I hate spending time reading about the plot of a book on review sites - just tell me, Did you like it or not?

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Maze Runner series

The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1)


The first in this series The Maze Runner was OK. This is what I had to say about it back when I originally read it:

 "A young adult adventure/action story. It wasn't bad."
So not an overwhelmingly fantastic review, but not horrible.

It gets worse ... 

The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner #2)


I have to be blunt ... I skimmed this. I read the first 40 or so pages and just couldn't stand all the terrifically awful deaths of these teenagers.

And honestly, I really only wanted to know how it ended. It seemed like I was thinking through the whole book "How can 'they' put these poor kids through this? They can't take anymore!" Indiscriminate killing, horrific scenes, and confusing plot line all required me to give it the 2 stars. I will read (or skim) the last book just to see how it ends. It had better have a good ending!

Can it get worse? Oh, yes it can ... 

The Death Cure (The Maze Runner #3)


325 pages
Published Oct. 11, 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Lame, lame, lame ending. Please don't waste your time on this.

 The first book was decent, if completely unnecessarily violent. Book 2 was more disappointing. And this one was pretty terrible. The ending will make you say, "What?? THAT'S how he ends it? What was the point?"

Save yourselves!

Skip it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs #1)


5 stars

32 pages
Published Apr. 1, 1982 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published 1978)

I was so excited when they came out with a movie about this book, because this book is one of my absolute favorites from growing up. Too bad the movie didn't live up to its inspiration (do they ever??)

The clever story, wonderful illustrations and fabulous writing make this a memorable romp in childhood frivolity and food fantasy. I introduced Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs to my children, and they loved it just as much I did. Even now that they are older, they still love getting it out and reading it.

If you have seen the movie, but not read the book ... GO READ THE BOOK! It's a hundred times better and so, so enjoyable. Literally generations of children have read and adored this book!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Reboot (Reboot #1)


4 stars

365 pages
Published May 7, 2013 by HarperTeen

Finally, a zombie book that's not really a zombie book. It's a fresh new take on a stale subject. In fact, the word "zombies" isn't used in the book (that I can remember). The word "reboot" is used. As in, a body is rebooted after it's turned off. Much like a computer.

In this dystopian world ravaged by KDH virus, people are rising again. Yes, technically they are dead, but the virus reanimates them. The number of minutes the victim was dead equates to how closely they resemble the humans they once were. The lower the number the more "human."

Higher numbers are feared and/or respected for their un-human-ness. And this is where we are introduced to Wren 178. She was dead 178 minutes before she reanimated. She is feared and rightfully so. She, although a petite 5'2" girl, is lethal.

I'm usually not a fan of this type of book - zombies eating people is not on my list of fun things to read, but Amy Tintera turns these dead kids into real people, with feelings and dreams, and turns her book into something other than a zombies-eat-brains book.

The action is fast-paced and gripping. The writing (there is some swearing) had some very witty parts that had me laughing out loud. The characters, if a bit flat, are engaging and well-written. The ending was satisfying and left me wanting more, but not in a crazed, I-must-read-the-next-book-now! sort of way.

I can recommend to anyone who likes or doesn't like zombies, because it really isn't a zombie book, yet has zombies as the main characters.

I will be reading the next in the series.

Monday, September 23, 2013

3 Below

3 Below (Floors #2)


4 stars

240 pages
Published Sept. 1, 2012 by Scholastic Press

I read this book as a bedtime read-aloud to my 8-year-old son. He loved it, and couldn't wait for bedtime so I could read it to him. Since I got to read, and he stayed quiet for longer than 5 minutes, this was a win-win for all parties.

3 Below is Juvenile Fiction at its best - there are kids performing things that no responsible parents ever in a million years would let their kids do. No parental supervision at all, which I think is a kids' ultimate dream. Very Roald Dahl.

There are monkeys and burping and zip lines - things that would appeal to any kid. But beyond those silly things, the writing is spot-on for its audience. It's funny, and it doesn't use incredibly large words, so kids can understand what's going on; but it doesn't use dumb words either, so vocabulary is strengthened and stretched. A good balance between entertainment and education. But mostly entertainment.

And if it gets my kid excited about reading, I'll take it!

