Saturday, November 30, 2013

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

3.5 Stars
Bea has a bit of a problem. A stalking problem. She doesn’t spend her time stalking her maybe/maybe not boyfriend, Beck. They just attend group therapy for OCD together. No, Bea spends her time stalking Austin, a man who happens to attend couple’s therapy with his wife in the timeslot right before Bea’s individual therapy sessions. But really, what Bea does isn’t really stalking, is it? It’s not her fault that the chair she sits in happens to be next to a vent that allows her to hear what goes on during Austin’s therapy session. And, it’s not really her fault that she happened to follow Austin and his wife home one day and now knows where they live, right? And, I mean, could it really be her fault that she finds out Austin and his wife are local celebrities in a band and she just happens to buy their CDs and know about their upcoming concerts????
I can’t remember the last time a book made me so uncomfortable while I was reading it. I mean, I was literally squirming with anxiety for Bea. I wasn’t 100% sold on the idea that OCD could make someone a stalker, but Corey Ann Haydu made me a believer (or at least made me say who gives a crap and just enjoy the story). Poor Bea! Such a tragic mess. This was a book I wanted to put down the entire time I was reading it, but somehow could not. Although not an "easy" reader, Haydu’s voice is so completely fresh that I was reeled in hook, line and sinker (maybe I have a bit of book-reading OCD????).

Friday, November 29, 2013

Take Care, Sara by Lindy Zart

2 Stars
A year ago Sara’s life was turned upside down when a car accident stole her husband. Since the accident, she has not been able to move on … or really move at all. Spending her days locked in her house and contemplating if she should end her own life. Her husband’s brother, Lincoln, is the only person who finally gets fed up enough to drag Sara out of her depression. His life was also changed, but he will fight with everything he has in order not lose two people he loves.

If you are a fan of the Lifetime Television for Women movies, you are probably going to LOOOOOOOOOVE Take Care, Sara. It is syrupy sweet and filled with romance. It is also extremely predictable and drones on and on and on and on and on forever rather than just cutting to the chase. Although this was not my cup of tea (it was recommended to me by a fellow Goodreader and I picked it up on the Kindle when it was free), I’m sure there are millions of others out there who just swoon at the mere mention of the title. If you are a lover of romances that are light on plot, this is a good way to kill an afternoon.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

5 Stars
As Dumbledore once said, "it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

My ability to write a proper review for this book does not exist, so I choose to leave it at five stars and two Dobby snaps in a circle ; )


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Angelfall by Susan Ee

3.5 Stars
Six weeks ago angels fell upon the Earth and changed human life forever.  Unfortunately, the angels were not there for the rapture of the “saved” – they were there to take over the world and eliminate the people.  Penryn, her mentally ill mother, and her crippled little sister Paige have survived the new world order of angel attacks and newly formed street gangs by hiding in their abandoned condominium complex and scrounging up whatever meager food rations they can find.  When supplies run out and the three ladies are forced to relocate, the unthinkable happens – Paige is kidnapped by a band of angels.  Penryn will do anything in her power to track her down, even if it means teaming up with an angel.
Angels and resistance movements and frankencreatures, oh my!
I had never even heard of this book, but with the release of World After there was a crap-ton of hype surrounding the series so I bumped it to the forefront of my “to read” list.  What can I say:

I also made a statement after finishing the Divergent series (only to realize I had wasted waaaaaay too much of my time on what ultimately culminated in an utter poo-fest), that if I chose to read a second book in a dystopian series ever again people could punch me in the face.  Well, line up kids 'cause it’s Slapsgiving.  I will definitely be reading World After and will accept any cyberpunches that you want to throw my way.
Although it may not have lived up to alllllllllll of my fangirly-freaky-outy expectations, this was a tasty little book.  Just the right length with a gruesome touch that I haven’t seen in YA books.  Of course there are moments that are completely far-fetched.  Most people, while on a time sensitive hunt to find a lost sibling, would not find themselves distracted and lusting for the rippling abdominals of one of their arch enemies.  However, in times like these I find it best to follow the sage advice of Adam Sandler and “just go with it”.  I’m fairly certain Susan Ee didn’t expect to win a Pulitzer – she just wants her audience to have fun. 
Plus, all the cool kids are reading it ; )

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

5 Stars
There is no way I could EVER write a review for this book, so I'm just going to say a few words and leave it at that . . .


