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Friday, July 31, 2009

Soulstice

Soulstice by Simon Holt (September 1st 2009—Little Brown)

Grade: 4 stars out of 5

Summary: “The terrifying, nail-biting, and grossly intriguing sequel to The Devouring.

It's been six months since Reggie first discovered and fought against the Vours, malicious and demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on the eve of the Winter Solstice.

The Vours still haunt Reggie, but only in her dreams-until one night, when an unexpected visitor turns her nightmares into reality.”

Review: I swear this series is out to get me. I read Devouring, Soulstice’s prequel, on Sorry Night, and guess what else? Turns out not only do the Vours come out during then but also on my birthday! June 21st, summer solstice. Case in point, this series is really out to get me.

Soulstice really outdid The Devouring by a much larger margin than I had anticipated. There was a whole new factor of fear. This time it was not the physical fear—spiders, clowns, and killer mothers—but rather desolation, fear of oneself, and guilt. It is more of the essence and the ever lingering taste that never fully leaves unlike the more physical fears. The tone of the novel developed into a larger reader’s group from the child-like stance to the more teenage/young adult. I much prefer this type of story as the characters can be empathized. Spiders and clowns are fine but children typically grow out of that fear as they age and yet guilt and isolation will forever be a part of you.

As far as the characterization goes, we focus more between Quinn and Reggie now. I have come to grow fond of Quinn, who knows why. He has that dry humor that I seem to enjoy quite a bit and the interaction with Reggie was cute. It was like two feisty little kittens that made that smile. Maybe not kittens per se…

Reggie was an independent person that stood up when no one else would. That was what I really appreciate. I have come across some many female leads that depend on someone so much that irritates me. She was a kick-butt heroine!

The writing style however was disjointed. It has been rumored that Simon Holt does not exist but rather it is an assembly line of writers that forms this so called “Simon Holt”. Personally I do not care if it means that we will get quality books such as the Soulstice and The Devouring has proven. But the difference in style can be detected when we switched from Aaron and Reggie. It slightly disrupts the flow of the book in my opinion.

Overall: Soulstice surprised me in the most pleasant way with its unexpected twists and great scare tactics. I look forward to the third installment of the Devouring series.

Cover B+
Mmmm purty…

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ash

Ash by Malinda Lo (September 1st 2009—Little Brown)

Grade: 4 stars out of 5

Summary: “In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.”

Review: Holy cow, Ash completely blew my mind. I went in not expecting anything and came out stunned, pleased, and wanting more.

The entire storyline is indeed a spin-off of Cinderella with some minor twist, Kaisa being the largest. The fairy godmother was Sidhean where each gift required a trade and Prince Charming opted out for the King’s huntress Kaisa. Minor twists that creates a whole new tale.

For the most matter I was sucked in to Ash’s life, her mother’s death, her father’s death, the cruelty of her stepmother, and her good fortune of Sidhean and Kaisa. Ash was a strong character as well as Kaisa. Readers can emphasize to Ash through the pain and misery just they did to Cinderella.

We come to read of her mother’s life prior to that of Ash’s birth—the curse that she struck. Complete surprise! Throughout the book I was confused on how he played a role in the book, where he came from, why he stuck so closely to Ash, so when the entire thing blossomed out I was a bit surprised. It was slightly odd though to me because you fell for the mother but ended up with the daughter which reminds me of Blue Bloods series. It just kind of grosses me out a tad.

I also would have liked to see the scene where Ash pays her dues to Sidhean. What was required? What had happened? The ending as well could have lead to a sequel—a possibility in the making perhaps?

Overall: Not really that much focused on the lesbian part, Ash could have been bisexual it seems. Still amazing based solely on the storyline.

Cover B+
I love the concept behind the cover. The rich purple of the title as well as the dark green of the grass. I would have liked to less green hues on the girl though, it just forces her to blend in with the background.

Books By Its Cover (5)

Last one for the month guys. Will be taking entries for all the poems from July until the 1st of August where I'll post a new contest for August.

Cover up the mystery
With bloody tears
Streaked

Anyway I was wondering if you guys can take the time to answer some questions about this meme.

1. Do you like it? If not can you suggest some things to make it better?
2. Is too challenging? Is it not challenging enough?
3. Should I do a monthly theme or just do a sporadic pattern?
4. Anything else you want to say?

P.S. Books by its Cover meme from now on will be moved to Saturday instead of Thursday. Why? Because I said so :P

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Comeback

The Comeback by Marlene Perez (August 1st 2009—Point)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: “Sophie Donnelly is one half of the most popular and powerful couple in school, until new girl Angie Vogel shows up and compromises everything. Angie steals Sophie's starring role in the school play, and, worse, her super-popular boyfriend. Sophie has been quickly dispatched to social Siberia, but not for long--she'll do anything it takes to make a triumphant comeback.”

Review: The Comeback is one of those novels that scream TEEN NOVEL! It’s the typical—girl is popular, new girl comes along, old girl is not popular anymore, old girl wants popularity back, insert: a crazy scene that degrades the old girl even more, old girl learns a lesson, and the let bygones be bygones.

This should all sound very familiar does it not? We’re jumping back years of what young adult novels have come from. The Comeback is a guilty pleasure. One of which leads the reader back to the good ol’ days where everything was simpler and a good pepper-down-the-dress can spoil anyone’s big day.

Sophie is an aspiring actress that demands the spotlight. But when Angie appears from nowhere Sophie is pushed aside even by her own boyfriend. Insert diabolical schemes that makes me pity the poor girl. You can compare it to when someone pulls someone else’s pants. It’s mortifying for the person and you know you shouldn’t be looking, but it’s like stopping gravity from being…gravity—impossible. I feel like I should turn my head the other way when Sophie’s schemes never turn out how she wants it to be but you just can’t help but look.

I loved some the characters in this book particularly Sophie’s best friend and the best friend’s brother. Witty and strong characters. I did not really enjoy Sophie’s ex-boyfriend though; a bit fickle for my taste and his reason for breaking up with Sophie was not really a good reason at all. In the end you kind of like they’re friends though so you can sigh happily to the hookup between the best friend’s brother and Sophie. I thought Angie was also a great character. The author provided substantial background information and some character build-up.

Overall: Cute. Nostalgic feeling of the good old days though I wished for a bit more pow in the book.

Cover B+
I’m a sucker for a good dress. I admit I probably like taffeta a bit more than the rest of society. Loves the color scheme though, rich and deep with a splash of color. The body language is there as well.

Waiting on Wednesday! (23)

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (October 13th, 2009)

"For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life."
I'm pulling my hair out wanting to read this bad boy

This meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monday Mystery/Tuesdays Throwups: Geektastic Giveaway!

As I said last week I'll be giving away 3 copies of Geektastic to my readers! And we can just call this post...Tuesday Throw-up? O.O

Acclaimed authors Holly Black (Ironside) and Cecil Castellucci (Boy Proof) have united in geekdom to edit short stories from some of the best selling and most promising geeks in young adult literature: M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Tracy Lynn, Cynthia and Greg Leitich Smith, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Scott Westerfield, Lisa Yee, and Sara Zarr.