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Testing

The Testing (The Testing #1)


3.5 stars

336 pages
Published June 4, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

(Mild Spoilers)

Is this a The Hunger Games knock-off? The odds are ever in your favor ... so yes. It absolutely is. A completely unabashed, blatant knock-off.

That being said, it is a good knock-off. I enjoyed it thoroughly once I accepted the similarities between the two books. The plot is basically the same as Hunger Games - except in The Testing, the applicants want to go to the Testing (Hunger Games) because if they pass, they can go on to University and their families back home get compensation.

The main character - Cia - is a clever, resourceful, smart, lucky, strong heroine who falls in love with her travel companion/fellow applicant. Sound familiar? I know, I know. But just as I loved Katniss, I thought Cia was awesome. Slightly flat at first, but she is developed further as she loses her innocence during the phases of Testing.

The majority of the book is focused on the 4th phase of The Testing, which makes sense, because it is the most exciting and longest test the applicants must go through. Traveling in a designated area, they must reach their goal any way they can. Killing is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Some applicants are good. But most turn vicious. It's sad that the author decides to put forth the theme that people are intrinsically bad - and will revert to base instincts whenever possible. I agree there is evil in the world, but I have hope that people at least have the desire to be better and to do better things. Am I naive? Probably. But I still lock my doors and keep my wallet safe. I ain't stupid.

There is some mild swearing and some violence (obviously, since it's Hunger Games reincarnated).

Anyway ... if you liked the Hunger Games, you'll probably like this. It's basically the same. Hopefully Number Two in this series will go in a different direction than Catching Fire did. I'll read it when it comes out and let you know.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Call It Courage

Call It Courage

Published May 1, 1940 by Macmillan

Monday, September 16, 2013


Inhuman (Fetch #1)


4.5 stars

384 pages
Expected publication: Sept. 24, 2013 by Scholastic 
Dystopia-lovers, REJOICE!

I finally get to share a book with you that ranks up there with the best sellers, because this one is definitely going to be on that list!

Recently, I had fallen into an "I'm bored" slump with many of my books, so it took me a week to pick up this novel and start reading. But when I did, somehow my fingers developed super glue! This book mutated me into a part human, part raccoon who can't let go of that shiny something.

A fantastic premise (Think an I Am Legend/The Island of Dr. Moreau hybrid),  excellent writing, quick pacing and insightful character development make this the next "TO READ" for any teen or adult. I enjoyed every gripping minute I was immersed in the wild, colorful, dystopian, violent world of "Inhuman," by Kat Falls.

The only reason I docked a half-star was the love triangle that is developed. I'm so tired of the widely overdone Bella/Edward/Jacob formula. I adored both male love interests, so I despised the choice that our heroine is faced with. But that's the only beef I have with the book. I'm not going to overly analyze it either, because I just want to enjoy.

I cannot wait until I can get my paws (sorry!) on the next book in the series. I can only hope it's as good as this initial offering. Kat Falls has a winner on her hands - much to the joy of the millions of dystopian fans that roam the earth.

Thank you NetGalley and Scholastic Inc. for the opportunity to review this wildly good new book!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Waffles: Fun Recipes for Every Meal

Waffles: Fun Recipes for Every Meal

Published Mar. 13, 2012 by Weldon Owen
I am a sucker for waffles - having visited my family in Belgium when they lived there - but I haven't found a waffle cookbook that has recipes in it that I actually want to try. It's the same old stuff. This cookbook is different! Along with the regular breakfast recipes, it has savory and dessert recipes as well. I am actually excited to try the sourdough BLT waffles!

The pictures are gorgeous, and the basic waffle recipes (which are the base for the myriad other recipes) look easy and doable. I especially like the picture of what the batter is supposed to look like. Can't wait to bust out my waffle iron!

Thank you NetGalley and publisher Welden Owen for providing this book for review!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013



4 stars

Expected publication: Oct. 1, 2013 by Strange Chemistry

It's official. I'm excited about this book! A fresh new voice in YA fiction has made her debut with panache and creativity. I am anxious to see where her career goes and how many awesome books Rosie Best can churn out.

Her debut, Skulk, is filled with fast pacing, horrible Roald Dahl-esque parents, an eclectic group of shape-shifters, a seriously evil bad guy, betrayal, wonderful writing and clever plot. It has been a while since I read a book I couldn't put down - this revived my faith in great YA novels.

