Friday, January 30, 2015

Review Me Twice - Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I don't know if it's because I listened to the audiobook of this or if it's because I just don't REMEMBER that much of If I Stay (it was almost three years ago, after all) or if the writing just genuinely wasn't as good, but I really didn't enjoy Where She Went.

It was really obvious to me where the book was going to end up from page one, which was fine, because it's a teen romance novel, not a big deal, it's not like it takes a huge leap of the imagination to figure out what's going to happen.  But Adam is in this ridiculously depressive state, but it's not even a depression you can necessarily relate to.  You just kind of feel like he's whining and being emo.

And the writing just felt really cliche a lot of the time.  I felt like there were a lot of bad similes and metaphors throughout the entire book.  Jarringly bad ones, that would throw me out of the book.  It really felt more like she was trying to recreate If I Stay, which I remember having a little bit of magic, so maybe I forgave terrible metaphors a little more?  But it didn't have the same sort of feel to it.  It was just a rock star being sad because he lost his girlfriend three years ago.

I didn't listen to the audiobook like Cassy did, but I can only imagine it sounded like one long "Wahhhhhhh." Because oh my goodness can this narrator whine.

While I understand and empathize with real-life people who suffer from depression or are even just getting over a bad breakup, these are not the kinds of traits I want to see in a protagonist for an entire book. It can be part of the book... the journey to overcome depression makes a great story, but that's not what Adam is doing here. He's wallowing. Nobody wants 200+ pages of wallowing.

And the primary problem with If I Stay, which was that everyone's life (pre-car-accident, anyway) was so unbearably perfect, is still the case here. He's an overnight rock sensation with more money than you can shake a stick at (which is a weird thing to do to money, I think) and enough raw talent to fill several arenas. She's a cello prodigy who graduated early from Julliard and is embarking on her world tour of genius.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Breakups in Books

Well, this is... awkward.

I came here with the intent to tell you all about well-written breakups in books, but as it turns out, I can't remember any, I can't find any with my mad Google skills... are there not any well-written breakups in books?

I found self-help type books about breakups. I found humor books about breakups. I found books touted as great for helping you get over breakups. I found book quotes that are intended to apply to a number of different breakup situations. But I didn't find books with breakups between characters in them.

I know the books I'm thinking of exist. I know that several great books include breakups. The thing is, they either hinder the plot (slowing it down for the sake of pacing) or happen outside of it. I just thought of one example: there's an "off-screen" breakup prior to the events of the book in Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. It's very important, since it does a number on the protagonist and his self-image and his relationship with his sexuality, but it happened outside of the plot, not as we were watching.

My best guess is that breakups aren't the part of the stories that we want to remember. Kind of like life. Who wants to dwell on a breakup when you can spend time thinking about happy times, or the potential of the future?

Let's remember this tomorrow, when we're discussing a book that is entirely about the aftermath of what is presented as a particularly nasty breakup.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Least Favorite Character

This was a really hard week for me.  After all, there are so many characters and, do I pick one that I just dislike because they're poorly written, or do I pick one that I loathe when I read about them?  It was made worse by the fact that I'm pretty sure that I know who Alex is going to pick (and so should you if you've read this blog like.... at all.)

Joffrey is the only character I can remember feeling extreme feelings of hatred for when I read about him.  I mean, the more I read, the more I saw of him, the more I HATED this guy.  Just plain hated him.  I have never wanted a character to be killed off so much in my life as this guy (which, if you've ever read Games of Thrones, you'd realize why this isn't an entirely unreasonable expectation on my part.)

But, like Alex was talking about last week, despite my loathing for Joffrey, it's not because he's a badly written character.  In fact, my disdain for him is because he's so well written.

I have more of a category of characters I dislike, but I don't know what to call them. I do know how they fit together, though... they remind me of one classic character. So I'll just talk about him: Holden Caulfield.

