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Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Push
Publication Date: September 1st 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star (4.5/5 stars)

Synopsis: Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things.
But life is messy, and it’s very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they’re no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you want to sleep with yourself – but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out.

Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices – and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.

Review: Have you ever read a book that’s so amazing that you want to tell the whole world about? Yup, Not That Kind of Girl is one of those books. The prose was something I instantly liked. It was very compelling and I just savored every word.

This novel was surprisingly very good. The cover is totally misleading; I picked up the book thinking that it would be a chick-lit kind of novel, maybe something light but, wow, this book has depth. Do not be fooled by the cover. Not That Kind of Girl talks about feminism, first love, the ups and downs of friendship, heartbreaks and one girl’s journey to discovering who she truly was.

Natalie knows what she wants in life; she’s smart, confident, strong and resourceful. But when things start changing during senior year, she starts to question some things in life. The other characters were awesome, oh I don’t know where to begin. There’s Autumn, Natalie’s best friend. I liked her but I couldn’t help but feel annoyed by her actions sometimes so yes, she’s flawed but I still loved her in the end.

The male interest, Connor, was lovely. He is the best representation of a popular guy who is not a jerk. I know it has been done many times in YA novels but Connor stood out. His interactions with Natalie were hilarious. Vivian knows how to make conversations between them realistic and yet with a dose of clever insults. I can’t help but recognize myself in Natalie some scenes. Then there’s Spencer, the girl Natalie used to babysit who is now a freshman. In the beginning I grew quickly annoyed by Spencer’s stripper-in-the-making act and immediately classified her as the mean girl. But she started growing on me and by the end of the book, I adored her. Spencer was also an excellent example of a realistically portrayed flawed character.

As for Mrs Bee, it was interesting reading scenes involving her. While she was not my favorite character, she rang true to me with her actions. She was someone who cared a lot for Natalie and her actions was justified. Vivan painted an accurate picture of high school. The cliques; the mean girls, the jocks who are full of raging hormones, the girl who wanted to fit in so badly. I dare say that Not That Kind Of Girl will be loved by almost everyone who reads it. It is one of the best coming-of-age stories I have ever read. What are you waiting for? Read this book!

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 26th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star (3.85/5 stars)

Synopsis: “I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Review: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is the ultimate Christmastime read. Seeing that today is Christmas (happy Christmas everyone!), I thought I would do a review of a book related to Christmastime. Now, on with my review.

The story alternates between Dash’s (written by Levithan) and Lily’s (written by Cohn) perspectives. Dash is anti-Christmas and pages told from his POV are usually laced with snarky humor while Lily enjoys Christmas and her pages often have an abundance of capital letters and exclamation marks. Dash finds a red notebook at the stores and before you know it, they are both doing a series of hilarious, spontaneous dares throughout New York, each of them experiencing something they like/dislike during Christmastime. From department stores to wax museums, this book will make you feel as if you were in New York City right that moment. What a treat!

However, I did feel a bit overwhelmed at times when the characters seemed to be having one million thoughts running through their mind. It can be very irritating. That was a similar issue I had with Cohn’s and Levithan’s previous collaboration, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. The secondary characters were also not as developed as I would have liked them to be but I did enjoy reading scenes with Great-aunt Ida.

Overall, I adored this fabulous Christmas novel and I definitely loved it way more than Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. So sit down with a cup of eggnog, or caramel apple cider, or whatever your favorite Christmas beverage is, and read this fun, delightful and meaningful novel. Happy holidays everyone!

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: 21st September 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Bronze star (2.5/5 stars)

Synopsis: Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Review: My favorite author blurbed this book so of course I was dying to read it. I trust her tastes. Unfortunately, this is one of the books I wished I loved more but I just couldn’t. I love the idea of a main character who knew he was the odd one out. This is not the type of paranormal where the protagonist suddenly discovers his/her lover has a secret. Instead, in The Replacement, the narrator, Mackie has a secret. I was really excited at the prospect of reading a novel with a narrator who is aware of his problem. And so I read. But after a few chapters, I realized something was wrong. There was no background information. We were told that the town knew about The Replacements but it wasn’t further delved into. I read the book thinking that the history would finally be touched upon, but when I finished it, I realized my questions about the town’s history were not answered.

A significant reason that caused me not to enjoy The Replacement was the lacked in world building. There was an absence of history although I was pleased to see descriptions that were often vivid. The pace was slow but it allowed readers to savor that small town “feel” that Yovanoff captured so incredibly well.

Another thing that angered me was that Mackie hung out with Alice (who is obviously the wrong choice for him) after admiring Tate’s body, sharing moments with her and getting to know her. I know he is a teenage boy with raging hormones although he is not human but what’s with the fickle mindedness?! I don’t know if that was supposed to be the conflict in the the love story but it just added to my frustrations.

