Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Prophet of Yonwood

The Prophet of Yonwood
written by Jeanne DuPrau

First of all, I still don't understand why this is called "the third book of Ember" when it is clearly not the third. I was so confused about what was happening, where Lina and Doon were, until I read the back cover and found out it was a prequel. That is not the sort of information I should be getting off the back cover, that is something that should be made evident upon starting the book. For a children's book, there is an overload of social commentary, and I'm pretty sure the entire ideas would just fly over their heads, and I thought People of Sparks was bad in that regard! Hah! Regardless of whether or not I agree with her views, this is entirely too preachy. It proved very difficult to get into the plot, the characters were not well-developed, it was very slow paced, with not much action at all. I think I may possibly have only liked one page of this entire novel--the last one. How ridiculous. Don't waste your time getting this if you're a fan of Ember, you will more than likely be disappointed. At least we should have been getting Nickie's dad's part of the story.

Rating: 0.5/5

I got this book from...:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Audrey, Wait!

Audrey, Wait!
written by Robin Benway

Audrey, Wait! was a book full of honest conversational narration and clever, snarky humor with a narrator who screws up a lot, but is still likable enough. The musical references contained within the pages are what really makes this book spectacular. I don't know about you, but I now have practically a book full of music recommendations that I'm dying to listen to. The chapter titles were great, using song lyrics to highlight Audrey's current predicament, whatever it was at the time. The situation Audrey is put in is unlikely to happen in real life, but at the same time, songs are sometimes obviously about a specific person. It could somehow happen, and that's the fun of books, imagining all the possible scenarios and applications to real life. The characterization in this book was so good that some characters evoked really strong feelings, both positive and negative. For instance, I liked Victoria as a character, but my God there were times when she got on my nerves with some of the stunts she pulled! I liked the way the book ended, with a fitting tribute of closure. I think a companion novel from Evan's point of view during this chain of events would have been fascinating, as Audrey gets to tell her part of the story, but Evan never really does. Just something to think about.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book from...:Waldenbooks

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The People of Sparks

want to read: The Prophet of Yonwood
reading next: Audrey, Wait!

The People of Sparks
written by Jeanne DuPrau

I found this book to have many of the similar problems that other sequels encounter--there's not much interesting. The odd thing is, this is typically due to a sequel serving as a bridge between books, but honestly, I'm not seeing very much that'll come in use for future books. We'll see though. Although Lina and Doon are still characters, I felt like they didn't get nearly enough page-time. Too many new secondary characters were introduced, and while some of them had personalities that were interesting enough, others did not. We still don't have any new information about the mythology, which is disappointing. The book's boredom was aggravated by the fact that it moved slower than the first fast-paced book. A lot of time was dedicated to necessary but overly preachy social and political commentary. I don't know if a child would have the patience to sit through this, particularly when I can see many of the social/political references completely going over their heads. I would love to see a return to Ember, or something that somehow connects to the first book, other than the characters. It's easy to understand: this book was too simple and too predictable to truly have been enjoyable.

Rating: 1.5/5

I got this book from...:Waldenbooks

The City of Ember

The City of Ember
written by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember was an easy but enthralling read, so ridiculously easy to love. The characters were so real in this unreal world, presented with plenty of exposition. Plotwise, the book excels, with plenty of fast-paced suspense carrying the reader steadily through the book. The characters act so realistically—like the children they are, but with unambiguous bravery. It’s full of the characterization symbolism, and other literary elements that teachers crave, but also filled with wonder, suspense, and just an amazing plot that kids of all ages will enjoy. It ends on a cliffhanger, so I strongly suggest having the second book on hand to immediately jump into—trust me, you’ll want to have it.
Rating: 5/5

I got this book from...:Waldenbooks

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Author Event--Lauren Myracle