If you hadn't noticed, Cassy and I read a lot of young adult fiction. While there are amazing authors doing incredible things in that genre, it's also a minefield. Teenagers are hard to write. If you are one, you usually don't have the distance and perspective from the experience of teenagerdom to make it relatable to a broader audience, and if you're an adult, it's difficult to honestly remember what it was like to be inside the mind of a teenager.

Holden Caulfield is everything I hate about bad teenage characters. He's that jerk you knew in high school and college who thinks he knows better than everyone and he's really smug about it. He's a distant cynic who hates everything and everyone.

There's a reason that having a character say that their favorite fictional character is Holden Caulfield is a way to demonstrate that your character is a pretentious tool. No offense to anyone who actually likes Catcher in the Rye, but that's what has happened to this character.

Other characters I put in this group (to varying degress) include, but are certainly not limited to Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower and Augustus from Fault in our Stars. But don't mistake this character type for just any cynical teenager. The good ones are funny, or learn to be less cynical (or at least pull their heads out of their nethers and take a gander at the world around them), or find something or someone to make them happy, even just a little bit. Prime examples of this would be Daria, or Susanna Kaysen from Girl, Interrupted (no less a good choice because she's an actual person).

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Author Bio: Gayle Forman

Alex yesterday mentioned that, when we did this book almost THREE YEARS AGO, we never did an author bio on Gayle Forman, mainly because we hadn't gotten into the schedule that we've gotten into these days.  So, why don't I go ahead and tell you a little about our author this week.

She's the one on the left ;)

Forman actually started her writing career with Seventeen Magazine, then moved on to other magazines like Elle and Cosmopolitan.  It was on a trip around the world with her husband in 2002 to that she started to write her first book, You Can't Get There From Here.  She published her first young adult novel, Sisters in Sanity, in 2007.

But of course, it was her 2009 novel, If I Stay, that really took off, winning a multitude of awards including the NAIBA Book of the Year award.  It was in 2014 that it was released as a movie with Chloe Grace Mortz starring as Mia (see above).

Foreman has also released a three book series, Just One Day, Just One Year, and Just One Night and she had one more book come out today called I Was Here.

She also has a webpage that you can visit, a facebook page, and a twitter.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Remember: Gayle Forman?

For those of you who have been with us since the beginning, it has been almost two and a half years since our first post. We read If I Stay by Gayle Forman in October of 2012 as our second review book.

That was back before we posted five days a week, and we didn't do weekly author bios yet. The Monday post for that week was What Is YA? and was written by both of us, and the favorites for that Wednesday was Favorite Authors.

Gayle Forman has shown up here again, more recently, since Cassy's store hosted a signing by her and Chloe Grace Moretz (who I adore and would love to be in the same room as, personally) last summer.

So this week, we're wrapping up the Month of Sequels with the sequel to If I Stay, which is Where She Went.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Review Me Twice: The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore

I have one neutral comment, two negative things, and two positive things to tell you about The Power of Six.

The neutral comment is that this is the kind of series you want to read in succession if you want the full experience. Lore doesn't spend a lot of time catching you up to what happened in the previous book, but he does throw in enough information that you don't have to reread the first one if you remember the important stuff.

For the first negative thing, I need to address what I wrote about yesterday. I told you about how empathetic villains are the best villains. Mogadorians are not empathetic villains. They are a children's story's villains. I was hoping for a little insight into their viewpoint in this book, but I got none.

The second negative thing is that I don't really understand why the title is about Six. The point of view alternates between Four (who the first book was named after) and Seven... So you'd think this one would be named after Seven? I don't know, that's a little nitpicky. But I still think it's odd.

I did like very much that we get to see FIVE of the Garde in this book (though one doesn't show up until there's about 50 pages left). It's nice to be able to start piecing them together.

And I also like that I very much believe all the occurrences. I believe that the characters behave the way they do, because they behave like normal, real-life people probably would. (Besides the whole "being the saviors of an alien race" part, that's not quite as normal.)

