April 13, 2014

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Let me start by saying this, I did not know that this book was related to her book Impulse.
Impulse is one of my favorite books, and it is also one of the only ones to make me cry.
So when I figured out that this book was related to Impulse, I felt the impending doom of the situation that originally made me cry. (Conner)

Then… it happened and it broke my heart all over again. She is good at pulling on your heartstrings, that Ellen Hopkins. That’s for sure.

Perfect is about 4 teenagers striving to prove themselves on some level.

Andre – He is a dancer. He loves dancing, and he is really good at it. His parents have other plans for him. He is supposed to go to a good school and get a high paying job. He worries that people will think he is gay if they know of his hobby.

Kendra – She is a model, and she wants to be perfect. She wants the perfect face and the perfect body no matter the cost. She plans on using plastic surgery and not eating as her paths to success. She isn’t healthy. But, if she believes she is perfect, she is okay with that.

Sean – The jock of the group. He is a highly skilled baseball player, and he will do whatever it takes to get even better. The reader gets to see his downward spiral with his use of enhancement drugs as it takes him from a normal teenager to a rage filled monster.

Cara – After dealing with her brother’s failed suicide attempt, her parents expect her to be the perfect one. Once she starts to question her sexuality, she fears that she will not be what everyone wants her to be. Will being happy with Dani be enough for her?

Just like every Hopkins book I have read, this is a really great book telling the story of growing up and finding who you are. It is hardly ever easy, and her books give real insights to what many teenagers face today. Perfect is no different.

I really enjoyed it. All of the characters are different in their own ways, but all of their stories are intertwined.
The character development was great. They all grow and develop while learning more about what life expects from them.

5/5 If you are generally a fan of Ellen Hopkins, or if you are looking for a great YA author, this is a good place to start and a great read.

April 11, 2014

Gravity by Abigail Boyd

Missing girls. A budding romance. And a town that is hiding secrets.

Gravity starts off as just another YA book: A girl protagonist with a best friend who talks about boys and make up.

Then it turns into something a lot deeper.
Ariel’s best friend Jenna goes missing, and no one knows what happened to her.
Not only that, but other girls around town start disappearing as well.

All of a sudden Ariel is tormented by horrible nightmares where she sees blood, Jenna, and other terrifying paranormal creatures.

Ariel makes friends with one of the school’s “outcasts” Theo. She is Ariel’s neighbor, and they begin to spend a lot of time together. She feels a bit guilty making a new friend because Jenna is still missing, but having someone to talk to and relate to is a huge plus for her.

Ariel’s dad runs an art museum in Hell. He loves art and encourages Ariel to take art classes every year. He is excited to meet Theo because she loves to draw and is actually very talented at drawing.

Ariel’s mother has a very time consuming job. When she isn’t working, she is obsessively cleaning the house. She doesn’t allow shoes on the carpet, and has signs up around the house in case anyone forgets.

Henry is the new boy in town. He is drawn to Ariel, but their relationship is a little awkward at first. Ariel has never had a boyfriend, let alone had many guys interested in her. She doesn’t know how to talk to them, so it leads to many awkward interactions.
That was definitely one of my least favorite parts of the book. I felt so much second-hand embarrassment for her it was a struggle to read at times.
As their relationship develops, I found myself really rooting for them.
I feel like there was still some parts left unexplained about Henry. I hope his story is revisited in the next book.
I want to know why his family is so mysterious.

Ariel has a feeling that something not quite normal happened to Jenna. She has always been interested in the occult and other paranormal things – how could you not living in a town called Hell?
She enlists the help of Theo and Henry to conduct a séance at an old orphanage. It is being turned into a haunted house, so they have to try to do it when no one is around.

Things just start getting weirder from there and they don’t know who they can trust.
Ariel’s own father doesn’t believe her when she tells him that she hears THUDs in her walls.

After a fire breaks out at the school, Ariel and Henry decide they must get to the bottom of things. They go searching for a security DVD to see who started the fire. When they find that it is broken, they decide to go to the source of the fire to figure out what was trying to be destroyed.
Will they finally learn what has been happening in Hell?

One thing I really liked about this book was the fact that it didn’t rely on the paranormal aspect to be interesting. The paranormal aspect was one of the main points of the story but it just added depth to an already intriguing plot.
I find that some books can rely too heavily on it to the point where it becomes monotonous and feels like there was no real thought put into the story.
You can tell that there was a lot of thought put into the plot and characters to make this a really strong novel.

As I started getting towards the end, I felt like it sort of lost itself. It seemed as though the book was heading one way, and then decided to turn around and go in a completely opposite direction.
It wasn’t a twist in the story; it was more of how it played out. I thought the end result was going to have a lot more paranormal occurrences to it. It seemed that the book was building up to be that way, but instead it only came to light when Ariel was seeing the dead girls . . . and the THUDing.

4/5 stars. I have to keep in mind that this is book 1 in a series, but I feel like more could have been explained in the end. If it continues into the next book, that is great. But, it did leave this one feeling a little unfinished.

Also, any book that has a strong fall/Halloween theme is likely to win me over somehow. Its my favorite season :D

Things I would hope for in a sequel:
·      Revisiting suspicions surrounding the principal
·      Henry’s family
·      The reference to “one of us” that surrounded the ‘popular’ kids. I feel like it didn’t only mean that they had a lot of money and influence on the town.
·      WHY the girls were going missing.

Memorable Quote: “Take it from me – don’t fall in love so easily. I learned that the hard way. You have to cut that part right out of you.”

Read ahead for spoilers

April 7, 2014

First Love by James Patterson

First Love is not what I would consider a normal Patterson book.
Yes, he has a lot of young adult novels.
Yes, he has some romance novels.
But, this is a cross over between the two, and I didn’t really feel like I was reading a Patterson book at all.

