Friday, March 30, 2012

The Hunger Games VS. Battle Royale

So a lot of people have asked me if The Hunger Games and Battle Royale are similar. This stems from the fact that many people have been arguing that they are the same book and that Suzanne Collins ripped off the idea and yadda yadda blah blah blah. Those people clearly did not read either book very well. The only real similarity is the story idea of teens fighting each other to the death. That's it. It's like saying Harry Potter and Hex Hall are the same story because they both have special schools for special kids. It's a little ridiculous if you ask me. I think both The Hunger Games and Battle Royale were amazing stories and definitely worth the read. I think it really depends on what you want out of your stories to determine which book you should read.

The Hunger Games, could have been called The Life and Times of Katniss Everdeen, since she is our main character and everything we see throughout the series revolves around her. This worked fantastically for The Hunger Games, because it made you empathize with Katniss and the suffering of not only her District but the Districts like hers. She was a voice for the people and that is what the novels are all about—The Girl Who Was On Fire and how she sparked a revolution. I loved that the very games meant to suppress a revolution, ultimately caused a revolution.

Then you have Battle Royale. A story about a class full of kids forced to kill each other or be killed by the collars around their necks. There are main characters in this novel, and it is a lot about them. You really get into everyone's head though, not just the main characters. The story talks a lot about trust and instinct and human nature. Koushun Takami examined all sorts of different reactions to the situation that these kids were thrust into. Unlike The Hunger Games, these kids knew every person they were meant to kill. They were quite unprepared about what to expect because the Battles were not televised or spoken about too much. They saw a winner emerge, but never knew all the horrors that would have to be experienced. This novel really seemed to be an examination of humans and how certain people react certain ways; how some people can find trust in another person and how some may trust too easily, while others may not trust anyone fully.

So no, I don't really think these books are all that similar. I think there will be people, like me, who can enjoy them both. There will be others that will only enjoy one or the other though. Some people may like the extreme violence and questions within Battle Royale, but hate the romance and gentle characters in The Hunger Games. They are two books like any other two books and should be treated as such. If you liked either of them you might enjoy Lord of the Flies too *shrugs* so really they are comparable, but not really too alike.

Agree or disagree with me? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Movie Review: Battle Royale the movie

WherI got it: AmazonVine for review
Rating: 2 stars 
Cover Rating: 5 stars (The packaging for this DVD is really great. If you go to the Amazon link below, you can check out pics of the packaging.)
Rating: Not Rated
DVD Release Date: March 20, 2012
Run Time: 1 hour 54 minutes
Buy it: Amazon

For a summary click here to check out my review of the book.

So there are a lot of reasons that this movie did not meet my expectations. The biggest thing was that it seemed to be loosely based on the book instead of being a movie adaptation of the book. Pretty much the only similarity were the people died in nearly the same order. There were a few other plot points that matched up, but sometimes I felt like I was watching a brand new story with no knowledge of what was going to happen next. This would have been fine if the movie made any bloody sense. Unfortunately it seemed to be just a gore flick, and not a great one at that. A lot of what I loved about the novel, like the background of the characters and the distaste for the government, were completely left out of this movie. One school was chosen to battle, and it was their old teacher instead of Sakamochi that was the director of the events.  I just didn't think you got a chance to realize why the kids were the way they were. There was just chaos and then strange pedophilia dreams between the teacher and Noriko. I'm not quite certain where these came from, but didn't think they added anything to the movie at all. I can't recommend this movie to anyone, unless you just want some chaotic action with hardly a plot and no real character development.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Where I got it: My collection
Rating: 5 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (A great cover, but why is there a rifle and why is there just one boy and one girl?)
Genre: Adult
Publication Date: November 17, 2009
Publisher: Haika Soru
Page Count: 608 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

No one is safe from the government. When these students wake up in a classroom, it's not where they are supposed to be. Then they find out the awful truth. They are in the Program. A game designed by the government that pits a class of students against each other. They must kill to survive and only one person can come out the winner. No one knows who they can trust in this twisted world they are thrown into. Many panic thinking everyone is out to get them, and some simply don't have the ability to survive on their own. Then there is Shuya. He doesn't want to be part of this messed up game. He doesn't want to kill his classmates. So he has to trust. He wants to try to save as many as he can, but the battle might be too complicated. Each of the students just want to survive. Some are willing to play the game though and others might not get a chance at all.

