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My Contests

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Review: Crossed by Allie Condie

Title: Crossed

Author: Allie Condie

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? Those who can find beauty and action in the subtle, who can find dialogue to be fast-paced, who enjoy beautifully written, great stories that take their time. If you're looking for non-stop action, this book probably isn't for you. If you're a reader like me, totally check it out.

What I Have to Say:
I read Matched a VERY long time ago, and I ADORED it. I adored Crossed (almost) just as much. Crossed was AMAZING! Seriously, I loved it! I sometimes have trouble with books (and movies, for that matter) that are too action-packed. I get bored with the action, feeling like there's just never enough substance. Crossed, while being a YA romantic action adventure story, definitely has its fair share of action. It's fast-paced and non-stop. But, it's chock full of dialogue and thought and substance. To the point where I could understand if there were maybe some who found it slow.

Th world Condie has created is absolutely terrifying but totally believable. What really struck home for me is that, despite being totally horrified by what was happening, by the actions of the government, I could totally see how something like that would work, for population control, to save the human race from our impending doom. It's refreshing, though, the characters that Condie has created. Cassia and Ky are like a breath of fresh air in this crazy world, seeing through the government, finding beauty and peace in the smallest of things, finding love in places they would never have thought to look.

I thought that Crossed was beautifully written, with poise and grace and poetry in all the right places. The story is heart-warming and frightening, and the characters are lovely. The ONLY problem I had with this book was the double perspective. It was written alternating between Ky's perspective and Cassia's perspective, and I don't feel like Condie really did a great job differentiating between their perspectives.

Final verdit - while I can see why this book might not appeal to those needing constant stimulation, I absolutely adored it, and I can't wait to read Reached, the final book in the trilogy!

Summary: In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake. Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

Cover Story: Beautiful! I love the blue cover and the girl trying to escape the ball that is her world. It's perfect!

Review: Bloom by Kelle Hampton

Title: Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected

Author: Kelle Hampton

Rating:1/2

Who Should Read It? I kind of think this book has a really limited audience. If you're into emotional memoirs or interested in Down's Syndrome, I'd say check this book out. Or if you just like looking at really pretty pictures.

What I Have to Say: Bloom was an incredibly touching memoir of love reached through struggle, of coming to understand love and putting aside prejudices and preconceived notions. It was beautiful, and the pictures to go along with it were more than gorgeous. Plus, I really enjoyed the reading of it. As such, I really wish that I could give this book a higher rating, but. . .I just feel like I can't.

When Kelle Hampton gives birth to a beautiful baby with Down's Syndrome, she is shocked. More than/Worse than shock, though, she is HORRIFIED. Not horrified for the baby and for the life that this PERSON will have to lead in the face of prejudiced onlookers, but horrified for herself, horrified for what other people will think. It takes her a little while to come around to feeling horrified for the child. And even though, throughout the book, she keeps moving back and forth between feeling sorry for the child and feeling sorry for herself, I actually breathed a sigh of relief. Regardless of whether or not she was doing it for the child (or, no doubt subconsciously, doing it for image), she was going to be taking care of this child, creating a secure, loving environment in which this child could grow and be nurtured.

I have no children, and I have no clue how I would react if I ever unexpectedly had a child with Down's Syndrome, but. . .I just hope I wouldn't react like Kelle did. I hope that I would immediately love the child, that I wouldn't spend months, years, going back and forth about whether or not this child was a burden for me or whether or not this child was going to be a burden for my other child. I know we're all selfish, and I appreciate everything Kelle went through and just how HARD this must have been for her. But still, I sometimes just found her so selfish and image-obsessed that I couldn't relate, that I hated her a little.

