Dede (inferiarecoming) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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book progress - 33%

I thought it was about time I posted the second lot of reviews for the books I’ve read this year. I’m a little bit behind on the challenge I’ve set for myself, but hopefully I’ll catch up soon. This has been cross-posted to inferiarecoming.

BOOK/SERIES: When It Happens
AUTHOR: Susane Colasanti
BLURB: (from “At the start of senior year, Sara wants two things: to get into her first-choice college and to find true love. Tobey also wants two things: to win Battle of the Bands and to make Sara fall in love with him. Dave, they boy Sara was hoping would realise she exists, moves in on Sara first. But Tobey is impossible for Sara to ignore. He gets the little things that matter to her and, most importantly, he feels like something real. Can a slacker rock star wannabe win the heart of a pretty class brain like Sara?”
DATE FINISHED: 20/3/2011
RATING: ★★★ ½
THOUGHTS: I think I fell a little bit in love with the character of Tobey when I was reading this book. He was so awkward and real and reminded me so much of some of the guys I went to school with - unconcerned with anything except for their music. This was a little bit cliched, but all in all I enjoyed reading it. The shifts in point of view were interesting in that the full picture would never be completely grasped unless we heard both Sara and Tobey's side of the story. This is one of those books where I was rooting for the two of them for the get-go, and was left grinning like a goofball by the end.

BOOK/SERIES: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls Book #1)
AUTHOR: Maggie Stiefvater
BLURB: (from Amazon) “Grace, 17, loves the peace and tranquillity of the woods behind her home. It is here during the cold winter months that she gets to see her wolf - the one with the yellow eyes. Grace is sure that he saved her from an attack by other wolves when she was nine. Over the ensuing years he has returned each season, watching her with those haunting eyes as if waiting for something to happen. When a teen is killed by wolves, a hunting party decides to retaliate. Grace races through the woods and discovers a wounded boy shivering on her back porch. One look at his yellow eyes and she knows that this is her wolf in human form. Fate has finally brought Sam and Grace together, and as their love grows and intensifies, so does the reality of what awaits them. It is only a matter of time before the winter cold changes him back into a wolf, and this time he might stay that way forever.”
DATE FINISHED: 25/3/2011
RATING: ★★★★ ½
THOUGHTS: I first read Maggie Stiefvater's work over at merry_fates, where she posts short stories along with two other YA writers, Brenna Yovanoff and Tessa Gratton. Maggie was my favourite of the three; I liked her attitude and the way her stories always drew me in so completely, even if they were only a few paragraphs long. So when I picked up Shiver, I knew I would enjoy it. And I was right. Grace and Sam as a couple are amazing. I guess you could describe them as soul-mates? Sam's struggles to stay human and Grace's intense need to keep him with her were heart-breaking and exhilarating to read. I think the thing I enjoyed most was Maggie's re-imagining of werewolves (I don't actually think they're ever really referred to as 'werewolves' in the books though). The idea that cold temperatures trigger the change was something I'd never read before, and led to some pretty tense scenes throughout the book. I'm in the process of reading the sequel, Linger, and I'm totally hooked.

Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow Series Book #1)
AUTHOR: John Marsden
BLURB: (from Amazon) “Australian teenager Ellie and six of her friends return from a winter break camping trip to find their homes burned or deserted, their families imprisoned, and their country occupied by a foreign military force in league with a band of disaffected Australians. As their shock wears off, the seven decide they must stick together if they are to survive. After a life-threatening skirmish with the occupiers, the teens retreat to their isolated campfire in the bush country and make plans to fight a guerrilla war against the invaders.”
DATE FINISHED: 27/3/2011
RATING: ★★★ ½
THOUGHTS: This series has been recommended to me since I was in high school. It was one of those books that Australian teens always read growing up, something that became like a rite of passage I suppose. I was too obsessed with Harry Potter to take notice, and I kind of regret not reading it earlier. It was eerie to read this knowing it was set in Australia, and sometimes hard to imagine an event like the one that took place in the novel actually happening here. I had to suspend my disblief for a few scenes, especially when it kind of felt like the characters weren't really acting like the teenagers they were, though I suppose you never know how you'd react in a situation like that. I especially like the character of Homer, who sounds EXACTLY like a boy I went to school with - cocky and annoying, yet intelligent and caring at the same time. It hasn't quite grasped my attention completely yet, but there are six more books to go, so we'll see!

