Monday, January 30, 2012

the results of the apartment lockout

Ta da...... who doesn't love that plastic cover that comes around hardcover library books? I loved So Silver Bright and Anna Dressed in Blood is creeeeeeeepy. Goose will love it, she loves ghost hunters on TV.  One day soon they will be reviewed.

(and who doesn't love the fact that that may or may not be JFK in the background image, from everyone's favorite Camper) 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review: Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

It begins with absence and desire.
It begins with blood and fear.
It begins with a discovery of witches.

In reality it begins as a normal book about witches that dissolves into a whirlwind love affair to end all love affairs. This book covers quite a bit of ground ( See Absurdity). And I could not put it down. As a reader of MANY YA books, the hints at and blatant surges of lust really shocked me ( but were a teeny bit welcome. I mean, didn’t we just always want Edward to just make out with Bella??) A Discovery of Witches moves fast, dumps us into a world magic, science, DNA tests, creature feuds, more magic, and time travel. What more does a girl want? O yes an extremely hunky vampire protector lover. Check Check Check.

1. Originality – 6. Daemons, witches, vampires, o my. It turns out that behind the everyday lives of humans, there is a whole world of Creatures. Diana is a witch/historian of alchemy who has denied her power. The magic exploding in blue light from under finger tips, witch water (never mind witchwind and witchfire)

2. Absurdity – 5. Pretty absurd. Moving quickly from historical thriller, to budding romance, vampire protectiveness, lessons of celibacy, uncontrolled passion, witch covens, to war strategizing this book covers it all again, all in a period of 40 days ( now that we now that Diana can time walk, who knows what other shenanigans the sequel will include)

3. Level of Paranormal Romance – 10, overwhelming ten. Over the course of 40 days (the length of time over which the events unfold), the Vampire and the Witch fall desperately in love/lust with each other while breaking a century old rule that forbids their love while knowingly starting a war to change the lives of all the Creatures. Destiny is involved, instantaneous love and devotion. At one point they become husband and wife because she tells him she loves him. And everyone is totally ok with them calling each other husband and wife. I mean, whhhhaaaat?

4. Level of Harry Potter-ness – 2. Very low. Expect for the spells and inate predisposition for magic, the only Harry Potter aspects are that sadly, her parents died protecting her as a child. Sad but true.

In a Nutshell: Diana, inadvertently attracts the attention of the Handsome Vampire Michael, as well as all the creatures in the Cambridge area by recalling a book from the library that hasn’t been seen in hundreds of years. All the creatures believe that the book contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana was able to get her hands on it. Michael is one of those people, but falls crazily in love with Diana and decides is not the book he wants, but to love and protect her and discover whatever the secret is together. There is running and hiding and protecting, trying to discover what is it that everyone wants from the book, from Diana, etc. The bad guys keep getting closer, in England, in France, in upstate New York, Diana continues to battle them with her wacky emerging most-powerful-of-all-the-witches magic. And then, the book ends, with the lovers skipping back in time, to buy time, for Diana to learn how to really use her magic so she can fight the bad guys and win.

Review: Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Disclaimer: Not young adult fiction, but as the narrator of the book is 13-year-old Madison Spencer (deceased daughter of a Brad and Angelina Hollywood-type couple), I figured I could get a pass. :)

I remember when I was in college, my roommate and best friend had an entire shelf dedicated to Palahniuk. I got bored one summer and read through the majority of his stuff - figuring, if nothing else, I'd get a taste for her favorite style of lit. At the end of August, I was equally intrigued as I was disturbed. Palaniuk's tomes skirted the line between uncouth, distasteful and hilarity with a brilliance I wasn't sured I'd ever experienced.

Taking a nice 8 year break from his work, I read in November that Damned was coming out and I really couldn't resist.

Thank God (God?) I didn't. I loved this book.

It was classic Palahniuk - one part sarcasm, one part irony and one part pure filth. Describing the journeys in eternal damnation of our protagonist (antagonist?), Maddy, I literally had to stifle laughs on the subway (note: this book was read in old school, hard cover format - it felt sort of like I was cheating on Kindle. Well played, Amazon.). Pure ridiculousness from the get go had me hooked.

Descriptions of the Hellish landscape, such as the Plains of Discarded Nail Clippings or the Sea of Hot Bile - you can't help but imagine how you might react in the fact of such insurmountable hopelessness (and smells!). But not our little Maddy. No, Madison ends up in Hell after her adopted orphan brother of the moment accidentally suffocates her during an ill-advised game called "French Kissing," and basically from Day 1 lives (?) her after-life to the fullest.

