Review: Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett

Publication Date: September 19th, 2011
Harcourt Children’s Books
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages

Goodreads Summary

Ariadne is destined to become a goddess of the moon. She leads a lonely life, filled with hours of rigorous training by stern priestesses. Her former friends no longer dare to look at her, much less speak to her. All that she has left are her mother and her beloved, misshapen brother Asterion, who must be held captive below the palace for his own safety.
So when a ship arrives one spring day, bearing a tribute of slaves from Athens, Ariadne sneaks out to meet it. These newcomers don’t know the ways of Krete; perhaps they won’t be afraid of a girl who will someday be a powerful goddess. And indeed she meets Theseus, the son of the king of Athens. Ariadne finds herself drawn to the newcomer, and soon they form a friendship—one that could perhaps become something more.
Yet Theseus is doomed to die as an offering to the Minotaur, that monster beneath the palace—unless he can kill the beast first. And that “monster” is Ariadne’s brother . . .

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MY TAKE: Unrated

This is a Greek Mythology remixed. If you were like me, whose knowledge in that subject is pretty limited to the usual (the Trojan War), then this book would probably not be for you.

Dark of the Moon focuses on the legend of Minotaur; a half-beast, half-human brother of Ariadne.

This book is intricate, with characters that you’d need first hand knowledge of. I had a hard time keeping up with everyone’s gods and goddesses, religious practices and who belongs to which, for lack of a better word, tribe. I had a hard time following the story line period. I was bombarded with a whole slew of characters that I felt I had to have a refresher course just to understand what their roles were.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that I have no idea who Minotaur is. I’ve never read of his myth at all and therefore, I must say that I had a difficult time reading and understanding this book.

I did love Ariadne’s love and affection for Asterion (her brother). Often times, the scenes played out poignantly as I pictured a delicate girl taking care of the beast in the palace’s dungeons.

If you’re looking for romance, you won’t find it here. Incidentally, I feel like I should start questioning my intelligence should I read The Goddest Test and actually like it. But we all know reading is subjective. And I’m a romance reader first before anything else. Does that make this book bad? Well, no. In fact, if I were into Mythology retelling sans the aspect of romance, I think I would have loved this book. The author’s creativeness about the subject made this book multi-dimensional. She wrote about legends, religion and the importance of family. I’m just sorry I didn’t like it as much as I would have.

This book was written well, and those who are fans of Greek Mythology retelling would absolutely love this book. But it really wasn’t for me. I am not sure if I should rate it. I neither like it nor hate it. 


 

TEASER TUESDAY #4 Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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Goodreads Summary

Publication Date: October 3rd, 2011 (Australia)
Penguin/Viking 608 pages

The moment they reached the chamber, Froi raced out onto the balconette.
‘Quintana!’
 – Chapter 17, page 261

Gah! I’ve waited forever and a day for this book. I’m tempted to fake illness and tell my boss I’ve contacted a communicable disease that will keep me in bed for days!

Review: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Publication Date: October 18th, 2011
Simon Pulse
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen’s whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn’t just hot…what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can’t end well, but she just can’t stay away. Nobody else understands her–and riles her up–like he does. Still, she can’t trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what’s expected.
Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall….
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MY TAKE 4/5 STARS

At the youthful age of seventeen, Carmen has not really lived a life of a normal teenager. Having spent most of her young life rehearsing, touring, and competing, you could say that her life experience is pretty much limited to music. She’s a violin virtuoso; amassing awards, recognition and accolades is more of her forte than worrying about crushes and what to wear for the dance. She’s homeschooled and the only exposure she has with boys is through competition. She’s focused on winning the most prestigious award for a violinist like her – the Guarneri. Only one person stands in her way and the only person even her could admit is a worthy adversary – British fellow virtuoso, Jeremy King.

I love, love, love music themed books. It doesn’t matter what genre of music is being used, for some reason, it just makes the story infinitely better for me.

