Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Huntress - Malinda Lo

Where I got it: ARC from publisher 
Rating: 4 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars (I love the symmetry of the cover and the fact that the model is distinctly Asian. I also love that you can't really see her face even though it's weird she would be holding a bow like that.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 371 p.

The Kingdom which many humans inhabit is under attack. This is not a war of weapons, but a war of nature failing. The sun hasn't shone in many years and crops can not prosper in the never-ending grey. The Sages cast the oracle stones and call upon Taisin and Kaede to embark on a journey with an unknown ending. All the girls know is that the kind received an invitation to the Fay Kingdom and his son will go in his place while he takes care of his people. The two girls hardly know each other, but a deep connection brings them closer together on this perilous journey.  The road they travel is not an easy one, and many of their crew fall victim to the evils that lurk inside the dark wood. Their mission must be completed however, otherwise life may cease to exist along with the warm sunshine.

So for those of you who follow me on Twitter or Goodreads, you may know that I struggled with this book, due to the fact that it is written with third-person omniscient narration. I prefer first person narration or at least third-person limited. Regardless of the fact that I did not like the style of narration this story had plenty of redeeming qualities that made me glad to continue reading. Kaede was such a like-able and plain character. She did extraordinary things, but you could feel yourself as being similar to her. Unlike, Taisin who is a sage, Kaede is not magical—though she is quite gifted with a dagger. I enjoyed watching their relationship grow and bloom. Malinda Lo knows how to write good LGBT lit. She didn't include shame or uncertainty about what they felt. No one looked down on their relationship. It was refreshing to have a solid love story between two girls without the taunting voices of their peers. Almost this entire novel consisted of Taisin, Kaede and crew's journey to the Fairy Queen. Which makes the extra journey at the end seem insignificant and unnecessary. The ending just seemed very rushed and I would have liked it to have ended sooner, not that it was a length issue—I felt the novel was wrapping up and then it was extended with another adventure. I liked the story though, and got very attached to many of the characters and was sad to see them go. I loved the element of magic so deftly woven into the world that Malinda Lo created. There was danger and adventure, love and loss, magic and fay, all a perfect combination for an amazing novel. If you buy one book this April make it Huntress. 

First Line of story:
"She saw a beach made of ice, and she felt her heart breaking."

Favorite Line:
"He doubled over, his life spilling from his chest, mingling with the rain that still fell, unceasingly, from the sky."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox #78

In My Mailbox brought to you by The Story Siren
For Review: From St. Martin's Griffin

I'm really excited to read this one, because I really loved Glimpse
>Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money. But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control....
“No one can get inside the head and heart of a 13-year-old girl better than Carol Lynch Williams, and I mean no one," said James S. Jacobs, Professor of Children's Literature at Brigham Young University, of her breakout novel, The Chosen One. Now this award-winning YA author brings us an equally gripping story of a girl who loves her mother, but must face the truth of what life with that mother means for both of them.

So what did you all get this week?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review: Bird in a a Box - Andrea Davis Pinkey

Where I got it: ARC from publisher 
Rating: 3.5 stars
Cover Rating: 3 stars (It's a very middle grade novel cover. I like the things that are represented and the silhouettes.)
Genre: Middle Grade
Publication Date: April 12, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 239 p.

In the middle of the Great Depression, there are three children from different backgrounds that are about to meet. They do have some things in common, dreams, loss and Joe Louis. The running fight commentary of Joe Louis' fights matches up nicely with the children's own struggles to get what they want from life, and what they need.

So this was a well written novel about some African American children in a time when everyone is down on their luck. Joe Louis provides and inspiration to the community and everyone who's anyone listens to his fights on whatever radio they can find. When I first started the novel I hated Willie's Uh-huh and Uh-Uhs. They were used so often and were a little irritating. As the story wore on though, they became more a part of him and I hardly noticed. I like that this novel was told in alternating viewpoints from each of the three children and I enjoyed the little illustrations throughout. It was great how Andrea Davis Pinkney put actual commentary from the radio broadcasts of Joe's fights. Though this was historical fiction, it was really a timeless piece, one that kids could relate to. Everybody has dreams and a hero. The characters were all realistic and I loved Hibernia's preacher pa. He was certainly a character, and a good man. If you like reading about the 1930's, boxing, or a good wholesome story, Make sure you check this one out.