All in all, I'd say I'm going to read the rest of the books eventually, but I'm not chomping at the bit to go grab them right this very minute.

This installment of the book was very action packed.  There was lots of fighting and things going on, which was cool, and kept me reading, but I was hoping for a little more back story, which we didn't really get.  The big deal is always the opening of the chests, which was a big thing in this installment of the books, and really, it didn't yield much in the "what the hell happened" back story.

Unlike Alex, I assume "The Power Of Six" was more talking about the power of the six of them left, not necessisarily the power of Six herself.  Because they did talk a lot about what would happen when the remainder of them would get together and what it would mean when their legacies actually developed and what would happened when the, the remaining six, found each other.  Also, this book had more of the Loriens in it than the other, so frankly, I thought the title referred to more of the fact that there were six left that Six, but I really didn't think it was enough to name the book after it.

Despite these complaints I DID like it.  I liked getting to know other Loriens, I like getting the little back story we did get and the predicaments they seemed to get themselves into.  I like how everything ties together and the things we're discovering.  At the end of the day, it's only book two of a decently long series, so I guess I can't expect all the cards to be put out on the table.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Empathetic Villains

This is a little indicative of something I plan to bring up in my review tomorrow, but bear with me here.

You know what makes a great villain? The idea that s/he didn't have to be a villain. Their backstory (the same thing that makes a great hero). Being able to empathize with them on some level.

Something about Harley Quinn's sometimes-terrified devotion to the Joker makes me feel bad for her (though it kind of depends on which canon you're working from, I guess). In fact, I would argue that the Joker himself is pretty empathetic because he makes us laugh, and we tend to like people who make us laugh. Mystique makes some really horrible decisions but you can absolutely see why. And Snape... well, find me a Potterhead who doesn't immediately go misty-eyed at the word "Always."

But there are less fleshed-out villains, too. Cruella Deville's motivation for puppy genocide is that she wants a coat with spots on it. Snidely Whiplash doesn't seem to have a good reason for the way he is, as far as I can remember. And Bowser - despite having become a playable character in many games - is not empathetic in the classic games, or even in some of the more current ones. He kidnapped Peach... why? (Don't give me that "they're having an affair and/or Mario's delusional" theory. It's unoriginal and you can do better.) Sorry... these are not great villains.

My point is, a great villain is a little bit lovable. Do you have any idea how many people love Draco Malfoy? The concept of a relatable villain is the entire driving point behind stories like Despicable Me and Megamind. Personally, one of my favorite villains is GLaDOS, but I can't tell you why, because, like, major spoilers. But trust me, she's insanely empathetic.

Yep, Joffrey. Everyone hates this guy. Some of us love to hate him, some just flat-out hate him. But he's an excellent villain. I'm not trying to claim that he's particularly empathetic himself, but we're privy to his background: his unorthodox parentage, how everyone spoiled him rotten knowing he was heir to the throne, and the myriad conniving backstabbers he's related to and raised by, all vying for his favor in order to advance their own agendas. You can see why he is the way he is, and while it's not an excuse, it's a perfectly legitimate explanation, and that's all we really need in a character sometimes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Favorite Super Hero.

This week, since so many of the characters in The Power of Six have super powers, we're picking our favorite super hero.  Pretty much every super hero originated in a comic, so that makes our topic for favorites today surprisingly literary.

Storm has always been one of my favorite comic book superheroes.  She's got an AWESOME super power, controlling the weather, which in my opinion, makes her one of the most powerful female super heroes.  Everyone says, "Wonder Woman is the most powerful" or "Jean Grey kicks ass" but both those women need to breathe, which you can't do in a tornado.

Alright, so maybe I'm over simplifying it, but she's really awesomely powerful, and she's bad-ass too.  I mean, she met Xavier by picking his pocket because she was living on the streets, stealing to survive because her parents had died in an earthquake (where she had gotten buried alive with them.  At the tender age of four.)  I MEAN COME ON!

