Monday, September 13, 2010

Booking Through Thursday--Disaster!

It's not Thursday and I don't care.

Sorry for like, abandoning this blog. I'm taking 19 credits this semester (and only one of those credits is a class that doesn't give massive amounts of homework), so life's become one huge pile of readings (not the fun kind!) and papers. I figured I should go ahead and give you all *something*, so here, have a BTT post =)

btt button

You’ve just dropped your favorite, out-of-print book into a bathtub, ruining it completely … What do you do now?

Okay, well, this just doesn't apply to me on so many levels. I don't read in the bathtub. The very idea of reading in a bathtub just makes no logical sense to me. Why? How? WHAT? Also, I don't think I've ever read an out-of-print book for enjoyment, and if I have, it was one of those out of print ones that are like, a cent on Amazon, so no big deal.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mockingjay (**CONTAINS SPOILERS**)

written by Suzanne Collins

As with my other immediate reaction posts, this will probably not be the most organized, coherent blog I write. This is because I literally just finished reading Mockingjay, and it was sufficiently mindblowing. Congratulations, Suzanne Collins, for successfully making my brain explode. Obviously, my thoughts were all over the place while reading, and are in no better state at this moment. The suspense of this book kept up throughout the entire read, down to the very final pages. I found myself sitting here, grasping the last few pages in hand, completely clueless as to how Collins could successfully wrap everything up so quickly. She did. She freaking DID.
The book starts with a one month time jump since the events of Catching Fire. Everything that happened there is explained, which, by the way, put Catching Fire in a new (and better) light in my mind. There's a lot of preparation and build up for all the big battles, and trust me, big battles there are, literal combat and raging inner psychological wars. All the while, Katniss' every move is still being filmed, a move I didn't quite appreciate (and, well, neither did Katniss!). Both Katniss and I really wanted to see more of her in combat rather than on camera.
I was really glad to see the romance toned down. Very early on, Collins makes it clear that Katniss is in no state to be choosing her "Team", at one point blankly making a statement through Katniss: "The very notion that I'm devoting any thought to who I want presented as my lover, given the current circumstances, is demeaning." This isn't to say that her inner struggle between Gale and Peeta doesn't exist, just that there are obviously bigger issues at stake. She does eventually (very eventually, it's not until the last page, plus the epilogue) make her choice, and while I am not at all a fan of the choice she makes, it's still written in an incredibly powerful emotional (or, as the case is, emotion-less) way. The way her castoff "Team" is treated, though, just slightly enrages me, as it is a character plenty of fans were very emotionally invested in.
Anyway, to more important things. I do not like the epilogue. I do not think Katniss going back to District 12, popping out babies and living a normalish life with Peeta is in-character at all.
There is so much effective foreshadowing done in this book, as well as throughout the first two books in the series as well. It's still extraordinarily difficult to tell exactly where the plot will take the reader, but ohh, after finishing the book, it's amazing how well all the pieces, laid out from the very beginning, all fit together. There's nothing I like better than a book that sets up an intricate mythology and mysteries surrounding that set-up, and then resolves all of the plot threads.
For the longest time, I was convinced that Gale would flat out sacrifice himself so that Katniss could end up with Peeta. Guess I was looking at this book and its author incorrectly. They would never dumb themselves down to that level of desperate romantic plot, and I'm so thankful I was proven wrong.
I came to a big realization while reading this series. It is very rare for me to like a main protagonist in a book or series, and for once, I do. I love Katniss. She was, surprisingly enough to me, my favorite character. Such a complex girl (and that complexity is fully fleshed out in this book, as is...well, pretty much the complexity of everything), with so much to face. Her realizations throughout this book about herself, her place in the world she inhabits, are emotionally raw in their realism, and her end emotional state left me paralyzed in its intensity. The story is darker than the first two, darker than most books I've read, and the progression of Katniss's emotional state is the most compelling and, in a twisted way, beautiful, part of the series for me.

Rating: A much deserved 5/5

I can't wait to see everyone else's reactions to the book! Leave me a comment with your thoughts (or a link to your review) if you've finished. =)

Randomish side note, I was shocked that Madge/her family played such a small role. I read this article and was convinced they'd be the key to the story, haha, so to not even see Madge in the book was a huge shock.

Also in the series:
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie

currently reading: Dragon Rider-Cornelia Funke
want to read: What else, Mockingjay!
reading next: Probably going to reread the first two Hunger Games books

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie
written by David Lubar

As always, it's really great to see realistic YA geared towards high school boys, about a high school boy who doesn't quite fit in and is just learning his way around the ways of his new high school and in a way, his new life. If you're a reader in high school, or about to enter high school, it's a neat look at a little bit of what high school life might be like, and if you're out of high school, well, it's a good reminder of a place you are probably really glad to be rid of. I've read books about awkward girls and popular girls in high school, but other than John Green's books, it's a rarity to read about a regular, albeit slightly-awkward, young boy maneuvering through high school. To me, this was a boy-version of The Princess Diaries, with a boy journaling his thoughts through his freshman year. I think it would really reassure boy readers that it's okay to be awkward, it's okay to not be athletic or well-known, and it's really okay to just be a creative, quiet kid. The writing voice is authentically that found in a typical teenager, discussing things like school schedules, the tricky new world of romance, and dreaded homework assignments. The book really succeeds at showing all the different roles one person has to take on in high school. The repetition and continuity of various motifs through the book are also a great touch and add to the fun appeal of the book.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book from...:Swaptree

I definitely have something I'd love to hear comments on. Some of the "typical" high school experiences discussed in this book...didn't seem very typical to me. I've always wondered, with movies like Mean Girls and books like this one, is high school life over-exaggerated in books/movies/tv shows, or are there actually high schools like those? Am I just a very sheltered child? Do high schoolers actively drink, go to parties, do drugs, etc? I'd love to hear your own high school stories!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kissing Kate