BOOKS/SERIES: Anatomy of a Boyfriend
AUTHOR: Daria Snadowsky
BLURB: (From Amazon) “Dominque and Amy-best friends and high school seniors in Florida-attend the big football game where Dom meets local track star Wesley. Wes is shy, and he and Dom e-mail and IM each other for some time before they start dating. Things get heavy pretty quickly and they lose their virginity on the clichéd prom night. Then they go to different colleges in the fall, and their relationship changes. Snadowsky describes Dom’s first intimate relationship in frank and graphic terms. This novel discusses masturbation, oral sex, and intervourse both as part of Dom and Wes’s romantic relationship and as a casual pastime for Amy.”
DATE FINISHED: 29/3/2011
THOUGHTS: I absolutely hated the main character in this story and her boyfriend. She was dull and just way too obsessed with the boy to even notice what was going on around her (like, say, the death of her grandmother), and he was annoying and sex-obsessed and so self-centered at times that I wanted to reach in to the book and give him a sharp whack on the head. Though I admired the frank way in which the author adressed first-time sex and teenage relationships, the characters just made me want to throw the book away.

AUTHOR: Susane Colasanti
BLURB: (From Amazon) “In this novel about the drama and trauma of teen relationships, Rhiannon loves order, maths, and Steve, but Steve dumped her for the manipulative, skanky Gloria. James loves serenity, designing softwar, and his friendship with Rhiannon. But his home life is chaotic, and Rhiannon doesn’t know how much he cares for her. Nicole loves her math teacher, her friendship with Rhiannon, and her ex-boyfriend, Danny. But Nicole has a secret that threatens all of her relationships. Over the course fo a week, Colasanti’s story, told in alternativing narratives, describes how the three teens cope with the same events, each other, and their own issues.”
RATING: ★★★ ½
THOUGHTS: Despite being a little confusing to follow at first, I enjoyed this book. The constant switching between P.O.V.'s was annoying initially, but after awhile seemed to just work for the story. I liked the way the characters interacted, and the slow reveal - the last couple of chapters really hit hard after all the petty-ish drama going on at the beginning. I really felt bad for the character of Nicole; the abuse she suffered (which is hinted at but only openly discussed at the end) was obviously causing so much trouble for her; I just wanted to give her a big hug. I could tell that Rhiannon and James would be end-game, it was just a matter of waiting for them to realise it. I think my favourite part of the book was the tone - the characters really spoke like a group  of teenagers. It was realistic and well done.

BOOKS/SERIES: Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry Book #1)
AUTHOR: Simone Elkeles
BLURB: (From Amazon) “Tough guy Alex is primarily known by his classmates as a dangerous member of the Latino Bloods gang. He’s not exactly thrilled when Brittany Ellis, the school’s seemingly perfect beauty queen, is assigned as his lab partner—and the feeling is more than mutual. But Alex’s bravado works against him when he impulsively accepts a bet that he can get Brittany in the sack. The romance that follows will not surprise any reader, yet Elkeles gives it heart by constantly switching point of view from Alex to Brittany to provide dual running commentaries on their minute-by-minute insecurities and urges. Brittany’s controlling parents and sister with cerebral palsy are well drawn, but it is Elkeles’ rendition of Alex and his life that is particularly vivid. Sprinkling his speech with Spanish, his gruff but tender interactions with his family and friends feel completely genuine.”
THOUGHTS: This kind of reminded me of my Ma's trashy romance novels, except without all the sex. I think this series is my new guilty pleasure. It's the old story of "boy from the wrong side of the tracks argues with affluent beauty queen until they fall in love with each other." I mean, it was okay, but nothing that hasn't been done before. I did like the changing between the two point of views of Alex and Brittany; it kept things interesting at times when the plot kind of fell flat.

