loving . . . going bovine

Going Bovine Going Bovine by Libba Bray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit that Going Bovine surprised me–it’s quite the departure from the Gemma Doyle Trilogy! But Libba Bray’s newest tale is a madcap adventure that, at times, makes you sad, but always makes you glad to be alive. With Going Bovine, Bray seems to have found her voice: hysterically funny, intelligent, daring, and delightfully unapologetic. Any author who can work “epic fail” and a Disney ride so lame that it’s cool into her book is definitely in touch with her inner teen. I hope Bray continues to write stories this well-developed and satisfying.

That said, Going Bovine is not for everyone. It takes a certain appreciation for the mad non-sequiter to be able to love the twists and turns in this story. If you enjoy David Foster Wallace’s work, you might really like this one.

loving . . . peace, love, and baby ducks

Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anyone who has ever had a sister will find some moment in Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks that resonates with them. This was one of the most enjoyable “real world” young adult books that I’ve ever read. The voice was compelling and, as a whole, it simply rang true to me in a way that few books of this sort do. Lauren Myracle has a way with words and an ability to delve to the heart of her characters’ situation (in a YA novel) in a way that I’ve previously only discovered in John Green’s writing.

My little sister, Tine, just finished this book, and she also liked it. Although, she is quick to point out, it doesn’t compare to TTYL! She prefers the Lauren’s more light-hearted works.

loving . . . maggie quinn

Prom Dates from Hell (Maggie Quinn: Girl vs Evil)Hell Week (Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil) Highway to Hell

Prom Dates from Hell, Hell Week, and Highway to Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore
My rating on all three books: 5 of 5 stars

Prom Dates from Hell
How much do I love Maggie Quinn? So much! This is the answer to my Buffy withdrawal. Finally! Maggie (intrepid photojournalist and resident psychic), Lisa (our future overlord), and Justin (knight in shining sneakers) are new-found friends that I look forward to meeting again. Clement-Moore can write snappy dialogue, intense plots, and true-to-life relationships (with a huge dose of paranormal) just as well as any of the Buffy and Angel writers. (I love that she constantly references those shows! Yes, I’m celebrating in my own special geekdom over here.)

Hell Week
I sped through this book immediately on the heels of Prom Dates from Hell, and enjoyed it just as much, if not more. Clement-Moore’s fast-paced and amazingly original story, as well as the characters I now love, have me hooked. I appreciated that she stuck true to the outcome and carried through with the consequences of the events in Prom, namely the damage to Maggie and Lisa’s relationship.

Highway to Hell
It’s Maggie Quinn vs. el chupacabra! Every series needs a good road trip, and Lisa and Maggie’s is a doozy. One notable addition is Justin’s priest-in-training friend Henry, only mentioned in previous books. Henry adds a nice skeptical balance to our trio of believers, and I sincerely hope he makes an appearance in the next book. Now we have our heroine (our chosen one–not capitalized!), our sorceress, our hero/knight, and our priest. Excellent! The second notable addition to this series is the intensification of Maggie’s role in the universe — clearly she has a Purpose (yes, that one’s capitalized). Can’t wait to see where this goes.

I haven’t mentioned yet how much I love the artwork for this series. I would love a set of posters with these drawings on it. Chris agrees that these need to hang in our house somewhere.

loving . . . the hunger games

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Suzanne Collins’ view of a post-apocalyptic America, divided into twelve districts, is nothing short of revolutionary. The Hunger Games begins with a simple enough premise: twenty-four teens are chosen to participate in what is essentially a reality show. It’s also a test of survival, a show of political power by a corrupt government, and a proving ground for the worst traits in human nature where surviving may mean losing your humanity.

The Hunger Games is full of gripping, luminous characters that worm their way under your skin–or, in Katniss’ case, bulldoze their way in–and leave you needing more time with them. But not only is it the characters you see that make an impression: the entire country is watching these kids struggle to overcome the Gamemakers, the elements, and each other. It makes you wonder who these people are and how they can condone this year after year. It also makes you think about exactly how close we are to becoming this very society.

This book is the best I’ve read so far this year. The waiting list, at my library at least, is a testament to how popular this book is among teens, and adults should not overlook it. If you can’t get it at your local library, buy it. It’s more than worth it.

loving . . . strange angels

Strange Angels (Strange Angels #1) Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Strange Angels is a fun start to a series that will appeal to any fan of Cassandra Clare or Scott Westerfeld . . . or the movie Underworld, which it more closely resembles. St. Crow delivers a tightly-written, fast-paced, novel full of paranormal action that exceeds the expectations set by the blurb on the back. I went in expecting the usual vampire/shifter/girl love triangle. And I got something so much better.

Despite the vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc. that inhabit St. Crow’s world, at the heart of this book is Dru’s struggle with intimacy and the way she is forced to accept others into her life, which she is so not ready to do. Graves’ and Dru’s relationship makes this book, while the action keeps it moving along. But, beyond that, there’s also the intriguing and unique spin that St. Crow has put on vampire lore–one that is better than Stephanie Meyers’. I will definitely pick up the next one in the series.

loving . . . the forest of hands and teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I sat down with an advanced copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth around midnight on Friday night, expecting to be able to put it down after a chapter and pick it up again in the morning. Yeah, that was a mistake. Around 3:00 in the morning, I turned off the light. And lay there, wide awake, thinking about this book, for another hour.

Carrie Ryan’s tale is one that will get in your head and refuse to leave–it is truly one of the most haunting tales I’ve read in a very long time. I described it to a friend as “a movie producer’s dream mash-up of The Village and 28 Days Later, only better.” I would recommend this book to any girl who loves a good chilling tale.

Carrie read this review, originally posted on GoodReads, and let me know that the sequel, The Dead Tossed Waves, will be out next year.