Thursday, April 26, 2012

There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: October 4, 2011
Pages: 307
Rating: 5/5
Finley Sinclair is not your typical eighteen-year-old. She's witty, tough, and driven. With an upcoming interview at the Manhattan music conservatory, Finley needs to compose her audition piece. But her creativity disappeared with the death of her older brother, Will.
She decides to study abroad in Ireland so she can follow Will's travel journal. It's the place he felt closest to God, and she's hopeful being there will help her make peace over losing him. So she agrees to an exchange program and boards the plane.
Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy, is flying to Ireland to finish filming his latest vampire movie. On the flight, he meets Finley. She's the one girl who seems immune to his charm. Undeterred, Beckett convinces her to be his assistant in exchange for his help as a tour guide.
Once in Ireland, Finley starts to break down. The loss of her brother and the pressure of school, her audition, and whatever it is that is happening between her and Beckett, leads her to a new and dangerous vice. When is God going to show up for her in this emerald paradise?
Then she experiences something that radically changes her perspective on life. Could it be God convincing her that everything she's been looking for has been with her all along? [Book Description from Amazon]
Finley has been through more than the average teen’s troubles. While other girls her age are worrying about acne, fashion, and boys, Finley just wants her brother back. Or at least to forget him, to let go of his tragic death. While on her way to Ireland to spend some time on the island her brother fell in love with, she meets none other than the world famous hottie, Beckett Rush. Starring in a new vampire movie shot in Ireland, Beckett is all but ready for Finley’s reaction to him- or his reputation. As tension soars and pressure is increased, Finley must not only find peace with her brother’s death but with herself and God.
            This book had me hooked the minute I cracked it open. Jones weaves a sweet, touching tale of how a girl’s perspective of life is changed through the people she meets and the circumstances God puts her in. It had me laughing (out loud, at the kitchen table, no less, while my family munched silently and starred) and crying. Through Jones’s talented writing, I felt the awe that Finley felt as she experienced all the beauty of Ireland. I absolutely love books that give the reader a taste of another culture, and this one took me there. To Ireland. To the cool sea mist. To the rolling green hills. To the quiet quaintness of Abbeyglen.
            I’ve thought a lot about writing a book of my own like this one, with this same theme. The whole commoner-meets-hot-movie-star-and-the-two-fall-in-love theme has always fascinated me, but I know I couldn’t have pulled it off as well as Jones did. Carelessly, this type of theme could utterly ruin a book, but Jones did a marvelous job of not making it seem ridiculous in the least. Beckett’s movie role was laughable- I mean, fangs + ruffle shirts + castles in Ireland just makes for a laughing fit, if you ask me (apparently the author is a fan of Twilight, so I will restrain from making a rude comment about that particular movie in this review, but do note that I am snickering as I write this). Jones infused her touching story with just the right amount of humor, and the romance was fantastic. I could have gone for a little more (oh my word, Beckett’s going on my “fictional love interests” list) but it might have been too distracting from the true point of Finley’s story.
            *sniffle* Yes, I cried at the end. Not because it’s sad, but because it’s just so beautiful. I closed the book wishing for a sequel, but sometimes one is just enough. Too much of something good can ruin the goodness, if you know what I mean. I have, though, bought nearly all of Jones’s other books from Barnes and Noble, because this book convinced me that she’s an incredible author and I want more, to be honest. In summary, I will be reading this one again sometime. Go check it out. It will inspire, refresh, and entertain you until the very last page.
Quick Content Review: *Clean Read!*
Language: None
Violence: None (Finley’s brother was killed in a terrorist attack, but no details)
Sexual: None (a kiss or two between Finley and Beckett)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Perfectly Dateless by Kristin Billerbeck

Published: July 1, 2012
Publisher: Revell
Pages: 259
Rating: 3/5
Daisy Crispin has 196 days to find the right date for the prom. There's only one problem--her parents won't let her date or even talk to a guy on the phone. Oh, and she's totally invisible at school, has to wear lame homemade clothes, and has no social skills. Okay, so maybe there's more than one problem. Can she talk her parents into letting her go to the prom? Or will they succeed at their obvious attempt to completely ruin her life?

