9.25.2011

Flawless Review -- Sara Shepard

Title: Flawless
Author: Sara Shepard
Pages: 330
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date:  March 15th, 2007
Format I Read the Book In: paperback

Spencer stole her sister's boyfriend. Aria is brokenhearted over her English teacher. Emily likes her new friend Maya . . . as much more than a friend. Hanna's obsession with looking flawless is making her sick. And their most horrible secret yet is so scandalous that the truth would ruin them forever.
And why shouldn't I tell? They deserve to lose it all. With every crumpled note, wicked IM, and vindictive text message I send, I'll be taking these pretty little liars down. Trust me, I've got enough dirt to bury them alive.








Review:

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Flawless is the second book in the Pretty Little Liars series, which is currently set to be twelve installments, nine released at the moment. (The liar on the cover is Hanna.) Three years ago, four girls were at a sleepover with their friend, Ali. That night, Ali disappeared, and three years later, they're receiving odd text messages, IMs, and paper notes signed by someone named A. Since that night, they've grown apart, and they're now realizing they have to work together if they want to figure out what happened to Ali and who's sending them text messages now.

The girls are just as much of liars in this installment as they were in the first. There's a lot going on in their individual lives, and it's really interesting to read. The most exciting parts of the books are when the girls receive messages from A . . . it really makes you wonder who this A person is and what their motives are. The second book really steps the pacing up a notch, and in it, the girls are as freaked out as ever. One of their main focuses in this book, and pretty much where the main event all unfolds, is the charity dance called Foxy that the girls all can't wait to attend. Most of the plot in the book revolves around that dance.

Flawless is longer than Pretty Little Liars as well, by almost 50 pages. It didn't feel like it to me; I was burning through those pages, almost faster than I was in the first book. This is definitely a guilty pleasure series; I don't think I'd exactly be proud carrying these dolled-up books around with me, but at the same time, I can't get enough.

Shepard has this unique way of characterization that makes her characters feel totally relatable. Even when they're in situations you couldn't imagine yourself in to save your life, the emotions they feel and the reasons they do those things strike a nerve deep within you and make you feel sympathy for them when things go wrong and happy for them when things go very right.

At the moment, I'm giving Perfect, the third installment, a total stare-down. I can't wait to start it. I hope it's even better than the first two installments in the series! For those of you who don't know, the girl on the first book is Spencer, the girl on the second book is Hanna, and the girl on the third book is Aria. It took me a little while to get those down, considering how different the appearances are on the TV show. These books just fly by for me in the blink of an eye, and it's a very good thing they do.

9.24.2011

Pretty Little Liars review -- Sara Shepard

Title: Pretty Little Liars
Author: Sara Shepard
Pages: 286
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: October 1, 2006
Format I Read the Book In: paperback





Everyone has something to hide—especially high school juniors Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna.
Spencer covets her sister's boyfriend. Aria's fantasizing about her English teacher. Emily's crushing on the new girl at school. Hanna uses some ugly tricks to stay beautiful.
But they've all kept an even bigger secret since their friend Alison vanished.
How do I know? Because I know everything about the bad girls they were, the naughty girls they are, and all the dirty secrets they've kept. And guess what? I'm telling.


Review





This book has officially been read by me 1.1 times. For further explanation, please keep reading. 

Pretty Little Liars has always been one of those series I was in doubt about everyone liking. I mean, seriously, the covers were garbage. Dolls, bright colors, fancy cursive script . . . I almost puked every time I walked by the extra-special PLL stand in the Barnes and Noble store.

And then when the media tie-in covers were released . . . blech. They were even worse than the first ones. I made sure I stayed at least ten feet from every PLL book at all times.

Then it hit me one day. What if there's actually something behind their massive sale and worldwide appeal?

So, on a rash decision, I bought the first boxed set. (This was about a year ago.) They sat there for a while. And another while. Every time I looked at them, I felt guilty about buying them. So, to make up for it, I bought the next four. I'm still confused about how that twisted logic was appealing at the time.

I owned all 8 PLL books. Now what?

While browsing Goodreads a few weeks/months later, I saw that the PLL series was expanded to 12 books! Yay! Rejoice!

