Review: Easy by Kerry Cohen Hoffmann

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Easy by Kerry Cohen Hoffmann
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (June 30th 2008)
Hardcover, 176 pages
Source: Own
Challenge: YA Saves, Stand Alone

Easy. At the ripe young age of fourteen Jessica has discovered that getting the attention she wants is just that — easy. It’s not the attention of a divorced mother who spends all of her time grieving over a broken marriage. Nor is it that of a father with a new girlfriend who’s moving on with his life. It’s certainly not the attention of a clueless older sister or a best friend since grade school who still acts like she’s in grade school. No. For some reason being noticed by her friends and family seems to have become almost impossible. Boys — and men — are a different matter altogether. With the right clothes and attitude, Jessica realizes that she can get all the male attention she wants. What she doesn’t realize is how easy it is to get more than you’re ready for.
In this compelling and often harrowing novel for teen readers, first-time author Kerry Cohen Hoffmann delves into the mind of a teenage girl as she attempts to replace the shifting relationships with friends and family with sexual exploration. With candid storytelling rooted in years of personal experience, Mrs. Hoffmann offers a searing look at how easy it is to take a wrong turn in search for the right answers.

 

After her parent’s divorce, Jessica is dying for attention… she quickly finds that one of the easiest ways to get attention happens to be from boys.  Jessica’s mother has turned inward, her father is now living with the woman that helped break their marriage apart, her sister has become their mother’s shoulder to cry on, and Jessica… well she is left to her own devices.  While at first her ‘flirtation’ in her need for attention is innocent, Jessica finds herself becoming more adventurous.  But Kerry Hoffmann’s debut novel is not just about a young teenager looking for attention in the wrong places – Kerry also explores the rippling affects of divorce, growing up, and the introduction of sex.

“He hoots as he passes. Another one whistles. I know this is stupid, inviting trouble. But it feels so good to be wanted, I can’t help myself.” 

The attention Jessica gets from boys soon becomes like an addiction, leaving her craving for more.  That is until she starts to see the consequences of her actions.  She finds herself more and more isolated, despite her found attention, from her family and even her best friend.  Jessica starts to gain a reputation at school – one that many may not necessarily dream of.  Then there is the big “V” card… Jessica finds out how special it really is…

“Everyone says your first time should be magical. You should be in love. You should feel safe. Because you can’t go back once you’ve done it. That will always be your first time. Years later this is what I’ll remember as my first time. That inflated sensation is long gone. Now I just feel nauseous; it is the feeling I get when reality dawns.”

Kerry Hoffmann’s debut novel is a fresh read, exploring the reality of the teenage mind without holding back any gritty details.  While Kerry’s honesty may be too much for some, I found the truth in Jessica’s actions to be a mirror of reality – something that is not done enough. At the same time, Kerry has found the perfect balance of reality of hopefulness, neither going to dark or too light.  I cannot go without mentioning her writing, as it flows with ease, making Easy an ‘easy’ (no pun intended) yet enjoyable read.

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Audiobook Review: Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners
(May 19th 2010)
Audio CD
Source: Library
Series: Chronicles of Nick, #1
Challenges: Audiobook

At fourteen, Nick Gautier thinks he knows everything about the world around him. Streetwise, tough and savvy, his quick sarcasm is the stuff of legends. Until the night when his best friends try to kill him. Saved by a mysterious warrior who has more fighting skills than Chuck Norris, Nick is sucked into the realm of the Dark-Hunters: immortal vampire slayers who risk everything to save humanity.

Nick quickly learns that the human world is only a veil for a much larger and more dangerous one. A world where the captain of the football team is a werewolf and the girl he has a crush on goes out at night to stake the undead.

But before he can even learn the rules of this new world, his fellow students are turning into flesh eating zombies. And he’s next on the menu.
Like starting high school isn’t hard enough. Now Nick has to hide his new friends from his mom, his chainsaw from the principal, and keep the zombies and the demon Simi from eating his brains, all without getting grounded or suspended! How in the world is he supposed to do that? 


