Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to YouEverything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything Leads to You starts with this modern noir feel of bestfriends on the trail left behind by a silver screen icon, then shifts into something even more quiet, as the mystery of a letter and its contents, are pushed aside and become more about this new person and the draw she has for Emi. So, a love story... eventually, but not just.

More- it's all of them on the cusp of this new thing: acting-talking-and taking on their more grown up roles, but punctuated with moments of them, being not-quite the adults they picture themselves becoming. They swing back and forth and back from trying to be grown-up TO not-quite managing it. It's this particular aspect of the book that I enjoyed most. Because they all act so adult, sophisticated, and in the know, when really, they're not any of those things... yet. 

Emi and Charlotte- reveal an interesting contrast, too.  Both 18 and raring to get their adult lives started, but both so young too. It's the second that's most obvious: in their talk of fantasy-reality and the fall of one versus build up of the other. The very concept that not all is evident BUT can be made so, felt so young to me. Them pointing that out at all- felt like such young thing. But,  if first there's wonder and possibility and appreciation for both; later there's the other side of them finding what's previously wonderful/fantastic become not just that, the more familiar they become with it.

It's a theme that's repeated here- Emi as a designer and her work in movies; Charlotte and her ability to line things up- both make the  more obvious example. Movies as magic versus little tricks and tips and what not. Yet, Emi still holds true despite... despite the learning; she stills sees possibilities. So right there a contrast: she's young but not young; an adult-in-the-making.

Another bit of stripping down is of Ava and Jamal pointing out how Emi's and Charlotte's own reality is part fantasy... especially when contrasted against J's and A's own; as theirs is  neither as possibility filled or optimistic as E's and C's.

And later- and last- where Ava is concerned; as seen in the eyes of Emi, there's a movie being made around her (another thing that establishes just how young the MC really is in this one is); because for Emi, she's all these almost childish scenarios of epic love story and a host of other what if's, but it is Ava who's the object of all those what if's. Yet, the moment that ceased and once, more 'stripping down' was done, there's a lot of seeing things for what they were and appreciating things-people- more for the same. This has more than one Fantasy collapse- time and time again; and it's that for all of them that allows the Real-and the better- to come into focus.

They've all cast themselves in some role that they want or think they should have, but once they set those aside, I enjoyed them all more. But there were flaws in this nonetheless- like the too perfect way Emi is- she's just too 'great!' in too many aspects but if objectively seen is not really all that. Her tendency to romanticize things was especially difficult to get over- her and her dream job and what she could/would do; her and her object of admiration/affection/lust/maybe-love had me wondering over her ability to frame things and see things in a certain (unreal?) light. Neither did I appreciate the too simple oppositions: on one side Emi,  happy and on the other Ava, not happy at all.  It's too easy, the lines made... too simple the differences, pointed out.

Still, I enjoyed this for them and that they're all on the edge of something; with most of them taking on adult roles, but still holding on to a sense of innocence... shedding that last slowly with each fantasy that's collapsed.

thank you, e!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

One Kick (Kick Lannigan, #1) by Chelsea Cain

One Kick (Kick Lannigan, #1)One Kick by Chelsea Cain

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One Kick is my first read from Cain; and if her Heart books are anything close to this, then picture me excited.

The two leads in this are not so stellar: We know everything about Kick- but it is that she's a survivor who'se come up with ways of coping that mark her even more different, more remarkable. Contrast her to Bishop, and the scales are not balanced ever; as there's too much mystery around him, liking or disliking him is impossible. I didn't know anything about him!

That said, what they've tasked themselves to do was exciting then terrifying. (Also, I cried--- for the obvious reason: bad things happening to good people but worse to good animals!)  In the end, One Kick is a mixed bag for me. Mostly, I enjoyed the excitement all her in-knowledge permitted: the various secret passage ways and that purposefully hidden culture... I wish more of this was explored even knowing that this was where the ugly lay. Because already, what they'd managed to uncover got terrifying and then ugly. But it's the HOW it's all managed that got a touch too MacGyver; otherwise, this was a good start to a series I am definitely going to continue.

Thank you, Edelweiss!

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Between the Spark and the Burn (Between, #2) by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Spark and the Burn (Between, #2)Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting. How roles have shifted and personalities changed. The girl has not completely shaken off the tendency to want what she doesn't have. In book one, she was stuck in Citizen Cane, unsure how to keep things going; but in book two, we're still allowed glimpses of that; but more than her keeping the household going- here, it's her wondering over how to keep the new version of herself ( that version that River had awoken) going. So she's still fanciful, but there's more emphasis given to the idea that if anyone was going to see things through, it'd be her.

Yet, the magical here is too easily accepted; in fact, things take place too easily.  Hear a mysterious radio program says so and so is happening? Well, guess where we're headed! Stumble upon mentions of fiery red hair sighted? Guess where we're going next! For such a smart lead in the first, here that same attribute felt little exercised--- she was just following a too conveniently laid out trail. (It's the one thing that I found out of place.)

Fortunately, other aspects of the book made up for that. First, that shift previously mentioned- in how she could be. Second, the added bonus given the complication of Neely. It's surprising really... how he picks up where River left off because the ensuing confliction created in her over them--- it was not as annoying a 'love triangle' (if you can call them that) that it could have been. Mainly because there's introspection and actual consideration on her part about not just who they each were, but who they each were for the other. It's that she questioned, wavers, then gets back to it... but at least she questioned.

Thank you, E!

