Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: Ash - Malina Lo

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 3 stars  
Cover Rating: 5 stars (I really like this cover. It's simple at first but it's just a great image.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 272 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

If you think you know the story of Cinderella...think again.
Ash is a young girl left when her mother and father die to live with her new stepmother and stepsisters. The stepmother is cruel and Ash is treated as little more than a servant. But the woods call to her and the fairies within wouldn't mind if she joined them. Also in the woods Ash finds the King's Huntress and is instantly drawn to her. There are so many choices that Ash can make, so many different paths her life can take beyond that of servitude. She has to know what she wants though and it has to be something she can actually have. She can't have her mother back, but maybe she can find someone else to care about her.
Chapter Beginnings

First, I just want to mention how beautiful the chapter beginnings are. They fit the fairy tale quite nicely. Now onto the story. I could not get into the first half of the story. I didn't hate it, but it was slow goings. It just seemed like a lot of set up, without a whole lot going on. Once I got to Part Two though, things starting getting much better. All the pieces started to fall together and things started happening with Ash.

Sidhean was an okay character, I wish we had seen him a bit more. He was one of the faeries that Ash meets in one of her excursions into the woods. He seems nice enough, for a faerie. Then you have the Huntress, who Ash also meets in the wood. She was a bit tough to read at times. She could be tender one moment and then all business the next. It was tricky to read her. All the characters seemed a little bland, none were too throughly developed. I would have liked to see the extra characters shine a bit more. If the stepmother and stepsisters fade into the background, that's okay they are part of the original fairy tale. What I want is more from the new characters, the people I don't know much about.

The story itself was pretty good though. I liked the love triangle aspect, it was a bit unexpected the way it was. I love re-tellings and Malinda Lo certainly did revamp this one into her own tale. Ash was a good read, I just wished the new characters got more face time in the story so I could get to know them better.

First Line:
"Aisling's mother died at midsummer. "

Favorite Line:
"Ash could hear her breath in the dark: quick, frightened, like a rabbit fleeing from hunting hounds."

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stuff I Got This Week

For Review: 
thanks to Little, Brown & Co., HarperCollins and Goodreads :)

When Jack is sent to Hazelwood, Iowa, to live with his strange aunt and uncle, he expects a summer of boredom. Little does he know that the people of Hazelwood have been waiting for him for quite a long time. When he arrives, three astonishing things happen: First, he makes friends -- not imaginary friends but actual friends. Second, he is beaten up by the town bully; the bullies at home always ignored him. Third, the richest man in town begins to plot Jack's imminent, and hopefully painful, demise. It's up to Jack to figure out why suddenly everyone cares so much about him. Back home he was practically, well, invisible.

(my review of book 2)

I am super excited to read both of these books. The paperback cover for Jack is gorgeous.
I am going on vacation in Maine for the next week, so my presence will be scarce around the interwebs. I have some post scheduled, but will be going internet free while I'm away. I'll talk to you all when I get back :) Happy Reading!
So that's what I got this week. What did you all get?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review: Wake - Lisa McMann

Where I got it: My collection
Rating: 4.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 5 stars (A bit creepy, but something I would definitely be interested by immediately. I like the glowing letters too.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: March 4, 2008
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Page Count: 210 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Janie started getting sucked into people's dreams at her first sleepover. She doesn't know why or how it happens, but she doesn't care for it. While she's in someone's dream though, her body is left behind, so it's not ideal for her to step in during school or in public. She can't tell people what she sees though. When Janie realizes that not only can she see the dream, but that she is in the dream. She starts to imagine what she can do. Maybe she can help people. That is if the dreams aren't nightmares so horrible they leave her numb.

This book was amazing. I really didn't think is was going to be this good. Lisa McMann crafted such an interesting idea revolving around dreams. Dream-state is a very curious thing, and I love twists on it. Janie was a pretty great character too. I also adored Cabel.

I completely fell in love with Cabel. He was such an interesting character and a genuine sweetheart. There's one part in the book, actually where my favorite line comes from, that just had me head over heels for him. He's just amazing. There are some points when Janie isn't too sure about him, and she has good reason to be hesitant. I loved finding out more about Cabel's life, even if some of it wasn't nice.

The whole being in other people's dream thing has been done, but not really like this. McMann took care to write about all the aspects of it. People's reactions, what Janie's body did while she was in a dream, the dreamscapes themselves, were all very well-written and described in detail. I could almost find myself in some of the dreams too.