Kissing Kate
written by Lauren Myracle

I suppose this is one of the very few LGBT young adult books I've read, and like any other book, it had its strengths and weaknesses. The thing that definitely stuck out with this book was the vital element of realism. The moments described in the book are very down-to-earth, honest moments that teenagers experience, no matter their orientation. One of the things I didn't really like about Lauren Myracle's Internet Girls series was that, while funny and good reads, they were nothing like what I experienced during my teenage years. Moments of that series were extremely overdone and overdramatic. Kissing Kate was more down-to-earth and, in my opinion, a more genuine portrayal of the average teen's life. On the other hand, while being honest and down-to-earth, this was definitely a unique book in terms of content. It was one of the earlier mainstream LGBT YA books out there, and it goes more in depth covering the full length of a relationship, from beginning to end, as well as the oft-forgotten fallout from the end. My one real complaint with the novel was the introduction of lucid dreaming. I understand the significance of it, the reason Myracle decided to include it in her book, but the whole metaphor felt awkward and forced. My favorite thing about the book was the lack of labels. The main character, Lissa, has typical teenage emotions, but her orientation is never explicitly stated, something I found really great. Everything seems to be about labels nowadays, everyone has to be all gay, all straight, whatever, and sometimes, it feels like there's no room for anything in between. This was a great portrayal of a questioning teen who doesn't quite know what to label themselves as, which is what most teens are, when they're first figuring themselves out.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book from...:Bookmooch

Friday, August 6, 2010

Green Valley Book Fair swag picspam

So a couple weeks ago, my friend George and I went to this amazing book fair we have in Virginia, called the Green Valley Book Fair. It's about an hour away from where I live, and it's basically this old warehouse filled with new overstocked books.

I got to buy some fantastic books that I'd been holding off on buying simply due to price, and I'm really glad I got to go.

Books I bought:

I also picked up this fantastic shirt...

(it says 'got books?', I just got the picture at an odd angle, with the shirt slightly crumpled :P)

...and left nerdfighter notes...

...and really wanted to get one of THESE...


All in all, a fantastic adventure! I loved finding those books, getting to spend time with George, who I haven't seen all school year, since she goes to a different college and all, and driving through downpours. Whee!

That's all from me for today :) Tell me happy fun book shopping stories!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Reading Habits Meme

Lizzie over at The Book Obsession is planning on doing this weekly meme thing, and I'm a sucker for book memes. Check out her intro post!

Q: Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
A: Nope, when I'm reading, I just read, and occasionally listen to music, either very softly or lyricless music.

Q: What is your favorite drink while reading?
A: See above.

Q: Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
A: I hate the idea that people write in books! >.<

Q: How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ear? Laying the book open flat?
A: Bookmarks! I used to dog-ear pages, but I grew out of that thankfully.

Q: Fiction, Non-fiction, or Both?
A: Fiction :) Nonfiction's okay if written on a topic I really am fascinated by, or written in a way to make me fascinated by a certain topic, but I tend to avoid it. If I wanted nonfiction information, I'd look it up on wikipedia. Books are my escape, and I'd rather escape into something that's not real.

Q: Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or you can stop anywhere?
A: I stop anywhere.

Q: Are you a person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if it irritates you
A: ...why would you do that to a book? =O

Q: If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
A: Not usually, unless it's used in a really crucial context.

Q: What are you currently reading:
A: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Q: What is the last book you bought?
A: was actually a birthday present for a friend.

Q: Are you a person that reads one book at a time , or can you read more than one?
A: I usually read one at a time, but yes, there are occasionally times when I read more than one, particularly if I have something to read for school, where I absolutely *have* to have something fun to read on the side.

Q: Do you have a favorite time/place to read?
A: Anywhere, anytime.

Q: Do you prefer series or stand alone titles?
A: Series, definitely.

Q: Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
A: Thirteen Reasons Why. I honestly believe everyone needs to read that book.

Q: How do you organize your books? By genre, title, author's last name, etc?
A: My books are currently all in boxes/bags, but if they do ever get organized, it'll probably be series clumped together, authors clumped together, and then possibly sorted by the approximate order I read them in.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Get Well Soon

Get Well Soon
written by Julie Halpern

You all know how much I adore books that address teenagers dealing with mental illness, so it's no surprise that this book struck such a chord with me. It greatly helped that it was also written in epistolary form, and if there's any form of book I love most, it's by far epistolary. I love letters, I love writing letters, I love getting letters (who doesn't?), and I love the small glimpse I get of another person's life by reading letters, even if they happen to be fictional. I had read this book and Ned Vizzini's wonderful It's Kind of a Funny Story around the same time, and they are the only two YA novels I've read that do take place in a psychiatric hospital ward. Vizzini's novel appealed to me more, but I was really glad I got the chance to read Halpern's as well. She brings up some really great points throughout the novel, such as the idea of eliminating stereotypes. Her character, Anna, finds herself in a psychiatric hospital ward, where she has to force herself to step back and stop making snap stereotypical judgements, since she's hit rock bottom and has no point in disliking the people who are sharing the space. Anna gets to know people of all walks of life and all kinds of personal struggles, and along the way, finds out a lot about herself. It's ironic--you'd think a novel set in such a depressing setting about depressed people would, in fact, be depressing, but it's really not! Halpern manages to show the humor in a really bad situation, and you'll find yourself laughing throughout the book. The ending was a little strange, but it does fit with what I've heard, that going home and readjusting to "regular life" after a hospitalization is the hardest part. The writing in this book could have used some work and still carried the same authenticity, but as a debut novel, Julie Halpern really proves herself to be in touch with the way teenagers function and tackles a very difficult and critical topic that I always say needs to be depicted in YA fiction much more than it is.