I can say (spoiler), I was totally disappointed that the book ended (because I can't read it anymore), but totally thrilled to find out that it's a To Be Continued.

On to the next!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guilty as Charged

 Ugh, I did it again. I skipped to the end to know what happened in another book. WHY, WHY!?!?  It seems like a brilliant idea at the time. But it leaves me feeling disappointed in the long run (I have the same relationship with late-night Hawaiian pizza). Its time to find some self control STAT. So here is an apology to both Lisa Mantchev's So Silver Bright and Julie Kagawa's The Iron Knight, who I abused in such a manner this week already. Sorry for being a flaky reader, I will try not to let the next YA series down.......(you might ask yourself, gentle reader/Sweet Tea/Goose/Crazy Camper, why the heck I have had time to be reading two books at once rather than dissertating....its because I managed to lock myself out of my apartment yesterday without any homework BUT in possession of my library card. So to the library I went....and it was raining......and my stretch pants may or may not have been on inside out. SIGH.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Coming Soon- "Protector of the Small Quartet"

Get ready..

From the author Tamora Pierce that brought you "The Song of the Lioness", "The Immortals", and the "Circle of Magic" quartets (, comes a new (er) series, at least to us-- "The Protector of the Small."

For all of us who loved the warrior with the red hair and violet eyes, and the wild magic of Tortall, comes a new story of "10-year-old Keladry, who must fight her way through her first year of knight training as a page".

Amazon tells me its for Grades 5-8. Still, expectations are high, childhood love rekindled... here's hoping for the best. Hopefully Sweet Tea will let us know.

Review: Torment (Fallen Series: Book 2) by Lauren Kate

I was inspired by Grad Student to start reading the Fallen series and, now that I'm 2 books in, I get it: easy, quick reading with the torrid emotions of puberty and seriously bad jokes on nearly every page.

There is so much ridiculousness happening in these books, I'm not sure where to start, so maybe we'll go with the cover? All I can say, is thank goodness for my Kindle! I just don't know if  I could face other New Yorkers on my daily commute if I actually buried my face behind a book with... well, Goth-bride Barbie (?) on the cover. The overly-dramatic shot makes sense, though, as the tortured teen angst begins undeterred from the very first page where Book 1 left off.

Synopsis? SPOILER ALERT: Goosie Mama Lucinda Price (Luce) is damned to meet her lover-boy fallen angel, Ryan Gosling, Daniel, in every lifetime (hey, reincarnation!), only to spontaneously combust (no seriously - bitch explodes in flames) each time they kiss - starting the cycle all over again in each subsequent lifetime. That is, until this most recent life, when Luce and Daniel meet, have weird angel-wing-feather-stroking-and-shuddering kisses and, gasp!, she's still here. But why?! Don't know yet, maybe Book 3 (or 4) explains it.

The writing in the series just kills me. For instance, my most favorite "paragraph" (not kidding) of Book 1:

"Oh. My. God. They were fighting. In the library. Over me!"

I can just hear the collective sigh of struggling writers worldwide.

In Book 2, we get such tasty morsels as "she was crazy bananas." and "bee-tee-dubs." Yoinks! I need to read a dictionary, stat!

But I think at the end of the day, what makes me so frustrated - and at the same time so morbidly curious -  about these novels is the heroine, Luce. Much like Bella Swan in the Twilight series, Kate has created a heroine who is clearly gorgeous and spell-binding to everyone, but doesn't see it (or her inner-strength) herself . Even though, every once in while shows a glimpse of a spine - Luce, ultimately, is utterly bulldozed by those around her ("I don't know what to do!") and, also, her lifetime-defying love for her boyfriend, the super-controlling Daniel.

She cannot defend herself against the tough, dominating personalities of those around her becaues she's just. So. Confused.

That being said, clearly I'm a masochist because I will go back and read Book 3 and, most likely, Book 4. I will continue to understand Luce's obsession with Daniel (show me a pack of angelically-crafted abs, and, yeah, I get it) but I will not stop rolling my eyes - that is a promise!

Originality: Meh, I'll give this a 4.5. The story line is theoretically interesting, but a little sparse on the execution. Kate created an entire world where these fallen angels bear the cross of both good and evil, but at times her musings seem to add more questions than answers (who knows, though, maybe she's going to write a killer end to the series and tie up all the loose ends?).