First Line:
"For crying out loud!"

Favorite Line:
"Christmas is for fools."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Mini-Review: The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Woldwide - Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor

Where I got it: Inter-Library Loan
Rating: 4 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (It is what it is.)
Genre: Adult/Coffee Table book
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
Publisher: Harper Perennial 
Page Count: 192 p.(mostly pictures)

Have you ever thought about getting a tattoo for your love of books, or just one story or author in particular? Well these folks have. This is a wonderful collection of literary tattoos on booklovers. From Eric Carle to Walt Whitman everybody has that book that meant something to them. Maybe it looked really nice. As the stories of tattoos inside state, not all tattoos are created equal. Sometimes you just have a love for how they look, or a love of words. Sometimes you have something more.

This was a fun coffee table type book. Not something you necessarily sit down and read from cover to cover. I really enjoyed the stories that went with some of the tattoos and some of the tats were amazing. There were some really fascinating books represented on these folks skin. Speaking of Skin. one of my favorite parts was learning about Shelley Jackson's 2,095 word short story that was not written down on paper, called Skin. She had volunteers from all over that agreed to have a word and any punctuation tattooed on a part of their body. Then, they snap a photo and send it to her so she can compile them to make her story. It sounds amazing, and I can't wait to see the finished product.This was a fun little book to look at and definitely worth the time if you are fascinated by tattoos.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Nothing - Janne Teller

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 4 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars (Very fitting to the main concept of the novel. The title is perfect and I love that the tree carries on to the back page too.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: February 9, 2010
Publisher: Atheneum
Page Count: 227 p.

Pierre Anthon stands up in class one day to announce that life has no meaning and that he is off to go practice being nothing.
Pierre's classmates are confused by what this may mean for them if he is right. What if life has no meaning? They know the only way to carry on is to prove to Pierre Anthon that there is in fact meaning. So they set out to build a heap of meaning. A whole heap of meaningful things in the middle of an abandoned sawmill. When they decide that they too have to contribute to the pile of meaning that's when things get serious. They can't trust a person to give up what is meaningful to them, so everyone has to pick something for someone else to give up. A pair of shoes, a bike, a pet, innocence–as the pile grows so do the stakes. Can all these worthwhile object really make a pile of junk meaningful? Will it convince Pierre Anthon that life has meaning?

Well, let me just start off by saying this book certainly did not happen the way I expected it. I personally don't like to know too much about a book before I read it. A brief summary, a nice cover, or a glimmer of a 5 star review is all I really need. So when I was cataloging this book and saw the writing style, saw that it was translated from Danish, and was a finalist for some awards, I was intrigued. Then I saw the summary from inside the book which read: "When thirteen-year-old Pierre Anthon leaves school to sit in a plum tree and train for becoming part of nothing, his seventh grade classmates set out on a desperate quest for the meaning of life." It seemed like an interesting YA novel about existentialism. When I started reading however, what I had in my hands was a macabre story–still about existentialism–which was very much a coed Lord of the Flies; it was perfect. These kids were left completely unsupervised and left holding a question much bigger than they could fathom. They didn't know when they set out that meaning was a very hard thing to pin down. They did horrible, terrible things in their quest to find meaning for life. If Pierre Anthon wasn't yelling absurdist things at them from the plum tree would they have been driven to such lengths? Possibly not, but something still might have set them off. As soon as one person added something to the heap they were out for blood for the next person. The next person had to give up something much worse, so that the first person's loss didn't seem as devastating. This was a much more brief read than Lord of the Flies, but every bit as pertinent. I think this could be taught right alongside the greats in a high school English class. 

First Line:
"Nothing matters."

