Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Far From You by Lisa Schroeder

Lost and alone...down the rabbit hole. Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can by writing her music, losing herself in her love for her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife. But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful. Perhaps she's not so alone after all....
Loved it! I read this book in one sitting, unable to pry away from Lisa Schroeder’s simple, yet elegant writing. It’s amazing how much emotion can be displayed with so little words and with absolutely no “fluff” added. The pages seemed to turn themselves as I got lost in Alice’s struggle and the mounting tension between her and her family. The beautiful language of the tale will stick with you long after it is done. I am very much looking forward to reading Schroeder’s previous work, I Heart You, You Haunt Me. From what I’ve heard, it will be just as refreshing.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bonechiller by Graham Mcnamee

Danny’s dad takes a job as caretaker at a marina on the shore of a vast, frozen lake in Harvest Cove, a tiny town tucked away in Canada’s Big Empty. If you’re looking for somewhere to hide, this is it. It’s the worst winter in years. One night, running in the dark, Danny is attacked by a creature so strange and terrifying he tries to convince himself he was hallucinating. Then he learns about Native American legends of a monster that’s haunted the lake for a thousand years. And that every generation, in the coldest winters, kids have disappeared into the night. People think they ran away. Danny knows better. Because now the beast is after him.
I had high prospects for Bonechiller, but sadly, it left me out in the cold for the first half. Although I loved the characters and their development was great, the action sequences were riddled with too much description and not enough “oomph”. But I decided to keep going and thankfully, the second half of the book was fast-paced and chilling. So, if you’re willing to drudge through pages upon pages of icy, sludgy, chilly descriptions of Canada, then you’re in for a treat when you reach halfway! Give it a try, maybe it’ll rub you a better way.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Grief Girl by Erin Vincent

It’s just another October day until Erin Vincent’s parents are hit by a speeding tow truck. Mom dies instantly. Dad dies one month later after doctors assure Erin that he’s going to make it. Erin and her teenaged sister, Tracy, are left to raise their baby brother, Trent—and each other. Their beloved uncles blow what little money they had, family “friends” disappoint, kids at school are jealous, and their grandparents threaten to take Trent away from them. This is Erin’s story.
“This is a gripping memoir of the aftermath of their deaths. Although her loss took place more than 20 years ago in Australia, her use of the present tense and a wholly authentic adolescent voice lend her retelling palpable immediacy. Gritty language, a swift pace, and glimpses of humor amid tragedy make this a page-turner. The author captivatingly portrays her journey through the stages of grief, which she aptly points out take place in no discernible order. Perhaps most poignant is the heartbreaking post-funeral abandonment of her and her siblings by adult friends and relatives. Teens will sympathize with her 18-year-old sister's anger at the crushing responsibility of parenting her younger siblings. At the same time, the author's own feelings of rejection, abandonment, and self-blame will resonate with many readers. Recommend this book to those who have experienced loss, or want to understand what a friend might be going through, as well as to teens looking for an absorbing read” (review by Rebecca M. Jones). A quick, powerful read, Grief Girl should not be missed.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are all having a great day celebrating the birth of our Savior. I just got back from my grandma's and she got me the best present ever: a stack of BOOKS!
These books are:

Bog Child-Siobhan Dowd
Set in Stone-Linda Newbery
The Knife of Never Letting Go-Patrick Ness
The Explosionist-Jenny Davidson
Creepers-Joanne Dahme
Vidalia in Paris-Sasha Watson
Bonechiller-Graham Mcnamee
Tender Morsels-Margo Lanagan
Grief Girl-Erin Vincent
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden-Joanne Greenberg

I'm so excited to read and review these-now I just need to decide which one to start with!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead. In the class of the high school English teacher she has been haunting, Helen feels them: For the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy, a boy who has not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen—terrified but intrigued—is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess.
Once again, an encore reading of one of my favorite books in the world. This book should get an award for best first sentence of a novel. The moment I read it, I was hooked. Laura Whitcomb’s tale of ghosts is unlike any I’ve ever read-and is by far the best. Richie Partington stated it perfectly when he said, “Alternating between sensual, gritty, dark, delightful, and frightening; between atmospheric fantasy and down-and dirty contemporary YA realism, A Certain Slant of Light is absolutely awash in literary quality and an award winner waiting to happen.” The characters of the ghosts James and Helen, and the teenagers they possess, Billy and Jenny, are ripe and overflowing with merit. I cannot wait for Whitcomb’s next novel, The Fetch, arriving February 2nd 2009. I am certain it will be just as amazing as her debut, A Certain Slant of Light.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oblivion Road by Alex MacAulay

This is actually the second time I’ve read this book, but I decided to pull it off the shelves again because the weather here in good old Chicago land is pretty similar to the setting of Alex MacAulay’s third book.
Courtney Stanton thinks she's on just another ski trip with her friends -- until a horrific car accident strands them all on an isolated Colorado road during a blizzard. Frightened but alive, Courtney and her companions discover an abandoned vehicle nearby, and seek help. But the vehicle turns out to be a prison van, with the inmates missing, and the guard's dead body in the front seat. Soon after, a stumbling figure emerges from the snow, a handcuffed refugee from the van. He says he's been in prison for selling meth, but that he once served in the army. Dare they trust him? He pleads innocence about the guard's murder, warns them about the other fugitives, and promises he will help guide them out of the wilderness. But as the group begins a nightmare trek across the frozen landscape, they start to get the feeling he hasn't told them the entire truth, and someone -- or something -- is secretly watching their every move.

