The Candidates (Delcroix Academy) by Inara Scott

My experience with books that delve into the realm of the paranormal has rarely been a positive one.  I always seem to get my hands on the books that have super lame, female main characters.  But, The Candidates showed me strong female lead characters can exist in these types of books.

Dancia Lewis was awesooooome!  In the beginning, she struggled with low confidence, but throughout the book, she begins to grow into a strong-minded and independent young woman.  Her confidence is on occasion punctuated with moments of self-doubt, but she always manages to pull through.  I think this is the kind of growth I’ve been missing in so many of the books I’ve read in the past few years with female main characters.  And, the fact that her new confidence waivers on occasion make Dancia seem real to me; what young adult hasn’t grown up experiencing this?

My only frustration with Dancia is she seems too mature for her age.  If she hadn’t said she was 14 years old and just entering high school, I would have assumed she was about to graduate high school.  On one hand, this was a breath of fresh air.  On the other hand, it wasn’t entirely believable.  I was 14 once and I know 14-year-olds– we were never that mature and self-aware.

The romance in this book doesn’t make me cringe.  For once!  There are two possible love interests for Dancia.  There is Jack, a freshman like Dancia, who comes across as a bad boy and unapproachable to those who don’t know him.  Then there is Cam, the eleventh-grade heart-throb– the “All-American” type if you will.  Like most teenagers, she is at times preoccupied with the thoughts of these two boys, but it’s not constant; Dancia isn’t another Bella Swan.  The romantic relationship she develops isn’t even rushed.  I just find it frustrating that characters always go for the love interest opposite of who I would choose.  Seriously Dancia, why couldn’t you choose……just kidding!

The pacing in the novel was a little slow, but this didn’t make me read it with any less vim.  Much of the action takes place in the last quarter of the book, and once I got there, I couldn’t read or turn the pages fast enough.  Otherwise, there was a lot of background information offered in this book; I have to assume this means the next book is going to be action-packed and full of win!  Regardless of the pacing of the Candidates, this was a book I simply could not put down.

I thought the only noteworthy downfall of this book was the lack of descriptions of the setting.  I understand Delcroix Academy is a big, brick, square doughnut-shaped building sitting on the top of a hill, but I’m perplexed about what the inside of the building looks like.  In my head, I imagined the inside of the Academy to look the same as my old high schools, which I’m sure is hardly the case.  I would hope the inside of Delcroix is significantly more pristine and grand.  But, since there weren’t too many descriptions, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

Overall, the book was awesome!  I loved the characters, and I’m intrigued by the storyline.  I can’t wait to find out what happens next, so I’m especially eager for the second book to hit shelves!

The Candidates (Delcroix Academy #1) by Inara Scott

Released: August 2010
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Age Group: Young Adult

[goodreads | indiebound]

Dancia Lewis is far from popular. And that’s not just because of her average grades or her less-than-glamorous wardrobe. In fact, Dancia’s mediocrity is a welcome cover for her secret: whenever she sees a person threatening someone she cares about, things just…happen. Cars skid. Structures collapse. Usually, someone gets hurt. So Dancia does everything possible to avoid getting close to anyone, believing this way she can suppress her powers and keep them hidden.

But when recruiters from the prestigious Delcroix Academy show up in her living room to offer her a full scholarship, Dancia’s days of living under the radar may be over. Only, Delcroix is a school for diplomats’ kids and child geniuses–not B students with uncontrollable telekinetic tendencies. So why are they treating Dancia like she’s special? Even the hottest guy on campus seems to be going out of his way to make Dancia feel welcome.

Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick

Let me just gush about the pages of Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick for a minute.  Each one is formatted and designed to perfection.  Each page has a cute background, not unlike Twitter.  The blog entries are headed by spiffy blog headers.  And before each tweet is a small little picture of the…er, tweeter?  Tweet Heart was such a visually appealing book!

