Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review: A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Goodreads Synopsis:

We all want to be remembered. Charlotte's destiny is to be Forgotten...

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend's arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become--her mark on this earth, her very existence--is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny--no matter how dark the consequences.


I got this thinking that it was a one shot book, not a series. At first, this disappointed me and I pushed it off for a little longer than I originally was going to read it. But then I started reading and found that it would really only work as a series, and if it wasn't going to be a series, then I probably would be very unhappy with the ending. Seeing as how that's not so, I am happier with it, and very eager for the next one.
Charlotte, the main character, I liked. She wasn't stupid with how things were going to work out, and after trying something to push it off, she just went with how things had to go. I like that she didn't whine about it, or doing anything completely stupid. She was genuinely upset at what was happening, as she had reason to be, and I felt it with her. She doesn't have a fully made voice in my head, but I still felt her emotions.
Most of what caught my attention, what made me get the book, and is quite possibly my favorite part, was her and Harlin's relationship. Harlin is so sweet and so good to her. They love each other so much, and they were so sweet and fun and close to each other. I love their relationship, I generally love their kind of relationship, and it was probably the most heart breaking part of the story. It's the part I would have been unhappy with, had this been a one shot with the same ending.
I liked Sarah, her best friend, but not enough to give her a charm. I thought she was a little too selfish and over bearing for me, and I see why she would need Charlotte more than Charlotte would need her. I liked Alex, thought he was adorable; and Mercy was very sweet and a good mother for Charlotte and Alex. Monroe was alright, I don't really have much of an outstanding image of him. And Onika was very good at being the bad character, and so of course I didn't like her all that much.
There were several funny parts to the story that made me smile, and some hot scenes with Charlotte and Harlin that were very nice, but most of the story was bittersweet. Because, even as she was being normal with her friends and family, she knew that it wasn't going to last. Even as she was with Harlin, she knew that it couldn't last. And it was heart breaking, and it made me want to stop because I didn't want to get to the sad ending that I knew was coming.
Even saying this, the plot was very good. I'm not a big fan of angels, they just don't spark my interest, and even though this isn't supposed to be an angel story, it's along those lines. It was very well done, though, and it was a new way of looking at them. A sad way, really, for Charlotte.
It's left a mostly bittersweet, sad feeling, although a very nice one with Charlotte and Harlin because I love them together. And the last chapter, titled 'After', had definitely piqued my interest. I'm excited for the next book; I really want to see what happens next.

Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Publisher: Flux

Goodreads Synopsis:

Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad—her chance to escape everyone and their pitying stares—has been canceled.
After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb’s free . . . if freedom means endless nagging from a transition coach and the prying eyes of the entire town. Coming home should feel good, but his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers.
Caleb and Maggie are outsiders, pigeon-holed as "criminal" and "freak." Then the truth emerges about what really happened the night of the accident and, once again, everything changes. It’s a bleak and tortuous journey for Caleb and Maggie, yet they end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other.


I thought this was alright. I've read Simone's Perfect Chemistry series, and while I didn't enjoy the first, I liked the other two more than this one. I still quite enjoyed it, though.
The characters were their own, as they usually are. But Maggie seemed to have more of her own character than Caleb did. But Elkeles always seems to write different female characters but the males always seem very alike. They have their differences, just enough to make them different, but they tend to always be somewhat stereotypical bad boys. They always have something to do with gangs, or something dangerous, and want distance from the girl, for whatever reason. This bothers me, but I'm not always the biggest fan of bad boys.
Her stories also tend to have the same structure. Something happens to bring them together and break them apart and then bring them back together. I know this, but I still enjoy them. Her stories are a guilty pleasure of mine.
I generally did like this story, and it was it's own. I liked Maggie, for the most part, although she got on my nerves some times, with her embarrassment for example, but she got better near the end when she decided not to run away from things, although it seemed to come to her too fast. I liked Caleb, as well, although he frustrated me when he decided to run away from things at the end of the book. I liked them together, and of course am looking forward to seeing how things work out for him.
Mrs. Reynolds, also, was a very good character, and it was upsetting what happened with her, but it makes sense and there were signs, even if I didn't like it. She also was a reason for them to get together, and she helped Maggie grow up.
One thing that bothered me, though, was the accident. What happened with it afterward. It makes sense that Caleb didn't do it, and it explains why his sister was acting the way she was. But, I don't think it really gave much of an idea that that was what was wrong. Of course, it explains Leah and why she was acting the way she was and didn't want to be near Maggie. But every time Caleb thought about it before we were told what had happened, it didn't show us that the problem was that Caleb didn't hit her. He talked about something not being right and all, but he always said that he was the one who hit her, that he was the one who did that to her. I think that could have been done a little better, while still not giving it away too early.
I enjoyed this book and did want the next book quickly, so I was kind of glad I waited till the next one was out to read it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse

