Category Archives: Fast Five View

Kiss of Death by Lauren Henderson

Kiss of Death by Lauren Henderson. Published by Delacorte Press. Read in May, 2011. ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.

A Fast Five View:

1. This is the fourth (and final) in this series. This is a good thing. The last two books have not been as enjoyable as the first two. For more background, I reviewed the first one here – Kiss Me, Kill Me, and the second one here – Kisses and Lies, but the third didn’t stick with me and I barely mention it here – Kiss in the Dark.

2. The boarding school takes the students on a trip to Scotland, and I really enjoyed the change in scenery.

3. This book requires more suspension of disbelief than the other three did, and I have to admit that I couldn’t get myself to that point.

4. I did enjoy the way Ms. Henderson circled back to address several characters and plots brought up in the previous books. It is a good resolution to the series.

5. Overall, I have enjoyed this four-book series. The books are realistic, and Scarlett is an awesome character. I do recommend starting at the beginning if you plan to read them, and the first two are the best. I am looking forward to seeing what Ms. Henderson publishes next!

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Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker. Published by Bloomsbury in July 2011. Read in July, 2011. ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.

A Fast Five View:

1. Small Town Sinners is centered around a “Hell House” production put on by a southern evangelical church. Hell houses either weren’t around when I grew up or else we just never had them, but so many other elements of this book echo the experiences I had growing up in evangelical churches.

2. I loved how Ms. Walker handled Christianity in Small Town Sinners. She never gets preachy about religion, but she does not belittle believers.

3. Lacey is a realistic, relatable character. She questions many things, including her father, while remaining grounded and sure of her foundation.

4. The other characters are all written with depth and care, never feeling like Ms. Walker has fallen back on any stereotypes.

5. The New York Times published a review, so you should check that out!

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We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han. Published by Simon & Schuster. Read in May, 2011. Copy purchased for my personal collection.

A Fast Five View:

FYI: my thoughts on the first two in the trilogy can be found here: The Summer I Turned Pretty and It’s Not Summer Without You.

1. Well, I’m glad I followed this trilogy to the end, but I prefer the first book out of the three.

2. I liked the characters less in this one than I did in the others.

3. The betrayal that happens seems out of character based on the set-up of the first two and that kept me from completely buying in to the rest of the story.

4. I really missed the summer aspect.

5. I am glad this series is done and look forward to seeing what new works Ms. Han publishes.

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Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown. Published by Little, Brown. Read in April, 2011. ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.

A Fast Five View:

1. I have to admit that I didn’t like Bitter End as much as Hate List (here is my Hate List review). Having said that, I loved Hate List so much, I can’t imagine how Ms. Brown could have topped it. Bitter End is a really great book.

2. Jennifer Brown has a talent for depicting the inner conflict and emotions of teens.

3. It is so easy to see how Alex falls in love with Cole, and how special he makes her feel.

4. So often, when the topic of abuse within a romantic relationship is discussed, people say, “I don’t know how she/he puts up with it. If it were me, I’d be out of there immediately.” Ms. Brown has crafted a realistic example of how the abuse slowly boils and how the abused find reasons to stay. Very well done.

5. I think this book will do well in so many different hands. A reader experiencing abuse will find a mirror in the pages. Readers who know someone going through abuse will find solace. Readers who do not understand the cycle of abuse will gain knowledge, understanding, and sympathy within Bitter End.

 

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What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen. Published by Viking (a Penguin Group imprint). Read in April, 2011. ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.

A Fast Five View:

1. What Happened to Goodbye is very much a Sarah Dessen novel – which is a wonderful thing! If you like Ms. Dessen, you have probably already read this one. Ms. Dessen writes contemporary fiction from a teen girl’s perspective that deals with common themes like family, trust, friendship, love, figuring out one’s self and one’s place in the world. Each book is like…going for a bike ride on your favorite bike (to borrow from one of her novels). Getting on the bike is comfortable and familiar, but each time you ride, you experience something new and original. I am definitely a Dessen fan.

2. I thought this was a unique look at how a teen deals with her parents’ divorce. Mclean lives with her dad and puts up with frequent moves instead of staying put with her mom, which is not a scenario often seen.

3. I loved the way Mclean has “re-made” herself every time she had to move. I imagine it is a universal desire to face a new school year and decide that this is the year to change X, Y, or Z. Yet almost every time, the effort fails within the first week of school. I loved seeing someone who manages to accomplish this goal – several times!

4. The romantic relationship between Mclean and Dave is heartwarming without being overly schmoopy.

5. One of the frequent themes in Dessen’s novels, and seen here, is the question of “what exactly is a family?” You can be born into a family. You can marry in to one. You can be adopted (in both a literal and figurative sense) in to a family. But families can often be created in other ways, around other relationships. The family that Mclean finds in building the town model is an excellent example of this.

I believe this is Sarah Dessen’s 10th novel, and it is fantastic.

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Wither by Lauren DeStefano

NOTE: I am changing the name of my “Fast Five” that I use to catch up on my backlog. I think it could be argued that on a good day, what I write about books does not qualify as a true review. When I post five fast thoughts, that really isn’t a review. So these will now be titled “Fast Five View.”

Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Published by Simon and Schuster. Read in March, 2011. ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.

A Fast Five View:

1. I thought this was a unique take on a dystopian novel. Really hooked on the scientific mystery of their life span!

2. With several other recent YA books that dealt with polygamy in a contemporary setting, I thought Ms. DeStefano addressed polygamy in a new, interesting, yet relevant way.

3. The setting is sooooooooo creepy. The house, the grounds, the weather – well done!

4. I think the cover is gorgeous and so eye-catching. I do think, though, that it will prohibit boys from picking it up, and I think that the book could have some appeal to boy readers because of the book’s setting.

5. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, and I have so many characters I want to know about beyond just Rhine, the main character!

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Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell. Published by Scholastic Press. Read in February, 2011. ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.

A Fast Five review:

1. I loved the setting: 1950 New York City.

2. I really enjoyed the ties to the mob and that the author didn’t just go with one real, famous mobster.

3. I find it interesting that several books came out this spring that featured characters hoping to “make it” in the NYC entertainment industry in the early 1900s (Vixen by Jillian Larkin, Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen).

4. I enjoyed this, but I didn’t love it. At times, it seemed to want to cram too much in, and at times I didn’t care about any of the characters.

5. I was left wanting to know more about the Corrigan Three!

Not a must read, but it is a good historical fiction. The author obviously spent time on research, plot, and characters.

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