Favorite Line:
"Something in Hussain seemed to have been destroyed."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #36

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm waiting on Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison.
So let me start first by saying LOOK AT THAT COVER IT'S SO GORGEOUS. This is in my top favorite covers of all time. It's so perfect and pretty and yeah...
Anyways, the other reason I am looking forward to it is I love the originalTristan and Isolde German legend as well as The Romance of Tristan and Iseult. It is a fantastic love story more original than even Shakespeare and I am fascinated to see what Harrison will do with the story.

A modern retelling of the German legend "Tristan and Isolde", "Tris and Izzy", is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until–she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.

Unfortunately this wait is going to last until October 11th. I hope I can make it ;)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Other Words for Love - Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 3.5 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars (It's very appealing. Her lips are great and I love the colors of the bottom photo.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: January 11, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 354 p.

Ari feels like an invisible girl. Her best friend Summer is a shining star, she is smart, pretty and outgoing and people are always falling in love with her. When a family member dies and leaves his inheritance to Ari's family she is able to go to the Manhattan prep school with summer. Ari is not very excited about this though, because if in public school she was a nobody than in private school she will be even less. She has crushes but it isn't until she meets Leigh that her crushes have a chance to become more. Leigh's cousin Blake is attractive and smart and totally into Ari. She feels like she's won the jackpot. For the first time in her life she feels pretty and loved. When major misfortune falls in Blake's lap. He withdraws from Ari. Since she's never been in love she doesn't know what to do. What was once a magical world becomes too bleak all at once.

I really wanted to love this story. I read so many 5 star reviews of it from many bloggers that I often agree with. Something about this story I just didn't like. I felt like I was reading and waiting the whole 354 pages for something to happen. This was a great novel about first love and loss, but nothing seemed to really happen to keep me interested. The writing itself was very good and I didn't mind reading it. I just felt like the whole story could have been much shorter if all it wanted to accomplish was a tale about this one relationship, though I know there was a lot going on within Ari's life that would have seemed rush had this novel been shorter. I think the length lends to the intensity and validity of the relationship. It makes it seem like she didn't just fall for him to the point of no return in 3 days. After reading this novel I just felt dissatisfied. I guess I expected too much of this novel and for me, it fell flat. I did appreciate the characters though at times Ari was a bit too self-pitying, to the point of whining. Her sister and mother added an interesting dynamic, seeing as how they were both very loud and strong people and Ari was not. Ari and her sister's relationship was an interesting thing to read about, it helped that her sister sometimes flew a bit off her rocker, but they both needed to grow up.  I wouldn't recommend against reading this novel. For what it was it was really great. A true coming of age tale that, even though it takes place in the 80s, has a very undated feel to it. If you are a girl who has been head over heels and then lost that relationship this is a book you could enjoy.

First Line:
"In 1985, just about everyone I  knew was afraid of two things: a nuclear attack by the Russians and a gruesome death from the AIDS virus, which allegedly thrived on the mouthpieces of New York City public telephones."

Favorite Line:
"Then I knew that I was much better than okay, and I couldn't imagine feeling any other way."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: A Time of Miracles - Anne-Laure Bondoux

Where I got it: Library
Rating:  4 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (I really like it, the colors and the blur of the background. I also appreciate the relevance to the story portrayed in the photograph. The only bad thing is that it looks like an adult cover, but maybe YA will start to look more like this.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: November 9, 2010
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 180 p.

There was a woman picking peaches in her father's orchard when a train derailed. This woman, Gloria, heard a woman's cries coming from inside a train. The women was French and told Gloria to take her baby Blaise Fortune and gave Gloria their passports. Gloria has raised Blaise as her own, and has given him a proper name of Koumaïl. When Koumaïl turns seven the Caucasus becomes a war filled place and Gloria decides they must flee west to Europe. The traveling spans across five years, with stays here and there. The whole time Koumaïl asks Gloria to repeat the story of how he came to be with her, as if her words would help him figure out who he is.