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Where the Moon Isn't by Nathan Filer

4 Stars
Sometimes I read books so obsessively that I end up with something like this when I’m finished:

Then I sit around for a week (or two, or twelve) because I have no idea how to write the review.
It only seems fitting that someone like me (who clearly has an undiagnosed mental disorder) would flag the holy hell out of a book about a fellow with a mental disorder. It also seems fitting that I should let Matthew do most of the talking when it comes to telling you what this book is about.
Matthew has been raised by a mother who "is thin and pale, with cold hands. She has a broad chin that she is very self-conscious about. She sniffs the milk before she drinks it. She loves me. And she is mad," And a father who "is tall and broad, and stoops a little. He wears a leather jacket because he used to ride a motorbike. He calls me mon ami. And he loves me." He lived with a brother named "Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that."
Matthew was never quite the same after that, either. He’ll tell you that "you notice it when he isn’t there anymore. You notice so many of the places where he isn’t, and you hear so many of the things he doesn’t say. I do. I hear them all the time."
Matthew will have to confront those demons of the past in order to come to terms with the reality of the present. Generally I find cover blurbs to be wholly inaccurate, but "rare and brilliant" is a very fitting description for Where the Moon Isn’t. Filer really knows how to get you into a character’s soul.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

4 Stars
Being gay isn’t a choice, but being out definitely is one. Raised by some seriously hippie-dippie parents, Rafe’s coming out was a breeze. We’re talking the school held a special celebration, his mother became the president of the local PFLAG and Rafe began traveling to different schools in the area to mentor other kids. It was wonderful – until Rafe became JUST the gay guy. No one except his best friend, Claire Olivia, was interested in just knowing HIM – they always wanted to know the GAY him. In an effort to shed all labels, Rafe transfers across the country to an all-boys boarding school. There he will play soccer, study hard in hopes of getting accepted to an Ivy league college and have a chance to just be Rafe. The plan of being "openly straight" and not discussing his sex life works out great, until he starts developing deeper feelings for one of his teammates.
Now let me tell you what I thought of this book:
"Did you know that LGBT kids are 8.4 times more likely than straight kids to attempt suicide? And 50 percent of LGBT kids are rejected by their parents? That between 20 and 40 percent of homeless teens say they’re gay, lesbian, or transgender, and that up to 50 percent of the guy teens have sold their bodies to support themselves?"
I have no idea of the above statement is true or not. It’s a quote from the book and the stats seem realistic. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to come out – to be labeled by many without them even knowing you. That’s why books like "Openly Straight" resonate so deeply with me. This book pushes no agenda – it’s just what a romantic comedy YA book should be. It shows that characters come in all varieties – funny, sympathetic, even vile. A memorable character is a memorable character, a good author is a good author, and a good book is a good book. This is a good book. It was adorably funny and made me have some feely-feels too.
"Perhaps the best answer is not to tolerate differences, not even to accept them. But to celebrate them. Maybe then those who are different would feel more loved, and less, well, tolerated."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Unteachable by Leah Reeder

4 Stars
Who would’ve thought a prude like me would somehow find a book about a student/teacher affair more palatable than the squick-out which was 50 Shades and/or Bared to You (at this point I think those series have actually morphed into one).

Blame it on the change in barometric pressure. Blame It On My A.D.D.

(Ha! I kill me)

Blame it on whatever, but I kinda see what the fuss was all about.

Maise and Evan meet at the local fairground in small-town southern Illinois (the neck of the woods from whence I originated, so I immediately could hear the hillbilly accent, smell the decomposing catfish stench which is the Mighty Mississippi River and taste the funnel cake). The story starts innocently enough – Maise has decided to face her fear of roller coasters and fate places Evan in the seat next to her. We quickly go from


Which would be a fine and dandy one-night-stand, except for the fact that when Maise starts the new school year Evan happens to be one of her teachers. I KNOW this is where I should get offended, but the student/teacher affair really didn’t bother me. First, it’s a porno. Second, it wasn’t like Evan said “Hi, I’m your teacher, wanna go bang in my car?” And third, they were both "of age" for this dirty love story.

Things get a bit more complex when we are introduced to the backstory of why Maise and Evan are attracted to people they really shouldn’t be attracted to, Maise’s meth-dealing mother, and Maise’s new bestie, who (of course) happens to be a bit in love with her. As with most romance novels, there are annoyances that might make you want to scream or pull your hair out in frustration (prime example: Maise has a dream of film school, yet she has pretty much never watched ANY famous movie before Evan introduces her to them). That being said, at the end of it all this was a good 24-hour escape to a fantasy that had just enough

To make me feel a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitle bit naughty, but not so much I required a barf bag.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein

2 Stars
With a three year age difference between them, Dinah has always been there for Claire – to be a neighbor and best friend to her cousin, Claire. When Dinah’s parents moved across the country at the end of the last school year, Claire ventured into her first relationship without the helpful advice from Dinah and things went way too far. Not able to cope, Claire cut her wrists and is now in a coma. Now Dinah has moved back to home, changed her image, registered at Claire’s private school and is ready to seek revenge on the boy who stole Claire’s innocence.