Absurdity: Purely from a teen angst perspective? This is a 9 out of 10. I think I had a sympathy-teen-zit-breakout just reading the first 10 pages. It was cute.

Level of Paranormal Romance:  29? Luce has it bad for her cloud-cruising boytoy and he - well - I think he thinks she's alright.

Harry Potter-ness: I am ranking this based on ease of prose (ie What Would J.K. Rowling Do?), so naturally I'm going to give this a 0.5. J.K., I'm pretty sure, would just be confused!

And for all of my negative thoughts of Kate's series, I will have you know I just requested Book 3 from the NY Public Library - so ... you know, take everything with a grain of salt! :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Cruisin' Through a Series: Soul Screamers by Rachel Vincent

There are some standard stories that a good portion of these books follow: vampires who love humans, or teenage girls who wake up one day to find out they are the children of evil fairy queens/kings and have a quest to go on. Not that I am against a good literary trope, but I have to say, sometimes its good to mix things up. Enter my most recent speed read, the Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent. Ok, look, these might not win any Pulitzers any time soon, but still. Here's the deal. The setting is boring as all get out, somwhere in Texas I never want to go. The characters are mostly banshees (spelled bean sidhes--I image to try and established some Irish-folklore-street-cred (which is a dubious thing to go for at all)) as well as living nightmares, grim reapers etc etc etc. There is also obviously an alternate universe that is a layer on top of the real world where creepy things live that like to eat people, steal their memories and so on. Don't go there. Its a bad idea.  

So there are 5 of these books so far, and to be frank, looking back on my December binge, I am not at all confident of what each separate book is about. There are some pop singers who sell their souls to the devil for fame who need rescuing, some drug addicts addicted to demon breadth (try saying that with a straight face out loud to someone) that need rescuing, and of course the main character Kaylee needs to be rescued a couple of times, as well as her studly boyfriend. and of course some witty teen banter. BUT I can say, while I was reading them, I was into it enough to actually take a paperback copy out of the library in front of my boyfriend (who judged, I am sure, as I deserved). Usually the Nook prevents me from the public humiliation caused by being twenty-something and reading this on the L train:

                                      or this     

I mean seriously. I am not 15. and people going to Lorimer and Bedford on the L train do judge you.
ANYWHO I plowed through these at breakneck speed and have to say Kaylee was alright, but I did do some laughing at Tod, the Grim Reaper, brother of Kaylee's hunky boyfriend, Nash.  Apparently the internet has a Tod v. Nash thing going on. Google it.  Will I read the one coming out this spring? Yes. Did I actually pay for If I Die and not just get it from the library? well.....

Originality: a solid 7--for finding some type of old world myth no one else wrote about yet (but was there a reason this was left alone.....?), and for the lack of vampires and star-crossed lovers.
Harry-Potterness: no magic, but she can scream and go to an alternate universe. but really, banshees just scream when people die. not a very cool magic power.
Absurdity: pretty high. can't quite put my finger on it, but at least a 6. I mean, banshees people. 

Review Criteria: as dictated to Goose by Grad Student

WELCOME to Young Adult Fiction & Whiskey Sours!

This blog was started by four twenty-somethings friends looking to reconcile their lust for young adult fiction with the fact that they are real adults with real jobs that have the legal ability to go to a bar.

Our consumption of fiction has increased exponentially since we all ate our words and bought e-readers (side eye to Sweet Tea who is still a Purist).

To give you a feel of how these reviews will come to be, here's our review criteria (in no particular order) all on a scale of 1-10:

  1. Originality - 1 being you find our your a wizard and are living under the stairs/ a wardrobe leads you to a different world, it's been done. 10 is you've discovered a new plane of existence - and we're cool with it.

  2. Absurdity - ranking the ridiculousness of plot development, love at first sight and general teen angst

  3. Level of Paranormal Romance - are you half human? Great. Is a fairy in love with you? Even better.

  4. Level of Harry Potter-ness - both a review of the use of magic abilities and quality of prose; note this is entirely dependent on reviewer.
This is not an exhaustive list, so read on for more ridiculousness.

P.S. A special raise of our whiskey sours to Lauren Kate's Fallen series (and Lucinda Price, who we love to hate) for pushing us into action in creation of this group-blog.