Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Love Undercover

Love Undercover
written by Jo Edwards


Love Undercover is what you'd expect from a fluffy teen romance book. The dialogue is very cliched, as in, every single sentence has multiple sentiments that have already been expressed in that particular way by someone else. There's really not much originality in this book. It's all very unrealistic and at times, boring. It got on my to-read list due to a very strange interest I have in the Witness Protection Program, but even that didn't really deliver. The characters are all pretty underdeveloped and flat, and the reader only got to see one side of them. The male protagonist is, if possible, more "perfect" than Edward Cullen, in other words, dull as heck. Each character's storyline was very predictable with their respective resolutions. It's a good fluff read for when you want to just chill and kill some brain cells, but if you're looking for heavy fiction or anything with substance, skip this book.

Rating: 2/5

I got this book from...:BookMooch

Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Books of '09!

Time for my five favorite books I read in the year 2009! They are, in no particular order,

Impossible, by Nancy Werlin


The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins


The President's Daughter by Ellen Emerson White


Hold Still, by Nina LaCour


With runners up:


Friday, December 25, 2009

Some Girls Are

Some Girls Are
written by Courtney Summers


Courtney Summers is back with another amazing release, Some Girls Are. It's so very Mean Girls in its captivating narration. The point of view is a fascinating one, the journey into the life of an ex-queen of her high school social circle. Summers' writing creates a whole world around Regina Afton, with dimensional characters each with their own stories to tell. By now, Summers has established a very distinctive narrative tone and style, and even though it carries that repetition, it's just as powerful as it was in her debut novel, Cracked Up to Be. The thing about the novel is that were I not reading it in Regina's point-of-view, I know for a fact that Regina Afton would be the epitome of the girls I hated in high school. It's such a great thing that Summers does, giving teens a glimpse of what both sides of the high school social structure have to deal with, and that the popular girls have their own set of problems, too. There's no big message on how to save the world or better oneself, but Some Girls Are contains the comfort teens need, the knowledge that what's happened to them has happened and will happen again to others on all levels of the social ladder. And while it's not quite happily ever after for Regina, it's an ending that certainly gives closure and drives the message deep.

Rating: 5/5

Also by Courtney Summers: Cracked Up to Be
I got this book from...:LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Friday, December 18, 2009

Short Hiatus

Hey everyone,
I'm taking a break today from blogging because of this awesome thing going on on Youtube, called the Project for Awesome. It was started by the amazing Green brothers and today, my typing fingers are solely dedicating to commenting for charity. Learn more here, then join the fun here! The amazing Maureen Johnson will be out and live chatting from 5-7PM tonight!

I go home for winter break tomorrow, so no blog then either! You'll hear from me eventually, though :) I have some super awesome books I'm really excited to post about, including Courtney Summers' Some Girls Are!

See you all soon!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hold Still

Hold Still
written by Nina LaCour


With its fantastic imagery and emotional writing, Hold Still pulls the reader immediately into the fascinating story of Caitlin, whose best friend Ingrid has just committed suicide. I was scared that the book was going to be too similar to Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, with a character committing suicide and leaving behind some form of communication, but the two were very different. Hannah had a story to tell in Thirteen Reasons Why, whereas it seems as if Ingrid's story has been told, no big secrets to reveal, just a gaping hole left behind, and having to cope with that. The journal is there, but it's its existence rather than the contents that are relied upon as plot material. The story is fully engrossing with its realism, truly being everything one could want out of realistic fiction. In some respects, I suppose the book is a bit predictable in its overarching plot, but is still an engaging read. I'm still not sure if I liked some of the supporting characters. I realize that they were supposed to be signs of Caitlin moving on, but I wished the book focused more on the relationship between Ingrid and Caitlin before bringing new people into it. However, all the characters were molded and characterized really well, so you come to love all of them, even Ingrid who doesn't even exist within the time frame of the book. The ending is perfect, and leaves the reader with much to think about, probably with more than a few tears along the way.

Rating: 4.5/5

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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

That Summer

That Summer
written by Sarah Dessen


As much as I adore Sarah Dessen, her first book is not that memorable a read. There's nothing about it that really sticks out. I don't care about the characters, the plot, anything, and that's a bad characteristic for a story to possess. A book is meant to grab and enthrall its readers, and this one fails at this vital task. I understand that Haven, the main character, is in a state of tumult in her life, but the urgency is never really communicated in the writing. There's so much pointless description and deadened conversation, none of it seems quite real. I suppose a younger teen who is just getting used to growing up might enjoy this book, but for teens 15+, I'd pick another Dessen novel.

Rating: 2/5

I got this book from...:the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh book sale

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Weekly Geeks

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lots of questions on this week's post -- feel free to answer any or all!

Do you have a book wish list for the holidays? (Or is that one of those 'duh' questions?) If so,
what's on it?

