The Goddess Test- Aimee Carter
Kate’s mother is dying, and to grant her last wish, Kate moves the both of them back to Eden, Michigan, her mother’s hometown. There, Kate meets Henry, who claims to be the Greek god Hades. He brings a girl back from the dead, and promises Kate that he will keep her mother alive if she comes to live with him and tries to pass seven tests. The tests will determine if Kate is worthy enough. If she passes, she’ll become immortal and Henry’s wife. If not, her memory is erased, and she loses her mother.
The more I thought about it, the more I disliked the book. It wasn’t a total loss, but it wasn’t great either. Aimee Carter does a Frankenstein hack job on Greek myths; you may recognize who the characters are supposed to be, but their stories are unrecognizable. I loved Greek mythology when I was younger, so it was pretty atrocious to read the changes Carter made to the original myths. Hopefully, kids/teens that pick up this book don’t think that the stories told in here are the true mythology tales However, if you ignore all that and take the story at face value, it’s a fun and light read. What redeemed it was that although the content was not great, it wasn’t necessarily poorly written. I might read the second book of the trilogy if I didn’t have anything else to read. 1.5/5
The Cinderella Society - Kay Cassidy
Jess Parker gets the chance of a lifetime when she is invited to join The Cinderella Society: a group made of up popular girls that are determined to do good in the world. Soon, Jess is pulled into the world of the Cindys, as they battle against the Wickeds to prevent their world domination by targeting innocent people. Leading the Wickeds is Jess’s arch-nemesis, Lexy. Add in makeovers, a cute boy, and secret plots, Jess is soon in way over her head.
Was this book kind of really cheesy? Oh yeah. Was it somewhat unbelievable? Definitely. Was it totally fun to read and gave me a sense of “girl power”? Absolutely. I really liked the message the book sends out: just because you’re popular doesn’t mean you have to be cruel or bully other people. I think it’s a message that doesn’t get out enough to teenagers, and especially teenage girls. There’s nothing wrong with being nice or doing the right thing. Jess as the main character was also very likable; she’s independent, funny, and smart, but not without her flaws. One thing I didn’t like about the book was that there were way too many characters. Kay Cassidy kept throwing these generic girl names around (Gwen, Gaby, Paige, Kyra, Brooke, Audrey, etc.) that I would be reeling from who was who, especially since she tried to give every girl she named a minor role. It got confusing really fast. The other thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the fact that I felt like the author tried too hard to make this another Gallagher Girls book (a series by Ally Carter). The whole secret society felt a bit cliche. However, that didn’t mean the book wasn’t a fun read. 3/5
Uncommon Criminals - Ally Carter
The sequel to Heist Society follows the main character, Katarina Bishop, as she tries to right the wrongs of the world by stealing back lost paintings and helping them find their way to their rightful owners. That is why she couldn’t refuse when she is asked to help steal the famed, and possibly cursed, Cleopatra emerald.
Uncommon Criminals was almost as perfect as Heist Society. Almost. It had all the elements that the first book had: great characters, a great plot and action, and of course, the perfect heist. However, it wasn’t what it had as much as what it lacked that made me disappointed. Like I said, it had everything the first book had. But that was all. It didn’t add anything more. I wanted to know more about Kat and her family; her father, her uncles, and most of all, what happened to her mother. I wanted to know more about who the real Visily Romani is, and about the mysterious Hale, and more about her crew and their stories. Unfortunately, it was all about the heist, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing - in fact, the heist itself was very, very clever. Hopefully there will be more! 4.5/5
Matched - Ally Condie
In Condie’s dystopian world, everything is decided for you by the Society: what you wear, what you eat, how you spend your day, where you work, and eventually who you’re Matched with. It’s a sterile life, but in return, the people live a longer and more stable life than ever before. There are no diseases or violence, and everyone is happy with their life. For Cassia, being Matched with her best friend only shows how perfect the Society is…until another face flashes on her Matching screen. Now Cassia is faced with a choice to live a happy, stable life that Society has dictated, or follow her heart to the unknown.
I had a love-hate relationship with this book. On one hand, I loved the premise, the plot, and the characters. On the other hand, there were some things about it that really bothered me. I can’t say too much, or it will spoil some of it, but Condie is very vague about some very important things. The Enemy isn’t brought up until the book almost ends - who is the Enemy? What happened that caused Society to turn to this system? At the end though, I find the questions that the book brings up is very interesting: if someone tells you who you’re meant to be with, would you fall in love with them? Did Cassia fall in love with Ky only because she saw him on the screen, or would have fallen in love with him irregardless? I’m a little bit sick of the love triangles in teen fiction these days, but I’m still intrigued by how this will end, so I’m definitely looking forward to Crossed, the second book of the series. 3.5/5
Impossible - Nancy Werlin
Lucy Scarborough is seventeen years old, and doesn’t believe in elves, or magic, or curses. That is, until she is impregnated and comes to find out that perhaps there’s another world that she doesn’t know about. One where her ancestors have always had a baby by the time they are eighteen, and go crazy. Soon, Lucy is thrust into a world with curses and three impossible tasks that she must accomplish, or risk the same fate as her mother and her ancestors.