With illustrated interstitials from comic book artists Hope Larson and Bryan Lee O'Malley, Geektastic covers all things geeky, from Klingons and Jedi Knights to fan fiction, theater geeks, and cosplayers. Whether you're a former, current, or future geek, or if you just want to get in touch with your inner geek, Geektastic will help you get your geek on!
So here are the rules:

You must give me your geekiest tales to be entered. I will select a panel of judges to pick the best entry and she/he will be an automatic winner. The rest of you with face the horrors of random.org and my excel spreadsheet.

+1 if you spread word of this contest (blog, twitter, facebook, paper airplanes...oh! you can also email 5 friends and CC me a copy to be counted as an entry if you can't blog. Blog=email=blog. One or the other Twitter, facebook, and paper airplanes are their own separate thing). It's an entry per method. Remember to leave me a link! I won't count it if I can't find it!

And...that's basically it. I want your geekiest tales and spread the word if you want. I won't count extra entries for followers because it takes a while to count those. Remember that Huggles Part 2 may happen sooner than you think...

This is a US only contest because Little Brown will be the one shipping it. Contest will end on August 17th giving you 3 whole weeks to enter. Please leave a way for me to contact you.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Traveling to Teens: Christina Harner

Welcome Christina Harner! You can find her at her website and purchase a SIGNED copy of Behind Every Illusion there! Hardcovers will be shortly available for purchase!
When describing myself, I often use terms better suited for a mirror maze.

Ever walked through a mirror maze at your county fair? The first one makes you look like an NBA player. The second shows you’ve eaten about one thousand donuts or been squashed by a piano that fell from the sky. In the third, you look like a very odd alien creature or one of those ridged carrot slices. And although we dismiss the images as quickly as we see them, we forget that sometimes our own opinions of ourselves are just like those mirrors.

What do I mean? Well, do you ever hear a compliment (“no! your hair is very pretty!” “you really do look great in that bathing suit!”) and immediately dismiss it? Often we see ourselves as ugly, un-cool, too fat, kinky-haired, when others see us as fun, smart, funny, and just-the-right-kind-of-cool. But no, we always have to see the wavy/squashed flaws.

At least, I do!

When I wrote Behind Every Illusion, I started by taking me (yes, the main girl is me… sort of!) and asking myself, “what would a girl who looks at herself like she’s in a mirror maze do if she began changing in ways that made her go so far as to doubt her humanity?” I mean, sure, a confident twenty-five-year-old guy might think it was cool if his hair suddenly turned white and his fingers grew an inch longer. But wouldn’t a self-conscious eighteen-year-old girl be more likely to run around the room screaming and then hide in the closet for a few days (and eat all those donuts I mentioned earlier)? I think so.

So I wrote a book a self-conscious (and mildly self-hating!) girl like me could relate to.

And then I had to wonder… how could she overcome those fears? Would it takes others who were just like her to finally convince her that she was not the only “squashed/wavy” freak in the world? Or could she learn on her own that being more than human could actually be pretty amazing even if she was alone in her uniqueness?

Of course, it’s much better if Prince Charming comes and sweeps her off her feet and tells her that he, too, is different (take Shrek, if you will). But before the perfect one comes along, there must be that change of heart. I’m married and my husband tells me all the time that I’m beautiful, and most of those moments I laugh at him and shake my head in disagreement. No, Prince Charming can’t fix everything. The mirror must be broken and the illusions we hide behind to keep anything “weird” or “un-cool” from reaching the light of day must fade away.

Once we accept ourselves and get rid of the illusions, life is pretty amazing actually! And then – at least for one particular girl – finding your skin glows in the moonlight and some other crazy things (don’t want to give the ending away!) is wonderful and exciting!

I hope that when you read Behind Every Illusion, you will root for her to gain the courage to break those mirrors. Because in the end, Prince Charming might just show up. And when he does, she needs to be ready to accept who she is.

Enjoy!

Christina Harner
It's 10:47 PM. Thank goodness for scheduling options.

Behind Every Illusion

Behind Every Illusion by Christina Harner (June 6th 2009--Two Tree Books)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: “All creatures born of human parents must be human and therefore must be ordinary.

Even the soft-spoken eighteen-year-old Tatiana Lewis wholeheartedly accepts this logic. So when she begins to experience unusual changes, she has no clue where to turn and instead keeps her new abilities a secret. But her best friend and brother, Isaac, sees past her illusions and together they explore the significance of her differences and search out the meaning behind them.

Amidst tragedy, unimaginable transformations and an unexpected friendship, Tatiana has to learn to reveal the girl hidden behind her illusions and what it means to face the world in order to preserve not only the forest but her very existence.”

Review: First things first, kudos goes to Christina for being a self-published author! Washington Irving was a self-published author at one point and we can see how far he went in the literacy career!

Anyway Behind Every Illusion gives the reader a fresh new idea of how fairies are perhaps evolved for the global epidemic. It plays nicely with the world’s Go Green! slogan and promotions. I don’t know how well it will translate into the storyline however.

My biggest struggle with the novel is the length. I don’t mind lengthy books as long as each sentence serves a purpose. Behind Every Illusion could have used a good trimming in the excess length. I skimmed a good chunk of the beginning because it had no actual purpose within the storyline. It was too much college experience worth about 100 pages or so. To tell you the truth, I had to skim some of the middle as well.

I did enjoy the buildup. I thought that it was nice that the transformation from every day girl to fairy girl didn’t happen in a span of 24 hours. The family relationship was comforting to say the least, loved the plot twist involving said member with unexpected death and saddening love declaration.

I would have like understand more of plot. We didn’t happen to get very far with the earth is danger fairy people alert. I did find out that there are really weird things you can find in forums…

Overall: I hope the sequel covers more. A bit wordy and not much of plot line filling in. Hoping that the sequel covers those tracks. Not bad.

Cover C
Something’s not quite right…the arms? The kind of fake copy and paste alignment?
Sorry, it's 10:42 PM and I just finished writing the review and literally about to pass out. Didn't proofread.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Traveling to Teens: Stephanie Kuehnert

So while trying to figure out a way to incorporate drugs and alcohol in a topic without going overboard, I drew inspiration from Twilight coughcough.
Which type of drug would you call yourself? We already know Bella is Edward's heroin. Do you have your own personal heroin?

Hmm, I don't know what type of drug, I'd be. Honestly, I don't really want to be a drug just because I've seen drugs ruin so many people's lives. But I do hope I'm an addictive substance to readers! I hope that my books are something that they just can't kick or put down. That's what I strive for.

Books and music are my heroin. And writing of course. Fortunately since my teen years I've learned that it is way way healthier to lose yourself in words and sound and let those heal what ails you. When you lose yourself in a book, it's an escape, but unlike drugs, you usually learn something about yourself while reading it and with really good books, sometimes they can help you take a new approach to life or a problem, they inspire you. Which is something real heroin definitely doesn't do. I had a lot of unhealthy habits as a teen for dealing with pain and stress, but the healthy one and the habit that lasted is writing. Like with reading, I lose myself in a new world and I really do learn from my characters. I wish I could have written a character like Kara at 16 to understand myself, but I guess I was just to close to Kara's kind of world back then.

