Sunday, September 23, 2012

50! Speechless

Book #50!: Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington
Published: August 28, 2012
288 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.

I can't imagine not talking for a month, let alone a day, but Chelsea Knot does it because she knows it's what she has to do. Her mouth has gotten her into a lot of trouble and I'm sure we can all relate to that. We hear gossip and we feel the need to spread it, to tell anyone that will listen. Chelsea is best friends with Queen Bee Kristen Courteau and she knows gossip is what's keeping her glued to her side. We do and say things we may regret to get where we want to be. Popularity is important, especially in high school, and I'm sure if I had the chance to be the most popular girl in school's right hand girl, I would have done whatever it takes. Unfortunately for Chelsea, that meant blurting out a terrible secret that nearly got someone killed. So Chelsea does what she knows is right - she tells her parents about what happened. This ostracizes her from her classmates, puts in Kristen's line of bullying, and goes straight to the bottom of the food chain - all without saying a word.

Chelsea keeps her mouth shut after realizing that everyone at school thinks she's a rat. She knows it's safer to keep her mouth closed than to hurt anyone else. Alone and scared, slurs being written on her locker and  cruel emails being sent out, Chelsea decides that if she can just get through the rest of high school, she'll be okay. She doesn't plan on telling anyone about the bullying since it all started because she told someone about it. She kills herself everyday for what happened and she doesn't think she deserves forgiveness. But when Asha decides she's going to be nice to Chelsea anyway and invites her to hang out at the diner she works out, Chelsea sees a whole other side of high school.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot because it's flawless. I like that the description is sparse and that all we really know is that she's taken a vow of silence. Chelsea is your average popular girl, ready to do whatever it takes to stay on top. But when she's dropped, we get to know the real her. We hate her at first, but throughout the course of the novel, you realize who she really is and that she is a nice person, she's just made some mistakes. Her new group of friends, Asha, Sam and the rest of the group that works at the diner treat her like an equal and she learns a lot about herself that she didn't realize. Asha is adorable, she's a lot like I was in high school, keeps to herself and her friends ad people think she's weird. Sam is, well Sam is perfect. He is the type of guy I dated in high school: artsy, lanky, caring and thoughtful. Chelsea is blessed with a new chance and it's up to her not to mess it up.

I probably gave away too much but I can't help it. This book was written wonderfully and it plays out like high school would. I'm glad the bullying was subtle because it's more realistic that way. A lot of bullying happens that adults can't see. Emotional bullying and name calling may not seem like a big deal, but it hurts everyone involved in it. Harrington addresses it properly, showing the victims in both lights. Chelsea is the victim but she also has to face that victims that she was responsible for getting harmed. It's not your average mean girl turned good girl story. Chelsea knows what she did was wrong and she is trying to change that. Harrington captured high school life to a tee and I hope reading this book will help victims of bullying to speak up and not keep it inside. Gossip is one thing, but bullying is a completely other planet.

“Hate is... It's too easy. Love. Love takes courage.”  

Friday, September 21, 2012

49. Spell Bound

Book #49: Spell Bound (Hex Hall #3)
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published: March 13, 2012
327 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.

Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Sophie Mercer is just the best. She's more real than most of the heroines you follow in supernatural novels. She's still scared. She's as scared as can be but she still does it in order to help those she loves. You don't normally get to see the scared part of the girl because putting on a brave face is what we do. The brave part is what we love to read when we're reading YA because we like a strong girl. But me, I like them weak too. I mean it's real that way. We are not always on deck. We all have our moments of weakness, it's part of life. Sophie is the epitome of a teenage girl. She's just trying to fit in and in her case, it's not the easiest thing to accomplish.

After taking the Itineris to find the Brannicks, a group of women descended from witches who are sworn enemies of all Prodigium now, Sophie finds that her life is even more messed up that she thought it was. The Brannicks have been waiting for her because they think she could be the one to stop the war rising between Prodigium and those that want them dead. If that's not weird enough, a spell takes all the former Hex Hall students back to the school, where the demon raising Casnoff sisters plan on fuelling the war their own way. I don't want to give away much of the plot because this novel takes so many twists and turns that you need to read it for the real effect.

