Book Review | Me and Earl and the Dying Girl | Jesse Andrews

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

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Book Review | The Académie | Susanne Dunlap

Eliza Monroe—daughter of the future president of the United States—is devastated when her mother decides to send her to boarding school outside of Paris. But the young American teen is quickly reconciled to the idea when—ooh, la-la!—she discovers who her fellow pupils will be: Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte; and Caroline Bonaparte, youngest sister of the famous French general. It doesn’t take long for Eliza to figure out that the two French girls are mortal enemies—and that she’s about to get caught in the middle of their schemes.

Loosely drawn from history, Eliza Monroe’s imagined coming of age provides a scintillating glimpse into the lives, loves, and hopes of three young women during one of the most volatile periods in French history.

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Book Review | Graffiti Moon | Cath Crowley

Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she’s going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He’s out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy’s stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she’s managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they’re suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

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Book Review | The Garden Intrigue | Lauren Willig

Secret agent Augustus Whittlesby has spent a decade undercover in France, posing as an insufferably bad poet. The French surveillance officers can’t bear to read his work closely enough to recognize the information drowned in a sea of verbiage.

New York-born Emma Morris Delagardie is a thorn in Augustus’s side. An old school friend of Napoleon’s stepdaughter, she came to France with her uncle, the American envoy; eloped with a Frenchman; and has been rattling around the salons of Paris ever since. Widowed for four years, she entertains herself by drinking too much champagne, holding a weekly salon, and loudly critiquing Augustus’s poetry.

As Napoleon pursues his plans for the invasion of England, Whittlesby hears of a top-secret device to be demonstrated at a house party at Malmaison. The catch? The only way in is with Emma, who has been asked to write a masque for the weekend’s entertainment.

Emma is at a crossroads: Should she return to the States or remain in France? She’ll do anything to postpone the decision-even if it means teaming up with that silly poet Whittlesby to write a masque for Bonaparte’s house party. But each soon learns that surface appearances are misleading. In this complicated masque within a masque, nothing goes quite as scripted- especially Augustus’s feelings for Emma.

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Rewind and Review (2) | Vampire Academy | Richelle Mead

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)

by Richelle Mead

(First published August 16, 2007 by Razorbill)

I think one of the reasons that I hesitated to read VAMPIRE ACADEMY is because the Twilight series managed to burn me out on vampires, and the backlash from those books made me wary of other vampy books. So I kept putting these books off because I felt like it would just be reading Twilight all over again. This turned out to be a great lesson in not making assumptions. YOU WERE SO WRONG, AMY. In my opinion, now that I’ve read books from both series, the Vampire Academy series is better for a lot of reasons, and I’m mad at myself that I waited this long to jump in. Also, NOT becoming addicted to these books is as impossible as, like, time travel. THEY ARE BOOK CRACK AND I LOVE THEM. Ahem. So. Let’s discuss, shall we?

There were a few things that I noticed right away about VAMPIRE ACADEMY that I really appreciated, and one is that the world is sophisticated. There’s no silly, cheesy vampires here. The way the different breeds of vampires exist is complex and dangerous and full of drama. I’m digging the impending political/ideological crisis vibe that’s going on between the various Moroi and their dhampirs, and the Strigoi seem badass and creepy. Also, I love me a good rebellion, y’all, and the seeds of one are being sown.

The characters are also FANTASTIC, and are one of my favorite things about VAMPIRE ACADEMY. Generally speaking, I always love it when teens in books act in a realistic way. The kids at St. Vlad’s curse, have sex, get into trouble, and drink. That always gets a thumbs up from me. And the secondary characters are fleshed out and have great personalities. I loved Lissa and Christian, and Mia is deliciously malicious.

But really, the centerpiece is Rose, and she’s a BAMF. Rose is AWESOME, and I think a kind of rarer character in YA in that she isn’t your typical wallflower kind of girl.  She’s sassy, impulsive, brash, and confident. When it comes to Lissa, her best friend with whom she shares a very rare, almost psychic bond, she’s fiercely loyal and determined to protect her at any cost. But let me just say that it was refreshing to read about a character who was both aware and unashamed of her physicality. She likes hooking up and flirting and flaunting what she’s got, and I LOVED it. Granted, she’s unashamed of her body because it sounds like she’s basically a 10, but the idea still applies. I loved her confidence. She totally jumps off the page with her fieriness, and I felt all of her feelings almost right away. I LOVE THIS.