She flies, she controls the lightning and rain and wind and she's very pro-women without being anti-men, which I think is always good.  Plus, she frequently has her own thing going on independently of the X-Men or she's with them, working as a team to protect the earth and its people.

I forget where I first got this from, but I remember hearing the argument somewhere that Batman is a better superhero than Superman because he's a regular person (albeit a particularly rich one who can afford all sorts of gadgets and toys) who chose to spend his time and money on helping people.
He can be over-dramatic, he can be excessively brooding, but he made a conscious decision to become a superhero, as opposed to the many, many superheroes who had superheroism thrust upon them because of being born with powers or having some sort of accident that gave them undeniable powers that threw them headfirst into being a superhero. And I think that makes him great.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

From Zero to Hero

This week, we're reading The Power of Six, which is all about super powers.  But a big theme of the book is that they're being hunted for their powers, either by the humans (who don't realize they have powers but are hunting them nonetheless) or the bad guys (who are after them for their powers.)

A reoccurring theme in fantasy books is one of "zero to hero".  In the beginning of the book, our main character often is the outsider, the "other" of the book.  It happens in teen fiction A LOT.  If you read Eragon by Palolini, Eragon is living in a dinky little town in constant fear of the ruler of his land.  It isn't until he finds his dragon that people start to love him, and even then he becomes hunted (mostly because dragons are powerful and said ruler wants to kill him.)

Alex and I recently reviewed Rhapsody, where she starts off as a prostitute, and is hunted by lots of people, an ex-lover included.  By the end of the series she's (spoiler), not only completely loved by the population, they've made her their queen.

So why this nothing to everything theme?  Well, it's a good way to get your reader to love your character.  Since you have to make the characters in your book love your character, you'll inevitably make your reader love them too.

But also, everyone loves a rags to riches story, which is kind of what all of these are.  They're all down and out characters, hunted or ignored and then, suddenly, they're the characters that come and save the world.

What "zero to hero" characters do you love?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Remember: Pittacus Lore?

I think one of the best things about our Month of Sequels, is that no year has been left untouched.  We have been doing sequels to some of our very earliest reviews (If I Stay) and some of our incredibly recent ones (Robopocalypse), so I like that our book this week, The Power of Six, kind of falls in the middle.

We read I Am Number Four back in August of 2013.  Our blog was just shy of it's one year anniversary back then.  Pittacus Lore was the author, which is a pseudonym for two authors, actually, James Frey and Jobie Hughes, all of which Alex told us back then. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Review Me Twice: Robogenesis by Daniel Wilson

Do you ever read a book with such impeccably worded sentences that you actually have a favorite sentence from the book, and you can remember it when you're done reading? "The calliope begins." The context for that sentence is horrifying and visceral and perfectly summed up in those three words. I won't spoil anything for you, but I really needed to mention that a great writer can make a simple sentence with a perfectly selected word depict so much. In this case, words speak much, much louder than pictures ever could.

I make a lot of facial expressions when I'm reading, if I'm into it. Robogenesis (and Robopocalypse, as I recall) gave my face such a workout. One moment, I'm disgusted and horrified because something unspeakable has happened. Then, I'm tortured by the possibility that a great character died. Then, I'm gleeful because I was wrong and the character is totally fine. Repeat times one billion. And noticed that I didn't say that I'm grossed out, sad, and happy. I'm horrified, tortured, and gleeful. You don't feel normal feelings when you're reading a great book. You feel intense versions of normal feelings.

If you like Robopocalypse, you'll like Robogenesis. Wilson's writing style doesn't change a bit, which is good when you're using the same characters and the time frame has barely shifted. Sure, we're after the New War now, but we're basically picking up where the first book left off. And rest assured... if you start the book and you're wondering where certain characters are, they're coming. The book is divided into parts that only cover a few characters at a time. They're all there, just keep reading.