Music is also the perfect drug. It brings you up or mellows you out. Any emotion you're having can be reflected and soothed by music. I love the feeling of getting hooked on a new band or song. You love listening to it again and again just to evoke a certain kind of feeling. Music is the best drug in the world. Gets you high with no side effects
This was a Traveling to Teens tour.

Ballads of Suburbia

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert (July 21st 2009—MTV)

Grade: 4 stars out of 5

Summary: “Kara hasn't been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad-boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park....

Amid the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.”

Review: Ballads of Suburbia is a tale that tells about what it’s really like in the suburbs. It’s not the cakes and cookies as what Stephanie pointed out. Fans of I Wanna Be Joey Ramone will be happy to know that Stephanie’s new book is just as powerful, intense, and gripping.

This book left me depressed, anguished, and with a throat as dry as the desert. Kara goes through such a journey of emotions each leaving me a sense of sadness, hopes that are destroyed, Ballads of Suburbia is a perfect partner to Amy Winehouse’s song Rehab.

Kara goes through a roller coaster of a lifetime with friends, family, and drugs. The drugs are what calms her, they are what erases the mistakes. Kara faces two boys—one that left her to die and one that almost killed me. She makes a tough choice and in the end finally grows up.

In some ways these types of books are not for me. I mean I like them here and there, but they aren’t something I can live on.

Ballads was just too loaded with drugs. I expected the onslaught of drugs but when a good part of the book describes drugs, how to use drugs, where you get drugs, and the path away from drugs, I miss some of the more finer details. The family parts, the friendship parts, it all blurs like you’re on drugs. In some ways I think this had to be done. Everything, almost everything, revolved around this. Each one was a stepping stone until ultimately everyone comes crashing down.

Overall: Heartbreakingly true.

Cover B
This cover is beyond disturbing. It’s the cynical part of the suburbs.
This was a Traveling to Teens tour

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1)

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (May 1st 2001—Ace)

Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in a small-town Louisiana. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn’t get out much. Not because of she’s not pretty. She is. It’s just that, well, Sookie has this sort of “disability.” She can read minds. And that doesn’t make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He’s tall, dark, and handsome—and Sookie can’t hear a word he’s thinking. He’s exactly the type of guy she’s been waiting for all her life…

But Bill has a disability of his own: He’s a vampire with a bad reputation. He hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, all suspected of—big surprise—murder. And when one of Sookie’s coworkers is killed, she fears she’s next….”

Review: When I first read the summary I cringed a bit and laughed.

The first thought that came to my head when I read Dead Until Dark was that the writing was just awful! I don’t know if the author was trying to mimic the Southern dialect to make Sookie more authentic or the editor of the book sucks at their job. There is a lot of odd word phrasing, missing words in sentences, extra words in sentences, some made up words in others, all of which I craved for some decent adjectives!

Here’s an example of a passage from the book that I detested:
“You can tell that I don’t get out much. And it’s not because I’m not pretty. I am. I’m blond and blue-eyed and twenty-five, and my legs are strong and my bosom is substantial, and I have a waspy waistline. I look good in the warm weather waitress outfit Sam picked for us: black shorts, white T, white socks, black Nikes.”
This, my friends, was on page 1. Page freaking one! First off is “waspy” an actual word? My dictionary does not have this…word. And I do not trust Urban Dictionary as much as I trust to use Wikipedia when doing research papers. Secondly, how many “and”s can you count? Were they all really necessary? Finally, that entire quote left me blanching. When the summary mentioned that Sookie was pretty, I did not mind it much. When Sookie says that she’s pretty, I did. It just puts me off. And please, “bosom is substantial”, what kind of description is that? Blond, blue-eyed…wow, I can definitely picture Sookie in mind now.

So for the first few chapter of Dead Until Dark I had the odd sensation to rip the book page by page tossing each into a pit of trash can fire. Of course each burning would be completed with an occasional manically laughter with my hair whipping around me. Too bad my mom hid the lighter fluid…

It gets better on though trust me (or else the grade would have been less…much, much less). When the mystery aspect came up in the storyline I was able to forget some of the weaker characteristics of the book. Charlaine Harris gives the reader a motive, many suspects, hints, and all the gory details needed to solve a mystery. And hey, the writing gets a bit better as well!

I enjoy some of the smaller details that the author presented—the vampires, Sookie’s childhood, Bill’s life, and some twists. But I did have some problems with the “love-making” scenes. There was one part where they actually do it in the cemetery. Wow…hope you make your family members proud seeing as how they’re all buried there.

Overall: The reason why I’m still reading this series was because I was dared to. That says a lot does it not?

Cover C+
The quintessential vampiric pose. There's probably many more similar photos to this. One of which I remember Angelina Jolie doing. This is the cover that is on my copy of book, the newer edition influenced by the TV series.

Winner

Someone left me a note on my chatbox asking why I haven't picked the winner for Shrinking Violet and Coffeehouse Angel and the answer to that is I did. I just didn't announce it. It takes a while to pick a winner because I do not just use Random.org. I type down all the names on a spreadsheet with the correct number of entries (and I check double check everything), randomize the list and then ask some people on twitter to pick numbers. When copying down 100+ entries it gets tiring to say the least. So please have some patience, I do send the prizes out, I do pick the winners, just because I do not announce the winners exactly when the contests ends does not mean I have forgotten. Normally I'm not this frustrated when someone asks me if I picked the winners yet but the person used a weird tone that didn't do well with me. There are nicer ways to ask that question. You could have left your name too...

Anyway the winners get a deflated smile because I'm a bit pissed and frustrated. I already emailed you guys so reply back soon!

Winner of Coffeehouse Angel is Seahn and the winner of my ARC of Shrinking Violet is Summer

P.S. I'll be having another contest this Monday for 3 copies of Geektastic.

P.P.S. Still pissed a bit. PMS maybe? I don't know anymore. It's things like this that makes me want to stop contests altogether.

EDIT: Maybe I'm anger 'cause I woke up at 2:30 AM by my neighbor, 5:45 AM by this really loud noise (fell asleep an hour later), and finally got up at 8AM this morning to do some jogging....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Google Reader is Too Darn Good (2)

Anddddd Bite Me! review is back up...

Bite Me!

Bite Me! by Melissa Francis (August 12th 2009—Harper Collins)

Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “AJ Ashe isn't a typical seventeen-year-old vampire (as if there is such a thing as 'typical!') Her ex-boyfriend is now her stepbrother. Her two BFFs are in a huge fight and AJ's caught in the middle. She's totally framed for cheating on a Lit test. And now, apparently, the fate of humankind lies in her little undead hands. Like that's fair. What ever happened to the good old days when all a vampire girl had to worry about was the occasional zit and hiding her fetish for necks?”

Review: Completely based off of the summary I went in thinking this book is gonna be, like, so stupid *giggles then pops bubble gum*. But it wasn’t it. It was a smidge of creepy stalker guy, hot but you-cannot-think-he-is-hot-cause-he-is-your-stepbrother-and-that-would-be-really-gross-if-you-do sibling, and the occasional “holy shit I can fly!?” attitudes. It was a fun, fast roller coaster ride that left me wanting the sequel now!

