Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Summer I Became a Nerd

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Title: The Summer I Became a Nerd

Author: Leah Rae Miller

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl’s body isn’t just unknown, it’s anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.

Review: I started this book yesterday afternoon and thought ‘I’ll just read 25% and then switch back to CODA’ (which I’m reading in paperback. Ever since I ended up with so many physical books, I’ve been double reading — physical books at home, ebooks for commuting/ work). Well I got to 10% and updated my goodreads, totally relating to the story, and around 40% I had to buy dinner. After dinner my husband fell asleep (he’s still fighting jet-lag) and I then stayed up until 11pm finishing the damn book.

Poor CODA.

Anyway, this book starts out with our protagonist, Maddie, re-living the defining, traumatic moment when she decided to hide her nerdy side (the comic book reading, sci-fi, action hero loving side). She’s in middle school and gets heckled for being a geek when she dresses up like her favorite comic book hero for a costume contest, and that’s that. Geeky side in the shadows and the quest to squash the memory and become the popular girl begins.

This. Is. So. Relatable. I remember when I was in 7th grade the original Star Wars movies were remastered and shown in theaters. My teacher took us to see A New Hope as a class trip because he was crazy about Star Wars. He had posters up in his room and talked about the originals with us. So we went and I remember LOVING it. But my classmates… not so much. The boys were running around force-choking each other while the girls were complaining about how ‘lame’ it was. So I sunk down in my seat and tried to look bored while I watched, mesmerized.

I didn’t talk about my obsession with Star Wars again until my Junior year of high school. I didn’t tell anyone about how I read all of the books, watched the movies every weekend, bought the Star Wars Encyclopedia, or about how I wanted to marry Luke Skywalker and have his Jedi babies. Nope. That stayed between me, my pen pals (this was pre-internet/twitter/livejournal/facebook), my mother, and the librarian. I didn’t ‘come out’ of the Star Wars closet until Episode One came out and it was suddenly ‘cool’ to like Star Wars. Instead, I hid behind my horseback riding, my cheerleading, and my band practice.

So reading this book was crazy nostalgic for me. I understood how Maddie felt, and how badly she wanted to keep that side of herself hidden.

Enter a crisis where she can’t get the last issue of her favorite comic and has to go down to the local comic book store. She hides behind big sunglasses and a hoodie, but it doesn’t work and the boy working there, your basic geek-chic boy with Chuck Taylors and thick black glasses, notices her. This starts Maddie’s summer of lies as she starts to enjoy her true side while trying to balance her public side.

I so get it.

From hiding in the back of the comic book store to dressing up as an elf and attending her first LARP (something that’s personally not for me, but again, I totally respect those who are into it), she slowly begins to realize that… nobody gives a shit.

While this book had me from the start, a few things that I didn’t quite understand, or maybe would have liked to have seen more of is how Maddie would most defiantly have been living this double life online. She mentions at one point that she has her forums and her ‘geek’ twitter handle, and that she downloads comics… I mean, that’s how I survived for a long time (only through letters and eventually livejournal) and I would have liked to have seen her do a bit more with that.

My favorite part of this book, aside from the personal nostalgia, was the characters. I thought they were all well done and they all had me smiling and laughing at different points through the book. Maddie is a bit self absorbed and cares WAY too much about what others think of her (ahem… guilty as charged here… it wasn’t until last year that I actually said SCREW IT and finally, finally convinced myself to not give a shit about what other’s think of me. I mean, I used to hide my love of YA books by acting like I had to be into them for my job at Borders. Now look at me, blogging away…), I like how she was able to eventually see through her own BS and even called herself out on it a few times. Logan was great, I loved his voice and I could just picture him… in Maddie’s eyes he was this cute confident guy who knows who he is and what he likes, but then through the eyes of his mother and friends I could see that he’s really a shy boy who doesn’t know how to deal with things like girls and emotions. Logan’s little sister, Vera, was adorable and anytime she was on the page I was smiling and laughing at her. Dan, Logan’s best friend, was honest and hilarious. And I loved Logan’s mom. She really gave Maddie someone to look up to.

