Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Camelia’s junior year of high school is finally over…but her troubles aren’t. After she discovers a painful truth about her family, she escapes to a summer arts program in Rhode Island, determined to put family – and boyfriend – dramas behind her.
At the arts school, she gets caught up in the case of Sasha Beckerman, a local girl who’s gone missing. Even though all signs suggest that the teen ran away, Camelia senses otherwise. Eager to help the girl, she launches her own investigation. While reviewing the details online, she stumbles across a blog by someone named Neal Moche, a fellow psychometric. With Ben away, Camelia feels as if she’s found a kindred spirit in Neal. That sense of connection also makes Camelia realize how much she misses Ben, despite being committed to Adam.
But time is running out for Sasha, and Camelia will have to trust her powers more than ever. Will the lessons she has learned give her the strength to save Sasha before it’s too late?
336 pages | Published: December 18, 2012 | Hyperion Books for Children
I never really thought this would happen – giving anything in the Touch series less than four stars. But, I digress.
If anything, read this for the romance. It’s worth it, I promise.
Buuuuuuut, if you’re looking for more from Camelia, forget about it. This installment begins with a VERY CRUCIAL plot twist, which immediately takes you to the edge of your seat, but just as quickly pushes you back for the long haul. Camelia doesn’t step up to the plate enough for me. Again, I was left wishing for more character growth. We’re given so many details and bits and pieces, but they don’t add up to anything. She’s like a blank slate. And with the series being this late in the game, my expectations only become higher. And, needless to say, they weren’t fulfilled.
The mystery aspect is, as usual, enticing and invigorating. It had me scouring each word for clues. But, again, it takes center stage, rather than Camelia. I went in hoping for a little bit more from our usual cast, and was sorely disappointed. A lot of it is repetition, of Camelia trying to make sense of her powers and feelings. While I understand that this is still a process for her, as the reader I needed more. Or some sort of change. A different angle.
Just when the story starts getting good and showing signs of progression, it ends. It’s as if the only real Camelia moments are saved for the beginning and ending. For me, this is frustrating. I needed to see the bigger picture, or the purpose of it all, throughout the story. When everything hit me at the end, I still had unanswered questions and knew the characters no better than I did from when I started.
If these were meant to be purely stand-alone mystery novels, I’d be better able to forgo the lack of character development and interaction. But they’re not. Yes, they deal with stand-alone mysteries, but the overall arching plot revolves around Camelia. And if she’s a dud, her story becomes a dud.
- Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
- Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder
- The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
- Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faria Stolarz
- The Essence by Kimberly Derting
- Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver
Despite making progress in finishing my TBR pile, that’s going to change come the new year. I’m excited to get back into all of these stories! ..Except for the one stand-alone and cook book. Obviously. Speaking of which, cooking is something I also hope to do more of come the new year.
What about you?
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
304 pages | Published: June 14, 2012 | Penguin Group USA, Inc.
Can I just say that Sam and Jase may be my new favorite contemporary YA couple? Really. Jase is the fictional boyfriend I’ve been looking for all along.
Fitzpatrick makes these characters sing. They’re so real and dynamic, always working with each other. I’ve never before seen so many characters flow together.
That being said, I think this plot attempts to tackle a lot, and succeeds in tackling half of it. From politics, to drugs, to sex, to best friends, to boyfriends, to exes – there’s a lot to be said. And most of the time, Fitzpatrick gets the messages across. But the latter portion of the book nosedives so fiercely and suddenly, and doesn’t have enough time to recover. I just wanted more, more, more. It left me feeling like someone stomped on my heart and tried to put it back to normal…unsuccessfully. The resolution feels like a cop-out. When it says “the bottom drops out of her world,” Fitzpatrick wasn’t kidding. In the turn of a page the story goes from a super high to a super low. (Keep tissues handy. Just in case.)
Nevertheless, be prepared to be captivated very early on, even though it’s strange at first. The plot points (although whacky later), are spaced in a way that’s so seemingly seamless and fluid. You get from Point A to Point B to Point C without ever feeling as if something’s been done just to create this new niche in the story.