But wait. Why was I excited about 4 more when I hadn't even read the first 8? I told myself at that moment that there was no way I was buying the next 4. Shepard was just totally milking the cash cow, and I definitely wasn't going to feed it.

This thing came to me one day: what if I just skimmed through the first 8 books? I could retain at least a little information! (That's where the 0.1 comes from.) So, I did.

And then I bought book 9. Don't ask me why I did it, because I don't know why I did. I guess I thought it was pretty. I don't know.

Here I am today, a quarter of the way through the second book and I still don't know why I even bought it.

Pretty Little Liars is a twelve-book series revolving around five girls: Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily. The fifth girl is, or was, Ali, but she disappeared three years ago during one of the girls’ sleepovers. Three years later, these four girls start receiving odd messages in the form of text messages, IMs, and paper notes, signed by someone who calls themselves “A.” The first book depicts the girls’ individual lives, and shows how each of them have dark and twisted secrets that A is sending cryptic messages about. The four girls went their own separate ways after Ali disappeared, and just now they’re realizing they have an odd and layered connection. The book’s premise is promising much drama and tension, and trust me, it delivers.

I can’t help but compare this book to The Lying Game, Shepard’s other series’ first installment. While there is lots of suspense in this book, it falls a tad bit flat compared to the other series. I’m sure it’ll get more intense in later installments (there are only 8 others on my shelf), but it was a little dull at first.

The girls have problems that everyone in life faces. Shepard knows how to make characters relatable, and she does. That, in my opinion, is one of the strongest strong points of the novel.

I’m currently reading the second book in the series, and I can’t wait to get farther into the series.

9.18.2011

In My Mailbox (2)

"In My Mailbox" is a meme, created by Kristi at The Story Siren, that features books I've received/purchased/borrowed during the current week.


Purchased:
Th1rteen R3asons Why -- Jay Asher
Modelland -- Tyra Banks
Dreamland -- Alyson Noel
Divergent -- Veronica Roth

Library:
Lips  Touch: Three Times -- Laini Taylor
Tess of the D'Urbervilles -- Thomas Hardy

Received (by Other Means):
How to Be an American Housewife -- Margaret Dilloway

9.14.2011

DARKNESS BECOMES HER Review -- Kelly Keaton

Darkness Becomes Her (Gods & Monsters #1)Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Any book that has the sick-to-your-stomach combination of Greek mythology, vampires and shapeshifters is doomed to go down the crapper.

Seriously, this book was like the Gods of mythology and supernatural creatures all vomited into a cup and put it in the oven. The book is a perfect example of a good idea with really poor execution. The prose is mediocre at best (Jenna Black's was better, and I criticized her a time or two about hers), definitely nothing extraordinary.
The Darkness Becomes Her franchise is one I can definitely at this point cross off my list of series to continue, even though I have an ARC of #2 (which I'm probably going to donate to my high school's library at this point).
Keaton, no offense. I tried. Really, I did. I loved the beginning. It was interesting, fast-paced, and original. But then it all fell apart. But it's okay. I know Things Fall Apart. It's bound to happen sometimes.



View all my reviews

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

The Lying Game #3: Two Truths and a Lie

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE by Sara Shepard
Release Date: February 7th, 2012
Number of Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: HarperTeen

Sutton Mercer watches from the afterlife as her long-lost twin, Emma Paxton, takes over her identity to solve her murder. But after ruling out her early leads, Emma still hasn’t found Sutton’s killer. A lot of people wanted her dead—but one name keeps popping up: Thayer Vega. When the gorgeous and mysterious Thayer returns to town, Emma has to move fast to figure out whether he’s back for revenge…or if he already got it.
Set in a town where friends can turn into dangerous enemies and everyone harbors dark secrets, The Lying Game is a juicy new series that fans of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series—and the hit ABC Family show—will love.

Why "Two Truths and a Lie:" I'm completely addicted to this series! The Lying Game was fantastic, and Never Have I Ever stepped it up a notch! I'm sure Shepard will make Two Truths and a Lie even better than the two already out, and I can't wait!

9.11.2011

RUTHLESS -- Sara Shepard Cover Reveal!

