Monday, November 28, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

There was a lot of buzz going on about The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer from first time author Michelle Hodkin. After reading a bit about the character Mara and finding out she is a young girl who is the only one of her friends to survive a terrible accident and has lost all memory of it I was intrigued to see what Mara Dyer was all about. Even though a character going through the process of amnesia is a common tale, something about the title drew me in.

Mara Dyer has woken up in a hospital room finding that she is the only one to survive a deathly accident, she has lost all of her friends in the amount of time it takes to blink and can’t even remember how or why. After attending the funerals she asks for her family’s help in relocating to Florida. She is now the new girl at a prestigious academy and is already hated by the queen bee simply because Noah, the guy that every girl wants but can’t seem to tie down has eyes for Mara. Mara wanting to just get through the rest of the school year has to deal with Noah’s persistence, her family constantly worried for her, the high profile murder trial that her dad has taken on plus those pesky hallucinations she sees of her dead friends and that new people seem to be dying around her.

While reading about Mara I constantly felt sorry for her. She is always on the brink of questioning reality and crazy. I think everyone has had a bad thought of an enemy, it’s human nature but Mara’s character goes one step further and actually acts on it, using a supernatural ability, but without any control or knowledge of it. As the daughter of two successful parents she wants to keep up the idea that she is coping with the death of her friends. But her hallucinations and actual conversations with her deceased friends have her second-guessing her sanity. In a nutshell she is an average girl who knew exactly who she was but now has to deal with whom she was really escaping.

Noah is likeable but still the typical teen boy love interest in the book. I guess the only way he differs from most characters like him is that he is able to flirt with Mara without actually doing anything. Weird I know but you’ll have to read it to see what I mean. Noah has his own secrets that I did not see coming. His story gives the book a spin and he is able to take a break from his usual cockiness and be the hero, and encouragement that Mara’s family needs.

One of my favorite aspects of the book was a look into family. Mara’s family was the real entertainment for me. Her parents, older brother Daniel and younger brother Joseph often have kitchen discussions that reveal how bonded they are. All three kids are intelligent and yet they don’t seem pretentious. It’s not thrown in your face and makes the family likable. Daniel is probably my favorite character because he is seen as super big brother when it comes to Mara. I also liked that author Michelle Hodkin laced the matter of bullying into the story and what it might be like for a teen today. Let’s face it, bullying has gone up one hundred levels and is not seen as something that is just a phase in life but more of a life altering matter. As confident as Mara seems she still has to go through a few matters of bullying along with her friend Jamie.

I will definitely be reading the second book in the series. Unbecoming had a very unexpected ending, and I can’t wait to see what Mara will do next. I have a feeling she will go through a dark stage just because of this ending, and with a power like hers it will be something that will be challenging to read about, especially with a likable character like Mara. This book is filled with mystery after mystery. Those nagging questions that must answered at the last second taking the reader from point “A” to a very twisted point “B”. If you like a tooth sinking mystery and a book that just keeps you guessing to the point of desperation that I recommend The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. It is a common tale of amnesia that has an ending that will have high expectations of this reader.    

Monday, November 21, 2011

Root: A Very Cool and FREE Interactive Story.



I was contacted by Guardian Teen Books to take a look at Root, an interactive story in partnership with Random House that is available to read online at guardian.co.uk/teen-books. Can I just say I am completely hooked and in love with this concept. I read through the first sixteen chapters and anxiously wait for the next ones.  If you are a fan of conspiracy and espionage combined with the talents of memorable computer hackers than this is something you should definitely check out.

Molly Root is a young teen who’s friend Danny a fellow hacker, has desperately enlisted her help in his attempted murder. Molly herself an impressive talent grabs her “go” bag in the hopes of being able to help Danny. Unfortunately she wakes the next morning to the news, reporting that Danny is dead. In an attempt to find Danny’s killer Molly will have to enlist other hackers to bring down the corporations that took her friends life. She currently now has journeyed through London with Piotr, a Russian teen who is often hired by corporations to try to break into their security systems, and has served as a big help for Molly.