Rating: 4/5

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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Once Was Lost

currently reading: The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner
want to read: Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins

Once Was Lost
written by Sara Zarr

I was really glad to see a religious YA book, but not at all religious in the traditional sense. There is nothing preachy about this novel. It's a beautiful story about a girl struggling to find her sense of place in her religious community, trying to figure out how to juggle a life, religious and otherwise, while having to be the preacher's daughter required to appear with a sort of socially preconceived demeanor. It's laughable to think that teenagers don't struggle with religion. The teenage years are when kids grow up and begin to really think for themselves, and begin their own religious journeys as opposed to the ones their parents simply brought them into. I'm really glad that Sara Zarr wrote such an open, honest book about how a teenager deals with those questions and developing that religious identity. She does so in a fully nonjudgmental way, in a way that all readers of all religious/spiritual beliefs will both enjoy and relate to, no matter what. Other than that, the book is typically Sara Zarr style, beautiful writing, honest dialogue that teenagers, real teenagers, can easily picture, and an ending that's not so much about happiness as it is about the promise for future hope.

Rating: 5/5

Want to read more on Sara Zarr's personal religious views? Here's one of my favorite essays, written by her during the YA for Obama campaign in 2008, where many prominent YA authors came together to show their support for then presidential candidate, Barack Obama. I strongly recommend reading it, even if you're not a Democrat. The views expressed are beautifully open-minded and really touching.

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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wherever Nina Lies

Wherever Nina Lies
written by Lynn Weingarten

If there's one thing I've got to say about this book, it's that it's misleading marketed. Look at the cover. Does it scream "plot-twisty horror thriller" to you? The cut-out ransom letters do look suspicious, but the color-scheme just makes the book look like another fluffy teen YA. NOT SO. (Although I actually do really love the cover, I just find it misleading.) I'm in no way saying that John Green's Paper Towns was a gender-specific book, but this really read like a version of Paper Towns (plus creepyness) written specifically for girls. You have the John Green-esque road trip combined with really great writing, throw in a spooky disappearance, and you get this fantastic book. So, you know, it's late at night and I sit down to read some fluff fiction. This story ends with me staying up far too late, scared out of my mind, but absolutely unable to put the book down. It delves right in to the story, setting everything up very quickly and in a captivating way. The suspense holds up throughout the whole novel, and makes for a really intense read. Mixed in with the intense suspense are plenty of really heartwarming moments focusing on relationships, friendships, and all kinds of connections we are capable of forming as human beings. Following the clues along with the main characters is a blast, and has the reader theorizing throughout the book. There were some minor moments that did appear to be conveniently contrived for the purposes of moving the mystery along, but even those were pretty easy to read past without getting too worked up about it. I just loved the unpredictability of everything that happened, and I can definitively say this this is one of my favorite YA mysteries.

Rating: 5/5

I got this book from...:A contest

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Happened to Cass McBride?

What Happened to Cass McBride?
written by Gail Giles

The only strength What Happened to Cass McBride? had was its writing. Everything else was utter garbage, especially the plot. Let's do the good first, before we get to my massive list of complaints, shall we? The writing style was very unique, dotted with cutesy little phrases here and there, making for a poetic read. Other than that, the only other thing I can positively remark on was my like of the fonts that allowed for easy differentiation between characters. Alright, so, the negatives. First of all, this is a murder mystery of sorts. So it's very strange that the story is set up in such a way that the reader knows pretty much all along who the culprit is, instead of finding out at the very end. Most of the plot is laid out very early on, which eliminates a lot of the drama and suspense that a good murder mystery should, in my opinion, contain. I'm sure it was done to set the book apart from others in the same genre, and it accomplishes that, but sometimes, I feel like the typical murder mystery IS a murder mystery because of its layout, and can be set apart by a particularly fantastic plot, instead of switching the general big picture order of events. The nonlinearity makes for an interesting storytelling format, but at the same time, makes the story just...boring. Throughout the whole book, I just couldn't bring myself to care about anyone I was supposed to care about or sympathize with. I didn't like the ending, I didn't care about any of the events, the story's excitement dies out within the first few pages, when all is revealed. I just don't think the order of events served the story well in this particular instance.

Rating: 2/5

I got this book from...:BookMooch

Monday, July 5, 2010

Vote for Larry

Vote for Larry
written by Janet Tashjian

This odd book. I mean, really, that's the only word for it. The first book in the series, The Gospel According to Larry, has a really definitive and conclusive ending. As in, there is absolutely no room for more. And yet, somehow, Tashjian manages to somehow completely ignore the fact that she told us in the previous book that we would never hear from Larry again, and she brings him back. Just baffling. So, okay, we're left to read another book about Larry's adventures which were supposed to have ended, but that's ok. More books can be a good thing, right? I still want to know why she didn't just create a new character with a new story, but this is ok, too. For the book itself, you don't have to have read the first book to understand it, and not very much time and depth is given to recapping, which is always nice. It has that same quirky writing we saw in The Gospel According to Larry, same lovable characters with some new ones thrown into the mix, and the amazing footnotes are back as well. I think my biggest complaint is the convenience of all the events. Larry somehow gets back in touch with her. Somehow all these people collide in this perfect chain of unlikely events. Not buying it; it just comes off as ridiculous. It's kind of a cool read for anyone interested in the inner workings of the political process, and I will admit the West Wing geek in me adored that portion of the book, but it gets preachy at times, just like The Gospel did, and there's a bit of a romantic cliffhanger that I wasn't quite a fan of. There's really not that much else to say. I'm honestly still confused about why this book exists. It's an interesting novel, but somehow just feels...hollow.

Rating: 4/5

Also in the series:
The Gospel According to Larry

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

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Need Your Help!

Hi, readers!

