Monday, November 18, 2013

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes BackThe Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson
Series: N/A
Publisher: Fire & Ice Books
Format: Kindle
Pages: 194
Source: Kindle Freebie

Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand I found the main character to be extremely annoying but on the other, I actually kind of liked it. When I saw it was free on Amazon I checked the description and figured why not what could it hurt? I admit I didn't have high hopes going in but it was a lot better than I expected.
The plot was simple enough. Girl likes boy, boy is dating the girls perfect stepsister, girl decides to take boy down in the student election. Pretty much all of the problems that come up in the story are resolved a couple pages later. Also a lot of the trouble is pretty much in Mattie's head.
Mattie annoyed me. Plain and simple. She was too worried about herself and constantly put her stepsister down without knowing why her stepsister did the things she did. She did get a lot better by the end of the book though. I actually didn't like Jake. Sure he was a smooth talker and was supposed to be the popular jock that everybody loves, but I didn't. He was full of himself and kind of a jerk. I did like Ella though. I though she was nice and funny and I wish we got more of her in the book.
This book was a quick and easy read. The plot isn't anything dynamic or confusing but it's a fun read that had me laughing at some of the ridiculous antics that happened. I will definitely be looking out for more books by Sariah Wilson since her writing style is simple and fun.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper ValentinePaper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Series: N/A
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Source: Borrowed from the library

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

This was an interesting book for me. Being my first Brenna Yovanoff book I can definitely say that I am impressed. The description is what really drew me in because to be honest I love murder mysteries. And add the fact that the girl is being haunted by her dead best friend really made the story even creepier.

The twists this book really had me on the edge of my seat. I really wanted to know who the killer was and why the ghosts were contacting Hannah. The mystery was definitely enough to keep me interested until the end and the author's writing style definitely made this a quick and easy read.

I loved Hannah. She was so naïve about what was going on. While others would be suspicious she was so trusting. Then there was Finny. Oh jeez, I admit I didn't like him in the beginning. He was a bad boy, I usually like the bad boys but for some reason he really bothered me to begin with. As the story progressed however, I actually began to like him.

I honestly had no idea who the murderer really was. I had my suspicions throughout the book but they were all completely wrong. In a way I'm glad that was the case because it would have been pretty boring if I knew everything that was going to happen.

If you're looking for a quick read that has mystery and supernatural elements then check this one out. The sweet romance that is also involved doesn't weigh the book down but adds another side to the story and makes it really interesting.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Series: N/A
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 552
 Source: Borrowed from the library

The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that will be in movie theaters on November 15, 2013, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

One was a book thief.
The other stole the sky.
-page 381

Let me start off by saying that this book made me cry. Where The Fault in Our Stars failed this one had me sobbing like a baby. From the very beginning this book gripped me and throughout the twists and turns this book took I went along for the ride. It was a sad experience but one that I am glad I had.
We follow Liesel throughout the story and watch as she grows up in Nazi Germany. We get to watch as she goes from a girl who cannot read or write to one who finds the beauty of words thanks to her foster father Hans Hubermann. There is thievery involved and lots of secrets she must keep but there is also joy and happiness and what it means to truly be alive.
The characters were so realistic it was impossible not to love each and every one of them. From Liesel and Rudy to Rosa and Hans and even Max and Death himself they all come together in one way or another to weave a tale that will leave you thinking about it long after the book has been closed. Liesel is a girl who has strong beliefs and finds strength in the words she steals. She was very easy to relate to even though the circumstance she faces are much worse than the ones I find myself in. The love of books seems to be the one bridge that can tie Liesel to any book lover. Then there were Hans and Rosa, Liesel's  foster parents. I loved them both, while Rosa was hard and did what she had to do Hans was kind and gentle and I just loved everything about him. Rudy Steiner was a character that I really enjoyed. The scenes with him always had me laughing (or crying) and he always managed to find a way to do what he believed in. Then we come to Max, there really isn't much I can say about Max. He was a sweet man who despite his circumstances managed to inspire Liesel.
Finally we come to Death himself. This was definitely an interesting character. He knew everything that happened beforehand and dropped hints left and right yet still managed to give that final blow that had me reeling. The fact that Death is the one who narrates the story makes it so much more powerful.
I am haunted by humans.
-page 552
The ending of this book is what really got me. So much happens and in a way it would not be as powerful if it happened any other way, it still doesn't make it any less heartbreaking. If you're worried about the hype surrounding this one do not be afraid, it is worth all of the hype. Much like the last line from our narrator, I am haunted by this book.


Monday, November 4, 2013

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Series: Gemma Doyle, #1
Publisher: Ember
Format: Paperback
Pages: 403
Source: Borrowed from my Sister

It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

The beginning of this book was a little slow for me. I kept wanting to put it down but by about a third of the way in the story really picked up and I was glad that I had stuck with it. I ended up being pleasantly surprised by everything that happened in this book. I had attempted this one a few years ago and barely made it eight chapters in.

Once the action and the story pick up this book really draws you in. The plot is full of twists and turns that I did not see coming. I'm not going to lie, I love books that take place in boarding schools. They are intriguing and there is always some sort of mystery involved, this one didn't disappoint at all.

The supernatural elements really added to the overall mystery of the book. Were they witches? Or did they just have some magical powers? I really hope that the next two books delve deeper into this topic and explain the other realm further.

I loved the characters, well most of them anyway. Gemma was so headstrong and didn't want to just be a pretty face who took care of her husband for the rest of her life. I really connected with her. She was extremely intelligent and didn't put up with anything. I really disliked Pippa and the rest of their little clique in the beginning. They were really stuck up and did everything they could to put the other girls down. However, by the end all of the girls really took a turn and started to change for the better. Then there's Kartik. That boy is still such a mystery but I hope that I get to see more of him in the rest of the series.

As my second Libba Bray book I can definitely say that I am a fan. If you enjoy historical stories with supernatural elements then I recommend that you check this one out. It's got mystery that will have you guessing until the very end.