Category Archives: individual reads

Extras (Uglies #4) by Scott Westerfeld

Extras (Uglies, #4)


Extras (Uglies #4) by Scott Westerfeld

Hardcover, 417 pages

Published October 2nd 2007 by Simon Pulse (first published January 1st 2007)

~Rating: 3/5 stars~


It’s a few years after rebel Tally Youngblood took down the uglies/pretties/specials regime. Without those strict roles and rules, the world is in a complete cultural renaissance. “Tech-heads” flaunt their latest gadgets, “kickers” spread gossip and trends, and “surge monkeys” are hooked on extreme plastic surgery. And it’s all monitored on a bazillion different cameras. The world is like a gigantic game of American Idol. Whoever is getting the most buzz gets the most votes. Popularity rules. As if being fifteen doesn’t suck enough, Aya Fuse’s rank of 451,369 is so low, she’s a total nobody. An extra. But Aya doesn’t care; she just wants to lie low with her drone, Moggle. And maybe kick a good story for herself. Then Aya meets a clique of girls who pull crazy tricks, yet are deeply secretive of it. Aya wants desperately to kick their story, to show everyone how intensely cool the Sly Girls are. But doing so would propel her out of extra-land and into the world of fame, celebrity…and extreme danger.

A world she’s not prepared for


Extras starts 3 year after Specials. It’s the same world, but different characters. This one revolves around Aya and her friends. They live in a city in Japan where popularity, or face rank as they call it, is what matters.

Aya Fuse is a 15 year old ugly living in a city whose inhabitants will do anything to raise their “face rank”, a listing that shows who is the most popular in the city and confers upon them special benefits befitting the famous. In an effort to get out of the ranks of unnamed extras, Aya goes undercover to break a story about a group of rebellious girls who are largely considered to be an urban legend. Instead, she finds herself involved in a massive story about alien-like creatures who are apparently plotting to destroy the world.

I didn’t like this one as much as the others. I kind of missed Tally and I found this city very strange and a bit excessive. Aya wasn’t as likeable as Tally. She was self-centered and not very intelligent. Aya and her friends are as shallow as you would expect residents of their city to be. I just couldn’t connect to the plot as well and I don’t think it added much to the series overall.

I loved the initial three books but truly found this add-on to be an “extra”! What drove the Uglies plotline so well was the buildup and suspense about what would finally happen to Tally. Although Extras presents an interesting and consistent plot, it has none of the pull of the original trilogy.

However, despite everything, the book was not a total loss. It was still a fun and light read.


~Author Bio~

Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling American-born author of YA sci-fi literature. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier.

His book Evolution’s Darling was a New York Times Notable Book, and won a Special Citation for the 2000 Philip K. Dick Award. So Yesterday won a Victorian Premier’s Award and Midnighters 1: The Secret Hour won an Aurealis Award. Peeps and Uglies were both named as Best Books for Young Adults 2006 by the American Library Association.

~Author Links~

Twitter | FacebookWebsite | Goodreads


Happy Reading!

-Cassandra @SoManyBooksSoLittleTime



I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

 Title: I am Number four

Author Pittacus Lore 

Rating: 4.8/5 Stars 

In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now.

The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.

I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.



From the planet Lorien came nine aliens, though you wouldn’t know they were aliens just by looking at them. They are constantly having to live on the run, have fake aliases, and not trust anyone, because the Mogadorians are after them, seeking to kill them.

I Am Number Four was fast-paced, exciting, and adventurous. It got so suspenseful that I couldn’t even rip my eyes off the page for a single second.


I thought the characters were very well developed, and I felt like I knew them like I know my best friends.

I thought Four and Sarah’s little romance was really cute. 🙂

I also loved to see who actually stepped up to help fight in the end of the book; it was a pleasant surprise.


There’s been a lot of controversy over this book, and who actually wrote it, but whoever did write it did a wonderful job.

I Am Number Four was the perfect mix of suspense, adventure, humor, and romance. I can’t wait to read the sequel, and the rest of the books in the series, just so that I can devour more of this style of writing.