Definitely, definitely check this book out if you haven't yet. I'm dying to read the next too, but luckily I own them so I will be doing that immediately. I'm so excited to see Janie's power grow and change and I would love to see more Cabel and more dreams.

First Line:
"December 9, 2005, 12:55 p.m.
Janie Hannagan's math book slips from her fingers."

Favorite Line:
"He's bawling."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: Nothing Like You - Lauren Strasnick

Where I got it: My collection
Rating: 4 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (I love the image. The brightness at the top is nice. It's a clean cover.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 3, 2009
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Page Count: 209 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Holly just wants to lose her virginity and get it over with. Her mom's dead and her best friend dates a new girl every other day. Holly just wants to be a part of something for herself. She just wants to feel something. So, she sleeps with Paul. Holly is ready to just leave it at that, but then Paul pursues her and Holly decides to go with it. Then Paul gets back together with his old girlfriend, he still wants to fool around with Holly though. She doesn't love the idea, but she's okay with it until she gets to know Saskia. They have to team up for a school project and Holly decides she a really great person. Paul doesn't want to accept that Holly is done with him and he threatens to destroy her. All Holly wanted was to feel something but numbness and now she's up to her neck in mistakes. Hopefully she can find a way out of this before she leaves to go to college and never has a chance to fix things.

I hated Paul. He was such a bad guy. He was manipulating and just completely skeevy. I can't believe that Holly felt anything for him. I realize that she was in a rough place, but he was a complete creep. I'm glad she never had to be in an actual relationship with him, I can't imagine how terrible he could be then. Saskia was a fun character though, and I'm glad that I got to end up getting to know her. I also loved Holly's BF Nils. It's silly how characters never seem to see the amazing person they have right in front of their faces. Nils was a great guy, even if he went through girls like people go through T.V. dinners.

The ending was pretty excellent. It wasn't what I hoped for, but it just rang out true. Holly dug herself in a deep hole, and had a long climb to get back out of it. I thought Lauren Strasnick did a great job at ending things, but leaving enough of it open, so there was still hope.

Altogether this was a pretty awesome book. There was a pretty okay main character dealing with a lot of issues (a lot she created herself) and handling them in a realistically imperfect way. I really like the realistic feel of this novel. It was casual and true. Definitely check this one out if you like realistic fiction that is afraid to show the truth.

First Line:
"We were parked at Point Dume, Paul and I , the two of us tangled together, half dressed, half not."

Favorite Line:
"It went from dark yo light, then from light to white, and Mom was suddenly see-through, drifting up and away, dissolving into the clean white walls, fading like a soft stain or an old photograph."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Interview with Lauren Strasnick

1. Was Nothing Like You the first novel you wrote or just the first one published? It was the second novel I'd written. The first was my graduate thesis, which is now buried away somewhere on my hard drive.

2. Nothing Like You, like Her and Me and You, has a sort of love triangle in it. Have you witnessed this in a lot of real life relationships, or do your stories just happen that way?
I think real life love triangles are pretty horrifying. I'd run screaming if i saw one looming large on the horizon. Fiction is different. Those sorts of triangles provide a ton of story tension and really ratchet up the stakes. I can't say I've witnessed many triangles, though I did partake in one or two while still in high school. Never again!

3. Are you like Holly with your heart on your sleeve or the complete opposite? What's some advise you have for writing a main character that is nothing like you?
It's funny, I am a heart-on-my-sleeve kind of girl, though I'm pretty different from Holly. We've experienced some similar stuff, but Holly's a bit more destructive, more willing to screw up in bigger, badder ways. I don't think there's any special trick to writing a main character who's different from you, i just think it involves a bit of imagination.

4. What do you know now about the publishing/author world that you wish you knew when you started?
Oh wow, that's a tough question. I've learned a ton in the past few years, though I'm not sure there's anything I wish I'd known going in. You learn as you go, right? The publishing world requires a tremendous amount of patience. And, of course, there's more to this job than writing. Sorting out how to publicize your books -- that's something I'm still trying to figure out.

5. Tell us a bit about your upcoming novel Then You Were Gone.
THEN YOU WERE GONE is about a girl named Dakota Webb who sings in a popular underground band called Dark Star. She's bitchy & super hot & has legions of freshman girls worshiping at her altar of rock. Then one day she goes missing. Her ex-best friend, Adrienne, sets out to uncover what really happened, & while on that path, Adrienne kind of... becomes her.