For a story that has brief chapters I really am surprised by how much character background I have received in a short amount of time. This is something that anyone can still start and get caught up with quickly. Molly is an intelligent young woman who thinks on her feet and is likable the instant you read about her. She’s a girl with a back up plan always in mind. She is never unbelievable as a hacker based on her knowledge. When she asks for the help of Piotr the story does get more interesting just from his knowledge alone. These two characters manage to take you in a world of computer hacking that does not confuse the reader. It always seems to make sense because Molly and Piotr are believable.

I think the idea of getting the readers involved in the story is great. It was the perfect touch of story interaction when I was able to play the actual voice mails that Molly was hearing when the story took a major turn. Also through Guardian Teen Books you can take quizzes based on your knowledge of the story, and vote on characters that you want to see written in Root. Pretty cool idea to include the reader as part of Root but also to get young people to think creatively about characters they may want to see and how the story may change because of them.

Root really is something worth taking a look at. It’s something quick to read while waiting in line at the movies, maybe on break at work, or just because you’re hooked like me. Lovers of the Bourne Identity movies, Oceans 11, and Mission Impossible would be an audience that would take to Root. It’s something special that I hope to see more of from Guardian Teen Books; it really does have that young flare that I can see teens and adults enjoying. I still can’t stop talking about it with people so I strongly advise that you check out Root and read it now for free. Trust me you’ll be hooked.    

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me, A Likable Series From A Pretty Boy Point of View

Brian Rowe’s Happy Birthday Trilogy is certainly the gift you didn’t know you wanted. I received the first two books of this entertaining series by Brian Rowe himself so that I could review them, and I found the books were so differently good then anything I’ve read before. After the curve ball ending in Happy Birthday to Me Again I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Here’s a look at the first two installments of Brian Rowe’s Happy Birthday Trilogy.

The story seems simple enough, cocky teen boy Cameron Martin who has everything a teen guy could want meets a witch who casts a spell that ages Cam an entire year with each passing day. Cameron lives out his final days with the same teen angst problems like Prom, the state championship basketball game and don’t forget graduating high school. He is no longer treated as Mr. Perfect when his age begins to show. Only one girl takes notice of him, helping him without judgment. Cameron begins to fall for her and realizes that she may hold the key to prevent his cursed death.

Cameron is not someone you like right off the bat. He is full of himself and only sees the face value in everything; you really do want to give him a good slap. He knows that his good looks will get him far and uses them to his advantage. However he winds up a bit wiser because of the aging spell and begins to see the people in his life differently. I think his relationship with his plastic surgeon father is the most dramatic for me. In an ugly way I was able to see how perfect his father wants him to be when he actually performs a surgical procedure on his own son in hopes of hiding his age. Cameron in my opinion is written like a real teenage boy. He has natural urges and surprisingly the same insecurities that a teenage girl would have with her own body. I think this is a character that young men of today would actually want to read about.

This book does deals with some dramatic family issues but also has comic timing that had me cringing and saying, “No, no, no.” I’m speaking of one scene in particular that has a much older teacher attempting to seduce a much older Cameron. I really did feel for Cam at that horrific moment. But it was funny, much like other moments that I know other readers will laugh out loud at.

Reading the sequel Happy Birthday to Me Again was an easy read because I already knew the characters. Some make cameos and more awkward moments occur in the new spell that is cast upon Cameron, the spell of aging backwards, right down to his diaper. And this can’t be good especially when he is to wed the love of his life, Liesel. I wasn’t sure if this was just going to be the same story but just written in reverse, but it had new conflicts that may have only mirrored the first book but with new embarrassing situations.

Cameron does grow up a lot from the first book. Even though he dips his toe a bit towards the old Cam when he backs out of the wedding he snaps out of it quickly and realizes what he has in his life is good. He does go through this book appearing younger yet he seems to take full control of things, which again can read amusing when it comes from an eighteen year old trapped in a much younger body.   

I can say the two characters that I was pleased to see more of were Wesley, Cam’s best friend, and Kimber, Cam’s little sister. I thought that it was pretty obvious that Cam would bond with his sister and am glad that Rowe took advantage of that. I think some teens get so involved with their lives they forget their best friend at home. I think my only disappointment was that I didn’t get to read more about Liesel, but of course that’s because she goes missing and when Cam’s mission is to do anything to find her you can see how much he really loves her. Especially the dark place where he finds her, I really did cringe at the horrific situation she was in and what they both endure.