Sequels are funny things.  They can be either really amazing, or they can be dismal.  This one is AMAZING.  I mean, I was literally a few chapters into this book and Wilson absolutely blew my mind.  He just completely changed my perspective on the characters and his world and even his first book!

It's very much the style of the first book, but that's ok because it pretty much directly picks up after the war ends.  Wilson's writing is AMAZING and his sentences just... draw you in.  I listened to the audio and honestly, it was fantastic.  The guy knows how to write.  There were times that I could SEE what was happening so clearly!

And I got so attached to so many of the characters.  I really liked Matilda Perez in the last book, so much so that I wish that we got to see more of her, and Wilson really delivered in this book I think.  We got to see her grow up a little, really get involved in the war, experience life and loss and see her come into her power.

It was just a FANTASTIC book, and if you read the first one, you should read the second one.  If you have read the first one... well, you need to do that already!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Well-Researched Fiction

As a librarian, I appreciate a good bout of research. Research is awesome. It's basically what my job revolves around. (People think it's the books, but really it's all about the research.)

So I get really excited when I discover that someone did a ton of research in order to write a novel, which is fiction. It gives the fiction a little more real-world weight, like it's more likely to actually happen, or it's more likely that it really did happen that way or could have happened that way.

Jean M. Auel is known for the crazy amounts of research that goes into her Earth's Children series. She studies the details of everything we could possibly know or guess about early humans. Food, hunting, social systems, medicine, hygiene, sexual habits, art, story-telling, travel patterns, sleep habits, furniture and tools... absolutely every detail that goes into her books, she researched until she found an answer or could make the best possible guess.

Any good author of fiction or non-fiction does research. If I were writing a novel set today, about a topic I know plenty about, but it took place in Mexico, I would need to do research, because I've never been to Mexico. Historical fiction requires knowing about the context of the time and place you're setting the story in. Science fiction, if you want it to be realistic at all, needs to be informed by current research.


Which brings me to the tie-in to this week's book. Daniel Wilson, author of Robopocalypse and Robogenesis, has a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and a Masters in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. In other words, he clearly decided to write what he knew. If you want a more immersive experience with these books, finish reading them and then go look into the current research on AI and robotics. You will run back home and start lining the walls with foil and ordering giant electromagnets on Amazon in hopes that you can fight the robots with them at some point. In other words, the events of these books may seem far-fetched... until you realize that they aren't.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Favorite Science Book

Our book this week is very technical and sciency and such, so we're going with our favorite science books this week.

I love Mary Roach.  If you haven't read her, you really should, because she's probably one of my favorite non-fiction writers of all time (ok, so it's not like I have an over abundance of those, but you get my general point.)  She writes a lot of science books (Gulp is all about the anatomy of the mouth and our taste buds and we'll actually be reviewing it in a few months) but Stiff is BY FAR my favorite.  It talks all about cadavers and how we die, and what happens WHEN we die.

She also discusses the various things you can do WITH your body after your die.  Programs take lots of donated bodies.  One university takes bodies and decomposes them with different factors involved so, when we find murdered bodies, we can get a better estimate on how long they've been dead based on environmental factors.

It's really just a cool book to read and she presents it in the COOLEST way.  She writes really well and she is definitely a non-fiction author you should pick up (though maybe not THIS book if you happen to be squeamish.)

Here's a sneak peek into the future of the blog... we will be reviewing this book in the next couple months. So I actually won't go into too much detail. But What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions is factual and entertaining and all-around amazing. Plus, I have a signed copy, so that's really cool. The subtitle describes the book perfectly; Munroe answers silly questions with researched, scientifically accurate answers. Plus there are drawings in the style of his amazing webcomic, xkcd.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Year, New Goals

So, I know I'm a little late on this draw, but it is a new year, and I know that we all like to set reading goals for the years, and maybe, just do a little keeping up and some housecleaning.  SO, for those interested, here is my reading goal for the year:

Look at that, I'm such a slacker.  Already a book behind schedule.