The cliffhanger at the end of Demon Glass would have left me crying for more if I didn't already have this one on the shelf to start right after. Sophie is lost and alone at the end of that book and we see how her actions and the thought of losing the ones she loves affects her. For the first few chapters, I was praying along with her that they would all be okay. And when Cal and her dad show up at the Brannick's doorstep, i couldn't help but burst into a smile. Even more so when at Hex Hall, we finally get to see Archer again (!!!!!) And of course Jenna, who completes Sophie in the perfect best friend way. Sophie and Archer are adorable in this instalment and I was so happy that the love triangle nonsense was cleared up quickly (I told you there was no way) (And wow that was a hardcore spoiler)

I won't spoil anything else, since it seems at bad at that, so I'll leave you with this. If you enjoyed Hex Hall then you will love the ending to this series. It's enough of a story that it could stand on its own and Sophie's triumph is proof that scared girls can be brave when they need to be. We don't know what we're capable of until it's our only choice and Sophie certainly makes the right choices at all the right times. Hawkins has created a series that will stick me for a long time and characters that I can only wish were real (in particular Mr. Archer Cross) (I blame you for this Mag!)

“Okay, fine. But just so you know, following me into hell means you’re all definitely the sidekicks.” “Darn, I was hoping to be the rakishly charming love interest,” Archer said, taking my hand.” 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

48. Demonglass

Book# 48: Demonglass (Hex Hall #2)
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published: March 22, 2011
359 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Note: I don't suggest reading this unless you've read Hex Hall. Too many spoilers to count!

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. 

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

The ending of Hex Hall shocked me out of my skull. I was not expecting Sophie to be a demon, nor was I expecting Archer to be anything but the charming, snarky boy he is. But Archer works for The Eye, a longtime enemy of the Prodigium, and Sophie is more than she bargained for. Upon realizing her true power, she realizes that it's not for her. She's too afraid she'll hurt those she loves, so she decides she wants to have the Removal, to take away her powers and become a normal girl (that's if she can survive the ritual) So when her long lost father shows up to take her to London, she assumes it means they'll let her go through with it. But things are not exactly what they seem in dreary old London. Half the council members are dead and someone is raising demons in a plan to do what exactly? Add in the fact that she can't see Archer anymore, she's engaged to her friend Cal, and her father wants her to perfect her demon powers, Sophie's not having the best summer. 

The story telling in this series puts a smile on my face. Sophie is sarcastic and blunt and she makes more mistakes than a normal teenager. She is still learning about who she is while trying to solve the mysteries that come along with it. Hawkins has a way with chracters. Each one is unique and different from the rest, even if they only have a small part. Jenna is forever the sweetest vampire out there (ironic right?) and Archer is swoon worthy even more so now that he's the enemy (you know I'm right) Sophie's father is strict and seems stuck up, but one Sophie gets to know him, she realizes he's a lot like her. 

The mystery in this one takes the series to a whole other level. When we thought the demonness was over when Alice was killed, we didn't realize it had just begun. Sophie goes through a lot in this book and yet she doesn't give up. She is brave without realizing it and uses her powers to try and help others. Her romance with Archer heats up in this addition, sizzling over every page. I wish Hawkins hadn't added in the illicit love triangle because to me it's just unbelievable in this series. Mind you, love triangles are never good, but there's no doubt in my mind that Sophie and Archer are going to end up together so why bother throwing Cal into the mix? I would like it better if they just grew close as friends without any sort of kissing and what not. Everything else about this book screams uniqueness so it's sad to see her diving into the cliches of YA. Hopefully I'm right about Sophie and Archer or else I'll be super embarrassed. 

I can't wait to find out the ending to Sophie's story in the final book, Spell Bound, because I have a feeling things are going to get much worse for Sophie and Company.

“It sucks that we miss people like that. You think you've accepted that someone is out of your life, that you've grieved and it's over, and then bam. One little thing, and you feel like you've lost that person all over again.” 

“None of this makes any sense."
"I'm beginning to think I should make that the title of my autobiography.”