AJ is definitely not one those bubble gum princess I had imagined but rather a smart bubble gum princess! Okay, okay, I kid you. AJ is just a regular albeit with a few vampiric traits teenager that was torn between two best friends, stalked by this really, really creepy History teacher that you thought you knew, and is the modern day Marsha Brady complete with 5 other siblings and an Alice. She deals with common issues of coming to terms with a new step family, tired of being the good girl all the time, and trying to rekindle a friendship between two of your friends that just aren’t clicking anymore. The vampire stuff is just a plus.

We managed to get some background information of the AJ’s family, what are they, how high in the vampire line they are as well as the stepfamily secrets. And trust me that their secret is a little bit of Houdini *hint hint*

*winks and stands on one leg with one arm outstretched*

*giggles*

Sorry, you have to read the book to get it.

Anyway my major complaint was the ending. It was fairly cut off of the next page ending—you know you hate those. Definitely a sequel in the works, which I can’t wait for! Also had some issues with the friends where hopefully the sequel will answer.

Overall: An overall “Awh!” appeal.

Cover B-
*shrugs* Indifferent to the cover

Books By Its Cover (4)

This one is super hard.

Green and orange collide
Behind the soft tinted peach
Follow me, follow you

Remember to email me your guesses. Hint: I reviewed this book back in late June.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Google Reader is Too Darn Good

I made a mistake a few days ago and posted my review of Meridian way too early. It's back up but of course google reader still shows it from the 18th when I posted it by accident.

So the review is here.

P.S. My review for Bite Me! by Melissa Francis also had the same issue. That review will be back up tomorrow. Ugh.

Meridian

This was actually one of my first reviews ever! I've had this review saved for the past 7 months or so.
Meridian by Amber Kizer (August 11th 2009--Delacorte)

Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5

Summary: Tired of reading about faeries? Well how about reading about angels? "Sixteen-year-old Meridian has been surrounded by death ever since she can remember. As a child, insects, mice, and salamanders would burrow into her bedclothes and die. At her elementary school, she was blamed for a classmate's tragic accident. And on her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family home—and Meridian's body explodes in pain.

Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she's a danger to her family and rushed off to her great-aunt's house in Revelation, Colorado. It's there that she learns that she is a Fenestra—the half-angel, half-human link between the living and the dead. But Meridian and her sworn protector and love, Tens, face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos."

Review: I thought the development of Meridian’s power was great—taking baby steps. Some of the novels I have read show the character going from completely oblivious to this sudden surge of control and knowledge; not here though! This book gives off a much more realistic approach.
The relationship with the characters was also well done. I enjoyed reading the small scenes between the characters and the dialogue between them. Within these dialogues, background information was given. If you know me, I greatly appreciate it when an author gives background information. She gives you enough about the supernatural world for readers to understand but not too much to completely ruin the enjoyment of the story. In addition, small bits of character backgrounds are given. This gives the reader a much better feel and care for the characters, as well as the reasons behind their motives and actions.

Some parts to me were too predictable though. It felt that the suspense and ambiguity factor that the book tried to create…lacked, in a word. Many of the scenes I could have predicted in the very beginning—of course, the author did leave major hints behind, but it bores the readers to know the outcome of almost the entire storyline.

There were also some sections in the book that had me scratching my head. Where did this character pop up from? What just happened? And the ending was just one giant blur to me— maybe I just did not read it carefully enough?

One of my major issues has to be when Meridian actually got in a car with a stranger. Granted it was a taxi driver, but it definitely irked me that she can be so careless of herself. Every now and then there would be awkward moments where I just wanted to shout "What!?" In that sense, I was not confused but rather flabbergasted; "Where in the world did this come from!?" It all comes together in the end but, even after, I still cannot wrap my head around it. It can be easily interpreted as a scapegoat to create a forced happy ending. I am still very much peeved about this to this point.

Overall: A very nice book if you're bored; a good book overall, but nothing too spectacular. Still, definitely an enjoyable read if you're sick of faeries and want to try a different supernatural being.

Cover B-

Waiting on Wednesday! (22)

Boys, Girls, and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman (January 12th 2010--Putnam)

"Charlie Healey thinks Harmony Falls is the beginning of a whole new life. Middle School was brutal. Mean girls were all around her. But High School’s going to be Charlie’s big chance to start over and stay out of drama, except that on her first day who does she run into? None other than Will, her ex-best friend, who had moved away. Now he’s back, looking a lot cuter and hanging out with a questionable crew. But Charlie doesn’t understand just how questionable until an innocent delivery guy falls victim to a near-deadly hazing prank.

All Charlie wanted to do was have a drama-free freshman year, but now she must decide whether to turn in her very best friend, who just told her he loves her, or live with the guilt of knowing what he did."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crazy Beautiful

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (September 7th 2009—Houghton)

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

Summary: “In an explosion of his own making, Lucius blew his arms off. Now he has hooks. He chose hooks because they were cheaper. He chose hooks because he wouldn’t outgrow them so quickly. He chose hooks so that everyone would know he was different, so he would scare even himself.

Then he meets Aurora. The hooks don’t scare her. They don’t keep her away. In fact, they don’t make any difference at all to her.

But to Lucius, they mean everything. They remind him of the beast he is inside. Perhaps Aurora is his Beauty, destined to set his soul free from its suffering.

Or maybe she’s just a girl who needs love just like he does.”

Review: In the back of the book the description compares this book to that of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. In some ways I see no resemblance. Yes the girl is beautiful in the sense that she’s fashionable, that she brushes her hair a hundred strokes (I’m actually quoting from the book), and that everyone seems to enjoy her company. And yes the boy is different from the norm. But it stops there. So if you expect this whole ordeal where the two love birds fall head over heels, you’ll get it, just not the whole ordeal part.

Told in alternating point of views, Lucius’s and Aurora’s tales behave more like talking rather than actual storytelling. At one point of the book, Aurora actually answers the readers’ question and responds back to Lucius’s concern. Slightly awkward as it disrupted the flow of the writing style.

There were also a lot of plot holes in the book. For instance, how did Lucius manage to ruin Jessup’s (standard evil male teen in high school) diabolical plan? In the nick of less than a day, I’m guessing a few hours or less, he somehow convinced that Mr. Belle is innocent thus making him able to see Aurora before in the play and convinced the vice-principal that Ceclia lied (that was a mouthful). Or wait. Did any of that really happen? Because no where in the book does it explain how the entire thing got resolved. We went from Lucius threatening someone to happily ever after. I’m screaming to the book “Why are you so damn short!? Explain to me what the heck just happened!” Really this book was too short. Some things needed to be expanded, to develop, to make sense!

Wait! Here comes the happy part! (I flipped the way I typically write a review). Crazy Beautiful made me laugh. Like out loud. Which I never do because I don’t need any more reason to be considered crazy. It was the scene where Lucius and his younger sister went shopping to style Lucius. The entire scenario was hilarious, the dialogue completely realistic, and the bantering between siblings so relatable!

