Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review: Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

"Lacey Anne Byer is a perennial good girl and lifelong member of the House of Enlightenment, the Evangelical church in her small town. With her driver's license in hand and the chance to try out for a lead role in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin, Lacey's junior year is looking promising. But when a cute new stranger comes to town, something begins to stir inside her. Ty Davis doesn't know the sweet, shy Lacey Anne Byer everyone else does. With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself. As her feelings for Ty make Lacey test her boundaries, events surrounding Hell House make her question her religion.
Melissa Walker has crafted the perfect balance of engrossing, thought-provoking topics and relatable, likable characters. Set against the backdrop of extreme religion, Small Town Sinners is foremost a universal story of first love and finding yourself, and it will stay with readers long after the last page."
   Copyright ©Bloomsbury Children's USA--2011
Small Town Sinners proved itself to be a gripping story about love, friendship, and the importance of being able to step outside the boundaries of religion and letting your true thoughts matter in the world. 
Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker takes place in...well you guessed it, a small town. The book centers through the POV of Lacey Anne Byer, the daughter of a children's pastor and a goody-goody. She doesn't get into any trouble, hates sin, and was taught to look into her bible if she needs any answers about the world itself. Lacey Anne also has two closest best friends: the ambitious, spicy Starla Joy and Dean, a cute fat nerd. With her best friends, nothing they do is remotely rebelling for their age (If you count eating cheese fries and having a early curfew bad then yeah...) Anyway, all of them are gearing up for Hell House which is a show put on by their church showing youngsters the pain and emotion of each sin committed in society by people their age. Hell House takes place in October (around Halloween, however preparations begin in the summer. Preparations begin also with Lacey's love life when she meets Ty, whom she's ready to share her 'Hollywood moment' with and being the lead in Hell House. However, Lacey experiences some drama in her community and which all of this leads to Lacey having questions and doubts of herself and her faithfulness to God from her relationship with Ty. 

Now, all of you may disagree with me however I truly did not enjoy Lacey's goody-goody character and I wish that Walker would have included some more twists and turns for Lacey's character. 

It's not that I completely hated Lacey's character, because you understand from the get-go that her character showed innocence and faith to God. However, I wished that she was a little bit more rebellious with Ty/her parents because I feel like that would have added more tension to Hell House and having the stance to have your true thoughts to matter. I'm not sure why, but I felt like there was going to be more curve balls with Lacey's character. 

With all that aside, the book showed growth of Lacey's inner thoughts provoked by her on and off again boyfriend Ty. You felt Lacey's mixed emotions of what she was taught and later on she realizes that it's fine to question her beliefs and morals for the sake of her curiosity. 

I enjoyed Walker's stance on this small towns beliefs in today's sins in youth and felt that Hell Houses were really shocking and alarming...I definitely, will never step into one for sure. 

Overall, this book aced it when synthesizing how religion impacts teenagers today and going for what you believe in. I really enjoyed the romance between Ty and Lacey (even though I wanted a little bit more to happen) and the supporting characters (Starla Joy and Dean) left me feeling happy and talking (in my mind) in a southern accent throughout the book. A strong bond with friends always remains true throughout the book, especially when the world yo knew all your life goes topsy turvy on ya. This small town, shows greater depth than what it does on the surface by the characters. This was one of the books where the case was the characters you hate from the beginning of the story you sympathize with in the end (I'm talking about you Geoff Parsons!) 

If your looking for a good contemporary romance look no further especially, this one which handles with the topic of believing yourself and questioning faith like no other...even if it's from a polo-wearing hunk :D 

                                                     Four out of Five Stars.



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review: Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis

"Moonlight can totally change your life.
And it all starts so simply. 
The moon.
You're toast.
Okay, so maybe Shelby has made a few mistakes with boys lately. But her stepmother totally overreacts when she packs Shelby off to brat camp. Suddenly, it’s good-bye, prom dress; hello, hiking boots.

Things start looking up, though, when Shelby meets fellow camper (and son of a rock star!) Austin Bridges III. But soon she realizes there’s more to Austin than crush material—his family has a dark secret, and he wants Shelby’s help guarding it. . . ."
Copyright ©HarperTeen-- 2009

BOOK #2 for my 2011 Were/Shifter Challenge! w00t i am baller-status! (totally won't say that again I promise ;D)

This book was a nice laugh-out-loud read, that was light and the werewolves not savage by any means. 
Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis, right from the get-go showed that it wasn't going to be a very hard hitting, savage, and primal werewolf story. Jut you're run-of-the-mill YA paranormal romance. The book centers around a sixteen-year-old girl named Shelby who is sort of a plain-jane stuck in Beverly Hills with her dad an her evil stepmother, Priscilla. I thought Shelby is what made the story better than it originally would be. She left me humored (like Sophie Mercer in Hex Hall), but also she had a relatable aspect to herself as well. Due to Priscilla, she has been shipped off to Camp Crescent, or as Shelby likes to call it "brat camp." Which is unfortunate, because Shelby had a bad experience with a boy in her past and her stepmother just ships her off, because she is caught kissing a boy. Shelby is really misunderstood and better than other girls her me.