Survival stories have always been a favorite of mine, so I was so glad when I discovered MacAulay’s writing and his specialty of being stranded and having to survive. The suspense and non-stop action keep you on the edge of your seat. Although the writing can seem a bit amateurish at times, the ingenious plot and suspense make up for it. I could feel the characters pain as they battled dehydration, hypothermia, hungry wolves, and convicted killers. Overall, Oblivion Road is another hit from MacAulay, and a great read for those cold winter days. So grab a warm blanket and some hot chocolate and be thankful you’re safe and sound in your house while reading this book!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Since I've got some major Christmas wrapping to do, I'm going to turn the review of this marvelous book over to Judy Lind, whose review of Amazon exemplifies everything I would want to say.
"The Road is a work of stunning, savage, heartbreaking beauty. Set in the post-apocalyptic hell of an unending nuclear winter, Cormac McCarthy writes about a nameless man and his young son, wandering through a world gone crazy; bleak, cold, dark, where the snow falls down gray; moving south toward the coast, looking somewhere, anywhere, for life and warmth. Nothing grows in this blasted world; people turn into cannibals to survive. We don't know if we're looking at the aftermath of a nuclear war, or maybe an extinction level event -- an asteroid or a comet; McCarthy deliberately doesn't tell us, and we come to realize it doesn't matter anyway. Whether man or nature threw a wild pitch, the world is just as dead. The man and his son are "each the other's world entire"; they have only each other, they live for each other, and their intense love for each other will help them survive. At least for a while. But survival in this brave new world is a dicey prospect at best; the boy and the man are subjected to sights no one should ever have to see. Every day is a scavenger hunt for food and shelter and safety from the "bad guys", the marauding gangs who enslave the weak and resort to cannibalism for lack of any other food. We are the good guys, the man assures his son. Yet in their rare encounters with other living human beings, the man resorts to primitive survivalism, refusing help to a lost child and a starving man, living only for himself and his son, who is trying to hold onto whatever humanity he has left. It's in these chance encounters with other people, even more than their interaction with each other, that we see them for who they really are. The boy is a radiantly sweet child, caring, unselfish, wanting and needing to reach out to others, even though this bleak, blasted world is the only environment he's ever known; the father, more cautious, more bitter, has let the devastation enwrap him until all he cares about is himself and his son. And to hell with everybody else. Their journey to the coast is an unending nightmare through the depths of hell and the only thing that holds them together is their love for each other. When one is ready to give up, the other refuses to let him. I won't let you go into the darkness alone, the man reassures his son. But ultimately, as the boy finds out, everyone is on his own, and all you can do is keep on keeping on. McCarthy has proven himself a master of minimalism; with a style as bleak as the stripped terrain the man and the boy travel through, but each sentence polished as a gem, he takes us into the harsh reality of a dying world. The past is gone, dead as the landscape all around them, and the present is the only reality. There is no later, McCarthy says. This is later. Deep down the man knows there is nothing better to hope for down the road, even though he keeps them both slogging down it, only to keep his son alive. And we keep slogging down that road with them, hoping against hope that around the next corner or five miles down the line, maybe there is something, anything, to make survival worth while. Living in such a hell, why would anyone want to survive? The mother made her decision; she checked out long ago. We come to the end of this book totally drained, enervated, devastated, but curiously uplifted. Because as long as there is love, McCarthy tells us, maybe there is something to live for, and as the book shows us at the end, maybe there is a even little bit of hope."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Change of Pace

Hey everyone, just wanted to say that although my Currently Reading pic has been Peeps for the last few days, I am actually moving on to something else. I rarely stop reading a book halfway through and not finish it, but sadly, Peeps is just not delivering for me at the moment. The concept of vampirism as a result of an STD was interesting, but the evolution tie-in didn't bode well with me and the plot didn't have enough action. So, for the past few days I've been reading some of Stephen Kings short stories including The Mist (read now, it's awesome!) and The Raft (disturbing and strange, but good). Now, I have decided to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy in time for the 2009 movie starring Viggo Mortenson. That's it, happy reading!
P.S. I probably won't be posting for a while since I've got finals next week and will be crazily cramming!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Do twins begin in the womb? Or in a better place? Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin. For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex. Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?
This is the first book I’ve read that was written in verse, and it definitely won’t be my last! Identical was a stunning, gorgeously executed piece of art. An Amazon reviewer stated, “The way she creates her little character paradigms - the writing that says more that it first seems to say, the way words arrange to make a maze of meanings, her displays that land somewhere other than the other side of rainbows - are fabulous” and I couldn’t agree more. This disturbing tale is woven with heart-wrenching images of sexual abuse, drug abuse, and eating disorders. This book opened my eyes to what can be happening behind closed doors. I sincerely recommend it to all. Brava, Ellen Hopkins!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Love Your Blog Award!

This is so cool! I just received the I Love Your Blog Award from Amanda at That Teen Can Blog! (http://thatteencanblog.blogspot.com/). I am so grateful to Amanda for getting this award and am glad that my reviews are a hit!

I am going to nominate:
-WORD for Teens
-The Book Muncher
-And Another Book Read
-Hope's Bookshelf
-The Story Siren
-Reader Rabbit
-Reading Keeps You Sane
*you'll find the links to these blogs under Favorite Book Blogs and Websites on the right

Now, all you gotta do is follow these instructions:
After receiving the award you are supposed to pay it forward:
1) Add the logo of your award to your blog.
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.

Thanks All! This makes my day :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Necessary Hearbreak by M.J. Sullivan

Does Time Heal All Wounds? Michael Stewart doesn’t think so. Thirteen years later, he’s still struggling with the demands of being a single father. His life revolves around his daughter Elizabeth – a precocious girl who’s growing up much too fast. Michael is all too aware of time – time lost, and time still slipping away. But fate, or perhaps something more divine, has other plans for Michael. When he and Lizzie stumble upon a root-cellar door in the floor of an old church, they discover that it‘s actually a tunnel leading back in time to first century Jerusalem during the tumultuous last week of Christ’s life. With the help of Leah, a newfound friend, they try desperately to escape, avoiding menacing soldiers at every turn, including one determined to make Elizabeth his own. Trapped in the past -- both literally and figuratively -- Michael comes face to face with some of his most limiting beliefs, and realizes he must open himself up to the possibility of a deeper faith in God, people, himself, and love before he can find his way home.
First off, great title! The storyline intrigued me the moment I read about it; books set during the time of Christ’s death are always very interesting to me. Although Elizabeth’s character was whiny and immature (I guess I’m just not used to thirteen year olds anymore) the characters of Leah and Michael made up for it. I loved the flashbacks into Michael’s past where you learned more about his life before losing his wife. I wish that Jesus could have been a more central character, or at least had a bit of dialogue-or done something momentous-like in Ben-Hur. I can see how Necessary Heartbreak could be seen as a middle-school read as well as an Adult read, but it doesn’t hit the Young Adult market very well in my opinion. I am hoping that the next two books deliver in the ways that this one did not.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Year We Disappeared by Cylin Busby and John Busby

The extraordinary true story of a family, a brutal shooting, and the year that would change their lives forever. When Cylin Busby was nine years old, she was obsessed with Izod clothing, the Muppets, and her pet box turtle. Then, in the space of a night, everything changed. Her police officer father, John, was driving to work when someone leveled a shotgun at his window. The blasts that followed left John’s jaw on the passenger seat of his car—literally. Overnight, the Busbys went from being the "family next door" to one under 24-hour armed guard, with police escorts to school, and no contact with friends. Worse, the shooter was still on the loose, and it seemed only a matter of time before he’d come after John—or someone else in the family—again. With their lives unraveling around them, and few choices remaining for a future that could ever be secure, the Busby family left everything and everyone they had ever known…and simply disappeared. As told by both father and daughter, this is a harrowing, and at times heartbreaking account of a shooting and its aftermath, even as it shows a young girl trying to make sense of the unthinkable, and the triumph of a family’s bravery in the face of crisis.
This book is an amazing contribution to the world of true crime writing. Cylin and her father John’s perspectives seamlessly tie together, illustrating their story of survival and triumph. I was appalled at the neglect from Law Enforcement towards Officer Busby and his family. To think that there are people out who we believe are out to protect us, but in fact our willing to cover up a serious crime. John Busby has now become an advocate for extending the statute of limitations on crimes against police officers. How the Busby family stuck together through everything shows great courage and love. I am so glad that everything turned out the way it did and that justice was served in the end. The Year We Disappeared is a riveting, true tale that should be read by all. (I am hoping it will be turned into a movie at some point!)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Necessary Heartbreak Giveaway!