BOOKS/SERIES: Rules of Attraction (Perfect Chemistry Book #2)
AUTHOR: Simone Elkeles
BLURB: (From Amazon) “Carlos Fuentes doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Boulder, Colarado. He wants to keep living on the edge, and carve his own path - just like Alex did. Unfortunately, his ties to a Mexican gang aren’t easy to break, and he soon finds himself being set up by a drug lord. When Alex arranges for Carlos to live with his former professor and his family to keep him from being sent to jail, Carlos feels completely out of place. He’s even more thrown by his strong feelings for the professor’s daughter, Kiara, who is nothing like the girls he’s usually drawn to. But Carlos and Kiara soon discover that in matters of the heart, the rules of attraction overpower the social differences that conspire to keep them apart. As the danger grows for Carlos, he’s shocked to discover that it’s this seemingly All-American family who can save him. But is he willing to endanger their safety for a chance at the kind of life he’s never even dreamed possible?”
THOUGHTS: When I started reading this, I actually had to go back a couple of times and check that I hadn't accidentally started reading Perfect Chemistry again by mistake. This was pretty much the first book with a different brother and a different white girl for him to fall in love with. It was cheesy and kind of cringe-worthy at times and I really felt the most incredible sense of deja-vu while reading it. It even had a simliar super-cheesy epilogue like the first book. Confession time: I loved it, in the way I love Nora Roberts books and made for tv movies. I'm looking forward to seeing how the third book  in the series will be exactly the same as the first two!

BOOKS/SERIES: Leaving Paradise
AUTHOR: Simone Elkeles
BLURB: (From Amazon) “Maggie has just returned home from a long stay in the hospital to repair the leg that was badly injured in an automobile accident; Caleb has just returned from prison, where he served nine months for driving the car that hit Maggie. In spite of a court order to stay away from her, Caleb continues to encounter Maggie and even ends up working for Mrs. Reynolds, the same elderly lady who Maggie helps. Telling the story in alternate chapters, Elkeles reveals the traumatic accident and its consequences from both victims' points of view. Maggie can no longer play tennis and is now convinced that she is ugly; Caleb must endure the harassment of his former friends, especially the beautiful, seductive Kendra.”
DATE FINISHED: 10/4/2011
RATING: ★★★½
THOUGHTS: I preferred this book much more to the Perfect Chemistry novels by the same author. I started the story being furious at Caleb and feeling so sorry for Maggie, but as the story progressed and we learnt more about Caleb and Maggie I started to change my mind (about Caleb at least. Maggie was always wonderfully sympathetic). There are hints that Caleb is not entirely to blame for the accident, and when we discover the true culprit, it kind of floored me, even though I had an idea. The relationship between the two is so sweet and heartbreaking, especially regarding the ending, when Caleb chooses to leave. Here's hoping things work out for them in the sequel!

BOOKS/SERIES: WVMP Radio Series: Wicked Game, Bad to the Bone, Bring on the Night
AUTHOR: Jeri Ready-Smith
BLURB: (From Amazon) “Newbie marketing Ciara Griffin lands a job at WMMP, a station threatened with being sold to Skyware, a giant communications conglomerate, unless ad revenue picks up. A former con-artist with a canny way with people, Ciara soon learns that the DJs are undead and specialists in the musical eras in which they were turned into vampires. In order to attract more listeners, Ciara promotes a new marketing strategy and the Sherwood, Md., station becomes 94.3 WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock and Roll, exploting the fang factor (which no listener takes seriously) for profit.”
DATE FINISHED: 14/5/2011
RATING: ★★★★½
THOUGHTS: These was probably my favourite three books that I read during this two month period. I love love LOVED Ciara - she was feisty and smart and hilarious, and she wasn't like every other main character in a vampire novel. You know - they automatically fall in love with a vampire and are totally brave about it, and it doesn't scare them. Ciara is at times terrified of the vampires. She is repulsed by the idea of giving blood, which thankfully means there are no (well, not too many) gross blood-letting sex scenes. I love the way vampires work in this series; their little habits and the 'rules' that surround them are so intriguing. Ciara with her anti-holy blood is equally fascinating, and now that she's been turned into a vampire, I'm really looking forward to seeing how the series will progress. Favourite novel by far would be the third, soley for the zombies and the strengthening of Shane and Ciara's relationship. I would also recommend that anyone who enjoyed these books head to the author's website and read the backstories she has put up for some of the vampire DJs - Monroe, Spencer, Jim and Shane. It's so interesting to see how they all interact with each other. I cannot squee enough about this series!

