Book Review: Abithica by Susan Goldsmith

11050827Title: Abithica
Author: Susan Goldsmith
Series: Abithica #1
ISBN: B004WOYNGC
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Pub. Date: April 2011
Source: received an ebook arc copy from the author

Genre: Supernatural/Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal/Paranormal Romance/YA
Pages: 287
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads:  What if you knew you were about to be torn from your body and replaced by an imposter in a seamless switch forever separating you and the one you love? Would you do whatever it took to stay? Even if YOU happened to be the imposter? Abithica must borrow all that she is from others: names, lives, even bodies. When she switches into the troubled life of Sydney Turner, she breaks the rule that has sustained her, the one thing in her control—never get attached. Lane Riley has no idea he’s fallen for Abithica, wearing Sydney Turner’s body and that a future with her is impossible. Desperate to stay with him, Abithica uncovers the mystery of what she is, only to learn she’s a pawn in a battle over souls, and that she’s probably one of the “bad guys.” What will happen if she refuses to leave Sydney’s body?

My Reveries and Ramblings: Abithica is the story of a spirit/being/whatever you want to call her for right now(not giving anything away) who is thrust into people’s bodies taking over their lives.  She stays with her host until she has completed whatever needed to be done.  She sees her predicament as a punishment from God.  She sees herself as a parasite or demon.
The book opens in Arizona with Sydney collapsing into her food at a restaurant because the spirit being mentioned (in the previous paragraph) has just entered her body.  As Sydney, the spirit starts trying to improve her life starting with Sydney’s damaged relationship with her mother, Faith.  At first “new” Sydney is having a hard time because the real Sydney is being resistant.  During a trip to Faith’s work (at the mall), Sydney meets Lane and his much younger sister, Shae.  It’s love at first sight for “new” Sydney and Lane.  However, “new” Sydney is very resistant because she doesn’t want to hurt him when she leaves Sydney’s body.  Also, she is scared of falling too hard because she knows it will all be ripped from her.  Besides the romance, there is also an element of danger from the gang that Sydney belongs to, the Legnas.  They are a dangerous gang that brands their members and like to kill, a lot.
Abithica takes the reader on a journey with the protagonist as she discovers who and what she is.  She discovers her real name at the end.  Poor girl.  Every time she forced into a new body she forgets most of what happened before.  However, the one thing she does know is that she wants to fall in love and stay that way.  That is her greatest wish/dream.  This is impossible, though.  To prevent herself from getting hurt she decided that she would never get attached.  Of course Lane changed that.
Lane is just * gush * amazing!  He knows there’s something different about Sydney as soon as he meets her (I’m talking about “new” Sydney).  No matter how many times she pushes him away he comes back even stronger and more cling-y (in a good way).    He loves her so much.  The most beautiful aspect of their love is the fact that he loves who the “new” Sydney is-meaning he loves the spirit inhabiting Sydney.  (Yes, I know, it sounds confusing on paper, but it really isn’t).
The novel contains many other great characters.  Among them are Shae, Lane’s adorable little sister; Faith, Sydney’s shoe obsessed mother; the ever helpful Father Gabe; and Marge, a saint-like doctor.
When I started Abithica, I was enjoying it.  But about half-way through, OMG! I was hooked.  There were moments where I was screaming at my computer screen (ebook), yelling at the characters.  Then there were moments where I was on the verge of tears.  The protagonist’s voice easy to read.  I felt a connection with her-there were moments where I could completely relate to her.  Mrs. Goldsmith did an awesome job with the writing.  Even when she wrote through Shae’s POV, it was readable at the same time as sounding like a little girl.
Now, even though I really really liked this book, there were a few things that just didn’t click with me.  I didn’t like reading the Legnas parts of the book-but I think this is just a matter of personal taste.  I never like reading the antagonist’s POV in any book.  Also, Lane annoyed me in the beginning.  He was talking about marriage very VERY early on in their relationship- they had only gone out a few times together.  But, of course, I was able to come to terms with it, and even accept it later on in the book.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to all who love a good romance.  Yes, it is Christian Lit., but it’s not overwhelming (which is good).  Also, I seriously read the last 50 pages four times-it was just too fantastic to not reread! I can’t wait until the sequel.