Sunday, September 16, 2012

47: Wake

Book #47: Wake
Author: Amanda Hocking
Published: August 7, 2012
309 Pages
3 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

The premise is what drew me to this book. I love mermaids and I haven't really found too many mermaid books that I've wanted to read. So when I read the prologue and realized that these mermaids (or Sirens as they're called in the book) are far more than what they seem. Three mysterious girls come to the island paradise and set their sights on Gemma, a local girl who loves to swim and is finding that she has feelings for her older sister's best friend. Everyone on the island thinks there's something up with these girls. They are too pretty, and boys will do anything they tell them to. But when Gemma takes a midnight swim one night and is called over to the girls, she can't control her actions. And when her sister, Harper, finds her unconscious on the beach like a beached whale the next morning, she knows something is wrong. After that night, Gemma begins to act differently. She discovers that she can do things unimaginable to human beings. 

The problems I had with this book weren't the plot. The plot was well done and I enjoyed the twists and relationships. Gemma and Alex are adorable together. They've been friends for so long that becoming more than that is awkward but real. Harper's relationship was one I liked even more. She's kind of friends with Daniel, who lives on a boat near where her dad works. At first she hates him, but the tension between them is brutal and the every time they were together I just wanted them to start making out (oh, did I say that out loud?) The dialogue was choppy though and most of the story was told through the third person narration that seemed to be in both Gemma and Harper's points of view. I would have liked it better if it was told in first person with alternating points of view because than it would have made more sense. The words that were spoken out loud didn't sound realistic and most of the time I just felt awkward for the characters because they were saying awkward things. 

The story moves quickly but not too much seems to happen between the beginning and the end. Most of the plot is told in the description, which leaves little to nothing for us to figure out throughout the book. Some of the decisions that Gemma makes made me want to choke her and I still cant understand why she didn't have the power to escape the girls. I'll read the sequel because curiosity will get the best of me and the way that this one ended made me want to know what will happen next (mostly, will Harper and Daniel ever make out?) It was a quick read and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys mermaids or sirens because Hocking has an interesting take on these mythological creatures. 

“Every man would fall in love with their voice, their lovely appearance, but no man would ever get past that. They'd never really know the girls for who they actually were, never really love them. It would be impossible for any of the four girls to ever really fall in love and be genuinely loved in return.” 

Friday, September 14, 2012

46. Confessions Of An Angry Girl

Book #46: Confessions Of An Angry Girl
Author: Louise Rozett
Published: August 28, 2012
272 Pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Rose Zarelli, self-proclaimed word geek and angry girl, has someconfessions to make…

1. I'm livid all the time. Why? My dad died. My mom barely talks. My brother abandoned us. I think I'm allowed to be irate,don't you?

2. I make people furious regularly. Want an example? I kissed Jamie Forta, a badass guy who might be dating a cheerleader. She is nowenraged and out for blood. Mine.

3. High school might as well be Mars. My best friend has been replaced by an alien, and I see red all the time. (Mars is red and "seeing red" means being angry—get it?)

Here are some other vocab words that describe my life: Inadequate. Insufferable. Intolerable.

(Don't know what they mean? Look them up yourself.)

(Sorry. That was rude.)

High school sucks, right? This book gives you the very average, very likely high school freshman. Enter Rose Zarelli, a girl who is thrown to the wolves like the rest of us were the first day of high school I for one got lucky, my older brother was already at my school when I started so everyone left me alone (he was kind of goth and kind of scary, so they didn't touch me) but Rose is not so lucky. Her older brother Peter has left for college so she has no protection against the evilness that is high school cheerleaders. She's not invisible either (which can be a very good thing in high school) because her dad passed away over the summer so everyone in town knows her face now. As if her life doesn't suck enough already, her best friend has turned into a pretty girl and joins the cheerleading squad. Needless to say, Rose is one angry girl.

