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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Secrets of a First Daughter

Secrets of a First Daughter by Cassidy Calloway

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

I enjoyed the prequel; the sequel didn’t wow me as much.
Being the president’s daughter is hard enough, but dating your bodyguard in secret is just as hard.
I appreciate the author’s focus of having Morgan act like a typical teenage with typical teenage (just on a bigger scale). That being said some of her antics are outlandish and frankly unbelievable. I found the secondary characters under developed, though still fun, and simplistic. The conniving school rival had just one emotion, and while the solution to “getting back at her” was ingenious it didn’t have enough oomph.

What redeemed Confessions of a First Daughter was the sparkling, budding romance between Morgan and Max. In Secrets of a First Daughter, there are hints, but nothing awh-worthy. I was waiting for that ear-to-ear grin. Alas it didn’t come. It did have a happy cheesy ending that made my sweet tooth content for a moment there!

Do love the code-names!

Source: personal
Cover B
Published: 2010 Sept 1

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (53)

Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury (May 24 2011--Atheneum)
Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings, about to unlock ancient (and not-so-ancient) history.

Maybe you think this girl is wearing a pith helmet with antique dust swirling around her.

Maybe you think she is a young Egyptologist who has arrived in Cairo on camelback.

Maybe she would like to think that too. Agnes Wilkins dreams of adventures that reach beyond the garden walls, but reality for a seventeen-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels—or dust, even. No, Agnes can only see a mummy when she is wearing a new silk gown and standing on the verdant lawns of Lord Showalter’s estate, with chaperones fussing about and strolling sitar players straining to create an exotic “atmosphere” for the first party of the season. An unwrapping.

This is the start of it all, Agnes’s debut season, the pretty girl parade that offers only ever-shrinking options: home, husband, and high society. It’s also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn’t just a mummy. It’s a host for a secret that could unravel a new destiny—unleashing mystery, an international intrigue, and possibly a curse in the bargain.

Get wrapped up in the adventure . . . but keep your wits about you, dear Agnes.
Ah! THE COVER! I didn't realize that was a mummy before I read the synopsis, but it's a very strange synopsis. Curious?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mid-Semester Book Reads

In my Child Lit class we've read:

  1. Little Red Riding Hood
    • The Story of Grandmother - Delarue
    • Little Red Riding Hood - Perrault
    • Little Red Cap - Grimm
    • The Chinese Red Riding Hoods - Chang
    • Flossie and the Fox - McKissack
    • Little Red Riding Hood - McPhail
    • The Company of Wolves - Carter
    • Wolf - Block
    • What Bugs Bunny Said to Red Riding Hood - Seibles
  2. Cinderella
    • Cinderella: Or the Glass Slipper - Perrault
    • Vasilisa the Beautiful - Afanas'ev
    • Cap o' Rushes - Jacobs
    • The Indian Cinderella - MacMillan
    • Little Gold Star: A Spanish American Cinderella Tale  - San Souci
    • When the Clocks Strikes - Lee
    • The Wicked Stepmother's Lament - Maitland
    • Cinderella - Sexton
  3. Hansel and Gretel - Grimm
  4. Snow White - Grimm
  5. Rapunzel - Grimm
  6. Jack and the Beanstalk - Jacobs
  7. The Ugly Ducklings - Anderson
  8. Bluebeard - Perrault
  9. Rumpelstiltskin - Grimm
  10. The Fisherman and his Wife - Grimm
  11. Cousin Ann's Stories for Children by Ann Preston
  12. The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley
For my religion/philosophy/English 3 class?
  1. Gilgamesh
  2. Monkey by Wu Cheng En
  3. Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis by Freud
  4. Oedipus Tyrannus
Halfway through:
  1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  2. The Trial and Death of Socrates 
Which one did I love the most? Angela Carter's "The Company of Wolves". There's a movie based on Carter's version!

Which I did love the least (so far)? Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis by Freud

Monday, March 28, 2011

Manga Monday: Full Metal Panic!