I think it was amazing and beautiful that she was able to get all of her feelings out there; that she was brave enough to chronicle what she was feeling for the world, even knowing that sometimes she was feeling things she probably shouldn't be feeling. She is a brave, beautiful, and courageous woman, and, on the one hand, I look up at her in awe. I know how hard it is to keep staying positive, keep moving forward when everything around you makes you just want to stop. She kept her head up and kept looking for positive, and for that, I loved her and I loved this book. On the other hand, there were so many things that she thought and felt that I just wish she hadn't thought and hadn't felt.

The thing that, more than anything, got me about this book was that I felt like she never truly CHANGED. I didn't get the feeling in the end that she had gotten over image and learned to love her daughter. I got the feeling that she had learned to accept her, and that for the sake of image she would do what she could to raise her. But I still feel like there was a large part of her that was confused and horrified. Anyhow, I'm just glad the child will have a loving environment in which to grow up.

Summary:There is us. Our Family. We will hold our precious gift and know that we are lucky . . . From the outside looking in, Kelle Hampton had the perfect life: a beautiful two-year-old daughter, a loving husband, and a thriving photography career. When she learned she was pregnant with their second child, they were ecstatic. But when their new daughter was placed in her arms in the delivery room, Kelle knew instantly that something was wrong. Nella looked different than her sister, Lainey, had at birth. As her friends and family celebrated, a terrified Kelle was certain that Nella had Down syndrome—a fear her pediatrician soon confirmed. Yet gradually Kelle embraced the realization that she had been chosen to experience an extraordinary and special gift. With lyrical prose and gorgeous photography, Bloom takes readers on a wondrous journey through Nella's first year of life—a gripping, hilarious, and intensely poignant trip of transformation in which a mother learns that perfection comes in all different shapes.

Cover Story: I actually initially wanted to read this book because I thought the cover was so beautiful.

Note: I received this book for review via Shelf Awareness in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Silver Dream by Michael Reaves and Mallory Reaves

Title: The Silver Dream: An Interworld Novel

Author: Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves, and Mallory Reaves

Rating:

Who Should Read It?you definitely can't read the Silver Dream without having first read Interworld, but if you're into sci-fi/fantasy action youthful excitement, check this series out!

What I Have to Say:
Joey Harker is back, and he's just as brave, courageous, and troublesome as ever. Just like with Interworld, in the Silver Dream be ready for an adventure full of magic, logic, technology, and mind-blowing time-bending, and it is the absolute perfect follow-up. Interworld got a bit clunky and wordy at times, which led to it occasionally being somewhat boring. The Silver Dream did no such thing; it started off with a running jump, with the introduction of the mysterious and super-cool Acacia, and continuing soaring right up until the very end.

My favorite part of the Silver Dream was that we got to know some of the other "Joeys" a bit better. None of them were nearly as well developed as THE Joey (perhaps one of the problems with this book; the only character who seems to go through any character development at all is Joey Harker, the main character), but it was fun getting to know them and better understanding how they interact with each other and how they live on Interworld itself.

I really love the idea of the Interworld series in general. Versions of the same person from all the parallel universes (there seems to be an endless number of them) are able to "walk" through the universes, and, as such, they have all come together to protect the "ultraverse" from the bad guys (HEX and Binary, super cool bad guys). I genuinely can't imagine what it would be like to meet the "me" from different parallel universes, and I love reading about how they react to each other, what they think about each other, and, more than anything, the WAY the think about each other.

The Reaves/Reaves team does a great job of keeping this story fast-paced and interesting, action-packed but with enough back story and intrigue to keep even those not so into action interested. I've read a lot of reviews saying that Interworld #1 was better than this, but (and Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, so I almost feel bad saying this), I liked the Silver Dream better. I felt like it flowed better, like things were better explained. And, what was most important to me, like Joey was finally coming to understand WHY he was different than the others, which in the first book, as a topic, was totally ignored.

Anyhow, you definitely can't read the Silver Dream without having first read Interworld, but if you're into sci-fi/fantasy action youthful excitement, check this serious out! It was left on a severe cliff-hanger, so I just hope that I haven't forgotten to keep caring by the time the next book comes out!