Overall, certain parts of the story shone, scenes where Mackie started to talk to Tate and played the guitar on stage, but there were missing aspects as mentioned above. I know this book received lots of good reviews so I guess I’m one of the minority. Nevertheless, don’t let my review deter you from trying the book. Who knows, you might like it!

One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt

One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 6th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3.5/5 stars)
Synopsis: Eliza is in a full-blown panic. Her notebook has been stolen—the one that lists everything she wants but is afraid to go after. And the absolute worst person in the world has it: her ex-boyfriend, Cooper.

Like it’s not enough Cooper was lying to Eliza for their entire relationship, now he and his friends are blackmailing her. They’re giving her just one night to complete the most humiliating tasks on her list or they’ll post her secrets online—including the ones that aren’t just about her.

Eliza’s sure of only one thing: she isn’t going down without a fight. Cooper may have what’s left of her dignity, but she’s not the only one with something to hide …

Review: If you are looking for a milder version of Nick and Norah’s Playlist (i.e. minus the f bombs) One Night That Changes Everything is the one for you. I loved following Eliza around the town as she ran around trying to complete the dares with her ex-boyfriend mysteriously appearing when she needed help.

Being a short read, I finished One Night That Changes Everything very quickly but I went back to reread some of my favorite scenes. This is the type of book that makes you feel ‘fearless’ after reading it. It makes me want to walk into a coffee shop, grab the mike and start doing karaoke without a moment of hesitation. One Night That Changes Everything grabbed me from the very first page. Readers will be eager to see the ex-couple reunite. Admit it. We all knew they’ll eventually get together but still, seeing them finally come to their senses was an utter delight. Although I loved the book, I had some problems with it as well. Eliza’s friends were not good friends. They ditched her when she needed them the most which I found that highly unbelievable and unrealistic. I don’t want to spoil anything but I did not like Eliza’s friends and ironically enough, I was fond of Cooper.

Overall, I genuinely enjoyed this novel although the ending was predictable and some secondary characters were unrealistic and not fully fleshed-out. I’m sorry this reviews is super short and not my usual length but I can’t say more without giving away the plot and I’m writing this at midnight. :P

The Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: May 27th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Bronze star (2/5 stars)

Synopsis: Mae Crawford’s always thought of herself as in control, but in the last few weeks her life has changed. Her younger brother, Jamie, suddenly has magical powers, and she’s even more unsettled when she realizes that Gerald, the new leader of the Obsidian Circle, is trying to persuade Jamie to join the magicians. Even worse? Jamie hasn’t told Mae a thing about any of it. Mae turns to brothers Nick and Alan to help her rescue Jamie, but they are in danger from Gerald themselves because he wants to steal Nick’s powers. Will Mae be able to find a way to save everyone she cares about from the power-hungry magician’s carefully laid trap?

Review: Last year when I read The Demon’s Lexicon, I recommended it to everyone. After a year of anxious waiting, the sequel, The Demon’s Covenant was released. I jumped, I danced, I shrieked when I got my hands on the book. Oh, I wish I could say I enjoyed the novel but I didn’t.

Let’s start with the good things. The dialogue! This book is packed with hilarious, by hilarious I mean laugh-out-loud funny dialogue. I felt as though I was in the story together with the characters and experiencing everything. Brennan is a master at excellent characterizations and writing and these were no doubt displayed in Demon’s Covenant. The writing was as smooth as silk and flowed seamlessly.

However, it was the little things that made me dislike the book. In particular, Mae. Mae was so fickle minded and I thing that was the most infuriating thing about the book. To me, throughout the entire novel Mae acted like this:

“Ooh Alan is so cute! But I think Seb is even cuter!!”

*swoon*

“No wait, Nick looks so hot today. I can’t resist him! Nick, let’s makeout!”

If the character is going to be so choosy over which guy she likes, it will make me doubt if she really loves him or it’s just infatuation. I’m sorry but lust does not equal love. One year ago I closed one eye when I read about unhealthy romantic relationships but now, it disturbs me that a girl would let a guy bite them. Now the trend in paranormal is: If a guy is horrible to you, fall in love with him. Umm, what? Feel free to chime in the comments (or alternatively email me kate.readthisbook at gmail) what you thought about Nick and Mae’s behavior throughout the book.

Some parts of the book were extremely draggy they were extremely tedious to read about. I was waiting for the action but it was always anti-climatic. I admit, there were times I felt like saying “just hurry up and get to the action!” in exasperation. Unlike TDL, TDC was a surprisingly forgettable novel. I am still going to read the third book though, I love the characters too much (when they are not falling head over heels for the wrong guy).

This is not a bad book. There’s a reason why there are so many people love it. There are book I love and others don’t. Vice versa. Give this book a try if you enjoyed The Demon’s Lexicon and decide for yourself. Overall, witty, brilliant dialogue and amazing worldbuilding but an annoying main character can bring down the book’s rating by long shot. Then again, maybe it’s just me.