Publisher: The Chicken House

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Wonder Twins" on the run--and running amok--in Vegas. Road Trip!Paisley and Beau are boldface names again. Last time, paparazzi called them the "Wonder Twins," two kids found alone but alive in the woods of exotic New Jersey. Three days after their mom's death -- and before their dad's criminal misdeeds.
Flash-forward to now: Their so-called lives? Suck out loud: Hating on their cougarized, Botoxic grandma, they're totally clueless about the location of ex-con Daddy. Till they discover a stash of old letters. That's when they decide to jack the Pontiac and hit the road. Holding up donut shops in Sin City might seem extreme, but if they can just get their pretty bad faces back on TV -- or TMZ -- they might wrap up their whole gaga saga with an Oprah-worthy reunion already!


[Contains Spoilers.]

I saw this at Borders, during their closing sales, and thought it sounded good. I hadn't heard about it from anything, which is disappointing, because I really enjoyed. Mostly.
I really liked the characters, and thought they were really well thought out. They were very different from each other, I could tell who was who very easily, and I just generally enjoyed them. Paisley was very... not-nice, with a very hard exterior and not much of a softer interior, but more than her outside. She'd had such a hard time, especially with their grandmother, and her separation from their father and then from Beau. She didn't want much, just her brother and father. And then there's Beau. I just wanted to hug him most of the time. He's so sad, being bullied and separated from Paisley, the only person he has anymore. And yet he's so sweet, so very sweet. The only thing that bothered me about him was that he's a wimp. He really is, and I was hoping that he would grow out of it, at least a little, by the end of the book. So I was quite happy about his character at the end of it. Paisley didn't seem to change much by the end, though, besides reverting back maybe a little bit. I liked him more, though; he's more my type of character. There weren't very many scenes showing how close the twins were, though, so I didn't feel as much of a connection between them as I'd hoped.
Their grandmother played a very good villain. She was terrible, and I totally disliked her throughout the whole book. Some of it seemed exaggerated near the end, with her and her gardener just showing up. It could be not too far fetched, but maybe she just could have been written out better.
I really liked their father. Throughout all of the book all we knew about him was from the twins' memories, and it all seemed very sweet and cute or sad. I was kind of wary before we met him, hoping that there wasn't going to be some huge disappointment. There wasn't, so I was happy about that. And he was still very sweet and caring of them, which was nice to see.
The plot line I enjoyed. I liked the beginning, thought it started it out well and the scene before they head to Vegas was very nice. It was entertaining throughout it all. One thing that bothered me was all of the money that they were spending, because it seemed like such a waste, and I wanted them to realize that. I see why they did that though, with the whole robbing thing later. That bothered me some, with the gun and all, but it didn't bother me too much since they weren't actually hurting anybody. And all of that candy that they had! It was practically the only thing they ate and stole; it was ridiculous and made me kind of jealous.
The ending, though, I didn't like. They deserve better than to be on the run. They deserve happiness and all that, so that upsets me. That would be one of the only reasons I would want a sequel. More closure than that, and maybe for more of Beau, just 'cause he's adorable and I want to see him grow some more. 
I do hope that more of Skuse's books get released, though, because I liked her writing and characters, and I know she has another book out only in the UK. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Manga Review: Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 8 by Yuki Midorikawa

Publisher: Viz Media
Goodreads Synopsis:

With friends like these, enemies are overkill. R to L (Japanese Style). Takashi Natsume can see the spirits and demons that hide from the rest of humanity. He has always been set apart from other people because of his gift, drifting from relative to relative, never fitting in. Now he is a troubled high school student who has come to live in the small town where his grandmother grew up. And there he discovers that he has inherited more than just the Sight from the mysterious Reiko. Takashi Natsume can see the spirits and demons that hide from the rest of humanity. He has always been set apart from other people because of his gift, drifting from relative to relative, never fitting in. Now he is a troubled high school student who has come to live in the small town where his grandmother grew up. And there he discovers that he has inherited more than just the Sight from the mysterious Reiko.


