Thursday, January 29, 2009

I Give Up

I tried to read LBD: It's a Girl Thing by Grace Dent. I tried to like it, I really did. But the writing was weak, the characters dull, immature, and slutty, and just like Louise Rennison's books, she tried so hard, *too hard* to sound quirky that it all came out wrong. I had to stop reading when I got to "What have the grown-ups got up their sleeves next? Full Muslim burkas to be worn by all under eighteen?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Devilish

currently reading: LBD: It's a Girl Thing

Devilish
written by Maureen Johnson

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1595140603.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Devilish is a spectacular YA book, and I now see why Maureen Johnson is pretty much the Queen of YA (other than Meg Cabot, of course). Many of the elements found in this book are found in others, and parts were very predictable, but it all really added to the fun and thoroughly amazing ending. Devilish takes you on an amazing roller coaster ride of wacky twists, some you'll see coming, others will be complete shockers. The narrator is a very fun, relatable girl, and all the supportive characters are amazingly developed as well (I'm particularly a fan of Brother Frank). The plot is beyond original, and I'm still amazed that there was an Edward years before Edward in the form of, surprise, surprise, an Owen. The book is nothing particularly memorable, but while you're reading it, you will fall in love with the characters. I don't see myself remembering every little tidbit (as seems to be the case with many of MJ's books) but it is one that I'll probably drop into conversation ("Edward? Puh-leeze. Who needs Edward when you can have Owen?" (note: fully applicable in conversations re: Just Listen as well.))

Rating: 4.5/5

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Second Mrs. Gioconda

The Second Mrs. Gioconda
written by e.l. konigsburg

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1416906614.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

While e.l. konigsburg certainly came up with an interesting premise, the delivery falls very flat. Readers will enjoy the mysterious aspect to it, where the inspiration for the Mona Lisa came from, but will ultimately be disappointed by the result. The writing is very dense, and while this is intended as a children's book, I find myself very doubtful that any child would want to sit through this book. The ending is just pathetic, and I found myself wondering why the book even existed, since the inspiration turned out to be just some random person off the streets. Salai's story could have been so much more interesting, and in the end, we are to believe that he just randomly "found" the inspiration? That's just pathetic, no other word for it. There could have been plot twists, and surprises, and eventually, the only genuine surprise was that konigsburg is a woman. Another one. Silly authors with their intials.

Rating: 2.5/5

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fly on the Wall

Fly on the Wall
written by E. Lockhart

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0385732813.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

While much about this book was unique (the entire setting, for example), for the most part, it was the very bad kind of unique. From the very beginning, the dialogue and situations were just completely unreal. And then it just worsens. The main character, out of nowhere, in a seemingly "realistic fiction" book, turns into a fly, no explanation given, not even the dreaded "it was a dream". While she is a fly, no joke, the summary on the back is not lying-she spends her entire time in the boy's locker room. We grow to love none of the characters, and the majority of time is spent analyzing...well...naked guys. It's not something I wanted to read about, and I highly doubt most others would want to read this as well. It's just gross. It's not interesting, nothing engaging, very plotless and dry, and just plain disgusting.

Rating: .5/5

Sunday, January 25, 2009

In My Mailbox

interesting stuff this week, let's see what we've got!

The Second Mrs. Gioconda
by E. L. Konigsburg

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1416906614.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Summary:
Could the complex ways these three lives intertwine hold the key to a historical riddle as enigmatic as the Mona Lisa's smile--why Leonardo da Vinci devoted three years to a painting of the second wife of an unimportant merchant when all the nobles of Europe were begging for a portrait by his hand?

Thoughts:
Sounds interesting, but I've said that before about Konigsburg's books and have been disappointed. The only one of his that I've *really* loved was Silent to the Bone, but we'll see.

Story of a Girl
by Sara Zarr

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0316014540.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Summary:
I was thirteen when my dad caught me with Tommy Webber in the back of Tommy's Buick, parked next to the old Chart House down in Montara at eleven o'clock on a Tuesday night. Tommy was seventeen and the supposed friend of my brother, Darren.
I didn't love him.
I'm not sure I even liked him.

In a moment, Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut", Deanna longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom, and striking emotion, Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany, and redemption.

Thoughts:
Sounds like it either has the makings for one of my favorite books, or one of my least favorite. I despised the plot of Sweethearts, but I loved the writing, so we'll see how this one goes. I'm seriously hoping I love it.

Leftovers
by Laura Wiess

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1416546626.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Summary:
Blair and Ardith are best friends who have commited an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. But in order to understand what could drive two young women to such extreme measures, first you'll have to understand why. You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by the adults around her as damanged goods. A girl who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see. You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.

Are you ready?

Thoughts:
Now this sounds like MY kind of book. Drama, but the realistic kind, the kind that happens to millions of kids every day and is never revealed. I'm excited.

The Nature of Jade
written by Deb Caletti

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1416910050.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Summary:
Jade DeLuna is too young to die. She knows this, and yet she can't quite believe it, especially when the terrifying thoughts, loss of breath, and dizzy feelings come. Since being diagnosed with Panic Disorder, she's trying her best to stay calm, and visting the elephants at the nearby zoo seems to help. That's why Jade keeps the live zoo webcam on in her room, and that's where she first sees the boy in the red jacket. A boy who stops to watch the elepahants. A boy carrying a baby.
His name is Sebastian, and he is raising his son alone. Jade is drawn into Sebastian's cozy life with his son and his activist grandmother on their Seattle houseboat, and before she knows it, she's in love. With this boy who has lived through harder times than anyone she knows. This boy with a past.
Jade knows the situation is beyond complicated, but she hasn't felt this safe in a long time. She owes it all to Sebastian, her boy with the great heart. Her boy who is hiding a terrible secret. A secret that will force Jade to decide between what is right, and what feels right.