Well that is a long synopsis… but it needs to be – there is plenty going on in this book!  Can I just say I was very pleasantly surprised by this book.  I am not sure is Sherrilyn Kenyon meant to do so or not, but I couldn’t help from laughing while listening to this novel.  Not only are you given zombies, vampires, werewolves, shape shifters and much more, you are treated to a level of sarcasm and wit that is played off perfectly between all the characters.  While I’ve read many reviews of this book, I have to say that this series has become a new favorite!

Nick is 14. He is not what you would call popular – his father is in jail for gruesome murders, his single mother is a ‘dancer’ of who he lives with in a one bedroom apartment, that can barely be called home.  Having to wear second hand cloths everyday, Nick knows he does not belong with the popular crowd.  But that doesn’t bother Nick.  Having a hard life doesn’t bother Nick either.  He actually has a solid head on his shoulders.  And then his world starts to become very interesting…. his world finds itself full of unnatural creatures and an unnatural ‘destiny’ that literally can save or destroy mankind.

I couldn’t get enough of Nick’s sarcasm and wit.  I fell in love with many of the characters, their Southern wit and charm – – don’t even get me started on Nick’s mother.  I loved her ups and downs in her over-protectiveness of Nick.  The only downside to this novel (or audiobook in my case) is the vast amounts of characters – Sherrilyn Kenyon has created wonderful and interesting characters, but at times it was very difficult to determine who was who.  However, this at the same time is wonderful since each character is crucial to Nick’s ‘destiny’ and each one is a hoot in themselves. 

Having learned that The Chronicles of Nick are actually prequels to Sherrilyn Kenyon’s adult series the Dark Hunters, I actually can’t wait to read the rest of this series and even read her adult series (which hardly ever happens).  I found this novel to be nothing short of extreme fun. 

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Review: Entice by Carrie Jones

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Entice by Carrie Jones
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books (December 14th 2010)
Hardcover, 266 pages
Source: Kindle
Series: Need, #3

Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever. But that’s not quite how things have worked out. For starters, well, Nick is dead. Supposedly, he’s been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it’s taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing every day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla? And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there’s that other small problem: Zara’s been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn’t turned into just any pixie. . . She’s Astley’s queen.

While this series has not been one of my favorite, Entice was by far the best one of the series.  It is no secret that I never felt the ‘connection’ between Zara and Nick.  Their love happened to fast for me and was not built upon something real.  However, Zara’s connection and relationship to Astley is believable, and not just because they are both pixies and she is now his queen.  In one book their connection becomes real.  And of course where would Zara be without her friends.  I have loved these characters from the beginning, sometimes even more than Zara herself (but not too much).  Issie is a doll – I don’t think there is one bad bone in her body.  Devyn is adorable in his love for Issie and how he is protective over her.  And of course Betty is always a hoot to read – she is sassy yet head strong and always speaks her mind.  


I hate to say it but one of my favorite things about this book was that Nick was not in it until the very end.  I am on the Astley side (clearly).  With Astley, Zara goes on more adventures, both in traveling and emotional adventures, than she ever has.  Zara faces many close calls in this installment, all the while focusing on getting Nick back… even when her ‘feelings’ for Astley start to come about.  It will be very interesting to see how Zara’s relationships unfold in the next installment, Endure.  


In terms of writing, Carrie Jones gives you a fast paced book.  I found this installment to be more ‘grown up’ in the sense that the story is not completely relied upon dialogue (which makes up pretty much both previous books).  You actually get to delve into Zara’s head a bit.  Overall, while this book does not exactly stand out as a “MUST READ”, this a was fun fast paced read that you won’t regret. 

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Audiobook Review: I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

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I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies #1) by Pittacus Lore
Harper Collins Audio  (August 3rd 2010)
Format: Audiobook
Challenge: Audiobook Challenge

 Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.

I am torn about how much I like this book.  There is plenty to love about this book while at the same time there are a few things that I wish were improved upon or done differently.  So I guess I will start from the beginning… John Smith is a believable character from another world, literally.  While an ‘alien’ on Earth, he is everything that is human and a teen – emotions and all.  Having left his home planet at a very young age, John Smith never got to know his parents.  This aspect of the novel is actually an asset as John’s relationship with Henri was one of my favorite parts.  I fell in love with the trust and understanding they have for each other.  As John’s legacies (special powers) start to form he also starts to have visions of Lorien – he sees the attack of their enemies (the Mogadorians) and how he left along with 8 others.  This was another aspect I absolutely loved.  His visions gave him much more depth as a character, as he gains a better understanding about where he came from, what Henri and his people gave up, and so much more.  


