Sushi Book Reviews

To kick off a new year, I thought I’d revamp my reading list page. As I complete a new book, I will add a brief description of the work and will give it a score based on sushi rolls.

Though this isn’t an exact scale, here’s some info to help you decode my ratings:

  • Spring Roll Appetizer: Delicious shrimp wrapped in lettuce, complete with a tasty dipping sauce – the perfect way to appease your appetite. The drawback? It doesn’t fill you up and only leaves you wanting more.
  • Spicy Tuna Roll: Though it may not be the most impressive looking roll, it never gets old and is usually always a tasty choice.
  • Eel Tempura Roll: My absolute favorite. Sure, hearing the word “eel” may turn you off at first, but once you try it and get a mouth full of the special eel sauce, I promise you’ll be hooked.
  • Philly Roll: It really depends on where you get it. Some restaurants really overdo the cream cheese, and so, obviously the result is often way too cheesy. Other times, all you taste is salmon and cucumber with only the slightest hint of cheese, if at all. However, on a very rare occasion the combination of cream cheese and salmon balances each other out in a crowd-pleasing way.
  • Cali Roll: Though it was the first roll I ever tried, it’s one I don’t normally choose, but I’ll eat it if it’s in front of me.
  • Shrimp Tempura Roll: A good choice for when you need a little spicyness in your life. But watch out because sometimes the sushi chef really overdoes it.
  • Spider Roll: Tasty crab meat. Sure, it’s a little chewy, but it’s usually worth the extra effort.

1. The Selection by Kiera Cass. So I’m technically cheating by including this since I read it in 2011, but since I know the author personally & am one of the lucky few who have been able to read an ARC, I had to include it.

  • In a fresh take on the competition of “The Bachelor,” the first of this dystopian trilogy centers around America Singer’s journey after being chosen to vie for Prince Maxon’s affections in the competition of a lifetime – a competition America didn’t really want to be in in the first place, since she’s already got it made in the shade with Aspen – her secret, lower status boyfriend. But once America starts to get to know and befriends Maxon, she starts to question whether or not winning the competition would be so bad after all. Unlike other love triangles I’ve read in the recent past, it took me most of the novel to choose a team – and I’m still not entirely sure I won’t sway once book 2 arrives!
  • P.S., for those living under a rock, the CW network (home of “The Vampire Diaries”) snapped up “The Selection” and is currently filming a pilot! If picked up, it should premiere this fall.
  • Sushi Rating: Philly Roll. There’s a good dose of cream cheese (read: swoon-worthy scenes), but still quite a bit of “salmon” (read: separate action) to balance out the narrative quite nicely to leave readers rooting for America and dying to know what’ll happen next (me included). Looking forward to reading the rest of the story!

2. The Raising by Laura Kasischke.

  • Told in captivating prose, the story follows a group of people in a college setting who are all somehow affected by the unexpected and accidental death of Nicole, a beautiful and bright sorority student, who died in a car accident. Or did she? The driver was her boyfriend, Craig, who can’t remember any details of the wreck or the time leading up to it. But that’s not the most suspicious part. Craig, among others, are convinced they’ve seen Nicole around campus…a year later.
  • Sushi Rating: Half Cali, Half Shrimp Tempura. My husband bought this novel for me for Christmas, and though the blurb on the back sounded really intriguing, I’m not sure it’s one I would have chosen for myself. That being said, I’m glad I had the chance to read it, because the twists and turns creating the enormous web of mystery and lies that make up this novel, similar in some ways to The Skulls, were utterly fascinating.

3. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor.

  • The book jacket blurb immediately drew me in: “She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now…” This is the story of Karou, your typical teenage girl who happens to have blue hair (naturally, no less) and who runs errands for Brimstone, her shady guardian, that involve collecting teeth. Did I mention she was raised by demons, and doesn’t actually know who she really is or where she came from? Okay, so maybe she’s not your typical teenage girl at all, but one thing’s for sure: you can’t help but pull for her anyway. Taylor did such an amazing job of crafting a story full of one mystery after another, while only giving you subtle hints along the way – hints that make you want to read just one more chapter (which actually turns into five) to try to find the truth. The story involves not only demons, but angels as well, and once I finally read the shocking ending, Taylor had completely flipped the whole good vs. evil idea, leaving her readers with characters that were completely gray – and completely awesome.
  • Sushi Rating: Eel tempura roll all the way. The premise definitely didn’t sound like something I’m used to reading, but once I tried it, I couldn’t get enough of that “special eel sauce” (read: mystery-filled plot). LOVED it and can’t wait for the next installment!

4. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare.