Thoughts:
I've read this before, but now I have my own copy. You'll get to hear my thoughts soon, I suppose :)

The Lexicon
written by Steve Vander Ark

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1571431748.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Summary:
Based on the world renowned Harry Potter Lexicon website, which attracts 25 million visitors each year, Steve Vander Ark's definitive encyclopedia is a popular and scholarly work.

Thoughts:
It's the one I've been waiting for! Here we go, I just know this will be one of the best.

Paperquake
by Kathyrn Reiss

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/015216782X.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Summary:
Violet's paralyzing fear of the earthquakes that are rocking the San Francisco Bay Area makes it difficult for her to overcome her "baby" image. But thins change when her family renovates an old building. While she helps her sisters sweep up, an aftershock dislodges a letter addressed to Baby V from 1906--and Violet is certain the message in the letter is intended for her. More mysterious writings from the past tumble into her hands with each quake. The girls try to unravel the mystery behind these supernatural communiques, but as ever more frequent earthquakes rattle their own lives, they realize their time may be running out...

Thoughts:
Oh, I love Kathryn Reiss. I've read this book years ago, but I don't remember what happens. She writes the greatest twisted historical mysteries, though, so I'm sure I won't be disappointed.

The Truth About Forever
by Sarah Dessen

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0142406252.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Summary:
A long, hot summer. That's what sixteen-year-old Macy Queen has to look forward to. Her boyfriend, Jason, is going away to Brain Camp. She's stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And all of her free time promises to be spent studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father's death.
But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother's open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy ditches her library job and joins up with the Wish gang; bighearted Delia; quiet, introspective Monica, and fun-loving, fashion-conscious Kristy. But best of all, there's Wes--artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes--who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way...

Thoughts:
I've obviously read this one, but I FINALLY own my own copy. Yay :)

Did you get anything awesome in the mail this week?


Damage

Damage
Written by A. M. Jenkins

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0064472558.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

I went into reading this very skeptical. A football book? Why would I ever want to read a football book? Amazon and several other sites recommended it though, so I did get it and read it. It started out a little flat. I was still reeling over the whole football thing. The first person narration was a little off-putting. Things weren't great. Typical jock, typical girl, typical story, blahblahblah. Or...you know, not. I started getting interested upon getting a better explanation about Curtis, a surprisingly sensitive football player. I still had my doubts, mentally ranting about how stupid it was that society forced football players to put on a perfect "image", still feeling that these boys were pathetically weak for not showing their emotions. (This, actually, was the one thought that stayed through the entire book. The rest were all disproven.) Going into the second half, things aren't as perfect as they seem. There are some crude moments, but realistic and essential ones. The facade is lifted and everyone's lives have been damaged. It was Austin's conversation with his mom that really won me over, leading in to one of the best endings I've ever had the pleasure of reading. The emphasis on football died down, and more and more of the book focused on the characters' lives and emotions, the interesting stuff. Simply amazing. As Austin's interest in life fades, the intensity of the book grows. Damage is really one of those books that everyone should take the time to read. Biggest shocker? A.M. Jenkins is a woman.

Rating: 5/5

Friday, January 23, 2009

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: The New Girl

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: The New Girl
written by Meg Cabot (sorry, I lied. This *should* be the last one, though)

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0545040493.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Like I said for the first Allie Finkle book, Meg Cabot is definitely channeling Beverly Cleary's Ramona, because there is no other explanation for the sheer brilliance of these books. They are beyond relatable to any child, and at the same time, hysterical to readers of all ages (I really don't expect an elementary reader to pick up on the subtle not-so-subtle jabs at in-laws, etc). I think the moment that resonated with me personally most was Allie's cat essay, because I distinctly remember writing my final 4th grade SOL practice essay about my own dreams of cat ownership, but there's really a memory for everyone. There are certain things that I felt could have been dealt with better, but overall, super book. On to the nitpickyness: There are moments when you feel without a doubt that this is a 4th grade narrator...and others when it's a little doubtful. I was skeptical particularly when Allie started talking about "contemporary split-levels", which, I'm sorry, but 12th grade me has no freaking clue what that is, while a few chapters later, the same girl uses the word "littlest". The other thing that bothered me was her attention to clothes--I don't know about you, but when I was that young, I did not notice what other people were wearing, while Allie goes around describing every little thing about random peoples' clothes. I liked the book a lot, although the ending did have me cringing, thinking about those cute little girls headed pretty much straight on their ways to becoming The Clique girls, and I really don't want that happening. I hope Meg Cabot addresses this issue in the next book, and saves out awesome individualistic sheroes!

Rating: 5/5

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (novelization)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
written by Richie Tankersley Cusick

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0671792202.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

This book rapidly swerves away from everything that made Buffy an amazing television show. The witty banter...not so witty or bantery, really. I am not one to usually judge the writing style, I tend to overlook "bad" writing, but I don't think anyone can read this and say that this is "good" writing. It's absolutely cringe-worthy. There are plenty of missing moments that should have been explained (parents' divorce, burning down the gym) and were not. There's not much connection to the series at all. I haven't seen the movie version of it, but I can pretty much guess that it's a lot better than this novelization (movie novelizations are, after all, usually horrible). It's just weird and...not Buffy. The one thing I do like a lot is that the Potentials are introduced, while in the series, it took 7 seasons to introduce them out of nowhere and it was really...lousy.