Summary:Sixteen-year-old Joey Harker has just saved the Altiverse—the dimension that contains all the myriad Earths—from complete destruction. After mastering the ability to walk between dimensions, Joey and his fellow InterWorld Freedom Fighters are on a mission to maintain peace between the rival powers of magic and science who seek to control all worlds. When a stranger named Acacia somehow follows Joey back to InterWorld’s Base, things get complicated. No one knows who she is or where she’s from—or how she knows so much about InterWorld. Dangerous times lie ahead, and Joey has no one to rely on but himself and his wits—and, just maybe, the mysterious Acacia Jones. Full of riveting interdimensional battles, epic journeys between worlds, and twists and turns along the way, this sequel to the New York Times bestselling InterWorld is a thrilling, mind-bending adventure through time and space.

Cover Story: Is that Interworld they're staring at or Interworld they're standing on? Whatever the case, it's beautiful, and just looking at it left me totally intrigued.

Note: An e-copy of this book was received by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

Review: Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Title: Insatiable

Author: Meg Cabot

Rating:

Who Should Read It? People willing to put away their serious for a minute and read Meg Cabot doing a romantic comedy esque social commentary on vampires. I can see it not being for everyone, but I thought it was fabulous!

What I Have to Say:
It's really hard for me to review Meg Cabot books for many reasons. First, because I just love her, and in my mind, she can do no wrong. So, even if she does do wrong (which, I'll admit, she maybe did a little bit in this one), I just don't notice, or at least don't want to admit it. Second, because I just want to gush and squeal and say the same thing about EVERY SINGLE ONE of her books.

And that same thing is - Meg Cabot has done it again!

While Insatiable in no way takes a fresh, new, or exciting look at vampires, it did manage to be adorable and make me forget that, ultimately, I am SO OVER vampires (though with the books I've been reviewing lately, you might not know it). Cabot herself seems to know that there is WAY TOO MUCH vampire out there lately, and through snarky, sees-when-people-are-going-to-die Meena, her can't-seem-to-get-it-together brother John, and the ever so hot Lucien Antonescu, she actually seems to be making fun of the fact that she caved and wrote a vampire book.

All of her characters are fun and quirky and lovable, with slight personality disorders, which just makes them even more lovable. the romance is sickening and sappy while at the same time making fun of sickening and sappy. The plot is completely over the top, but researched in such a way that you're like "Oh yeah," and you suddenly find yourself believing in vampires and dragons and crazy when none of the other vampire books you've read ever made you feel that way. And then you laugh at yourself because you fell for the extreme.

This book is a hilarious social commentary on the vampire craze, and it should be read as such. It's not trying to be serious, but it does seriously kick butt.

Summary:Sick of vampires? So is Meena Harper. But her boss is making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn’t believe in them. Not that Meena isn’t familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you’re going to die (not that you’re going to believe her; no one ever does). But not even Meena’s precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side . . . a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire-hunters, would prefer to see him dead for. The problem is, he already is dead. Maybe that’s why he’s the first guy Meena’s ever met that she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena’s always been able to see everyone else’s future, she’s never been able look into her own. And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare. Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future . . . If she even has one.

Cover Story:I just noticed the tattoo. I'm SUPER tired of YA books where the cover girl is missing her head. I wonder if this, too, is supposed to be some kind of social commentary.

Review: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Title: Along for the Ride

Author: Sarah Dessen

Rating:
1/2
Who Should Read It?Sarah Dessen mold: teenage girl with family problems (and thus problems of her own) falls in love with boy off the beaten track and must overcome obstacles to make the romance happen. Sound interesting? Then this book is for you.