6. What have you read lately that was amazing?
I just read GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn which was fantastic -- suspenseful, entertaining, incredibly well written -- I could not put it down. I'm also madly in love with her first book, SHARP OBJECTS. So good! She & Tana French are two of my favorites when it comes to crime fiction. & Just this past week I started reading SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by my friend, Morgan Matson. Heartbreaking & SO GOOD.

7. What else would you like to add?
Nothing! Other than: thank you, Brittany, for hosting me on your blog! Such stellar questions.

A big thanks to Lauren for stopping by and answering some questions.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: As You Wish - Jackson Pearce

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 4 stars  
Cover Rating: 3 stars (It's okay. Not my favorite cover, but at least the stars and title are relevant.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: August 25, 2009
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 298 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Viola didn't mean to summon Jinn, but she had a strong wish and there he was. Jinn just wants her to make her wishes so he can go home, but Viola doesn't want to wish. Usually his masters know exactly what they want and he can be on his way in no time. Hours pass and then days and the relationship between genie and master changes. Jinn is no longer sure what he wants and Viola has already used up some of her wishes. Once she wishes the last wish he'll be gone, from Earth and her memory.

This was a fun and interesting story. I haven't read too many genie books, so it was a nice change of pace and a fresh idea to me. Viola was an interesting character. She held out so long on making wishes, because she didn't want to just wish for something artificial. I loved watching her and Jinn grow throughout the book. Not even that their relationship grew beyond genie and master, but that they each grew as individuals too. Jinn was an excellent character, he got moody, but he was still great.

Lawrence was an excellent character. I would love him as a friend. He was really down to Earth and caring. He also seemed like he knew how to have fun without having to go to parties all the time. Really, all the characters in this novel just were real and genuine and mostly I wanted to be friends with them (except Aaron Moor).

The genie aspect of this introduced nicely woven in folklore about the whole genie myth. I like the Jackson Pearce dove deep with this aspect of the novel. It was a well-developed story and place. I don't think the book would have been as good without that awesome background and world development with Jinn.

If you want a fairly light interesting read about something a little out of the ordinary, make sure you pick this one up. Really go pick up any Jackson Pearce book, but maybe you should start here ;)

First Line:
"All I've learned today in Shakespeare class is: Sometimes you have to fall in love with the wrong person just so you can find the right person."

Favorite Line:
"I have to get to her, I have to help her...I roar into the night, staring angrily at my feet."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stuff I Got This Week

For Review: thanks to the publishers
When several notebooks were recently discovered among Frida Kahlo’s belongings at her home in Coyoacán, Mexico City, acclaimed Mexican novelist F. G. Haghenbeck was inspired to write this beautifully wrought fictional account of her life. Haghenbeck imagines that, after Frida nearly died when a streetcar’s iron handrail pierced her abdomen during a traffic accident, she received one of the notebooks as a gift from her lover Tina Modotti. Frida called the notebook “The Hierba Santa Book” (The Sacred Herbs Book) and filled it with memories, ideas, and recipes. Haghenbeck takes readers on a magical ride through Frida’s passionate life: her long and tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera, the development of her art, her complex personality, her hunger for experience, and her ardent feminism. This stunning narrative also details her remarkable relationships with Georgia O’Keeffe, Leon Trotsky, Nelson Rockefeller, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Henry Miller, and Salvador Dalí. Combining rich, luscious prose with recipes from “The Hierba Santa Book,” Haghenbeck tells the extraordinary story of a woman whose life was as stunning a creation as her art.

Ask the Passengers - A.S. King
Astrid Jones copes with her small town's gossip and narrow-mindedness by staring at the sky and imagining that she's sending love to the passengers in the airplanes flying high over her backyard. Maybe they'll know what to do with it. Maybe it'll make them happy. Maybe they'll need it. Her mother doesn't want it, her father's always stoned, her perfect sister's too busy trying to fit in, and the people in her small town would never allow her to love the person she really wants to: another girl named Dee. There's no one Astrid feels she can talk to about this deep secret or the profound questions that she's trying to answer. But little does she know just how much sending her love--and asking the right questions--will affect the passengers' lives, and her own, for the better.

When former good girl turned rebel Josie Griffin gets busted for what was in her mind perfectly acceptable revenge on her cheating dog of a boyfriend, she lands herself in anger management therapy. It could be worse: it could be juvvie, or she could be a zombie cheerleader like the rest of her former friends. But there's something strange about therapy--these are not normal kids. There's the wannabe ladies man with a weird accent, Johann; the blindingly gorgeous Helios; Avis with his wild dreads; and Tarren, the sprite of a girl with a wicked temper. And all of them keep talking about "powers." Josie knows that has to be impossible, but strange things start happening, and nothing weird ever happens in Indiana. After all, there're no such things as vampires, werewolves, Greek gods, or fairies . . . right?

