Just Sitting Here "Waitin' on Wednesday" #4

With this year coming to a close. I had to go into the next to find goodies for my WOW!
That said, here goes.

Title:  Pandemonium
Author:  Lauren Oliver
Publisher:  Harper TEEN
Release Date:  March 6th, 2012 

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.
Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.   -Goodreads

"The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer"...Becomes Me

Title:  The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
(Mara Dyer #1)
Author:  Michelle Hodkin
Format:  Ebook
Length:  464 pages
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing
Age Range:  Teen
Rating:  4 stars 
 Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.    -Goodreads

Did I Do That?
Michelle Hodkin's "The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer" is paranoid dysfunction at it's best.  This book is a prime example of the reason that passing motorists stop to gawk at car accidents.
1.  There is just so much going on.
2.  You just have to know "wtf happened"?

Mara spends the first half of the book wondering why her friends died and whether or not she was responsible.  While this is happening there is also a cross country move and a new school thrown in for good measure.
Just when one starts to think that things couldn't possibly get any more complex for poor Mara, in come the shrink, the anti-psychotic meds, and the HOT GUY!
Yep, you heard right.
I said, "Mentally unstable girl +really hot (Did I mention that he was rich, English, and prone to stalking?) guy.  
See...car accident, right?

Mr. Too Perfect
Rich, cultured perfect, always there, sexy, understanding, and he drives a PRIUS.  Could he get any more perfect? 
Does he?
Just keep reading.
As the literary fates would have it; Mr. Perfect is the one true flaw that this story has.  He is too good, too involved, and as his role in the story progresses, too confusing.  Noah in this book is like the MIL that comes to help after a new baby is born.  For the first couple of weeks, she is the best thing since sliced bread.
After the newness has worn off, she has reorganized the house and renamed the baby, you're looking for quick ways to kill her and have asked DH to help you hide the body.
Such is the story with Mr. Noah Shaw.

When you get back to the story of Mara and past the confusion that Noah brings; the story is a good one  that ends with the reader on the edge of a cliff.  This story was so involving that it is very easy to forget that it is only the first in a series.  If this was the first, this reviewer can't wait for more.

Read it and let me know what you think.

"Where There's a Wolf There's a Way" A Howling Good Tween Read...

 Monster High:  Where There's a Wolf There's a Way
(Monster High #3)
Author:  Lisi Harrison
Format:  Audiobook
Length:  6 hrs.  15 mins.
Publisher:  Hachette Audio
Age Range:  Tween
Rating:  4 Stars      

The frighteningly hip teenage children of the world's most famous monsters have gathered together under one roof...to brave the horrors of high school!
Always overshadowed by her six brothers and her fab friends, Clawdeen Wolf plans to finally strut her stuff in the spotlight at her upcoming Sweet Sixteen bash. But after The Ghoul Next Door goes viral, it's into the woods for the family Wolf. Clawdeen goes stir crazy lying low at her family's B&B with her annoying brothers until Lala shows up to keep her company. But is the vamp flirting with Claude?!

In this the third book of the Monster High series, readers are finally introduced to the fashionably furry Clawdeen Wolf.  She seems quite the force of nature in her own right, though she seems to spend most of the book trying to escape the watchful eyes of her family.  All she wants to do is to celebrate her sixteenth birthday in style,but with most of the RADs in hiding and her family's paranoia about "normie" backlash, there may not be much partying in her future.

This book was really a joy to read due in large part to the fact that characters that had been window dressing previous books are allowed to fully develop and join the cast of the drama being played out within this book.  Case in point...Melodie.  She seemed to wander the first two books as the RAD friend with unexplained issues.  In this book however, all is revealed and and what Melodie learns about herself will change her life forever. 

This book is a great way to get your tween to read.  The story lines deal with issues such as acceptance and friendship highlighting the concept of self esteem.  I would recommend this book and the series to any Monster High lover.  If you have the dolls...get the books! 

Audiobook Review
This was one of the few cases in which I was underwhelmed by the performance of the narrator.  Liz Morton offered little to no differentiation between her portrayal of the male character and the American females.  Her best work was in giving voice to Lagooona Blue.  There could have been so much more done with this book.  My advice to the author would be to hire the cast that voices the cartoon to do the book.

"Seizure" Couldn't Quite Hold Me...

Title:  Seizure  (Virals #2)
Author:  Kathy Reichs
Format:  Audiobook
Length: 10 hours 52 mins.
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
Age Range:  Mid-teen 
Rating:  3 stars

Ever since Tory Brennan and her friends rescued Cooper, a kidnapped wolf pup with a rare strain of canine parvovirus, they've turned from regular kids into a crime-solving pack. But now the very place that brought them together - the Loggerhead Island Research Institute - is out of funding and will have to shut down. That is, unless the Virals can figure out a way to save it.

So when Tory learns of an old Charleston legend about a famous she-pirate, Anne Bonney, whose fortune was never found, she can't believe her luck - buried treasure is exactly what she needs to save the Institute on Loggerhead! Trouble is, she and her friends aren't the only ones looking for it. And this time, the Virals' special powers may not be enough to dig them out of trouble . . .    -Goodreads

 Haven't We Met Somewhere Before?
This installment of the "Virals" series read more like and amalgamation of "Goonies", Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and "Twilight".   In fact, if it weren't for the fact that I had been introduced to Tory and the gang in the first book and become fully invested in the continuation in the series;  I would have closed the book at the first mention of "finding the lost treasure in order to save the island".  So verrry "Goonies" circa 1985.  (Right down to the hidden water slide.)