If anything, read it for the romance. Really. It’s too darn perfect. Everybody will want a Garrett.
I know I do.
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him—the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target.
384 pages | Published: September 29, 2011 | Penguin Group
For a story that revolves around Jack the Ripper, I expected there to be many more Ripper moments.
The first chunk of The Name of the Star consists of serious build-up and character building, specifically that of Rory and her new life at boarding school. It’s a typical fish-out-of-water scenario. That said, the characters are all memorable and realistic – especially the boys. For once, it was nice to not have boys banging down any doors, standing outside windows with boomboxes, or going out of their way to get the girl. Consequently, the romance took a back seat. And even when it was prevalent, it was spontaneous and … awkward. Really, all it did was get my hopes up very early on.
I never expected this story to take the turn that it did. It kept me hooked, but dissolved into a letdown. I never felt the urgency or terror associated with the Ripper drama. Instead of increasing in action, it dwindles, becoming a long history lesson. Between long monologues and recounts of past events, I fought to finish. The latter half of The Name of the Star feels as if it’s a separate story, woven together out of thin air. I felt tricked, no longer understanding the story’s progression. Had there been more answers to Rory’s questions, maybe I’d be satisfied as well. But I’m just left wondering how the story gets from point A to point B.
This is a good one if you enjoy mysteries that pull you in multiple directions. It’s not entirely unpredictable, but more teasing than anything. Don’t expect to be scared. It’s rather tame. Ultimately, I’m unsure what The Name of the Star tries to achieve.
As many of you already know, I’m a college student (tackling senior year!). This
probably means nothing to you.
But it means everything to me. They tell you college is what you make of it, and well…I’m making the most of it. My schedule is jam-packed. Between classes, work, homework and thesis-writing, I have little spare time in which I feel like doing anything productive. Seriously. I’m all about putting aside the computer and just…not thinking or worrying about stuff.
Because of this, I severely slack on my personal reading and blogging.
But this isn’t one of my typical apologetic, I’ll Be Back Soon! posts.
I was inspired to write this after reading Amanda’s post on the entitlement mentality.
Every winter break and summer, I put a lot of my time into blogging and reading. Not because I have to, but because I want to. After going months estranged from the community, I begin to crave that normalcy and friendship again. In short: I miss you guys! So I throw myself out there. I participate in read-a-thons, try new projects, become a Twitter-holic. In return, I get visitors here. I meet new bloggers. I expand my blog reading list.
Every time I go back to school, I lose visitors. With no new content to draw them in, TGR sits abandoned. The best I can do is offer occasional posts and comments, which is enough to stay in touch with those I’ve grown closer to, but not nearly enough to build and maintain new blogging relationships. Even knowing this, I still, at times, get that nagging entitlement feeling – the one that says, “They know you’re busy. They don’t expect posts. Surely they’ll keep tweeting you as if you’re still around.” Or, “Don’t worry about it. You’ve established a small following of readers. They’ll be here when you return.”
But the truth of the matter is…they’re not. You’re not. You don’t keep visiting a blog that isn’t putting out new content, no matter how often you used to visit. What’s the point in visiting a somewhat-deserted blog?
It’s not that I enjoy feeling entitled. It’s not even like I truly feel entitled. For me, it’s more about knowing I’ve put in so much work, and the thought of it going to waste really bothers me. No one wants their blog or presence to be forgotten, do they?
I don’t know how to manage my time. I have calendar plugins and personal notes to get myself to read and post, but I can’t get myself to ever sit down and do it during the school year.
Is there a way to fix this? Is there something I could be doing to get back on track, to keep blogging while at school? Help!
This post was inspired by Jamie’s story about the collision of her blogging and personal life.
This site, although comprised of posts about books, memes and other ramblings, is personal. It’s my space that I choose to share. My posts may not be specifically about me, but they are me nonetheless. I take the time to read and review the books posted on here. I read and react and post my thoughts to issues happening in the community or publishing world. This post is personal, too.
But, as personal as this all may be, it’s an estranged, or detached, form of personal. Blogger friends, authors and publishers, while easy to talk to, are not necessarily the same as family or friends you see every day (in person).