The ending was crazy-good. The last one hundred fifty pages were full of action, and it was all very fast-paced to the point where I basically read the last half of the book in one sitting.


I love the simplicity of the cover, and how striking it is. The little swirly things are also raised, so it feels cool. 😀

Lovely Line:

Sam runs into his room and comes out with a backpack. He sets it on the kitchen counter and goes to change his clothes. I peer inside of it. There is a crucifix, a few cloves of garlic, a wooden stake, a hammer, a blob of Silly Putty, and a pocketknife.

“You do realize these people aren’t vampires, right?” I say when Sam walks back in.

“Yeah, but you never know. They’re probably crazy, like you said.”

“And even if we were hunting vampires, what the hell is the Silly Putty for?”

He shrugs. “Just want to be prepared.”

(Page 220)

The Final Verdict:

This book is just so amazing. This book is a definite must-read. 

– Cassandra @SMBSLT~


1 Comment

Posted by on December 17, 2013 in individual reads


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Miracle by Elizabeth Scott



Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Simon Pulse
ISBN 1442417064 (ISBN13: 9781442417069)
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Megan survived the plane crash—but can she survive the aftermath? An intense, emotional novel from the author ofThe Unwritten Rule and Between Here and Forever.Megan is a miracle. At least, that’s what everyone says. Having survived a plane crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. But the truth is, she doesn’t feel like a miracle. In fact, she doesn’t feel anything at all. Then memories from the crash start coming back.

Scared and alone, Megan doesn’t know whom to turn to. Her entire community seems unable—or maybe unwilling—to see her as anything but Miracle Megan. Everyone except for Joe, the beautiful boy next door with a tragic past and secrets of his own. All Megan wants is for her life to get back to normal, but the harder she tries to live up to everyone’s expectations, the worse she feels. And this time, she may be falling too fast to be saved….

Megan is the miracle. The one who lived. The anomaly. The result of something that happens once in a lifetime. She is the sole survivor of a plane crush. But as much as Megan keeps hearing she is a “miracle” all she wants is for people to stop praising her as a hero for being alive. Megan isn’t happy or ecstatic that she is alive. She is mostly empty actually. Especially since she can’t remember what happened. She just knows she is afraid of trees now and keeps envisioning fire. One of the weirdest things is that one person doesn’t seem to just want to talk to her about the crash, Joe. The guy next door who has his own tragic story people can’t seem to look past either.I’d have to say that this book is well-written, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard to read it at first. I believe it’s because I couldn’t like Megan because people are not their best after a horrific event. I’m usually invested in the main character rather quickly and since I didn’t know Megan before the crash so it was difficult for me to rally some compassion for her. But Scott handles Megan’s story with a deft hand. She seems to know what buttons to push, which is all of them. I could feel Megan’s emptiness and the vague feeling that she should do something about this hollowness she has. She drops soccer, her grades plummet, she loses her friends but she can’t seem to find the energy to care. As the reader you know she is experiencing trauma, but she doesn’t exactly know that since she can’t remember the crash.

I think the family dynamic was done superbly. It’s kind of awful and I know that makes it sound like it wasn’t good, but it’s the truth of the situation. Megan’s parents love and care about her but don’t know how to handle her. It’s truly heartbreaking seeing them try so hard but failing miserably. Despite the description of the story Joe is not a big part of the story. He does help to give some normalcy to the story. For a person like me, who is too normal for her own good, I needed that.

So the verdict is that I thought the story was done well, especially dealing with a subject like trauma. It never felt melodramatic, and things didn’t seem added for dramatic flair. And though I didn’t always feel a great amount of sympathy for Megan I knew I had to see what happened to the girl everybody called a miracle.

Happy Reading!