Loosely based on the song, Scarborough Fair, I was completely entranced by this book. I thought it was a brilliant blend of fantasy, adventure, and romance. Some of the criticism about this book was that it wasn’t very realistic, and I totally understand that criticism, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. One complaint I have is that there was a lot of things that happened off screen (such as the making of the shirt), and I would have liked to know more about the original curse. Also, while a lot of the scenes between Lucy and Zach were very sweet, it was also a tad bit cheesy at times. Overall, 4/5.
Bossypants - Tina Fey
Yes, I had to put the cover here so all you know what it was like while reading this book - I cringed every time I saw it, and every time I put it down, I placed it face down, because it really is a hideous cover.
With that out of my system, Bossypants was like reading a Tina Fey stream-of-consciousness; it was smart, funny, and completely random at times. Her self-deprecating humor was something that made me laugh in a good way. Yes, she’s hugely successful, but that doesn’t mean she’s not human, and she was quick to tell everyone just how strange she is! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Tina Fey. 3.5/5
Divergent - Veronica Roth
In the future, what is now known as Chicago will be divided into five factions - Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Erudite (the intelligent), Candor (the honest), and Amity (the peaceful). Beatrice Prior is one of the many 16 year olds who must choose which faction to spend the rest of her life with, and adhere to the “Faction before blood” motto that rules the city. In a surprising moment, Beatrice makes a decision that forever changes her life.
WOW. Just…wow. If you were a fan of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you should run out and pick up a copy of this right now. Roth does an amazing job at pulling the reader into her world with the very first page. While the book is much longer than your usual teen fiction (almost 500 pages!), it never dragged on. Roth is able to balance exposition and action very nicely with character and plot development. There was not a single moment where I thought to myself “I wish she’d pick up the pace!”. The romance that blossoms is sweet and realistic, but not the focus of the book (and no love triangles develop to distract either!). I’m anxiously awaiting the second book of this trilogy, due out next summer 2012. 5/5!
Cloaked - Alex Flinn
Johnny is a 17-year-old boy trying to get by, working at a small shoe repair store his family owns located in the glamorous Coral Reef Grand hotel. Suddenly, he’s dragged into a world of magic by the princess Victoriana from Aloria. She says that her brother has been magicked into a frog, and if Johnny finds him for her, she’ll marry him. Soon, he finds himself talking to animals, fighting giants, and chasing a frog princess.
Alex Flinn also wrote Beastly, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with hints of Snow White and Rose Red fairy tales. Here in Cloaked, Flinn introduces lesser known fairy tales such as The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Six Swans, and The Golden Bird. I enjoyed it quite a lot, but not as much as Beastly, mostly because it was adventure after adventure. The characters weren’t quite as developed as they could have been. Regardless, it was a fun, entertaining book. 3.5/5
Outside In - Maria V. Snyder
In the sequel to Inside Out, Trella faces the hardship of uniting the scrubs and uppers together, which is no easy task. Before anything could be accomplished however, sabotage threatens the peace that Trella fought for in the previous book, as the Insiders discover that there is something on the Outside that wants in.
Similar to the first book, Outside In is a fast-paced action novel with many twists and turns. It was exciting, yet frustrating at the same time. Some of my gripes include not having all my questions answered, as well as some plot inconsistencies. Fortunately, there weren’t too many, and I was really able to enjoy the book. I’m hoping for either another book or a prequel to answer questions that I still have. 3.5/5 (knocked down from a 4 only because I still have questions! In fact, even more questions!)
The Sleeping Beauty - Mercedes Lackey
The latest book in Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms series, where The Tradition tries to determine the fate of princesses and princes all over. Rosamund is the princess of the small, but wealthy, kingdom of Eltaria, and unfortunately, The Tradition has decided to focus its power on her. Soon, she’s caught up in at least three different fairy tales, and must use all of her wit and skills to give herself the happily ever after she wants.
I had high hopes for this book since I loved the first in its series, The Fairy Godmother. I enjoyed the other books in the series as well, but they definitely were lackluster compared to the first book. The Sleeping Beauty started out well enough, but unfortunately didn’t live up to my expectations. There were many inconsistencies in both the plot and characters. The relationships that Lackey threw in there also didn’t seem very real. I didn’t see much development between the love interests; they seem like they were there only because the author stated it so. However, it was still a fun read, especially since I love any sort of fairy tale adaptations. The Sleeping Beauty can be a stand alone story, so you don’t have to read any of the other books to understand what’s going on. 3.5/5