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Abithica

Book Review: To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker

493051Title: To Catch A Pirate
Author: Jade Parker / Rachel Hawthorne
ISBN: 978-0439026949
Publisher: Point
Pub. Date: May 2007
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Romance/Adventure/Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
Pages: 320
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads: Once caught, it’s harder still to let a pirate go.  When Annalisa Townsend’s ship is set upon by pirates in search of her father’s treasure, one of the crew, James Sterling, discovers her in the hold.  When he moves to take her necklace, she begs him not to, as it is all she has left of her mother.  He accepts a kiss in exchange for the necklace.  “A fair trade, m’lady,” he tells her afterward, before disappearing.  A year later, with a forged letter of marque, Annalisa is intent on hunting down the wretched James Sterling and reclaiming her father’s treasure from him.  But now she’s in danger of him stealing something far more vulnerable this time: her heart.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  After the death of her mother, Annalisa Townsend and her father sail to the Caribbean, with a treasure chest filled with some of the King’s gold, to build a new port.  When their ship gets attacked by pirates, the gold is stolen and many lives are lost.  The survivors, including Annalisa and her father, report the attack.  Because they survived, Annalisa’s father is accused of either being a pirate or associating with pirates and is thrown in jail.  Annalisa goes out with her friend, Nathaniel to find the pirate, James Sterling.  He was the very attractive pirate who held her at knifepoint, stole her ring, and kissed her while the pirates were searching the ship.  In fact, he saved her life, by keeping her whereabouts a secret.  Since her father is incarcerated, she wants nothing more than to kill the pirates that forced her into ruin.  Using her dowry, Annalisa finds a ship and crew and begins hunting for the pirate that stole her treasure.
Annalisa was such a strong character.  For a woman in the 1700s to chase pirates and captain a ship-that’s pretty darn incredible.  James Sterling couldn’t believe she (a woman) was commanding a ship.  Of course, she had Nathaniel’s help; but still.  Grrr….Nathaniel.  I did not like him.  Since this book reminded me so much of the Pirates of the Caribbean (without the supernatural aspect), Nathaniel reminded me of Norington.  James Sterling was just Ahhhh *swoon*.  He was like a combination between Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner.  After stealing Annalisa’s kiss and ring he is marooned on an island along with his friend Ferret for betraying his captain.  When he gets off the island he ends up running for his life from a pirate hunter.  When Annalisa finally catches him, she treats him well, or tries to at least.  Nathaniel can see the growing attraction and does not like it.  He does terrible things to James, like beating him.  James is the better man, even though he is a pirate.  Now partnered with James, Annalisa goes out to find the buried treasure.
This book was so great.   It had romance, sword fighting, pirates, adventure, and suspense.  I would definitely recommend reading this awesome book.
Side note: The author is actually Rachel Hawthorne.  She wrote To Catch a Pirate under “Jade Parker.”

 

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To Catch a Pirate

Book Review: Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia

Title: Angel Star
Author: Jennifer Murgia
Series: Angel Star #1
ISBN: 978-0982500538
Publisher: Lands Atlantic Publishing LLC
Pub. Date: May 2010
Genre: YA/Supernatural/ Romance/Angels/Fantasy/Christian
Pages: 256
Rating:  2/5

From Goodreads:  Seventeen-year-old Teagan McNeel falls for captivating Garreth Adams and soon discovers that her crush has an eight-point star etched into the palm of his right hand-the mark of an angel.
But where there is light, dark follows, and she and Garreth suddenly find themselves vulnerable to a dark angel’s malicious plan that could threaten not only her life, but the lives of everyone she knows.
Divinely woven together, Angel Star takes readers on a reflective journey when one angel’s sacrifice collides with another angel’s vicious ambition in a way that is sure to have readers searching for their own willpower.

My Reveries and Ramblings: Angel Star, written by Jennifer Murgia, is the story about good vs evil, or light vs. dark.  Teagan’s life isn’t that great:  she has only one friend, Claire, is the object of torture by a group of girls at school, is plagued by nighmares, and her father disappeared when she was a baby.  One day while sitting on a bench, a new transfer student, Garreth, approaches and talks to her.  He seems to shine/glow.  She realizes that not only does she feel strongly for him, he makes her feel safe from the nightmares and the dark shadows that seem to follow her.  Garreth is her guardian angel.  He has watched over her and kept her safe for years.  He is finally allowed to appear to her as a human, but only for eight days.  During those eight days her destiny will be revealed.
I had mixed feelings about this book.  I really liked the chemistry between Garreth and Teagan.  Their bond was beautiful.  Whenever Teagan was worried he would breathe for her, calming her.  It was so sweet.  Their dynamic was the best part of the book.  Hadrian, Lucifer’s brother, is the dark angel.  He tries to corrupt people’s guardian angels so that he can control humans.  Garreth and Teagan are constantly running from him.  When Hadrian starts targeting people close to Teagan, they stand and fight.  While Garreth symbolizes light, Hadrian represents the darkness.  Teagan finds herself drawn to Hadrian and the darkness only to be reminded of her light, Garreth.  This situation is parallel to the good-angel-bad-angel-on-your-shoulders.  Both are trying to pull Teagan in different directions and get her to do something.  It is both an internal and outward struggle for Teagan.
There were many things I didn’t like about this book.  There were times when I was confused as to the location of the characters; one minute they are talking in the car, the dialogue going, with no mention of leaving the car then all of a sudden they are in the park on a swing set swinging.  There were times when I couldn’t tell the difference between her nightmares and reality because she kept “waking up” suddenly in her bed like it was all a bad dream.  I could never tell if the action sense took place in her nightmare or in reality.  I really liked the basic story of Angel Star.  I think Jennifer Murgia could have slowed it down a bit by adding more detail to the action scenes and adding more depth to the characters.
Overall, this book wasn’t for me.  I didn’t really like it.  In all honesty, I only continued reading, and will probably read the sequel, Lemniscate, because of Garreth and Teagan’s relationship.  Their connection was deep, like down to the soul deep.  It was fascinating.  Jennifer Murgia’s idea was fresh and different from many of the angel books I’ve read.