Full Metal Panic! written by Shoji Gatoh and illustrated by Shiki Douji
Kaname Chidori’s one of the most popular girls at her high school – unfortunately, it’s her growing popularity off campus she should be worrying about. Unbeknownst to Kaname, terrorists are plotting her abduction, believing she possesses the rare and coveted abilities of “the Whispered.”

That’s where Sousuke Sagara enters the picture. He’s a hotshot soldier from the clandestine counter-terrorist organization known as Mithril – and he’s going undercover at Kaname’s school to try and keep her safe. He may be an ace in the cockpit of an Arm Slave mech, but there’s no training in the world that could prepare him for the warzone of high school.
Really enjoyed the series! Lots of light novels, mangas, anime, and several branches of each.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Between Here and Forever

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Grade: 5 stars out of 5 (BUY IT)

Before picking up Between Here and Forever, I urge readers to read or reread Bloom, Scott’s debut novel. No, it’s not because I love that book (well partially yes), but because Lauren (Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf) pointed that the characters from Bloom make a reappearance. After making that connection, Between Here and Forever became so much…more in a way. Anyway I’ll gush about that later on.
Between Here and Forever focuses on Abby and her relationship with her sister Tess. Abby is always in the shadow of perfect, prefect Tess. Tess is always so careful, but fate decides to be ironic. Tess decides to leave a bit later from a party to avoid riding with a drunk, but on her way home she gets into a car accident. The car slips on black ice. Now Tess is in a coma and Abby is desperate to wake her up even if it means asking a random stranger, Eli, to talk to Tess. Only so Tess can leave.
Between Here and Forever rekindled by love for Scott’s works. This is really similar to Bloom where the main character has low self-esteem, somewhat overshadowed, and is afraid to be happy for the sake of happiness. Abby is constantly in the shadow of Tess even when Tess is in a coma. Her sister is perfect in Abby’s eyes and she’s nothing much in comparison. Between Here and Forever uses simple words to express dark feelings that pulls readers in. While Abby doesn’t turn to cutting, starving herself, or other very serious actions, she lives invisibly. Without a real goal, very close friends, or the drive to be who she can be, Abby isn’t truly living. Between Here and Forever emphsizes that no one is perfect—not Tess, not Abby—but there will be someone who thinks you are. And when you find that person be happy.

Another important element in Between Here and Forever is Eli. Eli has OCD and a mix heritage: “I’m half Japanese, part black—and this is what counts in Milford—part white….I don’t like being divided into little pieces of color” (101). That last line speaks for itself; it’s a strong sentence but comprised of very simple words. Eli’s OCD is part of Eli but doesn’t make him, him. I think Scott does a great job of depicting his life and his hardships and how it affects others’ viewpoints of him. Eli is a great hero for all his faults because he’s a supportive character who’s nice, gentle, and flusters easily.

Elizabeth Scott also doesn’t poke lightly on sexuality—particularly lesbianism—and death and teenage pregnancy. These two things build up the foundation of some of the side plots and characteristics. In ways I don’t appreciate living in a big city for all its advantages until someone points it.

Okay so going back to Bloom and its connection to Between Here and Forever. I really urge you to be familiar with the book because it brings to light some minor details that will cast Between Here and Forever that will elevate the book. At first I really liked the book but now I love the book. My heart broke more than once, but it also fluttered because you get a sort of happily ever after that I wasn’t expecting. For all its dark elements I can’t help but smile. And be giddy. And reread the book like a million times over again.

Source: unsolicited ARC from Simon Pulse
Cover A
Published: 2011 May 4; hardcover

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Future Imperfect (rant)

Future Imperfect by K. Ryer Breese

Grade: DNF
Ade Patience can see the future and it's destroying his life. When the seventeen-year-old Mantlo High School student knocks himself unconscious, he can see days and decades into his own future. Ade's the best of Denver's "divination" underground and eager to join the heralded Mantlo Diviners, a group of similarly enabled teens. Yet, unlike the Diviners, Ade Patience doesn't see the future out of curiosity or good will; Ade gives himself concussions because he's addicted to the high, the Buzz, he gets when he breaks the laws of physics. And while there have been visions he's wanted to change, Ade knows the Rule: You can't change the future, no matter how hard you try.