I am Natalia173 over on Goodreads, where I keep track of not only the books that I've read on the blog, but the books I've read this year, the books I'm currently reading and, believe it or not, I read more in my life than what ends up on the blog.  I'm not as good about reviews on Goodreads as I once was, but I do at least give them starred ratings.

As always, you can follow us on Twitter, @reviewmetwice, or you can like/follow our Facebook page, Review Me Twice and we also have a pinterest, Review Me Twice, (though, to be fair, we haven't updated that in QUITE some time.)

I know we've got a lot of new readers this year and we've got a great year ahead of us.  Themed months, more giveaways (and you know we've had some AWESOME giveaways for you on this blog) and who knows what else!  This is our third year and it's shaping up to be a great one already.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Remember: Daniel Wilson?

In September of 2014 (so really, not all that long ago), we review Robopocalypse.  And, both Alex and I ADORED it.  It was World War Z with Robots.  Considering Alex has a distaste for Robots, it was kind of a big deal that she loved it as much as she did.

This week, we're reviewing the sequel to it, Robogenesis, which is kind of a big deal for one big reason.  Of all the books that we're reviewing this week, this one is probably the fastest turn around for its sequel.  We only reviewed the book back in September.  So there has only been about a four month gap in between when we read Robopocalypse and now Robogenesis (as opposed to later this month when we read Where She Went.  If I Stay was the SECOND book we ever read on the blog, making it the longest gap of all our sequels, about three years.)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Review Me Twice - No Easy Way Out by Dayna Lorentz

This week, we're reviewing No Easy Way Out (the sequel to No Safety In Numbers).  Honestly, I'm really torn about these books.  I like the concept and the characters, and how they're getting gritty and everything is falling apart and people are turning back to their basic animalistic instincts.  It's all very Lord of the Flies (but with more technology... and with girls.)

But here's the thing.  It's all very drawn out.  Lorentz really, probably, could have put these two books into one book and it would have been fine.  Maybe even the third one too (I don't know; I haven't read it.)  Or, if not one book, definitely didn't need to split the books into more than two books.  Yes, book one had this awesome cliff hanger that made me love the whole book, but book two is turning into more teenage drama than a survival story, kind of turning me off to the whole thing.

Really, I think she needs to pick up the pace a little.  I'm supposed to feel panicked and scared, like her characters, and I really don't ever get to that point until I'm nearing the end of her books, which gives me the idea that maybe, she just needs to cut some of it out.

Cassy is absolutely right about the pacing problem. I put this book down when I finished and said aloud, "This woman didn't write three books. She wrote one really long book and someone told her she had to cut it into three parts." Which is precisely what happened to Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings books (they're three volumes of the same book, not three separate books) but these people have electronic key cards and a Senator, not Sting and Gandalf.

When we reviewed the first book, I said I didn't like how blase the adults all were about the kids running amok and doing as they pleased. That changes in this book, and I like the way it's handled (not as in, I approve of the behavior of the characters, but as in, this is interesting for me to read).

I definitely want to read the third book, if only because I've gone this far, and I want the ending. I also have a theory about the disease ravaging the mall (which I'm pretty sure is now two diseases because no flu in the world acts like what was happening there in the last few chapters) and I want to know how that pans out.

I like these books, but they aren't rereading material. And I reread most things, or would be willing to. It just takes a long time for things to happen (though, to Lorentz's credit, I said out loud at one point "something needs to happen soon or I'm going to fall asleep" and on the next page, something definitely happened).

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Safety First

This week's book, No Easy Way Out, is the second in a series (started by No Safety in Numbers) about being trapped in a mall because reasons (terrorism, viruses, government quarantine, pick a few). And the other day, when I had just picked this book up, I found myself at a mall. And I thought, what would I do if, right this moment, they locked down the mall for a similar situation? It was less legitimate-anxiety and more what-a-fun-thought-experiment, but I do actually make a habit of having an escape plan from any location I find myself in.