Every Day - David Levithan
Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Bite Me - Christopher Moore
Betrayals - Lili St. Crow

That's what I got this week. What did you all get?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

What I've read from the NPR Top 100 Teen Books List

So by now all of you have seen the top teen book list from NPR right? Hopefully most of you voted for your favorites. I thought I would do a quick share of what I have read/what I own and will get to someday... Feel free to post the list yourself and then link back in the comments to your post :) If you have any suggestions of which ones I should definitely read, let me know!

What I've Read / What I Own...and will read eventually

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. The Hunger Games (series), by Suzanne Collins
3. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

4. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
5. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

6. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
7. The Lord of the Rings (series), by J.R.R. Tolkien
8. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
9. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
10. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

11. The Giver (series), by Lois Lowry
12. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (series), by Douglas Adams
13. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton

14. Anne of Green Gables (series), by Lucy Maud Montgomery
15. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
16. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
17. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
18. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

19. Divergent (series), by Veronica Roth
20. Paper Towns, by John Green
21. The Mortal Instruments (series), by Cassandra Clare
22. An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
23. Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
24. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
25. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
26. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
27. Twilight (series), by Stephenie Meyer

28. Uglies (series), by Scott Westerfeld
29. The Infernal Devices (series), by Cassandra Clare
30. Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt

31. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
32. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (series), by Anne Brashares
33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

34. Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green, David Levithan
35. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
36. Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones
37. Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli
38. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
39. Vampire Academy (series), by Richelle Mead

40. Abhorsen Trilogy / Old Kingdom Trilogy (series), by Garth Nix
41. Dune, by Frank Herbert
42. Discworld / Tiffany Aching (series, by Terry Pratchett
43. My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
44. The Dark is Rising (series), by Susan Cooper
45. Graceling (series), Kristin Cashore
46. Forever..., by Judy Blume

47. Earthsea (series), by Ursula K. Le Guin
48. Inheritance Cycle (series), by Christopher Paolini
49. The Princess Diaries (series), by Meg Cabot
50. The Song of the Lioness (series), by Tamora Pierce
51. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
52. Delirium (series), by Lauren Oliver
53. Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
54. Hush, Hush Saga (series), by Becca Fitzpatrick

55. 13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson
56. It's Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini
57. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy (series), by Libba Bray
58. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs

59. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
60. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
61. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier

62. Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen
63. A Ring of Endless Light, by Madeleine L'Engle
64. The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen
65. The Bartimaeus Trilogy (series), by Jonathan Stroud
66. Bloodlines (series), by Richelle Mead
67. Fallen (series), by Lauren Kate
68. House of Night (series), by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast (I've only read book 1 but own the series)
69. I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
70. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlsit, by Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
71. Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver

72. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman
73. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
74. The Maze Runner Trilogy (series), by James Dashner
75. If I Stay, by Gayle Forman
76. The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley
77. Crank (series), by Ellen Hopkins (I've only read book 1 but own the series)
78. Matched (series), by Allie Condie
79. Gallagher Girls (series), by Ally Carter
80. The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale
81. Daughter of the Lioness / Tricksters (series), by Tamora Pierce
82. I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
83. The Immortals (series), by Tamora Pierce
84. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (series), by Patricia C. Wrede
85. Chaos Walking (series), by Patrick Ness
86. Circle of Magic (series), by Tamora Pierce
87. Daughter of Smoke & Bone, by Laini Taylor
88. Feed, by M.T. Anderson
89. Weetzie Bat (series), by Francesca Lia Block
90. Along for the Ride, by Sarah Dessen
91. Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (series), by Louise Rennison
92. Leviathan (series), by Scott Westerfeld
93. The House of the Scorpion, by Nancy Farmer
94. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci (series), by Diana Wynne Jones
95. The Lullaby, by Sarah Dessen
96. Gone (series), by Michael Grant
97. The Shiver Trilogy (series), by Maggie Stiefvater

98. The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley
99. Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson
100. Betsy-Tacy Books (series), by Maud Hart Lovelace

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: The Dating Game - Natalie Standiford

Where I got it: My collection
Rating: 3 stars  
Cover Rating: 3 stars (Interesting I suppose. I appreciate that all the books in the series have the same style.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: February 2, 2005
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Page Count: 224 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Madison, Holly and Lina decide that for a class project, they will prove that guys think about sex more than girls. They figured they can set up a website with some questions for all the kids in their school to answer, and that would prove it. Maybe they could even match up people who had similar interests! What they find though, is that even in an anonymous questionnaire their classmates lie and exaggerate their experience. It's not all bad though, the girls figure they can set themselves up with their crushes through the guise of having it be part of the matchmaking service they are offering. Unfortunately, trying to guess who someone is when they don't tell the truth can be...tricky. The girls have lots of ups and downs with their dating game and discover the truth about which gender thinks about sex more.

