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Lauren Myracle
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
Contents May Have Shifted - Pam Houston A novel told in 144 vignettes, by an extremely talented writer. Each "chapter" starts with an airline flight and the protagonists wanderlust takes her from Alaska to Laos to California to Mexico to Thailand. Captured in these moments is the story of a woman who longs to see the world, breaks up with a man she should have never loved in the first place, and builds strong friendships with people around her. The language is beautiful and so carefully crafted -- it's an excellent read!
Wedding Hells - Jennifer Gilby Roberts Fun, short prequel to "The Dr Pepper Prophecies" that takes place at the main character's younger sister's wedding. There were some fun insights into the character and her family dynamic.
Sever - Lauren DeStefano Pro: We final find RowanCon: This guy is ridiculously dumb Pro: The Carnival is back Con: I still don't see the point of book 2 beyond introducing the CarnivalPro: And they lived happily ever after Con: The least passionate love triangle ever writtenPro: Mad scientist is really an evil genius?Con: Vaughn should have been flushed out moreSo I still feel like book 2 was a large bit of fluff and extra walking. And I still feel like the love triangle was forced. Rowan doesn't really love Linden and she doesn't even think about looking for Gabriel. It's Linden who suggests it almost 200 pages in .I think this book is worth reading to see how the story ends, but just be prepared to be underwhelmed.
Fever - Lauren DeStefano Pro: I like this bookCon: I hate this bookPro: This book is a continuation of book 1.Con: This book is a continuation of book 1?Pro: The last 30 pages or so of this book are 5 star worthy.Con: You have to trudge through 300 pages that make you question is you are reading about the same characters. Book 2 picks up where book 1 leaves off, but honestly it felt like they could be two completely different worlds. I will read book 3 but only because the last 30 pages of this novel finally brought the world crashing down. I really hope that the wandering and characters introduced in book 2 come full circle and this was not filler to hit the magical YA trilogy.
Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, #1) - Susan Ee Pros:* Angels done well* What makes us human?* It's the end of the world as we now it, and I do *not* feel fineCons:* A teensy slow in places. * Why is the sequel not here yet?This book is fantastic. Like heart palpitations and forgetting to breathe awesome. It's got everything that's good about dystopian fiction (danger, lack of food, gangs) and everything that is good about angels (um...the destruction is rampant in the bible) and mushed it together to tell a tight, action-packed story. I really, really can't wait to find out what the full deal with Penryn's mom is!
Reached - Ally Condie * * * Maybe a 3.5 * * *Pros:* So, that's the rebellion* Actual actionCons:* I still didn't feel the love* Gosh I wish I could remember what made people Anomalies and Aberrations. So, why was there a second book?In all seriousness, if Cassia and Xander had been recruited to the Rising at the end of the first book, and the Rising had scooped up Ky this book could have started in the exact same place. Though this book was a marked improvement over book two, I still didn't feel connected to the main characters or understand the connection between Ky and Cassia. Finally, if I could have one wish in the world, it would be that YA authors stop attempting the multiple POV. Use a 3rd person narrative if you want to cover the actions of multiple characters.
Crossed  - Ally Condie * * * Really a 1.5 * * *Pros:* Uh...the story continues...Cons:* No action* Wait, Ky & Cassia love each other? Where's the spark?* Who's head are we in? Because the sound exactly the same!The second novel in the Matched trilogy just drags on. There is no tension, just dragged out time walking around some canyonsThis story could have been so much more interesting if we had stayed in Cassia's head and kept the novel from her perspective. Instead of saying, "she spent months in work camps" I would have rather this novel been spent actually in the camps, and having the relationship with Indie and the knowledge gleaned from Hunter play out through that scenario. You know, because then there might have been tension. Also, I don't get that she is in love with Ky. Maybe it's Condie's way of trying to boost the love triangle, but all she did with this novel is make Xander the way more exciting and interesting choice. And Ky's aboutface? WTF? This characters act in bizarre ways and say things completely out of character all the time. It's almost as though the author didn't have a good sense of where her characters were going throughout the novel, so she would simply spin them in a different direction to fit the story action.