Amazon wish list here. I add too many things to this, it serves as a guide to books I need to get from the library or find on book swap sites mostly :)

Are you very specific when someone asks what you want for a gift? Or do you throw caution to the wind and say, "Oh any book you choose...." Or do you prefer a bookstore gift card?

I pretty much just say they're safe with any YA book. I do love those bookstore gift cards though.

Do you buy books for people on your gift list? Do you choose books for them that you like and try to influence their reading (or hope they'll loan it to you when they're done)? Or do you get specific titles from your giftee?

I definitely buy books for people, they must be so sick of it by now :P I try to get fiction titles that are suited to their interests. Ever so often if I find a book that I love so much that I just want to pass the love on, I'll buy that for others. (Thirteen Reasons Why has been gifted many, many times)

Where do you buy your book gifts? Do you shop at local independent bookstores, or the "big box" stores? or do you shop online?

I have yet to see a single independent bookstore here in Pittsburgh. It's really shocking...

I do most of my shopping at Barnes & Noble, but I've been known to get stuff on Amazon, particularly for friends who live far away. I've just discovered The Book Depository as well :)

The Gospel According to Larry

The Gospel According to Larry
written by Janet Tashjian


I remember reading this book when I was much younger--it was, in fact, one of the first YA books I ever read. I was, however, too young to really understand much of what had happened, and although I had a vague recollection of how the book went, over the years, I found that my recollection was significantly off. The concept behind this book is a fascinatingly unique one, but the characterization is pulled off so wonderfully that Josh's situation ends up feeling entirely realistic. It's written in a way that the reader can relate to this utterly unrelatable, unintentionally personable character. While reading this, I realized what a great choice Tashjian had made when she'd chosen the point of view, whether she'd given any thought to it or not. It would have been a different story entirely if told by one of Larry's fans or something. I'm wondering what on earth the sequels could contain, since there are two of those if I'm not mistaken. Everything was tied up so neatly, so I'm hoping the sequels aren't too destructive to the original. I would have liked to have seen more than some vague hints about Beth and others close to Larry at the conclusion, and I hope the sequels elaborate on them. One final thing I noticed that definitely flew past my younger self's attention is the elaborate biblical parallel evident throughout the story--see if you can catch it, it's amazing how well it's interwoven in the story. Great read, I can't wait to hear more from snarky young Larry.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book from...:www.Bookmooch.com

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bass Ackwards and Belly Up

currently reading: That Summer

Bass Ackwards and Belly Up
written by Elizabeth Craft & Sarah Fain


Bass Ackwards and Belly Up seemed like a rip-off of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. As glad as I was to read another book featuring characters in their older teens, it wasn't as great as I had hoped. It dives right into the middle of a hugely dramatic time in these four teens' lives, and while a bit confusing, eventually everything makes sense. The storylines are interesting enough, but they were pretty simple and very predictable stories for the most part. The characters were made lovable through the writing early on, but since they were all separated, the story wasn't as interesting as it could have been if they were together, much like Sisterhood again. At least with the Sisterhood series, when the girls were apart, they were in regular correspondence and we as readers were witness to that, but here, they were all on their separate adventures, and it was harder to imagine how crazyawesome the story would have been with them all together. Midway, the stories just lose all their push. Something happens, and it all becomes dull. The girls' characterization seems to fall by the wayside, and while they had their moments, the second half of the book was not nearly as enjoyable a read as the first. The one pairing I was interested in had no resolution, and I was very disappointed about that. Many of the stories are left ambiguous, which makes some of them seem utterly pointless and a waste of time to have read. I would just stick with reading the Sisterhood series instead of picking this one up.

Rating: 3/5

I got this book from...:Waldenbooks

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Diamond of Darkhold

The Diamond of Darkhold
written by Jeanne DuPrau


I think this book must have come to be as a result of the criticisms of books 2 & 3 (no return to Ember, lack of Lina and Doon, etc.). While the return to Ember was much anticipated and a welcome plot element, parts of this book were, as a result, overwhelmingly repetitive of the first book. This worked in some instances, but in others, it felt like a desperate return to the successful elements seen in the first book, in order to gain back disappointed fans. I did enjoy seeing Lina and Doon again, and the teamwork seen in this book was reminiscent of the first one in a good way. Plotwise, there was a clear single goal, but it wasn't as interesting, nor as desperate, as the goal in the first book, making for a story that was, in turn, less interesting. Other than Lina and Doon, I felt that many of the secondary characters lacked strong characterization, which made their roles seem slightly flat. I enjoyed the fact that everything came full circle, although I do wish DuPrau had rearranged things a little bit. I felt like the ending of this book should have been extended and essentially served as the second book, eliminating the need for books 2 & 3. I just think a lot was done wrong in the creation of this series, and maybe The City of Ember would have been best served as a stand-alone.

Rating: 3.5/5

I got this book from...:Waldenbooks