~Ana @SoManyBooksSoLittleTime~


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Lucky by Alice Sebold



256 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Scribner (first published September 16th 2002)
ISBN 0684857820 (ISBN13: 9780684857824)
rating: 3.5/5 stars
In a memoir hailed for its searing candor and wit, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was utterly transformed when, as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus. What propels this chronicle of her recovery is Sebold’s indomitable spirit-as she struggles for understanding (“After telling the hard facts to anyone, from lover to friend, I have changed in their eyes”); as her dazed family and friends sometimes bungle their efforts to provide comfort and support; and as, ultimately, she triumphs, managing through grit and coincidence to help secure her attacker’s arrest and conviction. In a narrative by turns disturbing, thrilling, and inspiring, Alice Sebold illuminates the experience of trauma victims even as she imparts wisdom profoundly hard-won: “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.”
A harrowing tale, indeed. “It is not just forcible intercourse; rape means to inhabit and destroy everything” (p.123). No wonder it had taken so long for Alice to come to terms with it. Such brutal destruction of everything one knew and was could not be overcome quickly or easily. I found I had to stop reading at intervals to recover my equanimity.The reactions of the people surrounding her I found fascinating. What does one say to the victim? Certainly not “I guess this will make you less inhibited about sex now, huh?” (p.77). You’d think a therapist could have done better than that.

I think I’d like to read The Lovely Bones again having read this memoir. I didn’t give it much of a review or rating when I read it & I wonder if I would feel any different on a second reading. Terry Gross asks an interesting question at the end of Lucky:

TG: I got the impression that the kind of moment-by-moment description of the brutality that’s in your memoir is something you felt didn’t belong in this new novel, in the description of the brutality that this fourteen-year-old face.

AS: Yeah. I mean, the funny thing is that I did write the beginning of The Lovely Bonesbefore I wrote my memoir, so the violent crime that occurs in Susie‘s life happened, in terms of writing about it, before a description of my rape was written by me later. I think to separate the two stories, to make sure that Susie was not doing any of my work for me when I returned to the novel, I stopped to write Lucky. And one of the things that was very important for me to do was to get all the facts of my case down, so they had been written, they existed whole in a whole other book, and I could go back to Susie and she could lead me where she wanted to take me and tell me her story in the way she wanted to tell it, as opposed to me feeling perhaps that I needed to really tell the real deal about every detail of rape and violence. I did that in the memoir as opposed to the novel because I wanted my characters to rule the novel, not some sort of want to talk about rape and show rape to readers.

I thought this memoir was well-written and gripping, and despite the distressing content it was worth the effort

Happy Reading!

~Ana @SoManyBooksSoLittleTime~


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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
368 pages
Published September 30th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2002)
ISBN 0316044938 (ISBN13: 9780316044936
Rating: 4/5
“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”
So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her — her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy.
“These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections – sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at a great cost, but often magnificent – that happened after I was gone.”I hardly ever read books when they are first released. I always seem to be a few years behind, for whatever reason. Sometimes this works to my advantage, as it allows me to avoid a degree of hype that surrounds certain books. I do remember seeing the blue cover of The Lovely Bones on shelves in every bookstore when it was released a few years ago and seeing mentions on best-sellers lists. But I didn’t take much interest in it because, sometimes, when a book/movie/album gets so many rave reviews, I’ll expect it to blow me through the roof and will end up disappointed when it’s only mildly entertaining or moving (see: The Time Traveler’s Wife).

I prefer to go in with low expectations and let myself be surprised with greatness. Not that I’m a bitter person or anything. Not at all. Ok, I’m working on it.

Anyway, I was visiting my tiny local library for the first time, searching for a book to check out, when I saw the blue spine peaking out from the shelf. Since I had already read the few classics they had in stock, and don’t really go for Harlequin romance, I took Alice Sebold home with me. Much to my surprise, I finished the book in a day’s time.

It wasn’t so much Sebold’s writing style, which is good but not spectacular, or even the tinges of mystery in the plot that captivated me. It was the raw human emotion that she so perfectly conveyed through each character. The characters felt real—both their positive qualities and their shortcomings. The pain, confusion, regret, and maybe even hope that they each felt in their own ways really impacted me.

