What is your reading goal this year?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

By The Seat Of Her Pants

By The Seat Of Her Pants by Jenifer Rubloff

(Summary taken from an email the author sent me)  "When Betsy Butters, American teen, vacations in Paris, from her Swiss boarding school, Château Mont Blanc, she expects to fall in love with the city, but never, with intelligent and handsome French teen, Alex Petrov. While Alex shows Betsy the city of Paris, they learn about their common likes and experiences, most teens their ages don’t share, and Betsy learns about the Petrov family’s loss in life and fortune. Betsy returns to Château Mont Blanc’s winter campus, in Crans-Montana, and makes a connection between her school and the Petrov’s chalets, misappropriated during WWII. When she experiences a freak ski accident, Interpol’s Inspector Bernard questions if it wasn’t really intentional, and what Betsy has done to cause someone to wish her bodily harm. Unflappable Betsy sets off a chain of events that puts her on a collision course with the thieves out to find the missing Petrov fortune. After more than seventy years of searching, will the treasure be recovered, and will Betsy’s detective work motivate someone to rid himself of her uncanny talents? Inspector Bernard has no clue what curious Betsy may uncover next, and worries how he will protect her until the school year ends."

This is a cute little story. I liked the characters, especially Betsy, Maria, Alex, Chip, and the Inspector. I thought they were fairly well developed and were very likable. I also liked Maria's family.  I got confused with all the girls back at school, but there were a few likable characters there as well. I liked the premise of the book, but was confused in a few places because I did not read the first book. Although it is mostly a stand-alone novel, I think it would help to read the first book. I liked Ms. Rubloff's descriptions of Paris and Switzerland, and her descriptions of the yummy food they ate. However, I did feel bombarded with descriptions and information, some of the time, and it made the book feel more like a travelogue than a novel. It almost felt like she was just trying to throw in as much information as possible.

I did enjoy the story, but I definitely think this book needs some editing. There were many punctuation, grammatical, and spelling errors that made it less enjoyable to read. The dialogue in the book drove me crazy. When the characters spoke, they always called each other by name, and in a real-life conversation that doesn't usually happen. You might use the person's name to get her attention, but after that you don't need to use her name in  each sentence. The other thing that bothered me was that the first half of the book is all about Betsy and her friend Maria in Paris. In my mind, if you invite someone to your home for Christmas break, you are really close friends. After the girls get back to Switzerland, Maria is barely mentioned, and when she is, it is more of a side note. I felt bad for Maria because she did so much for Betsy, and then Betsy didn't even acknowledge her back at school. I also didn't understand what the first part of the book had to do with the story if Maria wasn't involved in the second half. I guess it would be because of Alex. It was also hard to determine which language was being used, because Maria's family spoke Spanish, Betsy spoke English, and Alex spoke French, with a lot of French being used while they were in France. It was a little confusing sometimes.

This book was clean except for the random insertion of this awful story where Betsy is kidnapped and horrible things were done to her. I'm guessing it happened in the first book and Betsy was referencing it, but it seemed random and violent to me.

If you're looking for a cute story and some fun characters, then I recommend this book. Keep in mind my drawbacks, but I did enjoy the story.

Rating: PG-13+ (A graphic couple of paragraphs about Betsy being kidnapped, mild language)

Recommendation: 16 years and up. (I'd say 13 years and up if it weren't for those kidnapping paragraphs)

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Puppet Parade

Puppet Parade by Zeinab Alayan

(Summary taken from goodreads.com) "The life of a puppet master is never ordinary. Oliver Deere knew this when he ran away from home to take up the trade of puppetry, but he had no idea just how much his life would change. After his puppets come to life and flee town, Oliver meets up with a masked girl who hides a mysterious past.

As they travel together in search for Oliver's lost puppets, they find that the line between puppet and master is becoming much less clear - and much more deadly.

When Oliver and his companion enter the strange world of The Parade, they begin to realise that their journey will lead them to discover the truth behind a dangerous villain's path, and in the end, discover more about each other."

I have to be honest. I did not like this book at first. I didn't like the puppets' language, especially. I didn't feel connected to Oliver or Sophie. I didn't like the puppets because they were crude and mean. I didn't understand why Oliver would create such detestable characters. I really couldn't tell where Oliver was, or where Sophie was. And, when did this book take place? Is this modern day or 200 years ago? Not knowing these details made it hard to get into. I could not wait for this book to be finished. Had I not been reviewing it, I probably would not have finished. But then something happened. I kept reading and I got picked up by The Parade. I found a softer side of Oliver and Sophie, and really came to like them. I even found myself liking some of the puppets. The puppets' language got a little better, and I found myself immersed in The Parade. Yep, I got sucked in. The different towns in The Parade fascinated me, and I wanted to know how it all worked. I wanted to know what was in the Fog and who was in charge. And, the ending did not disappoint. It wasn't what I expected, but I thought it fit well and it all came together. I liked how the two worlds came together. I didn't understand, really, but, I am not a magician. If I could pick, you'd find me with Sophie in the library and the college.

This book does have quite a bit of language in it. Like I said, the puppets have "potty" mouths. It gets better as the story goes on, but the beginning is full of it. There is some violence, especially in the Violence Town. That part was quite graphic and awful. Thankfully, it was a short stay in that town, because it was shocking. Sophie and Oliver fight others (sorry....can't give it away), and that isn't too bad. There is some light kissing and some hints at intimacy, but it never happens. There are a few spelling and grammatical errors as well.

I ended up enjoying this book. It has some fun twists and surprises, and is very creative. I haven't ever read anything like it. I would recommend it, with the previous warnings.

Rating: PG-13+ (Language, violence--including graphic murders)

Recommendation: 16 years and up. As always, I recommend parents read it first to see if it is appropriate for their child.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back
The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson
(Summary taken from an email the author sent me)
Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.
I loved this book! It caught me off guard and just drew me in. I liked Ms. Wilson's writing style a lot. It is witty, well written, and fun. I really liked the characters, especially Mattie, Ella, and Jake. I loved Tilly's wit and candor, and that she was normal, just like I was in high school: not especially pretty and definitely not popular. Nerdy, yes; talented, yes; unnoticed, yes; but fine with it, yes. Ella is the girl everyone wants to be in high school, but, unfortunately, there aren't very many Ellas around. It's hard to be perfect. And Jake sounds dreamy. If I didn't already have my prince charming, I'd probably want to steal Jake. I also enjoyed the storyline. This book has almost everything you could want. It has high school drama (which I would never want to do again, thank you very much........I hate girl drama, and high school drama is even worse), romance, revenge, sister bonding, and so much more. There are a few surprises, and some fun twists.  There are also some good "Ahhhhhhhh" moments. You know, where every girl in the room says, "Ahhhhhhh." So cute! There are a few spelling and grammatical errors, but not enough to distract you from the story.  
Also, this book is clean! I can't remember any language, there's no "physical intimacy," besides some kissing, and no violence, except some mean high school pranks. Yay! I love a true young adult book.
Rating: PG+ (High school drama, some mean pranks, some kissing)
Recommendation: 13 years and up.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.