BOOKS/SERIES: John Dies at the End
AUTHOR: David Wong
BLURB: (From Amazon) “ editor Jason Pargin's alter ego David Wong adroitly spoofs the horror genre while simultaneously offering up a genuinely horrifying story. The terror is rooted in a substance known as soy sauce, a paranormal psychoactive that opens video store clerk Wong's—and his penis-obsessed friend John's—minds to higher levels of consciousness. Or is it just hell seeping into the unnamed Midwestern town where Wong and the others live? Meat monsters, wig-wearing scorpion aberrations and wingless white flies that burrow into human skin threaten to kill Wong and his crew before infesting the rest of the world. A multidimensional plot unfolds as the unlikely heroes drink lots of beer and battle the paradoxes of time and space, as well as the clichés of first-person-shooter video games and fantasy gore films. The book's smart take on fear manages to tap into readers' existential dread on one page, then have them laughing the next.”
DATE FINISHED: 26/5/2011
RATING: ★★★★
THOUGHTS: I have to be honest: I had no idea what was going on half the time reading this. And it was AWESOME. I was literally laughing like crazy one minute, and then would be cringing in disgust/fear the next. David Wong (the main character) is so incredibly unreliable as a narrator that in the end it was so much easier just to 'go along with it' then to try and make sense of things. My favourite character was John though, who came out with the best one-liners EVER. This book has it all. Clone's and shadow people and meat-men and an exploding dog named Molly. Seriously, I can't recommend this book enough to EVERYONE.

BOOKS/SERIES: Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
AUTHOR: Mary Roach
BLURB: (From Publishers Weekly) “Roach made an exceptional debut two years ago with Stiff—it might seem a hard act to follow. Yet she has done it again: after her study of what becomes of our mortal coil after death, she now presents an equally smart, quirky, hilarious look at whether there is a soul that survives our physical demise. Roach perfectly balances her skepticism and her boundless curiosity with a sincere desire to know. She ranges into the oddest nooks and crannies of both science and belief (and scientists who believe), goes to school to learn to be a medium, subjects her brain to electromagnetic waves to see if they induce the experience of seeing ghosts and joins a group trying to record sounds made by the spirits of the Donner party. The text is littered with footnotes: tangential but delicious tidbits that Roach clearly couldn't bear to leave out.”
DATE FINISHED: 27/5/2011
THOUGHTS: I was expecting to love this book after reading Stiff, so I was kind of disappointed. It had nothing to do with the content of the book - that was fascinating and Mary Roach was hilarious as usual. It was just so... science-y. It was quirky enough to keep me reading, but at times I just wanted to give up because it was kind of dull and rambling in places. I did enjoy all her attempts to try and find at least a little smidget of proof that there existed life after death. And of course, the footnotes were the highlight of the book.

BOOKS/SERIES: Cults: Bizarre Rituals and Murderous Practices Revealed
AUTHOR: Petery Haining
BLURB: (From the back cover) ”How do cult leaders establish intellectual, physical, spiritual and sexual control over their followers - and what are the ends to which this is put? Read how the charismatic megalomaniacs who lead cults often pit themselves against the rest of the world, amassing weapons ahead of an apocalyptic showdown - sometimes going on the offensive to bring forward Armageddon. For others, the goal seems to be some form or another of mass suicide.”
DATE FINISHED: 29/5/2011
THOUGHTS: This was the worst book I've read all year. I don't even really want to write a review for it. I can summarise the book for everyone in a couple of sentences: "Cults are bad. Sex is bad. They have lots of sex and blah blah blah, SATAN IS EVERYWHERE, blah blah blah, here's some incorrect information about various cults, blah blah blah I'm just talking out of my arse." It gets half a star for being so ridiciulous that I just had to keep reading it.
Tags: awful!, horror, humor, non-fiction, romance, supernatural, urban fantasy, vampires, werewolves, young adult

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