In the end when Maddie comes out of her own nerd closet I loved the reactions that she got. They were so true to life. Especially in this day and age. I do feel a bit conflicted on the current ‘nerd girl’ trend though. I know that a lot of the time when ‘pretty’ or ‘popular’ girls start coming out about their own nerdy hobbies girls who have never been quite about it seem to be quite hostile towards them. I’ve heard lots of stories about sexy girls doing cosplay or playing video games getting crap for only doing it to get guys or become popular. I’ve always hated the ‘point your finger at the poser’ thing. When I started to talk about my love of anime and Star Wars and all of the other ‘nerdy’ things that I love I didn’t get any hostile reactions, but I did feel that sometimes people were judging how ‘authentic’ I was. Working at Borders was a test of that at times, especially since I was in charge of the Young Adult section and a lot of the goth girls would look down their noses at me when I’d rec’ books to them and gush about vampires and fae.

Honestly though, I think the message that this book gives is the best. Just be yourself, love what you love, and screw everyone else. And don’t judge others and how ‘authentic’ they are. You don’t know their life, and if they’ve been living a secret double life.

I received this eARC from Netgalley and wrote and honest review to say THANK YOU!

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Monument 14

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Title: MONUMENT 14

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. 

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

Review: I LOVED THIS BOOK. I read it in my pre-travel OMG-I-HAVE-TO-FLY-ON-AN-AIRPLANE-FOR-TEN-HOURS-I-HOPE-I-DON’T-DIE anxiety. And you’d think that reading an ‘end of the world’ novel would have just pushed me further into my hysteria, but… it didn’t. This book sucked me in and distracted me for a full 24 hours pre-trip so I was able to cope.

Yes, I read this book in 24 hours. I did have to take a break to sleep, eat, pack, and go to work, but in all that in-between time I had my nose glued to my kindle as I read this.

I actually happened across this book by total chance. It was on sale in the kindle store (the only place and price I’m allowing myself to buy books these days) so I looked it up on Goodreads, saw that it was a disaster novel, and pushed the ‘BUY NOW’ button (my favorite button on the internet).

At exactly 3% into the story I was already updating my Goodreads page raving about it. THIS IS HOW YOU START AN APOCALYPSE. Kids on a school bus, giant pieces of ice falling from the sky. One plucky driver crashes her bus into the closes Mega-store and saves the kiddos. Well, only 14 of them. Must have been early on her bus route.

The story starts off with a bang and does NOT slow down. They go from super hail to the biggest earthquake in history, MEGAtsunamis, and a chemical weapons spill that I thought was pretty unique (for ya know, a chemical weapons spill).

Now, this was pretty much the only thing that bugged me… the earthquake. Maybe because I DID live through the ‘biggest earthquake in human history (two years ago on March 11th)’ I’m a bit sensitive to earthquake’s in fiction. This earthquake was bigger than the March 11th one, but they had NO aftershocks? And the building survived? I’m not a scientist, and I don’t know anything about earthquakes that happen because of MEGAtsunamis, but I do know that there are aftershocks (for years!) after huge quakes. So I tried not to let this bother me, but I did make a note about it.

Outside of the whole ‘world is ending’ portion of the novel, the heart of the story is how the kids survive inside of the giant Wal*Mart (that’s what I pictured anyway). The one adult goes to find help, leaving some teenagers in charge of a handful of Junior high and Elementary students. With only 14 kids we get A LOT of personality. And I loved these crazy kids. We had the adorable twins, the Spanish kid (who doesn’t speak English), a super religious boy (who kept telling everyone they were going to hell), a hilarious kid who’s basically lived the life of a 45 year old trucker (Max, he was my favorite. His stories about strippers and other random forms of ‘adult entertainment’ were hilarious). And then the ‘older’ kids; a couple of jocks, a popular girl, another girl who probably could have been the class president, a pre-teen who thought it was a great idea to try to dress sexy and try to get the older boys to hook up with her (her storyline was probably one of the most interesting and really knocked you in the gut, but man, there were times when I just wanted to scream at her and knock her down a few pegs), a boy scout, and then our narrator (who was kinda a nerd) and his computer-genius brother.

So all of these kids in this store… and things go from super fun (freedom and LOTS of candy), to Lord of the Flies. There are some tense moments and some truly terrifying moments. There are plays for power, moments were they have to choose who to trust, and even times when they’re just a bunch of stupid kids doing stupid things. And teens doing stupid teenager things.