Brian Rowe’s Happy Birthday series really is something different. It takes a concept that we all know and spins the hell out of it. It has equal parts drama and raw comic timing. I prefer the first book Happy Birthday to Me, to the sequel but may like the third book after the surprise ending of Happy Birthday To Me Again. I think reading about both Liesel and Cam fighting together is what the second book lacked, now that they both have something particularly special to fight for I am really looking forward to reading the final book. If you enjoy books like Beastly or like those can’t help but watch comedies like 40-Year Old Virgin than this may something you can appreciate. It’s an eye-opening point of view and is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.     

Monday, November 14, 2011

After the Golden Age, Something You Should Be Reading

After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn, an adult science fiction novel, caught my attention with the simple yet eye catching cover. A female super hero graced the cover and when I opened the book to read that this was so not about a female super hero but a child of two of the greatest super heroes and to add, she has no powers at all. She is an isolated CPA that is trying to live a normal life away from the endless spotlight of her father Captain Olympus and mother Spark. I had to read about Celia West and her part normal, part super hero filled world.

Celia West is a CPA who is living quietly in Commerce City as a normal civilian. The daughter of Captain Olympus and Spark, who has no powers of her own is caught up in a media crazed case that shines an irritating spotlight on her once again. She is now the star forensic accountant that can find what’s needed to put away The Destructor, Commerce City’s super villain that Celia herself has a mysterious linked past with, so much for living quietly. Celia is about to uncover many secrets about the good and evil of Commerce City, in the process further distancing herself from her parents wondering who can be trusted. Commerce City will have no choice but to have faith in Celia West.

The opening chapter of After the Golden Age had me laughing, not because it was funny but the way Vaughn was able to instantly tell the reader how a typical day in Celia’s life may be like, a typical day of being the two most powerful super heroes daughter, and the umpteenth time being kidnapped. Celia is simply bored with her past hero filled life and really just wants to be left alone. Sometimes she can seem pretty ungrateful and I wanted to scream at her to just get a grip already and deal. Especially when her parents just want to help. But once you get the back-story on that issue you see Celia as a typical woman with typical family issues. I don’t see how she could have been written without a bit of anger in her. Which helps in her remarkable detective work. She’s a smart resourceful woman that thinks on her toes, with an outstanding attaché case. Her character is what drives the story and kept me guessing. You as the reader are in the exact position she’s in. She gets encouragement from members of the Olympiad, who are a fun filled group as well. They all seem to look at Celia as one of their own and are always willing to help.

Introducing Dr. Arthur Mentis. He is particularly taken with Celia and is the one who has Celia’s trust. He can read minds and is able to not read Celia’s so that they may have an honest friendship. He is a character who I would really like to read more about. I think an entire book could be written about Mentis. He explains a small portion of his history to Celia that had me asking more about him. For example he speaks of how he can’t hold his liquor too well, and that in college he became ill and that through his mind the entire dorm became intoxicated, pretty cool. Mentis always seemed a bit tortured in a way, maybe even to Celia, which is why they have a connection. Celia uncovers a major part of Arthur’s life that I as a reader didn’t see coming. He is a mirror of Celia in way. Someone who has to stop hiding from things and face what they both want.

One thing that stood out in this book for me was the way Vaughn weaved Celia’s past into the present. It wasn’t annoying, or detouring from the main point. It shed light on some of the smaller characters and explains why Celia is Celia. After the Golden Age reads much like a Batman comic book. It is a mystery really, not science fiction in my opinion, but I guess if you want to get the right reader this is where you would categorize it. It has so many questions that are asked and answered in a heart-stopping way. When a character comes into play that Celia requires answers from you really don’t want to blink because you want to see if your prediction was spot on.

