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Win a copy of Nobody and Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (ends 2/20)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Short Interlude

Is going through the whole mass of tests again so occupy yourselves with this~ Will be on and off again posts...






Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday! (10)

After by Amy Efaw (August 11th 2009--Viking Books)

Except:
"Devon opens her dark eyes, looks at him.

The man gently pulls her hands away from her head. "That's a girl." Then he cups Devon's face in his hands. They're big, strong hands. He leans closer. His eyes are intense, reaching deep into hers. "Okay, now, listen to me. Calm down and listen. Can you do that for me?"

His voice is steady. Soothing. Like the rain. Devon feels a wave of heat wash over her body. She closes her eyes again, then opens them. Everything's outlined in silvery white. Hyper bright.

"This is important, okay? Concentrate on what I'm saying to you ..."

Devon tries to do what he said, tries to concentrate, but she can feel herself slipping under, losing him. Metallic flecks flurry around the corners of her vision, closing in. She hears her mom, shrill and sharp, still screaming ... something about reports. About a boss.

"'You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney ...'"

The man's words flow over her. She feels apart from it all - his words, her mom's hysteria, her pounding heart. She watches his lips move. His nice, white teeth. She breathes in and out ...

And her world goes black."

This meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shrinking Violet

Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph (May 5th 2009--MTV)

Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5

Summary:“High school senior Teresa Adams is so painfully shy that she dreads speaking to anyone in the hallways or getting called on in class. But in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks out -- doing mock broadcasts for Miami's hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up at The SLAM, Tere surprises herself by blossoming behind the mike into confident, sexy Sweet T -- and to everyone's shock, she's a hit! Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ's awesome taste in music. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest -- and a prom date with Sweet T is the grand prize -- Sweet T's dream could turn into Tere's worst nightmare...”

Review: Another MTV book. Another amazing read. What I figure out why I happened to love MTV’s books were the fact that they tell a story that almost everyone—girl, boy, teen, or adult—can relate to. Teresa Adams is a shy girl when you first meet her but later blossoms into someone who takes action and can speak her mind. I can definitely, 100 percent, relate to this! I know some of you may be laughing at this but this is quite true.

As many of you may have figured this out but English is my second language. I grew up speaking a Chinese dialect that impaired my speech when I learned English at an early age (stupid tones!). Later in the years, my accent completely disappeared but my speech still has some issues. To be frank, I stuttered. My parents would always yell and scold at me, telling me to stop it. I was embarrassed of myself. In school, at home, even with my closet friends, I try to say as little as possible to prevent this issue of mine when I was younger. Nowadays my stuttering has almost fully disappeared (like around 98%) but it tends to pop up if I am too excited or nervous. (This is why I am always so stressed about oral presentations Laura). Conveying my thoughts through words I can deal with, with a simple click I can erase my errors. Vlogging, however, is something that terrifies me.

So not only is Shrinking Violet a cute and fun read, but it is something that I can connect with on a whole new level. Granted it was predictable (I figured out almost everything from the beginning) but reading it unfold is heart-pounding. So what if you know who’s who, it is the person executes the sequences that make the scenes stand out. Danielle still delivered for me.

I loved the premise of the book because I, too, am a huge of music. I am always scurrying around trying to find some unseen artists because they tend to hold the true beauty. After every chapter there are parts where Sweet T comes to the surface and talks as if on the radio. At first it was a bit disjointed but later on I felt it fell into place. It showcased a bit more of Tere’s sassier side, her more outspoken side.

The tone was smooth and soothing, heck I almost took a nap when I first read it! And that is not a bad thing (ask Sharon or Laura as to why napping is not my favorite thing to do in the world)! The writing style was simplistic but still carried a deeper undertone once you finished reading. You know what they say—simplicity is key. Just write what is needed and the rest will fall in place.

Overall: I need to get a finished copy of this book (read an ARC). Danielle Joseph delivered a wonderful debut book that I have no doubt that she will get far in this business.

Cover: N/A
Stupid MTV ARCs with their lime green covers

Sleepaway Girls

Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita (May 1st 2009--Little Brown)

Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5

Summary: "When Sam's best friend gets her first boyfriend, she's not ready to spend the summer listening to the two of them call each other "pookie." Sick of being a third wheel, Sam applies to be a counselor-in-training at Whispering Pines camp in the New York Catskills. But what she doesn't realize is that it's not going to be all Kumbaya sing-alongs and gooey s'mores. If Ashley, the alpha queen of Whispering Pines, doesn't ruin Sam's summer, then her raging crush on the surfer-blond and flirtatious Hunter just might. At least she has playful Cole, who's always teasing her, but is oh-so-comfortable to hang out with, and the singular gang of girls that become fast friends with Sam-they call themselves the Sleepaway Girls."

Review: Sleepaway Girls is the birth child from a combination of Disney and Nickelodeon. Cavity producing sweet, annoying moral at the end, and childish.

Sam seemed almost perfect. Nice, generous, and a complete wuss. Ashley was the perfect villain--evil, cruel, mean, heartless, and so into herself. But what was so funny to me was that in the end they start to become friends. Turns out Ashley was just jealous and Sam forgave her--shocker isn't it?

Sam needed to get a backbone and fight against Ashley. She humiliates her, lies to people about her and yet she does nothing. Absolutely nothing. Swallows her pride and moves on. The one time she did confront Ashley was the food fight where Sam throws orange juice at her...I drink orange juice. I'm not too sure how much damage that does.

Ashley was the most annoying brat ever. She was the essence of a queen bee! Can't giver what she wants? Then your life at camp will be hell. But never aim at someone who might fight back. Oh no! Target Sam because she's a pushover! I wanted to slap them both so much!

That was the main issue with Sleepaway Girls. Other than that I thought it was a fun camp-themed book. The other characters were much better (well mostly all) and were a pleasure to read.

I love the interactions between Ashley's dad and Sam's mom--a cute little relationship blooming in the background.

Overall: An aggravating book nonetheless still sugary.

Cover N/A
ARC cover was different.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Mystery: Michael Harmon

For those of you who read my review for Brutal, thank you! The author Michael Harmon read my review and commented. This can all be found here. I want to show you guys the conversation in hopes to clarify some things. The more deeper sense in the book
Michael:
Thank you for reviewing my novel Brutal. Your thoughts and insights are useful, and from a perspective I found interesting and worth a reply to. The novel is indeed about cliques...that's why I wrote it.

Poe is indeed fighting against herself, and she is aggravating. Her irony is the irony of humanity, and as a teen, she's learning while fighting rather than being swept down the path of unthinking obedience.

