Saturday, April 30, 2011


Written by Maggie Stiefvater

I've had this book on my to-read list since it first came out with rave reviews. I never really picked up on the fact that it was about (were)wolves. That right there should have been my first hint of distaste. Everything in the YA literary world now seems to be compared to Twilight, which did seem to relaunch the "paranormal romance" genre, and I hate to go back to that old trope, but let me just say that while the writing was arguably better than Stephenie Meyer's, Maggie Stiefvater's Grace and Sam made Bella and Edward's relationship seem safe. Other reviewers have pointed out that the writing was overly descriptive, and I do agree with them on that point. The story took a very long time to get to a point (this seems to be a Thing nowadays. Why are so many authors gravitating towards writing trilogies and unnecessarily stretching stories thin?) and once it did, the explanations were lacking. Like I'd mentioned, the romance was creepy. We've gone from Edward Cullen watching a girl sleep, to Sam Roth watching a girl change, without her knowledge of his presence. Classy. Way to give the YA genre a bad name. There is a line between a healthy relationship and obsession, and this line was crossed. There's not an interesting cast of supporting characters to hold up the over-romanticized wolfboy adventures either, leaving the entire book rather flat. I was not impressed and will be skipping the sequels.

Rating: 1/5

I got this book from...:BookLending

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Ghosts of Ashbury High

The Ghosts of Ashbury High
written by Jaclyn Moriarty

I had read and enjoyed Jaclyn Moriarty's The Year of Secret Assignments many years ago, and, since then, had also read all of her other books. In preparation for The Ghosts of Ashbury High, I decided to reread her previous books, all set in Ashbury High. The thing you have to love about Moriarty's books is her ability to interweave plots but still have each story definitely hold its own. Characters from one story will unexpectedly cameo (or even play a large role) in the next. Bindy Mackenzie, annoying transcriber from The Year of Secret Assignments suddenly has her own books, The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie. This book goes back to featuring some of our favorite characters from The Year of Secret Assignments, but throws two new characters in the mix, Amelia and Riley. Amelia and Riley have a strange air of mystery around them, throwing the school into mass speculation and rumors of ghosts in their midst. This is their senior year at Ashbury High, and as such, is also the final book in the Ashbury High series. So I was expecting a grand finale, and I have to say, I was underwhelmed. It's not that The Ghosts of Ashbury High was a bad's just...having read Moriarty's other books, I know she is capable of better writing and better storytelling. Ending the (mostly) realistic series with a ghost story seemed oddly out of place, as was the introduction of these strange new characters we had never seen before. I think it would have been neat to culminate the series by bringing all of the old characters together, without necessarily having this strange ghost plotline. At the very least, the ghost plot should have taken a background role rather than being the main story. The book took a while to get anywhere, and it did eventually pick up speed, but the 'gothic literature' needed to go. Toby's journal entries, in particular, rubbed me the wrong way. They were essential to the story, but I couldn't bring myself to care in the slightest, which saddened me, as Toby is a character with very much potential. There were themes in this book that could have been explored more, such as the powerful idea of clinging to childhood, which I would have loved to see more of. The novel wraps up in an explosive finale, and part of me wishes that Part 4 of 4 would have been stretched out to be the entirety of the novel. The ghost storyline actually gains speed and development, and turns into a legitimate plot. I just wish that had been done sooner or not at all. A mess of a review for a great book that just could have been organized better to bring us the finale we should have had.

Rating: 4/5

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential

Sweet Valley Confidential
written by Francine Pascal

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by Francine Pascal

So. Hah. Yeah, I read it. I grew up reading all the Sweet Valley books, so I've actually been waiting to see the girls again for a while. I expected a hilariously bad return, and, well, the badness exceeded expectations. I'm probably in the minority about this, but I enjoyed the SVU books more than the others, and found the SVH books to be horribly dry. So I was disappointed that this mostly followed SVH canon (which makes very little sense. I guess I should be relieved that moments from SVU were mentioned to begin with, but seriously, she must be extremely ashamed of that series or something since plotwise it held almost no relevance). The pairings in this book were absurd, as were the characters Pascal chose to focus on. While I'm glad the main story was between Jess and Liz, I did not like the huge role Todd played (never was a fan of his. What a bore). I enjoyed seeing a lot of Bruce, but awesome characters like Lila and Winston got very little (and very disappointing) screen time, and people like Billie and Tom were nowhere to be seen. I am very glad with the ending Liz receives, but I think this book would have been much more enjoyable if Francine Pascal had taken it from a reminiscent point of view, rather than an attempt to modernize and catch up with the twins later in life. The epilogue, stretched out, would have made a much better book. The constant flashbacks were annoying, as were the accompanying changes in word tense. Everyone is divorced and/or cheating/being cheated on. Actual things that happen in people's normal ordinarily late 20s lives? Nope. Just lots and lots of cheating. This book might as well be a treatise on marital infidelity. Everyone is extremely emotionally stunted. The story picks up a little bit as it progresses, and I would argue that the unintentional star in terms of ~actual character development~ would be Bruce Patman. I just think this should have been more thought out. You'd think Pascal has had more than enough time to think about manufacturing a softhearted reunion novel, but instead we get this pathetic piece of writing that couldn't have taken many brain cells to come up with. She can do better than this. Or at least, her ghostwriters can.

Rating: 2/5

I got this book from...:Amazon