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: April 13th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Silver star (3/5 stars)
Synopsis: Jenna may hail from the ’burbs of New Jersey, but Green Teen activism is her life. So when her mom suggests they spend the summer at Grandma’s Florida condo, Jenna pleads instead to visit her hippie godmother, Susie, up in rural Canada. Jenna is psyched at the chance to commune with this nature she’s heard about — and the cute, plaidwearing boys she’s certain must roam there. But after a few run-ins with local wildlife (from a larger-than-life moose to Susie’s sullen Goth stepdaughter to a hot but hostile boy named Reeve), Jenna gets the idea that her long-held ideals, like vegetarianism and conservation, don’t play so well with this population of real outdoorsmen. A dusty survival guide offers Jenna amusing tips on navigating the wilderness — but can she learn to navigate the turns of her heart?

Review: After reading two of McDonald’s novels, I now know that I can count on McDonald to write a funny, entertaining chick-lit book. Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots was full of awesome elements and admittedly, the title is quite a mouthful. But nevertheless, a title with boys and bears definitely caught my eye.

I loved how the book was set in Canada, just the thought of Canada makes me picture brown bears and maple syrup. The novel had a promising start and I loved the first half of the book. One word to describe it? Fun! While the story was engaging, it was not always exciting and the story dragged for me at times. There was a lot of dialogue in the book so it feel as though there was non stop talking throughout the novel. The main character, Jenna, was not very consistent. She seemed so certain that she was a huge environmental activist but she went against some of her believes. Not only that, I felt as though she was telling the reader she cared about nature but not actually showing she cared about nature.

The downside of the book was that the supporting characters were not as strong and at times, very annoying. Take for example, Olivia. There was something about her that irritated me from the start and I’m sorry but I just did not like her. But as the novel progressed, I grew to love Ethan, Reeve and Fiona. They transformed from cardboard characters to something more by the end.

Overall, good premise, fun story but weak characters. For picky readers, I’d say proceed with caution. But for those who want something not too serious, this is for you.

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Publication Date: June 29th 2010
Buy it from: Book Depository (free shipping worldwide!)
Gold star (4/5 stars)

Synopsis: After a close encounter with the front end of a school bus, Alona Dare goes from Homecoming Queen to Queen of the Dead. Now she’s stuck as a spirit (DON’T call her a ghost) in the land of the living with no sign of the big, bright light to take her away. To make matters worse, the only person who might be able to help her is Will Killian, a total loser outcast who despises the social elite. He alone can see and hear (turns out he’s been “blessed” with the ability to communicate with the dead), but he wants nothing to do with the former mean girl of Groundsboro High.

Alona has never needed anyone for anything, and now she’s supposed to expose her deepest, darkest secrets to this pseudo-goth boy? Right. She’s not telling anyone what really happened the day she died, not even to save her eternal soul. And Will’s not filling out any volunteer forms to help her cross to the other side. He only has a few more weeks until his graduation, when he can strike out on his own and find a place with less spiritual interference. But he has to survive and stay out of the psych ward until then. Can they get over their mutual distrust—and the weird attraction between them—to work together before Alona vanishes for good and Will is locked up for seeing things that don’t exist?

Review: The Ghost and the Goth is one of the best books told in alternate Point of View. I am disappointed that this book is not getting as much hype as it should be getting because I love, love, love this book! The book alternates between Alona, the ghost and Will, the goth who can see ghosts. I loved Alone’s POV. It was clear that she was a very confident person and cared a lot about her image, yet she was not one of those unbearable narrators. I actually liked reading in her POV. If a narrator is a ‘mean girl’ and can still be likable enough for me to continue reading the book, the writing is definitely impressive. The book started off with this (in Alona’s POV):

Dying should have been the worst moment in my life. I mean, hello, getting run over by a school bus full of band geeks while wearing the regulation gym uniform of red polyester short shorts and a practically see-through white T-shirt? It doesn’t get more tragic than that.

A brilliant combination of witty and delightful writing. You can see why I fell in love with this novel. Kade brings to Alona to life even though she was dead. Although Alona can be pretty mean sometimes, she is never infuriating and I actually felt sympathetic towards her. She has a snarky voice that definitely stands out among most narrators in YA books. That being said, I also enjoyed reading in Will’s POV and he is a refreshing change in the YA lit. Will and Alona forge an unlikely new friendship and I loved seeing how things progressed between them. Their banter were always adorable and hilarious and really true-to-life. I don’t want to spoil the plot for you but I cannot stress enough: This book was so good, I was so involved with the story, I found myself reading till midnight just to finish it!

I enjoyed this wonderful novel and wholeheartedly recommend to readers who wanted an addictive fast-paced read. I cannot wait to read more books in the trilogy. Don’t worry, The Ghost and the Goth is excellent on it’s own.

The Ghost and the Goth has been nominated for a Best Fiction for Young Adults award (BFYA) through the American Library Association (ALA). I am absolutely happy to hear that! Visit Stacey Kade at her website.

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