With the novel being written first person, had I characterized Poe as somehow perfect, the sincerity of the story would have been compromised, and her character, had I portrayed her as all-wise and benevolent, would have been truly aggravating. You picked up on the irony of life, which is that we cannot become something more without having been something less. Poe is searching and finding her own inequities as she's questioning the system...something being a teenager is all about,and something, I might add, that your review defines very well in the sense that our culture oftentimes chastises those who dare stand up, inequities notwithstanding, and challenges authority.

The existence of cliques is a neutral and natural aspect of life, and one that I did not characterize as bad or evil.They inspire individuality, creativity, relationships, and can be very constructive. However, the actions, reactions, injustices and bias our culture sometimes unfairly attaches to them can be damaging, especially when it concerns developing minds. This is what I emphasized, and yes, Poe, as an imperfect human, sometimes is a part of it. To characterize her as anything other would be a disservice to teens and simply a crock of bull.

Perhaps the symbolism missed here is that Poe, once breaking down her own barriers while fighting others, forges healthier relationships with her father, her choir teacher, her choir nemesis, and her mother. She learns that while we cannot escape unfair judgment, often we ourselves lend unfair judgment in the process of our reactions to it.

This review is thought provoking, as it adds to the dialogue we need to have about what our schools symbolize. Though somewhat sarcastic and assumptive in bits and pieces, I very much appreciate your thoughts on Brutal, and believe this review to be outstanding material to discuss.
Sincerely,
Michael Harmon

Yan:
...While I understand your reason for justifying Poe, I feel that as a whole Poe represents the complete opposite of her goal. She herself also forms generalization to people and separates them into groups. She wishes to destroy cliques and blur the line that divides the higher class in the high school hierarchy. But her actions seem almost mockingly as well as her relationship with her father. In some areas I see progression to heal the wound when he left but in others she pushes him away and humiliates him. In her attempt to solve issues she creates conflict--within herself and the people around her. This is what aggravates me. When no one really tries to oppose her or correct her. She basically humiliates people outright in public but gets a dainty slap in the wrist. How far is she willing to do to meet her goal?

With her father I think that the relationship was being decided solely on her. He has no major input to the healing process except for accepting what's being told. You always mention the choir teacher. I lost her somewhere and only saw her again towards the end. By the time I did I noticed that everything is peachy keen between the two.

Anyway about the sarcasm, I feel that I need to apologize. My voice is based on my current mood so I probably wrote this review when I wasn't quite so happy--probably annoyed at something. I do the same thing when I write essays.

Michael:
Well, actually, I'm not a member of Goodreads, but I love the site, find it such a great contribution to the literary world, and find the reviews of all books to be truthful, sincere, and real. Hence, I use my daughter's account sometimes,named after our dog, Izzy.

As for Poe..you are correct in many ways, and that nasty double-edged sword comes into play. As a teen, I fought the system the same way the system fought me, because it was the only way I'd been taught to fight. Poe does the same in some ways, but I must say that Poe doesn't wish to destroy cliques and blur the line that divides the higher class in the high school hierarchy...she wishes to destroy the unfair treatment within those lines and borders. On the other hand, and what with school shootings and such over the last decade, I've seen an unhealthy trend in schools to tackle the clique issue by homogenizing people, which I strongly disagree with. So the question of the book becomes, how does a person maintain individuality, even within a clique, while at the same time fighting the inherent inequities that will arise in the treatment of them? This is a tricky subject, and difficult to portray. She thinks she's a strict individualist, but finds that she's really not, and she hates to think of herself as a victim, but oftentimes her mentality screams victim. These dynamics follow us through life, and only with time can we slowly overcome them. With that said, Poe rubbed you the wrong way in how hypocritical she sometimes was. So be it. That's why teens are so damn irritating in the first place! They're learning, developing, and trying to find out what makes this world work.

Her relationship with her father was portrayed as a one-sided control issue on purpose. His nature; that of a man willing to passively leave his child years before and allow his wife to control his actions, translates to cowardice in Poe's mind, and she jumps all over it, much the same as her mother lives her life. The parallel between Poe disliking her mother's selfish and authoritarian personality while at the same time slowly realizing she herself was doing the same is there. Her father's unwillingness to confront this type of personality follows suit with his manner of solving problems, which is to protect himself through distancing himself while always trying to be amicable. Neither works on the whole, but I did portray Poe's father as weak because I believe he was a weak father, and honestly, Poe's rants and rails against him are justifiable. The role of a good father in our society is still, even after seeing generations of many kids raised without them and paying the unfortunate consequences, is underestimated. With that said, I think he did indeed have a bit to do with the healing process...by showing Poe that open confrontation isn't always the key to making change. His patience and understanding, along with his trust in human nature, shows Poe a different way among many different ways to solve problems. To be cliche', there's more than one way to skin a cat.

As far as getting a slap on the wrist...First off, in that sense, I firmly believe that sometimes, open conflict is the only way to shock people into taking part in the process. And though she is corrected, life dictates (IE our media, activists, extremists, etc...)that those who are overwhelmingly aggressive usually get their way, or are at least avoided. The old adage is that if a 250 pound hunk of muscle gives a person the finger, he's less apt to be confronted about it than if a 100 pound kid with spagetti arms does the same. Poe is SO out of control sometimes that there is a fear factor involved, and if you didn't notice, just like Colby Morris, Poe unconsciously, and hypocritically, uses her father's position at the school to get away with more than the average student would.

As you might tell, and often disagree with, I make it a point to portray my characters with flaws and hypocrisy, because I'm a firm believer in writing stories that reflect how messed up and messy our own lives can become. As I myself didn't graduate high school due to outright rebellion and conflict with my school, I have both shame and pride in the ways I fought a system I felt was unjust. I didn't learn as Poe did, and I paid a tremendous price for it.
As far as sarcasm is concerned, God knows without it the world would be a very dull place! I myself thrive on moody writing!

Anyway, was wonderful writing back and forth on the subject, and again, thanks for the food for thought. I take it as a compliment that within our somewhat divisive convo, you not once referenced Poe as what I consider the bane of my writing existence...unrealistic. She is obviously a confused person, which was my intention, but you've referenced her as...a person.
Best,
Michael
Right now I'm back on the desktop so I'm writing reviews as fast I can now! Up, up, and away!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Academy 7

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund (May 15th 2009—Puffin)

Grade: 4.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “With a past too terrible to speak of, and a bleak, lonely future ahead of her, Aerin Renning is shocked to find she has earned a place at the most exclusive school in the universe. Aerin excels at Academy 7 in all but debate, where Dane Madousin—son of one of the most powerful men in the Alliance—consistently out talks her. Fortunately Aerin consistently outwits him at sparring. They are at the top of their class until Dane jeopardizes everything and Aerin is unintentionally dragged down with him. When the pair is given a joint punishment, an unexpected friendship—and romance—begins to form. But Dane and Aerin both harbor dangerous secrets, and the two are linked in ways neither of them could ever have imagined…

Review: Am delighted. Very delighted actually. My previous experience with Ms. Osterlund’s book, Aurelia left me a bit unsettled so I really wanted to try another work by her to just test the water. And I was ecstatic that this book lived up to my expectations.