This was a fun read. It was light and interesting. The three main characters were only mildly self-obsessed, but at least I found their flaws entertaining. I liked the whole concept behind this story. The girls have to do a class project for sex ed and decide to make a website poll sort of thing after they took a "What Color is Your Love Aura" quiz. It was a new idea and I enjoyed it and the format that it took within the novel. It broke up the prose in a nice way, along with the IMs.

Most of the secondary characters blend together. There were a couple that stood out, because their was something unique about them. Dan was a young teacher that many of the girls had crushes on. There was a geek that Madison was consistently mean to. Things like that are what made the characters stand out. I'm hoping that there is more development as the series goes along. This book only took place in a month or so.

I'm very interested to see what happens in the next novel, because their were a couple characters in this one that I want to see how their situations pan out.This was a very light, pretty fun read. If you want something that will make you chuckle and is a quick read, check this one out.

First Line:
"I love Sean Benedetto."

Favorite Lines:
"'I got something in the mail from Sean!' Mads waved another piece of paper in front of them. Lina snatched it.
'This is a bill from a carpet-cleaning service,' she said. 'Seventy-five dollars.'
'I know.' Mads took it back and carefully replaced it in its envelope. 'I'll treasure it forever.'"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Boy Proof - Cecil Castellucci

Where I got it: My collection
Rating: 2.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (It's fairly eye-catching despite it's muted colors. Makes me curious.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: February 17, 2005
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Page Count: 203 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Egg used to be called Victoria, until she become obsessed with the movie Terminal Earth. Now Egg dresses like the kick-ass heroine along with adopting her name. Egg just wants people to know she's different and smart. Egg's mother tells her she's making herself boy proof but Egg doesn't care. That is until she meets Max. At first Egg hates him, but after getting to know him a bit better she starts to think that maybe he's not as bad as she first thought. Egg slowly warms up to the idea of being friends with another person, but there are complications. Can Egg get over herself in order to make people see that she can be a friend.

I did not care much for Victoria (Egg). She was pretty bitchy most of the time and had a very superior air about her. She just seemed like she was trying too hard to be different, when really she was just a boring smart kid. She also was terrible to her mother. I understand that sometimes kids are brats and act out. I mean, I've done it. Victoria was rude all the time though, and it was a bit much. The other characters were interesting though.

This was a really short read, so some of the characters were never super fleshed-out. I got a good feeling from some of them though. Next to Victoria it was easy to impress me though. I like Max, though he did seem a little phony. He was really political, but he also is quite a bit worldly so I guess those things go together.

The sci-fi addiction part was pretty fun. I wish that any of these were really movies so that I could watch them and be on the in. It was pretty fun anyways though.

The way Max and Victoria's relationship developed wasn't surprising. Victoria was full of herself and shut people out and Max was friendly. Victoria had a hard time keeping any friends. If she didn't have some brains about her, nobody would talk to her, because she's prickly.

This was an interesting read, but nothing really caught me as amazing. It may have just been too quick for it's own good. Or maybe I was just another person who didn't like Victoria's personality.

First Line:
"Monday. Janusry 5. 6:59 A.M.


'Great, another stellar day,' I say."

Favorite Lines:
"I am making out with Zach Cross. It is out of this world."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Hate List - Jennifer Brown

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 3.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 3 stars (It's pretty good. I don't have much to say about it either way.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 432 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Valerie wakes up in a hospital room and can't recall, at first, how she got there. Then it all comes back to her, bit by bit. There was a shooting...her boyfriend...a gun in his hands...screaming. Then she pieces things together and realizes that she was shot but lived, as her boyfriend shot and killed many of their classmates. Valerie can't figure out how this could be. Her Nick, killing all those people. Then there are news reports playing over and over, talking about the Hate List. The list she started with Nick with all the people and types of people they hated in it. Then there's a detective in her room, trying to pin blame on her. All Valerie wants is to go back in time and erase all that has happened. She doesn't want to try to face school alone and as even more of an outcast than before. The thing she struggles with most is why. Why did Nick snap? Why would he do this? Why can't she just feel better?