His memory is failing, his grades are in a death spiral, and both Ade's best friend and his shrink are begging him to stop before he kills himself. Ade knows he needs to straighten-out. Luckily, the stunning Vauxhall Rodolfo has just transferred to Mantlo and, as Ade has seen her in a vision two years previously, they're going to fall in love. It's just the motivation Ade needs to kick his habit. Only things are a bit more complicated. Vauxhall has an addiction of her own, and, after a a vision in which he sees Vauxhall's close friend, Jimmy, drown while he looks on seemingly too wasted to move, Ade realizes that he must break the one rule he's been told he can't.

The pair must overcome their addictions and embrace their love for each other in order to do the impossible: change the future.
Second rant of the week: Future Imperfect (which by the way I love the title though I keep adding an –s at the end of Imperfect unintentionally). What seems to be so freaking amazing turns into one giant headache.

Ade gives himself concussions so he can get a “Buzz” from seeing into the future. Why oh why does Ade not suffer any lasting brain or body damage? The things he put his head through is astonishing! The way he can walk away from almost everything is equally amazing! Who the eff would jump off a freaking roof, land on their head, and can GET UP FROM THAT. And then people can accept it! The kid is jumping off roofs and people are pissed that Ade’s up to his usual self! Are you kidding me? The kid is obviously not stable. His mom also lets him get away from that because she thinks he will see the second coming of Christ. All I can say is ‘really’!?

This is all before the “girl” comes into the picture. Gotta love that instant love-ol’-lust meter that boils my blood.

I skimmed through the rest because I wanted so badly to throw the book. A lot more action-y towards the end. But Ade was still purposely trying to knock in the head to see the future so I don’t think I’ll reread the novel again.

Source: publisher for early review
Cover B-
Published: 2011, April 26

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (52)

Sirenz by Charlotte Bernardo and Natalie Zaman (June 8th 2011--Flux)
Bickering frenemies Meg and Shar are doing some serious damage at a midnight sample sale when they find themselves arguing over a pair of shoes—with fatal consequences. One innocent bystander later, the girls are suddenly at the mercy of Hades—the god of the underworld—himself. To make them atone for what they’ve done, Hades forces the teens to become special-assignment Sirens, luring to the Underworld any individual whose unholy contract is up.

But just because they have an otherworldly part-time job now doesn’t mean Meg and Shar can ignore life’s drudgeries (work) or pleasures (fashion!). Finding that delicate balance between their old and new responsibilities turns out to be harder than they expected, especially when an entire pantheon of Greek deities decides to get involved. Then there’s the matter of the fine print in their contracts . . .
Cute cover! Very interested by the book from the synopsis.

WoW is hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress #5)

This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Grade: 3 stars out of 5

In an unexpected installment of the Night Huntress series, Cat and Bones are back. In This Side of the Grave, Cat continues to learn more about her powers and build up her network of powerful friends and powerful enemies. Readers may need to read about the companion series to fully understand what happened with some of the side characters, or at least read their synopses. Other than that, This Side of the Grave is fairly straight-forward.

This Side of the Grave was not my favorite installment to the series. The tension was too heavily played for such a quick ending. The bad guy wasn’t really hard to deal with since Cat pretty much kills him in less than a page. Things happened in This Side of the Grave but more so internally than externally. Cat is dealing with a load of stress especially in terms of family relationships, but other than that nothing “action-y” happened. The ending was grrr—a cop out.

This Side of the Grave is a filler installment where readers calm down and have a little peek on how the characters grew up. Cat and Bones have an equal footing in the relationship, and things do get STEAMY in the novel. Vlad starts to shine in the series. (I am really hoping Vlad will be the next star in the Night Huntress World series).

Source: personal
Cover B
Published: 2011, March 1; mass market paperback

Monday, March 21, 2011

Manga Monday: Black Cat

Black Cat by Kentaro Yabuki
Two years ago, Train, a high-level assassin known as Number XIII in Chronos, left the secret society to live by his own rules. Since then, Train has been a sweeper, a bounty hunter, catching criminals and bringing them in alive. But his main mission is to find a former Chronos member who killed his best friend.
Again, watched the anime. It was great until the ending. Action with great art.