Flashbacks aside...I can not say that the mile a minute pace of the story was not enjoyable to follow.  I especially like the fact that there was a lot more "flaring" this time around.  The fact that Ben had to have help to achieve his "wolf" and the many tactics that were employed to help him were a joy to watch.

I was really hoping that Chance, and his "fingers in every pie" dad wouldn't show their villainous faces this time around; but sadly...  

There again we come upon the problem of the recyclable.  RIPPING OUT HAIR IN UTTER FRUSTRATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And of course....the parents are once again blissfully unaware that their children are mutating at will, being shot at, and searching for buried treasure while managing to commit several felonies in the process.  Anyone else find this just a little funny?


Ok, just checking!

This is a great book for anyone that has a yen for adventure but is not old enough to have John Hughes as a frame of reference.  In short, if you are 14 or so and want a good read with mutants, treasure, and felonies...this is your read.

Audiobook Review 

Cristin Milioti's performance was the best thing about this story.  So much so in fact, that if it were not for said performance; I couldn't have made it to the end of this book.  I am especially fond of her rather snide characterizations of the bratty "rich bitches" of the island.
Cristin is truly a rising star and one to watch in audiobook narration.
I can not end this review without making it quite clear that it is only on the merit of Miss Milioti's work that I am able to rate this book at three stars. 

Side Note
If there are to be any additions to this series, it would be greatly appreciated if the sound effects that were used to mark the Viral's  "flares" in the first audiobook be continued.

You Won't Get Sick of "Virals"

 Title:  Virals
Author:  Kathy Reichs
Format:  Audiobook
Length:  9 hours 41 mins.
Publisher:  Penguin Audio
Age Range:  Mid-teen
Rating:  4 stars
Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends they're a pack. They are virals.  -Goodreads

Don't Call Her "Bones"
Victoria "Tory" Brennan may be the daughter of a marine biologist and the niece of Temperance Brennan; but the mystery and intrigue in which she finds herself and the way that she deals with it are all her own.  
Readers will find themselves falling in love with her no-nonsense way of dealing with almost all of the situations that her and her three partners in adventure experience.  I would have said that she handled all of the situations well, but there were a few incidences that involved a certain boy that left much to be desired in the charm and grace department.  (She is 14...so that was just cute on her.)

As with a great many YA novels, this books major downfall was the lack of parental involvement.  I mean this girl and her friends manage to stumble upon and become irrevocably altered by an illegal experiment, uncover the corpse of a long dead girl by first unearthing and researching the ownership of found dog tags, and let's not forget to mention the "killer" powers that she and the guys deal with while the parents are off in "la la land".
I know that parents are busy, but there are several times within this read that these kids could end up in jail or dead and the parents have not the foggiest.

I am not saying that the parents should have their kids tied to their legs at every moment, but some of the situations that were in this book were let's just say NC-17 at least.

This is a great read for the teen mystery/thriller buff who loves the strong female lead, super powers, and the happy ending.
Audiobook Review
Cristin Milioti did a wonderful job in the narration of this story.  I loved the way that she was able to voice the Southern accents.  I would recommend the audio version of this book over the written any day,

"Bunheads"...A Dance You Never Want To End

 Title:  Bunheads
Author:  Sophie Flack
Format:  Hardback (ARC from publisher)
Length:  294 pages
Publisher:  Poppy
Age Range:  Late Teen
Rating:  5 Stars
As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?  -Goodreads

Take a Walk in Her Toe Shoes
Girls the world over have gazed upon the lithe bodies and graceful movements of  professional ballerinas of stage and screen with a mixture of awe and envy.  Little do these starry-eyes dreamers know of the long hours, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears behind the magic of the twinkling lights and tutus.
Until now...

Sophie Flack's "Bunheads" is a captivatingly honest look into the real world of ballet.  Showing the reader that though the dance that is shown to the world may be utter perfection; the lives of those dancing are anything but.  There are rivalries, injuries, disorders, friendships, tragedies, and triumphs all seemingly woven from the same delicate threads which secure each dancer into his or her beloved toe shoes.
Ms. Flack not only manages to bring the reader into the world of Hannah Ward, but to make him or her a "fly on the wall" so to speak during moments of her life.  It is during these snap-shot moments that we come to realize just how tight the confines of the dance can be on not only the dancer, but also on his or her life.  You  can dance your life away and be nothing more than just "one of the corps".

Turning Pointe
Every story has one...and for Hannah, her comes when she meets Jacob, a struggling musician with a quirky smile and a freedom of life that she has never known.  Though Hannah loves the dance and the life that it has given her; her relationship with Jacob causes her to open her eyes to the reality of life's bigger stage.  Will she be willing to trade in her place in the corps for the spotlight and center stage in her life's dance?  Nowhere within this story is Hannah's struggle to find herself more real then during her interaction or in some cases lack thereof with Jacob.  This is the part of the book in which she truly comes into her own as a person, and begins to take responsibility for her life's directions

Final Curtain
This book is a wonderful example of an author "writing what she knows".  I was not aware just how much of herself the authoress has written into her book until I had finished the book and was reading the jacket flap for contact info.  The intimacy, truth, love, and meticulous attention to detail exemplified in this book could not have been achieved in any other way.