The theme of course darker than most teen novels but still had its touch of cuteness. I enjoy the buildup of Lucius’s evilness, his loner personality, and his ability to create madness within love. Suspense was partially there. Emotion as well. Would have liked the two dynamic characters interact more before thinking that they’re in love-ish. Aurora seem a bit bland at points—too much sweetness, trustworthiness.

Overall: I so want this to be longer! It might steal away from the impact but it might also answer so many questions!

Cover A
This cover is drool, drool heaven. It’s so mystique, possessive and dark. Something about just makes a girl swoon.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales

Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales, Volume 1: Sanctuary by Melissa Marr (May 1st 2009—Bowen Press)

Grade: 1 star out of 5 (but you were really close to being a door stopper!)

Summary: “Discover Melissa Marr's mesmerizing world of Faerie...

The desert is far away from the schemes of the Faerie Courts—and that's how Rika likes it. Once a mortal and now a faery, Rika seeks isolation and revels in her ability to appear invisible to humans. Then, she meets him. Artistic and kind, Jayce is the last person Rika wants to hide from.

But change is coming, challenging Rika's freedom and her new romance, as her past pursues her, even into the heart of the desert. . . .”

Review: You would think by now I learned to stay away from Melissa Marr’s books but I thought “hey, I enjoyed the Vampire Kisses manga even though the book series kind of didn't do it for me, maybe it’ll be the same for Melissa Marr’s books!”. Wrong! Wrong to the infinite suckage power.

Let’s start with the background information. Wait, opps we can’t. There were hardly any! The manga is designed that we have to have had read the Wicked Lovely. You need to understand the court system, understand Keenan’s past, understand the whole “finding the ice queen” scenes for the reader to even get pass the first 10 pages! Even then I was willing to slide on some levels. Maybe, just maybe, the manga/manhua* might explain some of that in the sequels to come--hopefully.

My biggest issue is the “thing” between Jayce and Rika. Completely unbelievable. Rika practically stalks Jayce for some time before reveling herself. Even then Jayce somehow falls madly in love with her despite the fact that they’ve known each for oh less than 24 hours. They even smooch a little in the end! Someone must have answered my prayers and decided to add a little action in the end! (If you guys can’t tell I’m being super sarcastic then you should just smack yourself in the head).

The lines delivered were unrealistic. The fight scene in the club stupid. I mean so the faeries are invisible to humans but when they were trying to force Rika to speed things along with Jayce (by trying to kill them of course, that’s the answer to all of life’s questions.The way through a man's heart isn't through his stomach, it's through his broken ribs, beaten face, and internal bleeding, which doesn't explain) are they suddenly visible? Because Jayce clearly mentions one of them having a knife later on. And if they were visible, why was no one stopping the desert faeries from trying to kill them? You’re in a populated club with people surrounding you, just starring. You would think someone would have screamed or cried out stop or something!

And let’s not forget the love triangle-ish. Yes ish because it might happen or Melissa Marr is just leading us on. *sigh* ugh. Let’s all I have to say.

The artwork is also kind of average. Some parts were weird since the head looked kind of squashed. The hair on Jayce—what the hell is that? Dreadlocks? An alien life form suctioned onto his head!? You can't tell by the cover but the shading of the hair is just bizarre.

Overall: I want my 20 minutes back. Might pick up the sequel if I’m in a nasty mood.

P.S. How the hell is the girl named Rika? When we first saw Keenan and Rika, they were wearing these Victorian outfits yet Rika is clearing a Japanese name. Is she an immigrant? Is she a mixed child? Or is Melissa Marr just trying to write a stereotypical manga/manhua* with a stereotypical Japanese name?

Cover B-
Suctioned man alert!

*I'm not sure what to consider this comic. The comic is illustrated by a Chinese group so...?

Monday Mystery: Julie Kraut

So this week we have Julie Kraut. Her latest book Slept Away can be bought at Amazon Borders Barnes & Noble IndieBound Random House. You can visit Julie here
What’s my favorite childhood summertime treat?

While I’m not one to turn down a grill-cooked burger, a rocket pop, or even a sugary cup of bug juice, my absolute favorite childhood summertime treat is a s’more. And to be honest, I’m not really sure why. Well, I mean, I know why I like s’mores. Melty chocolate, graham crackers, cooking on a stick, and finger licking are all elements to any successful meal. But, s’mores have a nostalgic appeal to me that doesn’t really make sense. When I eat them, I think back on my childhood summers at camp and smile. But the truth is, I never ate a real s’more at camp.

My camp was kosher and even though I couldn’t quite understand what wasn’t kosher about marshmallows, we weren’t allowed to have them. Instead, we used marshmallow fluff. Now don’t get me wrong, marshmallow fluff is delicious in its own right. But it’s just completely different from actual marshmallows. It’s even in an entirely separate food group, if I’m not mistaken. At camp, we’d make graham cracker, chocolate, and fluff sandwiches, wrap them in tin foil, and then throw them on the fire to cook and call them s’mores. But, even at nine years old, I knew this was a cheap imitation of the real thing. Part of the s’more experience is the process of slow roasting (or fast incinerating) the marshmallow over an open flame. The fluff version lacked a certain human touch and that trademark carcinogenic element that makes s’mores uniquely delicious.

So while it’s not really a favorite treat from my childhood summers, s’mores are still my favorite childhood treat and I have them every time I go camping now. I guess I’m just making up for the missed memories, one burnt marshmallow at a time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mistake!

I just realized I made a mistake in one of the poems for the Books by its Cover meme! The last one I was thinking of the word pedal but typed paddle instead. Alea and Carol kept saying that the word was weird but I thought it fit. I was thinking of pedal still. So it just came out of nowhere that I used the wrong word! Eep!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lipstick Apology

Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley (August 6th 2009—Razorbill)

Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “Sometimes a good-bye is just the beginning…

When Emily Carson’s parents die in a plane crash, she’s left with nothing but her mother’s last words scrawled in lipstick on a tray table: “Emily, please forgive me.”

Now it’s fall and Emily moves to New York City—where she attracts the attention of two very different boys: the cute, popular Owen, and her quirky chemistry partner, Anthony. With the help of some surprising new friends, Emily must choose between the boy who helps her forget and the one who encourages her to remember, and ultimately heal.”

Review: Lipstick Apology was quite a read. The first half of the book I could barely stand. The main character just took things too far for me. She went berserk a few times in the book like an on and off light switch. Happy, sad, angry, super angry, sad. Just stop. There’s actually a quote in the book but I forget where that is perfect. Basically it said what’s funny is how girls can go from sane to insane faster than a Porsche can go from zero to sixty.

The last third of the book was actually not so bad. I mean Emily learned to not throw chemical compounds at random points and stop being so PMS-y all the time. I still feel however that Anthony was much too good for Emily.