This was an amazingly touching story. It's about a school shooting, but more than that about the aftermath and how a girl stuck in a terrible position has to try to heal. Valerie is the girlfriend of the boy who shot up the school. She wrote down names in the Hate List. Everyone has a hard time believing that she didn't know this was going to happen, especially since Nick was overheard saying "Don't you remember the plan?".  Valerie was shot in the thigh while trying to end the spree, but she doesn't feel like she's a hero. She blames herself for the shooting too. She feels that , if only she knew she could have stopped him before it happened. She's not the only one who feels like it's their fault. Valerie not only has to deal with the physical healing, but also has to join in with the communities emotional healing. The shooting changed some people, but some people stayed the same.

Valerie was an interesting character. She was selfish at times, which I think comes from withdrawing inside herself. Her home issues seemed to sort of change her into a different person. Dating Nick also helped her transformation along. Nick was a victim of his own anger. He didn't seem like a terrible person, he just had a terrible thing inside him. I wish we had known more about Jeremy, Nick's mysterious friend. We don't hear a lot about him and I really wanted to be able to paint him as the bad guy, but there's nothing that proved or disproved that he was. Nick just didn't seem like that kind of a person.

I really liked Dr. Hieler. He was a like-able kind of guy. Blunt and honest, but caring. He seemed really good at what he did, and he seemed to enjoy it. If all psychologist were like him, I bet more people would be mentally healthy. I wish we had gotten to see more of Bea. Who was she? Where did she come from? She almost seemed like a dream. If Valerie was the only one who ever talked to her, I would have thought she was imaginary. She was an interesting character while she was in the story though. Then there was Angela Dash, who I wound up disliking even though we didn't end up meeting her until the end. She just seemed like an unpleasant person...a tabloid journalist type. In it for the drama and the money.

There were other characters and they all seemed to have good sides and bad sides, which is how people are. In case you needed proof of Valerie's selfishness, you can see how often she mentions the other people in great detail. Her mom was sort of all over the place, which was understandable but still a bit much. Her dad was a jerk, and had his own priorities that didn't seem to include his "spoiled" daughter.

The story itself though, the situation that Valerie found herself to be stuck in, was an interesting and unique one. She was close enough to Nick to be blamed for what happened, but not close enough that she could have prevented it. Valerie has a lot that she struggles with and Jennifer Brown wrote it well.

The end was very touching and made me really love Jessica. I was on the fence about her the whole book, but at the end she won me. Make sure you check out this book when you get a chance and be prepared for an emotional journey unlike any you've taken before.

First Line:
"[From the Garvin Country Sun-Tribune, May 3, 2008, Reporter Angela Dash]
The scene in the Garvin High School cafeteria, known as the Commons, is being described as 'grim' by the investigators who are working to identify the victims of a shooting spree that erupted Friday morning."

Favorite Line:
"And as he told me about the story, quoted passages about divinity as if he has written them himself, I knew."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Interview with Jennifer Brown

1. Your novels are all pretty heavy reads, do you secretly write fluff in between novels for a break? 
While I was writing Hate List, I also wrote a weekly humor column for The Kansas City Star, so there was a time when, yes, I was also writing fluff. Which was nice, by the way, to be forced to lighten up for a day every week. But eventually my workload got to be too much and I quit the column to work on the novels only. So now I don't do any fluff-writing. Not that I wouldn't mind it; I just don't have time.

2. Hate List is about the aftermath of a school shooting as well as other aspects of it. Was this the hardest novel of your current three to write? 
Actually, Bitter End was the hardest novel for me to write. With Hate List, the really horrible stuff (the shooting) had happened before the start of the story, so we were meeting Valerie at her darkest hour and were sort of digging out with her. With Bitter End, I had to start my character, Alex, where everything was good and take her down a road through hell, and that was kind of difficult to do sometimes. 

3. Which book cover for Hate List do you like better?
When the paperback first came out, I preferred the hardcover. But over time I've come to really appreciate the paperback. I like the colors, and the models' faces pop out at me. I think it stands out on a bookshelf better.

4. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were writing/publishing Hate List? How to tie-up plot points, and that if you mention a character in the beginning of the book, you should mention what happens to that character by the end of the book.

5. What are you working on now?
I just finished copyedits on my 4th YA novel, which is called Thousand Words, and is about a sexting scandal. I'm also working on some women's fiction that I just sold.

6. What's a great book you've read recently?
I am absolutely adoring the book that I'm reading right now. It's called Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman. It comes out November 2012. It's seriously cute. Also, I loved Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews.