So I actually am quite stumped on the actual review here. The author intertwines the plots together soundlessly. From Aerin’s father and mother, to the principal’s interest in her, and the connection to Dane. And…and…this sucks. It truly does. Why is it that I cannot type magic right now!? Breathe in and out.

So Ms. Osterlund created a wondrous world where I am still awed at the sheer beauty. Portrayed beautifully, described in lush details, and scenes drool worthy.

The action was great, the humor was there at points, and the romance subtle at first and growing at a nice pace. The characterization for Aerin and Dane were definitely there. They grew and depth, giving reasons for their behaviors and backgrounds.

So Academy 7 was good. Fun. Interesting.

Okay this tops or at least ranks at the top of the worst reviews I have ever done. Forgive me all…-hangs head in shame-

Overall: Definitely read this book if you either liked or disliked Anne’s first book. This one will make you smile as it did to me.

Cover B-

Airhead

Airhead by Meg Cabot (May 13, 2008--Point)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary:"Emerson Watts, 16 and female, loves playing video games, hanging out with her best friend, Christopher, and has made peace with her less-than-supermodel-esque looks. But when she's involved in a mysterious accident, she wakes up to find she's now in the body of...a supermodel. Who was behind this switch? What was the motive? And how can she get Christopher to realize she's still the same person inside?"

Review:It makes me wonder at points if this book had not been written by Meg Cabot, would it have received the same amount of attention? Certainly, for me, the summary and title/cover would not have interested me as much. A bit generic and a tad cliche, Airhead was nothing jaw-dropping.

I never seem to enjoy Cabot's series, mostly her stand alone books, and Airhead backs up that thought. Nothing really held my attention for more than that actual page. That is not to say that Airhead was awful. It wasn't. It just was not substantial.

Emerson Watts was a conflicting character for me. Sometimes I like her, and others I do not. Her sudden new appearance results in a sudden new rush of male attention. Of course, Em receives it with open arms. I kind of understand it since she never had such a romantic life but it gets too much. I just wish she stops fawning over so many guys--behave yourself girl!

When I first encountered Lulu, I hated her. Pompous cheerleader with a pea-sized brain, her attitude made me gag. But I gradually came to terms with her and found myself liking her (who knows why).

Em's family I really did quite like. Her little sister had spunk and sass and both parents were sweet. And Cosy was squeal-worthy. Adorable!

It was an on again off again for many of the characters. Appear in one scene just to disappear for another five.

Overall: Airhead shows potential but nothing more.

Cover: B-
Shiny but nothing special.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Destroy all Cars

Destroy all Cars by Blake Nelson (May 1, 2009--Scholastic Press)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary:
"James Hoff likes to rant against America's consumerist culture. He also likes to rant against his ex-girlfriend, Sadie, who he feels isn't doing enough to change the world. But just like he can't avoid buying things, he also can't avoid Sadie for long. This is a fantastic, funny, sexy, cool masterpiece from one of the best YA writers at work today, an anti-consumerist love story that's all about idealism, in both James's relationship with the world and his relationships with the people around him."

Review:
Destroy All Cars was quite a liberal piece of work. James is irrational and rational at the same time, with his cut-off sweaters, he reminded me of the kid in the back row. The one that makes you wonder, is he doing that on purpose or just for the heck of it? And with his ways of not shampooing his hair, and talk about the corrupt nature of humans you tend to shy away from characters such as he.

One of the strongest points of this book has to be James's essays. The reader gets a great sense of his personalities from his monologue. And let me tell you, he does have a lot of things to say. From hobos to soccer moms James tells all on how this society works. Which brings me back to the question if James is as real as it seems.

Outside of his snide humor, the actual book was lack-luster. I really did not care for Sadie nor the other girls. The teacher, I have to admit, added some type of humor besides James.

Overall: Destroy All Cars seemed to be more of random assortment into a guy's mind. Odd humor, thought-worthy topics, Destroy All Cars was a book to be read on a whim.

Cover: C+

Friday, April 24, 2009

Question and Reminder

Still monitor-less and review-less. So! I have another question for you lovely readers. Desktop vs. Laptop. Your prefer choice and why? I'm a desktop gal.

Reminder: Tomorrow is the last day for the April Fools giveaway!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hardback vs. Paperback

ehehe I stole Alea's title. I love you! Don't kill me! This is not the same idea from the same brilliant mind--just thought the title was fitting. Anyway, my head hurts and I have 2 test tomorrow; monitor has not been replaced yet so I have been enslaving some awesome friends to schedule posts for me the past few days! This time I ran out of reviews that would be appropriate to post so I am just going to throw this question out to you guys (it's been on my mind for some time)!

I prefer the hardback edition of books and others prefer the soft, flexible paperback. Hardbacks for me were study, dependable, and clean-looking. I can always be sure that they will not be destroyed unlike paperbacks. But recently I have noticed my slight preference towards ARC/paperbacks to read. Reading at home hardbacks are the way to go and for collecting no doubt. But at school, on the bus (they make me get car sick...so forget that), and on the road I really appreciate the flexibility of the paperbacks.

So I would love to know what do you prefer?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Radiant Darkness

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman (May 1, 2009--HarperTeen)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: "He smiles. "Hello."

It's a deep voice. I can feel it reverberate in my chest and echo all the way down to my toes.

I know I should leave, but I don't want to. I want to keep my senses like this forever. I'm all eye, all ear, all skin.

Persephone lives in the most gorgeous place in the world. But her mother's a goddess, as overprotective as she is powerful. Paradise has become a trap. Just when Persephone feels there's no chance of escaping the life that's been planned for her, a mysterious stranger arrives. A stranger who promises something more—something dangerous and exciting—something that spurs Persephone to make a daring choice. A choice that could destroy all she's come to love, even the earth itself.

In a land where a singing river can make you forget your very name, Persephone is forced to discover who—and what—she really is."

Review: Radiant Darkness surprised me. I grew up watching Hercules on Toon Disney where Hades was a purple man with flames for hair. So in Emily Whitman created a scenario where Hades was, dare I say it, hot? The actual storyline fell into place with the original myth but still managing a wide array of twists.

First off when I began to read Radiant Darkness I noticed right away Persephone had sass. Granted some of her spunk died out but to my original idea of her being a damsel-in-distress so she had fire. However I must admit that once Persephone meets Hades she ends up being quite frustrating. The type of girls that will believe anything and everything from the boyfriend/husband. I craved some form growth between the two after the initial "I'm in heaven~"! This coincides with the dragging in the middle.