Obviously another cornerstone of not only this book but the series itself is the relationship between Rose and Dimitri, her mentor and fellow dhampir. Their relationship has the potential to be tricky, but in the end, I thought it was AWESOME.  I recall reading something about how some readers perceived their relationship as weird and inappropriate because Dimitri is 7 years older than Rose and basically, although not technically, her teacher. And those things are true, and they would have bothered me to no end if they had gone unaddressed. But they didn’t. In fact, I think those things are handled pretty well here. Their age difference–both in literal number and in emotional maturity–is a HUGE sticking point in their being together. Don’t mistake me: they have CRAZY chemistry, and a hot little interlude, but their chemistry is something they struggle with, and their interlude has a catch. I’m totally rooting for them.

Guys, I can’t say enough about how glad I am that you all lit a fire under my ass to get me to read these books IMMEDIATELY. Because now that I started them, I literally can’t stop (I’m reading book 3, SHADOW KISS, right now. I literally couldn’t wait long enough to write my review of the first book before I plowed through the second and half of the third). I really can’t think of many negative things about these books: they’re engaging, fun, humorous, fraught with drama and danger, have an interesting mythology, and characters who are unique and fabulous. Are they the most thought-provoking or emotional books I’ve ever read? No, but they’re certainly some of the most flat-out enjoyable. They give vampire books a good name. Now, pardon me, but I must dash. I seriously had to force myself to stop reading these books to write this review. HOLLA!

Rewind & Review is an AMAZING new meme hosted jointly by two fabulous ladies, Ginger from Greads! and Lisa from Lisa Is Busy Nerding. This meme is all about mining your TBR piles and finding some long-lost gems (from 2010 or earlier) that you meant to read and somehow passed over. I KNOW, but it happens. Each month, each participant picks a few oldies but hopefully goodies to read, reviews ’em, and spreads the word. Huzzah!

Book Review | Everneath | Brodi Ashton

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she’s returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld…this time forever.

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she’s forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath with Cole.

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Five-Star Friday | A Monster Calls | Patrick Ness

Five-Star Friday is a periodically regular (say what?!) feature that I’m planning on running on Fridays (but not every Friday) in which I talk about (or verbally drool over) a book that I’ve read and ADORED (sometimes they’ll be recent releases and other times they might be older…my piles are tall and the bottoms are old). Yay! I always feel so happy and light and wonderful when I am beside myself with delight over a book, and I want to share the love with you all in the hopes that we can all get together and have an embarrassing, squeal-filled love-fest full of lots of high-pitched “Ohmygod, I KNOW!s” and chest-clutching sighs of contentedness. Huzzah!*

Well, HELLOOOOO, Five-Star Friday!! Been awhile, no? I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I hadn’t realized that I’d merely been waiting to read Patrick Ness’ devastatingly gorgeous A MONSTER CALLS first.

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Book Review | Tempest | Julie Cross

The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.
That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.
Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.
But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.
Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

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Book Review | Witch’s Brew | Heidi R. Kling

Once soulmates, the witch and warlock covens of the California coast have been estranged for a century. Raised to hate each other, their teenagers meet in the Solstice Stones, a magical battleground where they draw energy from each other to maintain their balance. 16 year olds Logan and Lily have spent years training for their first Stones…only to discover just days before that the enemy may not be what either of them had thought.

In Witch’s Brew, Lily is torn between her feelings for Logan and her coven’s need to know who—or what—he is. The young lovers race against time, their distrust for each other, and the powerful influence of their elders to unravel the mystery of their pasts before their future is destroyed.

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Book Review | The Survival Kit | Donna Freitas

When Rose’s mom dies, she leaves behind a brown paper bag labeled Rose’s Survival Kit. Inside the bag, Rose finds an iPod, with a to-be-determined playlist; a picture of peonies, for growing; a crystal heart, for loving; a paper star, for making a wish; and a  paper kite, for letting go.

As Rose ponders the meaning of each item, she finds herself returning again and again to an unexpected source of comfort. Will is her family’s gardener, the school hockey star, and the only person who really understands what she’s going through. Can loss lead to love?

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