I've read all of the previous volumes in this series, and enjoyed them. The stories have mostly been one to two shots, a different story with a different yokai each time, although there are several yokai and people that show up again and again. It's mostly just fun, interesting stories, although because there isn't much of a moving plot, it can be a slow read. Usually I have a hard time starting the next volume but enjoy it when I do.
In this volume, it started with a school festival and some classmates of Natsume's. Tanuma and Taki help him in the first chapter as well as the two following it. I liked seeing them, and I hope they become main characters as well. I like them, and I liked seeing them all together, interacting. Natsume is very awkward with people, and he needs friends, so I hope they show up more. The first three chapters yokai isn't very memorable, except that the yokai in the second took over Tanuma and he got to see the yokai like Natsume does on a regular basis. It was interesting seeing how the both of them feel and nice that they worked it out.
The next two chapters were more background story. It showed how Natsume met the Fujiwara's before he went to live with them. They were sweet in how they went about trying to get him to live with them, and I liked seeing more of them, getting to know more of their characters and how they got where they are now.
It's always sad seeing Natsume when he was younger, because he always had trouble with the yokai and trying not to let them bother the people he was with while not letting them know anything, and how it never worked out for him. He was such a sad, lonely kid, and it's nice that he's mostly gotten over it and knows how to deal with the yokai better now.
The last little special chapter was on a yokai, Chobi. I like when Midorikawa does the little special chapters in the end with the yokai interacting with Natsume. They're entertaining, even if not all that memorable. This one was about the same as all the others.
Over all, I liked this volume, possibly more than some of the previous ones, because it got more into the characters and background story. And I like seeing Natsume with human friends. I hope there's more of that in future volumes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Manga Review: Kimi ni Todoke Volume 9 by Karuho Shiina

Publisher: Viz Media
Goodreads Synopsis:

Sawako Kuronuma is the perfect heroine...for a horror movie. With her jet-black hair, sinister smile and silent demeanor, she's often mistaken for Sadako, the haunting character from Ringu. Unbeknownst to but a few, behind her scary façade is a very misunderstood teenager. Shy and pure of heart, she just wants to make friends. But when Kazehaya, the most popular boy in class, befriends her, she's sure to make more than just that—she's about to make some enemies too!

I love this series. I have since the beginning. Sawako is so awkward and shy that she comes off as rude and scary. She thinks so little of herself, as well, that it can be annoying, and I see why some people don't like her, but I do. It's, in a way, adorable. Chizu and Ayane are good for her, protecitve and nice, while also being tough on her when she needs it. The characters are all great.
And Kazehaya. Oh, I love Kazehaya. He's so sweet and charming and embarrassed about things, and happy. I love him. And I love him for Sawako. (Or myself, honestly.)
It's been entertaining and mostly heart warming so far, with Sawako getting closer with her classmates, and with her fumbles and cute moments with Kazehaya.
In this volume, though, it's just frustrating. Because they both confess and think that the other means something different. It's so frustrating how miscommunicative they are, and even more so that it makes sense for them to do this. Because they are both so stupid in thinking of themselves as lower than they are, and it's so frustrating when they do this. It's almost painful to read it as they confess and then she cries because they don't talk about it.
This volume is mostly about them and how they like each other but don't think the other likes them, with other people seeing it and being confused by it. It's ridiculous.
And the end of the volume! Such a cliffhanger. At the time that I read this, I also had three volumes to catch up on, and so I was super upset at having to wait to find out what happens. Still am, really, because I haven't gotten the next one yet.
I'm really hoping that they do finally talk it out in volume 10, though.

