April 17, 2014

Speed Date: Backward Compatible by Sarah Daltry and Pete Clark

The Plot (courtesy of GoodReads):
Not too long ago, in a town that, depending on your current location, is either not super far or actually quite close... (insert Star Wars theme music here...)
It is a time of chaotic hormones.

Two nerdy gents home for winter break have discovered a female gamer at a midnight release.

During the break, the gamer trio manages to reveal the game's secret boss, a hidden enemy with enough power to destroy anything in its path.

Pursued by other gamers who want to be the first to beat this boss, George and Katie race to level up, and, in so doing, restore decency and sexual activity to their personal galaxy..

First Date: All right! Midnight release for a game! George and Lanyon meet Katie... and they clash (George has the last copy of the game he and Katie were there to buy). Lanyon is clearly going to be the coming relief, I can tell but I don't mind. 

Second Date: That was the funniest and most awkward 'first date', Katie and George are two crazy kids but my kind of crazy for the most part. I don't like Jeff! Also, Katie, sweetheart, just because Jeff paid for your movie ticket and dinner, does not mean you have to let him slobber all over you and dry hump you at Denny's. Seriously! Plus, what are you doing going on a date with him?

Third Date: Oh, more references to gaming, less Jeff and more of Katie + George, their date-date was actually really sweet. Lanyon, you're creepy (you like to tag-along in other people's dates) but I like you, keep on being weird. 

Relationship Status: I shall play this game again.

I don't suspect Backward Compatible will be for everybody, it's heavy on the gaming references and 'geek culture', everyone has a mouth that would put a trucker to shame and part of me always felt like I should be ofended but never did because I was laughing too hard. 

Definitely a romance a little outside the norm, but a very entertaining one, I liked it a lot and, like I said, it made me laugh so much. And it had it's moments when it was actually very sweet, and I liked everyone in the book, really, except for Jeff. 
starstarstar1/2
Alex

April 16, 2014

Book Review: The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy

At First Sight: Several weeks after the end of their last adventure, the Legue of Princes finds itself in deep trouble once more. There is a rumor running amok all the 13 kingdoms: that Briar Rose is dead and that the Princes Charming and their friends are responsible for it. Soon, Liam, Duncan, Frederick, Gustav, Ella, Lila, Snow and Rapunzel are the prime suspects. More over, there is a huge bounty on their heads and they are being hunted down by various bounty hunters.

After various circumstances that bring them together and then split them off, we follow the boys and the girls, as they try to clear their names, going about it in very different ways.

But soon, both groups stumble into a bigger, darker plot. 

Second Glance: Yes, I'm being vague again, but I just can't tell you what Hero's Guide To Being an Outlaw is all about without spoiling it big time, so I won't.

I always enjoy reading another adventure of the League of Princes and Outlaw was no exception, I love the gang - and I really liked seeing characters like Snow and Rapunzel having more page time and more time in their adventures, I like them both a lot. Also, Lila, I love Lila and her dynamic with Ruffian the Blue, if there was a moment when I got really emotional in this book (or two) it involved them.

On the other hand, there was a character I wished had a lot more page time because she's fun when she's around, but it didn't happen. Also, I have to say that by now, Liam is my least liked character of the bunch, I really liked Gustav in this one (he grew up a lot), and Duncan and Frederick have always been favorites, but Liam just... he didn't improve the more I got to know him, let's say.

Bottom Line: Hero's Guide To Being an Outlaw was a fun read, and it had its moments of pure awesome, but there were certain things that I didn't like as much as I had in previous installments. I still love the characters, and highly recommend the series, though. Book comes out on April 29th 
starstarstarstar
Alex

April 10, 2014

Book Review: Then and Always by Dani Atkins

At First Sight: Rachel Wiltshire has a great boyfriend, a place at a good university, great friends and a bright future. Until the night she and her group go out to celebrate their going away to college at the end of summer and a tragic accident leaves her life in pieces.

Years later, she returns to her hometown for her best friend's wedding and she's a completely different person, scarred both physically and mentally because of that accident and the things it took away from her.

Until tragedy strikes again, and she wakes up in a whole new-world, unsure which one is reality and which one is just a dream. 

Second Glance: I know it sounds like I gave away something of the plot of Then and Always but I actually kind of didn't, and I don't really have much to say about it other than it generated in me the same response as The Black Swan when I saw it: a big fat "That's it?"

I won't go into more detail than that, but while the writing was nice and I generally liked the characters and the plot of the book had lots of potential; the last minute twist - which I saw coming but was kind of hoping it wasn't what I thought it was going to be; just to have my hopes dashed because it totally was what I thought it was - was a last straw for me.

I just don't seem to enjoy when a book takes me on one direction and then deliberately switches lanes right at the end, for me it's a bit of a cheap shot. There were parts of the book that I really liked though, the book had me right at the beginning but then it lost me as it went on.

Bottom Line: All in all, I don't think Then and Always is a bad book, just that it was a bad fit for me. If you're into this sort of "sliding doors" and surprise reveals type of book, this might totally be for you. And really, the writing was good, it flowed pretty well, my troubles were more in the line of the plot itself. 
starstar1/2
Alex

April 6, 2014

Book Review: Her Kind of Trouble by Sarah Mayberry

The Deal: Vivian Walker and Seth Anderson met for the first time the night before their siblings got married. From the first time they saw each other, they felt an instant attraction, and eventually had a one-night stand they never told anyone about (mostly because both their siblings warned them off each other and wouldn't be happy at the idea of the two of them hooking up).