There are a couple of situations that I did not really like much a lot. Firstly Anthony tries to cajole Emily to figure out what the message left by her mother meant. She flips out, think banshee like. And guess what? She ends up trying to figure it out. When she finds something that she doesn’t like, Anthony warns her to be caution and maybe not search any further in case you uncover something that was not meant to be known. She flips out…again. She ends up finding out the truth, not liking it she kind of takes it our on Anthony. I’ll be frank on this, I do not like Emily. I really do not like her at all. I’ll give her an inch since she’s been through so much trauma but if you can party with Owen but cannot give Anthony some form of credit, but she took a mile.

And the entire scene of the message was just so anticlimactic. I didn’t explain a heart-to-heart moment, just something more I guess. Seriously you can figure the entire thing from the first hint, everything else is just precautionary.

I can see both the good and the bad side to Emily. In one case she cherishes their friendships, protects them. She is a good friend to even strangers that needs a fairy godmother every now and then.

I prefer Anthony, like I adore him to no end. Considerate, intelligent, humble, charming, and a friend to all. Plus he can bake!

I do love the interaction in the families. As discombobulated as it may seem, it works for them. I enjoyed the Christmas gathering between the two families—Emily’s aunt and hair stylist and Anthony’s mother, fun bantering.

Overall: A nice attempt, maybe tone the main character down a bit.

Cover A
I happen to love this cover. Vibrant, artistic, and full of life.

Bookcase Alert!

Raise your hands if you own too many books and not enough room to store them. I’m guilty as charged. Seriously I have 5 cardboard boxes filled to the rim with books, 3 scary looking stacks and two 6 feet long shelves stuffed to the point where I’m scared that my books are getting bent. Does anyone else have this similar situation (because I know some of you guys use storage boxes to hide all your books and don’t you dare say that you don’t have a problem)? Well someone must have answered my prayers (or I might have sold my soul to the devil unintentionally) because CSN Office Furniture contacted me just recently asking if I wanted to review one of their bookcases. My reaction? Holy effing cow! My second reaction? HOLY EFFING COW! My third reaction? Going to their bookcase selections right away!


I think I died and gone to bookcase heaven. They have bookcases with doors, with walls (!?), traditional ones, contemporary ones, barrister ones, and super drool worthy premium (!!!) bookcases! And for those like me budget ones which if you ask me is also pretty amazing. There’s also options if you have a price range, what type you want, what kind of finish, the material, number of shelves, a go-green option (wow!), size, ratings/reviews, and brand names (if you’re that type of person). Mmmm I likey. Super easy and the pretty pictures help out as well.


So what are you waiting for!? BUY BUY BUY! It’s on sale too (can you say no to a good sale!?)! With FREE SHIPPING (which is just an excuse to not go the store meaning we have more time to read)! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to stare at more bookcases~

Visit them at their homepage here and their office furniture here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Psych Major Syndrome

Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson (August 11th 2009—Hyperion)

Grade: 3.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “Patient Name: Leigh Nolan

Age: 18 years

Presenting Concerns:
Leigh Nolan has just started her first year at Stiles College. She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards than Rorschach blots), despite reporting that she thinks, "Psychology is a load of crap."

Patient has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to solving her own...not so much.

Patient has a tendency to overanalyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved. Like why doesn't Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night? Or why can't she commit to taking the next step in their relationship? And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much? More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?

Aggravating factors include hyper-competitive fellow psych majors, a professor who's badly in need of her own psychoanalysis, and mentoring a middle-school-aged girl who thinks Patient is, in a word, nave.

Preliminary treatment will include Introduction to Psychology, but may require more if she's going to answer these questions and make it through her freshman year.

Diagnosis:
Psych Major Syndrome”

Review: If you must know, I like cheese. Lay it thick with a cute little swirl at top. This book reminds me of that, it was cheesy, particularly at the end, with a bit of a twist—a small bit—but mostly cheese.

Tuesday aka Leigh (she prefers to be addressed by her middle name) is a psychology major that needs more help than she can provide. She’s in a half-ass relationship that leaves more to be desired (if you get my drift) but something just isn’t right (and we’re not talking about your left hand). So Leigh tries to find her center and assess her relationship with high school sweetheart in what else? A road trip! Er…okay a family visit back home.

Everyone goes through this phase where you don’t know what you want. You think you know what you want but it turns out you’re wrong. Expect the unexpected. You might like your current boyfriend, but maybe you have a slight okay, large, crush on his best friend. That is not to say I suggest cutting all ties to your beau of now to go salivate to his bestest buddy. What I mean is that Leigh is a relatable person. She has her issues, her props, and her travesties.

Leigh joins a mentoring program to help kids that are on the verge of trouble. The topic strays from psychology and moves to that of teenage pregnancy—decisions, decisions, decisions. Rebekah is just 15 when she had a miscarriage. In the program they talk about the effects of having a child when you’re so young. Responsibilities you have to uphold, sacrifices you have to make. It was interesting how the author managed to incorporate such a heavy topic within the book.

The ending was fairly norm to the T. You could have seen it coming a mile away.

Overall: Cute, oddly strange based off the summary, but true.

Cover C+
I don’t know if I like the cover or not. The model looks dumb on some accounts—dazed? dumbfounded? stargazing? stupid? I just understand the concept behind the cover. The color scheme is quite pretty I admit—I have a penchant for the colors yellow and green together.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Books By Its Cover (3)

Paddle Pedal backwards
But move forward
In life
Accept me
For me
My plain
White tee
And me with my
dress--spotted

New poem~ Week 3! I think this meme is turning out pretty good! Remember I'll email you if the answer is wrong--if it's right, no response from me! Email me the answer! Poems get progressively harder each week! Next week will be a doozy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Touch

Touch by Francine Prose (June 1st 2009—Harper Teen)

Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “Something happened to fourteen-year-old Maisie Willard—something involving her three friends, all boys. But their stories don't match, and the rumors spin out of control. Then other people get involved . . . the school, the parents, the lawyers. The incident at the back of the bus becomes the center of Maisie's life and the talk of the school, and, horribly, it becomes news. With just a few words and a touch, the kids and their community are changed forever.”

Review: Touch by Francine Prose was one of those books that received so much attention before the release. I was super excited to begin the book because how can you not with that summary!?

First person view is the most unreliable source as Prose demonstrates. In this type of book she picked the right match. Both the reader and the narrator have trouble understanding what truly happen in the back of the bus, and somewhere in the multiple retellings Maisie lost the truth. In an ongoing therapy session we uncover Maisie’s life before and after the incident. There is also, however, a downside to first person because of bias attitude particularly to the stepmother.

The theme is more cynical than the average “the wheels on the bus go round and round” childhood song. No in this back of the bus we break out the attorney. I kind of expected some gut wrenching emotions because of the serious topic but the narration kept it going from that path.

The characterizations for some were wonderful. I enjoyed the ironic nature of her mother’s new husband to Maisie’s character. While she grows, he reverts back to that of a child. I liked some, but didn’t like others.

One thing that I disliked was how the story went back and forth. You were taking 2 steps forward then 1 step back, retelling the same thing over, and over again. Then the ending told the whole story again but in the truth. Left me a bit sad that in the end it was a hoax—that Maisie wasn’t really the complete victim that she led along.

Overall: Disappointed

Cover C+
Kind of liked the dingy look?