Rating: 1/5

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Emerald City of Oz

The Emerald City of Oz
written by L. Frank Baum

http://www.librarything.com/picsizes/64/eb/a1e424467cd8101b0e51a78c2cd66192.jpg

This, in my opinion, was the last of the REALLY great, *must read* Oz books. The rest of them were cute, but nothing nearly as revolutionary. This book contains a really great tour of Oz, given to Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, who, awesomely enough, are now officially residents of the Land of Oz. I noted that (and this is found in all of the Oz books) many things are mentioned, places are visited, people are met, and none of them actually contribute to the plot. This is one of the best and the worst things about the books. It certainly provides all the charm and imagination, but also loses some great plot that could exist, and doesn't really. In this one, the plot could have been more focused on the Nome King and his invasion, but that ended up really rushed. The ingenious solution to end the invasion was great to read about, but ultimately, led to the end of "communication" with Dorothy & the gang. This won't be the last we hear of Oz, but it was indeed the last (minus a few VERY minor mentions) we did hear of Dorothy and many of the characters we have really grown to love. It was a clever way to end the series on Baum's part, but still a very bittersweet moment.

Rating: 4.5/5

How to Be Popular

currently reading: The Emerald City of Oz

How To Be Popular
written by Meg Cabot
(I promise, this is my last Cabot for a while...at least until I get my hands on Ransom my Heart!)

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0060880120.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

I feel like I really need to go back and read all the awesome Cabots. I've somehow managed to read the ones I like least recently. Shame. This book just irks me more than anything. I'm sure the writing is good and others can tolerate it, but the idea that someone would want to be popular is, just like Jason said, something I can't understand in the slightest. It makes relating to Steph Landry's character really difficult, hence making the book a bit of a bore. One of the main criticisms Meg Cabot often gets about her books are that they are very generic. I would never have defended that statement and would say the exact opposite--until reading this book. (On the other hand, it's really evident she had FUN writing this book, so why bother her? xD) There's plenty of originality in it, sure, I mean, a fish mascot? But the small, original details get overshadowed by the fact that this is a horribly overdone plot. Still, adorable conclusion, and it is a little relieving that Steph does learn her lesson when it comes to popularity. I just wish it hadn't taken so long, and it still feels like she has a ways to go. Yay for Jason, much luck to his fictional mind trying to de-blurrify Steph's clearly confused brain! One final note: Here's another Cabot that really would have done well with an alternate title. How to Be Popular? So overdone.

Rating: 3.75/5

The Bests and Worsts of Meg Cabot

(many thanks to this list)

I've been re-reading a lot of Cabots lately, and felt like doing a list. Yay, lists. So here goes...
The Bests and Worsts of Meg Cabot

Best Plot:
Avalon High
honorable mention:
Mediator series

Worst Plot:
She Went All the Way

Best Title:
Princess Mia (i'm a sap, it's so simple & so awesome)
honorable mention (or the best title that could have been):
Tommy Sullivan is a Freak

Worst Title:
Every Boy's Got One (I mean, seriously, awkward much?)
honorable mention:
She Went All the Way

Best Cover:
http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0060096128.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg
honorable mention:
http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0060294655.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Worst Cover:
http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0060880155.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

Best Continuity:
Boy... series (which isn't actually a series, but the continuity/spin-offyness is adorable)
honorable mention:
Mediator series

Worst Continuity:
Queen of Babble series

Best Moment:
End of Princess in Love (you know, the part that set off a million cheering fangirls?)

Worst Moment:
Dancing in Party Princess
honorable mention:
The awkward moments in Ready or Not. You know which ones.

Best Minor Character:
Lilly Moscovitz
honorable mention:
Douglas Mastriani

Worst Minor Character(s):
I'm going to go with the entire team of Quahogs. Especially Katie's revolving loop of guys.

Best Antihero:
Marco Campbell (?)

Worst Antihero:
Jordan Cartwright

Best Ending:
Forever Princess

Worst Ending:
Airhead

Best Overall Book:
Forever Princess

Worst Overall Book:
Historical Fiction Novels (Nicola and the Viscount, Victoria and the Rogue)

and the big ones...

Worst Overall Pairing:
J.P. & Mia
honorable mentions:
Kenneth & Lilly
Suze & Paul

Best Overall Pairing:
Suze & Jesse

Worst Main Character (male):
Paul Slater

Best Main Character (male):
Tommy Sullivan
honorable mention:
Scott Bennett (?)

Worst Main Character (female):
Jinx
honorable mention:
Em Watts

Best Main Character (female):
...Princess Mia. (I struggled with this one, I really did)
honorable mention:
Suze Simon

:)
This was fun.
Feel free to do it yourself if you wish, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pants on Fire (reread)

reading next: How To Be Popular

Pants on Fire
written by Meg Cabot

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0060880155.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

While Tommy Sullivan is, and will continue to be, my favorite Cabot boy, this book is nowhere near one of my favorites. The first thing that I disliked about the book occured before I even opened it--the cover. I originally had to have it shipped over without the jacket, just so I could have the book in the house without my parents' objections. It's a disgusting cover, and one that I'm sure had to turn some readers away, right? The other thing is the title. While Pants on Fire does describe the character well, the original intended title, Tommy Sullivan is a Freak would have worked so much better and been entirely more catchy. Reading through the book, it is more evident than most Cabot books (although I'm realizing more and more that this is true for most all of them...) that the main character is a spoiled, snobby, popular kid. I used to find these books so identifyable, until very recently. Yeah, the characters have their issues, but at the root of things, they are all ridiculously popular, even Mia, the one who most would probably easily identify with (if you object to this statement, you clearly haven't read the last two PD books). Kind of makes it hard to sympathize with them... Tommy Sullivan is the only thing that breathes life into this otherwise dead book about a flirty, slutty, teen. I do agree with the more rebellious aspects of it. (For heaven's sakes, I live in a football town. No truer statement has been uttered than Katie's rant, "I hate the way we worship the Quahogs, and for what? They don't save lives. They don't teach us anything. They just chase after a stupid ball. And for that, we treat them like gods." EXACTLY what I've been saying for years.) This is just going to have to be another one of those "It had potential, but..." books.