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Angel Star (Angel Star, #1)

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Book Review: Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Title: Paranormalcy
Author: Kiersten White
Series: Paranormalcy #1
ISBN: 9780061985843
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pub. Date: August 2010
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Paranormal/Fantasy/Romance
Pages: 352
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads:  Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.  But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.  So much for normal.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  I really enjoyed this book.  If I had to give a one word review for this book it would be AWESOME.  It was so much fun.  Kiersten White weaved together a fantastic story stuffed with action, suspense, a bit of mystery, romance, and just about everything paranormal.
Paranormalcy is told through Evie’s POV.  Evie grew up in the foster care system, never knowing her parents, until she was 8 years old.  That was when she was almost the victim of a vampire attack.  She freaked out in front of the vampire because she could see through his glamour to the dead corpse beneath it.  This ability caught the attention of the agent “bagging and tagging” the vampire.  No other paranormal or human can see through paranormal glamour.  Since Evie didn’t have a family, the International Paranormal Containment Agency (IPCA) adopted her.  Her mother figure, Raquel, makes sure Evie is tutored as well as trained.  At 16, she can successfully “bag-and-tag” a paranormal.  Even though the IPCA is much better than the foster care system, Evie still longs to go to a normal high school, complete with a locker and friends.  The only friend she has is a mermaid, Lish, who talks through a monotone communicator since she can’t actually speak English and lives underwater.  When a paranormal takes the shape of Raquel and starts looking through her office, Evie, who can see through his glamour, tasers him (with Tasey!).  When he drops to the ground unconscious, he turns transparent, like water, but still solid like a person.  Evie succumbs to her curiosity and starts spending time with “water boy,” Lend.  Evie has never seen a paranormal like him, neither has anyone at IPCA, and because of that (and the fact that he broke in) he is kept there.  Lend can change how he looks and can shift into other people easily.  One day is an adorable Chinese boy and the next, the star of Easton Heights, Evie’s favorite TV show.  He also enjoys shifting into Evie’s form.  Although he can’t get her eyes right.  As they spend more and more time together, Evie finds she has a crush on Lend.  Evie’s ex, Reth, doesn’t seem to want to let go.  Reth, a faerie, shows up randomly temporarily kidnapping Evie or burning her throughout the book.  Of course Lend is quite helpful during these visits, coming to her rescue, or at least trying.  Reth also doesn’t seem too concerned about the paranormals all over the world dropping dead.  In fact, he seems more concerned with spending uninterrupted time with Evie.
Evie was such an interesting character.  Her POV was so refreshing and so much fun.  Having grown up in the IPCA, she’s never been to a high school or had any normal human friends her own age.  She’s in her element when she’s on an assignment or inside the IPCA, but she really wants to live a normal teenage life.  After meeting Lend, she gets a taste as to what her life could have been if she wasn’t different.  After being plagued by dreams of a girl named Vivian and learning that she isn’t actually allowed to leave the ICPA, she goes through an identity crisis.  Evie learns that what you are doesn’t define who you are.  She learns that it’s the choices we make that choose our paths and who we are.
Lend helps Evie a lot in Paranormalcy.  While she’s going through her identity crisis, he is right there helping her figure it all out.  When Lend and Evie first officially meet, he doesn’t trust her enough to show her his true form, even though Evie and see it underneath his disguises (glamour).  He is insecure with who he is, as a paranormal.  He doesn’t know where he fits in since he’s one of a kind.  I thought he was so cute!  He was so admirable and such a great guy.  He and Evie were perfect together. They both complimented each other.  Evie could see Lend perfectly.  In fact, she even preferred his true self better than the main form he takes.  There is one scene later in the book when he shows her what he really looks like.  In it Evie thinks he is gorgeous and he is so shy about how he looks, my heart just melted.  When he spoke to her in that scene, Evie heard his real voice and told him that she didn’t think she could go back to hearing his fake voice.  It was such an intimate scene, probably one of my favorites in the whole book.   This theme of beauty on the inside is seen throughout.
Ah, Reth.  I’m not sure how to describe him.  He’s Evie’s ex-boyfriend (well, ex-almost-boyfriend).  Evie, who grew up feeling cold and alone, confused having a crush/like-liking someone with the faerie feeling Reth was giving her.  Reth would always fill her up with warmth, almost touching her heart.  This made Evie scared that he would steal her heart and soul after they “broke up.”  Reth has a terrible temper.  Get him mad and he might kill.  Threaten Evie, and he most definitely will.  He is extremely protective of her.  But Evie would rather never see him again.  I felt like his intentions were good, and I think he cared about Evie, but at the same time I’m not sure.  His actions were a bit on the sketchy side.
Paranormalcy was a delightful read.  I had a lot of fun reading it.  When Evie experienced “normal life” for the first time, it wasn’t odd or unbelievable.  Kiersten White didn’t make Evie naïve, ignorant, and gullible.  She also didn’t make her into that teenaged character who acts like she’s 25, not 16.  Evie was very much 16, but she wasn’t stupid.  Evie was very well aware of her situation and her surroundings.  It was very believable.  This skill made the story so much more engrossing.  I really cared about the characters and what happened to them.  I can’t wait until the next book, Supernaturally, comes out in August of this year (2011)!!!