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Publisher: MTV Books and Pocket Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

Standing on the fringes of life... offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.
Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

I was hoping I would enjoy this, and I did. It looked like it would be entertaining because of the way it was written, with the letters and what not, and Charlie, the main character, sounded like the type of character that I enjoy reading about. And he was.
First of all, I love Charlie. He is so sweet and sad, such a contradiction, really. He's so innocent while still being sad. He's wistful, and angst-full, and eccentric in a way. And so honest, and modest. His friends are awesome, and he needed to meet them when he did. He needed them to teach him the things he did, and to experience the things he did with them, even if there was also all that anguish that he felt because of them at times.
It talks about several issues very well, like what his sister goes through, and what Patrick goes through with being gay, and suicide. He thinks of so many things that made me think about it. I related to him at certain parts, and he just made my chest hurt because of how sad he is.
Once I started this book, I wanted to keep reading. But I also wanted to stop several times, because I knew something was going to happen, something that I didn't want to know about yet, or at all. Because Charlie is so full of sadness while still being uplifting. When I got to the end of it, though, and I found out what had happened to him... I can't really decide how I feel about it. Because it's sad, and I understand some of what he was going through. It explains some. But I feel like it wasn't a good enough explanation. It just doesn't seem like that's all that was wrong; like he had some other kind of problem or disorder. Maybe I'm wrong, though; I've never been through what he has.
That's the only real problem I had with the book. Besides that, it bothers me how Charlie and Sam were in the end. Generally how all of the characters were in the end, but it makes sense. It can't all be happily ever after. I still love Charlie completely.

Review: Carrie Pilby by Caren Lissner

Publisher: Harlequin

Goodreads Synopsis:

Teen Genius (and Hermit) Carrie Pilby's To-Do List:1. List 10 things you love (and DO THEM!)
2. Join a club (and TALK TO PEOPLE!)
3. Go on a date (with someone you actually LIKE!)
4. Tell someone you care (your therapist DOESN'T COUNT!)
5. Celebrate New Year's (with OTHER PEOPLE!)
Seriously? Carrie would rather stay in bed than deal with the immoral, sex-obsessed hypocrites who seem to overrun her hometown, New York City. She's sick of trying to be like everybody else. She isn't! But when her own therapist gives her a five-point plan to change her social-outcast status, Carrie takes a hard look at herself—and agrees to try.
Suddenly the world doesn't seem so bad. But is prodigy Carrie really going to dumb things down just to fit in?


I was really surprised by how much I liked this one. Probably because the cover (even if I do like it,) and the headline doesn't give a very good insight as to what it's about. The synopsis doesn't give as good of an idea as it could, either. The headline and the list on the back makes it look like it's going to be a book about a teenager trying to fit in at school or with a certain bunch of people. Which is not what this book it about.
The book is about Carrie Pilby, a nineteen year old girl, who has already graduated from Harvard. She's a prodigy and she's disappointed with all of the people out there who are not as smart as she is and who all act like idiots, at least in her opinion. And because of this, she doesn't want to go out and see people.
I liked how much she thought, because she thought about a lot of things and it was all very philosophical. I had quite a bit in common with her, because I think about things like she does, (for example, when she's talk about fate).
I liked her talks with her psychologist, and with her co-workers, and it was good of her to get out. I didn't much like her relationship with Matt, although I understand that she needed to have it. It gave her someone to be with and made her grow up a little bit, since she'd skipped a bit of high school. I didn't agree with it, but I understand the meaning of it. And, after her relationship with her professor, I see why she had it.
Her relationship with her father, I kind of understand. I sympathize, a little, why she was mad at him, because she felt that he lied to her, but I think it was a little dramatic for her to be. But, I guess, she was expecting more from people after all that he'd told her, while I have more of a realistic view of it. Still, it seemed a little ridiculous of a reason.
I did like the relationship that she'd started near the end of the book, and wanted to see a little more of it.
This book took me a little bit longer than most to get through, (about a week,) and that's probably because of all the thinking that she does. But overall, I enjoyed it. And it gave me quite a bit to think about.

Review: Suicide Notes by Micheal Thomas Ford

 3.5 of 5 Stars
Publisher: HarperTeen

Goodreads Synopsis:

I'm not crazy. I don't see what the big deal is about what happened. But apparently someone does think it's a big deal because here I am. I bet it was my mother. She always overreacts.
Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year's Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff's perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. Now they've got problems. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on—the crazies start to seem less crazy.
Compelling, witty, and refreshingly real, Suicide Notes is a darkly humorous novel from award-winning author Michael Thomas Ford that examines that fuzzy line between "normal" and the rest of us.