I was recently approached by an author by the name of M.J. Sullivan. He asked if I would like to read his book, Necessary Heartbreak, the first book in his When Time Forgets trilogy. He is currently writing the second and third books, and would like some feedback. He was gracious enough to send me a hardcover copy and three paperbacks to share with others. I have not begun reading the novel yet, but am greatly looking forward to it. After giving two of the paperbacks to my English teacher and to a friend, I have one left that is up for grabs! Here’s a preview of the book:

Does Time Heal All Wounds?
Michael Stewart doesn’t think so. Thirteen years later, he’s still struggling with the demands of being a single father. His life revolves around his daughter Elizabeth – a precocious girl who’s growing up much too fast. Michael is all too aware of time – time lost, and time still slipping away. But fate, or perhaps something more divine, has other plans for Michael. When he and Lizzie stumble upon a root-cellar door in the floor of an old church, they discover that it‘s actually a tunnel leading back in time to first century Jerusalem during the tumultuous last week of Christ’s life. With the help of Leah, a newfound friend, they try desperately to escape, avoiding menacing soldiers at every turn, including one determined to make Elizabeth his own. Trapped in the past -- both literally and figuratively -- Michael comes face to face with some of his most limiting beliefs, and realizes he must open himself up to the possibility of a deeper faith in God, people, himself, and love before he can find his way home.
“Necessary Heartbreak is the product of a big talent and a mighty heart, and this entrancing tale of mysteries both temporal and spiritual is sure to take up residence under your skin.” - Sam Hamm, Screenwriter (Batman Movies and TV Series M.A.N.T.I.S)

If you would like my last copy of Necessary Heartbreak, please email me at mel0591@sbcglobal.net and I will send it to you ASAP!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Read My Lips by Teri Brown

Popularity is as easy as a good secret. Serena just wants to fly under the radar at her new school. But Serena is deaf, and she can read lips really well-even across the busy cafeteria. So when the popular girls discover her talent, there's no turning back. From skater chick to cookie-cutter prep, Serena's identity has done a 180...almost. She still wants to date Miller, the school rebel, and she's not ready to trade her hoodies for pink tees just yet. But she is rising through the ranks in the school's most exclusive clique. With each new secret she uncovers, Serena feels pressure to find out more. Reading lips has always been her greatest talent, but now Serena just feels like a gigantic snoop...
This book is a good example of a stereotypical Young Adult book for teenage girls-which I am not a fan of. First of all, way too many uses of what I pen as “middle school talk” like “gawd” and “whateva”. Unfortunately the characters were flat and stereotypical and the romance cheesy. I had been excited to read this book, the storyline seemed promising, but sadly it did not deliver. Serena was an annoying, judgmental character who happened to have an interesting talent. The lip-reading storyline was the best part of the book. While the other involving the “top secret sorority” was unoriginal. Now, if you’re a first time YA reader, don’t think there all like this. Keep reading and you’ll discover just how universal the YA genre can be. Now, if you really want a snippy, high-school girl experience, go watch Mean Girls.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tenderness by Robert Cormier

Eric Poole has just been released from juvenile detention for killing his mother and stepfather. Now he’s looking for some tenderness-tenderness he finds in caressing and killing innocent girls. Lori has run away from home again. She is also looking for tenderness-tenderness that is about more than just sex, tenderness she finds in Eric. Together, they begin a harrowing journey that will either save or destroy them.
Marilyn Payne Phillips states it perfectly when she says, “the ugliness of the story contrasts with the beauty of the language”. Robert Cormier writes a tale filled with suspense and intrigue. Neither Eric nor Lori is a very likeable character, but by the end of the novel, the reader comes to sympathize with them. Cormier is able to write a disturbing horror novel without the blood and gore that is usually associated with the genre. Much like my previous review, this book sends you straight into the mind of a psychopath. What really makes this a thrilling piece of writing is how everything that takes place could happen in real life. It shows you what our society is capable of, and that’s a terrifying thing!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were dragged from their beds in the early hours of the morning and tied up. All four were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. Author Truman Capote, on assignment from the New Yorker, traveled to Holcomb in late 1959, along with his assistant and close friend, Nell Harper Lee, to investigate the killings for an article he was to write. After completing his assignment, Capote was still intrigued by the murders and continued with his investigation. He organized interviews with everyone in town; he scoured through police records and statements. The killers, Perry Smith and Dick Hickock were eventually arrested and sentenced to death, with Capote interviewing them during their stay on Death Row. The Clutter killings became an obsession for Capote, leading him to write a book that would not only introduce a new genre to the literary world, non-fiction novel, but become a literary classic in it of itself. What is great about Capote’s In Cold Blood is that it can be seen as a novel, a creative work, and a piece of journalism.
I had been looking forward to reading this book for a long time, having seen it lying on my sister’s bedroom floor for years and the title alone had given me shivers. Independent Reading at school gave me the perfect opportunity to read it. Having been written in 1965, I was surprised to find that this book hasn’t dated at all. It interested me that this book delved into not only the social factors that shape a psychopath, but also the points-of-view, however horrific they may be, of the perpetrators of the crime. Capote explored the killers’ upbringing, relationships, and actions. I enjoyed the fact that, from the beginning, the reader knows exactly who was to be killed and who the killers were, instead of it being a guessing game. Something that has stuck with me long after finishing the book was the realization that there are people like Perry Smith and Dick Hickock out there in the world, willing to kill in cold blood with no motive. “There’s got to be something wrong with somebody who’d do a thing like that.” Ironically, one of the killers, Perry Smith, said this about himself, while the other killer, Dick Hickock said about himself, “Deal me out, baby…I’m a normal.” A harrowing look into the minds of a killer, In Cold Blood is a chilling account of one of America’s most famous murders. And although certain parts dragged at times, overall, Truman Capote’s nonfiction novel is a literary masterpiece.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