This was a very fascinating read. Historical Fiction that pulls at your heartstrings. Koumaïl is a young boy and when him and Gloria must flee he has to leave many things behind. As soon as he gets comfortable in one place they must again move on as the war follows at their heels. I really enjoyed following their journey across the continent. Koumaïl was a very interesting character and it was fascinating to hear his account of the trip that he had to make. Seeing everything from a child's point of view makes the whole situation look a whole lot different than if an adult was telling it. A child's perspective though not any lesser of an observation, is often times more naive, a young child simply doesn't know what is going on, often because the adults are trying to shield them from it. This is certainly the case in this novel. Koumaïl is much more worried about leaving his friends and hoping that Gloria is okay, than the war itself which they are fleeing. If you really enjoy a short Historical Fiction read make sure you check this one out, Anne-Laure Bondoux is quite a good author.

First Lines:
"My name is Blaise Fortune and I am a citizen of the French Republic. It's the pure and simple truth."

Favorite Line:
"Unfortunately, the best of times have to come to an end."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Giveaway: Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman

So as you may recall from Monday, the ever-lovely Jody Gehrman was super kind enough to offer up a copy of her newest book Babe in Boyland for me to give away to one of you lucky readers. So that's what we will be doing today. For those of you that did not read my review yesterday here's a summary of the book from Goodreads.

When high school junior Natalie--or Dr. Aphrodite, as she calls herself when writing the relationship column for her school paper--is accused of knowing nothing about guys and giving girls bad relationship advice, she decides to investigate what guys really think and want. But the guys in her class won't give her straight or serious answers. The only solution? Disguising herself as a guy and spending a week at Underwood Academy, the private all-boy boarding school in town. There she learns a lot about guys and girls in ways she never expected--especially when she falls for her dreamy roommate, Emilio. How can she show him she likes him without blowing her cover?

So now you are most certainly thinking, well get on with it, how do I win this book. Well you fill out this form. This is a U.S. only giveaway and please make sure you specify who you would like it signed to if anybody. There are extra points, see the form for details. Contest will run until the 28th. Good Luck!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Babe in Boyland - Jody Gehrman

WherI got it: ARC from Princess Bookie's Around the World Tours
Rating: 4.5 stars 
Cover Rating: 5 stars (This is one of my favorite covers ever. It's so fun and fantastic!)
Genre: Young Adult 
Publication Date: February 17, 2011
Publisher: Dial
Page Count: 292 p.

Natalie is a romance advice columnist, Dr. Aphrodite,  for her school paper. When some harsh comments crop up on her latest online help column, she realizes that maybe she isn't the best person to be dispensing advice about relationships, especially since she hasn't had a boyfriend since...forever. She decides to ask the boys at her school some questions that girls really want to know the answers to. They all clam up though and give her nothing. Natalie isn't sure what to do. Then she has a plan, born from her love of acting, she decides she will go undercover at the local all boys school Underwood Academy. Being a guy shouldn't be too hard right? Enter super dreamy roommate, Nat's new roommate and new crush. How can she keep her cover when all she wants is to flirt with this beautiful boy. Natalie finds out that there are lots more things about guys she didn't know about, than what she came here to find out.

Jody Gehrman has done it again I love her quirky Triple Shot Betty books and I LOVE Natalie Rowan. This book was such a fun and interesting read. Not that I am a high school girl still trying to unravel the secrets of the male species, but this is a fantastic read regardless. High-jinks and mishaps are bound to happen when a girly-girl decides to try and be a guy. I kind of hope this is a series, if only to get to know Natalie and her friends better. This book was such a short look into the week of Natalie's life while she tried to discover who she really was and who guys were. This was just a really funny book and I dispatched this book in one light sitting. I just need to know how it ended, could Natalie really make it a whole week as a boy without any finding out??! Well, I know but you won't until you make sure and get your hands on this fantastic read.  

First Line:
"My name is Natalie Rowan." 

Favorite Line:
"It's like they don't have any witticisms of their own without ripping off some poor dead playwright."  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: Triple Shot Bettys in Love - Jody Gehrman

Where I got it: My collection
Rating: 5 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (It's very very cute!)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: January 22, 2009
Publisher: Dial
Page Count: 249 p.
Companion novel to Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty

The Bettys are back and they are in love. After five months of dating Ben, Geena finds that he wants things to get a bit more...physical. She's not quite sure if she's ready for all that though. On top of that, she has Amber to worry about. See, they got this new substitute English teacher who is way hot (think Ezra Fitz from PPL) and Amber wants to trick him into loving her. So Geena is helping Amber out but accidentally pushing Ben away and sort of, kinda falling for Mr. Sands herself. Oh young love, how will it all turn out?