The beginning was interesting but the middle was loaded with a lot of side plot. Truth be told, I end up skimming some parts of it. I felt no needed reason to read it nor did it really interest me.

The ending completed the circle. It fulfilled the myth as well as holding onto its integrity. The author managed to incorporate her own sense of humor into the plot with Zeus and Hermes--both of whom I really liked!

Overall: Fun and amusing read! A twist to the bland Greek tale that needed to be done.

Cover: C+
Sorry but that girl looks half-asleep in that picture.

Silver Phoenix Book Trailer!

It was too pretty to pass up...

Waiting on Wednesday! (9)

This meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Fire by Kristin Cashore (October 5, 2009--Penguin)

"Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.

Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story."

Sorry guys! No new surprises but I really, really want to devour this book. Graceling was an absolute joy to read!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The New and the Old











Before you start showering the trailers with praises, I just wanted to let you know that I did not make them.

The Beef Princess of Practical County

The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts (April 14, 2009--Delacorte

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary:"After years of waiting, it is finally Libby Ryan’s turn to shine at the Practical County Fair. Libby is filled with excitement as she and her granddad pick out two calves for her to raise on her family’s cattle farm, in hopes of winning the annual steer competition. Against her father’s advice, Libby gives the calves names, even though both steers will eventually be
auctioned off. After a few months of preparing for the Practical County Fair, Libby finds that she is growing closer to her steers with each passing day, and the pressure to win Grand Champion is mounting.

Luckily, Libby can count on her best friend to get her through most of the county fair chaos. Yet once reality sets in and she realizes that her steers will soon be sold to the highest bidder, the chaos in Libby’s heart becomes
too much to bear."

Review: One of the odder storylines, Beef Princess still manages to hold onto the readers’ attention while maintaining its rural background.

I am not quite sure what to say about this book—it is unlike anything else I have read. The storyline focuses more of the growth of the steers and Libby’s ambition to make her father proud. In some ways I can relate to Libby. Being overshadowed to an older sibling you are forever compared to and judged by their accomplishments. Can you do better? The struggle to perform well is what drives Libby. Even so you have a great admiration for your old your sibling and Michelle Houts show that through Libby’s training with her brother’s help.

The more agricultural background shows a great deal of knowledge from the author and she crafts it into the novel quite well. She talks about caring for the animals, machinery, contests, and the job to raise and let go of some of your cuddly friends.

Michelle Houts was also able to bring in some humor to the book. I found the names to be the most funniest. From Precious, Lil, and Ohma their last name Darling combined gives off a “what were the parents thinking” type of chuckle. I found the irony of naming the steers other animal names, such as Piggy and Mule, was cute.

I feel that if the book fell into a different set of hands it might have received a bit higher grade. While some scenes were adorable the overall set of tone childish (being a 12-year-old girl I kind of expected this). The plotline was slightly drab and predictable.

Overall: The Beef Princess of Practical County manages to showcase a good old county side lovin’ with an interesting set of views.


Cover:B

Monday, April 20, 2009

Brutal

Brutal by Michael Harmon (April 10th 2009--Knopf)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: "With her martyr-doctor mother gone to save lives in some South American country, Poe Holly suddenly finds herself on the suburban doorstep of the father she never knew, who also happens to be a counselor at her new high school. She misses Los Angeles. She misses the guys in her punk band. Weirdly, she even misses the shouting matches she used to have with her mom.

But Poe manages to find a few friends: Theo, the cute guy in the anarchy T-shirt, and Velveeta, her oddly likeable neighbor—and a born victim who’s the butt of every prank at Benders High. But when the pranks turn deadly at the hands of invincible football star Colby Morris, Poe knows she’s got to fix the system and take down the hero."

Review:I found this book funny, chuckle worthy, but in the ha-ha ironic type of way. Why? Because Poe really does represent everything she hates and fights against. Normally I would not dwell on this but the book goes into great lengths to talk and re-talk about this topic. We are talking cliques.

Poe mentions about the injustice in cliques and how certain groups receives special favors. She tries all she can to go against it and speak up to the “Man” about it. But what I found truly ironic was that, she herself separates into a clique. When she first attended the school, who does she sit by with in class? The outsider of course. The boy in the back row looking outcaste from the group looking, how should we say, punkish. Dun dun dun…just like her! With her Salvation Army shirts, ripped fishnet stocking, and a Mohawk of course Poe would not dream of following her group of people! That will completely go against everything she stands her! And let’s not forget the music. Only hard rockers are allowed to listen to Motley Crue, the Sex Pistol and Metallica (but God forbid you listen to the newer version). Anything mainstream? Pshhh you’re a poser!

But Poe can do no wrong. If fact she joins the choir! Well with a slight biased attitude. She berates the music teacher for judging her before her tryouts and when she does well she quits right there and then. Here’s the irony. She expected it; she probably wanted it just to prove her point. She later rejoins the team to piss someone off and going against the “Man”. Anyone seeing a pattern.

So yes, Poe aggravates me. Even so I could help but like the book. The humor was crude, and the actual plotline was done fair—though the ending could use a bit more of a touch up. I just wanted to mess with this idea because Michael Harmon emphasized on this topic.

Overall: Weird, righteous, but still downright entertaining. Especially when writing this review.

Cover:B
They actually did the whole plastic aspect of the world quite well! Nothing looks more fake than a plastic house and grass!

Complete List of Awards

At first I wanted to post the pretty pictures on the sidebar but it got too cluttered--too much. So I just wanted to do a formal post to everyone who gave me an award until now. Thank you! I'm sorry that could not link the people to their blogs since my computer is not working right now (using laptop, hates it, can't type nor do anything productive).


From Amanda and Sharon!
From Sharon!
From Steph Su, Shalonda, GreenBeanTeenQueen and The Story Siren!
From Robin, Stephanie, Polo. Pony and Krista!
From Steph Su and Kristi!

From Alyce!
From Stephanie, Laina, and The Story Siren!
From Alea, Taschima and Reverie!
From Black-Eyed Susan and Jenny!
From Yvette and SunShine!

From Jenny!

Monday Mystery: Katie Alender

Anddddd it's Katie! She's the author of upcoming novel Bad Girls Don't Die which comes out really soon! You can find her here and my review here.
Okay, the most random thing I can think of is that when I used to live in a giant apartment complex with an underground parking garage, whenever I was backing out of my parking space, I would think, “If there were a clown driving a tiny car behind my car, I would run him over!” [From Yan: Oh my! Cindy Pon is going to get squashed!] Not on purpose, mind you. But how are you supposed to see a clown in a tiny car? And why would he be driving through my underground parking garage, anyway?

I don’t know what it means… fear of clowns? Fear of small cars? Fear of getting grease paint on my bumper?

