Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review: How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller

How to Lead a Life of Crime

Kirsten Miller

434 Pages

Published February 21st 2013 by Razorbill

A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer.
Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.
Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?
Imagine a city full of criminals - any big city, right? Imagine a city that caters to these individuals. A city with a huge, prestigious school crafted just for them. Enter Mandel Academy, an exclusive and  prestigious school located right in the big apple. On the outside the academy appears to be a school that boasts amazing opportunities and some of the most gifted children of the country. In reality, the school is a dark place filled with terrors.

Not only does Mandel Academy train unprivileged children to become high class criminals, it goes to much darker limits. Children are executed if they don't make the cut. Brains are manipulated. Students are used in one big scheme, all without their knowledge. These kids aren't students - they're prisoners.

Our main character, Flick, starts out on the streets of Manhattan, stealing from the rich and the privileged. When a mysterious man hires him as a thief for a simple job, he has no clue what he is getting into. Soon enough he is whisked off and brought in as Mandel Academy's only volunteer student. The only catch? He isn't much of a volunteer at all. He's a prisoner just like all the rest, one who slowly starts to catch on and discover all the secrets of the school.

 Flick was a unique character. He was tough - there was no doubt about that - but not so much that he seemed inhuman, unlike many of the other kids at the school. Many of the top students, people Flick nicknamed Wolves, seemed to have no conscious. They killed and didn't feel a thing. While Flick definitely had some pent up anger needing to be resolved, he had feelings and weaknesses, just as a good character should.

Early on in the story we are introduced to Joi, the love interest of Flick. Their romance was very believable, nothing too sappy. There was anger and heartbreak, it was realistic and not overdone. Joi has a bad-side to her as well, but you can tell she is meant for good deeds. Yes, she shoplifts quite a bit, but when it comes down to it she is a saint that is out there to help other kids in bad situations live better lives. I admired her and liked how she could put other people above herself but be strong when needed as well.

How to Lead a Life of Crime was a gripping novel that had me turning the pages as fast as I could. The amount of crime shocked me, me being from a small town with a population of 1000. It was gruesome at times but it fit in with the story nicely. Crime, suspense and mystery, this one wins a big plus in my book.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

Cruel Beauty

Rosamund Hodge

336 Pages

Expected Publication: January 28th, 2014

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl's journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.
Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.
With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.
But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.
As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.
I love the premise of this one. Fairy-tales are a big love of mine, beauty and the beast being one of my favorites. This looks so so good!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

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!

My Teasers:

From Page 56:
"Your father is a thief - just like his son. The difference is, you're only able to rob one person at a time."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My bookshelves!

Recently my husband made me some gorgeous bookshelves. I have no where near enough to fill them, and they've already gotten messy and disorganized, which I'm off to fix soon here. Even so, I thought I'd share some pictures!

These are my new shelves. I have about 200 books or so on them, and as you can see.. there is room for more!

This is my reading area, just a little ways from the shelves. My comfy chair and blanket, right by my lamp and stack of books. 

Some of my YA fantasy paperbacks. 

Some of my YA fantasy hardcovers

The books I have on my TBR next pile

Contemporary shelf :)

Another thing I'd like to update on is my pregnancy with baby #2! I am only 11 1/2 weeks, but already I look as big as a house. I had a belly before, which doesn't help things, but it was nothing like this! My sickness is gradually subsiding, and I hope it stays away. I also have more energy now and am starting to feel more like myself again. After two losses before this pregnancy I'm so thankful that this one is going good and seems to be our sticky bean!

11 week belly - I'm huge! :(

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Book Review: Freshman Forty by Christine Duval

Freshman Forty

Christine Duval

185 Pages

Published February 21st, 2013

When eighteen-year-old Laurel Harris discovers she’s pregnant four weeks into the start of her freshman year at prestigious Colman College, she has all intentions of telling her father. But being away at school makes it too easy to hide. And while she can’t explain to her friends, or to herself even, the reasons why she doesn’t want the baby’s father to find out about the pregnancy, the rest of her world begins to unravel.

Freshman year is hard enough. Most girls get through by forming close friendships, finding new boys and a phone call from mom or dad on Sunday. Laurel has to navigate all of it while hiding an unplanned pregnancy from a summer fling...

An imperfect heroine plagued by bad choices and haunted by the memory of her deceased mother and grandparents, readers are sure to identify with Laurel as she navigates teen pregnancy, in secret, in a remote college setting.
Freshman Forty is a realistic look at teenage pregnancy and all the hurdles young mothers have to jump through. Though I didn't connect as much as I would have liked with the main character, Laurel, I still enjoyed reading about her struggles and eventual growth as a character. 

Laurel finds herself with a bun in the oven only a month into her Freshman year at a rigorous college. She is frightened and decides to have an abortion, but like many people decides she can't go through with it an decides to keep the baby. I can't describe how pleased I was that she came to this decision, even though her situation was a difficult one. 

Time passes on and still Laurel doesn't tell but a select few people, thinking she can hide the pregnancy from everyone, her father including, along with the father of the baby. This annoyed me a bit, and was the main reason I couldn't connect with Laurel. I felt like even for her age of 18, she was being pretty irresponsible. I think this may be normal for young moms though, I'm not sure. As someone who became a mother at 16, I can relate to her fear, but not the irresponsibility she possessed. Skipping appointments? Not using insurance even though she had it? Not telling her father? Drinking? No no no. Honestly, if I wasn't a teen mom myself I don't think this would have bothered me as much. :)

Otherwise, I really enjoyed the story. There were some pretty fun characters and Laurel ended up having a lot of support. The writing style was engaging and I read the book in about 2 hours, which is probably a new record for me. Despite my big beef with the book, being a teen mom myself and not liking stereotypes, I really loved this book and will probably read the next. After all, it ended on one hell of a cliff-hanger!

3.5/5 Stars

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Melissa Landers

352 Pages

Expected publication: February 4th 2014 by Disney Hyperion

Interplanetary relations have never been more exciting! The first in a funny, romantic YA sci-fi series.
Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.
Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.
But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.
I wish this one wasn't so far away! The cover is simply stunning and it sounds so different and amazing. Come on February!