Wow this novel was amazing. I know in the past I have talked about my dislike 3rd person omniscient narration, but this book was perfect. The narration allowed you insight into each of the characters, which allowed you to understand what caused them to react the way they do throughout the Battle Royale. I wasn't sure if I could stomach the novel in the beginning; Sakamochi was brutal. The violence didn't get less descriptive, but maybe it was less shocking, or maybe I just grew used to the horrors. I really love this novel though. One thing that was tricky for me in reading this was the character names. I'm not Japanese, so it was a little tricky trying to keep the names straight. There were certain characters whose names I got down, like Kazuo and Noriko, but some of the others were a bit trickier. I really loved how well Kazuo was written though. He was by far the scariest person I have ever had the liberty to read about. Each of the characters though were nicely outlined. Some of them didn't get much book time, but they each made an impression. There were enough shocking twists, that I was quite uncertain where the book was heading. There was one revelation that I had guessed at early on, because apparently I pay better attention to the facts than let's say Shogo Nakagawa does. Regardless it was an interesting plot point that I was glad to have. I could feel the panic of the kids in this situation. I was feeling some of that nervous energy never quite knowing who could be trusted and who would just kill you in the end. I think this is the perfect alternative to The Lord of the Flies, kids might be able to relate to this extreme situation better than to kids on an island. In this story the kids had to kill or be killed and they all had to make a choice of what their action would be. Some took matters into their own hands and killed themselves, some started killing and some tried to find another alternative. This was a very insightful story into the minds of a group of people. It was interesting reading about all the different situations and reactions each of the kids had. If you have a stomach for some intense violence, I don't think I can recommend this more highly. There was never a dull moment and I could not put this book down.

First Line (of actual story):
"As the bus entered the prefectural capital of Takamatsu, garden suburbs transformed into city streets of multicolored neon, headlights of oncoming cars, and the checkered lights of office buildings."

Favorite Lines:

"His face was split down the middles, left and right out of alignment like a peanut."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: The Savage Grace - Bree Despain

Where I got it: Finished copy from publisher
Rating: 4.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 5 stars (Lovely, I love how well the covers match. The spine for this one is a bit different than the others though.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Page Count: 490 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads
Sequel to The Dark Divine and The Lost Saint

Daniel is still stuck as a wolf, while Grace is battling the wolf inside of her.  She's desperately trying to fight against the evil wolf that creeps into her thoughts, which hinders her ability to find a cure for Daniel. All she wants is for him to be human again. As a wolf she feels him being pulled away from her little by little. She needs to figure things out and get her inner wolf under control. Caleb isn't going to let things go that easily, and Grace's life and town are at stake.

A marvelous conclusion for the series, what a long book though. I'm glad that it was all in one though. I found a part that normally the book would have been split but I was so glad I was able to keep reading until the series conclusion. When I started this book, I hardly remember anything from the series, but Bree Despain flawlessly include a brief summary of past events with each important item. I appreciated that it was a reminder for those who may have had some time in between reading the novels, but the descriptions weren't so drawn out that if you had just read the first two you'd be irritated. So much happens in this novel and all of the characters really show how much they have grown. On top of the growth of the characters, there is plenty of action in this novel. Action and misdirection. I was never sure who could be trusted, maybe it was Grace's inner wolf, but maybe it was just my weariness to accept that anyone who already proved themselves untrustworthy could be loyal again. I'm  terribly sad that this series has come to an end, but 'm excited to see what Bree gives us next. What a chaotic week for Grace and friends. I love the new "lost boys" that follow Grace around like eager puppies. They were a real fun bunch and they fell in together so naturally. Once again Bree sneaks in little quips here and there, which take you by surprise and make you say HA! This series was just really amazing. I do think I'll have to go through and read all three again so I can pick up all the little things that I probably missed from waiting a year or more between reading each book. Again, if you haven't read this series and really enjoy paranormal fiction, check it out.

First Line:
"He knew me too well."

Favorite Lines:
"You want to be a superhero still, Grace? Well, every hero has a nemesis. And I'm yours."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Bree Despain

1. What caused you to write about werewolves out of all the creatures that go bump in the night? 
It was actually my mom's idea. I was telling her about my story idea and how I wanted to have a character who had an inner demon that would occasionally take over his body and manifest as a real physical monster. She looked at me and said, "Like a werewolf?" And I was like, "No! Not like a werewolf. Totally different." But then after a couple of days of thinking about it I realized that werewolves were probably the perfect fit. 