I'm volunteering for this organization called The Harry Potter Alliance. We're currently in the running to win $250,000 to work on helping get rid of social inequality as well as give books to people who might not ordinarily be able to afford them. We're doing this all in the spirit of Harry Potter as an online fan community. It's a great organization, but one massive road block they've always had in the way is funding.

It's REALLY easy to vote, just takes a few seconds, and I'd really appreciate it if you could help out or even spread the word if it's a cause you believe in!

Just go to to vote.

I'll post some links with more information.

How to vote

FAQ (Where will the money go?)

Thanks, lovelies! I really appreciated!
Leave me a comment to let me know if you've voted :)

Magic's Child

Magic's Child
written by Justine Larbalestier

First of all, I really did like the title of the thrilling conclusion to the trilogy. I really did, as usual with this series by Larbalestier, enjoy the writing and interaction between the characters. I think the most interesting aspect of this comes up with a really frank and open discussion regarding the connection between religion and magic. I loved that Larbalestier was able to fairly show two differing opinions through her characters without sounding preachy or carrying a bias. One bone I do have to pick was the changing points of view. I am usually a fan of this if done well, but really, that bothered me a bit in this book. I don't think it fit in well with the rest of the novel. The final face off was fantastically well done, and really, I don't think I've ever read a book series that would translate so well to film. I hope one day this happens. All in all, it's a slow-paced read, but in a comfortable way, and the ending totally justifies all the preceding events.

Rating: 4/5

Also by Justine Larbalestier:

Magic or Madness (Book 1, Magic or Madness)
Magic Lessons (Book 2, Magic or Madness)


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

Monday, June 28, 2010


written by YA writing goddess Meg Cabot

Man, I missed Meg! I was so excited to see what would happen in the final installment of this series, especially with the semi-cliffhangery ending of the 2nd book. It wasn't one of my favorite series by Cabot, not by far, but it held my interest, and I did keep reading, and I'm glad I did so. Right off the bat, my first thoughts before reading were a hope and a prayer that Meg would include Christopher through the whole book, instead of just bringing him in for a satisfying romantic conclusion, and I was very glad to see this hope come true, as he is my favorite character of the series. I did feel that he acted strangely out of character at random times, but it was still nice to see more of him, and I liked how his and Em's relationship evolved and grew through the duration of the novel. Overall, it was a good novel, I was glad to see it be very high-paced. I wasn't really a fan of everyone randomly pairing up at the end of the book and I felt like it may have cheapened Em and Chris's relationship a little bit, but hey, it's Meg Cabot, can't read her books without expecting amazing mindless fluff in massive amounts, right? I think the whole big scandal and resolution with Stark could have had more...epicness, for lack of a better word, to it, but was still happy with the way the story was resolved.

Rating: 4/5

Also in the series:
Being Nikki

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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead

By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead
written by Julie Anne Peters

It is kind of difficult to review this one without touching on what happens at the end, so read at your own risk, I suppose?

I kind of have a thing for books with characters dealing with depression and other mental illnesses, since I have seen so many people go through similar situations. I am really glad to see the genre rising in popularity, written both well and not-so-well. It's amazing (and at the same time, sad) to see how an author can put themselves into that kind of mindset and come out with a great work of fiction. My point, I suppose, is that these books are what teens need, just as there's recently been an explosion of fiction featuring LGBTQ teens, teens have to know that there are others, even if they just exist in a book, dealing with similar issues, reassuring the readers that there is still hope. While Julie Anne Peters writes an incredibly touching story about a teenage girl struggling with extremely severe, debilitating depression, it's difficult to tell whether her story is one of hope. Reality, yes. Obviously, teens have dealt with and sometimes lost the battle to depression. Others have survived. So yes, the story's resolution is very realistic in its vagueness. And there's definitely the idea that not all books need to end happily. But the very first thing I wrote before even opening the book was the idea that I really wanted there to be a definite conclusion. I didn't want a cliffhanger ending, or an ambiguous ending. I wanted the girl to either die or survive. And I didn't get that. So I loved the narration. I loved the writing style. I wasn't a big fan of the romance novel interludes, but I still read through them. The ending just ticked me off though. I feel like the readers deserved to know what had happened.

Rating: 5/5 for writing, 3/5 for plot

Is this just me? Did anyone read this in a particular way, where they believed she definitively lived, or definitively died? I'd really like to hear other peoples' interpretations.

Also by Julie Anne Peters: Luna

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Be More Chill

currently [re]reading: Jinx by Meg Cabot

Be More Chill
written by Ned Vizzini

Oh, Ned Vizzini. I had such high hopes for this. It's Kind of a Funny Story blew me away, and I expected much of the same from this. Maybe it's because of high hopes that the story fell flat? Good things first, the story was narrated in a very honest, teenage boy-ish perspective. The main character was funny in a subtle, sarcastic way, and the book reinforced that age old idea...that boys and their minds are absolutely gross. =P Jeremy, the main character, is your typical awkward gawky teenager, who lives a pretty ordinary life, no big traumatic drama going on, so naturally, the point of obsession for his a girl. And in order to get that girl, Vizzini unfortunately falls back upon the old overdone in-crowd, fitting in story. He gives it a technological/supernatural twist with a device called the "squip", which can be inserted into human beings as a sort of guide to achieve coolness. From the point where Jeremy gives up his individuality, the story takes an immediate turn for the worse. It becomes the cliche predictable story that everyone else has already done to death. Everything about this story just feels annoyingly staged. It would have been interesting if the squip had been an actual dimensional character, but it's not, it's just a book about this clueless kid taking instructions from a machine. There are some interesting real-world parallels to be made here, but those parallels have been done before, there's nothing new here. Reading this book passed the time. The writing was good, I had nothing better to read, but it would definitely not be my immediate pick. I do have Teen Angst? Naaah... sitting on my bed right now, and I'm still really excited to read it, but I would pass on this book and read It's Kind of a Funny Story instead.