With hilarious and truthful writing, Kristin Billerbeck uncovers the small--and large--mortifications that teen girls encounter. Readers will fall in love with Daisy's sharp wit and resourcefulness as she navigates the world of boys, fashion, family, and friendship.
Daisy Crispin is an absolute perfectionist. But her life is anything but perfect- in her eyes, at least. Her parents, who, for a living, dress up in costumes and sing at parties (and her school…yeah, awkward), are conservative to the max. Translation: homemade clothes, no cable, no phone, and no car (for Daisy, that is). On top of it all, Daisy is perfectly dateless, and with prom coming up, that is the one thing Daisy doesn’t want to be. So to help get herself a date, Daisy starts a “prom journal,” chock full of her progress in nabbing a guy to stand with her for that coveted prom picture that will prove she wasn’t a nothing in high school.
I’m not sure I really have an opinion of this book. When I finished it, I wasn’t thrilled nor was I disappointed. I guess I thought it was just…cute. It’s just a cute story of Daisy Crispin, who’s disillusioned about the importance of high school, prom, and popularity. Daisy and her friends act like they need to be noticed; they even say themselves that they don’t want to miss their opportunity to shine. Being seniors, they want to “go out with a bang.” But after a certain party (I won’t give any more details- don’t want to spoil it), Daisy begins to see the important things in life- and those things don’t necessarily include prom.
            All in all, this was a good read; it just didn’t blow me away. I did love the humor and the girl-chasing-boy theme. I have to say, I personally know people like Daisy’s parents, and the similarity cracked me up the whole time I was reading Perfectly Dateless. Some parts, though, just seemed either unrealistic (I think Daisy’s life was pretty great, compared to what it could have been like) or too young (the whole prom journal thing seemed kind of middle school). It’s not bad at all, but it’s just not great. I’m only semi- enthusiastic about getting my hands on the sequel, Perfectly Invisible.
Quick Content Review:
Language: None
Violence: None- Minor (Mention of someone getting three degree burns from a house fire)
Sexual: Minor (Mention of a boy trying to get a date rape drug)

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Published: November 15, 2011
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages: 338
Rating: 4/5
In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom…. [Book Description from Amazon]
My review:
I read a quote by Carrie Ryan, a New York Times bestselling author, off the back cover of The Pledge before I started reading: “Derting's remarkably original and deliciously romantic dystopian, The Pledge, unfolds at a breakneck pace. I held my breath until the very last page and am already desperate for more!
Deliciously romantic dystopian. I was hooked even before I opened the book. I mean, I freakin’ live for these types of books.
And yes, if you’re curious, it did indeed deliver. J
The Pledge had a medieval feel to it. The whole evil queen + poor, oppressed citizens gave the book a…historical feel, so to speak. But the nightclubs and the magical powers that Charlie possesses offsets the historical feel with a modern, dystopian tone. It’s a lovely read. I really can’t say I hated anything about it. The plot was well-woven and the action was just right. And the romance…it was quite delicious, as Carrie Ryan put it. Oh goodness…if only the words “dystopian” and “romance” could always be in the same sentence! But alas, instances of finding them together are few and far between. Such is the cold, hard sadness of this world. *cough* But I digress.
One more point, and my personal favorite, as you all know (drumroll, please): The cover! Oh my word, it’s pure gorgeousness. My mom, who very willingly voiced her opinion about it, stated that she thought it was “creepy- looking.” It makes the book look creepier than it really is, to be honest. But still. *in love*
So, to sum it up, for anyone who loves dystopians, or for anyone who loves romance, or for anyone who loves neither, go out and read The Pledge, because I promise you, you’ll love it!
Quick Content Review:
Language: Mild (not too, too heavy- just here and there)
Violence: Mild- Moderate (a fight or two- nothing too bloody. Some torture- not described. Mention of a hanging.)
Sexual: Moderate (Mention of a girl and two guys kissing in a club…yeah, I know, it’s sick, so just skip it if it bothers you. Also, kissing between Max and Charlie, and at the end, mention of them in bed. No mention of whether they’re married or how old they are.)
Looking forward to the next book in this trilogy, The Essence, out January 2013!

Possession by Elana Johnson

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: June 7, 2011
Pages: 416
Rating: 3 stars
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play. [Book description from Amazon]
~My review~
I had mixed feelings about Possession. Don’t get me wrong- it was good, but it just wasn’t *great.* There were parts when I was like, “Oh yeah, baby! This is fantabulous!” and then there were those times when I was like, “Meh. That could have been left out or changed.” In other words, the way I feel about this book is kind of like Jag: bi-polar.
That’s another story: what was with Jag? One minute he was all hot and dark and sexy, and the next he’s crying on the floor. Anyways. I don’t want to give too much away, but Jag’s character just kind of confused me and frustrated me at the same time. I mean, is he a hot rebel or is he a weanie? One or the other, please.
But what am I doing all this complaining for?! Possession really was a good read. It reminded me a lot of Matched by Ally Condie as well as Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, which is one of my recent favorites (Perry!! Eeee!). The ending was unexpected, and the action in between was fantastic. The romance was worthy of 5 stars (that is, when Jag wasn’t crying his eyes out on Vi’s shoulder) and not to be shallow, but the cover is gorgeous. All white and glittery with the butterfly trapped in a single ice cube. Very symbolic and beautiful at the same time. *nod nod* Though the storyline has it’s pathetic moments (the author didn’t have me completely convinced at some points) and my interest seemed to rollercoaster from beginning to end, it wasn’t considerably all that bad. In fact, it was pretty good. Some minor qualms, but compared to some young adult books out there nowadays *coughTwilightcough* Possession is a keeper.
Quick Content Review:
Language: Mild- Heavy (not too bad, but Vi does have a mouth on her)
Violence: Minor- Mild (not anything too bad that sticks out, as far as I can remember)
Sexual: Minor (A kiss or two; Vi and Jag are put in the same prison cell for a few days, but nothing happens)
Can't wait for the sequel, Surrender! Again, a gorgeous cover for this one as well.