For the first half of the book, I didn't really feel her anger. I understood her pain and I wanted things to go her way because she's already been through so much, but then the anger comes out and it's perfect. See Rose has caught the attentions of a senior who just happens to be dating one of those aforementioned cheerleaders. This doesn't sit so well with them and Regina (yes, this is officially a mean girl name) decides to make her know it pisses her off. Like I said earlier, I was never bullied by cheerleaders but I wasn't popular either. Regina is mean, no question about it, and Rose has good reason to be angry at the whole situation. 

Bullying seems to be a trend in young adult right now and there's no better time for it. The actions done through others reflects what our society has become and I'm glad authors are making note of it. Bullies need to be stopped and if writing about it in a novel will make those who are getting bullied come forward, then maybe we can stop it. Rose doesn't come forward because she knows the effects that will have on her life. The fear is what makes the bullies continue. Unfortunately there are mean girls in real life, everywhere, and Rozett writes this one too well. 

I'm on the fence about Jamie still, as I was finding it hard to see what all the fuss was about. But the other minor characters fit into the story well. Peter is trying to move away from high school and his messed up family, but Rose finds it difficult to let him. Tracy is just trying to fit into high school and Rose doesn't seem to understand why. Robert is just annoying, but so very high school boy that I must give props to Rozett for creating such a puppy dog. Regina is, well, Regina is down right cruel. Boy am I glad I've never come across anyone like her, especially in high school. There is talk about sex galore, which surprises me because I was certainly not thinking about sec when I was fifteen. But I'm sure times are different, I mean it has been 12 years. The thing I liked most about this book were the chapter headings. Rose is a self proclaimed word nerd, so each chapter starts with a word and its definition and Rose's minor note as to how it relates to the chapter. This gave me more insight into Rose's head than most of the book did. I didn't feel her grief or her pressure to fit in as well as I could have. But I did enjoy her sarcastic humour and the trials and tribulations of trying to make it through freshmen year. We all know how hard it is to get through any part of high school. So I can't wait to read about her adventures in the sequel, Confessions Of An Almost Girlfriend (see also: sophomore year)

“Bad things happen whether you're scared or not, so you might as well not bother being scared. It's a waste of time.” 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cover Reveal! With All My Soul

The beautiful cover for the seventh and final Soul Screamers novel is live!

I can't wait for this book to come out! Although it will be bittersweet since it's the last one and I won't get anymore tales from Kaylee and friends. Rachel Vincent promises everything will be answered but not without pain and possible deaths of characters we love. Vincent does know how to tug at heartstrings, and I am eager to know the truth about Avari, Kaylee getting her revenge and all the Tod loving possible. 

There is no denying that this is the perfect cover for the finale. The gold is beautiful and it really gives this cover the little extra edge it needs. Every cover in this series is wonderful, and when I first saw the cover for Before I Wake, I was sure that would be my favourite (it is pink and all) but I without a doubt like this one the most. 

So, what do we think of this golden beauty?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

45. Some Girls Are

Book #45: Some Girls Are
Author: Courtney Summers
Published: January 5, 2010
246 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumours are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Summers has done it again. It's no secret that I'm her number one fan, so be prepared for some fangirling in this review. She writes the mean girl like it's her job and Regina is no exception. Regina, like Regina from Mean Girls is a bully. She is best friends with the most popular girl in school and has done more than a few things that she regrets to stay at her side. She must continuously impress Anna in order to stay on top. This means betraying old friends, hurting people and a whole lot of rumours. So when the tables turn and she is suddenly the one being bullied, she sees exactly who these girls really are. You would think she deserves it, but after finding out why the rumours started, you'll be on her side. And I was on her side the whole time. 

People make mistakes. Summers is perfect with redemption for her characters. They've all done things they regret, but it's getting past that and learning from your mistakes that sets you apart from the rest. Regina goes from the top of the ladder to the bottom, the sole recipient of Anna's torture. And boy are these girls mean. Anna makes Regina George look like an angel. Regina is thrown to the wolves, fearing school and hiding out with the only person who seems to let her, Michael, someone who has more reason to hate her than anyone else at school. Being on the receiving end is brutal and he helps Regina see herself for who she really is - a bully. Her path to redemption is not an easy one. The Fearsome Foursome (he ex-BFFs) make every day a living hell and Michael, who she is starting to have feelings for, can't find a way to forgive her for how she's treated him in the past. Every moment in this novel is torture. You feel Regina's pain as though you are the one being bullied. Anna makes sure that school is not somewhere Regina wants to be and she does not give Regina a chance to tell her the truth about that fateful night. Regina tries to be strong and she does a good job pretending to be, but we all know she is dying inside. She holds guilt and fear and painful secret that only elevates the torture being set on her. The acts of violence that Anna pulled on her made me cringe and tear up, wanting so badly for them to get what they deserved and for Regina to get through it. 