Rating: 2/5

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

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Stealing Heaven

Stealing Heaven
written by Elizabeth Scott

And Elizabeth Scott is back with yet another story featuring a teenage girl stuck with a dysfunctional family--in this case, one that makes its living through burglaries. It is a wonderful story of transformation, featuring an older teen, which I really like seeing as I'm getting older and starting to have a bit of difficulty identifying with younger teen characters. I found myself internally cringing for the main character throughout the whole novel, knowing there was no way this would end well--which just shows how well the story was written, making someone who steals an identifiable and likable character! As usual with E. Scott, there is realistic, honest dialogue. It's a simple story, typical with the author, but powerful and holds the reader's attention. The end twist to the story was completely shocking but at the same time, logical. I absolutely loved that the end held so much hope and promise, even for someone with such a twisted family situation. Great book!

Rating: 5/5

Also by Elizabeth Scott:
Living Dead Girl
Love You, Hate You, Miss You
Something, Maybe
The Unwritten Rule

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

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots
written by Abby McDonald

Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots is about self-proclaimed environmentalist, Jenna, who gets thrown into a summer living with her godmother in the middle of the woods. There, she learns a really great lesson about what environmentalism is really all about. The thing I really appreciate about this book (other than the really great timing of reading it, as I'm currently taking a short class about environmental literature) is that it's not overly preachy like it could have been. While some stereotypes are portrayed towards the beginning of the book, about typical, sign-carrying, protest-loving environmentalism, this image really takes a sharp turn by the end of the book, by which point, environmentalism is shown as a lifestyle change, and one that might not be the best to make for everyone (for instance, the negative economic impact of jobs being cut in favor of a more environmentally friendly lifestyle is shown, and this largely affects some of the characters' lives). It's a very open-minded book that emphasizes the need for balance. The reader is truly given all sides of the issue, and then told to make a decision. By the end of the novel, the message really is about getting out in nature and just having fun. Environmentalist issues aside, the writing is wonderful, with a very honest, down-to-earth, authentic narrator. I really liked the size of the cast of characters--it wasn't too narrow-focused, but there wasn't a character overload, where it's hard to keep track of who is who. While some of the relationship stuff wasn't as great as I thought it could be, with a severe lack of communication between Jenna and Reeve, as well as unnecessary secrecy, it was still a good read, and I really encourage people to use this book as an introduction to what true environmentalism is all about. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more by Abby McDonald!

Rating: 5/5

I got this book from...:LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Monday, May 10, 2010

Summer Sisters

Summer Sisters
by Judy Blume

This is a post written by someone who adores Judy Blume and has read all her children's and teen novels. Having read her other books, I was really expecting a novel with actual substance, rather than just fluff fiction. The strange twisty drama I got was nowhere near my expectations. It seemed so juvenile for such a prolific writer, and this was supposed to be an adult novel! It was filled with...oh, for lack of a better phrase, trashy drama. The fact that it was slow paced and pretty dull, teeming with pointless filler, did not make a stronger case for this novel. Not to mention, whoever wrote the summary on the back of the book pretty obviously never bothered to actually read the book, so details on the ending were revealed before I even opened the book, and some of the material from the back summary never even occurred. Just do yourself a favor and stick with her more substantial teen books.

Rating: 1/5

I got this book from...:What's On My Bookshelf

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
written by E. Lockhart

This was my second time reading this book. It's always a great read, but I've found it to be a pretty forgettable one as well, oddly. One of the bigger advantages this book has is its quirkyness: it's quirky and off-beat without being annoying, leading to an astoundingly funny and clever story told by a very authentic narrator. The one thing that stuck out to me the most through this read and the last was the astounding similarities between some of the characters in this book and their Harry Potter Marauder parallels, because that is just the default way I think. The book is a great combination of amazing writing and a fascinating subject: secret societies. Who hasn't been completely intrigued by the idea of those, right? I felt like the ending could have been sped up a little bit, to allow for more time dedicated to the ending, as I did feel the ending to be a last minute cramming of final details. I also thought it would be really neat to see what became of Frankie's brilliance in the future. I would have liked to see some resolution to the Frankie's love life, and I really did think she and Alpha's mischievous personalities would make a great match. I wonder if this book would lend itself to a sequel...=)

Rating: 4.5/5

Also recommend:
The Spell Book of Listen Taylor--by Jaclyn Moriarty

Also by E.Lockhart:

Ruby Oliver series:

I got this book from...:Paperbackswap

Friday, April 30, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
written by John Green and David Levithan

I don't know if I can properly express my love for this book. I'm a proud nerdfighter, so I've been looking forward to the day when John Green's new book would be coming out ever since I first heard about its existence. Upon reading it, I was kind of shocked. Sure, John Green's Will Grayson was a really great character...but David Levithan's will grayson, David Levithan, whose only other work I've read was a short story in Geektastic, made me want to jump into the book and give him a massive shower of hugs. And while John Green is responsible for the creation of Tiny Cooper, it's David Levithan's Tiny that really goes places. So anyways, one of the best things about these two authors is their authenticity. It's like they've grown up without having lost their teenage selves, and are fully able to capture those teenage emotions and write them into an emotionally moving story.
Give me another moment to fangirl over will grayson. I know many people have expressed an intense dislike of David's will's inability to use the shift key. But here's the thing: when depression strikes, it honestly feels like your universal shift key is missing, like nothing you can say deserves capitalization, or in a weird way, recognition and ownership. Your proper nouns are not important enough to be capitalized. So I found myself really relating to that lack of capitalization. Simply speaking, David Levithan broke my heart with will grayson, especially after bringing Tiny Cooper into will's story.
John's contribution to the story was okay, but I felt like it was the same John Green formula we've all seen already. Typical teenage guy, with his larger-than-life sidekick that takes him on a wild journey through the big wide wonderful world. The Love Interest, Jane, bored the heck out of me, and overall, though the writing was predictably spectacular, I was just disinterested in Will Grayson and his story.
I did not want this book to end. I felt like it incorporated every possible teenage high school problem that teens, real teens, have at some point had to deal with. I don't think it's possible to finish this book without wanting your own personal Tiny Cooper.
Anyone else desperately wishing for a soundtrack to this, with big, cheesy, over-the-top musical numbers? Youtube musical theater nerdfighters, get on that!