Rating: 3/5

Monday, January 19, 2009

Far From Normal

reading next: Pants on Fire

Far From Normal
written by Kate Klise

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0439794471.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg

While the plot was, overall, a very interesting one full of great plot twists, in the end, I prefer Kate Klise's humorous books for children much more than her realistic novels. Don't get me wrong, her realistic novels go right down to the core of realism when it comes to human emotions (Charles' prayers to God, saying He doesn't exist? It's something teens deal with but isn't written about all that often), even though some of the situations are crazily goofy. I did feel as though the last few pages made it out to be a big love story between Charles and Sophie, which really wasn't the root of the story at all. The writing was lovely though, the characters were all very three dimensional and interesting, and everything was great--just lacking that extra bit of awesome found in her children's books. I did, however, enjoy this book much more than I enjoyed its predecessor, Deliver Us From Normal.

Rating: 4.5

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Queen of Babble Re-Reads

Queen of Babble
by Meg Cabot

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0060851988.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpghttp://images.amazon.com/images/P/0060852003.01._SX140_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpghttp://images.amazon.com/images/P/006085202X.01._SY190_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg
Are books always different the second time through? Having read the entire series, it just makes the first book stick out like a sore thumb. While the writing seems somehow fresher, the plot doesn't seem planned out--makes me wonder if the two books that came after really were just an afterthought. There was no foreshadowing about Lizzie's eventual love, none at all. Just a vicious cycle of "ooh! perfect (cute) boy!" ending with "ooh! perfect cute boy = not so perfect after all!". I remember certainly liking Chaz as a character, but never would have seen him as a potential love interest for Lizzie at all. So very random. It would have done well as a stand-alone...or should have had more hints along the way. The way it worked out led to little continuity, which results in much confusion and a general feeling of blah. The characters are somewhat flat in the first book. They get their much needed development in the next two, but at a cost of less page-time, with all the new characters that are later introduced.
As for the second book, like I said before, the hints begin to show up. To understand the Sherri thing (and see the hint dropping begin), I would read the first book, as it is a total shock in the second one. But then, the Chaz thing...you can see it coming. Maybe it's not a sure thing, but there are some subtle hints here and there, the biggest one being the fact that he is mentioned and discussed at length at all, as opposed to simply being the background character he was in the first book. The pattern of break-ups is painfully annoying, and feels like Andrew (and by extension, Luke) should never have even been mentioned, that maybe the story should have just been about Lizzie, Sherri, and Chaz to start from, instead of complicating things and as a result, making it repetitive and boring.
Queen of Babble Gets Hitched, however, seems to take all those missteps and leads the reader simply to forget them, as none of it seems to matter. The drama in this one is just addicting, leading to a fully satisfying ending, although I wish we had an actual wedding, or rather, an elopement, as opposed to just a certificate. Chaz and Lizzie together are so much better than her and Luke. Chaz's character seems more developed, and Luke (much like Andrew) comes out the flat character here. And speaking of annoying & flat characters, the character of Ava Geck was the most annoying thing in the universe. Gran's death, although sad, was rather predictable. I just think that with all this stuff about marriage, she at least deserved a wedding. I suppose Meg might have done it like this for the irony, but I don't think it worked all that well. Lizzie needed her own wedding, darn it! It is because of this that I dislike the title. She DOESN'T get hitched, at least not through the course of the book. Meg really should have picked a more fitting title, more about choice than marriage. Nevertheless, loved this one overall, and I definitely think the least it deserved was an epilogue to see what marriage was like for Lizzie and Chaz, and more importantly, to see if this one lasted.

Ratings:
#1: 3.5/5
#2: 4/5
#3: 5/5

Friday, January 16, 2009

Silence

reading next: Queen of Babble reread =P

Silence
by Christopher Brookhouse



There is very little I can say about this book that is positive. It was interesting seeing a book written in present tense--don't see many of those nowadays. It seems like the characters really had some great potential, and pretty much wasted it all by sleeping around. The dialogue and situations were highly unrealistic--nobody actually talks or acts like that. The book itself was so cookie-cutter, no personality, no humor, no nothing. Cold, boring narration. There were also moments when Harriet, the main character's mother, spoke in first person, and those didn't really work with the rest of the book. It is, to the core, a gossipy book that seems like it was written by a pervert.

Rating: 1.5/5

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

reading next:Silence

The Adoration of Jenna Fox
written by Mary E. Pearson



The Adoration of Jenna Fox has to be one of the most twisted, imaginative stories I have read in a while. (The other that comes to mind is Unwind.) The narration style is intriguing--very stoic, cold, robotic speech, but oh so captivating. Oftentimes, the narration was given in short, repetitive sentence fragments, further pushing the desire to know more. A character is created, but we find that she is not at all the person she thinks she is...or was. Even the descriptive bits were beautiful (and you will not find me saying that often) with phrases such as "Even her fingers look like calligraphy against the sky". The ending is one you will never have seen coming, and I for one was very glad to see an epilogue :) I really want to know how on earth Pearson came up with this story! Amazingly done.

Rating: 5/5

(Did anyone else think of Lost while reading? Matthew Fox, Locke...)