What I Have to Say:
As is often the case for Sarah Dessen, this book was absolutely ADORABLE! Heart-wrenching, cutesy, deeply intense, adorable. Dessen has this way of reaching into the reader's heart and finding the teenage girl within, and Along for the Ride is no exception to this. While Auden's teenage-girl situation is quite a bit different than mine was, I found myself transported back to the dramas

I loved Auden, with her intelligence that was limited only to books. I loved how selfish and self-centered she was without even seeming to notice. I loved how much she grew throughout the book and, ultimately, began to turn into someone I might actually like. Turned from someone I could have related to as a teenager to starting to be someone I could relate to now (for the record, I would have MEGA trouble relating to my teenage self). I loved Eli I loved Maggie and Leah and Ester and Adam. Even the secondary characters were given enough depth, enough personality to make them interesting. I love the life-lessons that Auden manages to learn, which to me today seem totally obvious, but which were definitely much less obvious to my teenage self. For me Dessen is a master of creating wonderful, believable teenagers, and, in Along for the Ride, she has not failed.

I also love the way the story progresses. Dessen has taken an extremely rare situation and turned it into something that can be FELT by everyone. Somehow, in Along for the Ride, I felt like the plot didn't move along smoothly or have shocking, unexpected happenings, I felt like the plot actually grew. And the growth of the plot was more than appropriate, as the theme of Along for the Ride seems to be "growth." Growth through friendship, growth through romance, growth through family, growth through new experiences, growth through growth.

Along for the Ride had me laughing and in tears all at the same time, and for totally different reasons than I would have expected when I started reading. I felt like I myself maybe grew a little bit through the reading. It's a fabulous book with a fabulous story, and I highly recommend it. It's a great vacation read (I read it lying by the pool in Turks and Caicos), but I think it's also the perfect read for a cold winter night by the fire, dreaming of summer. Definitely check this book out!

Summary:It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live. A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend. In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

Cover Story: Tooooootally off. Not into it at all!

Review: the Dark Heroine: Dinner With A Vampire by Abigail Gibbs

Title: the Dark Heroine: Dinner With a Vampire

Author: Abigail Gibbs

Rating:

Who Should Read It? I honestly wouldn't recommend it to anyone, and I'd even advise people against it, as it is awful. But I know there are a LOT of fans of this book out there, so I recommend reading my review then reading a couple other more positive reviews and making the choice for yourself.

What I Have to Say:
Let me start off with a quick one sentence review: This book was awful.

It is VERY rare that I read a book that is part of a series (or a trilogy or that just has a sequel) and, at the end, decide that there is NO POSSIBLE way I will read the next book in the series. Usually, no matter how much I dislike a book, there's always at least that SMALL possibility that, somewhere along the line, I'll end up reading the next one.

the Dark Heroine: Dinner With a Vampire, is an exception to that. I have NO desire to read the next one, and I will remember this book forever just so that I remember not to read it. That sounds harsh, and I know it is, but this book lacks every quality ever known to a good book.

First, I felt like Gibbs is still trying to figure out her writing style. Some parts were so long and overly drawn out that they nearly put me to sleep while other parts were so extremely compact and filled with pointless action that I wished they were putting me to sleep, just to get it over with. Her characters, while trying to be full of spunk and umpf, were completely lackluster. When they did, occasionally, do things to make them stand out, it was mostly to make me sincerely dislike them. Violet, the main character, is annoying, petty, and delusional (She thinks that only vampires do bad things, never humans. Um, seriously? Everything about her screams annoying, snotty, bratty spoiled rich kid), and yet we are SUPPOSED to like her. Oh, AND she's vegetarian. Which normally, being a vegan, I would think was awesome. But I wish she weren't, because she gives a terrible name to vegetarians everywhere, and the fact that she is doesn't become nearly as much a part of the book as it should.

And then there's the fact that the love interest regularly tries to rape the main character, and this is written about as if it's totally okay. And she falls in love with him for it. I feel like there are ways to treat falling in love with your rapist, and this is TOTALLY NOT IT! (Yet somehow, when someone ELSE tries to rape her and drink her blood, he deserves to die. Yeah,. . .)