Rating: 5/5

Related reviews:
Paper Towns
Looking for Alaska
An Abundance of Katherines

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hello, World!

Hi everyone! I'm back!

Sooo, spring semester kicked my butt, needless to say. It's finally done as of yesterday, and I'm really glad to be [hopefully] back to blogging on a regular schedule. No guarantees, as I'm taking a "Maymester" at my school, where I have classes running through the 21st of May, but...oh, I really hope it lasts, I miss blogging soooo much!

So to kick off this rebirth of my blog, I'd actually like to go through an author event I attended last night! I went to my local library and got to see Lisa McMann, author of Wake, Fade, and Gone. I haven't read the third, but I did read the first two and LOVED them.

So let's see, I got to the library around 45 minutes before the event started. I returned a few books and checked some more out (including one by David Levithan!). I killed some time until the event, and then spent a good deal of time trying to find the location of this classroom where the event was going to be held.

I did find it eventually, it was being held in one of the museum's classrooms (our library is attached to the natural history & art museums). That was kind of cute, since there was an adorable picture of a dinosaur on the whiteboard.

We started the event as soon as Boothy (!!!) got there. We got the lecture about the sponsors of the event (PPG Industries) and they talked about some of the other authors they had hosted, which included Ned Vizzini, Hank & John (!!!!), Maureen Johnson, Avi, and David Levithan. With that being said, the librarian, Karen Brooks-Reese, introduced Lisa McMann!

Yesterday was a chilly day in Pittsburgh, so she opened the event talking about how she is from Arizona, where they are enjoying nice 95 degree weather. I don't think I could have been any more jealous at that moment. She also talked about being in Pittsburgh 20 years ago, and remembering our iconic bridges.

Lots of the questions she took the time to answer have been talked about on website (which kind of bothers me, as I feel it could be time better spent, but whatever, apparently that's just me :P) We had the obligatory "Why are you a writer/how does one get published/I am desperate to become a writer even though I probably haven't even written a book yet tell me how to do it because I'm not original enough to figure it out myself!1!!one!!" questions. (Am I being irrationally snarky? Probably. Sorry. This is one of my biggest pet peeves though, those writing questions. Google. Use it, people.)

I'm sorry if you're familiar with Lisa McMann and some of this information is repetitive, but here's what she took the time to talk about:
-She got the idea for Wake from a dream she had, about being in her husband's dream. This was one of the few times she wrote and later read her notes about her dream and thought it was a really interesting concept that could be expanded upon.
-Her original idea involved spying on people's dreams for revenge, but she felt stuck with that plot thread, so she then went to the idea of what if this was uncontrollable, what if the person traveling through dreams didn't even want to be doing so? And from there we got the trilogy we now know!
-She went through and summarized the books, which I'm not going to do, since you can find those at a countless number of places.
-She read an excerpt of Wake.

-She addressed questions, based on a system of which question received the largest applause. The clear favorite was a question about most embarrassing moments. For those, she began with some audience stories to sort of break the ice. We heard stories about accidentally sitting on a classmates head, walking around school with split pants (a story where a girl was ratted out by her father who was also attending, no less!), and a story about two people literally colliding into each other while they were reading in the halls. McMann then segued into her own story, which was about being in English class, sitting in the back corner, sneezing, and having a bit of a snot problem, resulting in the nickname "Gort Snort", as Gort was her last name at the time. She also told a story about wearing a snap button shirt and having that yanked open accidentally by a person she strongly disliked.

She then took the time to discuss her covers. Apparently, she had no say over the Wake cover, but loved it anyways. For Fade, she was given "consultation rights", where she'd basically be asked her opinion, and whatever it was, it'd essentially be ignored, but she'd still be asked. This resulted in a little bit of pink being removed from the cover before publication. For Gone, she was actually given the option of taking pictures of any chairs she found interesting. What is now the cover of that book is actually a photo she took on her cell phone!

She got a question about how books get turned into movies as well as the general publishing process, which, again, Google if you're interested.

She talked a little bit about her early promotion process, and how she'd reach out to fans of paranormal YA before Wake got published, on MySpace. She'd friend-request people she thought might enjoy her book and told them a little bit about it, which she says went a long way.

She also said that Janie & Cabel's story has been told, and she doesn't at the moment plan on telling more.

She was asked about what she was currently working on, which was a good transition to her reading from her two upcoming novels. She's going to have two books out in 2011, a YA Paranormal entitled Cryer's Cross about a girl's disappearance and its aftermath, out in February. The other novel is a dystopian fantasy, due out in fall 2011. This one is about a society where strength and intelligence are valued in teens, and artistic and imaginative personalities are punishable by death.

The final question asked about her process for coming up with character names. For Janie, she was just looking for an ordinary sounding name. For Cabel, a boy in her son's 3rd grade class inspired that unusual name. She also brought up the sort of "Cain and Abel" feel it has. Sometimes she just hits the baby name books for ideas, the name of 'Kendall' in Cryer's Cross was actually auctioned off, and some names are given with intended meanings in mind.