Don't think I haven't tried to figure it out.

I’ve always been too analytical for my own good. I can take something simple and spin it into a thousand different meanings. This helps me talk people into things. It also, I think, helps me write fiction.

I’m good at seeing things from other people’s point of views. I don’t necessarily agree, but I can understand that at least they think they’re right, based on XYZ factors. After all, everyone thinks he or she is right. If we didn’t all think that, the world would be a much politer place with far fewer road rage incidents (or "me just shouting at people in the safely sealed off bubble of my car" incidents).

So when I write, I just tap into that. In fiction, you only need, like, one good idea a year (unless you’re Meg Cabot or Nora Roberts, in which case, you need about 33 good ideas a year). You may go through fifteen bad ideas before you settle on your good idea, but that’s still a fairly cut and dry process.

Now, when the idea’s settled on and the writing starts, that’s when it helps to be able to “spin” things. Because you have to take a situation and explain your way into and out of it. And every character needs to act and sound as though she truly believes what she’s doing and saying, which means that, as a writer, you have to be able to get into their head and see things their way. Even if you HATE people who are obsessed with checking email on their iPhones all the time, if you have a character who does that, you need to be able to understand how important it is to her, or when you write the scene where she defends what she's doing, it won't ring true. (Like, maybe she's really stressed because her book is coming out soon... and she's obsessed with Google Alerts... and maybe you should take pity and send her chocolate!)

When you write fiction, you’re basically taking a “fact” (your premise… like “high school girl discovers she’s a princess”) and adding your spin to it—in the case of “Princess Diaries,” it’s the story of an awkward girl who isn’t sure she has what it takes and isn't sure she wants the added complications in her life.

Now imagine if “Princess Diaries” were about a girl who’d always longed to be a princess because she always thought she was different form everybody else? Totally different story. Or a super-rebellious girl who didn’t believe in the monarchy, even if she were a part of it? It's all just a matter of perspective.

Coming up with your idea is the first big way to "spin" your work. Choosing your character/s is the second big way. And making sure you see the world in terms of the character/s is the third big way. And the best way to prepare for this is to constantly be looking for ways to see the world through someone else's eyes. That's a surefire way to help you create realistic characters. (And as an added bonus, it helps teach you compassion!)

So hyper-analytical neurotics unite! Together we will create characters who are just as neurotic and hyper-analytical as we are… and then we will analyze them.

Happy spinning! And watch out for clowns in tiny cars.
k.
We have a double surprise this Monday! Katie is giving away a "oodles of fun random stuff" to a random winner! But wait, I am giving away my ARC of her book! So that means you lovely readers will have two (2) chances to score a lovely prize.

Katie's prize bag will given away randomly:

Rules:
+1 if you comment under this post
+1 if you start following me
+2 if you were already a follower (google reader counts)
+2 if you post about this giveaway (show me the link!)
+2 if you refer someone
+1 to the person who you referred!

And the ARC will be given away to the "scariest" doll. Bad Girls Don't Die focuses on dolls so I thought that it will kind of cool. Just email me at yan(dot)pocky(at)gmail(dot)com with your picture. I prefer that you somehow own this doll or just found it in a dollstore instead of going to google. If you just take a picture of the doll with your hand in a peace symbol that will work. Mostly I fear that everyone will have the same picture that's online. And plus it'll be funnier if the doll was your own. Remember it does not have to be scary scary hence the quotes.

This giveaway will end on June 15th to give you guys time to take the picture! This is a US and Canada giveaway!
Katie has just informed me of her awesome plans on her blog! She's going to have downloads, giveaways, etc. So stop by to see what she's planning!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reminder!

You have less than 1 week to enter the April Fools bonanza contest!

Kelsey is giving away a copy of Perfect Chemistry OR an ARC of Beautiful Americans!


Khy is giving away a copy of Golden Girls by Micol Ostow OR (winner's choice) The One by Ed Dector.

Kristi is giving away an ARC of The Diamonds by Ted Micheal!

Sydney will be giving a copy of her book My Big Nose and other Natural Disasters, and a charm bracelet to one lucky winner!

Beth is giving away a copy of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side!

Mandy is giving away lip gloss!

Sarah Q. is giving away signed TMI bookmarks, a homemade crocheted nose warmer (her own design), and her grandma’s chocolate cake recipe (the best!).

Sarah Ockler is giving away an ARC of her debut book Twenty Boy Summer!

Cindy is giving away an ARC of her book Silver Phoenix!

C.K. is giving a copy of her book I Know It's Over!

Kristin is giving an ARC of her debut book A Match Made in High School!

Amanda has kindly donated a copy of You Had Me At Halo OR Zombie Queen of Newbury High!

People's Choice Award!

Steph (how many Steph's are there in this community!?) at Hey, Teenager of the Year is hosting a People's Choice Awards for bloggers!

Nominations:

Best Interviewer: That blogger who asks authors all the tough questions.

Best Reviewer: Whose reviews are almost better than the books?

Best Newcomer: A new, fabulous YA book blogger (Six months blogging or less).

The Golden Book Blog Award: This award is for the long-time blogger who deserves recognition for their commitment to making a star blog. The blogs that inspired you to start book blogging, the pioneers of YA book blog land. They know who they are.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Love, Stargirl

Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (April 28th 2009—Knopf)

Grade: 5 stars out of 5

Summary: “Stargirl has moved and left everything behind: Arizonia, enchanted desert places—and Leo, her once (and future?) boyfriend.

He’s all that she can think about, and her life begins to feel like a parade of unhappy anniversaries. Then Stargirl meets her wonderfully bizarre new neighbors: Dootsie, the curly-headed five-year-old “human bean”; Betty Lou, who hasn’t stepped outside her house for nine years; her hot-tempered Alvina with hat one glittery nail; and Perry Delloplane, the blue-eyed thief who soon lays his own claim to Stargirl’s heart.

In letters to Leo over the course of a year, Stargirl comes to find hope in new places: mockingbirds, donut angels, and the Winter Solstice—that turning point day when dark tips to light. But life without Leo? Will he—can he—answer that one crucial question she asks every morning to the rising sun?”

Review: I must admit, pointblank, that I am bias when it comes to Mr. Spinelli (hey a girl has a right be bias at point right?). As a child growing up I devoured his books; grabbed everything and anything that had his name written on it. So when Random House sent me a copy of the companion to book Stargirl, I was elated, ecstatic, surprised, and jumped with joy.

Out of all his books, Stargirl had to be my favorite. So when I first heard about Love, Stargirl I knew right away I had to read it, I vowed to myself I would.

Love, Stargirl is a novel to the rawest form—straight from the heart, intense, and emotional unnerving. I love this book. Love.