I own all nine books in the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard, but I haven't read a single one yet! (I skimmed through them all, but that's when I thought that was acceptable.) I now present you with the cover of book #10, after the expansion: RUTHLESS.

Title: Ruthless
Author: Sara Shepard
Release Date: December 6th 2011


She's a beauty, ain't she?
I, for one, can't wait for RUTHLESS!

9.10.2011

In My Mailbox (1)

"In My Mailbox" is a meme, created by Kristi at The Story Siren, that features books I've received/purchased/borrowed during the current week.


Purchased:
Hades -- Alexandra Adornetto
Sirensong -- Jenna Black
Wolfsbane -- Andrea Cremer
I Am Number Four -- Pittacus Lore
Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel -- Richelle Mead (with Leigh Dragoon and Emma Vicieli
Bloodlines -- Richelle Mead
(not pictured: Succubus Revealed -- Richelle Mead)
Shadowfever -- Karen Marie Moning
Soul Thief -- Jana Oliver
Until The End -- Christopher Pike
Never Have I Ever -- Sara Shepard
Twisted -- Sara Shepard
Blood Bound -- Rachel Vincent

Received ARCs:
Thhe Secret Prince -- Violet Haberdasher
Triangles -- Ellen Hopkins
Perfect -- Ellen Hopkins
(not pictured: A Beautiful Evil -- Kelly Keaton)
The Secret Spiral -- Gillian Neimark
The Demon's Surrenter -- Sarah Rees Brennan
The Day Before -- Lisa Schroeder

Library:
Darkness Becomes Her -- Kelly Keaton
(not pictured -- Cryptic Cravings -- Ellen Schreiber)

Those of you who know me know that I'm very inconsistent, so I'm only going to do this feature when I have a considerable amount of new material. I would try to do it weekly, but like I said, I'm very inconsistent, and I'm afraid I'd forget.

9.09.2011

CRYPTIC CRAVINGS Review -- Ellen Schreiber

Cryptic Cravings (Vampire Kisses, #8)Cryptic Cravings by Ellen Schreiber

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Actual Rating: 1.5 Stars

Man, what a journey. I started Vampire Kisses when the omnibus of the first three was out and number six was a few months away from publication. I thought it was pretty good. It was nothing special, of course, but it was silly and light-hearted while so many other vampire books were mysterious and dark. It was a refreshing change.

After book 8, I think it's time to put this series in its grave. (Or, more adequately, its coffin.) It's been going on for way too long. There's only so long you can continue a book with an OMG-I-love-you-but-you're-a-vampire-and-I-want-you-to-turn-me-but-you-don't-want-to plot and minor subplots that keep the story (barely) rolling. When I read the summary for this book, I almost thought I'd already read it. It was so similar to one of the earlier books, I think it was Coffin Club, that I almost didn't read it. However, if I was going to let the series go, I had to at least give it a decent farewell.

Little did I know that farewell would be a DNF farewell.

This is my first ever official DNF, ever. Others are put on indefinite hold, but I will definitely get back to those in the future. This, however, I felt didn't deserve a revisit later. Vampire Kisses is to date the most cheesy vampire series I've ever read. Alexander isn't even like a vampire at all anymore. He's goofy and silly and not at all evil like all other vampires are. He gives vampires a bad name.

Yeah. Almost like that.

On top of being unbearably cheesy, it's paced really poorly. The scenes are stretched out too long. When I saw that the book was considerably longer than the others, I thought, "Wow. Schreiber really got her stuff together and wrote a decent novel WITH A PLOT." Nahh! Just messing with you. That's not true. I have 100+ pages of proof.

The Vampire Kisses series is one I'm almost sad to see leave my life forever, but on the bright side, now I can save money on the series I'm sure Schreiber won't end until she dies.

ELIXIR Review -- Hilary Duff

Elixir (Elixir, #1)Elixir by Hilary Duff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5 stars
Oh, please. Not ANOTHER high-profile celebrity capitalizing off the success of the YA genre. I may barf.
Don't worry, though. It's not nearly bad as people are making it out to be. It's actually pretty good, once you get rolling. It's really dramatic and tense, and high-action once you reach about the halfway point. The characters are all relatively likeable, Mary-Sues and Gary-Stus or not, and the plot is paced well enough to keep you immersed. Nevertheless, it does have its problems, but what book doesn't?