Sometimes, when I read a book about something specific and exclusive, I could tell whether the knowledge was research-based or the author was speaking from first hand knowledge. Well, this author is a wealth of classical and musical information. It’s so easy to sound pretentious when you write about classical music but Ms. Martinez was definitely the opposite of that. The illustrative writing was so visceral that I could almost hear the melancholy notes of Carmen’s playing.

Virtuosity gave me a chance to understand the pressure facing talented musicians and what usually lead them astray. In Carmen’s case, it was sad to see that the most burdening pressure came from her mom. It was comprehensible to a degree why her mother was the way she was but it was still disconcerting to read about a mother forcing her daughter to take addictive anxiety pills for the sake of winning. That’s not the only thing she did…you’d have to read the book to find out. It’s deplorable and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I love the banter between characters. Jeremy is one of those arrogant boys that we readers can’t help but love. I had fun reading their arguments, no matter how trivial they may have been sometimes.
This is a beautiful story with equally beautiful writing. But sadly, the ending left me a bit unfulfilled. It makes me wonder if there will be a sequel. So many possibilities…I read this through S & S galley grab and it’s one of those books that I’m going to need a copy for future re-read. 

Author Interview & Giveaway: Brooke Moss

I was lucky enough to score an interview with Brooke Moss. She’s the first on this blog and I am really, really grateful for the opportunity. Brooke Moss penned the contemporary romance titled, The “What If” Guy, which came out this past August. You can check out my review here. I’d also like to thank Danielle Barclay (Brooke’s rep) for making this happen!

Without further ado, here’s what I came up with and what she has to say:


1.       So, we know that your “Small Town”, Washington inspired the setting for The “What If” Guy, is there actually a “guy” that inspired Henry?


           First off, thanks for having me here on Joyous Reads today. I’m a fan of the blog. And second, I have to say, what an excellent question! As a matter of fact, Henry Tobler is a mixture of a few different “what if” guys I have in my past. And there are a few details that the love of my life, my nerdy husband, inspired. So Henry is a most excellent mix of a handful of men that are very swoon worthy.

2.       Do you have a writing ritual?

           I do. I can only write if I am playing the playlist that I design for each story I am working on. I usually play it on a loop for inspiration. And I am an avid cocoa drinker, so I always have my cup of cocoa near. And sometimes I wear my mother’s old, green cardigan because I am crazy enough to think it brings me good “writing luck”.

3.       What drives Brooke Moss?

           If someone says I will fail, I will work twice as hard until I succeed and prove you wrong. I refuse to be told that I can’t do something. So I suppose it is a fear of failure that drives me.

4.       What do you like the most about writing your book? And the least?

           Let’s start with the least: I loathe that I am completely addicted to backstory. I have SUCH a hard time editing down my backstories. Ugh. It’s an addiction. And most: I love the fact that I can have emotional content AND humor. Who says there can’t be laughs during a funeral scene? In my family, we laugh through our tears, and that’s what my characters do as well.

5.       Is there a book that made an absolute impact on you? Career-wise and life-wise?

           I have read and reread the story of Silas Marner at least twenty times. I never get sick of it. And I would have to say that I have been inspired (career wise) by all of Kristan Higgins’ books. She is amazingly talented. Able to create stories that have poignant messages, sexiness, and humor, all in one! If I become half as talented as Kristan Higgins, I will consider myself a successful author.
  
6.       Finally, talk to us about the Fairfield series. How many will be there? And whose story will it be?


       I hope to write more books in the Fairfield series, starting with Layla Deberaux’s story, but right now, I have a trilogy, and two WIP’s I am focusing on. The trilogy comes out from Entangled Publishing next summer, and I am super excited about it! Think: My Best Friend’s Wedding with a dark twist. Fun, huh?

       Thanks for having me here today, Joy! I hope everyone enjoys The What If Guy! Find me elsewhere on the web, at my websiteblogTwitterGoodreads, and Facebook.

