Review: Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris

From Goodreads: Someone’s been a very bad zombie.

Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steroids are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe–not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate!

She’s got to find an antidote–before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town. . . and stay hormonally human.

Bad Taste in Boys is a super fun summer read. The plot is fast moving and the conclusion albeit predictable was interesting to read on the pages. Kate is an interesting character but with all characters in this book I felt she lacked depth. The story itself is light and heavy on the comedy so the lack of depth in character while noted didn’t inhibit me from enjoying the plot.

The book is zombie fluff and fodder for a great teen zombie movie but I think the book failed in bringing that B movie vibe to the page. I felt many things were unobtainable or just didn’t make sense to the plot and the character was self confident one page then lacking confidence the next which very well relates to many teens I am sure.

I do not have a medical degree, but I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night and I felt the solution to the zombie problem was completely out of left field, not at all possible based on the drug families mentioned and gave pause to just how far we are supposed to believe the character is incredible tres science chic when the answer to the whole virus/problem is incredibly simple (and unbelievable) but it took Kate the whole book to figure it out.

I am not saying at all that I disliked the book, it was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon as long as you don’t think too much about the logistics or start looking for depth where there is none to be found. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to zombie story lovers and horror movie aficionados.

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Review: Die for Me by Amy Plum

Goodreads: My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything.

Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.

Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

While I’m fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family’s—in jeopardy for a chance at love?

I went into Die for Me not knowing what to expect. I hadn’t seen any of the buzz online about the book but was told by a friend I absolutely must read it. So I opened it on Saturday morning and was completely enraptured by Plum’s romantic writing for the rest of the weekend.

Kate is easily likable and incredibly smart. Vincent is the TDF kind of guy you expect to see haunting the streets of Paris. He isn’t looking for attention but Kate gives it to him anyway.

It is easy to begin this book thinking “oh another YA Paranormal” not even in a bad way. A lot of us love every paranormal thrown at us, but almost immediately you realize that Die for Me is something more. It is a romance; a true romance. There is conflict and there is love but it’s not the insta-love we have all come to know. Kate is too smart to lay all her cards on one guy who has a triggering effect on her most depressing of thoughts.

As you get to know Vincent and Kate more (and you do get to know them, the character building in this book is second to none) you see their inner struggle to allow themselves to love each other. Each has inherited a strong loss and neither want to relive those bad memories.

The setting could not have been better for the story, while seedy and old world scary at night, Paris is the epitome of love during the daylight hours. I loved Plum’s use of the city, it becomes almost a character unto itself and you fall in love with Vincent, Kate and Paris all at the same time.

I strongly believe that even paranormal naysayers should have a go at reading this book. While the supernatural aspect is there and prominent in the story line it is not once in your face demanding you care deeply about the paranormal elements.

The lore is tight and there is so much more to say and discover about this world. I am dying to read book two.

I picked this up at ALA and requested it from Netgalley for review purposes.

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Review: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

From Goodreads: Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.

Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.

Until now.

Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world…a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.

The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma’s extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into The Emerald Atlas. I know I want to read more MG fiction because I generally enjoy it, but one thing I do not enjoy at all is time travel. I know enough about quantum physics (yeah nerd I know) to be annoyed with all of the mistakes that authors normal make when they base their time travel on a theory that we already are researching. The magical aspect that The Emerald Atlas uses is a fantastic way to utilize time travel. I truly enjoyed the idea of putting a photograph in a book and then traveling back to that exact moment.

The three children in the book, Kate, Michael and Emma each have a strong and different personality. It’s hard to have a clear favorite but I think I enjoyed Emma’s spunk the most. For three children who know they have parents alive and are moved from orphanage to orphanage because their parents gave them up, the kids are fantastically not whiny and very self assured. They believe in the love their parents have for them.

John Stephens writing is amazing. I loved all of the little quirks of the novel and his use of language. It made the book all the more fantastical. Stephens has all of the right stuff to be the Rowling or Pullman of this new generation.

The side characters you meet along the way really make this novel even more grand. Gabriel the ruffian, and many more mythical creatures that I don’t wish to name for fear of spoiling the book for you. All in all I think this is an amazing new book and I am anticipating the second one as if I were a child!

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book. It is not a spoiler and I think gives you a good use of language. To set the scene, this is the husband of a woman who is obsessed with swans, she has live swans, a swan hat, swan shaped couch, swan statues and well you get the picture:

And so it was one night near the beginning of December, while sitting before the fire with her husband, Mr Lovestock–who took a vacation by himself every summer supposedly to collect beetles, but actually to hunt swans at a private reserve in Florida, blasting them at near-point-blank range with a mad grin on his face–so it was that Mrs. Lovestock sat up on the swan-shaped couch where she had been knitting and announced. “Gerald, I am going to adopt some children.”

John Stephens is going to be signing at Hicklebee’s in San Jose on April 6th at 3pm. If you can’t make that and want a book signed and personalized for you or your little one just click the link and give Hicklebee’s a call, they will hook you up.

You can click here to read the first chapter.

Book Trailer: one of the best I have ever seen:

FTC Disclosure: This book was given to me by a publicist at a conference. She was right this book is awesome

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Review: The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

From Goodreads: It’s always been just Kate and her mom–and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld–and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy–until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails…

There is something you should know about me. I am a bit of a mythology geek. I spent my whole year in fourth grade nose in a book reading anything I could get my hands on and then profiling the gods in notebooks. Hades was always my favorite. I thought he got a raw deal, pulling the short straw and having to deal with the dead.

The Goddess Test was a mesh of all of my favorite myths. The tests for immortality that the demigods had to surpass in order to become a god, and the story of Persephone that I thought was oh so romantic. At ten years old who doesn’t want to become a Queen by any means?