  • The second book of Clare’s Infernal Devices saga definitely doesn’t disappoint. Once again, I lost myself in the world of Tessa Gray – our heroine and possibly warlock, though she doesn’t bear any of the typical marks, who can Change into whomever she chooses – a feat that once again saves her life. Heartbroken over Will’s decision to be a straight up dick at the end of Book 1, she finds unexpected solace and comfort with Jem, whose silver hair I’d love to run my fingers through. *sigh* But anyway, yes, this is shaping up to be yet another love triangle, only the difference is – once it’s revealed why Will has acted the way he has towards Tessa and, well, everyone else – I found it impossible to choose sides on this one. There’s a lot of other things going on, too, in the world of the Shadowhunters, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more curious to know just who Miss Tessa will be with in the end. Luckily, the final book is slated to release in November (according to Wikipedia, mind you), so I won’t have to wait that long!
  • Sushi Rating: Shrimp tempura roll. The whole book is gripping, don’t get me wrong, but the couple doses of “spicy” (read: really hot make-out scenes) left me dying for some ice water to cool off. Is it November yet?

5. Fracture by Megan Miranda.

  • “A lot can happen in eleven minutes.” That’s the blurb on the cover of this YA debut from Miranda, and once it caught my eye at B&N, I immediately wanted to check this story out. I have to say, I’m really glad I did. The main character, Delaney Maxwell, experiences one of my worst nightmares: she nearly drowns after falling through the ice of a lake. And she would have, too, if not for her best friend, Decker, who managed to pull her out. But before he can, the damage is already done. Sure, she wakes up. She lives. But that doesn’t stop the itching she feels in her head – the pull, she calls it – to other less fortunate souls whose deaths are imminent. Along the way, she meets Troy, a boy who suffers this same unbearable curse. Delaney thinks she’s found in Troy someone who she can share these secrets with – someone she can trust. That is until she figures out what Troy is capable of – and what he’s already done.
  • Sushi Rating: Spider Roll. At times the story was “chewy” (read: thought-provoking) when hinting at the complexities of the brain, especially when damaged. But Miranda did a great job of balancing the different subplots of the narrative – not only the whole issue of Delaney’s itch/pull, but also her very realistic portrayal of Delaney and Decker’s complicated friendship and whether or not they both wanted something more. Miranda molded Delaney into a three-dimensional character I wanted to hug at times and slap some sense into at others. In other words, Delaney seemed like a real person – a feat all authors should strive for when writing. All in all, I found it to be a fun read I’d definitely recommend to others.

6. Everneath by Brodi Ashton.

  • I picked this gem out firstly because of its gorgeous cover. The swirly red dress! The ominous dark clouds underneath her! I just had to know what happened to her and more importantly who she was. And once I actually read the novel, I was so glad I chose this book. It centers around Nikki Beckett, a girl who’s taken down to the underworld (the Everneath) by Cole – a dreamy guitarist of a popular band who also happens to be an Immortal – despite the fact that, in order to do so, she must leave behind her boyfriend and true love, Jack, as well as her family and best friend, Jules. In the Everneath, she is forced to purge all memories of her past life to accept her new one – but there’s one person’s face she just can’t seem to shake: Jack. When she’s able to return to the world she used to know, she does so knowing she only has six months before they come to take her back down below – that is, unless she figures out a way to stay.
  • Sushi Rating: Spring Roll Appetizer. Okay, so it’s technically not a sushi roll, but you can get it at my local sushi restaurant, so I’m counting it! This novel was such a page-turner for me from start to finish. I had to know what happened next – often times staying up past my bed time to find out. I didn’t even realize it was the first of a trilogy until the end, and thank God for that! As is the case when I order spring rolls, I definitely have yet to have my fill of this story. Bring on book two!

7. Fever by Lauren DeStefano.

  • Holy moly! Okay, so for those that don’t know, this is the second book of the Chemical Garden Trilogy. The first was Wither, which happened to be one of my favorite books I read last year. Set in a dystopian world where men inexplicably die at 25 and women die at 20, Rhine is Gathered (taken) from her home and twin brother, Rowan, only to wind up in a mansion along with two other sister-wives. If you have yet to read the first one – and I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t – stop reading this review NOW. After managing to escape said forced marriage, Rhine escapes the mansion, leaving behind her sweet but oblivious husband, Linden, her younger naive sister-wife, Cecily, and her father-in-law, Vaughn who takes the cake for creepiest, most manipulative character of any book I’ve read in the past few years. She does so with the help of one of her attendants, Gabriel, who she also happens to enjoy kissing and isn’t hard on the eyes. After they escape, Rhine hopes they’ll make it back to her home in Manhattan where her twin brother will be waiting with open arms. But as these things often go, there’s a few bumps in the road, including but not limited to a scarlet prostitution demented carnival where they’re forced to stay, as well as surprise appearances by Vaughn throughout. Even though the book was often times depressing – I can’t imagine going through what these poor characters had to face – it still had me hooked just as much, if not more, than Wither did.
  • Sushi Rating: Half shrimp tempura, half spider roll. This story was at times hard to get through (read: chewy for the intense scenes), but the added spicyness to the story (read: Rhine’s determination to find her brother, coupled with her growing feelings for Gabriel) balanced it out so that the end result was a delicious combo. Can’t wait to sink my teeth into the final book of this series!

8. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver.