Fondly,
Brooke Moss

I had fun reading her funny and heartfelt novel. It’s about a single mom who was at the lowest point of her life and who had no choice but to go back to her small town to take care of the “town drunk” (which happens to be her father).  Along with the onslaught of bad and humiliating memories and her day-to-day struggles of starting anew,  her first love and heartbreak also came back into her life.

Here’s a little snippet of the The “What If” Guy:

Seattle, Washington

 “Why are you doing this?”
 The desperate, sad look in Henry’s eyes made my heart ache. His brown hair fell across his forehead in rain-soaked waves, and his eyelashes gathered in dampened clumps. Henry’s eyes, the same shade of gray as the weeping clouds above us, searched my face for answers I was too ashamed to give.
  
“What we have is real, Autumn.” He pulled me against his chest. I felt his heart pounding through the wet fabric of his soft, flannel shirt, and we trembled in unison, standing on the front steps of Henry’s apartment building. “Why do you want to break up? Don’t you love me?”
“Don’t do this,” I said weakly. My eyes filled with hot tears that threatened to undermine my brave façade. When he grazed his fingers across my cheekbone, swiping away a tear, I instinctively turned my face into his hand, breathing in the warm, outdoorsy aroma of Henry.
 My Henry. 
He kissed my cheeks, my temples, my shivering lips. My resolve started to crumble. Strength. I needed to show strength. I needed to walk away before I ruined his life, before I hurt him any more than I already had.
“Tell me that you don’t love me,” he whispered into my drenched hair, tangling his fingers in my curls. “Tell me, and I’ll let you go.”
 I choked on a sob. I did love Henry. The past two months had been the best
months of my life. Not once had I dreamt of meeting someone who made me feel safe, peaceful, beautiful, and deliriously happy, the way Henry Tobler made me feel. I wanted to be with him—and no one else—forever.   
 “Of course I love you,” I said.
“Then why are you doing this?” His voice cracked. 
I shivered in Henry’s arms, not only from the cold, but also from the burden I bore. Pulling back, I raised my eyes to meet his. “I….I’m pregnant.” My words were barely audible over the sound of the pounding rain and passing traffic.
 His face morphed from shock to anger, then settled on absolute sadness. We hadn’t slept together yet.
“It was from before,” I explained lamely, feeling dirty as the words came out my mouth. Henry’s shoulders drooped. He released me and a shadow fell across his eyes. That said it all. His girlfriend was pregnant with someone else’s child. Henry deserved better than me. I had to get out of here. I backed away, down the cement steps and onto the sidewalk. I rubbed my chest, my heart breaking just beneath the surface.
“I’m sorry,” I said, words quavering. “I’m so sorry.”
I turned and ran. Away from love. 


Seriously, this book had me laughing and crying at the same time. You can order Brooke’s book here:


Get your copy of The What if Guy at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Diesel | Books On Board | Powell’s | BAM


Incidentally, Entangled Publishing also offered an e-copy of this book for a giveaway! How awesome is that? I, however, will giveaway two paperback copies of The “What If” Guy. Enter below!

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<a href=”http://rafl.es/enable-js”>You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway</a>.

IMM #8

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. This is the eighth episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.
_______________________________________
WON


Signed copies of:
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Matched by Ally Condie
and an ARC of Crossed by Ally Condie
The above books were from Read for Relief auction benefitting the victims of hurricane Irene.
Ashfall by Mike Mullin (unsigned)
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegan
Blood by KJ Wignall
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
My Beating Teenage Heart by CK Kelly Martin
Snowdrops by AD Miller
Two Moon Princess by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
Dirty Blood by Heather Hildebrand
Descended by Blood by Angeline Kace
Deep Blue Society by Christie Anderson
Angel’s Fury by Bryony Pearce
Juliet Spell by Douglass Rees
If I Die by Rachel Vincent
What’s in your mailbox?

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

Publication Date: September 29th, 2011
Dutton Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 338 pages

Goodreads Summary

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit — more sparkly, more fun, more wild — the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. 

When Cricket — a gifted inventor — steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.


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MY TAKE: 5/5 STARS 

Sigh.


