wonders what he’s supposed to do when the hunt actually begins. Kill the other humans?

My Take:

This premise was so freaking cool. It was so nice to see the vampires as, you know, actual bad guys instead of swoony boyfriend material.  And never, not once, is the word vampire actually used, by the way. They consider themselves humans.  The actual humans are called hepers, which, from what I gathered, is a derogatory term.  They (the vampire/humans) speak of them (the heper/humans) like animals, calling them “it” and actually looking surprised when they how intelligence or abilities beyond a pet.

The story grabbed me in the first few lines and as each chapter progressed, I feared for Gene.  He’s an interesting character because we know very little about him. His basic history is shared slowly, through memories of his father and the lessons he was taught about survival.  This story isn’t so much about the actual hunt as it is about the process of getting to it.  The many times Gene has close calls with the others or the times when it seems like his facade is going to crack, I felt nervous for him.  At the same time, so much of the book is spent on the actual build-up (with great tension leading up to it all), that I was a bit disappointed that the actual event (the hunt) wasn’t front and center. I thought the ending was great and I’d definitely read the next book (this one leaves you hanging).

Crush Intensity: 4/5  This is a good, solid read.  It was completely different from anything I’ve read.

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me a review copy of The Hunt!

Everlasting (even though it’s actually over)

Everlasting (The Immortals #6) by Alyson Noel

Oh these covers. These covers, these covers, these covers.

Their darkest enemies now defeated, Damen and Ever are free to embark upon their final quest—to free Damen from the poison lingering in his body.  If they can just find the antidote, they’ll finally be able to feel each other’s touch—and experience the passionate night they’ve been longing for.  But their fight to be together will lead them into the most formidable terrain yet…into the dark heart of Summerland.

Here in a land of scorched earth and endless rain, Ever and Damen will discover their relationship’s hidden origins, expose a secret history they never imagined…and come face to face with the true reason fate keeps tearing them apart.  Only then, when the final mystery is unraveled and the last secret revealed, Ever and Damen’s future will hinge on one ultimate decision that will put everything at stake….even eternity. (Barnes and Noble)

This is the sixth and final (yea) book in the Immortal series.  Oh and it’s been quite a ride.

There’ve been lots of evil people trying to keep our loves apart, lots of crystals and chakras and mtysical stuff, lots of pent-up desire and talk of dark, brooding eyes and tousled dark hair, and there’s been an abundance of cheese.  Like a super-colossal amount.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this series.  I despise so much of the dialogue and the horrific names (Drina, Ever, Haven , Honor, Roman, Jude, Romy and Rayne–don’t make me list them all), the constant repetition in the problems that threaten to tear Ever and Damen apart, and the constant talk of the shimmering veil that separates Ever and Damen (for those of you who aren’t clued in to this, Ever and Damen can’t actually touch anymore because their DNA is poisonous to one another, so they’ve created this way of “touching” without really touching. It’s sorta nauseating).

But oh, I love the premise. The idea of Ever and Damen falling in love centuries before only to have her go and get all dead on him before they could live happily ever after, how she’s constantly reincarnated and dying over and over again every time he finds her—it’s awfully tragic and romantic.  And Damen, considering how shallow he started out, there really is a lot to love about him.  Though I find Ever hard to stomach at times, I love how he loves her.  I guess that’s why I’ve continued to read each book in the series. Either that or I’m just a glutton for punishment.

I’m not going to lie. Though they’ve had good moments, they’ve gotten progressively more irritating in their predictability and in the heavy cheese factor. I mean no disrespect to Ms. Noel when I say that. She knows her audience and clearly this is what they want.  And hey, I’ve certainly kept coming back for more.

But this last book? Well, I’d hoped to like it at least a little bit. And there was a portion there that actually drew me in.  The rest was painfully slow and seemingly the same old thing, only this time there was virtually no Miles (the awesome BFF to Ever). And since Ever’s nemesis was gone, there really wasn’t a major conflict except the one that’s been happening throughout the last two books: Ever and Damen need the antidote to help them get on with their sexy business. And they need to figure out what it is that continues to pull them apart. Oh and Ever can be a bit of an overly dramatic moron sometimes.  It’s the same old recycled story.

In the end I was so happy to say goodbye to this series. I think Noel’s initial concept had so much promise and the underlying idea is completely romantic, but the series (and this book) fell flat because Ever lacked depth and because it has all dragged on for far longer than necessary. So am I glad I read the last book? Uhhh, sure.  Did I like it? Not really. But who knows, maybe you will.

Crush Intensity: 1/5 I’m not really sure what else I can say.

The Cover: These covers usually embarrass the hell out of me. I hate it when anyone (my husband especially) sees me reading them. And this one is awesomely bad too, but I’ll admit that I found myself staring at it quite a bit.  I think it’s because the guy and girl on the cover look exactly the way I pictured them in my head. Actually, I think that the cover was the best part of the book. Yikes.