Make sure you stay up to date with Jennifer by following her blog!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: Break - Hannah Moskowitz

Where I got it: My collection
Rating: 4.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 4.5 stars (It's simple and gender neutral, which I like. I also appreciate that the bone picture is carried throughout the novel.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: August 25, 2009
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Page Count: 262 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Jonah wants to break every bone in his body, because broken bones grow back stronger. His slightly younger brother Jesse is allergic to everything and can practically only eat protein shakes and apples. His baby brother won't stop crying. So Jonah knows it's up to him to be the strong one. He has to take care of Jesse. How can he do a good job though, when he keeps breaking his bones? The answer is, he can't. His self-destruction send him down a bad path and Jonah may be the one who needs the most help.

This was a very interesting story. The concept of someone breaking their bones so that they can be stronger makes no sense to begin with. Ones Jonah explains the whole reason of why he believes it though, it makes more sense...maybe too much sense. Jonah was an okay character, he had a lot of stuff going on though. I'd go a little crazy to if I were in a house with a baby that wails non-stop and a brother who could die just by breathing the same air as milk or eggs. It's a lot of stress and pressure with no relief. It was nice getting to know Jesse too. He didn't let his allergies stop him from excelling at other things, like sports, but he did not want to build up a food tolerance. He had very bad feelings towards food, as I imagine anyone in his position would. I didn't care for Charlotte much. She didn't seem to fit in with the other characters very well. She was sort of just a normal busybody. *shrug* I did like Naomi though. I loved how intense she was when she got into something. She was a little spitfire and a good person. She was a bit destructive though, but she made a lot of good points.

I was really confused on Jonah's whole broken bone theory until closer to the end when he explains it in full. It made it easier to see where he was coming from then, even if it still was completely logical.

This is a great book for boys or girls who are struggling with anything. There's self-harm, siblings who get a lot of attention for being sick and parents who bicker, so anyone who feels alone in any of those things should check out this book. This was a pretty quick read, but it did touch on a lot of heavy issues. I love Hannah Moskowitz and can't believe it took me so long to read this one.

First Line:
"The first feeling is exhilaration."

Favorite Line:
"Her eyes are huge and humid."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Stuff I Got This Week

Perk from Klout/Shutterfly: a photobook
I got a Klout perk for a free photobook (minus S&H) from Shutterfly. I made it and it came fairly quickly. It's really good quality material and prints. I will certainly be buying some of these as gifts for family and friends in the future :)

For Review: thanks Macmillan and Little, Brown & Co.
When news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B's racist father thinks it's a joke-- but even if it isn't, he figures, it's ok to lose a few Irish. B doesn't fully buy into Dad's racism, but figures it's easier to go along with it than to risk the fights and abuse that will surely follow sticking up for Muslims, blacks, or immigrants. And when dodging his fists doesn't work, B doesn't hesitate to take the piss out of kids at school with a few slaps or cruel remarks. That is, until zombies attack the school. B is forced on a mad dash through the serpentine corridors of high school, making allegiances with anyone with enough gall to fight off their pursuers.

Louise Lambert's best friend's thirteenth birthday party is fast approaching, so of course the most important question on her mind is, "What am I going to wear?!" Slipping on an exquisite robin's egg blue gown during another visit to the mysterious Traveling Fashionista Vintage Sale, Louise finds herself back in time once again, swept up in the glory of palace life, fancy parties, and enormous hair as a member of the court of France's most infamous queen, Marie Antoinette. But between cute commoner boys and glamorous trips to Paris, life in the palace isn't all cake and couture. Can Louise keep her cool-and her head!-as she races against the clock to get home?

Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before.

That's what I got this week. What did you all get?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Dani Noir - Nova Ren Suma

Where I got it: Inter-library Loan
Rating: 3.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (It's cute. Totally fits the story.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: September 17, 2009
Publisher: Aladdin
Page Count: 263 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Dani loves film noir movies. Little Art plays those lovely black and white flicks, which is the only good thing in her middle-of-nowhere town. Dani wishes her life were more like the movies and less like the suck-fest it has become now that her parents are divorced. Then one day, a mystery presents itself and Dani is on the case. There's a girl in polka-dot tights and she knows she has to figure out who she is and what she's doing. There's deeper reasons why this mystery means so much to her, and as she unravels the mystery she discovers things about herself and the people around her that she never would have known.