THE LYING GAME Review -- Sara Shepard

The Lying Game (The Lying Game #1)The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Lying Game is the first book in Shepard's The Lying Game series, which is pretty obvious, but I felt like informing you regardless. The premise of the book involves three things I have very-little-to-no experience with in my entire history of reading:

1) identical twins

2) identities

3) such well-done and dramatic TENSION

Ms. Sara Shepard is the Goddess of Tension. She kinda seriously needs this shirt.



1) Identical Twins

The only book I think I've ever read that stars identical twins is Identical, but that is on such a different wavelength than The Lying Game that they're pretty hard to compare. The plot of The Lying Game revolves around long-lost twin sisters, Emma and Sutton, who arrange to meet in Sutton's current town of residency (I think I remember it being Tucson!). Emma stumbles upon a YouTube video of Sutton being strangled with a necklace by a mysterious figure, and the video has no sound, so she can't tell who the strangler is. She hunts Sutton down on Facebook and arranages to meet in Tucson. There's only one problem with this arrangement: Sutton is dead.

And that, my friends, is the big bomb that drops in the introduction/prologue of The Lying Game: Sutton is dead, and she's watching over everything Emma does.

Emma goes to Tucson to meet Sutton, snd she is coerced into pretending to be Sutton (after all, they're identical twins, and they look exactly the same) to figure out who murdered her.

To me, this premise is ingenious, for one because it's never been done before (like the overused I-don't-know-what-you-are-but-I-love-you-anyway trope that occurs in 99.8% of YA PNR) and for two because it's just SO FREAKING COOL!



2) Identities

The topic of becoming another identity has interested me for the longest time, and it's probably one of the reasons I was so drawn to this book. The way Shepard writes Emma, Sutton and their differences is mind-blowing. She's truly a talented woman.



3) The Tension

Oh my God the tension.



Shepard writes tension like high school students write crappy essays. Except, without the crappy part. And without the essays part. And with the tension part.

Be warned if you're going to read this: the tension is so high you will never want to put it down. Not unless the next one is within a ten-mile radius of you and you have a car or some other valid type of transportation excluding your feet of course because who wants to walk ten miles just to get a sequel, especially if the weather isn't nice and you're not presentable and you don't want to do anything except sit there and think about the book you just read and its sequel which is not in your hands but it should be but it's not?



The one thing I didn't like about the book: the product placements. I'm pretty sure there were above 10 iPhone references, not to mention countless other things. It kind of dragged down the story for me. It was still great, but it could've used a little less iThing references.

9.05.2011

HADES Review -- Alexandra Adornetto

Hades (Halo, #2)Hades by Alexandra Adornetto

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Dear World,
Please do not question my sanity. I promise I have not lost it. I am reading this for the freaking lulz AND THAT'S IT.
Sincerely, Me.

Review: 2.5 stars

First impressions are deceiving.

I have fourteen years’ worth of anecdotal proof that this theory is true, but the one example I want to give you is Alexandra Adornetto’s first book, HALO (which I’m sure everyone and their mom has read or at least seen).

Back when I was an innocent little thirteen-year-old, I was wandering the bottom floor of my Barnes & Noble, looking at the new releases and such, molesting the Nooks, blahblah. Bored of my futile search (I’d never been much of an adult reader, and the bottom floor was where all the mainstream adult books were kept at the time), I headed over toward the escalator that took you to the top floor, with the children’s section; the adult PNR section; the board games section; and the teen/YA section. YA had proved to be a friendly companion in my recent years of extremely frequent reading, and I was itching to get to the top and find some more to read.

When I reached the top of the escalator, I saw a six-shelf display of HALO, and I nearly jizzed my pants.

It was beautiful.

I almost couldn’t tolerate not owning it.

When I was an adult and I was rich and famous and I branched out into the publishing world, I had to get that cover designer on board with me to design my book.

I wouldn’t live if I didn’t.