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Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)
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Book Review: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Title: Howl’s Moving Castle
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Series: Castle #1
ISBN: 006441034X
Publisher: Eos
Pub. Date: 1986
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Children/Fantasy/Magic
Pages: 329
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads:  In the land of Ingary, such things as spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots were everyday things. The Witch of the Waste was another matter.  After fifty years of quiet, it was rumored that the Witch was about to terrorize the country again. So when a moving black castle, blowing dark smoke from its four thin turrets, appeared on the horizon, everyone thought it was the Witch. The castle, however, belonged to Wizard Howl, who, it was said, liked to suck the souls of young girls.  The Hatter sisters–Sophie, Lettie, and Martha–and all the other girls were warned not to venture into the streets alone. But that was only the beginning.  In this giant jigsaw puzzle of a fantasy, people and things are never quite what they seem. Destinies are intertwined, identities exchanged, lovers confused. The Witch has placed a spell on Howl. Does the clue to breaking it lie in a famous poem? And what will happen to Sophie Hatter when she enters Howl’s castle?  Diana Wynne Jones’s entrancing fantasy is filled with surprises at every turn, but when the final stormy duel between the Witch and the Wizard is finished, all the pieces fall magically into place.

My Reveries and Ramblings: I first heard of Howl’s Moving Castle when I saw the trailer for the movie.  Of course, me being a child at heart, I went out and got the movie.  What a wonderful and beautiful adventure!  So when I found out it was based on a book, I had to read it.  I don’t regret it at all.  The film has several plot differences from the book.  But the basic plot is still the same.  Howl’s Moving Castle is about a girl, Sophie, who gets cursed by The Witch of the Waste.  The curse turns her into an old woman.  Refusing to let her family see her as old and ugly she runs away hoping to find her fortune and maybe even break the curse.  While traveling she sees Howl’s moving castle.  Everyone knows that Howl eats the hearts of young beautiful girls.  But Sophie isn’t worried because she is old woman now.  So she lets herself in the castle.  She ends up working as Howl’s cleaning lady after making a deal with the fire demon, Calcifer, that powers the castle.  Calcifer wants Sophie to help him break the contract he made with Howl in return he will break the curse on Sophie.  However, Calcifer cannot discuss the terms of the contract so he has to drop Sophie hints, which she never catches.  Likewise, the Witch of the Waste made it impossible for Sophie to tell anyone that she is under a curse.  Howl doesn’t seem to care for Sophie and her cleaning but he puts up with her, letting her live in the castle.  Howl and his apprentice, Michael, make simple spells and charms for people of several towns.  They are always in the moving castle but the door to the outside is like a portal allowing them access to several places.  Howl is being pursued by the King to find his brother as well as the Wizard Suliman who disappeared.  Howl doesn’t want responsibility or commitment, therefore he tries his best to sully his name/reputation in town and with the king.    However, with the Witch of the Waste wanting him for her own, Howl is constantly on the run, dragging Sophie, Michael and Calcifer with him.