Eve & Adam - Michael  Grant, Katherine Applegate Pros:* It's not dystopian (but still awesome)* Genetics* San FranciscoCons:* Characters are a bit one dimensional* Science is minimally explainedI love YA, in fact it is the majority of what I read. However, this is a book I really wish had been written for an adult audience. I kept thinking back to my middle school years when I tore through all of the Michael Crichton novels. I just remember dense pages of scientific explanation. I wish this book had that. Not that it's bad. It's a good read (I knocked it out in about 2.5 hours) and I really enjoyed it. I just wanted a bit more.
Clockwork Princess - Cassandra Clare Pros:* I finished this one* I now know how it ends* Steampunk elements Cons:* Magically-solved love triangle* lots of skimming, book could be tightenedI began the Mortal Instruments long before I learned about the author's controversy. So I have also been torn between my need to finish a series and the question of am I supporting bad things when reading and reviewing later booksI like the Steampunk elements of this series and I was excited to learn what the clockwork angel was. But I found this plagued by the same poor writing that lead me to DNF the last Mortal Instruments novel.
Frost - Marianna Baer Pros:* Gothic style novel* Boarding schools* Who's the real crazyCons:* I don't really have any...The writing in this debut novel is eloquent, the plot twists are tight, and everything comes to light in the end, or does it?I kept thinking about [b:The Turn of the Screw|12948|The Turn of the Screw|Henry James|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327909344s/12948.jpg|990886] while reading this, which makes sense as it is the quintessential gothic horror novel. I also love that even though Leena is the narrator, she becomes increasingly unreliable throughout the novelIt's so hard to talk about this book without giving it away, but at the same time it's the kind of novel you want all your friends to read so you can discuss plot points and theories. For example, at first I was a little disappointed that the answer was carbon monoxide poisoning, but then the author set up the counterbalance that maybe the poisoning was the houses way of keeping Leena.
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion - Elizabeth L. Cline I had heard an interview with Elizabeth Cline on NPR and all I remembered was the quote that Zara was able to get items from design to store in two weeks. Two weeks! How does that work with the fashion shows and clothiers and, and, and -- oh wait, it doesn't. Welcome to fast fashion.I currently find myself in a similar position to the author at the start of the book, with two closets and two dressers my clothes still split time between the bins and the floor. I blamed it originally on moving to the Mid-West, suddenly now I needed two distinct wardrobes to deal with the changing weather, but the truth is I am in the group of people who want new clothes on a ridiculous basis. Though my clothes come from more of the mid-range stores (Banana Republic vs. Old Navy) than the shops Cline discusses, they are still made in the same factories. What I appreciate about Cline's book is she distributes the blame for our culture shift evenly amongst consumers and producers, consistently reminding us that the more we demand lower prices, the more producers must sacrifice quality. It's hard for me to imagine a time when people dressed up to go downtown to the department store, as consumers we have let our desire for more, win out over our desire for good.I also appreciated the end where she discussed her own transformation and some of the options for breaking yourself of the fast-fashion habit. Not all of us can afford to spend $800 on an Armani Prive blouse, and as she points out in her novel, even some of the top houses have seen a steady decline in their products. Speaking of designers, I thought the section on how clothes were basically a lose for most major brands was insightful. It makes sense, but I never really stopped to think that their profit was in the few things regular people could afford (handbags, shoes, sunglasses, scarves), rather than there clothes.
Also Known As - Robin Benway Pros:* Teenage spies* New York City* New school dramaCons:* Plot seems secondary* Ending comes with very own bowI liked this book, I just didn't love this book. There wasn't anything bad about it, and I wouldn't say I disliked the way the ending wrapped up neatly and ridiculously quick; I just didn't love it.Plot always feels almost tertiary in Benway's novels. She excels at creating fun, unique characters that walk the balance most of us did as teenagers -- some days you feel really awesome, and some days you trip while walking down the stairs at lunch. But plot never feels important, it is just there to guide characters through both simple and complex relationships.