When Bliss’s hippie parents leave the commune and dump her at the home of her aloof grandmother in a tony Atlanta neighborhood, it’s like being set down on an alien planet. The only guide naive Bliss has to her new environment is what she’s seen on The Andy Griffith Show. But Mayberry is poor preparation for Crestview Academy, an elite school where the tensions of the present and the dark secrets of the past threaten to simmer into violence. Openhearted Bliss desperately wants new friends, making her the perfect prey of a troubled girl whose obsession with a long-ago death puts Bliss, and anyone she’s kind to, in mortal danger.
I was shocked when I heard that Lauren Myracle was coming out with a “spine-tingling chiller”. I am very proud of her for taking the turn from easy-going chick lit to horror, and doing it well! Bliss was a full of suspense and the supernatural, targeting a new sort of audience for her. I loved the character of Bliss, while her friend Sandy scared the crap out of me. The backdrop of the story was beautiful, filled with historical references from the sixties including segregation, the Nixon era, the Charles Manson murders, and the popular TV show, Andy Griffith. I found myself eagerly reading ahead to get to the quotes that were scattered throughout the novel, setting the scene. The one rather large fault I found was the blunt, abrupt, and strange ending that left far too many questions unanswered. I was very confused when I turned the page and found that the book was over. Although there was no huge cliffhanger at the end that suggested a sequel, I’m hoping there is one that will help redeem the ending of an otherwise flawless book.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Accomplice by Kathryn Heyman

I'm incredibly lazy today, so I'll let a reviewer cleverly named, "A Customer" from Amazon UK do the work!
Combining narrative with historical detail, this is the story of one of the most shocking events of the 17th century - the wreck of the Batavia. It describes the wreck of the Dutch ship off the coast of Western Australia and the extraordinary events that befell its stranded survivors.
"This superb novel explores the uneasy guilt felt by the victim of a great crime - a mutiny and massacre on an island off the coast of Western Australia in the early Seventeenth Century. The Dutch flagship, the Batavia, ran aground, and when her captain left in an open boat to fetch help, the ship's under-merchant, Cornelitz, led a regime of barbarism that had Holland stunned for a generation.Heyman retells the story from the perspective of Judith Bastiansz, a naive but spirited eighteen year old, whose venial father is employed as the ship's chaplain. The ship and then the island are the claustrophobic setting for her increasing exposure to the unbearable harshness of deception, treachery and finally an uncontrolable lust for death. Her adulation of Lucretia, her love for Conraat, and her disapproval of Wiebbe Hayes all serve to highlight her intense but misguided allegiences. From the outset we know that Judith will survive the horrors of her ordeal, but how and at what cost? What kind of life can she build from the ruins of hope? From an already amazing true story, Heyman has crafted a subtle and riveting novel. Though set in the Dutch Golden Age, there are clear parallels with the genocides of the much more recent past. Heyman's unflinching, intensely moving prose seems to require us to answer for ourselves: faced with such evil, what would you have done?"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounding by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
“Acclaimed writer Suzanne Collins delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.” WOW!!! From this moment on, The Hunger Games will be on my list of favorite books. I can honestly say that I have only good things to write about in this review, (which I’m sure you readers know, does not happen often). Katniss Everdeen is by far, one of the best fictional heroines out there. Her spunk and determination keep her going in the fight to save what is most important to her: her family. These qualities are ones that, after reading this, ever girl will strive for. Every single character was well-developed and you couldn’t help but get attached to them all. For example, even though the characters of Katniss’ mother, sister Prim, and best friend Gale, are only present at the beginning of the book, the reader learns so much about them in the following pages, that it is as if they right there next to Katniss. The story itself is a frightening one, with a horrifying premise. I couldn’t help comparing The Hunger Games to The Olympics; how they conduct opening ceremonies, trying to outdo each other’s costumes, and interviews, helping the viewers get to know the contestants. It’s a terrifying though that this is what our country could turn into. When thinking about how much money is spent on the entertainment of movies such as Saw or The Hills Have Eyes, it’s possible to imagine that we could stoop so low as to find watching the live sacrifices of human beings entertaining. The book had just the right amount of gore and violence, with a touch of romance to even things out. When I reached the last page, and saw the words “End of Book One” I felt both elated and frustrated. I am so glad that the world of The Hunger Games will continue, but I don’t think I will be able to wait until the next chapter! I would pay a million dollars to have the next book in my hands right now! But, I guess I’ll have to wait like everyone else…*sigh*

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Banned Books Week

To celebrate Banned Books Week, I've found this list of the top banned books of 2000-2007. I gotta say I was pretty surprised at some of the books on here. I highlighted the ones I've read-feel free to highlight/bold the titles you’ve read and post it on your blog!
1. Harry Potter J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War Robert Cormier
4. Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou
6. Scary Stories Alvin Schwartz
7. Fallen Angels Walter Dean Myers
8. It’s Perfectly Normal Robie Harris
9. And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
10. Captain Underpants Dav Pilkey (my brother loved them...)
11. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain
12. The Bluest Eye Toni Morrison
13. Forever Judy Blume
14. The Color Purple Alice Walker
15. The Perks of Being A Wallflower Stephen Chbosky
16. Killing Mr. Griffin Lois Duncan
17. Go Ask Alice Anonymous
18. King and King Linda de Haan
19. Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
20. Bridge to Terabithia Katherine Paterson
21. The Giver Lois Lowry
22. We All Fall Down Robert Cormier
23. To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee`
24. Beloved Toni Morrison
25. The Face on the Milk Carton Caroline Cooney
26. Snow Falling on Cedars David Guterson
27. My Brother Sam Is Dead James Lincoln Collier
28. In the Night Kitchen Maurice Sendak
29. His Dark Materials series Philip Pullman
30. Gossip Girl series Cecily von Ziegesar
31. What My Mother Doesn’t Know Sonya Sones
32. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging Louise Rennison
33. It’s So Amazing Robie Harris
34. Arming America Michael Bellasiles
35. Kaffir Boy Mark Mathabane
36. Blubber Judy Blume
37. Brave New World Aldous Huxley
38. Athletic Shorts Chris Crutcher
39. Bless Me, Ultima Rudolfo Anaya
40. Life is Funny E.R. Frank
41. Daughters of Eve Lois Duncan
42. Crazy Lady Jane Leslie Conly
43. The Great Gilly Hopkins Katherine Paterson
44. You Hear Me Betsy Franco
45. Slaughterhouse Five Kurt Vonnegut
46. Whale Talk Chris Crutcher
47. The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby Dav Pilkey
48. The Facts Speak for Themselves Brock Cole
49. The Terrorist Caroline Cooney
50. Mick Harte Was Here Barbara Park
51. Summer of My German Soldier Bette Green
52. The Upstairs Room Johanna Reiss
53. When Dad Killed Mom Julius Lester
54. Blood and Chocolate Annette Curtis Klause
55. The Fighting Ground Avi
56. The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien
57. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Mildred Taylor
58. Fat Kid Rules the World K.L. Going
59. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things Carolyn Mackler
60. A Time To Kill John Grisham
61. Rainbow Boys Alex Sanchez
62. Olive’s Ocean Kevin Henkes
63. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Ken Kesey
64. A Day No Pigs Would Die Robert Newton Peck
65. Speak Laurie Halse Anderson
66. Always Running Luis Rodriguez
67. Black Boy Richard Wright
68. Julie of the Wolves Jean Craighead George
69. Deal With It! Esther Drill
70. Detour for Emmy Marilyn Reynolds
71. Draw Me A Star Eric Carle
72. Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
73. Harris and Me Gary Paulsen
74. Junie B. Jones series Barbara Park
75. So Far From the Bamboo Grove Yoko Watkins
76. Song of Solomon Toni Morrison
77. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Chris Crutcher
78. What’s Happening to My Body Book Lynda Madaras
79. The Boy Who Lost His Face Louis Sachar
80. The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
81. Anastasia Again! Lois Lowry
82. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret Judy Blume
83. Bumps In the Night Harry Allard
84. Goosebumps series R.L. Stine
85. Shade’s Children Garth Nix
86. Cut Patricia McCormick
87. Grendel John Gardner
88. The House of Spirits Isabel Allende
89. I Saw Esau Iona Opte
90. Ironman Chris Crutcher
91. The Stupids series Harry Allard
92. Taming the Star Runner S.E. Hinton
93. Then Again, Maybe I Won’t Judy Blume
94. Tiger Eyes Judy Blume
95. Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel
96. Nathan’s Run John Gilstrap
97. Pinkerton, Behave! Steven Kellog
98. Freaky Friday Mary Rodgers
99. Halloween ABC Eve Merriam
100. Heather Has Two Mommies Leslea Newman