I didn't notice that I have this habit until I started working in a library. I was at that early point in my career (known as "the very beginning of it") where I had impostor syndrome (when you think, "you actually trust ME with this? But I don't know anything!!!") and I was in charge of the reference desk, and therefore, I was the go-to person in case of an emergency in the library. So I started coming up with imaginary scenarios that I would have to handle. I was inspired by the old xkcd comic about planning for velociraptor attacks.

So I still do this. I think it's fun. And it could possibly come in handy some day. It's part of my job to know the emergency evacuation procedures at work, but it's nice to be a competent customer or visitor in other places (schools, stores, hospitals, offices, other people's homes) in case of emergency. Or even in case of mild inconvenience. You see someone you don't want to talk to standing outside the normal exit? Be aware of other available exits. Pretend they're a raptor.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Favorites: Redo!

Today we're getting a second chance at picking a favorite from the past year.

I call a mulligan on my favorite short story. Actually, I just wanted to talk about a close runner-up, because I think the one I got a tattoo of should trump this one, but still.

There's a chapter in Sideways Stories from Wayside School for Maurecia (each chapter is more like a short story about one of the students from the class). It's about ice cream, because Maurecia really likes ice cream. So much so, in fact, that she has tried every flavor of ice cream in existence, and is now bored with ice cream. Mrs. Jewls makes ice cream for each student in the class and names each flavor after them. Everyone's reactions to other people's flavors is the same as their attitude toward that person (for example, Maurecia really likes Todd so she really likes Todd-flavored ice cream) but it turns out that nobody likes their own flavor, because their own flavor is what they taste when they aren't tasting anything.

I've said before that a lot of the stories from that book have stuck with me through the years, but this one pops up unexpectedly. Usually it's when I'm thinking about nothing at all, and suddenly I'm aware that I'm thinking nothing at all (so therefore now I'm really thinking about that fact instead of actually thinking about nothing) and then it triggers my brain to think about what I taste when I'm tasting nothing, like I'm eating Alex ice cream, which would taste like nothing to me. Then I get really aware of my tongue and get fed up with the whole thing and go do something productive just to stop the insanity.

I'm calling a mulligan on my Favorite Picture Book.  Not that I don't still love me some Fancy Nancy (because I do.  She's fabulous.)  But over the holiday season, I got introduced to pretty much the best picture book ever.

Now, I know what you're going to say.  "But Cassy, it doesn't HAVE pictures, ergo, not a picture book!"  But, it is, because it's the right length and the book is set up like a picture book and the words in it have a picture like quality.

So why do I love this book so much?  Because it's hilarious.  And it's funny.  And it makes the reader say silly things, which always makes kids laugh.  I mean, just look at this!!!

What kid wouldn't love something like that?  Especially, when it's an adult saying it (and, in fact, the beginning of the book warns you that the book makes adults say silly things.)  Basically, even though the book has no pictures, I think it's fun and silly and ridiculous and was so awesome, it kicked miss Fancy Nancy out of the number one slot of my favorite picture book.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's An Epidemic

No Safety in Numbers in all about epidemics and spreading disease and people dying via a virus, so I figured I would give you some other great books that are based on viruses.  It's not really sometimes we read a lot of in this blog, so you're going to get some stuff we haven't see before!

The Birtchbark House is one that I read in college and is probably one of the best Native American literature books I've read.  Right up there with The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  It follows the year of a Native American family in 1847.  We see them building their summer home, dealing with preparations of the winter and all of it is told through the eyes of Omakayas.

So why do I recommend this for an epidemic book?  Well, there is a huge smallpox outbreak and there is a large part of the book where Omakayas is dealing with not only her own sickness, but the sickness of her family and tribe members.  It's moving and heart-wrenching and just pretty much wonderful.