Written through letter forms I was hoping, crossing my fingers, that it will serve the idea well. Many have tried before, writing a novel through letters, chatrooms, and diaries and have, in my opinion, did no justice to the plotline. So after I finished Love, Stargirl I gave a sigh of relief since it was glorious. You get Stargirl and just her alone against the world. Her inner thoughts, her worries, her frustrations, and her joy all comes through. It leaves the reader able to dissect each part of her life to the smallest detail and separate it. My heart raced, my throat clenched, my frustrating and fear grew, and I almost cried with relief and/or joy along with Stargirl in her life.

“My hands were shaking. It was a single piece of paper, white, small, folded in quarters, the way a little kid folds a letter. Fold by fold I opened it. There was one word, in royal blue marker ink, all capital letters:

YES

My heart took flight.”

This was the exact passage that made me teary. Give me two books that everyone cried over and I produce nothing. Give me a simple one syllable word: YES and I might start to bawl.

Dootsie made me thankful that I did not have a 5-year-old sister. Perry made me glad that I do not have a boyfriend. Betty Lou gave me a desire to get to know my neighbors a bit more. All the people that Stargirl encounters leave their mark in my heart as well as her own.

Overall: It was just pure entertainment and joy on my end reading. Expect me to read this book again and again.

Cover B

P.S. My only huge qualm about this book is that my copy is slightly bent. Nooooooo (yeah okay so that is not really an issue with the book).

Marcelo in the Read World

Marcelo in the Read World by Francisco X. Stork (March 1st 2009—Arthur A. Levine)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: “Marcelo Sandoval hears music that nobody else can hear – part of an autism-like condition that no doctor has been able to identify. But his father has never fully believed in the music or Marcelo's differences, and he challenges Marcelo to work in the mailroom of his law firm for the summer…to join "the real world."

There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file – a picture of a girl with half a face – that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.”

Review: Marcelo in the Read World reminded me a tad bit of Flowers for Algernon. However a few more pages in, it did seem to be the appropriate. And then it hit me—technically the book gave it away—Forest Gump. It was the tone of the novel, the actions that Marcelo partaken in that reminded me so much of it.

The writing style was stark, crude, and in-your-face. Right from the gecko the reader jumps into the novel. You tend to get lost when introduced to a new character as the author writes as if he expects you to know them already.

Directly from Marcelo’s point of view you get a close understand to everyday struggles to the most common aspects. His confusion to simple phrases and words, trying to grasp the meaning through his own thought pattern.

I guess in terms of liking it or not, I am somewhere in the middle. The beginning and end was great but the middle dragged and was heavy in the law aspect. I had to read on and off to keep a slight interest.

Overall: An interesting read to say the less.

Cover B

Friday, April 17, 2009

Band Geeked Out

Band Geeked Out by Josie Bloss (April 1st 2009—Flux)

Grade: 2 stars out of 5

Summary: “Senior year is here, and trumpet goddess Ellie Snow is facing her toughest decision yet. When she gets accepted to an all-girls college out east (which doesn’t have a marching band), Ellie’s lock-step life and future plans are thrown totally out of sync. Confusion abounds when she visits the beautiful campus and meets Alex, a girl who’s free and fun—and completely unlike anyone she’s ever known.

Will Ellie trade the familiar safety of home and her cute sophomore boyfriend, Connor, for the cool newness of . . . something else?”

Review: Do you guys remember my rant about the Conner and Ellie duo? It’s back with a whole new fire. Okay so the last book the relationship was not all too good but it had its moments that made me smile. In the sequel, however, all I could do was cringe and shake my head. It was a rollercoaster of bad decisions, awkward conversations, and an abrupt breakup that later defended…somewhat.

Ellie was beyond annoying here. Selfish, selfish, selfish. It she could not get her way then watch out, Hurricane Ellie is blowing in.

Alex is…I do not even know where to start with her. So pass.
I end up skimming quite a few of the pages and skip some dialogues. Especially those that were on IM—really do not like those. A lot of it seems cluttered and choking. It did however give more depth to Ellie. You got to see more of her vulnerable side. Her bond between friends, her obligations to her parents, her desire to find what her dream is.

Overall: N/A

Cover C+

Band Geek Love

Band Geek Love by Josie Bloss (July 1st 2008—Flux)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: “All band, all the time. That's how trumpet goddess Ellie Snow has made it to senior year. No drama, no dating. Just keeping lock-step within the safe precision of the Winslow Marching Band. She's a fierce section leader now, and so over the heart-crushing social disaster of her freshman year. No boy is going to ruin Ellie's shining moment—her senior solo performance at the homecoming game.

And then Connor Higgins shows up. Not even Ellie can resist the trumpet player who could be a model for Abercrombie & Fitch. It's a hook-up made in band-geek heaven! But Ellie's not ready to publicize their romance, not even to her best friends. After all, Connor's just a sophomore. What would everyone say? Breaking formation and revealing her true self would be like . . . marching on the field completely naked!

Then Ellie discovers the flipside of secrets and how it feels to be shut out by the ones she loves.”

Review: So there are the jocks, the cheerleaders, the Goths, the skaters, the punks, the outsider, and everything else. But whatever happened to the band geeks? Josie Bloss tells of the “other” social ladder from a point of view of an aspiring trumpeter.

Band Geek Love was an adorable read for me. There was nothing too deep that draws the more series readers in.

It was half-and-half for the characters; loved some and hated others. Ellie was a relatable character in some areas but in others I had trouble liking. Stubborn, headstrong, assertive (sometimes coming off as bitchy [the author does use cuss words]), but also insecure. The insecurity can and have come off as cockiness at points—where she downgrades on others trying to push herself up even to the point as to despising better players. There were parts that I can understand wholeheartedly but it could have gone a different route where it did not need to be frustratingly irritable.

Connor seems to be atypical hottie—cute yet a “band geek”. Alone Connor is a great character that I think can stand up for his own, but together will Ellie…NO, NO, NO! Naïve, childish (can be said for both), (extremely) clingy to the point where I ask myself “Are you sure Connor is a guy? ‘Cause he sure doesn’t have any balls…” I wanted so desperately to like Connor with Ellie. In theory they should have made the prefect pair! But it felt so needed, like Connor had no other train of thought besides making Ellie happy even if she did not deserve (which at points she did not at all!).

Kristen, Ellie’s best friend, was the bubblegum friend who needs to BACK-OFF. Whiny, annoying, and just ugh! Jack, Ellie’s other best friend, was great! He displayed qualities of a friend that I definitely could have befriended. Cool, calm, and composed.

Overall: Band Geek Love was basically a high school romance novel. I would recommend reading this if you are bored—nothing exceptional and aggravating at times.

Cover B-

Birthday Wishes!