Getting the Girl: A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery

reading next: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Getting the Girl
written by Susan Juby



The thing about mysteries is that the writing can be absolutely stellar, but if the big reveal sucks, the whole book seems pointless. That is the central problem about Getting the Girl. Mack is an awesome narrator, the kind of guy you think doesn't really exist in real life. The whole story is incredibly unique and convoluted (in a good way). I'm reading this and thinking, "Wow. Susan Juby sure has gone a long way since Alice, I Think." And then, in a totally anticlimactic way, the Defiler is revealed, and it all seems like a waste of time. Why bother? It was nothing shocking, nothing to provoke thought, nothing that would warrant an emotional response of any kind. I was having so much fun theorizing, only to have it be the most boring result possible. Yawn. And the thing is, there are so many great characters she's created that could and would have been better as the perp, and she doesn't pick any of them. What if it had been Vanessa? Or Dini herself? How much more amazing would that have been to read? So, good writing, good characters, but horribly flat ending that really reveals nothing at all about the problems in the high school hierarchy.

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances

Let it Snow
written by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle



Three amazing writers are brought together in this little anthology of winter romances. My personal favorite of the three stories was probably Maureen Johnson's (I'm really beginning to love her stuff!), although the other two stories were also enjoyed. Her narration style was very quirky and relatable, as were, as usual, her myriad of well developed characters. She is given the difficult task of beginning the stories, dropping hints here and there that will later have to be picked up by both of the upcoming authors. While I did love her story, the one thing that bothered me was even though it was all continued, I felt as though Jubilee and Stuart never really got an "ending", as we all know this snowy blockage would soon come to pass, and what then?
As I started reading John Green's story, I noticed the same names. Waffle House. Stuart. Cheerleaders. It was then that I actually realized that these geniuses managed to interconnect all their stories, fancy that! It was a typical John Green story, two guys, one girl, driving in car. The ending was cute, but the entire story felt lacking, as if something was missing.
The Patron Saint of Pigs was...quite hard to get through, actually. The characters were not written in a realistic way, and it was really hard to identify with them. They all spoke in likeohmyGod! speak, and there were too many random references that made little sense (at least, to me). It was highly adorable seeing all the stories connect, though!
Overall, sweet book, but it might have been done better by one author instead of three.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Landry News

The Landry News
written by Andrew Clements



The Landry News is a darling book for school-age children with plenty of real-world knowledge and implications. Only a few chapters in, there's already a relationship established between the reader and the characters themselves--now THAT is good character development! There are many similarities between this and other works, notably Beverly Cleary's Dear Mr. Henshaw and Kate Klise's Regarding the Fountain. The entire book is just incredibly captivating, from the basic story, to the layout (titles are newspaper headlines), to the enchanting ending. Great read, very relevant to today's world, what with all the challenged and banned books out there.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself

Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself
written by Judy Blume


This was always one of my favorite books by Judy Blume. I'm sure others would pick Are You There, God, but this is the one I found most relatable and interesting. I was stunned to realize that Sally is only 10 (this must be my third or fourth time reading it and I just now caught it *headdesk*). She has her moments of immaturity, but I went through the book thinking she was at least 13. No matter the age, though, I'm sure plenty of children can relate to her. This is a historical fiction book, but the way it reads, you really couldn't tell. There are references to WWII being over and Hitler, but it's still just another girl living her day-to-day life. The characters are all lovely and Sally talks to them in a very engaging way, letting us know simultaneously about her world and theirs. The one nitpicky comment I have about this book is the excessive use of ellipses. Too many conversations had those triple dot-dot-dots and it did mess with my concentration at times.

Rating: 5/5

Monday, January 12, 2009

Uglies

Uglies
written by Scott Westerfeld



(also a re-read)

This book had a crazily imaginative plot--possibly the most original since reading HP and Twilight. I had low expectations for the book, but found the characters to be extremely interesting and well-developed, as opposed to the teen soap opera I had envisioned. I immediately rushed to get the sequels (probably my one biggest issue with this book is that it really can't be read as a stand-alone. You have to read the other books, which is problematic with me just because if you disliked it, you're left with an incomplete book, basically). On the other hand, hands-down, the best ending line ever found in a book. Another thing, and this comes straight from Deathly Hallows as well, there were too many camping scenes. I would rather have seen character interaction than lengthy descriptions on the journeys to and from and back and forth. There are times when the book lacks momentum, and times when the momentum is just overwhelming.
Re-reading this now, after the sequels, it's different. The book could have been handled a lot differently. Not enough information is revealed, in my opinion, and later on, with Zane and all, it seems like the core characters are kind of abandoned, which is a real shame.
Still. Highly recommend you read the series, the first time through is a wonderful adventure you are very unlikely to forget.

Rating: 5/5 for first read
4/5 for second.
(yeah, that really makes very little sense)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

In My Mailbox

Ohhhkay, so I'm sure this will wreak havoc on my crazy dial-up, but I did get a lot of books this week and therefore, I feel the need to show them off :P

Princess Diaries, Volume X: Forever Princess
by Meg Cabot


Summary:

What's a Princess to do?

It's Mia's senior year, and things seem great. She aced her senior project, got accepted to her dream college(s), and has her birthday gala coming up . . . not to mention prom, graduation, and Genovia's first-ever elections.

What's not to love about her life? Well . . .

  • Her senior project? It's a romance novel she secretly wrote, and no one wants to publish it.
  • Prince Phillipe's campaign in the Genovian elections isn't going well, thanks to her totally loathsome cousin RenĂ©, who decided to run against him.
  • Her boyfriend, J.P., is so sweet and seemingly perfect. But is he the one?
  • And her first love, Michael, is back from Japan . . . and back in her life.

With Genovia's and her own future hanging in the balance, Mia's got some decisions to make: Which college? Which guy? How can she choose? Especially when what she decides might determine not just the next four years, but . . . forever!

Thoughts:
here

Damages
by A.M. Jenkins


Summary:
As the Pride of the Panthers, football star Austin Reid is a likable guy, good with the ladies. Lately though, he doesn't like his life--or anything else--so much. And the worst part is that he can't seem to figure out why.