Waiting on Wednesday! (21)

So I've been getting a lot of searches on the Wondrous Strange sequel so I thought it was high time that I WoW Darklight--the sequel to Wondrous Strange.

Darklight by Lesley Livingston (December 22nd 2009--Harper Collins)

"Much has changed since autumn, when Kelley Winslow learned she was Faerie royalty, fell in love with changeling guard Sonny Flannery, and saved New York City from a rampaging Faerie war band. When a terrifying encounter in Central Park sends Kelley tumbling into the Otherworld, her reunion with Sonny is joyful—but cut short. For they’ve been plunged into a game of Faerie deception and wavering allegiances in which the next move could topple a kingdom...or part them forever.

The fans who flocked to Lesley Livingston’s Wondrous Strange will fall hard for Darklight, the soaringly romantic second book in the trilogy. Breathless high stakes and vividly magical characters make this a can’t-miss fantasy for readers of Melissa Marr and Holly Black."

This meme is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Poll for Hottest!

THIS POST IS ADVISED FOR OLDER TEENS. ANY NOSEBLEEDS ARE NOT MY FAULT. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED *glares*
this is so not good for my rep.

So Traveling to Teens will be doing a tour for Another Faust by Dina and Daniel Nayeri. But before the tour I thought I will give you gals some eye candy. Thanks to some helpful people...*shift eyes* coughauthorscough this was made possible.

First let's introduce the book cover:



Nothing too much right? Now let's break it down and break out those dollar bills. First up we have Jarrett Moreland. He's a new face for CLICK models and also known as Christian from the book. Look at those abs! You can serve a side of eggs and lick the abs plate clean! Personally my favorites are the ones where he KEEPS his pants on. Love the happy one--super cute! The last one is for the older people who likes their man a little...disheveled?







Next we have Jonny (with no h) Weston aka Valentin. Mmmm I think I like him more. The last one is uhhh yeah. It's just not me but someone probably will like it? Anyway, LOVE the first one! Sexy and dangerous!







So why did I just did do this entire post? Because I want you to pick who is your favorite! I sent a question out to both Dina and Daniel asking who from the 5 models that graced the cover was their favorite. So while I wait for their answer I wanted to set up a poll. Jarrett or Jonny? I'll close the poll on August 19th when the tour will commence. Think of this as your handy dandy countdown count!

Monday Mystery: Jennifer Sturman

I have a guest post from Jennifer Sturman author of And Then Everything Unraveled, which is the epitome of random!

You can read my review here. Visit Jennifer here and buy her book (!!) here.
Jinxing, Cholula, and Synesthesia

When Yan asked me to do a blog post on a “random” topic, she probably couldn’t have known just how many random things are in my head. For example, I have an unwavering belief in the power of the jinx. I also feel very strongly (in an entirely positive manner) about Cholula sauce. But perhaps the most random thing in my head is synesthesia, which literally colors everything I read.

The word synesthesia comes from Greek, and essentially it means a blurring of the senses. I have one of the most common forms, color synesthesia, where letters, words, and even numbers have colors for me.

In my mind, the letter J is orange, so Jennifer is orange, as are jeopardy and juice and Jordan. C is a sort of icy blue, and F is green, and Ms, Ns, and Rs are all red (though slightly different shades of red). When I see words on a page, I know they’re in black and white, but in my mind’s eye, they’re in color. And the colors never change. J has been orange for as long as I can remember, just as 3 has always been green.

For me, at least. Other synesthetes see things their own way. And for some synesthetes, tastes have textures, or sounds have shapes, or smells have audible tones.
It wasn’t until after college, when I was talking to an art history grad student about Kandinsky (who was a synesthete!), that I realized that this was actually sort of unusual. But now that I know about it, I realize how lucky I am. Synesthesia gives the words color as I put them on the page.

P.S. And There Will Be a Sequel!

My first YA, AND THEN EVERYTHING UNRAVELED, was released last week, and as a lot of readers (including Yan!) have noted, I might have left some strings untied. But I did it on purpose! Really! Because there will be a sequel. It’s called AND THEN I FOUND OUT THE TRUTH, and it should come out next summer. At which point all your questions should be answered, though I can’t guarantee I won’t raise any new ones.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

City of Glass

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (March 24th 2009--Margaret K. McElderry)

Grade: 4 stars out of 5

Summary: “To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?”

Review: Holy crap! I really love, love this book! There was this—and that!—but also this here—and oh oh oh *melts into puddle of satisfaction*

While the action, suspense, and dark romance combined for an addictive read, Cassandra Clare left a mess behind. There was a lot of confusing scenes of he said, she said, and the whole deal with Jonathon Christopher left a question mark.

I LOVE SPOILERS. SPOILERS BELOW!

So Sebastian is actually Jonathon Christopher and Jace is well just Jace. So why does Valentine call Jonathon Sebastian when the real Sebastian is dead, and Jonathon is just an imposter? And what did Valentine call Jace before he sent him to the Lightwoods? Jonathon number 2? And you would think that Sebastian/Jonathon will feel completely grossed out by kissing his sister!

I also wonder how runes can keep an angel locked in a cellar. And oh! The scene with Simon and Isabelle, what happened in that room where Isabelle pushed Simon onto the bed? Simon clearly told Clary that they didn’t have sex, so then what did they do?

END SPOILERS & QUESTIONS

Imagine a brick wall. Now imagine that brick wall being City of Glass. There are so many tiny cracks on that wall.

Overall: Yeah, I need this series. It only gets better and better for this series.

Cover C+
Still hate the people on these covers.

Dale Peck

We going to have an impromptu interview with the author of Sprout, Dale Peck.
1. How long did it take to write SPROUT?
If you ask my editor, she’d say “Too long!” I think I only actually worked on it for about nine months or so, but it was spread out over a long time. I started it almost four years ago but I got sidetracked and wrote another book first, then came back to it. I’m glad I did though, because I love the way it came out.

2. Which part of SPROUT was the hardest for you to write?
Hmm, good question. I suppose it was the middle part. The first fifty pages or so just rolled out of me, and I knew exactly where I wanted it to end up. I just wasn’t sure how to get there at first. For me, the book was all about the relationship between Sprout and Ty, but I knew I couldn’t start with that. I had to create a past for Sprout so you could see how much Ty meant to him. It took a while to invent Ian and Ruthie, and Mrs. Miller ended up being a much more interesting character than I thought she would be. But I love the way they turned out in the end—which is how I ended my last answer. It’s starting to sound like I enjoy tooting my own horn, isn’t it?

3. Do you have any future books to be released soon?
Nothing soon-soon. But sometime next year I should release the first of a sci-fi trilogy I’m writing with Tim Kring, the creator of the TV show Heroes. I hope it’ll be out in the fall of 2010.

4. What inspired you to write SPROUT?
Honestly, I was asked to write it by my editor, who thought there needed to be a different kind of gay YA novel—one that wasn’t about coming out, but about being a gay teenager, which is very different story. As soon as she suggested it, a plot more or less popped into my head. I embellished it with certain details from my own life, and voilà—a novel!