This was such a fun read. Even though she is selfish and sarcastic, she was quite a great character. Dani is going through a tough time with her parents divorcing, so it's no wonder she's acting out. Of course Dani is aware that she's in a bad situation and knows that she can get away with being a brat. She was a very real character though and that I liked. I loved that she was into film noir and had a cute little theater to watch them in. I would love to have an amazing little place like that in my town. She is very into the whole solving the mystery of the girl in the pink polka-dotted tights, that she doesn't really think things through. Dani never focuses on the big picture, because the case hits too close to home and she seems to have a hard time removing the personal touch from it.

I was a little disappointed in the lack of drama in the dramatic conclusion to the mystery. I feel like the scene should have been more explosive. It would have made it more entertaining and more realistic. I don't think those things fade quietly into the night. DRAMA! Regardless it was still a good conclusion.

I think this book could use a sequel, because there are just too many unresolved emotion with Dani and the new family. I think there was never any closure either way, she still hadn't decided if she was okay or not. Those things do take time, but I would really like to see what terms she comes to.

The other characters were pretty unique, at least the ones we get to actually meet. Even though Dani made him out to be annoying, I grew quite fond of Arthur. He was an okay kid, sweet. He just seemed like a really nice boy, bored, but keeping himself occupied.

If you get the chance to check out his book, I highly recommend you do. It was a fun romp with a teen sleuth in a small town.

First Line:
"A slow fade-in on my life:
There's this little mountain town, smack between two long highways that go nowhere in either direction."

Favorite Line:
"A femme fatale can be an enigma all she wants. She can walk off into the sunset  as one, dragging his heart along with her."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: Looking for Alaska - John Green

Where I got it: From my collection
Rating: 5 stars  

Cover Rating: 4 stars (Interesting, nearly relevant too.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: December 28, 2006 
Publisher: Speak
Page Count: 225 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Miles is interested in the last words of dead people. He wants to seek the "Great Perhaps" that Francois Rabelais spoke of and thinks the best place to start is at a boarding school. So he packs up and moves South to Culver Creek. Here he meets the Colonel and Alaska Young. The Colonel is Miles' roommate and Alaska is everything Miles never knew he wanted. Even through her ups and downs, Miles is obsessed with her. At first he thinks that maybe boarding school isn't as exciting as it could be, but soon enough things start to change. Miles finds that a lot will happen to him at boarding school, more than he cares for. He might even find a glimpse into that "Great Perhaps".

Alaska is the very first quirky girl we get introduced to by John Green. She has her ups and downs, and plenty of flaws but she just has something about her that draws people into her. She is definitely a Mood Swing Queen though. One minute she's super high and the next super low, maybe it's the drinking, but it's probably just how she is. She was an interesting character, when she was on the page you knew something would transpire; good or bad you didn't know, but something. Then you have Miles, sort of geeky, but mostly just plain. He was a cool kid though. I would like to hang out with him. I would know a lot of famous people's dying words. It is a fascinating subject. It amuses me that he only reads their biographies though, without reading anything they wrote. The Colonel was a good guy too. I didn't really expect him to be so smart, but the boarding school was a bit more school than hang-out place. Their three personalities melded together really well. It was nice how easily Miles slid into place with Alaska and the Colonel. There were other characters, and they were pretty good, but these are the ones I grew to love because I saw them more often.

The only thing that sort of bugged me was the countdown. I knew in my gut what it was counting down to, and I was just waiting for it. Then about halfway there I began thinking that it had to be something else, it couldn't possibly be what I thought. It was just a bit predictable, but it made you hope you were wrong, which made it a bit better.

I enjoyed the consistency in narration. Miles was a list kind of guy, so he often told things in lists. I really enjoy this. Miles was a bit self-centered but that's how life as a teenager goes. You care about yourself and the things that directly affect you. Sometimes Miles was a bit pervy, but that was okay too, because he was such a like-able guy anyways.

If you haven't read John Green, I don't know what you're waiting for, but you should be. If you read any realistic fiction at all make sure you check this one out. This was John's first, and it's just as good as his other novels. Maybe even better.

First Line:
"one hundred thirty-six days before
The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party."

Favorite Lines:
"I believe now that we are greater than the sum of our parts."

"Wings flapping furiously as it came, and then it was on the shore in front of us, making a noise that sounded like nothing else in this world, like all the worst parts of a dying rabbit plus all the worst parts of a crying baby, and there was no other way, so we just ran."

"'Because no one can catch the motherfucking fox.'"

"She said that it was sexist to leave the cooking to the women, but better to have good sexist food than crappy boy-prepared food."

"So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane."


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