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Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review: What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor

Jake Hayes and his family of eight live on a small island off the coast of Washington state, population 5,000. Jake has been in love with the same girl for the last four years, but he's never had the guts to tell her. And when he gets into a car accident after a party involving alcohol, he never will. Not when his vocal cords have been ripped out, and he'll never be able to speak again.

Taylor's novel deals with a very serious subject, one that I wasn't expecting to resound with such depth and poignancy. Jake's loss, all because of a stupid decision to get into a car with his drunk friends, is terrifying. He's lost his ability to speak. He'll never be able to tell a girl he loves her. Of course, this is relatable; almost everyone, I'd think, has regrets about things they didn't say but wish they had. But Jake's pain is all-consuming. His frustration and struggles ring true.

Jake is thoroughly developed as a character. He has a strong voice and, through his trials, his character shows three-dimensionality that makes him incredibly real to the reader. Life as he knows it is, essentially, over. His dream of joining the Airforce? Destroyed. His hobby of flying? Gone. His social life? Over. His difficulties are real. They jump off the page. Samantha, the girl Jake loves, is moderately likeable; well-developed but not in the way that Jake is, which is understandable. When it is revealed that Sam is having some problems of her own, though, that pain is there, too. 

This story, through and through, is a powerful one. 

Keary Taylor definitely achieves what I believe she hoped to--to create a fictional story, a fictional world, that has words of truth. These things happen. There are people like Jake out there. Taylor herself, she reveals in an added author's note, is one of these people. As a high school student, she had gone deaf in one of her ears. Her life changed. She struggled. She overcame. 

Grade: A+

Buy this book . . .


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Book Review: Just Like That by Marsha Qualey

When Hanna breaks up with her boyfriend of almost a year, she knows she’s supposed to feel . . . something. Liberated, maybe? Sad? Instead, there’s only one thing she feels for certain: She’s in for a pretty dull winter. Her job in the swimwear department certainly isn’t very exciting. But in an instant, everything changes. 

Hanna finds herself the bearer of a major secret: She was the last person to see two teenagers before they died in an accident on the icy lake, and she thinks she could have prevented their deaths. She can’t possibly tell her mother or her two best friends. She can’t tell anyone. Even drawing and painting — always her therapy in the past — aren’t the recipe for calm they once were. So when Hanna finds herself drawn to Will, the elusive boy she’s noticed around town, the kind of boy who’d quicken any girl’s pulse, she doesn’t hold back. Anything. What she learns about him will astonish her. But what she learns about herself — her friendships, her family, her life — will affect her far more.


This book is terrific! In spite of the fact that very little happens during the book (it mainly focuses on Hanna's guilt over not warning the two teenagers who die, her and Will's relationship, and her friendship with Maura and Kelsey) I think Qualey did a fabulous job with what little bit of a plot she was working with.

Qualey's development of the main characters was stunning. Hanna is an artist to the core, and Marsha Qualey beautifully wove that aspect of her through the novel. Hanna's character was easy to relate to, and Will was a really awesome guy who  definitely played a major roll in majority of the surprises throughout the book. I think that it was the characters themselves, and how well you grew to know them, that makes the book so good, so difficult to put down. The characters suck you in from the start and don't let you go until the last page! 

Just Like That wonderfully showed how its the smaller things--the things that, at the time, don't seem so big--end up changing your life the most and often end up changing you. With great characters, quite a few plot twists, unbelievable shocks, and an awesome author, Just Like That is the a perfect short read, and a great book to get sucked into. Check it out!

Grade: A


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Movie Tangent: City of Bones (August 21, 2013)

So, I just wanted to say a little something about the fact that the new City of Bones movie comes out in (about) TWO WEEKS!

For those of you who haven't really been following all that jazz, here's the latest trailer:

Now, I'm not sure how I feel about this whole deal. Fact is, I already had the hugest let down of essentially my life when The Host movie finally came out and it was nothing like the books. I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for the same sort of let down (if not possibly a worse let down, considering the fact that, well, I at least liked the acting choices for The Host whereas for this one, what the heck were they thinking?), but it's not really working. I'm still excited for it.

Any comments? Anybody else who's having some slightly jumbled emotions involving the upcoming release?


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes (Little Blue Envelope, #1) by Maureen Johnson

When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.


If you love to travel (or love the idea of traveling, or the mere thought of traveling, or wish you had the money or the time to travel), this here is your book. Even disregarding the plot, and the characters, and the writing, the traveling just drew me in.

That said, everything else about the book is superb as well. The plot was great. Can you imagine if you were in Ginny's situation? I, of course, would be thrilled. Everyone needs some spontaneity in their life, I say. It's the perfect opportunity to see the world: without a camera, without a phone, without the internet. Ginny's aunt is absolutely crazy, others would think. Sending her niece on a wild goose chase? In Europe? Alone? I love it.

Ginny was great. I loved her personality, her voice, her thoughts, her actions. I really feel like I bonded with her. She's awesome. Most of the other characters in the book were very minor throughout the novel; Ginny was, essentially, alone during this entire trip. She grew a lot, and the minor characters helped her do that. For those of you wondering, there wasn't a ton of romance, but, surprisingly, I didn't think it was necessary. The romance simply wasn't needed. The story didn't need a helping hand, so the romance was a happy little extra. 

13 Little Envelopes is a perfect summer read, a perfect oh-my-god-it's-100-degrees-out-and-I-don't-want-to-leave-the-house read, and a great by-the-pool book. Of course, us on the west coast have already been forced back to school, but everyone else: hit up the bookstore and pick this one up! You won't regret it! If you do, feel free to send me some lovely hate mail.
Grade: A+
PS: Don't forget to check out the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope. It rocks.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Book Review: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?*


When Seraphina wakes up at the site of a plane crash with absolutely no memories, you feel just as confused as she is. What's happening? What's going to happen? Who? What? Where? It's almost overwhelming. 