I went into The Goddess Test very excited, and hoping that I wasn’t setting myself up for a disappointment. I am oh so pleased to announce that Aimee Carter did a brilliant job with the myth and adding in her own contemporary vibe and fresh new outlook on the story. I loved The Goddess Test.

Hades God of the Underworld

Kate was a smart girl, she wasn’t the kind of character that grated on your nerves with whining or making tons of bad decisions to move the plot along. Carter was able to write Kate as a strong independent teenager who has spent the past four years caring for her mother who was given six months to live. Kate did not whine about missing dating or High School or anything else that teenagers care about, Kate just wanted her mother to live and wouldn’t have had it any other way. She wanted to spend as much time as possible with her mother for as much time as her mother had left to live.

Kate’s mother wanted to go back home to pass on so Kate drove them from her beloved New York City to a small town named Eden. Kate meets Henry and he offers her a deal that she can’t refuse. Stay with him six months out of the year and he will keep her mother alive until Kate can bear to say goodbye.

The plot moves forward at a lightening quick pace and there are so many twisty bits in The Goddess Test that make you want to read even faster to come to the conclusion of the story. I love that this book is one of the very few that make you sympathetic to Hades, because he never has been as evil as modern literature paints him. He just happened to draw the short straw when it came to who would rule where. Poseidon took domain of the sea while Zeus grabbed dominion over the air and Hades was left to deal with twisted underworld and guard The River Styx.

I think no matter what level of love you have for mythology you will appreciate Carter’s retelling of Persephone’s troubles. This book is great for those who stick towards the contemporary side of YA as well because there isn’t much of the paranormal going on here just some awesome contemporary writing meshed with fabulous mythology.

The end of the book is a fantastic conclusion that isn’t the crazy I want to throw the book against the wall cliffhanger but it still leaves you waiting with bated breath for the next edition. I truly cannot say enough good things about this book.

I have a feeling these books will become just as popular as Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey for us Harlequin Teen readers.

FTC Disclosure: I downloaded this book from Netgalley as an ARC.

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Review: Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Goodreads: The drizzle had broken into patches as they walked. As Drina scooped up the pale sand, Kate found herself standing in the smudge of shadow cast by the deadfall. She had never before noticed the way shadows gave things weight, made them look heavy and real and connected to the ground. Without hers…

She edged into the light.

Her shadow looked strange and thinned. It seemed not cast against the ground, but floating above it, like a fog. What Linay had said was true: No one would notice this, at first. It was just an uneasy little change, like the half-felt movement of a boat that slowly induces a great sickness.

Plain Kate lives in a world of superstitions and curses, where a song can heal a wound and a shadow can work deep magic. As the wood-carver’s daughter, Kate held a carving knife before a spoon, and her wooden talismans are so fine that some even call her “witch-blade”: a dangerous nickname in a country where witches are hunted and burned in the square.

For Kate and her village have fallen on hard times. Kate’s father has died, leaving her alone in the world. And a mysterious fog now covers the countryside, ruining crops and spreading fear of hunger and sickness. The townspeople are looking for someone to blame, and their eyes have fallen on Kate.

Enter Linay, a stranger with a proposition: In exchange for her shadow, he’ll give Kate the means to escape the angry town, and what’s more, he’ll grant her heart’s wish. It’s a chance for her to start over, to find a home, a family, a place to belong. But Kate soon realizes she can’t live shadowless forever — and that Linay’s designs are darker than she ever dreamed.

Words cannot describe the feelings I have for Plain Kate. Erin Bow gave me a gift, she gave all who read Plain Kate a gift. It’s the gift of a perfectly written story without all of the cliche’s that are hounding young adult literature at the moment. There is no love story for Kate, therefore no epic love triangle. Kate is a self aware heroine, she knows her faults and accepts them. Therefore there is no self depreciating lead character. Plain Kate is a book that you will continue to not only think about but to feel long after you have read it.

It’s hard for me to review Plain Kate. I almost thought about making this a blog post instead. I was afraid that if I praise the book and the author too much that it will read as hype, but I realized Plain Kate is not about hype, it is just about phenomenal story telling and that will show through even my rambling thoughts.

We begin with Kate being fanatically happy with her life. Her father is a Master Carver and has promised to take Kate on as his apprentice when she is old enough. The mother has long since past and Kate never knew her making the relationship with her father all the more important. Kate has strange colored eyes and isn’t much to look at so they dub her Plain Kate in the town. Kate is accepted, even though she is strange by her father’s tremendously positive reputation in the town.

Everyone is afraid of anyone who looks, talks or walks like a witch and when Kate’s father succumbs to witch’s fever, Kate has some growing up to do, and quickly! She is not old enough to take over his position so a new carver is sent to town, she is alone, homeless and missing her father but she does not whine. Kate picks herself up by her bootstraps and simply survives. It is then she meets a set of kittens and raises them. Two abandon her but one stays loyal and on the day the beautiful man in white comes to town, well that is the day Plain Kate’s adventure begins.

We are then taken on a magical journey of Gypsies, new scenery, magic, and heartbreak. Through-out Plain Kate I laughed and cried and was so invested in so many of the characters I became completely conflicted with myself. Erin Bow is simply a masterful story teller. Sometimes it takes a simple fairy tale to show you what you have been missing in your reading for so long. I strongly urge any fairy tale or fantasy lover to pick up a copy of Plain Kate. I assure you that you will immensely enjoy yourself.

You can read what Erin Bow is working on now by heading over to Book Chic Club and you can enter to win your very own copy of Plain Kate at Goodreads.

In which Erin Bow reads Plain Kate and shows off her stripper pole!

I received a copy of Plain Kate from the Publisher. It was an ARC therefore holds no monetary value. So there you have it FTC.

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