I didn't know how this second novel was going to be, I mean sequels are sometimes a flop. I loved this book even more than the first though. Romantic rivalry was top on the lists of things I loved about this novel. We get introduced to Sophie and she wants Ben (Benedict) in a bad way. Ben doesn't see the nasty fire that she spits in Geena's direction, which has Geena paranoid. To top it off, Sophie is super glamourous and always dresses to the nines; whereas Geena is Skater Chic. The second thing I loved was the hilarious misadventures with the English sub. I mean, Geena following Amber on a date to text her lines. I loved when she texted Amber "Brontë" and Amber pronounces it "Bront". Fantastic! I would certainly consider this novel a companion to Confessions instead of a sequel, because while this does follow chronologically, it is not a continuation of the first story and you don't have to have read Confessions in order to read this one. I was a little disappointed that Hero wasn't more of a character in this one, although it's understandable (her being at boarding school in CT and all). I really start to like how she contrasted with Amber and Geena in the first novel and wished there was that dynamic again here. Again, Jody Gehrman created very 3D characters that you could feel like you actually knew, even if sometimes you wanted to shake them. There was still some slimy guys in this one, but nothing the Bettys couldn't handle. I would make sure you check this one out if you like escapades and caffeine and boys and love and trouble and life. 

First Line:
"Hey Hero, 
I know you come home for winter break tomorrow, which render this e-mail kind of unnecessary if not pathetic, but I just have to give you the heads-upon the latest Sonoma Valley High gossip, such as it is."

Favorite Lines:
"Isn't this supposed to be my time to horrify them with my burgeoning sexuality."

"There were stars poking through the navy blue sky, piercing its smooth surface like pegs in a Lite-Brite."

"Amber and I were rolling our eyes so often we saw more of the ceiling than anything else."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Confessions of a Triple Shot Betty - Jody Gehrman

Where I got it: My collection
Rating: 4.5 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (On the hardcover edition the coffee is scratch n' sniff!)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 17, 2008
Publisher: Dial
Page Count: 256 p.

All Geena wanted out of this summer was for her best friend, Amber, and her cousin, Hero, to become instant friends. Unfortunately this does not go down without a hitch. Meet the Bettys girls who need to learn how to resist the irresistible John (the man). Geena's friend Amber gets a reputation as being skanky when she moves to the new town after having a slight thing with John. Geena's cousin Hero (parents, were big Shakespeare fans)is the "pure innocent one" who ends up getting burned by John too, when she fails to fall for his devilish good looks. Geena decides that she can not stand by idly and watch her friend's reputations disintegrate. So she calls upon some other girls who have been burned to bring down The Man.

So this is my second time reading this novel. I read it when it first came out a couple years ago and loved it then. I still love it! Geena is such a feminist, but not in a bad scary way. She is not one to sit around and be dumped on or watch as her friends suffer a boy's egotistical crap. I really loved the character's and how you got enough background on them to relate to them, but you didn't know like best friend secrets. All the characters were fun and quirky and people you could love...or love to hate (John). Some people are just slimy and this book had a great way of dealing with those people. If you have ever been scorned by a guy and then he slandered you, this book of delicious revenge is for you. Jody is a fantastic author and has a fun narrative to help you glide through the book. It was very interesting seeing how the girls interacted with each other and I appreciated that they each had a separate entity they weren't all alike. Each character is completely there own and think of things from different points of view. Though the summer crushes and heartache are typical throughout the young adult genre, this book possess many interesting developments, that one would not really suspect (at least I didn't).

First Lines: 
"Great. So much for my summer. I should have known. School's not even out yet, and Operation Girlfriend is already in tatters."