I adored this book.  I loved the movie and was so happy to find the book a bit different.  It was so much fun to read!  It was like going on an adventure.  At the beginning of the story, Sophie is working as an apprentice in her family’s hat shop.  She has no backbone and is overly shy and quiet, spending more time talking to the hats she makes then to people.  One day the Witch of the Waste comes into the store and curses her, making her into an old woman.  As the story progresses, Sophie’s personality matures and changes, she becomes more aggressive.  Instead of feeling that her fate has been decided for her she goes out and makes it how she wants.
Howl hates being tied down to one place.  His character was so interesting.  He is a natural coward, yet brave when he has to be.    He is also such a drama king!  He’s like a spoiled kid obsessed with vanity.  It made for some very hilarious situations.  Throughout the book he is constantly nagging at Sophie and blaming her for everything bad that happens. Howl hates Sophie cleaning and messing up all his stuff-but he never kicks her out.  Underneath the surface he is kind and compassionate-very deep under the surface.  These two traits come out very rarely and only for an instant at a time.  He is always begging for attention.  It’s quite funny.  One of the funniest scenes was when Howl got a cold. I reread it several times and laughed out loud each and every time.  Calcifer was awesome.  He is a fire demon who made a contract with Howl and because of that is stuck inside the castle until the contract is broken.  He is so funny.  I would love to have a friend like Calcifer, even if he is a bit scary looking.
The whole book was beautifully written.  The world was interesting.  It takes place in Ingary, which is like another dimension, where magic exists.  The ending is suspenseful and sweet.  There is no cliffhanger.  It has a HEA ending but I would still love to see more of Sophie, Howl, and Calcifer.  Hopefully they show up in the next books.  Without trying to give anything away I will say that there is a little bit of romance, very little.  It is sweet and very PG.  The other stuff, not so much.  I wish there was more romance BUT, it is still worth it!  I loved every minute of it!  I wish I could read it again.  Actually I’d recommend reading it twice so that once you discovered everything by the end you can go back and see the reasons behind certain things, and pick up on Calcifer’s hints-which even I had some trouble picking up.  Overall, it was a VERY unique and imaginative book.  It was charming and engrossing.  I enjoyed every minute of it.

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Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)

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Book Review: Everlasting by Angie Frazier

Title: Everlasting
Author: Angie Frazier
Series: Everlasting #1
ISBN: 978-0545114738
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub. Date: June 2010
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Romance/Adventure/Fantasy
Pages: 336
Rating:  3/5

From Goodreads:  Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.
On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous—and alluring—magic.
The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who—and what—matters most.
Beautifully written and feverishly paced, Everlasting is an unforgettable journey of passion, secrecy, and adventure.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Several months before Camille’s marriage, she goes on one last voyage with her father.  Just before reaching their destination in Australia, Camille discovers a secret her father has kept for 16 years-her mother did not die during childbirth and she is still alive. Before Camille can extract more information from her father, the ship goes down with her father-leaving Camille in the care of Oscar, her father’s first mate.  He agrees to go with Camille to see her mother and get the map to the stone of Umandu.  If Camille can get to the stone before her father’s rival, then she can bring her father back to life.  With the help of Ira, their Australian guide, and Monty, Oscar and Camille travel through the wild Outback.  With each day comes a bunch of near-death experiences and fast paced action scenes.
I wanted to love this book.  The first half of the book was a bit disappointing.  There were a few really juicy scenes that I loved, but overall, I thought it was okay.  The second half blew me away.  I found myself flipping rooting for Oscar and Camille.  I loved their relationship.  Oscar was constantly caring for Camille.  He saves her life many times throughout the book.  It’s so cute.  My absolute favorite part of the whole book was actually in the beginning when they were on the ship and the storm was bringing it down.  Camille ran on deck and was scared.  Oscar embraced her and said “My Camille” calming her and letting her know that he’d keep her safe.  It was just TOO cute.  My heart was melting!  Basically whenever Oscar opened his mouth I was melting.  He just had that effect on me.  I found Camille, while ahead of her time with her independence, quite selfish at times.  I thought choosing to marry Randall instead of pursuing her interest in Oscar, at the beginning of the novel, because her father’s business was failing was honorable of her.  However, there was one scene where I wanted to slap her.  She basically was wondering why she couldn’t marry Randall and still continue her thing with Oscar.  I mean come on!  That is so selfish.  She only decides it wouldn’t work, not because its wrong, but because she thinks Oscar wouldn’t like to be considered second best.  But I other than that I thought she was brave and had a back-bone.  I loved Ira.  He was so funny-kind of like an uncle.  He stuck with them through their journey even though he would get nothing out of it.
While I was disappointed with this book, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was a swashbuckling adventure.  Everlasting read like a movie.  I literally could see everything very clearly in my mind, including music!  Think Pirates of the Caribbean meets Titanic.  It was great.  I liked Everlasting and will definitely be reading the next book when it comes out.