[Contains possible spoilers.]
I was quite surprise by this book, and wasn't expecting how it turned out. I'm also kind of surprised that I haven't heard more about it, because of the sexual scenes and gay character. Because of this, it did keep me surprised by how it turned out, though.
First of all, I liked the writing, and the main character. And how the book was done, with each chapter being a different day that he's in the hospital, although I did want more of the story, like what happens when he talks to his best friend after he gets out; I wanted to see that conversation. I found it interesting how he thought about things, and how he went off on thoughts sometimes. It was entertaining. The premise, I guess, doesn't make it sound like a funny book and more like a depressing one, but I had guessed that it would be entertaining, so I was hoping for that and wasn't disappointed. And the other characters were good, too. Sadie was interesting, and sad, and I wanted to see more of Martha and his sister.
The reason that he was there, that he tried to commit suicide, I wasn't expecting. I like that they didn't let much of it on for a lot of the book, so I wasn't expecting that the reason was that he was gay and didn't know how to deal with. Personally, I hate that he thought that was a good solution, and that actual people think it is. I realize, now, that there were several clues, and I was wondering, but didn't actually think that he was gay for most of it, until around the time he actually told of the story before he cut himself.
How he thought of the suicide for most of the book, that he was interrupted and not saved, was an interesting thought. And one that I can understand for the most part; like I understood why he just wanted to be left alone. That made sense to me, while still a little sad.
Mostly, I enjoyed the book. It's kind of got a bittersweet affect on me, because of why he did it, probably because of the whole suicide thing in the first place, because I'm unsure how I feel about it. I liked most of it, though.

Review: Forever by Judy Blume

 1.5 of 5 Stars
Publisher: Pocket

Goodreads Synopsis:

"Going all the way" is still a taboo subject in young adult literature. Judy Blume was the first author to write candidly about a sexually active teen, and she's been defending teenagers' rights to read about such subjects ever since. Here, Blume tells a convincing tale of first love--a love that seems strong and true enough to last forever. Katherine loves Michael so much, in fact, that she's willing to lose her virginity to him, and, as the months go by, it gets harder and harder for her to imagine living without him. However, something happens when they are separated for the summer: Katherine begins to have feelings for another guy. What does this mean about her love for Michael? What does this mean about love in general? What does "forever" mean, anyway? As always, Blume writes as if she's never forgotten a moment of what it's like to be a teenager.


I've heard some good things about it, about the author in particular, and was definitely curious after hearing about all the outrage at the 'explicit' sex in it. I find these things intriguing and good in a story, and find it ridiculous and interesting when people get all worked up about it. Plus, I found it for a good deal and decided to give it a go.
To say the least, I was disappointed. I've always been told that I should read her books, and with all the hype about her, I might have been expecting a bit too much. I don't think so, but I was at least looking for a good romance, good writing.
I don't think the book had either. The writing bothered me, especially how she wrote the dialogue. I don't think that it seemed like an actual story. All the book seemed to be about was a girl having sex in her first relationship; a naïve girl with her first love, expecting it to last forever, and what she thought about all of it. Katherine didn't seem to have much of an actual character, just some girl who doesn't know all that much while in her first relationship with a boy and having sex. And she didn't seem like a seventeen year old, maybe more like a fifteen year old. The sex scenes weren't even all that romantic, it seemed very distant and explanatory, not like they were a couple having an intense moment together.
The whole thing read to me like it was just a story to teach girls about sex, and to show what a girls first love is like. I almost want to say it was preachy, but that's not the right word because it wasn't trying to tell you a specific message, just tell you about sex in general, and that relationships don't last 'forever'. Almost text book-like. Even the side stories were about girls having relationships and sex.
It really bothered me that it didn't seem like an actual story about actual people in a relationship, but more like a stereotypical girl in a stereotypical first relationship and having sex for the first time. I am glad that it didn't talk about sex being bad and that you should wait and all that, because I don't think it is and I don't think that everyone should think that it is. And I don't think it's bad that girls get to read about it. That's probably the only part about it that I did like, how the book showed sex, that teenagers have it and enjoyed it but it isn't always amazing.
I might be a little biased about the character because I didn't have much of anything in common with her, and I don't think like she did, but I still don't think she was much of a character.
I don't know, I just don't understand what the hype is about.