I can’t say too much more without spoiling it, so just take my word for it and check out this book! The next one, MONUMENT 14: SKY ON FIRE comes out later this month, and I just found out that there’s also a short story. Super excited to check them both out!

 

Stacking the Shelves (2)

Stacking The Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

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For those of you who don’t know, I went to the USA last week and… ended up hauling THIRTEEN new books back to Japan with me. I hit up TWO bookstores on my trip (and would have gone to more if I’d had the time!) My grandmother purchased most of these books (as a belated birthday present) and I grabbed a few for myself… plus two eBooks… (If you count the image on the left you can see only 12 books, I didn’t include the Sarah Dessen book that I won since I posted it last week).

eBooks (purchased on sale!) include MONUMENT 14 and MOONGLASS

From my grandmother: THE WAY WE FALL, OPAL, CODA, IF I STAY, THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, THIS IS NOT A TEST, and WINTER GIRLS.

And for myself from myself (new releases!!!): UNBREAKABLE, THE PROGRAM, THE 5TH WAVE, and BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES.

Won: MILA 2.0 (I actually won Mila 2.0 back a few months ago, but my mother decided to read it when it arrived at my US address and then never handed it over until I got there…)

So that’s them! I kept freaking out that my suitcase was going to be over weight and hid a few in my husband’s suitcase (shhh, don’t tell him!) just incase. I mainly tried to keep to paperbacks since they’re heavy AND I don’t have that much space in my apartment to keep books. And since I wasn’t spending my OWN money for most of them I decided to give a few series that I’ve been wanting to read (but not sure I wanted to shell out the money for) a try. I’ve been on a major mix of disaster and contemporary, so that’s why you can see those two extremes. If I’d had the money/ luggage space I WOULD have grabbed ALLLLL the new releases, but it’s hard to justify that when I can get most of them on kindle for under $10 (and on sale if I’m lucky and wait a bit!)

I honestly don’t even know how to go about tackling this massive pile but so far I’ve read MILA 2.0 (check out my review here), MONUMENT 14 (five stars!!! It was SO good), and I’m 30% into MOONGLASS and on page 227 of THE 5TH WAVE.

But srsly, y’all don’t know how good it feels to have physical books again. It’s been TOO LONG!

Mila 2.0

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Title: Mila 2.0

Author: Debra Driza

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: Mila was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was a girl living with her mother in a small Minnesota town. She was supposed to forget her past—that she was built in a secret computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much and from a mysterious group that wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology. However, what Mila’s becoming is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own, and it just might save her life.

Review: I didn’t love this book, but I didn’t hate it either. I went into this book expecting a heart-pounding story of a girl who finds out that she’s really an android. Since it’s YA I expected romance and high school and angst. When I found a normal girl living a life very similar to one that I had when I was a teen I was surprised. This wasn’t how I expected it to start. And then from then on it was nothing like I expected… and I’m not sure if it was good or not.

The things that I liked about this were in the details. How Mila was just a normal girl adjusting to a new town, the loss of her father, and navigating the catty girls of high school. (I actually felt that the book could have used MORE of this post-Android realization)

But then enter mystery boy. Who I waited the ENTIRE BOOK to be something mind blowing and instead… he wasn’t even in the book for 90% of the time. Instead of him being: a) an android, b) a member of the military/ secret organization/ mole or c) a certain someone’s brother he was just… a boy that Mila met and fell for way too quickly and thought about way too much. Mystery boy drove me nuts and her ‘feelings’ for him just felt so unjustified.

I also really liked how it was Mila and her mom vs the bad guys. Not Mila and mystery boy (which is how most YA is). I liked some of the side characters, and some of the action scenes. But I didn’t really connect with anyone, nor did I feel that overly emotional towards any of the scenes where I felt I should have.

I do like how there are a few things that got left in the wind because I want to find out about them (like the birthstone necklace and the random calling Mila by a different name at one point, Lucas ). I didn’t really buy the ending with mystery boy and I’m holding my breath a LITTLE bit longer to wait and see if he does turn out to be something mind blowing. Because really.

I do plan on reading the next book, I just hope it gets a bit more exciting and that I can connect with the characters more than I did this time around.