Favorite Line:
"I may die with my hymen intact, but at least I'll have my dignity."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Interview with author Jody Gehrman

So today, we have a special guest. She is the author of Confession of a Triple Shot Betty, Triple Shot Bettys in Love and the soon to be  released Babe in Boyland. Jody Gehrman. *Applause*  
The lovely Jody has agreed to do an interview and a...giveaway. So today I bring you the interview. Enjoy!
Have you ever worked as a barista? 
No, I've never worked as a barista. My efforts in the food service industry have been very ill fated, for the most part. I did work as a cocktail waitress in a casino one summer. It was a kind of horrible job, but I thought it would give me lots of material to write about.

What is your favorite caffeinated beverage? 
Mmm, I love so many! At the moment I'm on a vanilla soy latte kick, though I love me a mocha on a cold, rainy day with lots of whipped cream.

Who, if anyone, were you named after?
Ah, bit of a long story. I was actually born with the name Jenny Jo, though neither of my parents liked it much and they always called me Jody (bizarre, right?) They officially changed my name to Jody Elizabeth when I was about four. Jody is for my father's middle name Joseph, and Elizabeth was my grandmother's middle name. At the time, though, I thought Elizabeth came from my favorite preschool teacher. Incidentally, this same preschool teacher recently took a class from me at the college where I teach English! I was very intimidated and honored to instruct her, since I idolized her as a child. 

Who do you wish you were named after?
I guess my preschool teacher! Though also it would be great to be named after an eccentric and brave literary character, like Portia maybe, or Antigone.

Have you ever had to go undercover (even a little)?
Ooh, that's a good question. When I was traveling in Europe with my best friend after college, we used to pretend to be various people; we'd make up elaborate personal histories. For some reason we often posed as flight attendants, though I can't recall why we chose that as our cover. My usual name during those operations was Jondi. I guess that was kind of like going undercover, even if it was just for our own entertainment.
Did you write for your high school newspaper?

No, I didn't. I was more into writing fiction than nonfiction, even back then. I was also into theatre. Later, though, in my twenties, I freelanced for some different publications in San Francisco--entertainment rags and magazines, mostly.
Who is your favorite character in your current books? Who is your least favorite?

Well, I do admire Natalie, just as I admired Geena in the Triple Shot Betty series. They're both plucky and resourceful. They're good friends, too, which I admire. I guess it will come as no surprise that their enemies are kind of my enemies; girls like Summer Sheers in Babe in Boyland, who is Natalie's rival and just generally loathsome. I have to say I do really enjoy writing these frenemy characters, though. There's something strangely exhilarating about gathering up the characteristics of people I've disliked over the years and packing them into one thoroughly detestable character.

Are you working on anything right now?

I'm toying with historical fiction and elements of magic. It's all new to me, but I'm excited about venturing into new territory.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: The Good Neighbors series - Holly Black

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 3 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Interesting illustrations on the cover and throughout. I really love the colors on the cover and how Rue is on all of them.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
Publisher: GRAPHIX
Page Count: 117 p.

First Line:
"My name is Rue, like Kangaroo or like 'You'll rue the day we met Mwa-ha-ha!'"

Favorite Line:
" I don't remember when I realized my mother was crazy."

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 3 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Interesting illustrations on the cover and throughout. I really love the colors on the cover and how Rue is on all of them.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 1, 2009
Publisher: GRAPHIX
Page Count: 115 p.

First Line:
"One you know things, you can't unknow them."

Favorite Lines:
"But I've never broken into a building with people in it. Assuming you're willing to call them people."

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 3 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Interesting illustrations on the cover and throughout. I really love the colors on the cover and how Rue is on all of them.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: November 1, 2010
Publisher: GRAPHIX
Page Count: 111 p.

First Line:
"No one knows the exact location of Fortunate Isles–the Isles of the Blessed."

Favorite Line:
"My dreams are uneasy."