Ten years later, Vivian returns to Australia - after working as a fashion designer/stylist for the last few years in the US - and starts running into Seth again. Seth, on the other hand, is going through a bit of a rough patch: he has settled down somewhat after leaving his band and opening a bar; but he wasn't prepared for the shock he got when an on again-off again girlfriend of his got pregnant. 

Yet, he's facing his impending parenthood head on, and is actually kind of excited about it - even if his girlfriend, Lola, is a bit of a flake. Meeting Vivian again - and feeling the intense chemistry between them - is not exactly a welcome thing, but both are bound by their familial ties, so avoiding each other isn't an option.

My Thoughts: Well... I'm sorry to say Her Kind of Trouble wasn't a winner for me. The writing is lovely as usual and the story rather entertaining. but the estructure of the book just didn't work for me. 

We start at the rehearsal dinner for the wedding between Vivian's Sister and Seth's brother and everyone is warning Seth and Vivian off each other, and then they go and do the exact thing they were asked not to do (have sex with each other). Oddly enough, knowing right off the bat what had happened between them took off some of the charm of the book for me - I wasn't intrigued to find out what had happened between them because I already knew, if that makes sense; there was very little intrigue in that regard. 

And then there were the characters, I thought Vivian and most of the other characters were pretty okay, but I never really warmed toward Seth, he's very hard on Vivian when they meet again, and I didn't like that about him - in a way it's like he thinks less of her because she slept with him all those years ago. 

Especially considering the situation Seth is in. 

Like I said, the book is not bad per se, but it's not my favorite Mayberry by far, this one is just okay; and I have to say I didn't quite buy the romance - other than their few sexual encounters, I didn't buy Seth and Vivian together. 
starstar2/3
Alex

March 30, 2014

ListManiac: Favorite Parents of YA

Once again I'm cutting it very close to the mark, aren't I?

But! Never the less, here it comes: Favorite/Best Parents of YA!!!!

This is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart since the crappy parents of YA are one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to the genre (and to Kristan Higgins' books). I just hate how the parents are usually a) totally clueless, b) cartoonish to the point of being stupid or c) totally neglectful; and I probably couldn't tell you the names of about 80% of the parents in the YA books I've read. 

But there are some parents that really stand out because of their presence in their kids' lives and the love they show them, and those are the ones who are going into this list. 

Side Note: I made a conscious decision to not include parents/adults from Melina Marchetta's books because I kind of always put her books / characters into these lists and I could probably fill the list just with them, but! I decided not to do that and go in a different direction. Still, big shot out to Beatriss and Trevanion and Jude Scanlon and company. 


Meg Cabot generally writes good parents into her books, but Joe Mastriani will always be my favorite. He knows his three children pretty well, and lets our leading lady Jess be who she is without trying to push her into a mold of "perfect girlhood" the way her mom does (I don't very much care for Toni Mastriani, I'm afraid). He trusts Jess to make good choices for herself and is generally a cool dad, he doesn't hover but he's always there when his kids need him. 


#4 Arthur Weasley (Harry Potter Series)

Yup! only Arthur gets mentioned. While Molly Weasley is easily one of my least liked characters from the Harry Potter series, Arthur is one of my favorites. Once again, he accepts all his children and shows them the same amount of love - while Molly is busy playing favorites - plus, he's a very curious person and I just love that. 


#3 Jess's parents from Into the Wild Nerd Yonder.

I don't remember if they ever get mentioned by name, but it doesn't matter, they are pretty terrific as Mom and Dad. They always try to show their daughter that it's OK that she's growing at her own pace and finding new and different interests other than chasing boys like most of her friends. Plus, her mom has this awesome quote:
"I just want you to know that there are a lot of really great people out there. You might not meet them in high school, but you'll find them and hopefully they won't be concerned with how cool they are rather than how much they like to be around you." 

So, yeah, even though I'm very on the fence about Julie Halpern in general, i love this book.

#2 Mr. and Mrs. Hovarth (The True Meaning of Cleavage)

First off, I love The True Meaning of Cleavage which, along with The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, is one of those books I think should be a "MUST" for younger teens. And I love Mr and Mrs Hovarth - Jess's parents -because they are remarkably unremarkable yet they are always looking out for their daughter and let her know that growing up at her own pace is perfectly okay. Again, they don't hover but they are always around. 


#1 Wei and Craing Hwong and Ted Keller (My Most Excellent Year)

These three are actually the ones that inspired this list and they are probably the strangest addition to it. Wei, Craig and Ted formed a sort of co-parenting unit when their six-year-old kids Augie and T.C. decided they were going to be brothers; and now, 8 years later they have assimilated each other into their families and formed one big family unit. Yet, Wei and Craig are still in charge of Augie and would never dream of telling Ted how to raise T.C. and viceversa, they just help each other out and let their kids enjoy their brotherly bond.

I love these three parents because they are not afraid to show their kids how much they love them, they have this wonderful mindset of "I'm going to shower you with my love, so, deal!". And there is also the fact that you can really see that they are friends with each other, and that they have lives other than just being their kids' parents.

So, that's my list for this month! Don't forget to vote on the left sidebar, and please let me know what your favorite parents of YA are in the comments.

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