The Lovely Bones is the story of a young girl who is raped and murdered in her neighborhood. She speaks to the reader from her version of heaven (it can be different for each person), and looks over her family as they unravel after the tragic event. Perhaps it had something to do with my already delicate state (I was home sick while reading) but the book managed to make me cry. More than once. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that, and the book snob in me would prefer to believe I am “above” sentimental plot devices, but to be honest—the book is just really sad.

I also liked the subtle message of hope that carries through the novel, without reading like a “Chicken Soup” book. The ending isn’t the overly hokey “I will survive” type, and still has a shade of melancholy, but seems to say that even through utter grief and personal devastation, life goes on.


Happy Reading!

~Ana @SoManyBooksSoLittleTime~

1 Comment

Posted by on November 29, 2013 in individual reads


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Goddess of Legend (Goddess Summoning #7) by P.C. Cast

Goddess of Legend (Goddess Summoning, #7)

Goddess of Legend (Goddess Summoning #7)

Rating: 5/5
After her car plummets off a bridge, Isabel, a world-weary photojournalist, struggles between life and death when she’s saved by the Water Goddess-with one tiny caveat: Isabel must travel to another time to seduce the legendary Lancelot du Lac away from Queen Guinevere. The handsome knight is a dream for any woman in any century. But Isabel is the one who’s seduced by King Arthur. For Isabel, a deal is a deal. Now, the King watches as fate takes from him the mysterious beauty he has come to worship, knowing all too well that any interference on his part could destroy the kingdom he loves.
My thoughts:
This book was really good. When I bought this from the bookshop I’d never heard of it before and I was very disappointed when I got home and realised it was book number 7 in The Goddess series, however I decided to read it regardless and I’m so glad I did. It was fabulous. I’ve only ever read P.C. Cast’s House of Night series, but I actually think I liked this more. 
I was interested from the very beginning and the whole tale was beautiful and funny, and had me in stitches at times. The whole idea of a woman travelling back in time to Camelot and the time of King Arthur was excellent, as I’ve always loved Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table legends. 
All the characters were brilliant! Isabel, Arthur, Gwen, Lancelot, Mary, James…even Mordred. 
I adored Isabel….simply adored her! She honestly was an above average heroine. She was smart, brave, witty, funny and so totally unique. I’ve never seen a heroine quite like her! She is defiantly one of a kind. Isabel had such a great view on life and the way people should act. She was honest and loyal and wonderful to read about. 
One of the most interesting things about this book was the love triangle….square. Isabel was originally sent back to seduce Lancelot away from Genevieve so that she didn’t leave and hurt King Arthur, only Isabel fell in love with Arthur instead, and he with her. So both couples were together and Gwen and Isabel became the best of friends…… so strange. The thing that made it so incredible was that Arthur cared about Genevieve and still loved her enough that he actually wanted her to be with Lancelot, who he loved like a son, and didn’t want to see her persecuted and harmed even though she had cheated on him. I think if it hadn’t been that Arthur was such a great, kind man he would have wanted harm to come to his wife….but he didn’t. He only wanted the best for everyone. He truly was a great character and a good, loving man. I was so happy he and Isabel found one another. I thought it was great how Isabel took modern things like pants for women and sports and immersed them with Camelot. Seriously, King Arthur and the people of Camelot had NO IDEA what they were in for when Isabel turned up. She turned their whole world upside down. In a good way, of course. 
Another thing I enjoyed reading about was the relationship Isabel developed with Mary. It was beautiful. It was so cute watching her try and get Mary to treat her and think of her as a normal person, not as a countess. I loved how they became friends and how Isabel made Mary come out of her shell. It was wonderful. I also loved the friendship that developed between Isabel, Mary and Gwen. Honestly, some of the things they talked about…… I’ll never be able to look at pickles quite the same way again. *Blushes* (It’s an inside joke. If you’ve ever read this book you’ll get it.) The only thing I actually found I didn’t like about this book was the ending. I HATED it! After everything Isabel had been through she still wound up back in her own time in the end. I wanted her to stay in Camelot and marry Arthur and live happily ever after. But did she get to do that? No! She had to go back to modern day Oklahoma. Yes, she was rescued by ‘King Arthur’ and his son ‘Mordred’, and even though Mary and James and Gwen were all new variations of themselves….it wasn’t the same. I just feel so cheated and it puts a damper, on what I thought was an otherwise brilliant book. It’s not the same Arthur and the same Mary, etc. They were who they were because of their time and their notions and actions that went with being from that time. I LOVED this book up until the ending… I just wanna scream with frustration. *sigh* I’m just so disappointed. 
Still, I enjoyed it and I recommend it. I’ll definitely be trying to read the rest of the Goddess series…… 
-Cassie @SoManyBooksSoLittleTime