While trying to keep his presence in a new town hidden, hiding from the Mogadorians, who are looking to kill him, he meets a rather interesting bunch of characters.  Sam Goode is loyal to the end, as is a rather odd dog named Bernie Kosar (who was adorable!).  And of course he meets a girl who he instantly falls for: Sarah Hart.  I personally did not like Sarah’s character.  I found her rather an empty shell.  This is one aspect of the novel I wish was done differently.  I am all for a love interest but you are given a first impression of Sarah as a strong and independent girl – during her reign as a cheerleader she fell into a few bad habits, noticing this she decided to change her ways to better herself.  In the begining she was a rather strong character but as time goes on she came across almost as a ‘ditz’ without much to say or share with John Smith. 

I loved the plot line and concept – while simple it was executed very well.  One thing I felt was lacking the most was John’s connection to Lorien.  While his visions of his past gave John depth and layers, I found myself wanting to know more and more about Lorien and even Henri’s life there.  I couldn’t get enough about Lorien and Henri.  Overall, however, this was a great novel to listen to and I can’t wait to read the next installment.  



Find Pittacus Lore  
on his WebSite

Review: When The Sea Is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen

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When The Sea Is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (February 28th 2012)
Format: ARC
Source: Around the World Tours
Challenges: 100 Books in 2012, 2012 Debut Author

After seventeen-year-old Felicita’s dearest friend Ilven kills herself to escape an arranged marriage, Felicita chooses freedom over privilege. She fakes her own death and leaves her sheltered life as one of Pelimburg’s magical elite behind. Living in the slums, scrubbing dishes for a living, she falls for charismatic Dash while also becoming fascinated with vampire Jannik. Then something shocking washes up on the beach: Ilven’s death has called out of the sea a dangerous wild magic. Felicita must decide whether her loyalties lie with the family she abandoned . . . or with those who would twist this dark power to destroy Pelimburg’s caste system, and the whole city along with it.  

Why pick up this book?  Why not?! I was blown away by how much I loved this book.  I was expecting a dark, gothic, Victorian feel to this book, and while that is there, there is so much more.  Cat Hellisen took some huge chances in the types of characters she created.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Felicita takes a life-or-death risk, literally, in faking her own death to escape a life of arrange marriage and a life she feels constricted in.  Right away she walks into a new life full of trouble, adventure, characters, and even a few love interests.  Going from a life of money and privilege, Felicita now much work hard to make ends meat and to keep hidden. 

Like I said Cat Hellisen took some huge chances and succeeded.  I was attracted and disturbed by Pelimburg and its inhabitants.  Her ability in describing bat-vampires and other creatures in gruesome details, while making you love them, is uncanny.  I fell entranced by the love triangle between Dash-Felicita-Jannik.  I was constantly guessing who these two men really were and what their motives where, and of course how Felicita felt about them. 

This is one author and book you will not want to miss!  I look forward to reading more of Cat Hellisen’s future works.  

Find Cat Hellisen on her 

Review: Immortal City by Scott Speer

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Immortal City by Scott Speer
Razorbill (April 3rd 2012)
Format: ARC
Source: Around the World Tours
Challenge: None

GoodReads | Amazon

 Jackson Godspeed is the hottest young Angel in a city filled with them. He’s days away from becoming a full Guardian, and people around the world are already competing for the chance to be watched over by him. Everyone’s obsessed with the Angels and the lucky people they protect – everyone except for Madison Montgomery.

Maddy’s the one girl in Angel City who doesn’t breathlessly follow the Angels on TV and gossip blogs. When she meets Jackson, she doesn’t recognize him. But Jackson is instantly captivated by her, and against all odds the two fall in love.

Maddy is swiftly caught up in Jackson’s scene, a world of glamour, paparazzi – and murder. A serial killer is on the loose, leaving dead Angels’ wings for the police to find on the Walk of Fame. Even the Guardians are powerless to protect themselves in the face of this threat … and this time it’s up to Maddy to save Jackson.