For me, The Grammarian’s Reviews is a sort of separate personal life. Yes, my family and some of my friends know about it. But they don’t actively read it, search for it, talk to me about it. It’s more of a “Hey, did you post this on your blog?” or “Hey, you can write about this on your blog!” type of relationship. So when people “in real life” ask about my blog, or find out about it, I’m totally unprepared. And, in all honesty, I become defensive and nervous.
At the beginning of this semester, on the first day of my media writing class, I had to introduce myself to the class and explain why I’m interested in media (and what aspects of it). Naturally, I blurted out that I’m an advocate of blogging because I run my own website.
“Oh, really? What sort?”
Again, naturally, I said, “A book review site.”
“Oh. Well, you can have a plug. What’s it called?”
I blinked. I shrugged. I stuttered. Then, in a much quieter voice, I said, “It’s called The Grammarian’s Reviews.”
I hoped – I prayed – no one would write it down and find it later. As soon as I got back from work, I logged on and checked my site stats. Sure enough, there was a miniature spike in page views. (What looked like a spike was pretty much just paranoia. But still.) I wondered if I’d receive an anonymous comment, if someone would mention it to me before the next class.
But what if they had? Why was I so afraid? It’s not like I have anything to be ashamed of. I’m proud of my work, and I’m proud of the YA and book blogging community. But that’s the thing.
In my world, when people initially discover I’m a blogger, they want to know what kind. “A book blogger,” I’ll tell them. That’s inevitably followed by the question “Oh, what kind of books?”
Which is when it all goes to hell.
“Young Adult,” I’ll say.
“Oh,” they’ll reply. “Like younger books?” Or, sometimes, “Like Harry Potter?”
“No. That’s middle grade.”
I already know it’s a waste of breath because they don’t understand and have already lobbed me into a stereotype.
Jamie’s story made me not only reflect upon this, but also realize that there’s a major difference. Being thrown into the book blogging community, there’s already an established understanding. We may not blog about the same genres or same books or same issues, but we all have a mutual respect for what each other reads and thinks about those reads.
“In real life,” there’s no established understanding. When someone stumbles across my blog, they don’t already have a respect for the fact that I read or for what I read or for why I blog. It’s like I have to sell myself using my blog, without warning. It puts me on the spot. Every time. I don’t like it, but I’ll never deny being a book blogger and YA book reader.
I just need to work on my confidence when put on the spot.
Do you ever feel embarrassed talking about your blog “in real life”? How can you overcome it?
It’s time for the National Book Festival in D.C. again! Remember last year when I met Sarah Dessen? Good times.
BUT THIS YEAR WILL BE EVEN BETTER. Why?
John Green. R.L. Stine. David Levithan. Lowis Lowry. Melissa Marr.
These are some of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to see them, to hear them speak. (And maybe get some autographs if I feel like standing in lines for several hours.)
I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet any fellow bloggers last year, but I’d love to change that this time around, if possible. Let me know if you’re going!
And now, an obligatory response to the Where have you BEEN? question:
School. It has taken over my life. Even when I’m not in classes or at work, I’m STILL working. When I have downtime, I tend to waste it playing games or lurking on Twitter. You know – basically wasting it on everything aside from reading and blogging. But this isn’t anything new, is it?
Bottom line is I’m booked solid. But I’m not gone!
I’m doing my best to keep in touch while also keeping my school priorities straight. It’s an important year.
Hope everyone’s doing well!
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.
But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.
416 pages | Published: July 31, 2012 | Harlequin Teen
Pushing the Limits is YA romance at its best; it packs the heat, tension and kissing, then boils it down to some very steamy scenes.
I had my reservations about this one. Loner with a leather jacket? Popular girl-turned-freak? It seemed all too overdone. Then, to my surprise, this wasn’t the case at all! Looking past some of the soap opera plot points, Noah and Echo really stand out as main characters. I really enjoyed getting both of their perspectives, especially because they don’t rehash the same events over and over. The two of them, while entwined, also function separately and have their own stories to share. I feel that Noah’s story is more compelling, offers the most resolution and provides the most growth. Echo’s story, while compelling, is full of holes that aren’t really resolved or known.