We then lined up to get our books signed (everyone who attended got a copy of Wake and Fade for free, which was kind of awesome, even though I had brought my own copy of Wake). I talked to a young lady from University of Pittsburgh, who had JUST read Lisa McMann's books and had found out about the event literally half an hour before it occurred! So awesome :D I got my books signed and got to briefly talk to her, and also got a picture taken with her:

Anddd then I basically ran out of there, because I was too much of a coward to actually talk to Boothy. Which is pretty sad, since I've been wanting to meet him since the good old Meg Cabot Book Club days. Ah well. All in all, a pretty wonderful experience :)

Alright lovely readers, that's where I end this one. I can't wait to share my thoughts on some awesome new books with you all :) [Hint: Um. I really truly appreciate the heck out of Tiny Cooper, and I can't wait to fangirl all about it!] Talk to you all tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Long Live the Queen

Long Live the Queen
written by Ellen Emerson White

Ellen Emerson White wastes no time getting back into the swing of things in Long Live the Queen, the third installment of her series about Meg Powers, the President's daughter. Meg's back and enchanting as ever--she's always stuck out for me as being a non-annoying main character. As a person stuck in her situation, she had the potential to be a totally arrogant, ungrateful character, but thanks to White's great characterization, she's far from any of that. I was glad that the predicament that befalls Meg in this book didn't span throughout the whole book, allowing room for some fallout. The panic Meg goes through is portrayed very well through fragmented, frantic writing. I was very glad to read a girl survival story, as it is usually a boy character that is put through something like this in fiction. Meg's subsequent interactions with her friends and family, particularly brother Neal, are heartbreaking, and I will admit I teared up. It's a very simple, methodical plot progression throughout the novel. I did feel like there was much left to be said at its conclusion, and I was a little disappointed by that. I know it's more realistic this way, but it is a book, and I think it is not entirely unreasonable of me to expect a full conclusion. Regardless, it is, once again, a great book from Ellen Emerson White, and I can't wait to read the final installment in the series!

Rating: 4.5/5

Also in this series:
The President's Daughter
White House Autumn

I got this book from...:Chatham University's Jennie King Mellon Library

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Full Tilt

Full Tilt
written by Neal Shusterman

This book starts off fast, wasting no time with detailed introductions. This does result in a bit of confusion at the beginning, but not to worry, it's all cleared up through the rest of the book. It's a real roller coaster ride (pun not really intended ;P) of a book, suspenseful and thrillingly spooky in all the right places. In terms of characters, some of them are really compelling, while others are left slightly flat. Unfortunately, one of those flat ones, in my opinion, was the main character, which made it a less interesting read. I was very glad to see two brothers so close in age as the main characters, I don't think we see enough brothers in contemporary YA fiction, and I'm glad someone out there is writing YA that is appealing to boys. Shusterman has quite the imagination, and he makes up in imagination what he sometimes lacks in the writing itself. The ending was a bit predictable and felt a bit like one of those "it was all a dream" scenarios, although it wasn't quite that drastically bad. Overall, cool premise, neat delivery, but it could have used just a little bit of tweaking here and there.

Rating: 4/5

Also by Neal Shusterman:

I got this book from...:BookMooch

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scarlett Fever

Scarlett Fever
written by Maureen Johnson

The Martins are back in full force in this sequel to Maureen Johnson's 2008 release, Suite Scarlett! Scarlett Martin and her spectacularly quirky family are up to their usual funny business, snarky and sharply witty as ever. You thought Maureen Johnson was done with characterization? You were very, very wrong indeed. Characters that seemed to be developed to death got even more complex in their new storylines. I was especially glad to see more of Marlene, even though I found her "big reveal" to be underwhelming, but she was the most fascinating of the Martin siblings to me. There was an even more expanded focus on each sibling, but at the same time, the sibling dynamic is retained, and each character could be looked at as simultaneously an individual unit and a group. It's a rather complex plot, but it all really just comes down to this one heartwarmingly crazy family in the end. Johnson has quite the talent of making sure that her descriptive passages are interesting, rather than falling into everyotherauthor's trap of boring overly-long descriptions. It's a very low-key, laid back, calm, even toned book, even during big events. I did have to question the introduction of Dog-Murray, as he did just seem to be that stereotypical cute doggy sidekick, not serving any larger purpose. One thing I do have to point out--following Maureen Johnson through twitter, her blog, etc, made this really a more dynamic, interesting read. Somehow, having known her a little better, it's almost as if you can hear this crazy stuff that's on page, coming directly out of her, nodding your head all the while going "oh yeah, that's Maureen." Such fun! Next book, please?

Rating: 5/5


Which do you like best?

Cause personally, I wish they'd gone with the latter. What do you think?

Also by Maureen Johnson:
Suite Scarlett


I got this book from...:Borders

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Booking Through Thursday

btt button

You may have noticed–the Winter Olympics are going on. Is that affecting your reading time? Have you read any Olympics-themed books? What do you think about the Olympics in general? Here’s your chance to discuss!

I am a proud Olympaholic. I love the games, I live for them for these few weeks. I have read Apolo Anton Ohno's autobiography, but I think that's the only Olympic themed book I have read. YES, they are impacting my reading time--I don't think I've read a single book since they've started =O

The Glass House People

The Glass House People
written by Kathryn Reiss

I don't know what it is about Reiss that I found so appealing when I was younger, but that appeal level has gone significantly down. I still do find some of her books to be positively fascinating, but really? She calls this a book? It begins slow and continues to be slow throughout the sequence of events. In comparison to Reiss's more supernatural books, this is a complete bore. It contains an obnoxiously simple and linear plot in which pretty much nothing happens. The entire book continues to basically be a broken record, with no real resolution, twists, anything much. It's unnecessarily melodramatic, and at multiple times I found myself uncontrollably laughing at the absurdity of it all, especially at what were supposed to be the more tense parts. The only well-developed truly round character in the story is Grandad, and he doesn't play much of a role at all until the unsatisfying end. This is not a book worth your time. I love her supernatural ones, but this really was nothing special.