2. How much research did you have to do into werewolf folklore for the Dark Divine novels? 
 After I decided to explore the idea of werewolves, I started doing a lot of research. I watched classic werewolf movies and researched werewolf lore. I came across an old court record of a man in the 16th century who was accused of being a werewolf, and instead of denying it, he told the court that he was indeed werewolf but that they didn't know what a werewolf really was. He claimed that werewolves were created by God to protect humans from demons, and that if the court sentenced him to death, their town would no longer be protected. Needless to say, the court decided to let him go free--just to be on the safe side. I was so fascinated by this very brief account that I decided to run with the idea and created my own mythology around it. In my mythology, werewolves were originally created by God in order to protect humans from demons, however they became prideful of their special powers and began to disdain regular humans, and they eventually became even more evil than the demons they were created to destroy. Did you do less as the series progressed or more? I did less research as the trilogy progressed because now I was working within the framework of my own made up mythology. I did refer back to research every once in awhile when I'm looking for new ideas. 

3. Who is your favorite character in the Dark Divine novels? 
It really depends on the day. My affections waver according to my mood. Today Daniel is my favorite character. I really got to do some awesome stuff with his character in THE SAVAGE GRACE and I'm still a little swooney for him even after the series is over. 

4. Are you a pastor's daughter or why did you decide to make Grace one? 
My dad isn't a pastor, but he his a local religious leader, and I know what it is like to have people in your community watching what you do all the time. I mostly wanted to capture what it is like to be a teenager whose life is centered around questions of faith, religion, and living up to expectations because that was my experience growing up. 

5. Are you working on anything new right now? 
I'm working on a new book that is slated for publication in Fall 2013. It's a book I started several years ago before THE DARK DIVINE was published, and it's really exciting to be working on again. 

6. What is a book that you've read recently that you can't stop recommending? 
EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton. LOVE IT! 

7. Anything else you'd like to mention? 
Thank you so much for the interview. It feels sad, scary, awesome, and exciting to have the trilogy finally finished. I hope everyone enjoys THE SAVAGE GRACE.

Thanks so much to Bree for stopping by and answering some question. Tomorrow I'll have my review for The Savage Grace up, so come and check it out! You can see my reviews of The Dark Divine here and The Lost Saint here. If you haven't started this series yet, you probably should!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In My Mailbox #127

In My Mailbox brought to you by The Story Siren
For Review: thanks Crown Publishing and AmazonVine
Full Body Burden is a haunting work of narrative nonfiction about a young woman, Kristen Iversen, growing up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons plant once designated "the most contaminated site in America." It's the story of a childhood and adolescence in the shadow of the Cold War, in a landscape at once startlingly beautiful and--unknown to those who lived there--tainted with invisible yet deadly particles of plutonium. It's also a book about the destructive power of secrets--both family and government. Her father's hidden liquor bottles, the strange cancers in children in the neighborhood, the truth about what was made at Rocky Flats (cleaning supplies, her mother guessed)--best not to inquire too deeply into any of it. But as Iversen grew older, she began to ask questions. She learned about the infamous 1969 Mother's Day fire, in which a few scraps of plutonium spontaneously ignited and--despite the desperate efforts of firefighters--came perilously close to a "criticality," the deadly blue flash that signals a nuclear chain reaction. Intense heat and radiation almost melted the roof, which nearly resulted in an explosion that would have had devastating consequences for the entire Denver metro area. Yet the only mention of the fire was on page 28 of the Rocky Mountain News, underneath a photo of the Pet of the Week. In her early thirties, Iversen even worked at Rocky Flats for a time, typing up memos in which accidents were always called "incidents." And as this memoir unfolds, it reveals itself as a brilliant work of investigative journalism--a detailed and shocking account of the government's sustained attempt to conceal the effects of the toxic and radioactive waste released by Rocky Flats, and of local residents' vain attempts to seek justice in court. Here, too, are vivid portraits of former Rocky Flats workers--from the healthy, who regard their work at the plant with pride and patriotism, to the ill or dying, who battle for compensation for cancers they got on the job. Based on extensive interviews, FBI and EPA documents, and class-action testimony, this taut, beautifully written book promises to have a very long half-life.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

In 2000, director Kinji Fukasaku unleashed BATTLE ROYALE, his violently poetic epic about an innocent group of Junior High students forced by the government to hunt and kill their classmates for sport. It was nominated for 10 Japanese Academy Awards, launched a global phenomenon, and banned from screens by frightened civic groups and distributors across America. Three years later, the equally disturbing sequel -- featuring a new class, new rules, and a brutal terrorist plot by the first film's young survivors -- triggered its own tragic firestorm around the world. Now for the first time ever, you can see it all: Experience the entire BATTLE ROYALE saga on 4 discs -- including more than 3 hours of definitive Special Features -- that forever blasts open one of the most potent, shocking and savagely influential sagas in motion picture history.