Monday, October 6, 2008

How to Ditch Your Fairy-Justine Larbalestier

Welcome to New Avalon, where everyone has a personal fairy. Though invisible to the naked eye, a personal fairy, like a specialized good luck charm, is vital to success. And in the case of the students at New Avalon Sports High, it might just determine whether you make the team, pass a class, or find that perfect outfit. But for 14-year-old Charlie, having a Parking Fairy is worse than having nothing at all—especially when the school bully carts her around like his own personal parking pass. Enter: The Plan. At first, teaming up with arch-enemy Fiorenza (who has an All-The-Boys-Like-You Fairy) seems like a great idea. But when Charlie unexpectedly gets her heart’s desire, it isn’t at all what she thought it would be like, and she’ll have resort to extraordinary measures to ditch her fairy.
How to Ditch Your Fairy is “delightful story of fairies, friendships, and figuring out how to make your own magic.” The world the author has created is so interesting! In New Avalon, kids are educated according to their talents; there is Sports School, Arts School, etc. I wish it was like that in the U.S.-Reading School here I come! Justine Larbalestier even created her own vocabulary for the book, which I normally don’t find appealing, but these words were just so funny, I’m sure I’ll find myself using them at school soon. I loved the character of Charlie-she was so sarcastic and always up to something. The Chapter headings also made me chuckle, with tallies of Charlie's demerits, conversations with her crush Steffi, and number of public service hours. The only problem I found was that Charlie was able to do whatever she pleased, without any concern from her parents. More than once in the book, Charlie left from school and then spent the whole night out without stopping at home. Ever heard of curfew? How to Ditch Your Fairy is a funny and charming read, and not to mention completely doos!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Upcoming Reviews

Hey everyone, I know I haven't posted in a while but I have been so busy. I started my job last week and Junior year is coming in full swing. I am currently reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote for Independent Reading at school (always my favorite assignment!) and am slowly but surely working my way through it. Having recently purchased some new books at Borders this weekend, I decided to share with you all my towering stack of 30 books just waiting to be devoured. This week is Homecoming which means less homework, but more out-of-school stuff, but I'll try to put up a review in the next week. In the mean time, keep reading and enjoy the beginning of fall!
The Sister-Poppy Adams
Sunshine-Robin McKinley
The Girls-Lori Lansens
The Host-Stephenie Meyer
The Accomplice-Kathryn Heyman
Sail-James Patterson
The Passion Flower Massacre-Nicola Morgan
The Tooth Fairy-Graham Joyce
The Hunger Games-Suzanne Collins
Gone-Michael Grantp,
P.S. I Love You-Cecelia Ahern
The Writing Class-Jincy Willet
How to Ditch Your Fairy-Justine Larbalestier
Black Rabbit Summer-Kevin Brooks
The Year We Disappeared-Cylin Busby and John Busby
The House on the Gulf-Margaret Peterson Haddix
Bliss-Lauren Myracle
Peeps-Scott Westerfeld
What Was Lost-Catherine O’Flynn
Driving Sideways-Jess Riley
I Capture the Castle-Dodie Smith
The Other Boleyn Girl-Philippa Gregory
Still Summer-Jacquelyn Mitchard
The Handmaid’s Tale-Margaret Atwood
Lost Summer-Alex Mcaulay
The Dead of Night-John Marsden
Midnighters-Scott Westerfeld
The Beach House-Jane Green
The Faerie Path-Frewin Jones
Elsewhere-Gabrielle Zevin

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

As the daughter of a Colorado Country coroner, Cameryn Mahoney is no stranger to death. She's always been fascinated by the science of it. So when she convinces her father to give her a job as his assistant, she's thrilled to finally get some hands-on experience in forensics. But Cammie is in for more than she bargained for when the second case that she attends turns out to be someone she knows-the latest victim of a serial killer know as the Christopher Killer. And if dealing with that isn't hard enough, Cammie soon realizes that if she's not careful, she might end up as the killer's next victim.
Reading much like an episode of CSI, The Christopher Killer is a solid, forensically-based piece of fiction. With edge-of-your-seat thrills and in-depth forensic info, you'll enjoy yourself and learn something. It is evident Alane Ferguson did her homework before writing this book. Although the characters are a bit underdeveloped, since this is the first book of a series, the characters are being introduced and will surely develop along with the series. A quick read that's great for those who love mystery and suspense.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff

Baird College freshman Robin Stone has decided to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in her dorm, a former Victorian fraternity house. During a massive rainstorm, she's joined by four other students: Patrick, a handsome jock; Martin, a scholarly eccentric; Lisa, every boy's friend; and Cain, a brooding musician. When they unearth an old Ouija board, they get some very odd messages. Soon, the unlikely group begins to believe that there's a sixth presence among them -- one that represents an indescribable evil. Upon learning of the death of a law student in their dorm eight decades ago, the five unite to fight the unseen evil before it can destroy all of them.
From the very beginning, The Harrowing sets the stage for a chilling ghost story: an empty gothic college, a power-outage, and an old Ouija Board. Although the characters fit into the normal clichés, the nerd, the jock, the beauty, the tease and the artist, they each have a hidden past that bonds them together and makes them unique. I found myself falling in love with the characters and being pulled into their struggle. The information on the Kabbalah and other Jewish folklore was really interesting, something I’d never heard of before. Screenwriter Alex Sokoloff excellently transposed a cinematic vision into novel form, and for those of us who love to close our eyes and imagine characters and places and all that goes creep in the night, it’s a tremendous read.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Forbidden Room by Sarah Wray