 Lola, much like its predecessor, Anna, was romantic, funny and heartfelt. There is a certain depth to the character building in these two books that is unheard of to most of the novels that fall under this genre – based on my experience, that is. It’s also another one of those, once-you-start-you-can’t-stop reads.


I’ve been hearing a lot about the words character-driven plot being thrown in reviews lately and I guess up to this point, I didn’t exactly know what it means. Well, Lola and the Boy Next Door is definitely that. I’ve never been more absorbed about a character in a book than I have with Lola. Don’t get me wrong, the story held the same quixotic fervor and well-formed plot as Anna and the French Kiss, but I found myself in awe of how refreshingly unique this book is.

I’ve never understood how some reviewers opted not to rate the books they just read than I did now; because it really isn’t fair. I want to go back and reduce my rating of Anna and the French Kiss to four stars and give this book an extra star. That’s how much I loved this book.

First of all, Lola’s family is definitely the most unique that I’ve read so far in…ever. Her parents are both fathers – with one of them her biological uncle. Her mother is around – but only when she’s too drunk to go anywhere else or when she gets evicted from her apartment for the millionth time. But in spite of it all, or perhaps because of it all, she still grew up well-loved and adjusted. The key word here is, her family is present – supporting all of Lola’s idiosyncrasies and plight to find her identity.

I loved how Perkins makes something as inconsequential as rubber bands on a boy’s wrist, romantic. Don’t ask me why, but it was just one of the many Cricket quirks that made him even more loveable. I love how he uses his skin as a post-it note. He writes on himself to remind him of the things he was supposed to do. I love how he was constantly comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. Lola’s and Cricket’s story was just as charming as Anna’s and Etienne’s. It was awkward in the most adorable way, sweet in a none saccharine way and utterly realistic. 

If you ask me which literary character I’d most like to meet in person, then I’ll tell you point blank that this girl is it. She’s quite possibly the quirkiest, spunkiest, most original character I’ve ever read.

This book is one of the most highly anticipated books of 2011 and I’m one of the throngs of readers who eagerly waited for its release. I’m irrevocably in love with the writing, the well-rounded characters, and engrossing plot that Stephanie Perkins continually delivers. I’m positively impatient to read her next project.

October New Releases

So October is here! I can almost smell the pumpkin pies and hear the ghouls moaning…oooooo…anyway. This is where I usually have my shopping list but I thought I’d change it up a bit and just give you guys a heads up on what fab books are headed our way. Though I’m positive you’re keeping a list of your own!
              9553503-angel-fire.jpg  9728843-bleeding-hearts.jpg  10165727-froi-of-the-exiles.jpg  
Angel Fire by L.A. Weatherly (October 1st)
Bleeding Hearts by Alyxandra Harvey (October 3rd)
Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta (October 4th – Australian release)

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Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick (October 4th)
Eve by Anna Carey (October 4th)
Past Perfect by Leila Sales (October 4th)

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Radiant Desire by Inara Scott (October 4th)
The Next Door Boys by Jolene B. Perry (October 4th)
There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones (October 4th)

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Variant by Robison Wells (October 4th)
Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (October 4th)
Concealed by Sang Kromah (October 10th)

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Ashfall by Mike Mullin (October 11th)
Without Tess by Marcella Pixley (October 11th)
The Death Cure by James Dashner (October 11th)

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Frost by Wendy Delsol (October 11th)
Awake at Dawn by C.C. Hunter (October 11th)
Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield (October 11th)

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The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas (October 11th)
Tris & Izzie Mette Ivie Harrison (October 11th)
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe (October 13th)

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Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral (October 13th)
Girls Don’t Fly by Kristen Chandler (October 13th)
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez (October 18th)

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Crave by Melissa Darnell (October 18th)
Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout (October 18th)
Swear by Nina Malkin (October 18th)

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Beautiful Chaos by K Garcia & M Stohl (October 18th)
Hush, Hush – Graphic Novel by B Fitzpatrick & J Roseo (October 18th)
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (October 18th)