So that's all I got this week. What did you all get?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games movie

Where I watched it: Movie Theater
Rating: 4 stars
Movie Release Date: March 23, 2012
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 hour 22 minutes

I am one of the many that really enjoyed The Hunger Games series, so of course I was excited and nervous to see the movie. In short, I thought they did a very excellent job at it. The casting was spot on. I think every actor fit perfectly with the character they were playing. I really enjoyed the movie and thought it was done really well. There were quite a few things left out or condensed, but all in all I was not very disappointed.

Now for the long of it and there will be spoilers so reader beware ;)
There was barely any beginning to this movie. Everything happens very fast. You are introduced to some of the important characters, but they hardly feel important as Katniss and Peeta were whisked off to the Hunger Games. I think it worked okay for the movie, but it makes Peeta the logical love intrest, so it sort of cuts down on the internal struggle Katniss has picking between them. Next Madge? Anyone? Anyone? No Madge?! Why not. I think that Madge played a subtly important role and I was quite dismayed that they blotted out her existence. So the tributes are getting ready at the Capitol and I just felt like there wasn't much between Katniss and Peeta then. I think all the emotions that happen pre-games is what made them such dynamic characters in the books. You could see that they sort of become friends and then you see Peeta slow betrayal of that trust, that makes you wonder about him. I just felt like the character interactions could have been a bit stronger for the movie. I did love Cinna and Katniss, but again their movie relationship seemed a bit shallow and abrupt. There were also no transports for the dead bodies, which seemed a bit odd to take out, but ultimately didn't ruin the movie. I wished that there was more about Foxface but again, wasn't crucial to the story so they took it out. There were tons of things I loved about this movie though, like the command central for the games. It was very interesting to see the behind the scenes of the games. As easy as thinking it and they could do it. I'll mention the cast again, because the acting was great and they fit the characters so well. Definitely check out this movie. It got me so excited for the next three movies. I'm super excited to see the arena in Catching Fire. It's going to be crazy. Watching Mockingjay will be great too, because it's such a different story from the first two. So much happens and it's all very interesting. Anyways. the movie was lovely even though they left out a lot of things. My hope is that the relationships will get stronger in the next movie and then this series will be epic, like the books.

Have you seen the movie yet? If so leave your thoughts in the comments, or a link to your own movie review.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Let's Talk: Cliffhangers

Let's Talk is a weekly feature at i swim for oceans.

Question: Cliffhangers - love them or hate them?
I have to say it really depends. There are good cliffhangers and bad ones. I think you should leave your audience wanting more, but tie up loose ends so that each book is a book in and of itself. Harry Potter is something everyone(nearly) has read, and there are cliffhangers that make you crave the next book, but the next book is not just a continuation of the book before. One book series that I thought had terrible cliffhangers, was the Possession series by Nancy Holder. The endings of these were extreme cliffhangers. I didn't so much want to read the the next book, but felt I  had to read it so that I could finish book two or book three. There just ended in the middle of things with nothing being resolved. I don't think those are good cliffhangers.
Across the Universe by Beth Revis on the other hand, especially A Million Suns, had fantastic cliffhangers. The books both wrapped up their story, but the main story line was still going and she gives you just a glimpse at what's ahead, so that you crave the next novel. So I'm a sucker for a good cliffhanger that has me dying for the next book, but I hate feeling obligated to read the next book, because the story never finished.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Wonder Show - Hannah Barnaby

Where I got it: ARC from AmazonVine
Rating: 3.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Interesting. Certainly lets you know it's about a circus. I enjoy the muted colors, it gives it a 1930's feel.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Page Count: 274 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Step right up and see the sights at the incredible WONDER SHOW! You won't believe your eyes about what you find inside. A girl with no arms? Two people joined together? A wayward young girl trying to find her family again? Yes, yes and yes! Portia's father said he'd be right back, but years later she's still with her aunt...waiting. Her aunt ships her off to McGreavey’s Home for Wayward Girls, which is not as nice as it sounds(especially the owner, Mister). Lots of terrible things happen around Portia, so she decides to find her father. After a circus card flies out of a truck, she sets off to join the circus. It's really the Wonder Show she ends up with, which makes her an oddity. She's one of the few "normal" people there. How long does she have before Mister come looking for her though? And, how will she find her father's face among the hordes of circus-goers? She'll have to make friends where she is and hope that soon things will be as they should be.

