Review: Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Book: Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
Published: Hyperion, 2009
Genre: YA/ Paranormal
Pages: 352 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): When Alexis's little sister Kasey becomes obsessed with an antique doll, Alexis thinks nothing of it. Kasey is a weird kid. Period. Alexis is considered weird, too, by the kids in her high school, by her parents, even by her own Goth friends. Things get weirder, though, when the old house they live in starts changing. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in. Kasey is changing, too. Her blue eyes go green and she speaks in old-fashioned language, then forgets chunks of time.
Most disturbing of all is the dangerous new chip on Kasey's shoulder. The formerly gentle, doll-loving child is gone, and the new Kasey is angry. Alexis is the only one who can stop her sister — but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?

My thoughts: Bad Girls Don't Die was one of those completely unputdownable books. It has the appeal of a classic ghost story with plenty of twists and turns in the plot. Our protagonist, Alexis, is somewhat of a self-proclaimed outcast at school and is notorious for causing trouble. Her parents don't pay much attention to her and her younger sister has been acting stranger everyday. When weird, unexplainable things start happening in their big, haunted looking house, Alexis begins to suspect the paranormal.

I've always loved scaring myself with ghost stories but it's been awhile since I've read one that really got me spooked. There is almost nothing creepier to me than a doll that comes to life or a child that is possessed. A child possessed by an evil spirit living in a tattered doll hidden somewhere in a creepy old house? It's like Alender looked into my worst nightmares. Needless to say I read Bad Girls Don't Die with the lights on and was spooked by every little noise I heard. I kept thinking about the old American Girl doll I have back at home in my closet and how I was really glad it wasn't at my apartment with me because I would probably have to throw it in the trash!

The characters also had more depth than a lot of the paranormal books I've read. Alexis hung out with the goth kids at school but didn't really fit in anywhere. It was refreshing to read about such a smart main character. I also felt a connection to her because of her interest in photography. It's always nice to read a book about such a likable character. Megan, the popular cheerleader, also turned out to be so much more than just a ditzy teenager and the friendship that develops between the two of them is really interesting. Kasey seemed like a realistic 13 year old girl struggling to hold onto her childhood. Despite her sister's odd behavior, Alexis is still very protective of her, even when she discovers Kasey is not really Kasey anymore. I loved that even though they weren't the picture perfect family, there was still such a sense of family values. Alexis is one of the most level headed characters I've read about.

Bad Girls Don't Die also stood out from other paranormal young adult books because there wasn't an overwhelming amount of sex. There was the flirtatious relationship between Alexis and Carter but it felt more realistic to the way high school romances often play out. It took some time for them to get to know each other and they had their share of setbacks. I love that Alender used a minimal amount of romance and was able to focus on the paranormal aspect of the story.

There is a sequel to Bad Girls Don't Die that will be released later this year. I'm interested to see the direction Alender takes the second novel and will definitely be running out to grab it right away!

My rating: 4 stars 

Also posted at The Broke and the Bookish. 


The Great Reading Funk of 2011

I apologize for being MIA over the last few weeks. I was in the middle of reading Awaken on Netgalley when it expired on me and then I started The Devil In The White City which has caused me to fall into what I'm now referring to as The Great Reading Funk of 2011. Non-fiction is so not my thing but I just can't seem to quit on a book. I'm a little over half way through now but I had to take a break to read something else, so a new review will be coming your way soon.

So, what do you guys do to get through your reading slumps?

In the meantime, here is a photo of me smiling like a goof because I am so happy that I finally bought a new bike. I rode 16 miles on Saturday afternoon!


Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

Book: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
Published: Dutton Juvenile, 2010
Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 310 pages
Where I got it: got an e-book for my Nook
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

My thoughts: It seems like there has been an influx of collaborative novels for young adults recently. I find it so fascinating the way two authors are able to create such a coherent story by writing their sections seperately, sending it off to the other and continuing on with the rest of the story in that manner. It reminds me of one of those choose your own adventure books. As long as we're being honest here, my friends and I used to write Hanson fanfiction in middle school in this same way (hahaha....) Yes, I was a huge nerd. The difference was that ours didn't make much sense when thrown together.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson takes the collaborative novel a step further by giving both characters the same name. Typically I think this would get pretty confusing but they make it easy to tell the difference by using proper capitalization for one and all lowercase for the other. This is one of the first books I have read where one of the main characters is so openly and fabulously gay. John Green's Will Grayson (capital WG) was much more entertaining for me. I loved the struggling friendship between he and his best friend, (the not so tiny) Tiny Cooper. Tiny's musical, "Tiny Dancer", added plenty of humor to some pretty heavy subject matter. The flirtatious relationship between capital WG and Tiny's friend, Jane was incredibly adorable. It reminded me so much of how it felt to be a teenager and have a new crush on someone.

It took some time for me to warm up to David Levithan's Will Grayson (lowercase WG). I thought he was too angsty and overall came off as not a very nice guy. I started liking him better when the two Will Grayson's meet. Their meeting was all sorts of hilarious and awkward and I loved it. They get to talking and lowercase WG is introduced to Tiny, who of course falls for him and introduces him to his wonderful gay world. I thought it was somewhat unbelievable that after this meeting it was fairly easy for lowercase WG to come out of the closet to everyone, although I did think it was nice to see a character I hadn't previously cared much for have the guts to make such a bold move. I still found him a little annoying at times but he really made it for it when he made such an effort to show Tiny how he felt in the end and was able to work together with capital WG.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson throws a lot of emotions at the reader but it's got enough comedy and anticipation that it's not a book you feel like you have to muddle through. I enjoyed the different love stories and the ups and downs of the friendships. It was a very realistic look at how friendships and teenage romance can change so drastically in high school. I think it's harder to read a book like this now that I'm in my mid-twenties and don't really relate to the angsty teenage crap anymore. As a teen, I would have most likely given Will Grayson, Will Grayson 4 or 5 stars.

My rating: 3 stars


Top Ten Tuesday - Books I had to buy but are still on my bookshelf

It's been awhile since I've participated in Top Ten Tuesday and I have to say I miss it! I know I'm pretty late today but work sucks up most of my time these days. Better late than never, I guess. This week we are talking about the top ten books we just had to buy but are still sitting, lonely and unread on our bookshelf. I have way too many of those!

1. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath - I had this on my wishlist for awhile and finally bought it. I was super excited to get started on it and I still am, yet it remains on my shelf untouched.

2. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King - I've only owned a copy of this for a few months but after all of the wonderful things I heard about it, I had to order it immediately.

3. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky - I think this book has been on my shelf for at least two years. For some reason I keep skipping over it. I enjoy anything set during World War II so I'm not even sure why I'm putting off reading this.

4. The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson - another book that's been on my bookshelf for years. This was a recommendation by my boyfriend's dad. I remember being pretty excited to read this when I first got it and then it was kind of forgotten.

5. Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris - This book is probably the one I have been most excited about reading. It was on my wishlist for a long time and then I finally got a copy from my secret santa (2 Christmas' ago now, I think). I have no idea why I haven't read it. I think I'm going to move this up to the top of my pile because I really do want to read this soon.

6. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith - I wanted to read this one pretty bad after reading the synopsis on the back. It's another book that has been sitting on my shelf for years.

7. Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender - There was some buzz about this book when it first was released and I went out to buy it mostly because I liked the cover. Since then it's become another book that gets moved to the bottom of the pile.

8. The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay - I bought this book on a whim because it was on sale at Borders. Mostly it was a book that I had to have because it was such a deal, but it also sounded interesting.

9. Brick Lane by Monica Ali - I can't remember where I heard about this book or why I bought it but I made the effort to get myself a copy so I know I was excited about it at some point. I recently saw a friend reading it and remembered that I had my own copy but I guess I forgot about it again.

10. Diary by Chuck Palahniuk - this is one of the few Chuck Palahniuk books that I haven't read. I like his work and was looking forward to reading this after a recommendation from my old roommate. But then I lost interest in Palahniuk for awhile and this was abandoned on my shelf.