High school has its secrets. We don't know what is happening behind closed doors. We don't know what those notes say in other people's lockers. We don't know who is being tortured while we stand and do nothing. Bullying is not a laughing matter. Some people bully others to the point of suicide. We don't know how our words affect others. We don't know everything. Regina gets to see the pain that she has caused others in her life. She learns how it feels the hard way, but she learns. She knows that she has hurt others and she tries to make it right. None of it is worth it if it hurts others. Words can do a lot to a person and if we are lucky enough to have the chance to make it right, I hope we all do. Summers is brilliant with this heart-felt, touching novel about the truths in rumours, gossip, love and bullying. Every character hit me hard and demanded to be listened to. And boy did they deserve my time. 

“Tell Liz,' I say, 'the mean girl totally got what she deserved in the end.” 

“I close my eyes and lean my head against the seat, and the word fuck just repeats itself over and over in my head, because fuck.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

44. Cracked Up To Be

Book #44: Cracked Up To Be
Author: Courtney Summers
Published: December 23, 2008
214 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

Going into this book, I had no doubt that I would love it. Summers impressed me so much with This Is Not A Test that I knew I had to get my hands on her three novels that came before it. Cracking open the first page, I was hooked, and I couldn't put it down until I was finished.

Parker forces you to listen to her. The story begins after her life has changed drastically. Something happened at a party last spring but even Parker isn't too sure about the details. Something changed in her that night and she's let everyone know it. She started showing up to school drunk, quit cheerleading, making suicide threats, and dumped her popular boyfriend. She was the most popular girl in school and not for her stunning personality. But ever since that night, all she wants is to be left alone. If that's not enough, she has to make trips to the guidance counsellor every week and has a lot of homework to make up before she can graduate. Parker has given up on high school and can't wait to get out of there. But when the new kid, Jake, starts paying attention to her, and her ex starts dating her replacement cheer captain, she can't seem to escape the high school life and she's not sure she wants to. But does she deserve to be happy after what happened?

Summers leaves you waiting until the last page to find out all of Parker's secrets. She gives away the story of that night bit by bit as Parker struggles to get through the pain she's caused herself and others. My heart broke with every inch of information, wanting Parker to find the truth in her actions and find a way to forgive herself. 

Now Parker is not the easiest protagonist to like. In fact, she tries very hard to make you hate her along with the rest of the world. Her actions are rude and uncalled for and you'll wonder why she's putting everyone through it. She is mean to Jake from the get-go but he finds a way to see past her stares and snarky remarks, knowing that it's not who she really is. She has formed a protective shell around herself because she doesn't think she deserves to feel any happiness. Jake is the prefect counterpart to her. He is undeniably loyal and won't give up on her no matter how she treats him. He forces her to realize that the world does not revolve around her and that it's time to face the consequences. 

Parker's story might not touch everyone. Some people might not be able to stand her and her reckless attitude, others might think she deserves everything she's going through, but I for one loved her. I loved her guilt (okay that sounds bad, what I mean is that I understand why she acted the way she did) and I love how she evolves throughout the story. Yes, she makes mistakes and yes, she hurts people, but that's what being a teenager is all about. Like Sloane, the character from This Is Not A Test, she finds a way to make it through a hard time and to me, that is the most important quality in a person. Summers has a way of creating the most messed up characters and finding a way for us to love them. Parker and Sloane have joined the ranks of my favourite heroines and I'm sure the rest of Summers' girls will do that same. You will not regret reading this book. 

“The sooner you make a mistake and learn to live with it, the better. You're not responsible for everything. You can't control the way things end up.” 