5. What authors have inspired you?
Well, for Sprout the biggest inspiration was probably S.E. Hinton. Specifically, The Outsiders, which was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I just love how honest she was, and how she wasn’t afraid to write about characters that some people would say weren’t interesting to a mainstream audience. There are also a lot of books like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird that weren’t originally written as YA books but that have been picked up by young readers that also made me feel I could write a book that was as “grown up” as my adults novels without worrying that YA readers wouldn’t understand it.

6. Have you considered dying your hair in any flamboyant shade like Sprout?
I was asked this before. I used to dye my hair red and orange and pink, sometimes with a blue streak or two. But now I don’t have much hair left. If I put any dye on, I’d end up painting my scalp. LOL.

7. Do you prefer snarky humor or dry humor?
I love all kinds of humor—snarky, dry, off-color, or just plain stupid. I love The Office and South Park and the Scary Movie franchise (or at least before it started to suck) and a good bon riposte from P.G. Wodehouse or Oscar Wilde.

8. What are you currently reading now? Do you have any recommendations?
Honestly? I’m reading this big fat history of Central Eurasia (you know, Kazakhstan, where Borat is from (love Borat!), and Uzbekistan and Afghanistan and all the other –stans) because it’s kind of an obsession of mine, and I’m also reading a book about Crazy Joe Gallo, a mobster who was a kind countercultural antihero in the 1950s and ’60s (Bob Dylan even wrote a song about him). Not sure I’d recommend either of those unless you were really interested in the subject. A few months ago I read a first novel by a former student of mine—The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd. Not only is it good, but it’s also YA and has a gay protagonist, so if you liked Sprout you’ll probably like it too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Traveling to Teens: Lisa Mantchev

We're traveling with Lisa Mantchev this week! You can find her here and buy her book in your bookstores already!
[start]

1. Have you ever performed on stage? Did you have stage fright? So you still have stage fright?
I started doing community theater when I was seven years old.. it was a production of the musical South Pacific, and I played one of the children of Bali Ha'i, which meant I got to dye my hair black and learn Polynesian dancing. When I was younger, I never got nervous. I only started getting stage fright when I got older, when it got harder to memorize all my lines; feeling ill-prepared makes me VERY nervous.

When I go to conventions and speak on panels, I get a little nervous, but again, the better prepared I am (I usually have pages and pages of notes, in case there's a lull in the conversation) the more at ease I feel.

2. Beatrice moved Hamlet to an Egyptian setting. What play have you wished to change?
For my senior these project in college, I did all the production design (costumes, sets, lighting) for a version of Much Ado About Nothing set in post WWII New Orleans, during Mardi Gras, mostly because I love the clothes of that time period, and I thought that Carnival would work perfectly for the Masquerade scene.

I won a Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for that project, mostly because we (my then-fiancé-and-now-husband and I) rigged everything up to the controller for a model train, so you could run different gel-colored lights up and down on a tiny set that also had people in costume and weensy lamp posts, plus Big Band swing music coming out of the theater model through a portable CD player and tiny speakers...

(Plus, if I was directing Much Ado, I could have Hero punch Claudio in the junk. Because he totally deserved it.)

3. Have you ever wished to dye your hair a flamboyant blue such as Beatrice did?
*G* For the last two years, I've been getting my hair dyed a dark purple with raspberry-red highlights foiled in. And I bought blue extensions for the launch!

4. What childhood memory can you best remember?
Well, the earliest one was from my fourth birthday party... I got this nifty working cash register, and then my sister went and broke it. With her head. When she fell on it. (It was an accident, but I hold grudges for a long time!)

5. What element do you think you are?
Earth, most definitely. I'm a Capricorn, which is one of the three horoscope signs associated with earth. Plus practical. And stubborn (see the aforementioned grudges!) It's something I researched just for fun a couple years back, and when it came time to work with the characters in my first novel attempt, it actually helped mold their personalities and give them distinctive voices.

[end]

Eyes Like Stars

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (July 7th 2009—Feiwel and Friends)

Grade: 4.5 stars out of 5

Summary: “Enter Stage Right

All her world's a stage.
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater.
She is not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but has no lines of her own.
Until now.

Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every place ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.

Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.

Open Curtain”

Review: Outstanding—this book will keep its reader on the edge of their seats. Lisa Mantchev has written an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, back-tingling book that I cannot wait until the sequel is released.

At first I was completely bogged down by the onslaught of names, nicknames (somehow Beatrice and Bertie doesn’t equal when I first read it), pandemonium. But a few chapters in I felt much more comfortable, basking in the glow of the theatre.

Each character had a vivid personality that every reader will have in some way or form love. I fell in love with almost character with their unique and distinctive way of coming through the book.

The plotline while slow at first breaks through with a touch of sass, drama, and twists! Oh the plot twist! I’m zipping my mouth up about that.

Really I seem to have issues gushing about this book.

Overall: It was spectacular!

Cover A
Adore the cover! Just love!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison by Lara M. Zeises (July 14th 2009—Delacorte)

Grade: 4 stars out of 5

Summary: “It’s not easy being the daughter of a famous chef and a restaurant owner when your idea of a great meal is the kind that’s served via a drive-through window.

Seventeen-year-old Stella Madison’s food-loving parents have been separated for years, but they’re still as sweet to each other as can be, which is just the way Stella likes it. When their connections help her land a summer job at the local newspaper, the salary is hard to resist. There’s only one catch: she’s expected to write about food.

Now Stella will need all the advice she can get to complete her assignments. Luckily, she has Jeremy, the hot new intern at her mom’s restaurant, who’s more than happy to help. Soon, Stella can’t stop thinking about Jeremy—but where does that leave Stella’s boyfriend, Max, who recently dropped the L-word? If that’s not confusing enough, her dad’s interest in the pretentious programming director of the Food Network seems to go beyond the culinary, and it looks like her mother might be cooking up a romance of her own….”

Review: This book is as sweet as the title plays off. I’m a food junkie who thinks that a marathon of Food Network Challenges is heaven. So of course when you give me a book about food it’s a perfect match!

This food for thought can be a double-edged sword. Readers who are not familiar with certain foods and food terms will most likely be lost in the little details. Although Stella’s palette are more of fast food and street food, the heavy menus from restaurants will be mind-boggling. Viewers of Bravo’s Top Chef, however, will feel right at home. The author does aid the readers with a small scene on how to properly consume (excuse me, I mean taste) food and the preparations of the perfect gnocchi.

Stella Madison is a teen that describes herself as a rubber ball bouncing in any direction; she has no sense of what she wants, she rolls with what’s given to her. So when she meets Jeremy, Max is suddenly out of her mind only to reappear when the guilt comes crawling back. Some might find Stella fickle with her whine, whine, whine about what she got herself into—Jeremy or Max? For some odd reason I did not find this true at all. I’m blaming on the writing. There’s a fine line where I felt that the author stayed within the realistic and coming-of-age story. This is Stella growing up and trying to tackle that rubber ball effect.

The whole book had a sense of cuteness, humor, and compassion. It deals with heartbreak, divorce, and a sexy European intern.

Overall: Food lovers and book lovers, pick up a copy of this book!

Cover B-
Slightly bland but fine.