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline Split rating: 5 Stars for the parts that take place in 2044. 1 Star for the giant info dumps. Pros:* Dystopian future where everyone escapes by logging on* Charlie and the Chocolate Factory style contest* Geeks uniteCons:* Giant info dump sections that read as though they were copied out of wikipedia* Over-explanation of all things 80s* We get it, you speak geek. You have hard-nerd cred. Can we get back to the story now?This book had a split personality to me. Half of this novel was a fantastic modern Charlie and the Chocolate factory, where a boy can overcome the dystopian future, beat the bad the bad guys, save the girl, and solve all his problems. The world was neat. It seemed eerily plausible, from the stacked trailers, to the return of indentured servitude, to the giant multinational corporation trying to control everyone's access. Unfortunately, the other half was over explanation of the 1980s and video game references. I get that the average YA reader might not get all the references, but at one point (5 pages of "look at all my nerd knowledge") I was ready to return the book. In fact the only reason that I kept going was because it was a Monthly Group Read. I found myself skimming paragraphs because the info dumps were ridiculous. Cline often comes off like the guy who doesn't get a big enough laugh, or recognition so he has to point out "that was a joke, get it." to get the reaction he wants. Or gives page long explanations of something until we pat him on the back and say, "gosh you're smart."

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality

Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality - Jacob Tomsky Pros:* Great voice* Everything you've always wondered about during check in* Inside look at hotelsCons:* Everything you've always wondered about during check in* Moments of self doubt where you wonder if you were ever "that guest."I love these "behind the scenes" memoirs, like Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant. Tomsky has a wonderfully brash voice and a narrative style that makes you at once feel like an insider and an outside, but where both are good. As someone who used to travel for work, and would spend 6-8 weeks at a time in hotels, I felt like I really got to know the staff. But after reading this it's apparent I only knew the facade they put on for long-term guests. This book was a nice balance of titillating guest romps, horrible-customer sympathy shares, and employee profiles. In an age where service is dying out and every interaction is being replaced with computers, it's a nice reminder that hotel stays are made better by the people who work there.
The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey Pros:* Aliens* Strong plot line* Cool twists and turnsCons:* This is a slow reveal kind of novel* Um Evan's sacrifice??? I picked up this novel because just about everyone I know has it on their to-read list. I was a little hesitant because I'm usually not into sci-fi, but this is done really well. In fact, it really reminded me of [b:I Am Legend|14064|I Am Legend|Richard Matheson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348790367s/14064.jpg|19273256], which may seem weird that I am comparing a vampire horror novel to an alien sci-fi story, but it is the every man aspect. Yes, when faced with adversity people become strong, but they also make human mistakes and are limited by who they were to begin with. What makes this novel great is that it is about the triumph of the human spirit.In my cons, I do mention that it is a slow reveal. I liked that the plot line was laid out methodically, and information unfolded throughout the novel. There were a few places where I started to get antsy because I wanted details about a wave, or when I had figured out Evan was the silencer and wanted confirmation; but what was great was that these details would come out in the next few pages. It great balance of anticipation and satisfaction.

How My Summer Went Up in Flames

How My Summer Went Up in Flames - Jennifer Salvato Doktorski *** Really a 2.5 Pros:* Jersey girl sets boyfriend's car on fire* She often lets her jersey out* Personal growthCons:* The writing was really lacking. * The road trip stops were unbelievable.I was ready to DNF this book at page 85, but the current Rated YA-MA challenge has us reading seasonal novels and I needed another summer book so I kept reading it. The book gets better as it moves along, but there were lots of superfluous sentences and place where it read like someone's first intro to creative writing exercise. I was also frustrated by some of the road trip stops, there were so unbelievable for a group of 16-18 year old boys.