Noah and Echo’s relationship is at the forefront through most of the novel, but it works. It’s not forced, it’s not love at first sight. And despite it being incredibly swoon-worthy and steamy, it’s not made out to be all about the sex. In fact, it’s the opposite. The physicality of their relationship, while highly prevalent, isn’t as important as the meaning and rationalization behind it. I like that they both think things through even though they know what they want. I like that they use their heads.
That being said, I did still have a few issues with their relationship – namely, that it’s taken to the Nth degree. It’s not just I love you or I want to be with you, it’s You are mine forever and ever. There’s a lot of talk about ownership. She’s his girl. He’s her guy. I didn’t think it was demonstrated enough how destructive this behavior of theirs is. It’s touched upon, but resolved too quickly.
But when you get past that, Pushing the Limits delivers heated romance and heartbreaking tales.
What did I miss? is a feature here at The Grammarian’s Reviews showcasing weekly updates and highlights from both here and other bloggers. So let’s get on with the recap!
[review] The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa — I wasn’t sold on this at first, but OMG did it end up being wonderful!
Bout of Books mini challenge — It’s time to relocate those characters!
Whip it Up Mondays — Quick prep tips for handling onions and garlic.
As you’ve probably already noticed, I didn’t post much this week. I blame both my laziness and the lack of action in the blogosphere. Seriously. WHERE IS EVERYBODY?
Meanwhile, in my world, I’m trying to enjoy my last few days home and pretending I don’t have to go back to school next week.
…School? What? What is that?
*knock, knock* Anyone there?
No links this week. Sorry!
The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa
Don’t look at Them. Never let Them know you can see Them.
That is Ethan Chase’s unbreakable rule. Until the fey he avoids at all costs—including his reputation—begin to disappear, and Ethan is attacked. Now he must change the rules to protect his family. To save a girl he never thought he’s dare to fall for.
Ethan thought he had protected himself from his older sister’s world—the land of Faery. His previous time in the Iron Realm left him with nothing but fear and disgust for the world Meghan Chase has made her home, a land of myths and talking cats, of magic and seductive enemies. But when destiny comes for Ethan, there is no escape from a danger long, long forgotten.
My name is Ethan Chase. And I may not live to see my eighteenth birthday.
400 pages | Publication date: October 23, 2012 | Harlequin Teen
Keirran! Ash! RAZOR! Grim! Ethan! Puck!
How can I possibly love so many of Kagawa’s characters? I’ll tell you how: they kick butt! There isn’t one main character that sits idly by, that doesn’t have a care in the world and shows no growth. There’s always someone looking for more, wanting to be more. And the male/female dynamics play out very well. There are much stronger female characters this time around, and they’re not afraid to show and use their strength; they complement the boys, which is refreshing because the boys like to play the Chivalry-Isn’t-Dead card a lot. It’s nice to have girls that can do something and be their own persons.
That being said, the story does have a very slow, repetitive buildup. But it’s worth the wait. And, after having finished the book, I realized that, while slow, some of the buildup is pivotal, although slightly misguided. Ethan runs into, and chooses to take, a lot of “detours” along the way, which sometimes had me wondering what, exactly, was crucial to the plot. I didn’t always like being tugged in several directions, getting sucked into new plot points, gripping the edge of my seat….only to be turned around. (It was like walking straight into big, yellow TEASER! signs. Face first.) There are still a lot of unanswered questions, most of which stem from the abrupt ending. It’s just enough to sink your teeth into, to keep you waiting on the next book.
But it wasn’t so much the journey that kept me around - it was the characters that had me cheering them on. They’re just so likeable – even with all of their quirks. They mesh well together. I like this “meshing” the most because it’s a clear mixture of new and old, old and young. And it works. (It did take some time getting used to Ethan’s older age now, though.)
All I can say is The Lost Prince officially swept me off my feet. Despite an excruciatingly slow start-up, once the ball got rolling it was just like old times.