Lauren Myracle visited the Squirrel Hill library in Pittsburgh tonight, and I got to go to my very first author visit! She was a fantastic storyteller :)
She started off talking about how she first started writing. She'd been writing since the 2nd grade, and loved it all through elementary school. In middle and high school, she got fed up with research papers and the like and the writing stopped, because the fun of it all went away. She started up again in college when she found out that Creative Writing was a major offered at UNC-Chapel Hill (where she went to school the same time as Sarah Dessen, and didn't even know it!). She joined a creative writing class, with a total of 14 students and Daphne the teacher. It wasn't until near the end of the class that Daphne let her students know that creative writing was a limited major and only a few people could take it. 12 students from the class could go on. 2 would not. Lauren and a girl affectionately termed Aphid Girl, who wrote stories from the point of view of an aphid, were the two. Aphid Girl did not want to go on in creative writing. Lauren did.
When she found this out, she went to her public library, to the children's section, her "safe place" and sat and read Ramona books, until realizing that she didn't have to major in creative writing in order to write.
After graduating, Lauren was fed up with her prep school life, and wanted a simplistic job. So while her friends went on to be lawyers and things of that nature, she ended up at Colorado Screw Factory, sorting screws into "good screws and bad screws."
She met a coworker at the Colorado Screw Factory who, when Lauren didn't know how to tell the good screws from the bad screws, helped her out. This co-worker never really read, and Lauren therefore took it upon herself to narrate stories to her. When her temp agency called and let her know there was a clerical job offered for her at a lumber factory, she let her coworker know she was leaving. The coworker was devastated; she wanted to know how the book ended! Lauren gave the coworker her copy of the book and told her to read and find out, and she never saw her again.
She worked at a nursing home for a while, where scenes from Bliss directly came from, dealing with things like walker fights and lost dentures. She loved the people there.
But all the while, she was frustrated. She wanted to be successful in writing. Her husband knocked some sense into her, saying that if she wanted to write, she should write. So she did.
Her first book, unpublished, was called Consider Yourself Lucky.
Before her first book was published, Lauren received 148 rejection letters. She's kept all of them in a folder and still has them all.
Then, Kissing Kate got published. It was based on her college roommate Amy, who called her after college and nervously came out. She was told to revise the book, but after 5 rewrites, it was taken and published. It was accepted for publication at age 29. As a child, she had told herself that if she hadn't been published by age 30, she would give up.
She wrote the Internet Girls series because she'd noticed that people in her generation had grown up talking on the phone, and the big thing was three-way calling. It was a challenge, but one obviously well accomplished.
Luv Ya Bunches was written as an answer to the complaints she was receiving from tween's parents, kids who wanted to read the Internet Girls books but were way too young for the content.
Kissing Kate did not get hate mail, surprisingly.
She went on to talk about Bliss a little bit, for which I was happy, as that is my favorite book of hers. Cool bit of trivia, the dot on the i on the cover of Bliss has a reflection at a window. It is the reflection of Chad, the cover's art director.
The title was written in chocolate syrup, and then photoshopped red to look like blood.
She ended the Q&A session talking about Luv Ya Bunches. She pointed out Tally the turtle on the cover, and teased saying, "Oh, you think [Katie-Rose] is mean to Max, wait until book two!"
She read an excerpt from Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks,
and then we all got free copies of her books!
I chose Let it Snow, as I had read it from the library but didn't have my own copy, and got to talk to her and got it signed. I babbled like an incoherent [but giggly] crazy person, and we talked about Maureen Johnson's trapezing and nerdfighting.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Invisible Lines

Invisible Lines
written by Mary Amato

Invisible Lines has a narrator quite unlike any other, though comparable to Julius Zimmerman, titular character of Claudia Mills' You're a Brave Man, Julius Zimmerman. The book reads in a warmly funny and stingingly honest style reminiscent of Andrew Clements, with a highly likable and humorous narrator in Trevor Musgrove. While parts were slightly predictable in a way often found in children's books, there are plenty of completely unforeseen plot elements. Everything about this book is enthralling, the humor and realness keeping the readers' attention the whole way through. There is a perfect balance struck between seriousness and humor. Issues such as a missing father figure and domestic violence are dealt with, but in a child-friendly way that is both honest and appropriate. Interestingly enough, many scientific facts are easily picked up through reading this book, and the reader learns about the fascinating world of mushrooms right along with Trevor. There are some inappropriate words used for a book whose target age group is about 8-12 year olds, but if you can look past that, this is a book that should definitely be on classroom library shelves.

Rating: 5/5

I got this book from...:LibraryThing EarlyReviewers

Guest Blog & Contest--LM Preston

My guest blogger today is LM Preston, author of YA sci-fi book Explorer X-Alpha, the first in a series. Her book will be out in February of 2010.


It all started on a long car trip to Florida. My husband, kids and I were on our way to my ‘Happy Place ’, better known as Walt Disney World.