Thoughts:
I'm really not sure what to think. It's a football book, and God knows I despise sports. On the other hand, Amazon kept recommending it to me, so *shrugs* we'll see how it goes.

Love From London
by Emily Franklin


Summary:
After leaving boarding school to study at the London Academy of Drama and Music, Love Bukowski is learning a lot, especially about love. Too bad the guy she's falling for is off-limits. But she's got plenty to take her mind (if not her lips) off said British Boy. And it's not like there isn't enough going on back in the States. For starters, Love's dad has a new girlfriend, her Aunt Mable is fighting breast cancer, the guy she left behind hooked up with the biggest you-know-what on campus, and her vocal lessons keep getting harder. Maybe life is trying to tell her something-or maybe she's just distracted by all that London (and love) have to offer.

Thoughts:
I'm excited, the series hasn't let me down yet!

Summer of Love
by Emily Franklin


Summary:
After a rough spring semester at Hadley Hall, Love Bukowski is ready for some sun on Martha's Vineyard. Running her Aunt Mable's cafe might not sound glamorous, but when she's working with her best friend, Arabella, anything can be fun. Plus, Mable's set up a treasure map of clues for her to find-each one bringing Love closer to the truth about her family history.

But now that those pieces of her past are finally fitting together, Love's future isn't clear. College and senior year are ahead, but the boys of summer are more appealing than ever. Surprises, sun, summer love-no matter what happens, the next three months will be ones to write home about.

Labor of Love
by Emily Franklin


Summary:
Just when Love meets her half-sister in LA, her dad calls to burst her blissful summer bubble. Her mother, whose identity was kept a mystery her entire life, is in Martha's Vineyard. Love has to cut her trip short and book it home. Unfortunately, what she finds isn't her mother, but a whole world turned upside down.

For one thing, Love's boyfriend Charlie has traded in his fishing pole for a pair of stiff khakis to please his equally stiff and overbearing parents. Meanwhile, her ex professes to still have feelings for her. Thankfully she has her friends and Dad to rely on. But even Dad doesn't have all the answers. Only one woman can clear things up, a woman who's never known Love. Has she come back to stay? Maybe ignorance was bliss.

The Boy Book
by E. Lockhart

The Boy Book by Emily Lockhart
Summary:
Here is how things stand at the beginning of newly-licensed driver Ruby Oliver's junior year at Tate Prep:

• Kim: Not speaking. But far away in Tokyo.
• Cricket: Not speaking.
• Nora: Speaking--sort of. Chatted a couple times this summer when they bumped into each other outside of school--once shopping in the U District, and once in the Elliot Bay Bookstore. But she hadn't called Ruby, or anything.
• Noel: Didn't care what anyone thinks.
• Meghan: Didn't have any other friends.
• Dr. Z: Speaking.
• And Jackson. The big one. Not speaking.

But, by Winter Break, a new job, an unlikely but satisfying friend combo, additional entries to The Boy Book and many difficult decisions help Ruby to see that there is, indeed, life outside the Tate Universe.

Thoughts:
I enjoyed the first book, although that was read quite a few years ago, so I'm thinking I'm going to need to make a quick library trip to get the first book before starting this one. I've got nothing but the best expectations, though!

Fly On the Wall
by E. Lockhart


Summary:
At the Manhattan School for Art and Music, where everyone is “different” and everyone is “special,” Gretchen Yee feels ordinary. She’s the kind of girl who sits alone at lunch, drawing pictures of Spider-Man, so she won’t have to talk to anyone; who has a crush on Titus but won’t do anything about it; who has no one to hang out with when her best (and only real) friend Katya is busy.
One day, Gretchen wishes that she could be a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room–just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time?
Fly on the Wall is the story of how that wish comes true.

Thoughts:
I don't have the highest hopes for this one. The premise is okay, but nothing stellar. I hope to have my mind changed.

Confessions of a Teenage Hollywood Star
by Dyan Sheldon


Summary:
After years of angst, Lola is graduating from high school and finally
getting out of Dellwood "Deadwood," New Jersey. But destiny intervenes when Lola learns that a Hollywood movie is being filmed right in Dellwood. Is the Drama Queen ready to make the leap from the stage to the silver screen?

Thoughts:
Did YOU know there was a sequel to Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, cause I most certainly did not. Awesome surprise!

LBD: It's a Girl Thing
by Grace Dent


Summary:
Ronnie, Fleur, and Claude are the LBD: Les Bambinos Dangereuses. These inseparable best friends are hip, feisty, and ready to take on the world. Except for one thing&150their fun- hating ogre parents won't let them go to the Astlebury Music Festival. Are their social lives ruined forever? Not if they can help it! The girls soon come up with a brilliant plan. They'll put on a concert of their own, featuring the finest talent (and hottest guys) that Blackwell School has to offer. But staging a music festival isn't as easy as it looks, especially when the LBD's sworn enemy, Panama Goodyear, is the headline act. Now it's up to the LBD to use their grace, poise, and humor to make Blackwell Live a huge success, complete with post-concert snogging and all. With LBD in charge&150it's not just a girl thing; it's the best thing!

Thoughts:
I'm sure everyone else has read this ages ago. It's about time I did so.

Silence
by Christopher Brookhouse
**LT EarlyReviewers ARC**


Summary:
Days before her high school graduation, Nikki Groh runs away from the New Hampshire town where she has grown up. In the months that follow, Nikki will find her way back home, a young woman much changed from her earlier self.
Harriet Groh, Nikki's adoptive mother, is the person most affected by Nikki's absence. Much of the story is told by her, and much of the story is about her, how she "disappears" too, from an earlier self and discovers her own
voice, even if silence is the language in which she finds it.