Her character development is stellar. As a reader, you can easily know what is going on in the mind of the main character - her thoughts and feelings - allowing you to connect and sympathize with what she's going through. Some of the other characters are a bit flat, but I'm hoping/assuming more will come with Book Number 2 in the series.

I would have loved to give this book 5 stars, but there are aspects that prevent me from doing so.

Gore - quite explicit gore, actually - is peppered throughout the book. Also, the language is rough - one f-bomb and some strong British cursing - mar the overall fantastic-ness of Best's story.

I am ecstatic that a new - and great - author has made an appearance on the vast stage of YA literature. If her writing continues on the same vein as Skulk, Best will be a powerful player for years to come.

Thank you NetGalley.com and Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot Ltd. for allowing me to review this fantastic ARC.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Requiem (Delirium #3)


2 stars

391 pages
Published Mar. 5, 2013 by HarperCollins Children's Books

I didn't think I could be so disappointed by such a bad ending after "Mockingjay," but I believe this one tops that horrific train wreck. My first word after realizing the book just ended was, "LAME!"

The entire book was a pretty good read (which is why I gave it 2 stars), full of action and angst and plot. I read and read. And then the book stopped. It just stopped. I turned the page expecting some more - some answers to questions, some loose ends tied up ... something ... and all I got was the Acknowledgments page. Abrupt.

It was as if Lauren Oliver didn't know how to resolve all the issues and problems facing Lena and Hana, so she didn't. She just dropped everything. No resolution, no denouement, no closure, no nothing. Because if this is the last book in the series, then Oliver needs to grow some imagination, or perhaps request an editor change.

I am beyond disappointed. I'm actually kind of angry.

Bad form, Oliver, bad form.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Broken Stone


Published by Kelly Walker and All Night Reads (first published May 31, 2013)

I was a bit sad when this trilogy ended, which I read in its recently published Souls of the Stones Omnibus form. I was fully intrigued and invested in the lives of Emariya and Torian, along with their faithful and loyal friends.

Right from the start, I was launched into a plot filled with good pacing, quick action and political intrigue. The bad guys get what they deserve (although it would have been cool if those scenes were drawn out a little more); and the good guys prevail. A happy ending - my favorite.

I also appreciated the epilogue. I love epilogues and this one was especially good. It outlined where everyone was 15 years later. So, thank you Kelly Walker!

There is some mild swearing and very glossed-over married sex.

Thank you NetGalley.com and All Night Reads for allowing me to review this book.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Second Stone

Second Stone (Souls of the Stones #2)


Published Feb. 15, 2013 by Kelly Walker and All Night Reads
This, the second book in the Souls of the Stones series (which I'm reading in the recently published Omnibus), was thankfully a step up from the first one. More action, more character development, better pacing. Stuff actually happens in this one. Yay for stuff!
I quite liked it. Whenever I had to put it down, I found myself itching to get back to it!

I can recommend to everyone! No swearing or sex, and the main characters respect and love each other - that can be rare in YA literature today.

Thank you NetGalley and All Night Reads for the opportunity to read this book!

Monday, September 2, 2013


Pandemonium (Delirium #2)


2 stars

375 pages
Published Feb. 28, 2012 by HarperTeen 
So I'm totally bugged by this book. And the more I think about it, the more I'm bugged!

Where should I start? Let's start with the writing. Writing was OK - but the "Then" and "Now" gimmick for each chapter was unnecessary and detracted from the flow of the story. Why not go with a traditional plot arrangement, where this happens first, then this, then that. Some stories are meant for plot jumping. This was NOT one of them.

Bug #2: Love triangle - you knew the whole book it was going to happen. I had even predicted (correctly) what the very last word in the book was going to be. There was no forethought, no twist, no creativity in this. The love triangle thing is overdone. Since Twilight, authors have been dividing their readers into "teams." Team Edward, Team Jacob, Team Alex, Team Julian. Get creative, authors! Do something different! Create tension some other way!

Bug #3: The finale of the book (they're in the hospital), was too easy, too convenient, too lacking. I'd give details away, but I won't. When you read it, you'll know. Scene development is important.
Anyway, despite all the bugginess, I did finish the book, which is why I gave it 2 stars (meaning "it was OK"). I'm not sure I'm going to read the next in the series. There are so many other books out there that are more worthy of my time.