Rating: 1.5/5

Also by Kathryn Reiss:
Time Windows
Pale Phoenix

I got this book from...:SwapTree

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

City of Ashes

City of Ashes
written by Cassandra Clare

I was not very satisfied by this volume of the Mortal Instruments series. I think it was summed up well by a friend of mine as just being a very weird book. The writing is unnecessarily melodramatic while the plot moves along quite slowly, except during the important parts, where it seems to zoom by too fast. For the most part, the characters are kept realistic, although they all do go through their brief moments of flatness. The cultural references are a fun addition, adding a bit of extra enjoyment throughout the book. Like I had said in my review of City of Bones, the love triangle is overdone, like so many other books. The additional drama with Simon's character seems ridiculously overdone to me, particularly the supposed vampire vs. werewolf drama, as if we needed more of that. The cliffhanger was crazy awesome, and I can't wait to read more, but by God, I hope we are done with the disgustingness that is Jace/Clary. I don't need to read about siblings who are madly in love with each other, I really don't. Anyways, looking forward to getting my hands on City of Glass, and, oh, one last thing. Dumbledore would so win in a fight versus Magnus, no questions asked!

Rating: 3.5/5

I got this book from...:Secret Santa!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ten Things I Hate About Me

Ten Things I Hate About Me
written by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Ten Things I Hate About Me has plenty of positive aspects which outweigh the few faults it does have. It's a little predictable with Timothy's subplot, as well as the overall big deal of Jamilah/Jamie's identity. It's a little preachy at times, but the moments of preachyness do fit in with the plot. The characters are pretty well-rounded, and I particularly enjoyed the characterization of Jamilah's father. It's conversational and relaxed storytelling, and while the writing's not the greatest, it's still a good book. I know it's one I and many other girls, Muslim and non, can relate to, maybe on different levels, but relate nonetheless. The environment Jamilah has been brought up in is captured really well and again, is something people can identify with. It is pretty unique to read a young adult book about Muslim cultural identity, and I applaud Abdel-Fattah for writing the way she does. I enjoyed this book, much more than Abdel-Fattah's other book, Does My Head Look Big in This? I thought this one was more down-to-earth and relatable.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book from...:Library book sale

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Vegan Virgin Valentine

Vegan Virgin Valentine
written by Carolyn Mackler

Okay, so here's the deal about Vegan Virgin Valentine. It's a good story, I won't deny it. It has interesting quirky characters and a good set-up with V being Mara's niece and all. The writing's pretty good as well. But here's what it's lacking--interest. Nothing much happens. It's all flatlined, really. The story plays a little too deeply into high school stereotypes, and Mara's just a boring character, reminding me of straight-A overachieving little Rory Gilmore. It's a cliche story, but it's still pretty cute. I was just a little saddened to see everything work itself out so conveniently, with no big climax or anything. The plot moves slowly, and it does come to a point where everything slowly, lazily builds up, but there's no explosion of a moment. It's as cool and laid-back at the ending as it is through the rest of the book. Not a bad story, just could have used a bit of life and energy.

Rating: 3.5/5

I got this book from...:Swaptree

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Westing Game

The Westing Game
written by Ellen Raskin

What can I say? I love this book. I love the tone, I love the characters, I love the plot, I love the plot twists. If there is a perfect book in this world, this is it. It's quirky in its humor, catchy in its suspense, drawing the reader right in and refusing to release them. There's nothing typical about this unique Newbery winner. The Westing Game takes the phrase 'diverse characters' to a whole new level. The mystery itself is so absorbing, the clues are there all along, but they're hidden so well and laid out so subtly within the text, and you're so immersed in the story that you, along with the other characters, suspect everyone. The format is great, too, short, snappy sections that are the perfect length. Everything comes together for a satisfying resolution, but the novel and its contents never leave your thoughts.

Rating: 5/5

I got this book from...:Chatham University's Jennie King Mellon Library

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Princess Academy

Princess Academy
written by Shannon Hale

While sometimes wordy, this book has a really catchy plot that is sure to grab and keep the reader's attention. The characters are fascinating dimensional people that the readers will really come to care about very early on in the storytelling. The story may feel predictable at times, and then all of a sudden it turns around and baffles the reader with astounding twists. It's a Newbery Honor winner, which, for kids, makes for some boring books, but this is a genuinely likable and interesting read, despite Newbery status. The title may involve the word 'princess', but it really isn't an overly girly book at all. It's a surprisingly original work of fantasy, although the storytelling has its low-tempered dull points. The end result of the princess picking is a little rushed, but adorable all the same. The romance throughout the book is subtle but sweet all the same, feeling like a marvelous new beginning rather than an ending.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book from...:Chatham University's Jennie King Mellon Library

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Everything on a Waffle

Everything on a Waffle
written by Polly Horvath

Everything on a Waffle is yet another Newbery Honor winning parental sob story. It's a little different than the others, but the main idea still remains--an 11 year old main character with parents who are not currently in the picture. I have read three Newbery books in the past few weeks, and all three follow the exact same plot. What on earth? It's sad the first time to see a young character without parents, but by now, it's getting infuriating. Anyways, it's a pretty dull book, nothing much happens, and like The Higher Power of Lucky, it's just a long senseless ramble in book format. Again, it doesn't seem like kids of the target age group would enjoy this book very much. The one really cool thing about this book, though, is that it has recipes in each chapter. The ending was satisfying, without giving away too much, the child's dreams are, for once, indulged, although I do worry that it may give false hope to children who have lost someone close to them?

Rating: 1.5/5

I got this book from...:Chatham University's Jennie King Mellon Library