Thoughts:
I have no idea.

and finally...
Devilish
by Maureen Johnson


Summary:
Jane Jarvis and Allison Concord are desperate to get through senior year at Saint Teresa's Preparatory School for Girls, where barbed wire keeps the boys out and ancient nuns keep the girls in.
Jane and Allison have always been too quirky and different to be popular, but at least they've had each other. Then, after a hideous, embarrassing disaster, Allison comes to school transformed. Suddenly she has cute hair and clothes. She's fluent in Latin, she won't even speak to Jane, and within days, she's stolen Jane's ex-boyfriend, Elton.
A strangely wise freshman boy, Owen, helps Jane discover the outrageous truth--that Allison has sold her soul to the devil. At first, Jane doesn't quite buy it. She plays along with the weirdness--and even gambles her own soul in order to rescue Allison. But events take a turn for the real, and Jane will have to save Allison before the bizarrely exclusive Poodle Prom, a party of biblical proportions that just might blow apart the world as Jane knows it.


Thoughts:
adf;ajfa;fjadfafadfd
or something along those lines.

Friday, January 9, 2009

An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines
written by John Green


This review was actually written the first time I read the book. This was a re-read :)
Oh. Wow. That was amazing. Snappy writing, footnotes (!!), math, humor humor humor, love, Theorems, a total formula for success. It's the most natural-sounding book I have ever read. Random thoughts while reading: I loved that Colin had a Muslim friend, albeit a very non-practicing one, but still, I thought it was pretty cool. You just don't see that in books, especially YA books, and it was quite refreshing. I want Colin as my best friend. Seriously, he's perfectly sensitive and clingy and all-around an awesome guy. The thing with the Katherines was without a doubt, pure genius. Amazing. I thought for sure that Colin had made the Katherines up, or that they were all the same person, but nope, all but K1 and K19 were different Katherines, stunning! The story of Katherine the third was also quite intriguing, and you could see that coming without seeing it coming. (There's another point to bring up: the totally wonderful unpredictability of the book! Who'd have thought they end up in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere and enjoy themselves, not to mention, entertain the reader the whole way through?!) The anagrams were brilliant, although please tell me I wasn't the only one who noticed that they totally weren't around in the middle, that was saddening. Actually, the middle didn't have as many awesome footnotes either. Weird. And the footnotes! Random facts FTW, am I not right? I was wiki-ing stuff left and right, and knew that the Archbishop Franz Ferdinand was not buried there :D I wish we'd gotten more of the Katherine stories though. I was terribly glad that we got at least a paragraph for each, but still, in-depth Katherine stories, what an amazing book that would make. Prequel anyone? Oh, and the best quote ever? "You can love someone so much, but you can never love people as much as you can miss them." So strikingly true

Rating: 5/5

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Booking Through Thursday-1/08/2009

It’s a week or two later than you’d expect, and it may be almost a trite question, but … what were your favorite books from 2008?

(It’s an oldie but a goodie question for a reason, after all … because, who can’t use good book suggestions from time to time?

Hmm. Can't believe I haven't answered this one on my blog yet.

Top 5 of '08

Thirteen Reasons Why tops the list by FAR.

others, in no order

Unwind

Little Brother

An Abundance of Katherines

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banksons

Uglies, Breaking Dawn, Cracked Up to Be, and The Name of This Book is Secret are honorable mentions.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bloom

Bloom
written by Elizabeth Scott



I had heard nothing but good things about this book. In many ways, it lived up to my expectations, and in others, failed completely. Lauren, the protagonist, is a pretty unlikeable character. She may embody much of the teenage population of the world, but she certainly doesn't speak for me. The only thing about her that I liked was that she was a reader, volunteering & planning to work at the library. Elizabeth Scott broke barriers, I felt. I've never actually read a YA book in which a main character is religious (save for Miriam's Well, but that's a totally different story). The backstory Lauren has with Evan is also incredibly fresh. And then there's the cheating. I've never read a YA book with such huge instances of cheating on another person. There has been emotional cheating, sure, but like this? No. I didn't like it. The break-up with Dave could have and should have happened sometime earlier, instead of dragging it out for no reason. It would have given room to resolve many issues that are never really given an ending--Katie's issues with her family, Marcus with his, Lauren and Mary, and most importantly, we'd have more time to spend with Lauren and her father, the central relationship (to me) in the book. I liked the first person aspect of the book, it let you clearly see everything, while at the same time, skewing everything to fit Lauren's point of view. It worked very effectively. Random formatting notes to close this off: I adored the flowers throughout the book, and I loved the texture of the cover! Almost felt like a hardcover, all smooth, didn't it?

Rating: 4/5

This book & PD 10 made me realize that instead of going directly to the bottom of my TBR pile, maybe I should be reading from the top down :P

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Forever Princess

THIS ENTRY CONTAINS SPOILERS. (Well, they all do, but this is a particularly popular series, so I figured it deserved a particularly huge warning.)

Forever Princess
written by Meg Cabot


Pre-Review Warning: This review is not intended to be any sort of formal review. It is a reflection of my thoughts immediately after reading this book, and therefore, there will be caps-locking and excessive exclamation marks. Adjust your mood accordingly.