Say hello to another April baby! The Story Siren!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blog Tour: Say the Word Part 2

Here is my belated guest post with Jeannine Garsee, author of Say the Word!
I definitely have a Good Side and an Evil Side—and, yes, like my character Shawna, a ‘pathetic’ side as well. I’m a perfect example of the kind of person who thinks of something terribly witty and biting to say about five minutes after someone really ticks me off. Then I agonize for hours over the fact that I didn’t say what I could have said when I had the perfect chance.

I believe everyone has a Good (if not perfect) and Evil side. Working with the public as I do, I’m pretty good at maintaining that Good exterior. As a psychiatric nurse, I deal with some extremely difficult people, not only patients, but their families as well. Add to that the fact that the population I work with are mostly inner city people who not only are actively mentally ill—some to the point of being homicidal—but have minimal education and almost no social skills to speak of. Many are ex-convicts. Most have family members who are as mentally ill as themselves. Needless to say, it’s difficult to remain calm and professional when people are screaming at you and calling you every name under the sun, and threatening to kill you, your family, and every generation to follow. These are not idle threats; these patients sincerely mean what they say.

Luckily (for the most part) I’m able to maintain my Good Side when dealing with these people. It’s not always easy. In my average, everyday, non-working life I’d never let anyone talk to me like that. Evil Jeannine would spring out and demand to know who they think they’re talking to, that I don’t appreciate being verbally abused. At work I do confront patients who are verbally abusive, but it’s always in the back of my mind that these people are truly sick and not always completely in control. However, if someone is rude to me in a check out like at the grocery store, they’re most certainly going to hear about it from me.

When my Evil Side does pop out, it’s usually because I’m already stressed from the multiple demands made upon me, or from lack of sleep, or because I’m not feeling well, or—more than anything—because I’m working on the computer, either writing or blogging, and I’m constantly interrupted by forces beyond my control. When I write, I need long uninterrupted periods of time—and if I am interrupted for whatever reason, I tend to snap. I am not a ‘shouter’ but I do get very snotty and tend to snarl at people. This is one of the reasons I do the majority of my writing away from home. No ringing telephones, no one demanding my attention or asking me questions or calling me to the phone. It’s easier on everyone—certainly on my family, and of course on me.

So, like Shawna, I do have 3 personalities. Shawna’s sides, I believe, are a direct result of the way she was brought up—particularly her evil side, the occasional release of her pent-up anger and her frustration at her own relentless perfectionism. My evil side, I believe, stems simply from impatience when my creative process is interrupted, either intentionally or not. Writers are an extremely self-absorbed lot, a result of living in our heads too much. I liken it to snatching a bowl of food away from an aggressive dog—don’t try it with a writer, because we may bite your hand off!

Copywrite 2009 Jeannine Garsee
Thank you Jeannine!

Fragile Eternity

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr (April 21st 2009—HarperTeen)

Grade: 2 stars out of 5

Summary: “Seth never expected he would want to settle down with anyone—but that was before Aislinn. She is everything he'd ever dreamed of, and he wants to be with her forever. Forever takes on new meaning, though, when your girlfriend is an immortal faery queen.

Aislinn never expected to rule the very creatures who'd always terrified her—but that was before Keenan. He stole her mortality to make her a monarch, and now she faces challenges and enticements beyond any she'd ever imagined.

In Melissa Marr's third mesmerizing tale of Faerie, Seth and Aislinn struggle to stay true to themselves and each other in a milieu of shadowy rules and shifting allegiances, where old friends become new enemies and one wrong move could plunge the Earth into chaos.”

Review: So I may be the only girl alive who has qualms with this book. In fact, I had so much trouble that it took me a whopping 5 days to read. Although I read Graceling over the span of 3 months, I actually had only spent 2 days actually reading it because it was a huge read. This means that Fragile Eternity was by far the longest book it has ever taken me to read. If I had it my way, meaning I did not have to mail this book out to a friend, I would have taken another week or so, hoping to drag the pain out over the course of time.

Fragile Eternity takes off immediately where Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange left off. So if you are like me and read those books ages ago, read it again before starting Fragile Eternity. Or you will be lost. Case in point, me. I had trouble beginning the book because I forgot some of the events that happened in those prior books which forced me to be completely and utterly lost. It took about 100 pages in that until I got comfortable again.

Give me another hundred pages and the plot begins to pick up. That is right. More than halfway through the book, page 250 or so, did the actual storyline make any sense. It was a grueling pace from the start. Excessive descriptions, unneeded dialogues, and bouts of what did I just read? I can basically sum up the entire first half in a few sentences. In fact for a hefty read like this, around 400 pages, the entire series moved 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.

Is anyone else not overly obsessed over the characters like me? Aislinn is too naïve for me like she has on a pair of rose-tinted glasses in every wake of her life. Keenan is just a shy of being a man whore (excuse my French) for me—just a bit more “loving” before I stick a label on his forehead. Seth was kind of there. Well some times…. I just see no appeal to him compared to others who fawn over his hard rock appearance and multiple piercings. I mean really though!? I get that he has a lip piercing, but can you please stop mentioning it every other page! For me the real star was Niall. He was the mighty stone who made sense! He who does not whine and complain ever few pages shines like a thousand stars! (does anyone else see the irony of me saying this and what I am saying?)

So that was the bad parts of Fragile Eternity. The good news was that the book definitely had the drama aspect down pat. The relationships between every character had its ups and downs, its hugs and kisses to pain and anguish. I found the brotherhood between Seth and Niall refreshing. There were no love quarrels and no dramatic scenes of “I love you!” and “I hate you!” Simple gestures that make me smile. There were also bits of surprises mainly involving Seth and Sorcha which never would I have imagined! And also a very cute cameo from the cover, the iron flowers of Wicked Lovely in the book.

The ending screams SEQUEL! I mean screamed!

Overall: Fragile Eternity definitely could have done better. Too much fluff and not enough of an actual plotline happening.

Cover A
The cover is simply stunning!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Silver Phoenix

Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon (April 28th 2009—Harper)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: “No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger's subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.

But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn't only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.

Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.

It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.”

Review: Silver Phoenix definitely was a fantasy read. The way it was written made me think of an RPG (role-playing game). Granted I have not played a single video game in my entire life but I like to watch others play. It was set up as a fight monster A, talk to townspeople, fight monster B, eat and rest, and so forth until you fight final boss. And let me tell you, they ate quite frequently and was told in great detail. After a while even I started to get hungry, mostly because I have eaten many of the food described so I can imagine it, and ended skimming through those scenes. And there was many of those scenes skimmed…Kill final boss, gigantic scene where spirits and sparkly lights come out of said boss’s mouth. Heroes or heroine in this case goes back home after completing her goal.

Cindy Pon had a never ending supply of mystical creatures! Some were interesting, others disturbing, but they were all, how should I say this, unique. But some scenes had me twitching like a rabid bunny.