The mystery of Seraphina pulls you in on the very first page, immediately and suddenly dragging you along into the puzzling case of Seraphina's lost memories. Each page comes with a gasp, a shock, a realization. I discovered things just as Seraphina did, a rare occurrence that always manages to catch me off guard; after all, who likes to be able to guess the end of a book? Zen and Seraphina have a lot of romantic chemistry, but I wish that not all of the romance had happened before the novel began. It left me hungry for more, but also feeling somewhat jipped. Other than that, I have no misgivings with Brody's masterpiece. I can't wait for the next novel in the series! 

The suspense and romance keep the novel going, the heroine keeps the reader cheering, and the pages just won't stop turning. Plot twists and revelations carry Unremembered through to it's mind-blowing end. A must read. 

Grade: A+

*Summary from


Monday, July 1, 2013

Book Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

The Beginning of After follows sixteen year old Laurel through the twists and turns her life takes after the sudden death of her parents and younger brother. There's not much else to say in regards to plot; it was a bit slow (it took me a lot of sittings to actually get through it, and I took a few day-long breaks) and didn't really hold my attention.

Character development was ultimately successful, in that I felt as if I understood Laurel by the time that I reached the last page, but her lack of close bonds with many other characters made it difficult to really bond, so to say, with the people surrounding her. The writing was insightful at best, and falsely teenager-like at worst, but I did enjoy the overall tone of the novel.

My greatest misgivings with Castle's novel is possibly that it just wasn't the sort of novel that I was looking to read at the time that I picked it up; those of you who, like me, read all sorts of YA fiction, must also struggle with the transition of going from relatively interesting, otherworldly novels to very realistic, ordinary tales of woe.

All in all, a good novel for readers of realistic fiction, but not the biggest attention-grabber.

Grade: C+


Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: Of Poseidon (Of Poseidon, #1) by Anna Banks

Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom . . . *


While perhaps not the most well-explained mermaid world in existence, Banks's Syrena in Of Poseidon most definitely had me hooked! Every once in a while, the avid reader may have a craving for something in particular, be it vampires, fairies, mundane high school life, or, be it as it may, mermaids. In this case, Of Poseidon surely satisfied my hunger. 

The novel is told through both  Galen's and Emma's perspectives, although I for some reason did feel as if Galen was much more understandable at times than Emma was, or maybe I just didn't relate as much with Emma.The romance wasn't steamy, but it was sweet and certainly a tad "forbidden," which always makes for an enjoyable read. 

The writing was enjoyable, although I did sometimes struggle with what I've deemed to be "false teen syndrome," which can either be defined as the middle aged mother you see at the mall wearing short shorts and a Justin Beiber t-shirt, or as the author who isn't exactly sure what the thoughts of a teen in the twenty-first century should be like. This syndrome, thank goodness, only makes itself known sporatically throughout the novel, which leaves me feeling slightly less frustrated about it. Overall, aside from a few lapses into OMG-land, I had a pleasant time with Banks's nicely written novel. 

I would most certainly recommend it. 

Grade: A-

*Summary from


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1) by Kami Garcia

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.*


So I understand that I am a tad behind the times when it comes to this novel; Beautiful Creatures has been out on the scene since 2009 and it's on-screen counterpart (also entitled Beautiful Creatures) was in theaters months ago. I figured I'd give it a shot, mostly because my younger sister has been asking me to, but partly because I'd like to rent the movie. 

Anyway, let's cut to the chase: I couldn't even finish it. 

I know, I know. That's incredibly rare. It's likely I'll try and pick it up again sometime in the future and try to prove myself wrong, but I just do not like anything about this book. 

I feel terrible about bad reviews, but I also feel somewhat obligated to share my thoughts; I'm sure there are others out there who would not agree with even the 3.78 star average that Goodreads boasts for this novel. 

I don't have much to say (I got merely halfway through) other than the fact that I genuinely did not like it. Maybe it was a bit too childish, but the main character is only a year or two younger than me so I doubt that's the reason. 

I'll update this review if I decide to go back to it, but in response to all of the negative reviews for this novel: I feel your pain. In response to positive reviews: I'm glad you liked it, and maybe I'll give it another chance, but just not quite yet (at 563 pages, it's a long one to suffer through). To anybody thinking about reading it: You may as well try it out, but there's probably a 50/50 chance that you'll either love it or find that it's not quite your cup of tea. 

Grade: I**

*Summary from
**Check the about page for updated grading system


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Article 5 (Article 5, #1) by Kristen Simmons

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.


Can you say impressive? I was incredibly blown away by this novel, more than I would have expected. Sure, the summary sounds interesting. Sure, the cover looks cool. But with the current dystopian trend just building and building, I wasn't exactly sure what I was getting. Certainly not something that would rival my beloved Wither or even The Hunger Games.  

It has a considerable amount of action, more than other dystopians that I've read--although not as much as The Hunger Games--and it definitely manages to keep you on the edge of your seat. The romance is the kind that is so frustrating, the tension between the two so apparent to everyone but them, that I swear I'd chewed off my nails by the time I read the last page. 

Ember and Chase are as developed as two characters can get, and Ember's voice is strong. She's a great heroine and pretty kick butt, admirably so. Writing was exceptional, and the futuristic world was constructed in a way that was startlingly believable. The plot was so outstanding I wouldn't even know how to explain it, so the best I can do is give you a shove in the right direction--go read this novel!

Grade: A++++++



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