It takes just one moment for Jenny's life to change forever. Taken to live at Oak Hall Children's Centre, Jenny begins a very different life, confined to a wheelchair and dreaming of an earlier time.
Then Helen and John Holland offer her a foster home with their adorable five-year-old son, Stephen. They are the model of a perfect family, and Jenny dares to hope for happiness. Her days fill with school, her first boyfriend, learning pottery with Helen and Stephen, preparation for a ski trip, and learning to walk - and ski - again. But why is the Holland family so reclusive, what prompts Helen's sudden anger, and is the family as perfect as it seems? When she discovers an old diary beneath a floorboard, Jenny begins to unravel a dark secret. And suddenly she must make a huge and dangerous decision.
A thought-provoking page turner, The Forbidden Room is a great book that deserves more recognition that it has. Sarah Wray delves into a very controversial topic that is plaguing the news and headline: stem cell research. This book raises the question, how far would you go to save someone you love? What kept me going was the intriguing mystery at the books center that glued everything together.
Although, not the highest quality fiction out there, The Forbidden Room is definitely worth the read, especially for those who are interested in genetics.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Blindness by Jose Saramago

Since I am extremely lazy as of this moment, I am going to let Amazon do the work. Their review recounts everything I would say perfectly:
In an unnamed city in an unnamed country, a man sitting in his car waiting for a traffic light to change is suddenly struck blind. But instead of being plunged into darkness, this man sees everything white. A Good Samaritan offers to drive him home (and later steals his car); his wife takes him by taxi to a nearby eye clinic where they are ushered past other patients into the doctor's office. Within a day the man's wife, the taxi driver, the doctor and his patients, and the car thief have all succumbed to blindness. As the epidemic spreads, the government panics and begins quarantining victims in an abandoned mental asylum--guarded by soldiers with orders to shoot anyone who tries to escape. So begins Portuguese author José Saramago's gripping story of humanity under siege, written with a dearth of paragraphs, limited punctuation, and embedded dialogue minus either quotation marks or attribution. At first this may seem challenging, but the style actually contributes to the narrative's building tension, and to the reader's involvement. In this community of blind people there is still one set of functioning eyes: the doctor's wife has affected blindness in order to accompany her husband to the asylum. As the number of victims grows and the asylum becomes overcrowded, systems begin to break down: toilets back up, food deliveries become sporadic; there is no medical treatment for the sick and no proper way to bury the dead. Inevitably, social conventions begin to crumble as well, with one group of blind inmates taking control of the dwindling food supply and using it to exploit the others. Through it all, the doctor's wife does her best to protect her little band of blind charges, eventually leading them out of the hospital and back into the horribly changed landscape of the city. Blindness is in many ways a horrific novel, detailing as it does the total breakdown in society that follows upon this most unnatural disaster. Saramago takes his characters to the very edge of humanity and then pushes them over the precipice. His people learn to live in inexpressible filth, they commit acts of both unspeakable violence and amazing generosity that would have been unimaginable to them before the tragedy. The very structure of society itself alters to suit the circumstances as once-civilized, urban dwellers become ragged nomads traveling by touch from building to building in search of food. The devil is in the details, and Saramago has imagined for us in all its devastation a hell where those who went blind in the streets can never find their homes again, where people are reduced to eating chickens raw and packs of dogs roam the excrement-covered sidewalks scavenging from corpses. And yet in the midst of all this horror Saramago has written passages of unsurpassed beauty.
Overall, a gorgeous, well written piece of literature. I'd say if you are over 18, READ IT...Now!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Beauty by Robin McKinley

Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters, Grace and Hope, who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in intelligence and courage. When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”
Robin McKinley’s beloved telling illuminates the unusual love story of a most unlikely couple: Beauty and the Beast. (Review taken from Amazon) “This much-loved retelling of the classic French tale Beauty and the Beast elicits the familiar magical charm, but is more believable and complex than the traditional story. In this version, Beauty is not as beautiful as her older sisters, who are both lovely and kind. Here, in fact, Beauty has no confidence in her appearance but takes pride in her own intelligence, her love of learning and books, and her talent in riding. She is the most competent of the three sisters, which proves essential when they are forced to retire to the country because of their father's financial ruin. The plot follows that of the renowned legend: Beauty selflessly agrees to inhabit the Beast's castle to spare her father's life. Beauty's gradual acceptance of the Beast and the couple's deepening trust and affection are amplified in novel form. Robin McKinley's writing has the flavor of another century, and Beauty heightens the authenticity as a reliable and competent narrator.” I breezed through this novel, the rich language enveloping around me as I read the wonderful retelling of my favorite fairytale. The only fault I found was that the ending felt quite rushed. I would have loved to learn more about what happened after the wedding. Though this book is labeled as a 9-12 age range, I believe teens and adults alike would be very pleased with the rich texture and brilliant storytelling of Robin McKinley’s Beauty.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Vivan Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are hot on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the subarbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf? Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He's fascinated by magic and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would. Vivian's divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either, and her actions may endanger both. What is she really-human or beast? Which tastes sweeter-blood or chocolate?
Klause' writing is pure poetry, like chocolate melting on your tongue. She propels her bloodthirsty tale with dark,sexy prose and suspenseful storytelling. The world created by Klause is interesting and well described, pulling the reader in and making them wish they could were no longer homo-sapiens, but loup-garou. Vivian is a hot-blooded heroine who puts all other riot grrls to shame and Aiden is the guy all girls wish they could have. Blood and Chocolate is a masterpiece of adolescent angst wrapped in wolf's clothing, and its lovely, sensuous taste is sure to please high school teens.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall

Maddie Crane has lived in the small, prestigious town of Hawthorne her entire life, and thanks to her mother, has always had the right clothes, the right friends, and the right experiences. She belongs to a secret clique of the most popular, powerful girls in school called the Sisters of Misery. But even though Maddie spends her time with the most popular girls around, she has never felt like she truly belonged. But then her quirky Aunt Rebecca and beautiful cousin Cordelia come to live with her, bringing a glimpse of what the outside world is really like. Maddie and Cordelia forge a sisterly bond; Maddie drawn to her aunt and cousin’s free spirits and in-depth knowledge of runestones. But the Sisters of Misery aren’t so welcoming, especially after Cordelia takes a liking to several dashing men in town, one of whom being the leader of the Sister of Misery, Kate Endicott’s boyfriend. Kate and the rest of the “sisters” are determined to make her pay. The morning after a terror-filled, torturous ceremony conducted on Misery Island, Cornelia vanishes without a trace.
All I can say is…WOW! Sister of Misery is a stunning, gothic debut by an author I will definitely keep looking out for. Blending fantasy, thriller, and history, Sisters of Misery weaves a story filled with magic, mystery, and coming of age. Each character was magnificently drawn, from the bewildered Maddie to the mysterious Cordelia to the truly evil Kate Endicott. This book kept me turning pages all through the night. The many plot twists kept the story alive, the end leaving you begging for more. Thankfully, its sequel, The Lost Sister will be out August 2009, can’t wait!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nightwood by Patricia Windsor