That being said, it was not bad. I actually really enjoyed it.

First Love is basically a new-age Bonnie and Clyde story. Two high school students, Axi and Robinson, decide to leave their small town on the West Coast and travel all over the country.
Doing something like this is completely different for Axi because she is known as a good girl who gets good grades. No one would imagine she would skip the last part of her semester to steal cars and take off around the United States.

That’s right, I said steal cars.

Axi’s original plan was to take a bus from destination to destination. She had the whole trip mapped out, and everything that they would need was packed in her bad.

Robinson had a different idea. If they were going to run away, they were going to go all out. He decides to hotwire a motorcycle as their first vehicle, and they speed away towards their first destination.

Their trip was going great; they were getting closer than ever . . . and falling further in love with each other. Then, the worst thing happened.


Axi and Robinson originally met in the hospital. They both had cancer, and upon deciding to go on this trip, they were both in remission.

But as their trip progressed, they realized Robinson was becoming seriously ill again. The cancer was back, and it wasn’t going to let go of him this time.

This book turned from a happy love story to one of fighting through emotions and finding strength when you only want to fall apart.
It was a roller coaster of emotions, and it was written so well that you didn’t expect what was coming.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found it to be a really addicting story. It was hard to put the book down when I started it. That is pretty typical for a Patterson book, but as I said before, I didn’t feel like I was reading a Patterson book.

Overall, it was a really sweet love story and an otherwise crazy plot of two kids on the run from their lives at home.

4/5 stars

Memorable Quote: "Maybe the compulsion to run away was genetic. Mom did it to escape her grief. My dad escapes with alcohol. Now I was doing it . . . and it felt strangely right"

April 4, 2014

Dented Cans by Heather Walsh

Dented Cans is the story of Hannah Sampson’s functionally dysfunctional family.

Her father is an accountant. Despite making a fair amount of money, he was very cheap. He also buys dented cans because the prices on they are always marked down, and it gives them a cheaper meal than they would have had before. His is a bit OCD and makes sure everything is spotless. Even the phones are basically soaked in Lysol.

Her mother worked at her little brother’s school. She is very serious. She doesn’t laugh at jokes much, and always seems to have on a straight face.

Hannah’s first mission is to buy a car. She reads the car ads religiously trying to find the right car at the right price to fit her budget. Once she finds one, she must try to talk her parents into letting her buy one. This is no simple task because of how cheap they are with their money.

One dilemma hanging in the air is the family trip to Disney World. The idea is brought up at the beginning of the book, and the two oldest kids – Hannah and Ryan – are not too thrilled about going. They have already been there, but their youngest brother, Ben, was too young to remember.

Ben is now eight years old, but he is different from other kids. He makes a lot of sound effects and doesn’t talk much.

Ryan seems to be a normal teenager, but he is the complete opposite of Hannah academically. Hannah strives for perfect grades, and just getting a B on her report card upsets her. Ryan scrapes by with lower grades and isn’t too concerned when he winds up with a D in Spanish. He claims that the teacher sucks and everyone else got bad grades as well.

They are definitely not a normal family, but they get by.

Then the trip to Disney World finally happens.
Hannah and Ryan do not want to be there. They would rather be off doing their own thing: Ryan – playing some video game, Hannah – studying her SAT vocabulary words.

Ben is sort of indifferent to the whole trip. He enjoys some of it, but most of the time he is off in his own little world.

On the way home, Hannah’s mother reveals a family secret that changes the way the kids view their parents. It is a pretty touching scene but also very sad at the same time.

I enjoyed reading this novel. It made me laugh at times. Hannah’s personality was entertaining at parts, and her conversations with Ryan added some humor as well.

It was a pretty easy read. The chapters were a little lengthy, but they seemed to go by fairly quick.

I could see there being a sequel to this.

4/5 Stars

April 1, 2014

The Contaminants by Devin K. Smyth

When the American Government plans for a global purification of sorts, it sets of a chain of events resulting in a nuclear holocaust.

They had ships set in place to take people into space, but only this one survived. Jessil was forced to leave her father behind, and only has her two brothers – Ben and Lo.

The Contaminants is told through the eyes of the two protagonists Raj and Jessil.

Raj’s father is a scientists that works in the laboratory trying to regenerate part of the Earth’s surface to make it safe for their ship to land. They are naming this new area New Dakota and they only have about six months left to orbit the Earth before they run out of fuel.

Then they discover something amazing. It appears as if there is grass growing back on Earth, and after further examining the camera feed from New Dakota, they see a human. A human that Jessil believes is her father.

Was he actually able to survive the nuclear holocaust on Earth?

This is a very character-driven book. The characters are all really strong, and a lot of effort has been put into creating them.
That being said, I didn’t necessarily like all of them. My least favorite characters were Lo and Jessil.

Lo was a whiney little brat throughout the book, and I didn’t feel there was really a need for him to be there. He didn’t add anything to the story for me. The fact that he was adopted didn’t really matter to me either.

Jessil seemed like a know-it-all that didn’t want to listen to others. Her personality was a little too strong, and it took away from the plot at times. Being strong-willed obviously led to getting her way, but I would rather have read some dialogue about making decisions rather than her bossing people around and going off by herself.

Raj was sort of a redeeming character. He is very smart, yet he is able to put up with Jessil and tries to cancel out her overbearing self at times. He was probably the best character in my eyes. 

This book was pretty easy to not put down. The chapters I guess you could call them were pretty short so it was easy for my mind not to wander. There was plenty of action to hold my attention, and the flow of the book allowed for a lot of pages to be read without realizing it.
For a genre of fantasy/sci-fi that I don’t dive into as much, I wasn’t disappointed with this one.

3/5 stars