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)
Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth
Rating: 3.7/5 Stars
In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her. Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.
Any book that arrives heavily hyped usually has a ton of marketing power behind it. Sure, there are critical reviews to consider, but these days consumers are more aware than ever of the dollars at stake behind book and film negotiations. Which means that there’s a lot of pressure riding on any book to live up to its promise, particularly one that comes from a 23-year-old author who has already landed a 3-book deal and signed away the movie rights. After so many big dollar and wearisome projects such as Halo or Matched, it’s a pleasure to find that every once in awhile, there’s a good reason behind the fanfare. Divergent is the fast-paced, action-packed story of 16-year-old Tris, who comes from one of the five factions in a dystopian Chicago. She must choose one of the factions–Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Dauntless (bravery), Amity (peacefulness), or Erudite (intelligence)–to live in and serve for the remainder of her life. Tris makes the decision to leave her old faction, Abenegation, in favor of Dauntless, and the majority of the book focuses on the dangerous trials that the new initiates must endure in order to find out whether they qualify to stay. Failure means living a factionless life–or death. The very concept of the novel, however, asks that readers accept a fairly rigid framework for the story. This idea that human beings would sublimate their natural instincts to live in a society where a single virtue is promoted is pretty farfetched; it reminds me of various Star Trek alien races known for a single prevailing characteristic, but at least they are also usually presented along with certain instincts and behaviors that made sense. The division between the factions here doesn’t really serve much of a purpose, and is simply explained away as people who chose a lifestyle based on differences in philosophy. Even within the factions, the doctrines don’t really hold up under scrutiny–members of Dauntless, for example, are forever indulging in reckless, pointless exercises that are more about posturing than about testing their mettle. But the thing is, the book is really fun to read. Most of the trials are pretty well thought-out, with scene after scene of nerve-wracking physical and mental tests. I liked the interplay between Tris’ fellow initiates, who cautiously bond with each other but also have to look on each other as rivals, and I liked the mysterious and attractive Four, as well as the way her family members’ characters eventually revealed themselves. Tris herself I had a harder time connecting to, as she’s physically very capable but mentally and emotionally it’s more difficult to say whether she belongs on my “butt-kicking heroines” shelf. Some of her actions also ended up being more self-centered than I expected, mostly because I think the author was trying to show the change in Tris’ morphing from Abegnation to Dauntless. But she and Four also make a huge tactical error at a crucial scene late in the book, which negates both Dauntless’ philosophy and their training. I’m also not sure that several of the deaths later in the book had the appropriate emotional impact, though there were several other scenes that made me yelp. Let’s just say that I gave my knife some pretty fishy looks at the dinner table last night. Still, I had a really good time reading this book, and there’s a lot to be said for books that are just plain entertaining. Many of my fellow readers have major issues with the world-building and the plot holes, and I can’t say that I disagree with most of the criticisms I’ve seen. It’s certainly not in the same category as The Hunger Games; it’s closer to light entertainers such as Blood Red Road or Legend, but I think we often do ourselves a disservice when we endlessly make those kinds of comparisons. It’s always important to read with a critical eye–and it’s true that with more attention to detail, this book might have been even better–but I don’t feel that getting hung up on criticism or comparisons should get in the way of enjoying a book when so many of the other elements do work well. For me, the positives of this adventure outweigh the negatives and in the end, Divergent is still loads of fun to read. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes next!
-Kathy @SMBSLT

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