Anyway, while on this long drive, my husband turns to me and says, “You should write a book. You loved to write when we were younger and you haven’t written since.”

I thought about what he said and replied,” Well, I did try to write that one book, but it was boring and didn’t keep my interest.”

Then he told me,” You should write science fiction. You like it, and you work in the IT field. That way you have no boundaries, you create your own.”

That was a pivotal point in my writing career. He told me to think up something and share it with him. Well, let me tell you a little secret about my husband. He is a big science fiction fanatic, and has comic books, graphic novels galore. He watches it and breaths it. It was the ultimate challenge, because I knew that he is a very opinionated person that would not hold back his comments to save my feelings.

I pondered over it so much that I ended up dreaming up Aadi one night. I saw his face, his mischievous smile and thought, “What is your story?”

The next day I thought about Aadi while at a traffic light, and thought up his adventure, by asking myself, what adventure would I want to do? Well after Aadi whispered his idea to me, I was ready to write about him. Later that week, wouldn’t you know it, my husband asked me about my story idea.

I told him, that I had an idea about a boy who’s parents force him to go to space camp only for him to discovered that he was being experimented on so that he could go to any planet, adapt to it, then dominate it. The best moment I can think of was when my husband’s face broke out into a grin and he said, “Write that!! I haven’t read anything like that before.” Little did I realize that Aadi’s discovery would become a series of adventures.

As an avid reader, I get bored fast with books that are long and drawn out. Therefore I wrote this book for my kids to enjoy. I depend on them greatly to critique my work, and believe me, they don’t hold back.

Writing about teenagers is a passion I have because that was the most tumultuous part of my life. I felt deeply, experienced a lot, and overcame enormous trails in my teenaged years. I survived and so can my readers. I wanted to show that strength in my characters, their adventures, and their victories.


I am working on the follow-on series to EXPLORER X – Alpha, and just completed the final edited copy of THE PACK, an edgy YA series about a girl who saves her world that comes out Fall of 2010.

By: LM Preston, Author of EXPLORER X – Alpha,

comment on this post to be entered into a contest to win a copy of Explorer X-Alpha and a poster! Winners will be announced on the 30th of November!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

City of Bones

City of Bones
written by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones was a great read...if you don't mind reading a book that is extremely predictable. I have in my notes details from the first chapter that end up being the Big Plot Twists, so that's slightly sad. A lot of the book falls into what one typically expects from a fantasy novel, down to the "turn a person into a rat" trope. The Big Reveals were kind of pathetic, and frustrating to read, I know I wanted to reach into the book to shake Clary in her utter obliviousness. The exposition to the fantasy world was done well, introducing it simultaneously to the reader and Clary herself. While I was irritated by yet another love triangle, sick to death of those, I was thrilled with its conclusion. The characters, despite their predictability and all, are very well developed, and you find yourself getting attached to some, repulsed by others, all essential parts of great characterization. The ending does leave the reader satisfied while at the same time, wanting more, essentially being all that a great ending should be.

Rating: 4.5/5

I got this book from...:Borders

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Catching Fire

Catching Fire
written by Suzanne Collins

While part of me is still reeling from the cliffhanger presented at the conclusion of this book, another, quite larger, part of me really strongly questions if this book was necessary. What couldn't have been accomplished through a few quick whispers strategically placed in the woods, in conversation with Bonnie, Twill, and a quick jump to the final chapter? I'm dwelling on so much of the pointlessness of everything but the last chapter. More irritating than everything else was the Quarter Quell, a seemingly desperate plot device only created to echo exactly what had happened in The Hunger Games. REPETITIVE MUCH? I got extraordinarily irritated when I even thought of the idea that it might happen again, and was disappointed beyond words when it actually became reality. I expected this book to be all about political rebellion, and I don't see why that wouldn't have been the natural continuation--but no, the wait continues for what will actually be interesting and necessary backstory, plot that will be fresh and fun to read. I am dying to know about District 13. That is really all I am desperately waiting for. Other than all that, I'm irritated by the love triangle that keeps being played out--I feel like Collins is riding the wave from Stephenie Meyer's infamous Edward-Bella-Jacob triangle hype, and that is an unappealing idea. Just choose. Everything about this book was just infinitely dragged out, and I found it to be a pretty pathetic excuse for plot. Answers, please.

Rating: 2/5

I got this book from...:Barnes & Noble