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Seizure by Kathy Reichs (October 18th)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (October 18th)
Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel (October 18th)

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On the Fringe by Courtney King Walker (October 19th)
Amplified by Tara Kelly (October 25th)
Between the Sea and Sky (October 25th)

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Scored by Lauren McLaughlin (October 25th)
Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry (October 25th)
Muse by Rebecca Lim (October 27th)

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! Who knows? maybe there’s a gift waiting there for you IF you’re the right commenter! I’m thinking of a number…if that’s you then you win TWO choices from October! 😉 I’m evil, I know. I don’t care where you’re from…so long as Amazon ships in your area. Also, please don’t be mad if your books get damaged or lost while in transit. Way out of my hands…and I won’t be held responsible. This contest is not advertised and I won’t broadcast it, so if you’re the only one who left a comment, then you’re the winner! This giveaway will end on October 2nd, 12 noon CST.

September Rewind

Well, another month has gone by, fellow readers. September wasn’t as busy for me as August was, unfortunately. So here’s a fast recap.

I read books.
I reviewed said books.
I gave away books.

Yep. That pretty much sums it up. Here’s a detailed recap.

READ & REVIEWED BOOKS IN SEPTEMBER
Sept 3 – Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Sept 4 – Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Sept 4 – Loving Lies by Lora Leigh
Sept 7 – Paradise by Jill S. Alexander
Sept 9 – Days Like This by Alison Stewart
Sept 11 – Fateful by Claudia Gray
Sept 11 – All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Sept 16 – Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Sept 17 – Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton
Sept 18 – The “What If” Guy by Brooke Moss
Sept 20 – The Forest of Adventures by Katie M. John
Sept 20 – Nocturne by Syrie James
Sept 23 – This is Shyness by Leanne Hall
Sept 25 – Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Sept 27 – Crave by Melissa Darnell
Sept 27 – As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott
Sept 28 – Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Average rating for the month of September: 3.64 stars

CONTESTS WINNERS
Zoe won herself a copy of Lola and the Boy Next Door for correctly guessing the book I would read first amongst the pile of my September Shopping List.
JustJahnvi won copies of Anna Dressed in Blood and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer this month.
Huh. This is kind of sad. I promise to do a better job in October. I can’t believe I only held two contests in September. 
SPECIAL MENTION
Alison Stewart, author of Days Like This posted a link of my review on her blog and personally thanked me via email for reading and reviewing her book. I don’t know about you, but I admire authors who actually takes the time to express their gratitude for reading their work.  

As well, this month, I’ve participated in an auction benefitting the victims of hurricane Irene. I won myself signed copies of Ashfall by Mike Mullin, Matched by Ally Condie and an ARC of Crossed. Mr. Mullin, whose  generosity knows no bounds, decided that it would be cool to name a bit part character in my namesake on his upcoming book, ASHEN WINTER. How awesome is this?!
LOOKING FORWARD
I have a feeling October will be a busy month…or I’ll make sure it will be anyway. I have my very first author interview lined up, which I’m very excited about! There will also be a giveaway as offered by Entangled Publishing with this post, so stay tuned!
I finally grew a pair and sent some not-so-embarrassing letters to publishers for ARCs. I’m happy to say that I got my first nod. YAY ME!
I’m also excited about the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour that’s happening – well, tomorrow, actually. Kelley Armstrong, Beth Revis, Melissa Marr, Margaret Stohl, Jennifer Lynn Barnes & Sara Zarr will be in attendance. I can’t wait!

Also, please check out We Fancy Book’s Follower Appreciation Giveaway! They have some awesome prices in store for the winners!

So that’s it for the month of September. October is upon us and there’s a whole slew of awesome releases for the month!
What was your September like?


Why I Fancy Books


When did my love affair with books start? Growing up in a country where the libraries only stock reference books and the like on the shelves, reading fiction was a luxury a lot of us couldn’t afford. I remember actually be-friending my friends’ older sisters just so I could borrow their books. It came to a point where I was practically visiting them everyday on the pretense that I was there for my friend but in reality, I was actually there to borrow more books.