Lastly (though not really, just lastly for this review), there's the plot, which was supremely awful and awfully developed. I kind of got the feeling that she herself didn't know what the plot was going to be until somewhere around the last chapter of the book. Which means there was no buildup to it, because the author herself didn't even seem to know where she's going. And when finally the plot reveals itself, it's in such an underwhelming way that you expect that there has to be something more. There never is. It's undeveloped, boring, and full of holes.

Seriously, don't ask me how I managed to finish this book. I really don't know. I feel like screaming DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME!!!!

Summary: A chance encounter on a darkened street draws Violet Lee into a world beyond her wildest imaginings - a timeless place of vast elegance and immeasurable wealth, of beautiful mansions and lavish parties, where a decadent group of friends lives for pleasure alone. A place from which there is no escape... no matter how hard Violet tries.

All the riches in the world can't mask the darkness that lies beneath the gilded surface, embodied in the charismatic but dangerous Kaspar Varn.

Violet and Kaspar surrender to a passion that transcends their separate worlds - but it's a passion that comes at a price


Cover Story: I WISH the cover were less cool, then maybe I wouldn't have ready it.

Note: I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Review: the Registry by Shannon Stoker

Title: The Registry

Author: Shannon Stoker

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? Like chick lit? Into dystopian fiction? Ever thought you might want a mix of both? Then this book is DEFINITELY for you!

What I Have to Say:
The Registry is a cute story about a dystopian future in the United States. To call it cute is perhaps somewhat weird, as it takes place in a future where women are groomed uniquely to be married, then sold off to their husbands, who are allowed to do with them what they please, via a registry; where boys are given to the government as soon as they're born, then thrown out, with nothing, when they're teenagers, to try to survive a heartless world until their military service. So cute? It doesn't really sound appropriate, and yet, that's what it felt like to me. Because of Mia. A completely innocent, somewhat refreshing girl who spent her entire life dreaming of marriage, until. . .

Mia, just like nearly every other girl, was groomed to be a "perfect fit" for any husband - brainless and entirely concerned with her looks, makeup, fashion. The story is told from her point of view, and so even though it takes place in a dystopian future, and even if their are quite a few deep political undertones, everything just seems innocent and simplistic. At first, this is great, but I would have liked her, along with the other characters, to develop a little bit more as the story develops. She doesn't, and neither does Andrew, her love interest. As such, it becomes hard to believe why she thinks some of the things she supposedly thinks, why they do some of the things they supposedly do.

As characters, though, they were far-more developed than any of the others, who remained somewhat 2-dimensional (or even 1-dimensionl) throughout. While this was frustrating, it was also, in a weird way, refreshing. For one thing because it made it very clear that it doesn't take a genius to see that change needs to happen, but also because it made a somewhat intense story seem somewhat fluffy while still managing to hold tight to the message.

Overall, I liked it. It was fluffy but intense, deeply political yet innocent. Even though it takes place in the future in the United States, I sort-of felt like I was reading about North Korea, and it seems more likely that something like this story happen there than here. Though I'm not sure the author meant for it to, reading it I felt the need to become more aware of the plight of North Koreans. It was a whirlwind of excitement and action. And while there were definitely some negatives about this book, I definitely enjoyed it. And I'm definitely looking forward to the next one to come!

Summary:The Registry saved the country from collapse. But stability has come at a price. In this patriotic new America, girls are raised to be brides, sold at auction to the highest bidder. Boys are raised to be soldiers, trained by the state to fight to their death.

Nearly eighteen, beautiful Mia Morrissey excitedly awaits the beginning of her auction year. But a warning from her married older sister raises dangerous thoughts. Now, instead of going up on the block, Mia is going to escape to Mexico—and the promise of freedom.

All Mia wants is to control her own destiny—a brave and daring choice that will transform her into an enemy of the state, pursued by powerful government agents, ruthless bounty hunters, and a cunning man determined to own her . . . a man who will stop at nothing to get her back.


Cover Story: I'm going to be honest - I don't get it. That's all.

Note: I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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