Okay, not really. I don’t think you have to be particularly goooooooood at puzzle solving in order to figure this one out. Hence, the low rating. The fact that I was 99.99999% positive I knew whodunit IMMEDIATELY left me continually calculating how many pages were left before my thoughts would be confirmed and took away much of the entertainment value. Thank goodness for a fast-flowing storyline – it only took a couple of hours to finish.

Friday, November 8, 2013

More Than This by Patrick Ness

5 Stars
First things first, let’s get some preliminaries out of the way.  To begin with, don’t let the YA categorization fool you.  This is a book for all ages.  If YA isn’t your typical genre, have no worries – this ain’t Twilight.  No one is sparkly.  It’s not angsty.  It’s more than this and I was:

This books falls into the “I WANT TO TELL EVERYONE IN THE UNIVERSE ABOUT IT AND MIGHT HAVE TO PHYSICALLY COVER MY MOUTH IN ORDER TO STOP THE SPOILAGE FROM JUST SPEWING FORTH”.  Thank goodness for a husband who doesn’t like to read.  I told him EVERYTHING.  I still want to tell everyone else, though, too : (
In an effort to save me from myself, I’ll just say a few things and use Patrick Ness’ own words to do so. 
“A book [is] a world all on its own.  A world made of words, where you live for a while.”  That’s what More Than This was to me.  A world that I could not separate myself from.  A world that I submersed myself in and remained until the very last of the 472 pages was consumed. 
This was a book that had me constantly thinking: “This place might be one thing.  Or it might be another.  Or it might even be something completely unguessed.”
A book that continually reminded me:  “There’s always more than this.  There’s always something you don’t know.”
A book that taught me:  “Everyone thinks they know what’s best.  Everyone. … Sometimes you need to find out that you don’t.”
A book that at the end of it all was about people:  “Weak and strong and they make mistakes, like anyone.” 
And love:  “Love and care have all kinds of different faces, and within them, there’s room for understanding, and for forgiveness, and for more.”
And more:
“More and more and more.”

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tampa by Alissa Nutting

4 Stars

Celeste Price has everything a girl could dream of. She’s model-gorgeous with an equally attractive husband who also happens to have a significant trust fund. He works as a police officer, she is a middle-school teacher. He worships the ground his trophy wife walks on and she????? Well, she fantasizes about banging 8th graders.
Okay kids, get ready to hate me because I freakin’ LOVED Tampa. Please, don’t misunderstand – I agree that the subject matter is 100% cringe-inducing. Heck, I remember expressing my amore for this beautiful little werewolf:

Only to have my son remind me that he played this character not that far back:

I spent the next several years watching the various "Twilight" films while contemplating whether I should register myself on the national sex offender list for my impure thoughts.
With "Tampa", however, Alissa Nutting keeps her tongue so firmly planted in her cheek throughout the book it somehow makes it possible to put your mind past the pedophilia. I found "Tampa" to be deliciously dark. Reminiscent of "American Beauty" and "Lolita" – the tale of ultimate taboo finds a balancing counterpart with a vicious wit. Absolutely NOT for the faint of heart, but if you dare to venture out of your comfort zone you will discover one of the most well written books of the year.

Here’s to a follow-up story in 25 years giving us an update on Frank Rossitano and Lynn Onkman .... errrr, I mean Jack Patrick and Celeste Price.

Monday, November 4, 2013

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

4 Stars

Carey has spent 10 years of her life living in a broke-down, cockroach infested camper buried deep within the woods. She has been responsible for caring for her 6 year old sister, Jenessa, and her meth-addicted, mentally unstable mother – being made to use any means necessary to keep drugs in her mother’s system and a little food in their bellies. That all changes when a man and woman find their hiding place and take them back to the normalcy of real beds to sleep in, more than one outfit to wear and school in an actual building rather than self-teaching around a campfire from yard sale scraps. As Carey and Jenessa begin to settle in to their new world, Carey will be forced to confront the facts of what happened to her in the woods – secrets that might separate her and her sister forever.

Wowza! What a debut novel. I picked this up since Jennifer Brown wrote the cover blurb and I’m glad I did/she did. Talk about a powerful storyline. This is NOT for youngsters. Murdoch deals with a plot that, scarily, does not seem that far-fetched and some horrible truths that happen to girls being raised by a mother who cares only about her next fix. I look forward to reading more by this author.