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Everlasting (Everlasting, #1)
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Book Review: The Sext Crime by Jason Ancona

Title: The Sext Crime
Author: Jason Ancona
Series: C.Y.A.: Covert Youth Agency #2
ISBN: B004PYDOCI
Pub. Date:  February 2011
Source: Kindle
Genre: Espionage/YA/Humor/Mystery
Rating:  4/5

From Goodreads:  SNAP–a girl sexts racy pics of herself.
She thought the fun shots would stay between her and her boyfriend.
SNAP–an anonymous hacker hijacks her photos.
If she doesn’t obey, she’ll be exposed.
SNAP–the Covert Youth Agency takes the girl’s case.
The agents jump headfirst into Operation: Sext Crime. Their new client has less than a week to surrender to the hacker’s ultimatum. Or else the naughty photos go “wide.”
SEND–a squad of goons are closing in on C.Y.A. members.
Agent identities may be unmasked.
REPLY ALL–end communication.
It’s not safe.
WARNING–this book contains NO explicit sexual content.
Material suitable for ages 12 and above. May contain some humor.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  The Covert Youth Agency (C.Y.A.) series is about a group of teenagers in high school who run the C.Y.A., a secret crime fighting group that helps students (like the C.I.A. for high school).  The CYA is made up of three members: Pi, Tollhouse, and Lightman.  Pi is the leader; Tollhouse is the main field agent; and Lightman is the computer genius.
In this installment, the group gets involved in the student council elections.  When Meredith, one of the candidates for student council president, gets blackmailed into dropping out of the race, the C.Y.A. steps in.  But whoever hacked into Meredith’s phone is extremely skilled.  After Meredith dropped out, the C.Y.A pushes for another candidate to run against the remaining one, supporting the same issues in hopes that the blackmailer might try to strike again.  However, this time, the hacker/blackmailer targets Pi.  Now it’s a race against time.  Meanwhile, Deeks, the gym teacher, is out to get the C.Y.A. since they blackmailed him into resigning from his coaching job since he was responsible for the bullying of the “Noble Nerds.”
I was smiling and laughing the entire time I was reading The Sext Crime.  Tollhouse and Lightman had the BEST scenes.  Just having them in the same room together brought at least five minutes of straight-up-out-loud laughing (per scene!).  Honestly, they are my favorite characters.  They have a love-hate, well, maybe a like-hate relationship.  They are always bickering; but deep down, and I mean deep deep down, I think they like each other.  Unlike the last book, Lightman is allowed to work in the field.  Although she quickly regrets it when she realizes that being undercover means going shopping with “the girls” for a dress.  Lightman is so smart and can be nice when she wants to (very rarely).  She uses her genius status to bully the principal and teachers in to letting her do what she wants.  Tollhouse is a likeable nerd.  He’s not the coolest guy in the world and he does get picked on by the jocks, but he is very easy going.  He can get along with anyone (well, anyone that’s not trying to bully him-and Lightman).  Pi was such a cute nerd!  Seriously!  Some of my favorite Pi scenes involved rap music, youtube videos, and some awkward dancing.   One word: hilarious!  He’s a bit insecure when it comes to social interactions with people other than family and very close friends.  When it comes to the C.Y.A., he’s in his element and the insecurity disappears.
Jason Ancona did a great job!  I was drawn back into the world and did not want to leave.  I felt like I was back in high school with all the drama.  Ahhh, it was so funny.  I really wish Pi, Lightman, and Tollhouse went to my high school (if it was co-ed).  I would SO want to be in the C.Y.A..  Also, if I was Vera, Pi’s crush, I’d give Pi a chance.  He’s so sweet.  The whole book was very entertaining.  I can’t wait until the next book (fingers crossed that there will be a next book).

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The Sext Crime (C.Y.A. : Covert Youth Agency)

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Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #1
ISBN: 978-0061726828
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pub. Date: February 2011
Source: Library/Kindle
Genre: YA/Dystopia/Romance
Pages: 448
Rating:  5/5

From Goodreads:  Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.  But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