The characterization was pretty good, especially considering Rudnick had to do it in 140 characters or less.  Although, readers get to learn more about Claire and Bennett through their blogs and Will and Lottie through e-mails, too.  I thought the characters were pretty realistic, but I hate to say it, all the characters annoyed me at one point in the story.  They either seemed too shallow or too obsessed with their image, but for the most part, they all experienced some kind of transformation at the end that allowed me to appreciate the characters.  Or at least made the characters more palatable.  Lottie and Benn were the best considering they acted as a voice of reason throughout the novel but with just the right amount of snark.

The plot was equal parts fun and frustrating (OMG!  @WiseOneWP, how could you do that?) but also a tad bit predictable.  I think readers will want to snag this novel for its unique format instead of its mind-blowing plotline.

Overall, the book was a fun and fast read.  I just wish there were more #hashtags.  I think this is considered one of those summer day beach reads, so even though beach season is several months away, make sure you pack this book in your beach bag!

Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick

Tweet Heart by Elizabeth Rudnick

Released: June 2010
Genre: Romance
Age Group: Young Adult

[add to goodreads ]

Claire can’t believe it when her dream guy starts following her on Twitter. She never thought he noticed her, and suddenly he seems to understand her better than almost anyone. But the Twitterverse can be a confusing place, especially when friends act differently online than they do in person. Things get even more complicated when Claire realizes she’s falling for someone else, the last person she ever would have expected.

Textual Healing by Eric Smith

First, there is Andrew Conner, or as he prefers, Ace. He was once a best-selling author, but now he suffers from a drought of inspiration. He’s neither the hyper-masculine brute nor the silent, brooding type that seems to plague too many novels (of the romantic sort). He’s dorky and quirky and witty and well-read, and even at his lowest, Ace still elicits some smiles—even a few chuckles. Then there is Hannah, a spunky gal from Montana, who makes me wonder why can’t more heroines be like her. She has an insatiable case of wanderlust, and she speaks her mind. She just might be the cure for Ace’s writer’s block. We have a setup for a story that I’m guaranteed to love.

Even though I was a total sucker for Ace and Hannah, my actual favorite characters are the wonderfully written secondary characters. On one hand, I connected with Valerie, a young woman working in Ace’s bookshop. She’s shy, teetering on socially awkward, and she always has her nose buried in a book or her homework. But! She has a secret, which is revealed in time. On the other hand, I loved the Orchid, the ninja who owns the flower shop across from Ace’s bookstore. She only speaks in haikus and she (almost literally) kicks ass. I say almost literally because I don’t think she actually kicked anyone in the rump; she does tie up “evil-doers” though, and she chucks shuriken at people

This only scratches the surface of all the incredible characters readers meet in Smith’s Textual Healing. I was in book heaven since I’m one of those people who crave well-written characters over intriguing plot and world-building and…other stuff.

There were several pop culture references, which might be distracting to some readers. I thought they were tastefully done though and often hilarious. I especially loved the nod to the epic pirate vs. ninja debate. And, although often laugh-out-loud hilarious (seriously, it was), some of the humor was a little…overkill? For the most part though, Smith knew where to draw the line.

I typically avoid romantic comedies/romance novels, but Textual Healing offered a fresh approach to a plotline that can easily become clichéd and full of one-dimensional characters. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.

Textual Healing by Eric Smith

Textual Healing by Eric Smith

Released: November 2010
Genre: Romance
Age Group: Adult


Few people have to deal with a haiku-speaking flower-shop-owning ninja every day on their way to work. Unfortunately for Andrew Connor, he is one of those people. And poor Andrew, his week has been a rough one. His former bestseller, Chasing Fireflies, is on clearance at Barnes & Noble for $1.37, his girlfriend left him for a corporate America action figure, and he’s been tricked into joining Textual Healing, a support group for writers who can’t seem to write anymore. Dealing with his employees at his failing used bookshop, a strange new love interest from the Midwest, and a pet sugar-glider that has somehow managed to destroy his entire apartment… when will he ever find the time to put pen to paper again?