One day Rue wakes up and her mom has disappeared. She heard her parents arguing the night before and then in the morning she has vanished. Her father has barely said a word since. It's been three weeks and her father hasn't done anything. Rue doesn't understand why he isn't looking for her. Then her father gets arrested for suspicion of murder for one of his students and his missing wife. To clear his name, or possibly for her own intentions Rue's mother returns briefly, and by this time Rue has found out a bit more about her mom. Her mother is not human, but rather Fey, which makes Rue part Fey too–part not human. While her mother was away Rue's grandfather had contacted her for the first time. He tried to get her to come with him, to be like him, to help him with his plans. She refused. How long can you refuse what's in your blood though?

This was an interesting story, though it seemed held together with only vague ties. Granted in the graphic novel format it's a bit trickier to develop depth of character, it is still possible. A lot of the characters in this were forgettable, when a name was mentioned I often couldn't place who it was. I liked the idea of the faerie world coexisting with a mortal one with only some able to tell. I also appreciated that the fey no longer wanted to hide but instead wanted to come out and play. The illustrations were odd and whimsical, which fit perfectly with the story. They were in black and white which was interesting, except at one point Rue says "Today at school, everything is different. The colors seem brighter." which is hard to picture when there are no colors. It's like some one in a black and white movie commenting on somebody's shirt or hair color. It's just hard to imagine what it actually looks like.  Rue didn't really seem to fit in with her crowd, but appearances can be deceiving. Mostly I was just disappointed in the lack of character development. Everyone in this novel was in the now. They had no past and no future they, they didn't look back or forward they only loved at that moment. If you like Holly Black or Ted Naifeh's other works I would definitely pick this series up. It's a very quick read through, depending on how long you stare at the pictures. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Interview with author Sean Beaudoin

Sean Beaudoin

Today I welcome guest interviewee Sean Beaudoin author of Fade to Blue and You Killed Wesley Payne as well as that other book I haven't read yet. He was kind enough to take the time and answer a few of the burning questions I had after finishing his books.

When you were a teen reader, what sort of books did you devour?
I loved Dune by Frank Herbert. And all of Kurt Vonnegut. I was a big fan of The Basketball Diaries Jim Carroll, as well as pretty much anything by Anthony Burgess. Don Delillo was a big influence. As was Elmore Leonard and Martin Amis.

Have you ever been a private investigator?
If by “private investigator” you mean “regularly spying on my older sister and all her friends,” then yes. In terms of having cool gadgets, tailing people, wearing a trench coat, and having a secretary with smoldering lips, no.

If you had to put yourself in a high school clique, what would it be called?
Those Living Under Someone Else’s Conception Of What It Really Means To Be Cool. If I could go back to that time now, I would make absolutely zero attempt to be cool, thus instantly being the coolest kid on campus.

If you could be another famous person, living or dead who would you be and why?
Keith Richards. Because being in the Rolling Stones is like having a 50-year free pass to go wherever you want, do whatever you want to do, and also have the world’s biggest headband collection.

How do you pronounce "Fade" in the title Fade to Blue? Is it the regular way or fah-day like Kenny's last name?
For the ease of the kind people working the register at various fine indie bookstores around the country, we say “Fade.” But if you want to be in a very specific and special club of people who know what’s up, you whisper, in a low and husky voice, “Fah-day.”

Do you have a fear of ice-cream trucks? or find yourself looking over your shoulder when you hear the melody?
I am terrified. Absolutely quaking. Traumatized. Stricken. Paralyzed. I have nightmares of creamsicles. I dread strawberry shortcake. If it is frozen and even vaguely reminiscent of fudge, I will run screaming into the night.!/seanbeaudoin

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Review: So Shelly - Ty Roth

WherI got it: Princess Bookie's Around the World Tours
Rating: 4.5 stars 

Cover Rating: 5 stars (I love the colors and the dress the model is wearing. The font is also fantastic.)
Genre: Young Adult  
Publication Date: February 8, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 325 p.

Byron and Keats are thrown together by the death of their mutual friend Shelly. Byron and Keats have never exchanged much by way of greeting and hanging out, the only thing they feel they have in common is Shelly. She has bestowed upon them the duty of stealing her ashes from her wake and bringing them to her favorite place to scatter them while playing her favorite songs. On their journey Keats and Byron recount the many memories of Shelly that they have. Interspersed through their journey Keats pens down relevant stories to help grow the characters of Byron and Shelly. This whole novel was "written" by Keats as he looks back at this journey with a boy he never really knew, except through Shelly's adoring tales of him.