I would say that anyone who likes a good mystery or comic books would take to this book. It really reads at the right speed and the ending is worth it. Even if people say they anticipated the ending you still find that the ending is perfect. It’s what you didn’t know you wanted from the book and I can tell you that from reading the first chapter I would have never have guessed the ending Vaughn chose. There were just so many twists and turns for me, that I kept changing my prediction then finally gave up and just read. This really is a great book that is for someone who is looking for something different to read. So step out of your genre for a bit and fall into the hidden secrets of After the Golden Age.   

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Congrats to Eva winning I Blog, You Read's first giveaway. Spend that gift card well. For the other readers that entered try your luck next time. I will be holding more giveaways and hope that you'll enter again. For those of you who checked out my blog for the first time because you heard about the giveaway thanks for visiting and I hope you continue to come back. I only wished that more people entered. The odds really played in this groups favor, so if you thought about entering, or new someone who did, you really missed out on this one. So the next time I announce a giveaway...ENTER IT! And if you have been to I Blog, You Read more than once FOLLOW ME! Right there on the right, or up top near the left. Hee, Hee.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Dig by Audrey Hart

Dust off those old Greek legends and prepare for a new twist from Audrey Hart. I was given this book for review and just couldn’t wait to read it, I mean look at the extraordinary cover, who wouldn’t be enticed by this read. This is the first book in a trilogy by Audrey Hart, published by Backlit Fiction, entitled The Dig. I’m a sucker for Greek mythology and am obsessed with time travel. The Dig satisfies both with a quirky sense of humor and still had me on the edge of my seat reading Zoe Calder’s last minute escapes while trapped in 1000 B.C.


Zoe Calder is a student enrolled at Greedly Academy and can’t wait to leave for the summer with her Aunt and Uncle on their yearly planned archeological dig. This Summer, she heads to Crete and leaves the annoying high school cliques she normally avoids to find  herself whisked back in time to 1000 B.C. to face another clique that inhabit Mount Olympus. While coming to terms with her new magical powers she finds herself falling for a mystery boy who is otherwise already taken, according to a female god.
First of all Zoe is a real teen girl who like all the millions of other teens out there are trying to get through the brief, yet never ending time of her young adult life. She is intelligent but has the same insecurities all teen girls have. She is the girl that hides in the corner but has a lot to say, and me as a reader really enjoyed listening to her. Her thoughts were entertaining and true. She fumbles inside her brain when talking to a cute boy and even when talking to a girl she wants to get along with she finds herself searching for the right thing to say. I laughed when even Zoe shocked her own self of by what she ended up saying. During Zoe’s many escapes, I was impressed how she relied on her own instincts and didn’t need the entire help of the boy hero. She was a smart young woman who I can’t wait to see how she turns out at the end of this trilogy.
I'll refer to the boy hero as Blondie so that I don't spoil the book, but he is a realistic teen boy who is simply infatuated with Zoe. He never comes of too strong like in most common teen books and has honest intentions when it comes to Zoe. Of course, the way the book ends I can see our hero changing in a good way and breaking young hearts. He lets Zoe be herself and helps her see the value of being different from anyone he has ever known. He has his own struggles as well. Many boys do and Audrey Hart manages to shed a light on someone who may struggle with identity in a clique of friends. I think one of my favorite quotes from this young hero is this one.
“See, I’m like you. You’re so grounded that people are afraid of you. And I’m so…I dunno, open, that people are afraid of me. Your feet are on the ground and my head is in the clouds, and as long as we’re together, I know we balance each other out”

This makes Zoe realize that they are exactly alike and different at the same time. I think many couples are that way and that’s what makes them work. Audrey Hart has written a story capable of empowering a young girl to be herself. When you are yourself, you are more grounded in life, which is a definite sense of confidence that I think most girls should have. I read this book in two days and enjoyed it immensely. It had a natural flow and quirky references to current pop culture. Zoe’s flash backs kept me in the action of 1000 B.C and still managed to tell me about how Zoe lived in the present time without me feeling lost.
           
The Dig, by Audrey Hart is for someone who likes movies like Indian Jones who always escapes at the last minute and readers of the Percy Jackson series who want to take the next step into a different interpretation of Greek mythology. The Dig takes what we all have read about Greek gods and puts a young sassy twist to their myths and legends that teens will love and identify with. The Dig is available as an eBook through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com, so download it now!