My Reveries and Ramblings: The beautiful message of Delirium:  Love.  A four letter word.  A word that has caused people to write poetry, songs, and countless novels.  A word that has led people to take their own lives.  Love is complex.  Love can be happy and sad at the same time.  Love can be overwhelming.  It is like chocolate for the soul.  One can survive without it, but, they can not live without it.  Love doesn’t always have to be romantic, it can be parental, or between friends or siblings.  It can take any form, but without it, we aren’t really alive.
Delirium is, down to the binding, a book about love.  In a society where love, deliria, is thought of as a lethal disease.  At the age of 18, people are “cured.”  This involves going through a surgery that will ultimately cure you of deliria and keep you from getting it.  The summer before Lena is scheduled to be cured, she meets Alex.  Originally thinking he is cured (she sees this “surgery” scars), Lena talks to him.  However, soon she discovers that not only is he uncured, but he is also a rebel, an Invalid.  The Invalids are people who live in the Wilds, outside of the borders.  They hate what the US government is doing, controlling people by removing their ability to love.  After confessing who he really is, Lena is petrified that she has become infected with deliria.  She has always been scared of contracting the disease. Her mother had it, even though she went through three separate surgeries to get it removed.  It destroyed her.  After getting saved by Alex during a raid, Lena officially falls for him.  Their love opens her eyes to how dead she was before she fell in love.  The tightly controlled loveless world she has always known is wrong.  It is with Alex that she realizes that everything she has ever known, all the rules she was molded by, is a lie.  Their love is a tragedy waiting to happen.  Lena only has a few months before getting cured.  After that she will go to college and marry her assigned match.  Before Alex, she couldn’t wait. Now, she would rather die than live without love.
I had a love/hate relationship with this book.  I find dystopian literature interesting, but very hard to get through.  I almost always have to put the book down after each chapter or so because I’m so angry or scared.  Dystopian societies are frightening.  Which is why I rarely read them.  When I do, I read a lot of reviews on the book to make sure it is worth the emotional roller coaster I will most likely be going on.  This one intrigued me because not only are people oppressed, but they think it’s the only way.  They want to be cured.  The population is brainwashed through the government’s control of communication.  By controlling what people read, watch, listen to, etc., the government convinced people that love (deliria) is a terrible disease.  Without love, people don’t feel the need to die unnecessarily or fight for anything.  It’s probably the strongest emotion a human can have.  However, the idea that people are forced to undergo a surgery to never love, that pains me.  This book was so hard to get through because I was so shocked at the cruelty of it.  Those who knew the truth about it were severely punished or killed (usually the latter).
Lena is a seventeen yr old girl who is looking forward to being cured at the end of the summer.  She always follows the rules, and believes that the government and the cure are protecting her from a painful death.  She wants nothing more than to live her life without the fear of contracting deliria.  Her transformation in the book was slow and gradual.  Written through her POV, the reader sees the uncertainty and fear in her. She started scared, insecure, and very ignorant.  As the story progresses she finds love, learns the truth, and finds strength in having her own mind.  Alex, an Invalid, was born in the Wilds and moved around a lot.  He falls in love with Lena, forcing her to rethink everything about herself, essentially a mild identity crisis.  Alex teaches Lena about love and how it’s those who can’t love that aren’t really living.  He opens her eyes.  Their relationship is very Romeo-and-Juliet-esque.  He risks his life every day to see her; if he was caught he’d be killed.  The only other person who knows about their relationship is Hana, Lena’s best friend.  She is not looking forward to the cure.  People in this society would call her a rebellious teen, however in reality (the reader’s world) she would be seen as a normal 17 yr old.  She supports their relationship and helps Lena sneak out after curfew to see him.
Lauren Oliver wrote a story that makes you think and reflect on the importance of love and how we, as human beings, sometimes take for granted that we can love.  She also explores the lengths people would go through to keep love and those they love.  Delirium invoked so many emotions in me.  Alex and Lena’s love was beautiful.  It was slow and shown through actions.  The words “I love you” are rarely said.  But the intention, the love, is there.  You see it in the sacrifices and risks made.  Everything about Delirium was amazing.  Instead of hating Lena for believing in propaganda the government puts out to brainwash, Lauren Oliver shows us through her POV so that the reader understands.  Delirium wasn’t exactly action packed.  There were a few action scenes, but not many and they were spread out.  The book is filled with suspense.  It looms over the story sending chills through your spine and increasing your heart rate.  Lena and Hana could be running and you still feel that weight, that feeling of being watched that fills you with apprehension.  I’m so glad I picked up this book.  This heartbreaking novel will leave you in tears.  I cannot wait until the sequel comes out!
Warning: Cliff-hanger ending.

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Delirium (Delirium, #1)
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Book Review: Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Crescendo
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Series: Hush Hush #2
ISBN: 978-1-4169-8943-1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Pub. Date: October 2010
Source: Library
Genre: YA/Romance/Supernatural
Pages: 432
Rating:  3/5

From Goodreads: Nora Grey’s life is still far from perfect. Surviving an attempt on her life wasn’t pleasant, but at least she got a guardian angel out of it: a mysterious, magnetic, gorgeous guardian angel. But, despite his role in her life, Patch has been acting anything but angelic. He’s more elusive than ever and even worse, he’s started spending time with Nora’s arch-enemy, Marcie Millar.
Nora would have hardly noticed Scott Parnell, an old family friend who has moved back to town, if Path hadn’t been acting so distant. Even with Scott’s totally infuriating attitude Nora finds herself drawn to him – despite her lingering feeling that he’s hiding something.
Haunted by images of her murdered father, and questioning whether her nephilim bloodline has anything to do with his death, Nora puts herself increasingly in dangerous situations as she desperately searches for answers. But maybe some things are better left buried, because the truth could destroy everything – and everyone – she trusts