This was certainly an interesting book. Even a couple of days after finishing it I'm left with mixed feelings. It was very well-written, there is no doubt about that. The story was highly engaging and lots of twists and turns and a fantastic ending, but I don't know that I loved it. I enjoyed it though. Portia was an interesting girl, who's life took a lot of unexpected turns. Her father left and she never really knew her mother. She end's up at McGreavey's and does befriend some girls, but misfortune befalls one of them and Portia doesn't know if she can handle being there anymore waiting for her father.
I really enjoyed all the characters, and how the "freaks" in the show were based off of real performers from back in the day. Some of the characters you end up getting to know a bit better than others, but in the end I felt like you never really knew any of them at all. If there are more books about Portia, I think you could see a stronger bond forming between her and the others, but relationships take time. The bond is strong, but not deep. It's a side effect of people running from their pasts. No one wants to share their secrets, so it takes a bit longer to get to know them.
It was also interesting seeing the sideshow side of things versus the main circus hub-bub. It was a different take on a circus story. The story is mostly in third person following Portia around, but some chapters are first person narratives from various characters. I really liked how well this worked for the story. It gave you a better view of all the goings-on. This is a book that drives off the beaten-path a bit and is a great read. There's lots of themes going on throughout, most of all finding "home". Portia feels wayward, because she just doesn't know where she fits in, no one seems to want her. Definitely check this out if you're in the mood for a good story that's a little different than the typical YA fare.

First Line:
"Wayward can mean a lot of things."

Favorite Lines:
"Three steps down the back stairs was the door, which had become so familiar to her that Portia knew every nick and imperfection in its face. She opened it carefully, to keep its voice from sounding."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring Reads

So this week I have decided to participate in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is "Top Ten Books On My Spring To-Be-Read list". There are so many fabulous book s coming out this year, including tons of sequels to books I loved. I am very excited for this year in books, though I don't know how i will find the time to read them all. Click on titles below to add them to your Goodreads!
Gilt - Katherine Longshore
In the Tudor age, ambition, power and charismatic allure are essential and Catherine Howard has plenty of all three. Not to mention her loyal best friend, Kitty Tylney, to help cover her tracks. Kitty, the abandoned youngest daughter of minor aristocracy, owes everything to Cat – where she is, what she is, even who she is. Friend, flirt, and self-proclaimed Queen of Misrule, Cat reigns supreme in a loyal court of girls under the none-too-watchful eye of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.

Until I Die - Amy Plum
Super excited to read this sequel, I really enjoyed Die For Me and can't wait to read more about Vincent and Kate.

Hemlock - Kathleen Peacock
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered. Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer: A white werewolf. Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Enchanted - Alethea Kontis
It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true. When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.

The Last Echo - Kimberly Derting
Love this series and apparently this isn't the end of it, so that's very exciting!

The Year of the Beast - Cecil Castellucci & Nate Powell
I'm really into Cecil Castellucci and graphic novels and Cecil's graphic novels, so it works! I also just read Swallow Me Whole by Nate and really enjoyed it.
Every summer the trucks roll in, bringing the carnival and its infinite possibilities to town. This year Tessa and her younger sister Lulu are un-chaperoned and want to be first in line to experience the rides, the food... and the boys. Except this summer, jealousy will invade their relationship for the first time, setting in motion a course of events that can only end in tragedy, putting everyone's love and friendship to the test. Alternating chapters of prose and comics are interwoven in this extraordinary novel that will break your heart and crack it wide open at the same time. 

Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls - Mary Downing Hahn
Based on an actual crime in 1955, this YA novel is at once a mystery and a coming-of-age story. The brutal murder of two teenage girls on the last day of Nora Cunningham's junior year in high school throws Nora into turmoil. Her certainties, friendships, religion, her prudence, her resolve to find a boyfriend taller than she is - are shaken or cast off altogether. 

Second Chance Summer - Morgan Matson
Really loved Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and I am super excited to read another book by her!
Taylor’s family might not be the closest-knit – everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled – but for the most part, they get along fine. Then they get news that changes everything: Her father has pancreatic cancer, and it’s stage four – meaning that there is basically nothing to be done. Her parents decide that the family will spend his last months together at their old summerhouse in the Pocono Mountains.

The Immortal Rules - Julie Kagawa
Love Julie's Iron Fey series, so of course I'm psyched to start another series by her.
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters. 