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1) by Ann Aguirre

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1)Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are two kinds of scary in this one- there's the second and more obvious bit that combines terrifying visuals of clowns, left-over hand prints, and entities like Thin Man, Frost and other 'Immortals'; but there's the first kind, predicated on being alone and being judged. It's with the latter as starting ground, that we have a girl who's been broken, only to find herself handed an unexpected opportunity--- revenge, (that's apparently best served after the mother of all makeovers at the hands of the Uber Hot man/boy of her dreams.) So, I loved some aspects of this, liked some others, and was meh over one specific thing.

I loved the imagery and how what's terrifyingly familiar has been used in this one. Lot's of the scares here feel like they'd been culled from my nightmares- that a Pennywise-like figure makes an appearance; that thing with a glass surface with the disappearing hand prints; those scary out of place (time) looking folk- who, for some reason, had me thinking of fields of corn *shudder*. And believe you me, there's more.

Less enamored was I, with the push-pull-push going on between the two leads; don't get me wrong, I love the fact that she doubted and questioned the attraction, but there's that issue of things being 'inevitabale,' as in "Obviously, we know how this is going to turn out."

Thankfully, other aspects made up for it: the Game, in particular. While it's not completely laid out in terms of the what, who, how or why; the bits that have been revealed make it clear- this is more than gussied up smart girl getting her revenge; There's so much possibility here.

thank you, eb!

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

NogginNoggin by John Corey Whaley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With musings of ''You can find ways to be okay with dying, but you can't fake your way through living.' finding themselves intertwined with 16 year old boy humor, Noggin is a touching mix of the funny (in a cringe-please-don't-do-what-i-think-you're-up- to) and the deep. It's the second that should not have come as a surprise (considering this comes from the same author who brought us 'Where Things Come Back') Yet, set that last aside and there is unexpected depth---emphazised by Travis and the 'he's such a boy' feel he starts his story with. And while he is funny, all the humor (and there's plenty) doesn't quite disguise the truth:  there's more here, to him and then them than initially thought.

Dying, dead, and now back, Noggin has Travis as Rip Van Winkle only half a decade in; it's a period that's long enough to have things be different, only not quite for him especially, but not exclusively:

Because there are contrasts made between of what he knew AND what he's learning; between how he was with them VERSUS how they all are without him that kept tugging at me. It's the incongruence of it all for him (then for them) about what he recalls and how things are that allow for that mix of cringeworthy kid-move as seen through people who knew him BUT NOT vice versa, because he is stuck while they've moved on. He wants things a certain way and can't get things-people- to line up; yet in attempting to get things done, we see: that that incongruence between what's-wanted and what-is is not his alone; there too are more than a couple of 'What now's?' for those around him.

Yet the reverse is true and most moving as well- that while he's viewed as this kid who's come back while they have grown- either by growing up, growing apart, and growing 'smarter', there's even a more felt truth in him finally pointing out that he is just a kid despite the year and despite the rest of them having grown up-apart-smarter.   

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Inland by Kat Rosenfield

InlandInland by Kat Rosenfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

  In books, in songs, in stories love is a floating thing.

A falling thing. A flying thing. A good bye to all your little earthbound worries, as you soar heart-first toward a pink sky and your dangling feet forget to feel the ground.

Only I know, now: it isn’t like that at all.

Love is a sense of place. It’s effortless, no stumbling, no stammering,. It’s your own voice, quite but strong, and the sense that you can open your mouth, speak your mind, and never feel afraid.

A known quantity, a perfect fit.

It’s the thing that holds you tight to earth, fast and solid and sure. You feel it, and feel that it’s right and true, and you know exactly where you are:


Moody and quiet and thoughtful, Inland is not a happy story told; there’s a general sense of longing on all their parts with varying basis. Callie Morgan longs for something as yet unnamed; her father longs for what isn’t anymore- his perfect wife and their happy family. Nessa knows what she cannot have and sees the futility in the same, instead works with what she’s dealt with, makes do and almost (but not quite) flourishes.

The writing is beautifully written, and is told by a girl -whose perspective had me doubting a host of things- who initiates things with her experiences of being alone as well as being lonely; and then weaves with those first more memories of a mother- recollections that are cloaked, like everything else in this the story is cloaked - in the unsure; second, the novelty and uncertainty of her present.

Her mother is a memory and she doubts what she remembers. It’s an uncertainty that extends to almost everything here. The new things she’s allowed and how she’s not quite ready to claim any of it- pointing out how “unreal” all the “normal” was for her. All of it is couched in a sense that there are things that are deserved but there’s also a whole lot more that aren’t. It’s her and a general sense of, “Mine. But why?” And later, “until when?”

Thank you, Penguin FtR!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1) by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There's a sequel, right? right?!

Lara Jean confused me- on one hand, there's a sweetness to her that felt genuine; on the other, there were all those other moments of her being clueless, almost too clueless. It's a split that warranted a closer look on my part. And ta da! reading this was sweet then not so sweet and then back again.

She reads young. Sometimes too young. Na├»ve, at best, then TSTL, at worst, she is Middle Child, who makes it’s clear that she’s no Margo – take charge, but neither is she the baby - sweet and all. Then with one out of the picture, the story partially becomes them coming into new roles and learning a new system; specifically, that Margo’s way isn’t necessarily her own. There’s a lot of insecurity because of this, and it’s in that that the True comes out. Because I could picture it: her muddling through things along with the rest of them.

So, what’s my favorite thing about this book? ROLES. Roles they all take on first because of circumstance then because they've all grown used to it. Margo, Lara Jean and then Kitty- first one is in charge, last one adds the sweetness, and the middle set on observing; it's when all those things change that we witness how they are each capable of more- as well as less.

The okay aspect: obviously, all the boys she'd loved before, and why each moment of her with them clarifies why it is in fact BEFORE and not STILL.

This was a cute read… and made even more sweet with all the family stuff going on for her.

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