To be honest I had a difficult time with this book.  The premise is amazing but I just could not get away from LA being the Angel City, which in turn made me constantly think about the movie.   I couldn’t get past the first few chapters.  I think this is a book I have to pick up again to re-read and give it another try.  However, that all being said, I am not saying you should not read this book.  Not at all.  
From the beginning you will notice that Scott Speer has a talent for character development.  Maddy is a very respectable character – she doesn’t go with the flow and what is popular (that being Angels).  She knows what she wants (a future) and works hard to make sure she can have one.  

Again this is a book I am going to have to give another try. 


Scott Speer (born June 5, 1982) is an American music video director born in San Diego, California.

At age 23, he was signed with HSI Productions, and in 2006 Speer received the MVPA Award for Directorial Debut of the Year for the music video of “Stars” by Switchfoot.

In 2007, he won his first MTV Video Music Awards Latin America in México, for his work with “Bella Traicion” by the Mexican pop sensation Belinda. He did several music videos for Belinda. In June 2007, he directed a three-part video series for the High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale, who he has been dating since April 2009. These videos included “He Said She Said,” “Not Like That,” and “Suddenly” released on her DVD There’s Something About Ashley. In 2009, he again directed music videos for Ashley Tisdale for It’s Alright It’s OK and Crank It Up from her album Guilty Pleasure.

In addition to directing, Scott produced and second unit directed the feature film The Beat, an official selection of the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, and remains deeply involved in independent films. In 2010 Scott directed The LXD episode “Duet”.

Scott will direct ‘Step Up 4’ which is set to be released in 2012. On May 3rd, girlfriend Ashley Tisdale told fans he would direct the new film via Facebook/Twitter.

Review: Life Is But A Dream by Brian James

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Life Is But A Dream by Brian James
Feiwel & Friends (March 27th 2012)
Format: ARC
Source: Around the World Tours
Challenge: 100 Books in 2011

Alec and Sabrina are crazy in love. Problem is: Sabrina’s really crazy.

Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it’s the world that’s crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she’ll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? Her decision may have fatal consequences.

Who is attracted to books that take place in a Psych Ward? You are almost guaranteed adventure, mystery and wonder.  You are also guaranteed raw reality with a touch of dream world.  Life Is But A Dream offers such a world.  Sabrina doesn’t see the world like others do – she sees the world around her in colors that are not only vivid but have a life of their own with movement and wonder.  After some time at the Wellness Center Sabrina’s view of the world and their colors start to alter a bit, back to what is ‘real’.  Then she meets Alec, who makes her feel that there is nothing wrong with her, she is special and unique just the way she is.  But what is ‘real’?? 

I fell in love with Sabrina’s character right away – in the way she sees the world there is something almost whole and good.  Even though you know she is being treated for schizophrenia you can’t help but love how she sees things – Brian James has done a FANTASTIC job at creating Sabrina’s world into a canvas, which is painted on with vibrant and brilliant colors that blend together in a gorgeous way.  To say that the imagery in this book was lacking would be a grave understatement.    

Even though you know Sabrina is sick and Alec holds her back from what is considered ‘real’ by their doctors, you also can’t help but like Alec as well.   Seeing how easily Sabrina succumbs to Alec’s suggestions makes you see that while her way of seeing things is beautiful they are also childish in a way, as she can be.  On one hand she wants help but on the other hand she follows Alec blindly.  However, Alec is definitely a character I would love to learn more about. 

Life Is But A Dream makes you question what is ‘real’ and ‘right’ for people.  What is reality? Is Sabrina’s world wrong?  Is she really sick?  Brian James has done an amazing job in creating a real yet fantastical novel that pushes you to view things in a different way while imagining a beautiful world in colors. 

Find Brian James: WebSite | Facebook | Twitter 

I’ve written numerous children’s books, including the Pirate School series and the Catkid series. I’m also the author of several novels: Pure Sunshine; Tomorrow, Maybe; Perfect World; Dirty Liar; Thief; Zombie Blondes; The Heights”

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