“I didn't want to be popular because it was easier; I wanted to be popular because in high school that's the best thing you can be: perfect. Everything else is shit.” 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

43. Hex Hall

Book #43: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Published: March 2, 2012
336 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.
By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.
As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.
First I want to thank Mag at Geek Chic Books for giving me the opportunity to enjoy this book. I won it through a contest she had and I'm so thankful! I had wanted to get my hands on this book for quite sometime but couldn't find it in my book store, but Mag made my wish come true!
Hex Hall is the perfect mix between Sabina, The Teenage Witch and Harry Potter. There is magic, sorcery, and danger lurking in the shadows, with a dash of sarcastic humour and cute romances. Sophie Mercer is a sad excuse for a witch and she discovers this her first day at Hex Hall, when she can't even cast a small spell to protect herself from a werewolf. But she didn't want to be there in the first place and the longer she's there, the more she hates it. Hecate Hall, or Hex Hall as the students call it, is a reform school for wayward Prodigium (witches, werewolves, vampires and fairies) and Sophie doesn't really fit in. She's roommates with the only vampire student in the school and a clan of witches can't stand her after she denied their invitation to join their coven. Add to that the fact that she has a crush on one of those witches' boyfriend. And when students start showing up with their blood drained and bite marks on their necks, Sophie's roommate is the first subject, but Sophia knows he can't be her and she'll do anything to prove it. 
The idea of a reform school for bad mythical beings is too awesome. As soon as Sophie stepped foot through the door I knew I would like the place. Fairies wandering the halls, shape shifters roaming through the woods on campus and witches building their dresses through spells. The catty coven of witches following Sophie around are your average mean girls, which just go to show you that bullies are eveywhere. Sophie is awkward and hilarious as the narrator. Her voice is unique and makes the perfect first person narrator. Her snarkiness and sleuthing remind me of Veronica Mars as she tries to figure out who is responsible for the incidents occurring at school. Nothing is what she thinks it is when she gets there and she learns more about herself than she probably wants to find out. Not every goes her way, she gets into trouble a lot and those witches are more like witches with a 'b' and won't leave her alone. She is the perfect protagonist for a young adult book: unsure of herself, not aware of how powerful she can be until she has to use the power to protect someone she loves, and of course a little boy crazy. 
Each character has their own voice and all the supportive characters are just as entertaining as Sophie. Archer Cross, the boy she can't get enough of, is mysterious and snarky but nice enough that we all love him. Even the evil witches are well rounded and you start to feel sorry for a few of them. Jenna, Sophie's vampire roommate, is not what you'd expect from a vampire. She loves pink, but hates pretty much everyone in the school. Sophie and her have a lot in common and she is a good counterpart for Sophie's troubles at school. 
Nothing is what it seems and everything goes wrong when you're living in a school filled with rebellious witches and other such beings. Hawkins makes you desperate to know what's happening to the students of Hex Hall and curious to know whose behind the accidents. She'll keep you guessing until the last page and then force you to pick up the next book. I can't wait to read more about Sophie's adventures.
"Man, Sophie, it's only your first day and you've already befriended the school outcast, pissed off the most popular girls at Hecate, and developed a full-blown thing for the hottest guy. If you can manage to get detention tomorrow, you'll be like, legendary."

Friday, September 7, 2012

42. Starters

Book #42: Starters
Author: Lissa Price
Published: March 13, 2012
352 Pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined.

A dystopian Cinderella story. What more could I ask for? A poor girl who is trying to make ends meet and care for her sick brother takes the only opportunity she can find: selling her body to Enders, first generation society members who want to be young again. Sounds perfect, right? Sleep for a month then wake up with loads of cash. Too good to be true. When Callie goes under, something goes wrong and she ends up in the her own body but living in the Ender's world. She lives the high life: parties, mansions, fast cars and good food. But when pretending to be someone else, things can get rough. She soon finds out that her renter had plans of her own for Callie's body and Callie needs to get to the end of the problem before she can even think about going home to her brother. Throw in a nice boy, an evil controlling company, and nothing being what it seems, and you've got the makings of a great novel.

