Sunday, February 28, 2010

Review: Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Title: Pretty Little Liars

Series: Pretty Little Liars #1

Author: Sara Shepard

Format: Book

My Rating:


Everyone has something to hide—especially high school juniors spencer, aria, emily, and hanna.

Spencer covets her sister's boyfriend. Aria's fantasizing about her English teacher. Emily's crushing on the new girl at school. Hanna uses some ugly tricks to stay beautiful.

But they've all kept an even bigger secret since their friend Alison vanished.

How do I know? Because I know everything about the bad girls they were, the naughty girls they are, and all the dirty secrets they've kept. And guess what? I'm telling.

My Review:

Pretty Little Liars is one of those books that once you pick it up, it's nearly impossible to put down. I easily lost most of my Sunday afternoon curled up, reading this book.

It's the kick off for the series, which shares it's namesake, and does an extremely excellent job pulling you in. We're introduced in the prologue to the five main characters of the series on the first night of the all important summer vacation between seventh and eighth grade. This is also the night that Alison disappears without a trace, leaving her four best friends to quickly fall apart from each other in the tragedies wake.

I include Alison as a main character because, despite not making another real appearance after the prologue, her character is just as important and fleshed out as Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna. Think Lily Kane of Veronica Mars. From there we flash forward to the girl's junior year of High School, when the four girls begin receiving messages from a mysterious '-A' who know secrets that they had only shared with Alison.

The focus of the book shifts between Aria, Spencer, Emily and Hanna. Normally I'm not a huge fan of this style but each girl has such a unique, distinctive quality to her personality that it's easy to tell them apart. This causes the shift in perspective to work in favor of the story, giving you a better overall feel of the events going on.

While each girl is enthralling in their own way, I'm particularly fond of Emily and Maya. It's not extremely common to find lgbt characters in YA literature so stumbling upon ones in this book was a pleasant surprise.

What I especially love about this book is it does an amazing job not giving anything away. It's one of the reasons this book is so difficult to put down, you get pulled into the girl's world and you need to know what happens next. I especially enjoyed the fact that the book did not try to wrap up any of the major mysteries at the end of the book.

Pretty Little Liars is not a stand alone, on any level, but you aren't left with a lack of fulfillment at the end. Instead just a desire to learn what comes in the next.

The book isn't perfect, certain behaviors of the characters are unrealistic but I personally fond those easy to overlook. Seeing how I plan to make my way to the book store on my break tomorrow to pick up the second in this series, I think it more than earns the five star rating. I recommend this book to pretty much anyone.

In My Mailbox (1)

I'm still working my way through a pile of books I got for Christmas, so most of the ones I picked up from the library this week are for recapping over at They Let Us Read This As Children?

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
by Helen Fielding

A new year begins - and Bridget Jones, the globally bestselling unflinchingly self-disciplined, and definitely practically nonsmoking heroine is about to discover what happens when you have the man of your dreams actually in your flat and he hasn't been to the supermarket - not just tonight, but ever.

Lurching from the cappuccino bars of Notting Hill to the blissed-out shores of Thailand, searching for The Truth in spite of pathetically unevolved men, insane dating theories, Smug Married advice ("I'm just calling to say in the potty! In the potty! Well, do it in Daddy's hand, then!"), Bridget experiences a zeitgeist-esque Spiritual Epiphany somewhere between the pages of How to Find the Love You Want Without Seeking It (can self-help books really help self?), protective custody, and a lightly chilled Chardonnay.

I read the first book a few years back and never got around to reading it's sequel. I've heard good things about this so I figured it was time I checked it out.

Besides I needed something more adult to check out along with the following (to be recapped and snarked, with love of course, later this week):

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

When I Grow Up, I Wanna Be Anita Blake

Title: Guilty Pleasures

Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #1

Laurell K. Hamilton

Format: Audiobook

My Rating:

The Description:

Learn how Anita Blake started raising the dead-and killing the undead-in Guilty Pleasures, the debut novel in the #1 New York Times-bestselling series. (via amazon)

My Review:

For as long as I can remember (and before Twilight made them the next big thing), vampires have always been my monster of choice. However, up until this year I had never picked up an Anita Blake book or even really knew they existed.

I'd heard the name on number of occasions, even had the books recommended to me by a friend but it was always just a fleeting thought and they were quickly forgotten. It wasn't until I was wondering around Barnes and Noble's horror section that they truly caught my attention.

I'm almost ashamed to admit that it was the updated cover that drew me in but, in all honesty, I'd be lying if I said otherwise. The industrial noir feeling and coloring of the new covers easily make them among my favorites out there. I didn't purchase the book that day but it stuck in my mind so last month when the audiobook version became available to me I couldn't turn that down of at least checking the series out.

Guilty Pleasures introduces us to Anita Blake, a young independent woman who raises the dead for a living and does some vampire slaying on the side in a world where everything sort of the boogey man is out in the open. Attending a friend's bachelorette party at Guilty Pleasures, a vampire strip club that is the namesake of the novel, Anita finds herself pulled into the mystery of who, or what, has been murdering vampires by the Masters of the city.

Normally this description of the book's heroine and plotline would make me skeptical because in the sci fi/horror genres it seems almost impossible to write a female lead without falling hard into every cliche out there and I could almost see her running off to a strapping "good" vampire to save her.

Anita, as it turns out, is a refreshing to change to that. I can't speak for how the series progresses but in this book Anita is truly the tough as nails bad ass the book presents her as without losing a human element.

The rest of the cast does little to disappoint:

Nikolaos: the child vampire Master of the city, Edward: the untrustworthy occasional vampire slaying partner, Jean-Claude: the owner of Guilty Pleasures and a lower Master and, my favorite, Phillip: A young vampire-junkie stripper.

Overall, Guilty Pleasures easily won me over with the dark, vivid world and cast of characters. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the vampire genre.