My country would have power outages, frequently at that. But imagine a young girl reading in her bedroom with the flickering candle light. It doesn’t matter how little sleep I got…I just have to finish that book because my friend’s sister would only allow me to borrow one book and for only one day.

When my family moved to Canada, my love for reading intensified. Life became ultimately better especially when I found out that books can be bought at a thrift store – where they were priced for as little as twenty five cents. I thought I died and gone to heaven.

But being in a new country where everything was so fresh and different, it’s sad to say that my love of reading eventually petered out – for years, I neglected reading. I got married, had kids…pretended to be an adult. It’s only been the last four years that I’ve found my passion for books again.

Honestly? I owe it all to Stephenie Meyer. It’s those damn Twilight books of hers! Edward Cullen owned my soul for about two years until Jace Wayland ripped it from him. Sad to say, it didn’t take long before Jace took a backseat. The boys from the various books I’ve read stole my heart, piece by piece until Jonah Griggs decided enough is enough. My heart only belongs to him now.

I’m a bit of a neurotic when it comes to books. I seem to be in constant panic-buying mode. I just had to have them, no matter how bad the book is *coughsHadescoughs*. Anyway, reading books has a way of taking me to places that I could only dream of…meeting characters that are larger than life itself. It’s a means of an escape without having to leave my bedroom. And you know what else? I’m learning about LIFE as I go along. I mean, who knew that some vampires can’t be killed by a stake to the heart nowadays? Or that werewolves can change even without the full moon? Lol. I read somewhere that books are the cheapest way to go on a vacation. Judging by my choices in reading materials, I’ve visited a lot of desolate places where people are being eaten by zombies! 🙂

Review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Publication Date:  September 5, 2011
Poppy
Format: Hardcover, 273 pages

Goodreads Summary

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it’s a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy’s car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend’s attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players’ girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won’t get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don’t count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Inspired by Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, critically acclaimed author of The Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) Kody Keplinger adds her own trademark humor in this fresh take on modern teenage romance, rivalry and sexuality.

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MY TAKE: 3/5 STARS

I definitely had different reactions on certain parts of this book. The early pages made me cringe. I even debated whether or not I should flounce on the book. I’m not really that interested in having a peek at these kids’ mundane high school life (I’m an old woman, bear with me). Maybe I’m just bitter or jealous – for not having the full experience. But in any case, I really didn’t want to read about a bunch of girls having Kumbaya sessions at sleepovers.

I can pin point the exact moment Shut Out grabbed my attention. It was the part where Lissa caught Randy having a tongue-fence duel with a sophomore. Oh happy me. Randy was not really that bad of a character; he loved spending time with her family and he seemed to genuinely care about her. He just has his moments of idiocy, like all men do. But dude, the aforementioned scene won him the douche award. Just read the book to find out what else he did.

Cash Stirling wins the most perfect book boyfriend award. {Gratuitous sigh}
He’s handsome, athletic, all-around nice guy, though a bit oblivious. Oh well, you can’t have them all.

Lissa is a bit of a neurotic spazz – a trait that I found endearing.
Anyway, this book oozes sex – not in a very descriptive way wherein the kids are getting it on left and right, but how both genders use it as a weapon. It also touches on the age-old debate about the double standards in our society, where a girl who sleeps around gets called a ‘slut’, and a boy who does the same thing is fondly called, a ‘player’. But let me tell you, these darn kids in the book are having lots of them – sex, that is.

I absolutely loved Keplinger’s DUFF. She has this ability to make her characters so unbelievably real and is not afraid to tell you how it is. Some may cringe at the amount of sex the kids in her books are having but I thought that it was a real enough representation of what’s going on these days. I’ve read a lot of realistic YA fiction and I’ve got to say, no one has come close to even a speck of reality that Keplinger delivered. I’m slowly becoming a fan of this pull-no-punches author and I look forward to reading more of her future work.