Price builds a world that is both believable and fun. There isn't much explanation to the Spore Wars or why they killed off everyone between the ages of 20 and 60, but I let it slide because Callie's story is perfect. She is brave and selfless, willing to do whatever it takes to make sure her brother has a good life. She makes the wrong choices and puts herself in terrible situations, but always finds a way to overcome everything for the sake of her brother. Callie stands out among strong heroines and I'm glad I had the chance to read her story. Her younger brother is innocent and loveable, and I found myself hoping he'd survive just as much as Callie was. Her friend Michael, whom she's lived with on the streets since her parents died, cares for both of them and you can see his devastation when Callie decides to go to Prime Destinations. And Blake, the senator's grandson, is perfect. He is thoughtful and kind to Callie and has a way of being in the right place at the right time. I fell for him as quickly as Callie did, fro good reason. 

I can't wait to read more from this series, with the sequel, Enders. A lot happened with Prime Destinations that makes me wonder what Callie will be able to do to save others like her who are having their bodies rented out. Not all of them are doing it willingly. The plot is fast-paced and gripping, keeping me wanting to turn the page and desperate for more time to be added to my clock so I could keep reading. There are many unanswered questions that just keep me wanting more. I highly recommend this for any fans of sci-fi, dystopian or even fairytales as I'm sure they will love the story. Price has created a unique world that just begs to be discovered. The big question is, would I sell my body to save my family? And my answer would have to be yes, even if I did end up in the same sticky situation as Callie. Let's hope it means I wouldn't die, but I'll have to wait for the sequel to know for sure.

“Did Cinderella ever consider fessing up to the prince, that night she was enjoying herself in the fancy ball gown? Did she even think of telling him, oh, by the way, Prince, the coach isn’t mine, I’m really a filthy little barefoot servant on borrowed time? No. She took her moment. And then went quietly away after midnight.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

41. Pushing The Limits

Book #41: Pushing The Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Published: July 31, 2012
384 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

I wanted to absolutely love this book. I wanted to love it so much that I'd scream from the rooftops about it. I heard so many good things about it and I wanted to love it. Echo was beautiful, tortured and lonely, the makings of an interesting character. Noah ached of pain and good looks, a bad boy who just wants his life back together. The two of them supply enough tension to start a war. They were prefect and their stories were perfect, but I still didn't love it.

Maybe it's because I couldn't relate to any of their problems. They both live pretty messed up lives. Echo escaped her mentally ill mother and is now stuck with her dad and his new wife (her old babysitter). She also lost her brother, something I can't imagine living with. Noah's parents died in a accident and left him and his two younger brothers alone to foster care. Noah is separated from them and is doing everything he can to make them a family again. Echo just wants to know how her life turned out this way and maybe Noah does too. Dual narrations give complete insight into both of their minds, something that is handy when they first start getting involved with each other. 

Each chapter advances the plot, but I feel like the book could have been shorter. So much happened that didn't need to happen. Halfway through, I wanted something big to happen, but it never did. Maybe this isn't what the book was supposed to be. Maybe it is just about surviving, finding a way out of difficult situations and finding the one you're meant to be with. Maybe it was the fact that Noah called Echo "Baby" every time he spoke to her. I didn't find this to be very realistic. I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction, so that may be another reason why I was waiting for something that never came.

I would still recommend this book, especially to people who can relate to these characters more than I can.  The love story is nice and slow, making it truly believeable. Finding love when it seems like nothing good is happening in your life is a wonderful feeling and McGarry captures it through the eyes of both Echo and Noah, proving that love is out there for everyone. We all deserve our happy endings, some more than others. The pain, fear and torture that these characters have been through make their love story that much better. An inspiring book that I have no doubt teens will love.

If you’re scared, tell me. If you need to cry and scream, then do it. And you sure as hell don’t walk away from us because you think it would be better for me. Here’s the reality, Echo: I want to be by your side. If you want to go to the mall stark naked so you can show the world your scars, then let me hold your hand. If you want to see your mom, then tell me that too. I may not always understand, but damn, baby, I’ll try.

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