“The Life Seeker can easily be distinguished by the extra breast on her sternum. The tips are dark blue, as her tongue and womanhood. Legend has it that the extra breast was given to replace the heart she does not have…” This is also a creature that wears a sheer top so you really cannot miss the other “thing” sticking out…Thankfully that is about the worst of the demons.

Another twitching scene: ‘“Don’t worry, Ai Ling. My manhood may be sitting in a jar, but I can still satisfy you in every way…” I may not be a guy, but this still makes me cringe and uncomfortable. Speaking of awkwardness, this book talks about rape and sex so if are not comfortable or allowed to read about such topics, then I suggest ask permission or skip those scenes. It is only a few short scenes, but a disclaimer can never hurt anyone.

This was a fast-paced book that took you all over the lands! From country side to country side, to the heavens and below, the reader embarks on the journey with Ai Ling. The tales were riveting and the details and explanations were exceptionally acute. Sometimes being more of the focal point than the actual plot.

Ai Ling and the rest of the characters took some time to get used to. She was a bit stubborn and naïve but later learned to…tolerate?

What I would have wished for the more details of Silver Phoenix, Ai Ling is the reincarnation of her. I think it would be a great idea if she wrote a sequel/prequel type of book told in Silver Phoenix’s point of view. It would clear up a lot of questions as well as provide another fascinating read.

Also this may be an ARC issue of not, but towards the end, Ai Ling’s father talks about Chen Yong’s past. There is a sudden shift of point of views that took a while to figure out and by the time I did, it went back to third person. You know, with the he’s/she’s instead of I’s. Either the editors missed some quotations marks or they did notice this fumble.

Overall: I hope to see some type of sequel to this gorgeously written novel.

Cover B+
I am still awkward seeing an oriental girl on the cover but the shininess draws me in like a moth.

EDIT: Quite the comments I seem to have obtained. Anyway concerning my cover opinion I would just like to state that I have not seem many oriental girls on American novels so my first reaction was of course, huh. It took me by surprise and slightly out of my comfort zone. After some time I was able to digest and thus graded the cover. I hope I have offended anyone by my statement (if fact I'm oriental myself so...?) or perhaps I am reading more into the comments than necessary.

Waiting on Wednesday! (8)

This meme is being hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe (September 15th 2009--Henry Holt)

"Sixteen-year-old Cass McKenna would take the company of the dead over the living any day. Unlike her high school classmates, the dead don't lie or judge, and they're way less scary than Danielle, the best-bud-turned-backstabber who kicked Cass to the bottom of the social ladder in seventh grade. Since then, Cass has styled herself as an avenger. Using the secrets her ghostly friends stumble across, she exposes her fellow students' deceits and knocks the poseurs down a peg.

When Tim Reed, the student council V.P., asks Cass to chat with his recently-deceased mom, her instinct is to laugh in his face. But Tim's part of Danielle's crowd. He can give Cass dirt the dead don't know. Intent on revenge, Cass offers to trade her spirit-detecting skills for his information. She isn't counting on chasing a ghost who would rather hide than speak to her, dealing with the retaliation of an angry student, or discovering that Tim's actually an okay guy. As Tim sinks into a suicidal depression, Cass has to choose: run back to the safety of the dead, or risk everything to stop Tim from becoming a ghost himself."

Yeah, wants this...and sorry about the small cover. It took me forever to find this one and a lot more to confirm that it is the correct one!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Faery Rebel: Spell Hunter

Faery Rebel: Spell Hunter by R.J. Anderson (April 28th 2009—Harper)

Grade: 5 stars out of 5

Summary: “As the Faery Queen's appointed Hunter, Knife alone has the courage and skill to fight the crows and other predators who threaten the Oakenfolk's survival. Yet neither she nor the Queen can do anything to stop a mysterious magical disease from claiming the faeries of the Oak one by one.

But there are humans at the bottom of the garden, and a glimpse inside their House convinces Knife that they have powers and knowledge that could help her people. Still, if the human world has so much to offer, why is the Queen determined to keep the faeries away from it? Is there a connection between the House and the Oakenfolk's loss of magic? And why is Knife so drawn to the young Paul McCormick — that strangest of creatures, a human male?

Knife determines to learn the truth about the Oakenfolk's relationship to humanity, no matter what the Queen might do to prevent her — a quest which threatens the growing friendship between herself and Paul, puts both their lives in jeopardy, and challenges everything Knife has ever believed about humans, faeries, and her own heart's desire. And when at last Knife discovers the secret the Faery Queen has been hiding, she is forced to make an agonizing choice between love and freedom that will change her life, and the lives of her people, forever.”

Review: This book was simply…wow. And that, my dears, is an understatement. Just when my hope begins to diminish on Team Faery, Team Zombie is popping out some good books, R.J. Anderson writes this beauty.

When I started to read Faery Rebel, my brother asked me what’s it about? [Yes, Yan has a brother--older] I passed the book to him which he promptly read the back summary. He said that Disney is bound to make a movie out of this to which I reply, they probably will. So why did I tell you this little exchange between brother dear and I? To showcase you the appeal that it has. This book shows great potential for middle school students and high school students, as well as adults who adore fairies! We are talking about awe worthy, sigh escaping, silly little grins, and childish giggles type of book! And that, my friends, is just the starting point.

What I love first about Faery Rebel was the fact that it is quite different from other fairy type novels coming out. Most of which dwelled in the “Fairy World” with kings, queens, courts, and all of that confusing stuff. This was more of the Disney type of world—where they are 7 inches tall, live in a tree, and in the human world. This might seem cliché to some, but after reading about 4 series with the same background information and whatnot, I am quite sick of it. This was considered a breath of fresh air for me!

Knife was too precious. She reminds me of a little child who I want to hug and pamper. The innocence of not knowing anything in the human world, the batch of new emotions surfacing when she meets Paul, that made me want to read more. But of course, human size she can probably kick my butt. The way she handles her tasks, her confrontation with humans, the way she tried to solve the mystery of the ever declining fairy race, it was tres magnifique!

The characters surrounding Knife were as equally impressive and divine. Each had a motive, a purpose, and executed it in a wonderful fashion.

The plot complex, well as complex as you can without boring anyway. The descriptive language was there. The build up in storyline, the climax, the ending, was…sigh. I cannot simply tell you how wonderful it all was. Read it. Just grab a copy and read it.

Overall: Faery Rebel impressed me and I eagerly wait for the sequel! It was a stunning piece of work that R.J. Anderson should be proud of.

Cover A-
My friend oh-ed and ah-ed over this cover so I do think that it is quite eye-catching.

EDIT: Based on the comments so far, I feel ironic is some way. Personally I really do not like the cover--in person it is quite better, but it still did not sell me.