My Reveries and Ramblings:  Crescendo begins shortly after the events of Hush Hush.  Patch is now Nora’s guardian angel and their relationship is starting to move forward.  Well, that is until Nora confesses her love to Patch.  Instead of saying “I love you” back, he quickly drives away leaving Nora feeling hurt and rejected.  Determined not to dwell to much on what happened she buries herself in her studies for summer school, which she happens to be taking alongside Marcie, who loves to remind Nora that her father is dead.  Patch seems to be spending a lot of time with Marcie, knowing how much Nora hates her.  When Nora confronts him about it, he becomes evasive, not giving her an answer.  When Scott, Nora’s childhood “friend” has moves into town.  He takes an interest in spending time with Nora.  To piss Patch off, Nora starts spending time with Scott as well as pulling reckless stunts, including scaling a roof and stealing a car.
Everything in Nora’s life is starting to fall apart.  I actually felt really bad for her.  I’m surprised she didn’t have some sort of mental breakdown.  Between seeing her father walking around town to managing to be in the middle of a feud among the fallen angels, archangels, and nephilim, Nora has a lot on her mind.  Her romance with Patch also has become forbidden, leaving them in a Romeo and Juliet situation-which is kind of romantic, I think.
Even though I think Becca Fitzpatrick wrote a great book and I’m definitely reading the 3rd one, I still don’t like Patch all too much.  Although I did like him more in Crescendo than I did in Hush Hush.  He’s too sketchy and seriously needs to start being completely open with Nora.  I loved the use of motivation in this series.  Characters are so flat without it.  Each character, even the obscure ones, have motivation backing up their choices.  This makes the pop up surprises and plot twists all the more fun because then you’re like “OMG! I can’t believe that happened!….Oh.  Now I see, of course.”  Scott creeped me out from the beginning, even though his character surprised me at the end.  I loved how Vee kept calling him “Scotty the potty” and “Scotty the hottie.”  I would love to have a best friend like Vee.  She is hilarious.
Crescendo’s climactic ending had me on the edge of my seat.  Just when I thought it was all over and the last page would read “The End,” Becca Fitzpatrick pulled the strings that brought the curtain down a few minutes later, leaving us with a cliffhanger.  That last page had me reeling with questions.  Now I will have to wait until Silence comes out to find out what happens next.

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Crescendo (Hush, Hush, #2)
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Book Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Series: Hush Hush #1
ISBN: 978-1416989424
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Pub. Date: October 2009
Source: Kindle
Genre: Supernatural/Romance/YA/Fantasy
Pages:  417
Rating:  3/5

From Goodreads:  For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her…until Patch comes along.
With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment, but after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is far more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.
For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.

My Reveries and Ramblings:  I read Hush Hush after reading Fallen by Lauren Kate.  Once I realized that there are paranormal/supernatural books about things other than vampires I eagerly grabbed my kindle and bought this book.  I liked it.  It wasn’t for me though.  It was interesting, which is why I read CrescendoHush Hush revolves around Nora, a teenaged girl who lives with her widowed mother.  Her father was murdered before the book begins.  When Patch, a fallen angel posing as a high school student, gets paired up with Nora for class, she tries to make the best of the dim situation.  He makes her uncomfortable and refuses to answer any of her questions.  With Nora’s grade hanging in the air, she follows him and finds out that he is, indeed, one not to be messed with.  Trying to have a normal high school experience, Nora wants nothing to do with Patch.  But with Nora’s life in jeopardy, Patch becomes a necessary part of her survival.  Even if it means giving up what he wants the most.
I started this book hoping it would blow my mind away.  I was a bit disappointed.  Hush Hush was creative and suspenseful.  The only problem I really had with it was Patch.  I just didn’t like him.  He was the typical bad-boy-does-good character.  Patch’s sketchiness was just too much for me.  Sketchy creeps me out. I liked him a bit better at the end.  Although all his secrets still made me question whether his intentions were all good.  Patch’s decisions aren’t so much based on right and wrong but on what he wants and how to achieve that end no matter the cost.
Nora is your typical teenaged girl.  Although I don’t know many teenagers that would go out at night to a part of town they’ve never been in just to get answers for a school assignment.  Some of things she did, I would never do.  It was fun to read, though.  I really admired Nora’s determination and refusal to just sit and let things happen to her.  The scenes that involved both Nora and Vee were fun to read.
Hush Hush was engaging.  The end was very suspenseful and had me page flipping (or kindle swiping) until the very end.  The end took me completely by surprise.  The twist redeemed the book for me.  Patch and Nora’s actions towards the end were touching and dramatic.  Hush, Hush isn’t my favorite book in the world, but still an entertaining read.  It had a bit of everything-love, suspense, mystery, action, and the supernatural.  Becca Fitzpatrick wrote a story about love, sacrifice, and what it means to be human.

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Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)

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