You would think that Shelby would have a hard time adjusting to brat camp, however that is not the case. Instead, Davis creates this headstrong female-empowered figure that is very outdoorsy and doesn't complain about the types of designer labels or if her makeup smears at camp. Shelby, for that reason, makes her unique in a way a steers away from the Gossip-girly type. Anyway, while at brat camp she encounters some colorful characters and meets her true best friend Ariel, whom she shares alot of her life with (don't really get to see much of her however). The real gem in this book was Austin Bridges III. Of course, Davis makes him a real charmer from his olive toned skin down to his British accent. Think Alex Pettyfer mixed with Taylor Lautner...

Nevertheless, the whole plot of the book centers around Austin being a famous rockstar who is actually a werewolf. To tame his inner animal, Austin must have take this special serum invented by his family's chemist, even though everyone thinks he is a druggie especially a boy who works for a paparazzi magazine who wants a front-page story of Austin's secret and the on-going relationship he has with Shelby. Hijinks ensue between Austin and Shelby when the serum is locked away (strict rules: no drugs, makeup, or Wonderbras at brat camp) and thus, throughout the book Shelby and Austin try to find the miracle serum. Doing all of this before the full moon comes about and Austin's primitiveness occurs. Plus, their romance unfolds.

Overall, I have to say I did enjoy this book. I mean summer is rolling out, and this is a nice and easy read to get out to the beach. I felt like Davis put some nice, original thought to the characters even though the plot was a bit predictable. I really liked Davis' writing style: simple, coherent, and eloquent. I felt that there was true chemistry between Shelby and Austin and their personalities meshed really well together. I also, liked the growth from Shelby's character. Throughout the story, you'll see how Shelby really got to re-connect with her emotions and her past. I experienced some growth from Shelby and in a way this was a coming-of-age story about this girl growing up and facing herself. I didn't really like the ending however, and I wish there was a little bit more zing to Austin and Shelby's relationship.

To finish, all I have to say is there is more than meets the eye when you see Never Cry Werewolf. Even though this may not be my favorite werewolf story, but nevertheless I did enjoy it! 

Four out of Five Stars!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Review: The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

"A Prodigal Son

A Dangerous Love

A Deadly Secret

Grace Divine—daughter of the local pastor—always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared and her brother Jude came home covered in his own blood.

Now that Daniel's returned, Grace must choose between her growing attraction to him and her loyalty to her brother.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, she learns the truth about that mysterious night and how to save the ones she loves, but it might cost her the one thing she cherishes most: her soul."
Copyright ©EgmontUSA-2010

Book  #1 for my Werewolf/Shapshifter Challenge for 2011!

Honest to god, I didn't know what to expect when coming into The Dark Divine.

This book features a whole new experience into the whole YA genre. It features elements of suspense, religion, mythology, paranormal-ness, and contemporary rolled up into one plot. All I knew, when I picked it up from my local library was thatThe Dark Divine was a paranormal love story. That's it.

Anyway, the story revolves around Grace Divine- the town pastors daughter, the one who wouldn't do anything wrong, and like her name she is offers "heavenly help, guidance, or mercy." Grace is highly scrutinized among her peers in her small town, especially when bad-boy Daniel Kalbi returns. Daniel's return offers a little bit of an alarm to the Divine family, because of his troubling past and what he did to Grace's brother, Jude. The Divine family offered loyalty, respect, and dignity to Daniel due to his family situation however, Daniel had an urge to stop being in control. There was a long wait in the book to figure out who was Daniel Kalbi? Grace's childhood friend was back, and she wanted to help him- hell, that was what her name meant wasn't it? Well, coming closer and closer to Daniel meant she was growing farther and farther from her family. Plus, she was growing closer to finding out Daniel's secret: he is a werewolf hybrid. His mother was full human and his father and alpha wolf: dominating, uncontrolling, and the one responsible for those illusive deaths in Markham Street. The Kalbi family has been traced by generations and generations (even before the written alphabet) into serving god and being "The Hounds of Heaven." However, Daniel was not being truthful and it turns out because the werewolf race (YES, created by God himself)believed that they were more worthy than God and therefore, the demon unleashed in them. Thus, Daniel has to wear a moonstone pendant to keep his bloodthirsty werewolf side from coming out. After knowing Daniel's secret, she figures out that her family was not so D-vine after all. Both her brother and father knew this about Daniel and Grace couldn't believe how much her father, the pastor, put so much extensive work into curing the wild side of Daniel Kalbi. Grace's father leaves the work of curing Daniel up to her, but she has to figure out what she wants for herself. To be with passion, gut-thrashing Daniel or jockey hometown boy Pete? She puts her relationship on hold with Daniel, but she knew that she was always going to want to be back with Daniel--even though the only way to cure him was to put a silver knife through his heart and die.

Honest to god, I loved this story. I thought that it was very slow in the first third of the book and I didn't know where Despain was going with her story. I also, thought that the story was a little bit confusing since she threw so many elements in the story. I was either confused or bored in some of the arts where Despain was describing the mythology thing. However, I really thought that Despain put real thought into the emotions that flowed from character to character. She didn't put a fluffy uncomplicated love story like Jacob and Bella from Twilight; what she did was show the struggle between Grace and Daniel and showed what depths some people go through being with one another. Through Grace's bossiness, Daniel's solemness, Jude's empathy/anger, and Pastor Divine's soul we see each character's individuality at it's fullest. Her writing showed beautiful intrigue and mystery that made this one a page turner for sure. I honestly, enjoyed this story's originality and whirlwind emotions that I felt when reading the story. Even if I was confused at some parts... 

Four out of Five Stars.