Oh, I went into reading this with cynicism. Grandmere or Louie were going to die. There was no WAY Mia would come out of this with a boyfriend (I was highly supporting the idea that she'd end up "self-actualized", realizing she didn't need a guy to be awesome). I...did not see this ending well. But, as has happened quite a bit lately, I fell in love. Maybe it's because of personal issues. I'm going through senior year, the same crazy college rush Mia's going through, with some similar personal problems as well. I really don't know. But this book reminded me once and for all why I read YA, and why I am proud to call myself a Princess Diaries fan--why I am proud to scoff at those who laugh and say it's all cliche. Screw them. They don't know a good book, obviously. They don't know a book that relates to the readers, that attracts millions of girls and tells them "hey, go out there and do your OWN thing". They'd rather be reading 'the classics', the ones that will have no immediate impact on their lives. Hm. Sucks to be them.
The book started out slow. Mia was with J.P. and the person she had become was not a very great one. Slowly but surely as Michael re-enters the picture, the book picks up the momentum found way back in the very first volume that launched this epic story, and Meg Cabot does not lose momentum. Everything ends...perfectly. It's not a "perfect" happily ever after (J.P. is probably not too happy at that moment), but...well, yeah, it really is. It's the most genuine, realistic happily ever after Meg Cabot could give her characters, and boy did she deliver. Did the woman channel Barack Obama on that last page or what?
Give her a hand. Good luck, Mia, we'll see you another day.

Rating: I only wish I could go higher than a 5/5.

Kids' Letters to Harry Potter

Kids' Letters to Harry Potter
compiled by Bill Adler



Kids' Letters to Harry Potter was another one of those books that had a lot of potential but flopped when it came to delivery. Some of the letters were cute, but for the most part, it was a bunch of older kids almost roleplaying their ways into Harry Potter's world, pretending they had magical powers and owls of their own. I read this book thinking it would be similar to Children's Letters to God, in which younger children wrote very abstract letters "to God". There were some where children brought real world elements into Harry Potter (mostly along the lines of "can you use magic to do my homework/clean my room?"), but again, mostly flat and repetitive. I feel like these are letters that should have been sent to Jo Rowling herself as opposed to being published, so she could see how much of an impact they had on kids' lives. The pictures were really corny as well, and had nothing to do with Harry Potter itself. The few positive things I have to say are about the relatability of the book. Earlier, I'd posted about Harry, A History, which I mentioned showed only the lives of the Big Name Fans. Here, we do actually see how the Harry Potter books impacted regular children around the world.

Rating: 2/5

Monday, January 5, 2009

Harry, A History

Harry, A History
written by Melissa Anelli


For all the fanfare this book has gotten, I'm not entirely sure all of it is deserved. It is a lovely look back at how the Harry Potter fandom evolved and got to where it is today, but there are some issues I do have with the book. One of the things I noticed was that Melissa told the book like it was a novel, a fictional piece, filled with flowery description that I feel has no place in what is essential a memoir of sorts. The intent of the book is to retell the HP fandom, from start to finish. Melissa pulls this off artfully, but if her intent was to reach the general public, it was not accomplished. From start to finish, this book is full of name-dropping and in-jokes that just another Harry Potter fan would never understand. In this book, the BNFs (Big Name Fans) rule supreme. The other side of the fandom is never shown. It took 90 pages for the first mention of MuggleNet, and all future mentions (of which there were very few and only when absolutely necessary) were cold and snobby. The HPANA is mentioned only once, in the acknowledgements, the Lexicon once, nothing about the humongous controversy, and no mention at all of Veritaserum and other sites out there. The truth is, Melissa fails to mention the side that truly appeals to the general fan. I did not feel, after reading this book, like I was part of the phenomenon, although I know I was, because I read the books, I posted in the communities, I had just as much fun theorizing, but nope, I didn't own a fansite or publish JKR's books, so I clearly don't matter. Probably about 90% of the Harry Potter fans would fall in my boat, not Melissa's. Where is our story? It was a good read, I will not say I disliked it, but I just wish Melissa had shown us the entirety of the HP world, instead of her secluded, high-and-mighty part of it.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Remember Me?

reading next: Possibly rereading QoB #2

Remember Me?
written by Sophie Kinsella

http://www.inkwellmanagement.com/images/authors/477eb806613d0_Kinsella%20-%20Remember%20Me.jpg

Kudos to Sophie Kinsella for taking a soap-operatic topic like memory loss and turning it into a fully non-cliched book! Not only that, she takes the usually flat genre of chick-lit and brings in a massive dose of suspense, leaving the reader positively on their toes trying to find out what happens next. While many chick-lit books may have interesting plots and plot twists, none of them really brings in an element of mystery, from what I've read so far, at least. It was slightly difficult, although necessary to the plot, to read about the snobbery of life as a high-upper, but again, that was the entire point of the book, to make the reader feel as uncomfortable as Lexi must have been. The ending was great--I'm sure everyone expected, particularly by the misleading summary on the book cover, Lexi to regain her memory. Kinsella brings her memory back, but only a flash, and the subject of the tiny flash is what makes it so poignant. The novel would have been destroyed had Kinsella brought her entire memory back, it would nullify the point of the whole book--Lexi finding herself. The most notable aspect of the book to me was the abundance of amazing references that, for once, I actually understood. I think this contained the most amazing HP reference ever, as well as good ones to The West Wing, Coldplay, and 'Bad Day' (it really truly WAS the song everyone was singing back then!)

Rating: 4.5/5

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Booking Through Thursday

Happy New Year, everyone!

So … any Reading Resolutions? Say, specific books you plan to read? A plan to read more ____? Anything at all?

Name me at least ONE thing you’re looking forward to reading this year!

Well, judging from my rants re: only 100 books this year, you all know my main resolution is to read more. I would prefer to at least triple that number, because 1 book per 3.6 days is just horrendous to me.

One thing? Just one? I'm going to have to go with the very last book in the Princess Diaries series. That was the series that got me really into reading YA, and I'll be very sad to see it end, but I still can't wait to see what happens.

Other than that, I want my to-read pile to go DOWN, not UP. >.<

What about you?

Have you got any reading resolutions?