Gone, Gone, Gone, - Hannah Moskowitz
Invincible Summer was my favorite book of 2011 so I am pumped to read this one!
It's a year after 9/11. Sniper shootings throughout the D.C. area have everyone on edge and trying to make sense of these random acts of violence. Meanwhile, Craig and Lio are just trying to make sense of their lives. Craig’s crushing on quiet, distant Lio, and preoccupied with what it meant when Lio kissed him...and if he’ll do it again...and if kissing Lio will help him finally get over his ex-boyfriend, Cody.Lio feels most alive when he's with Craig. He forgets about his broken family, his dead brother, and the messed up world. But being with Craig means being vulnerable...and Lio will have to decide whether love is worth the risk.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: House of Dolls - Francesca Lia Block

Where I got it: Inter-library Loan
Rating: 4 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (Very fitting for the novel I love the illustrations.)
Genre: Middle Grade
Publication Date: June 1, 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins
Page Count: 61 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon

There were three doll who all lived in a beautiful house. They were once treated grandly with new gowns and love from Madison Blackberry's grandmother. Madison does not really like the dolls having all the fun though, so she breaks them up in hopes that it will make her feel better.

This is a hard book to set and age range for. The brevity and illustrations lend an air of juvenile fiction to it, but the subject matter is complex and subtle which makes me want to stick it in with older kids. On the surface this book is a beautifully illustrated story about a girl who has some magical dolls, but doesn't like they she is ignored and so takes it out on the dolls. You will definitely find Francesca Lia Block's flowing writing within the pages and they are magical. This is the story of a young girl who wants attention and can't figure out how to get it. I liked how most of the story took place from the doll's perspective. They were witnessing the changes around them and weren't sure of Madison's intention. Madison makes some of the characters go off to "war" as revenge for being so beautiful and happy together. This was a very quick read, it took me all of 10 minutes. The illustrations were lovely and the story was quite good, but $16.00 seems a bit steep. As I said in the beginning too, I'm not sure the intended age range of this novel either. It was a good read though, and if you are a Francesca Lia Block fan, make sure you check this one out.

First Line:
"Wildflower, Rockstar, and Miss Selene lived in a house from another time, a white house with a red roof and red shutters and a red door."

Favorite Line:
"The combination of boredom and jealousy is a dangerous thing."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review: Winter Town - Steve Emond

Where I got it: ARC from publisher for review
Rating: 5 stars  
Cover Rating:5  stars (I love how the snow is little hole punch scraps. It's a great cover. Simple.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: December 5, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 323 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon

It's winter again, which means Evan is eagerly awaiting his childhood friend's arrival. The Lucy that comes this year though, isn't what Evan was expecting. After her parents divorced she went south to live with her mother. Little by little that has been changing her. This year Lucy shows up with piercings, dyed hair and a distant attitude. At first Evan is completely taken aback. He wanted his old Lucy, slowly he sees beneath the surface and catches glimpses of his old friend. She grew up with him, but has been spending the last few years growing up alone. They are in different universe now, but they both want to share the same one again. The timing might not be right though, they both have to figure out who they are and where they are going.

I really loved this novel. It was a calm little coming of age romp. I loved the style of this novel. There was lots of text and some comics and doodles and drawings all mixed in together. The comics are of Aelysthia, an imaginary place that they created, and there journey through it. I really loved how the comic and the story ran parallel to each other, it was a nice add-in. Very much reminds me of the movie  Garden State and listening to The Shins. It brought to mind Pete Hautman's The Big Crunch too.The perspective switches halfway through, so that instead of following Evan we follow Lucy for the second half. I think this works out very well, because Evan has the shock of seeing Lucy again and noticing all her difference in the beginning. Then, Lucy has a lot of secrets up her sleeve which we get to find out in the second half. This book was funny and at times crushing. Lucy and Evan are both very interesting characters, as are Evan's various friends. Evan is a studious geek, and Lucy has kind of gone a little wayward. Her family life is happy happy, so she struggles with things. They contrasted and complimented each other nicely. A completely authentic story about growing up and trying to figure out where you are headed in life. A fantastic read for high school students, boys and girls alike. Make sure you pick this one up soon. It was truly an amazing read.

First Line:
"'You could have at least stayed until the ball dropped,' Evan said, making no effort to hide his disappointment."

Favorite Lines:
"Lucy came home to a cluttered living room that seemed to be missing a floor. You know, those things for walking on."


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