This was a very interesting book. It was neat seeing Byron's misdeeds translated into the 21st century. I especially love that Byron wrote a bestselling vampire novel, which was aptly titled after a supernatural poem that he actually penned, Manfred. A vampire novel is very swoon-worthy right now, which better sets up Byron as a girl-crazed sex bomb. Ty Roth did a most excellent job penning a romantic novel about three romantics. Shelly was completely and hopelessly tragic and never saw any of the good that came from her outbursts of protest, or writing. She was certainly an entertaining character in this novel though, even though we never actually get to hear from her, she is so alive in Byron and Keats stories, that you almost forget that she has been dead this whole novel. Keats was perfectly aloof which I imagine the real Keats often was. He was very obsessed with his writing and seemed to only want to be a well-known writer. I thoroughly appreciated how much research and knowledge must have gone into penning this novel. Though as Ty Roth said of his novel; " should not read So Shelly for its dogged adherence to historical accuracy. Like Shakespeare, I would never let historical facts get in the way of telling a good story.". I still found there to be quite a few accuracy in reading this novel, and it really helped these old poets come to life. They seemed much more realistic, thrown into our modern day setting. Though still brooding teenagers, they brooded in a way we can all understand. If you are a fan of lyrical writing, romantic poets, teen angst, tryst and revolutions then make sure you pick this one up.

First Line:
"Most of us like to believe that we are born to do great things, maybe even be famous."

Favorite Line:
"I vaguely heard my name, but it failed to stimulate any kind of synaptic reaction or verbal response from inside the syrupy morass of my muted consciousness."  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: The Time-traveling Fashionista - Bianca Turetsky

Where I got it: ARC for review from publisher
Rating: 4.5 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Sparkly and pretty and very eye-catching. Quite nice.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Poppy
Page Count: 258 p.

Louise receives an invitation in the mail inviting her to attended a vintage clothing sale. She loves vintage clothing and has a dance coming up that she would love to find a new dress for. She decides to go with her best friend Brooke. When Louise finds the perfect dress and tries it on she is transported into another life and another time. She becomes Miss Alice Baxter aboard the Titanic. She gets to meet some of her favorite fashion icons like Cosmo and Lucy Duff-Gordon and the owners of Macy's  Isidor and Ida Straus. Louise does not realize at first that she is on the Titanic, but when she realizes it, she tries to warn the captain in order to save everyone. Only, it's 1912 and no one is going to listen to a young woman actress spouting nonsense about and unsinkable ship sinking.

So this was a pretty fabulous novel. This was a very interesting approach to writing about the tragedy of the Titanic. It was a little bit too much about fashion at times for my taste, I am certainly not a fashion savant by any means. Besides that fashion aspect though this was an intriguing historical fiction read. Time traveling into the body of someone aboard the ill-fated Titanic would be quite terrifying despite the excitement of a first-hand account. I expected Louise to be a lot more frightened than she seemed upon learning what ship she was aboard. Louise did tend not to really act like a twelve-year-old though. I mean she seemed to switch back and forth. When she spoke of school she seemed like a typical seventh grader but when she kept her cool and spoke of clothing she seemed much older. I was interested in seeing which characters were really there and I found that there was a Mrs. Hélène Baxter, but she was from Canada and was not an actress. I did however find that there was an American silent film actress by the name of Dorothy Gibson, who would make quite a good Alice Baxter. The Duff-Gordons and Ida and Isidor Straus were aboard the ship. This was a well-written historical fiction novel for young teens that are interested in the titanic, or fashion. One thing I am disappointed by in the ARC is that the illustrations were not finished in time for distribution. I will certainly be checking out the finished hardcover to view these. This was a fast and fun read even through the tragedy. I would recommend you check this 2011 debut out.

First Line:
"The invitation arrived on an ordinary Thursday."

Favorite Line:
"And at a time when she must have looked like a two-hundred-pound Little Bo Peep."


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