I stood there for a good minute or so just marveling at the beautiful wonder that was the cover of HALO before I finally couldn’t stand it any longer and I had to touch it. When I picked it up, I could almost hear the angels singing “Alleluia” in my ears (no pun intended, folks). I knew I had to buy it.

And I did. I bought the hell out of it.

I wish I could tell you right now that the contents of that book were as beautiful as the cover was. I wish I could tell you I gave it a no-brainer five stars and recommended it to every single person on the face of the earth, YA fan or not. I wish I could tell you I honed my sculpting skills and made a statue of Adornetto, which I proudly displayed as a centerpiece in my living room. Alas, I cannot tell you any one of those things, because not one of them is true. In fact, they’re pretty much the farthest things from true.

HALO had so many problems: it was waaaaaay too long; the main character was so blatantly dumb, she was deserving of being high-fived in the face with a frying pan, not to mention she was Mary-Sue-perfect; the prose was more purple than my face was while I was reading it; the plot was progressing at the speed of something really slow… That’s only some of its seemingly perpetual list of problems I found. Regardless, I found some moments in the book to be cute and/or funny and/or worthwhile, so I gave it two stars on Goodreads. It’s actually more deserving of one-and-a-half, but who really cares about the semantics?

The gorgeous and wondrous cover of HALO is reason number one I can prove that theory that first impressions are deceiving.

The second one is my first impression of HALO carrying over to its much shorter and frankly much better sequel, HADES. HALO was my first impression of Adornetto’s lack of talent, and honestly I would rather gouge my eyes out with a spoon than have to re-read it. HADES is a major step-up from HALO, because while sometimes the plot is shrouded in the shadows of overtly-dumb characters, at least it’s existent. The concept of Hell that Adornetto creates is, to say the least, an epic fail.

I mean, seriously, Adornetto. Hell is filled to the brim with clubs non-stop partygoers and fancy hotels? Everything I’ve heard about it describes it as a place of eternal torture and suffering, not a place of fun.

The way she describes the devil is laugh-worthy, and I don’t mean a chuckle, I mean a kind of laugh. This is what she says to describe him:

”He wore a white linen suit with a red silk tie and his feet were encased in white cowboy boots. He held an ivory-topped cane that he tapped softly on the cement floor... His skin was tanned and leathery and his eyes were a pellucid blue but devoid of any expression. He was immaculately groomed and wore his silver hair tied back loosely with a gilded clasp."

Yes. I am 100% serious. I am not pranking you. You are not being punk’d (which Bethie made a reference to).

This brings me to a whole new point . . . Beth.

Oh, dear Lord, Beth, you are one of the most childish and inexperienced heroines I’ve ever read. You aren’t as bad in this installment as you were in the last one , but you’re still extremely stupid.

You made so many poor decisions over the course of these books, I’m almost tempted to not read the next book.

My first clue you were completely retarded:

"I could never do the "'sup nod”—it made me feel as if I were in one of those music videos Molly watched on MTV where men in hoods rapped about “homies” and something called “bling.”

And believe me, people. It only gets worse.

The only reason I say she’s not as bad in this book as she was in HALO is because in this installment, when she’s trapped in Hell, she offers to help two people she’d met there escape when she gets her opportunity to. *SPOILERS* Of course, in the end, this is forgotten, but it was still kind of a sweet gesture...

One thing that completely surprised me about this book is when *SPOILERS* Molly declares her love for Gabriel. I SERIOUSLY did not expect that to happen. His reaction is what was really surprising to me. You’re just going to have to read it to get more on that.

HADES starts off roughly. On one account, the first thirty-five pages has excessive infodump to the point where one of my progress points was solidly

"INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP INFODUMP."

I am not exaggerating.

When Jake introduced the concept of projecting (she could “project” her soul to watch her “loved ones” on Earth while her physical form was still in Hell), I did this:



Seriously. I did. It was such a BLATANTLY INTRODUCED plot device, I had no other options.

Not to mention the total deus ex machina at the end.

The cliffhanger at the end had me a bit confused. It was only over the span of one sentence. I have no idea what was going on. Hopefully, HEAVEN (book #3, for those uninformed) will explain what’s goin’ on and what I obviously don’t understand.

Big improvement from HALO, but there were some . . . obvious . . . problems.

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