  • The gripping dystopian sequel to Delirium, which if you haven’t read and might do so – *nudge nudge* – you might want to stop reading this review now. The second installment, which is no sophomore slump if you ask me, picks up with Lena right where the first book left off: she’s escaped into the Wilds, sadly without her love, Alex, who appeared to be captured on the other side. In a world where love (deliria) is considered a disease that can only be cured by undergoing a painful operation, after finding love with Alex, Lena chooses against the life set out for her – free of pain from deliria, meaning she also chose a life that wouldn’t include her family or best friend, Hanna, all of whom she had to leave behind. In the Wilds, she joins a group of people like her – strong-willed and not giving in to what society expects, headed by Raven and Tack, two adults who seem much older to Lena than they actually are. Lena agrees to help them keep tabs on Julian, the teenage son of the head of an organization that supports the surgery, only to find herself kidnapped along with Julian by Scavengers – another group that are against the surgery, that are much more revengeful and deadly. While in captivity, Lena and Julian form a slow bond as they get to know each other; at the same time, Julian starts to realize that maybe deliria isn’t the be all, end all condition he thought. Told through Lena’s alternating perspectives of Then (when she first arrived in the Wilds) to Now, and with a magnificent twist at the ending that paves the way nicely for the last book of the trilogy, Pandemonium had my full attention from the first page up until the last. Loved it!
  • Sushi Rating: Spring roll appetizer. Delicious, but I want more! Is it time for book three yet?

9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

  • This past week, I finished one of the best books I’ve ever read: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Yes, I know I’m a bit behind in reading this brilliant book. I suppose I wound up resisting to read it all these years because I had always kept it on a pedestal in my mind of being this impossibly awesome novel and maybe a part of me worried that if I read it, it wouldn’t meet those expectations. It’s a ridiculous reason not to read it, I know. But as soon as I started seeing previews for the movie, I knew I needed to get my act together, suck it up, and read the damn book already. And man, am I glad I did. Told through letters he’s written to an anonymous person, Charlie – a lonely freshman befriended by seniors, Sam and Patrick, who jointly teach him about life, love, and what it really means to be a friend – finds what’s good in life, while at the same time slowly discovering what isn’t – his sister’s abusive boyfriend, homophobia, and why one shouldn’t do LSD. It was funny. It was sad. It was moving. Pretty much everything that makes a story “infinite.”
  • Sushi Rating: Combo spring roll appetizer/eel tempura roll. Spring roll because I wish it had lasted longer – the book only totals 213 pages – but at the same time, one could argue it quits while it’s ahead, something a lot of other books and TV shows don’t seem to embrace these days. Eel tempura because it was a beautifully written story that was tasty and oozing with “special eel sauce” (read: gripping plot lines that don’t tip-toe around the big issues). This is one I see myself reading again and again (and you should, too!)

10. Shadowlands by Kate Brian.

  • While shopping with my husband in Barnes & Noble a couple weeks ago to pick out a birthday gift, I stumbled upon the hauntingly beautiful cover of Shadowlands. I immediately snatched it off the shelf, scanned the description on the back, and put it on top of my pile, convinced in less than ten seconds this was a book I had to read. For those that haven’t heard of it, it centers around Rory Miller, a teenage girl who happens to be a target of a serial killer. The opening chapter is told from third person perspective of the killer himself as he lies in wait in the perfect place he’s staked out to do the deed: the middle of the woods. He grabs her, tastes a piece of her hair (um, eww. just eww.) and hauls her off to finish her. But when he slips on a wet leaf, she escapes and is able to get away. But as he is a skilled killer – he’s been on the loose for ten years – the FBI arranges for Rory, her sister Darcy, and their father to leave for a safe house that happens to be on an island called Juniper Landing – a place without Internet access or cell service (as some of us would probably consider, a fate worse than death itself). Rory and Darcy try to settle in and meet a new group of friends who seem to hold a lot of secrets themselves. But as soon as Rory starts to feel safe and far away from the killer, readers get a couple random short chapters interspersed through the novel told again from his point of view, indicating that he is still on the hunt – and knows exactly where she is.  Oh, and the ending provides quite an amazing twist I didn’t see coming.
  • Sushi Rating: Spring Roll appetizer with a dash of shrimp tempura. I’ve always been fascinated with serial killers, both real and fictional, and Shadowlands wasn’t an exception. It was definitely a spicy read and I found myself dying (no pun intended) to know if the killer would be able to finish the job he started. Rory was a relatable heroine, and when this first installment ended, my jaw literally hit my lap at what she discovers. Needless to say, I’m hungry for more! Luckily this gem is only the beginning of a trilogy. If you’re looking for an intriguing read that will keep you guessing, this is the book for you!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jkp13452
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 00:06:13

    Ok I have to say I have read a majority of those books and I love them all and I am in 3/4 of the way through Pandemonium and I think its great!! I don’t know if you have read the books Matched and Crossed by Ally Condie yet but they are also an amazing series, they are really similar to Delirium and Pandemonium.


    • cdrakebooks
      Apr 26, 2012 @ 00:18:18

      Pandemonium was a page-turner for me! And yes, I have read the “Matched” books as well – I actually just recently finished “Crossed.” But thanks for the comment! Happy reading! 🙂


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