Casey, Gena, and Maryann can think of a way better use of a week than a senior trip to Washington, D.C. Casey's plan is simple. Ditch the trip to D.C., camp out at her parents' amazing cabin in Delonga, and accidentally "run into" Lane and his friends on their fishing trip. She knows the boys will be across the lake--her friends will thank her once they're up there. Three girls for three boys will be the perfect party. After all, what could be more fun than five days in the woods? No curfews, no rules, and no parents. No one will even know they're up there.And no one will hear them when they scream for help.When the first body shows up, it's shocking. When the knock comes on the back door, it's horrifying. And when they realize there's nowhere to hide, they'll wish they were already dead.Surviving a week in the woods is a going to be a whole lot harder than these girls could ever imagine.
From the first page, Nightwood captured my attention with each chapter alternating the narrator giving many different perspectives, even delving into the killer's thoughts and feelings. I read this in no less than 3 hours, my heart pounding the whole time, eager to reach the end. What made Nightwood great was that it was an original horror story with great twists and turns; a definite must-read for teen and adult horror fans.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Harry Potter?

So, I'm sure by now you've all heard that the highly anticipated Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie is being pushed back from November to July!! When I heard the news I almost cried. I was already so pysched to see it, it would've made the beginning of the year so much better, knowing that in November Harry would be here!
Although, with the bad news there is also some good news. The movie Twilight is being moved up from December 12 to November 21, which doesn't make up for having to wait for HBP, but it was a nice try.
I currently breezing my through Nightwood by Patricia Windsor and will definitely have a review up tomorrow, most likely a good one if the book keeps going as it is now.
So that's about it, hope everyone has had a good weekend. Today at my house we had a belated wedding shower for my cousin, Nicki who got married in Jamaica earlier this summer. It was pretty fun, though my sister left for college yesterday, so I didn't really have anyone my age to talk to: I ended up talking (actually, mostly listening) to my great-aunt babbling on about how once she accidently invited guests into the house while wearing her slippers, etc., etc....hilarious, really.
Happy Reading,
P.S. in case you were wondering, which I'm sure everyone was *crickets chirp* I finished my history paper on Killer Angels today! YAY!

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Back at her elite boarding school after a summer vacation in which she has grown from duckling to swan, sophomore Frankie starts dating cool, gorgeous senior Matthew and instantly becomes a part of his charmed social circle. Hanging with Matthew and his crowd is a thrill, but Frankie begins to chafe as she realizes that the boys are all members of the secret society to which her own father belonged, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hound, and that not only will they never let her join, Matthew will not even tell her about it. But that doesn’t stop Frankie. She is determined to prove herself to Matthew so she concocts a brilliant plan to infiltrate the Bassets and has them carry out a series of pranks that wittily challenge the politics of the school.
E. Lockhart’s writing is full of wit and spunk. Frankie is an interesting heroine whose insights on life are entertaining and thought-provoking. The biggest problems were my inability to like most of the characters (besides Frankie) and the neglected positives grew tiresome. The first half of the book is pretty meager in terms of plot, but picks up towards the end once Frankie has infiltrated the society. Overall, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was a lukewarm read.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard

So I know this isn't the book it says I'm currently reading, but for some reason I find myself in a reading rut. I normally would have my next book done by now, but I guess all of my late nights have caught up with me and I've been sleeping in like crazy. So, I decided to review a book I read a few weeks ago instead of leaving you guys hanging:
Meredith and Mallory Brynn are mirror twins born on either side of midnight one snowy New Year’s Eve. They have always been inseparable. But after they are nearly killed in a mysterious fire on their thirteenth birthday, the bond that has always joined them unravels. They begin to have visions and dreams that reveal the deep secrets kept by the people around them. Meredith and Mallory realize they have each been given a gift: Merry can see deep into the past; Mally can see the future. But when they discover that one boy is not what they imagined, their lives will be changed forever. If they can survive . . .
Sounds promising right: A thrilling plot with unusual characters written by an amazing author; sadly, it does not deliver. I had been eagerly awaiting this book, having enjoyed many of Mitchard’s previous works, but was surprised to find the characters boring, the story slow-moving, and the writing very amateurish. The twins’ personalities were very cliché: one the girly girl, the other the tom boy. A lot of the time, there was too much dialogue and it was hard to tell who was speaking, especially between the twins. The secondary characters were paper-thin, with no development. The girls didn’t even find out they were seeing into the past and future until over halfway through the book, and then their “mission” was to see if the boy that they grew up with, coincidently the crush of one of the twins, is really who they think he is. The visions the twins had were also not very clear, a lot of times acting on them before the reader even knew what the character had seen. The action only picked up in the last 50 pages or so. The Midnight Twins is the first book in a trilogy, but I highly doubt I will continue with this series. This book had potential; I just feel that Jacquelyn Mitchard rushed through it too quickly. So, if you seeThe Midnight Twins in a bookstore, I would recommend skipping over it and picking out a different Mitchard book. Try All We Know of Heaven, Now You See Her, or Cage of Stars.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New Layout

Yeah, I know I've only been up a few days, but I decided to change things up a bit. My other template seemed too dreary, so I think this one gives a better atmosphere.
Anyway, I just got back from getting a pedicure and am about to crack open a new book, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (what a mouthful) by a great author, E. Lockhart. After having read her book, How To Be Bad, which she co-authored with Lauryn Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski, I know it will be great.
Anywhoo, I just figured out today that my summer paper that I have to write on the book Killer Angels (which I must say isn't pleasure-reading) is due next week! Didn't know that...so I guess I'll have to do that this weekend.
I hope everyone out there is having a great last few weeks of summer. Finish up those beach reads while you can!
Happy Reading,