I won this ARC from Goodreads First Reads giveaway and wrote an honest review to say thank you. I know this book came out in March, but my mother got ahold of it before I did, so that’s why my review is a little late. This review was written based on the ARC that I received.

Eleven

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  1.     Legend – Marie Lu — ★★★
  2.     The Deepest Night – Shana Abe (eARC) — ★★★★★
  3.     The Collector – Victoria Scott (eARC) — ★★★★
  4.     Requiem – Lauren Oliver — ★★★
  5.     Scarlet – Marissa Meyer — ★★★★
  6.     What Really Happened in Peru – Cassandra Clare — ★★★
  7.     The Memory of After – Lenore Appelhans — ★★★
  8.     Half-Blood – Jennifer L. Armentrout — ★★★★
  9.     Obsidian – Jennifer L. Armentrout — ★★★
  10.   Onyx – Jennifer L. Armentrout — ★★★★
  11.   Golden – Jessi Kirby — ★★★★★
  
ELEVEN BOOKS THIS MONTH HOLY CRAP. And that’s with a DNF thrown in (sorry Perception, but after 30% and I still don’t feel anything for you? Into the pile you go…) 
 
I’m not even sure HOW I read so many… I guess a lot of my TV shows took a break and then I just got so into reading that when the TV shows came back I put them off… (that and The Vampire Diaries is boring me SO much this season). So I read and read and read. AND I was good about not buying any new releases. I did manage to grab a lot of sales, and I treated myself to the J. Armentrout books for my birthday. 
 
Thanks to the sales I was able to start and catch up on some of the more popular series. Legend, Lunar Chronicles, and Delirium… all very popular and yet they fell kinda flat for me. So I’m glad that I didn’t spend much on them.
 
As I already blogged before, I LOVED HALF-BLOOD (hence the image!) and I can’t wait to pick up the rest of the series in paperback when I go to the USA later this week. I also somehow got addicted to the LUX novels despite the first one reminding me a lot of a certain book that shall not be named… 
 
I throughly enjoyed THE COLLECTOR and wrote a huge review on goodreads, so click on the link to check that out if you like bad boys with hearts of gold. For the dragon fans, check out Abe’s YA dragon series. I read the 2nd book in that and was just in love with the simple beauty of everything.
 
My biggest disappointment was THE BANE CHRONICLES. HUGE HUGE HUGE Mortal Instruments  Infernal Devices fan here. I adore Magnus. And was so excited for this series. I was disappointed with 40 pages of blah for 2.99 though. This was not the story of Magnus I was looking for! I’m going to give the next one a shot to see if my mind changes, and if not, I’m going to wait and buy the whole thing when it’s finished.
 
Annnnnnd~ My favorite this month was GOLDEN. I’m so glad that I got a copy of that (and y’all MUST READ IT ASAP!). Scroll down for my full review. 
 
So that’s my April book round-up! Also, as I’m sure most of you have noticed, I’ve started to convert this blog into a book review blog! I don’t know why but I suddenly became interested in blogging again and really wanted to update and share my reviews and recommendations. For those of you who don’t know, I used to blog about life in Japan/ fashion, but quit that blog in lieu of this blog which… I never updated since my life in rural Japan is pretty boring. The most exciting thing I do is read… so here we are. 
 
ALSO, I used to work at Borders Bookstores (back before I came here for school and then in between finishing school and finding a job and moving back to Japan) and I loved it and miss it. I was the Young Adult section expert, which I’m sure is reflected in my reading habits. I really miss working in a bookstore (and I used to actually face/ straighten books when I would go to Kinokuniya in Shinjuku… shhhh, don’t tell) and getting excited about new releases and awesome books. So that’s part of what led to this…
 
I don’t have any great ambitions for this blog (like I did with my last one) so don’t expect me to become the ultimate book blogger or anything. I’m probably going to be super random and do whatever I want but… that’s why I moved to this blog in the first place. So far I’m having fun and don’t feel any pressure (like I did with my last blog). 
 
Now I’m off to the USA for a week! Have to leave early tomorrow morning and I plan on buying a million books while I’m there! I also get to pick up some of my contest winnings (which my mother has been keeping for me and reading in the meantime)