Ok, so this was a book I won a REALLY long time ago off of Goodreads as an ARC.  And, to be honest, the book does get a LITTLE over the top with all the things that happen to this family (seriously.  Everything that could go wrong, does.)  However, the book is about a massive outbreak of bird flu during a snowstorm.  The family lives in the mid-north west, (where the snowstorm hits), but the Bird flu hits the whole nation and lasts for years.

Even though the story line for the family is a little crazy, I do have to admit that Buckley is REALLY good at writing panic.  I FELT panicked reading this book.  I mean, really freaked out while reading it.  Definitely worth picking up if epidemics are your thing.

Who doesn't love a good parasitic alien is taking over the world novel?  That's what I thought.  I put this on the list because, while as the reader you know that it's an alien life form, the society as a whole doesn't.  They take over these bodies and infect them and drive them crazy and then completely disintegrate them so that no one has any idea what is causing all of this to happen.  As a reader, we only know because we're watching it happen first hand to one of the characters.

While I DO love this book and it's immensely well done, read it with caution.  Sigler is INCREDIBLY graphic.  I have a particularly high tolerance for things and there were even times that it was a little much for me.  So, if you're especially grossed out by things, he may not be the one for you.  If not, definitely pick him up.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Remember: Dayna Lorentz?

Back in March of 2014 (the day before my wedding, if you recall) we reviewed No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz. It's the first book of a series that takes place in a mall where a terrorist threat has been discovered, so the people in the mall get locked in, for the safety of themselves and/or the outside world.

This week, we're reading and reviewing the second book in the series, No Easy Way Out. There is also a third book, No Dawn Without Darkness.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Review Me Twice - Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

If we were going to kick of a new year, I'm glad we decided to kick it off with this book.  I don't know if any of you have remembered, but Alex and I both LOVED Unwind.  I named it my favorite book of that year, and while she didn't, it was a close second for her.  We both have mentioned it more than a few times, I fangirled over Neal Shusterman when I met him, and I recommend that book to almost everyone I possibly can.

It's good to know that Unwholly lived up to its predecessor.  We got to see all of our favorite characters again: Lev, Conner and Risa all returned, but they weren't the only ones.  We got to see knew friends and old.  There were new enemies and new risks and new things coming at them from all angles that they had to deal with.

My favorite new character was Cam, a boy who was made completely out of parts from unwound kids.  You're not really sure if you want to love him or hate him because, just like the kids who are unwound, his rewound status is completely not of his own doing.  So really, should you hate the guy because other people decided to take parts of kids and put them together into him?

I really liked the ending of this book, because you knew, just KNEW that things were starting to come to a head.  Book three is going to be filled with a LOT and a LOT is going to happen (alternatively, I just happen to know that book three and four were supposed to be one book and had to be split into two, so what does that tell you?)

If you haven't read Unwind, well really, why do you bother to read this blog, because we've been telling you to read that forever now, but really, Unwholly was just as good and should be picked up.

Loved it. Can I just leave it at that? Because I loved it. And then I read UnSouled because I couldn't stop. I'm currently awaiting Undivided from the library.

I adore the concept of Cam, the first Rewound person in the world. By the end of this book, I wasn't entirely sure whether I liked him or not (I made up my mind during UnSouled). I love what Lev gets up to in this book. I really like Miracolina, because other than her, you don't get much of the true tithe perspective (she really insists that she still wants to be tithed, for even longer than Lev did in the first one).

If you like Unwind, you will absolutely, without a doubt, like Unwholly (and UnSouled).

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year, everyone!

You already know about January being our Month of Sequels, but guess what? All year, each month is going to be a Month of Something! We won't announce them ahead of time, but every month this year will have a theme, because... well, because we feel like it.

amazing fireworks new year 2015 gif

Happy New Year, and here's to 52 more books to review!