Night by Elie Wiesel

Born in the town of Sighet, Transylvania, Elie Weisel was a teenager when he and his family were taken from their home in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald. Night is the terrifying record of Elie Wiesel’s memories of the death of his family, the death of his innocence, and his despair as a deeply observant Jew confronting the absolute evil of man. This version of Night presents the most accurate rendering in English of Elie Wiesel’s testimony to what happened in the camps and of his unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.
It’s hard to find the words to review a book like this. Night takes you on a harrowing journey into the darkness of the human soul. An Amazon reviewer stated it perfectly when he said, “This is the longest short book I've ever read. It is one that has stayed with me from the first page, and I've never been able to shake the images brought forward, the misery and suffering, the existence of evil and brutality, the sadness and desolation.” A true classic, Night should be read by all.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Chloe Saunders is an ordinary 15 year old girl whose main concerns are hanging with friends, meeting boys, and becoming a movie director. But things spin out of control when Chloe sees a terrifying ghost at school. She has a breakdown and is sent to Lyle House, a “special home” for troubled teens. There, she is diagnosed with schizophrenia, her “hallucinations” a symptom. But the medication does nothing and Chloe keeps seeing ghosts. She quickly realizes that there is more to her housemates than meets the eye and they all agree that Lyle House is hiding something; but what?
As Kelley Armstrong’s first YA novel, this was a great success and a wonderful mix of supernatural drama and lots of conspiracy driven action. The writing was simple and kept the story flowing quickly. The only fault I have is that a few of the minor characters (Rae and Simon) were not developed enough; hopefully the sequel will expand on them. I did find myself falling in love with the character Derek: brooding, scary, and super strong, afraid to show that he really does care. The Summoning is a great page-turning read. If you love YA paranormal, you’ll love The Summoning. I cannot wait for the next installment, The Awakening, due out in May 2009.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

So Far, So Good!

So far, blogging has been a great experience! I’m having a ton of fun and it’s so easy (which is important to me seeing as I am technologically challenged). Fellow bloggers have been really great welcoming me to the blogosphere (lame, I know), and in adding me to their blog rolls.
Since getting started yesterday, I’ve had 18 views, half of which were just me marveling at my handiwork...I know I shouldn’t be this excited about a blog, but I’ve never had a MySpace or Facebook, so this is my way to connect to people who like to do what I do-READ!
I guess I’ll use this time to tell you all a little more about myself and what kinds of books I like:
*In regards to reading, I’m definitely a genre-jumper. I like a little of everything: fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, horror, mystery, thriller, memoir, etc. Basically the only kind I don’t read is books that are at all like the “Clique” series ,not to belittle Lisi Harrison or her writing, I know it is a very popular series, it’s just a little too “pre-teen” for me. I definitely lean toward “darker” books, meaning paranormal or fantasy.
*Some of my favorite books off the top of my head are: Harry Potter, Twilight Series, Life As We Knew It, The Ruins, A Great and Terrible Beauty series, Project 17, Certain Slant of Light, The Luxe, Fever 1793, Running Out of Time, Blink, The Missing Girl, Wicked Lovely, and Garden Spells.
*Besides the obsession with reading, I consider myself a fairly normal person. I go to a small, private, Christian high school and am about to begin my junior year: a time filled with ACTs, college visits, and extra-curriculars up the wazoo (Ahhhhh!). But, I’m actually ready for the challenge.
*My so-called ‘Junior Year Plan’ includes at least 3 college visits, 2 possible ACT exams, a potential job at the library (which I’m praying I get), learning (again) to play the piano, finishing writing one of my short stories in time for Literary Journal at school, and updating my blog at least twice a week...whew!
Oops, my “quick little post” turned into a full-blown rant! Sorry, I’ll try and limit those to one a week. Time to go get myself some ice cream, ciao!

Ordinary Ghosts by Eirreann Corrigan

For years, the all-male student body at Caramoor Academy has held an underground tradition of bestowing a secret master key to the campus onto one "worthy" (read: mischievous) student each year. Emil Simon would never have gotten the key in the usual way, but when his older brother took off after their mother's death, he left the key behind. With his emotionally distant father away on business, Emil uses his after-hours access to the school grounds to create a private place for himself. Eventually, he forges a connection with the art teacher's daughter, who is also making clandestine use of the Caramoor property.
The plot of Ordinary Ghosts is at times slow-moving, although Emil is an interesting central character. I did found it difficult however to handle Emil’s flippant, defiant manner and casual attitude toward sex, drugs, alcohol, and school. The book seemed to cast a bad light on teenage boys, inferring that their lives revolve around buying drugs, doing drugs, and having or thinking about having sex. Now, I don’t know what goes on inside a boy’s head, but I hope that my brother and other guys I know don’t always think the way Emil does. Besides that, Ordinary Ghosts is a touching story that deals with death and abandonment in a very realistic manner.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood

Morgan’s sophomore year ends with her boyfriend dumping her. Seeking attention Morgan hacks off all her hair and dies the stubble orange, causing her parents to send her on a week-long bike tour of Ireland. “As if pedaling across an entire country with a bunch of losers in padded shorts is supposed to cheer me up?” In Ireland her spirits are lifted a touch when she meets Colin, the cute redhead who drives the luggage van, Morgan’s morose feelings continue until a bike accident throws her headfirst into an alternate fantasy world, complete with wee Irish folk, magic, and a hunky warrior named Fergus. But all isn’t perfect in this corner of the past: a curse has plagued the land for years and it is up to Morgan, who is prophesied to be the savior of the century to bring them peace. Can she save the land and possible find some luck and love along the way?
This book was a great read mixed with the perfect amount of romance, adventure, fantasy, and humor. Morgan was a unique and witty protagonist whose hilarious descriptions of her tour mates left you rolling on the floor laughing. The book was kept interesting by Morgan shifting back and forth between the magical word and reality on the bike tour. Overall Why I Let My Hair Grow Out was a charming, enjoyable read and I am eagerly anticipating purchasing and reading the sequel, How I Found the Perfect Dress.

68 Knots by Michael Robert Evans

After a sailing camp owner’s suicide on board, eight teenagers from diverse background give the owner an impromptu burial at sea and take command of the sailboat. The sixty-eight days of summer remaining are full of amazing events: yacht races and pirate raids, a near fatal hunt for treasure, encounters with wildlife and coastal characters, and onboard parties and sexual tensions. But their freedom also leads to struggles for authority and power, some snap decisions with long-lasting consequences, and a few new friendships that could last a lifetime.
68 Knots was a riveting and refreshing read. Evans does a terrific job bringing his characters to light, allowing us into all of their minds as they question authority, morality, and relationships. The characters had great depth and each brought something to the table be it strength, laughter, toughness, faith, vision, warmth, leadership, or love. The book hooked you on the first page and pulled you swiftly through the rest with its amazing storyline; perfect for a day at the beach. The premise of the story is every young ocean-lover’s dream: to freely sail the open sea on your own boat, with good friends, good food, and plenty of alcohol! But running your own ship isn’t always easy, what with struggles for leadership, failed romances, deadly storms, and dwindling resources. Evans wonderful writing brings you right along for the ride through the ups and downs of the Dreadnought crew, leaving you completely satisfied and ready to hit the open sea for yourself!

Here We Go...

This summer I decided it was time to start my own book blog since I love reading other people's reviews-especially if they bash a book I love or love a book I loathe.
I have always adored books, but just this past year when I got my laptop began my booklists. I currently have a Books-to-Read list, a Books-to-Come list, and a list of the books i have read since June 2008...about 30 pages and steadily growing. So, I guess I better get started...