Friday, September 24, 2010
"Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.
Well, sort of.
Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.
It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding--and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.
As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift."
Characters: I wasn't expecting to love this book as much as I did. I completely understood Aura and found her to be an awesome heroine. Logan was annoying but I understood why Aura stayed with him. I am definitely Team Zachary in all things. I love the chemistry Aura and he had. He's a lot more understanding and masculine than Logan. And that accent? Whoa boy. The side characters didn't do much for me, but I loved the leads all the same. 4 and a half flowers.
Writing: You can tell Smith-Ready has written several novels before. Her writing is skilled and graceful. I definitely have to read more of her work. 4 and a half flowers.
Plot: I loved that everyone knew about the ghosts thanks to the Shift. It was very refreshing to the majority of paranormal YA novels I've read recently where the fantasy world is under wraps. There wasn't a lot of meat to this story, which I hope the next book will provide. It's still worth the wait. 4 flowers.
End: Not surprising at all, but the last sentence was very powerful. 4 flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: I wish that the description had made it more obvious that EVERYONE after the Shift could see ghosts. 3 flowers.
Cover: Gorgeous. 4 and a half flowers.
Overall: An excellent YA paranormal novel. I'm eager for the next book. 4 and a half flowers.
"Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.
But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?"
Characters: I adored Penelope. She's courageous, resourceful, determined, clever and compassionate. Everything you need to nanny for kids who think they're wolves. I loved the letters she would write to her former headmistress. I was cheering for Penelope the entire way. It's hard to see the kids as more than a collective whole, but I did get to see a bit of their distinctive personality. As for Penelope's employers, they were surprisingly well developed for a kid's book. 5 flowers.
Writing: The writing really reminded me of The Series of Unfortunate Events only more cheerful. Unfortunate Events was one of my favourite series when I was younger, so it was great to read a familiar writing style! 5 flowers.
Plot: Very predictable, but it was still fun seeing the kids try and learn to behave. There was one point that did actually surprise me. 4 flowers.
End: Superb! I can't wait for the next book. 4 and a half flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: Surprisingly excellent. It really got the voice of the novel down. 4 and a half flowers.
Cover: I don't usually like illustrated covers, but I love this one. I'm so glad I own this book. 5 flowers.
Overall: A very clever kids book that will appeal to middle grade kids as well as adults. I highly recommend it if your kids liked A Series of Unfortunate Events. 4 and a half flowers.
"Do you want to be popular?
Everyone wants to be popular - or at least, Stephanie Landry does. Steph's been the least popular girl in her class since a certain cherry Super Big Gulp catastrophe five years earlier.
Does being popular matter?
It matters very much - to Steph. That's why this year, she has a plan to get in with the It Crowd in no time flat. She's got a secret weapon: an old book called - what else? - How to Be Popular.
What does it take to be popular?
All Steph has to do is follow the instructions in The Book, and soon she'll be partying with the It Crowd (including school quarterback Mark Finley) instead of sitting on The Hill Saturday nights, stargazing with her nerdy best pal Becca, and even nerdier Jason (now kind of hot, but still), whose passion for astronomy Steph once shared.
Who needs red dwarves when you're invited to the hottest parties in town?
But don't forget the most important thing about popularity!
It's easy to become popular. What isn't so easy? Staying that way."
Characters: Steph is the kind of girl who usually annoys me, but maybe the narrator of the audio book did something to me because I was rather fond of her. I was cheering her on and shaking my head when she did something stupid. Becca became slightly obnoxious even though she was adorable. Jason's story arch was obvious from the start, but I liked his dialogue. Not amazing characters, but likable enough for me to enjoy the novel. 4 and a half flowers.
Writing: This is where Cabot has always prevailed for me. I love her strong narrative voice. Her back story is genuinely funny and her internal monologues always make me sympathize for the character. Where other aspects of her novels can be flat, her writing always makes me enjoy what I'm reading. 4 and a half flowers.
Plot: The story arch is incredibly predictable in most aspects, but there was one point that actually surprised me. Despite the predictability, I still enjoyed this book. 3 and a half flowers.
End: Completely adorable. I approve. 3 and a half flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: It's better than a lot of the other descriptions I see. 4 and a half flowers.
Cover: Pretty average. 3 flowers.
Overall: A fluffy read that was nice to listen to while I did math homework and completed some blogging. Not Cabot's strongest, but still fun to read. 3 and a half flowers.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I know a lot of bloggers who do posts lightly veering outside of the book world involving movies and TV shows, but I haven't done anything like that. Well, it's time to change that!
Doctor Who is a big deal with my friends, online and IRL. They all absolutely adore it. I've been itching to watch it for years but I've never gotten around to it. Until I met my fan fiction soul sister who completely adores the series and I decided it was finally time to watch the series.If you don't know what Doctor Who is, consult Wikipedia.
I had heard it was absolute genius, but I still wasn't ready to become entirely obsessed.
I went through the episodes pretty quickly because I am officially TOTALLY ADDICTED.
This series is a big English staple, and it adds a whole new level of British awesome. I know most of my friends are David Tennant fangirls and the adults I know love Tom Baker, but Christoper Eccleston didn't reek of suck. The broody tone to the Doctor that's evident in episodes like Dalek make me hungry for the "angst master" Tennant deemed by my fanfiction soul mate. Rose is a complete badass, even if I want to punch her mother in the face all the time. The plot lines can be ridiculously campy and the acting hilariously bad, but this is what Doctor Who is all about! The downs make the ups even more amazing. Some of the episodes are total genius. Father's Day made me cry. The finale made me tear up slightly and sigh over the amazing romance between Rose and the Doctor. I love the character chemistry and the questions the series brings up between good vs. evil and equality. Just when I was beginning to think that the season was getting in a dull slump, they'd make me reassess my fading hopes.I think somewhere at the end of the finale I yelled "GENIUS" leading to my dad asking me what was wrong. I wouldn't go as far as to say I'm a Whovian just yet, but I'm certainly getting there.
There were certainly a lot of flaws and I'm sure Christopher Eccleston won't be my favourite doctor, but I am more than a little excited for David Tennant's season and the tears that I'm sure the season two finale will bring!
The Doctor Dances: Brilliant story line and characterization, not to mention creepy.
Father's Day: You have time travel problems AND tear jerker plot.
The Parting of Ways: It's the finale, you can't blame me.
What Should Be My Favourite:
Dalek: You have a great idea and exceptional execution, but the tension didn't ring true for me. Superb episode, but not my favourite.
The Long Game: I was bored out of my mind. I can't explain why, but the plot seemed completely lackluster.
The Unquiet Dead: I was excited over having Charles Dickens in an episode, but this one didn't emotionally resonant like I wish it had.
What Should Have Been My Least Favourite:
Aliens of London and World War Three: Yes, it's awful. Yes, it's campy. Yes, the creatures didn't make me cower in fear so much as made me want to cuddle them. But you know what? I loved every moment of this two-parter. It's the worst of the worst, but it still got my attention. Also you have the first real moment of romantic realization between Rose and the Doctor! I had to giggle over this one.
-If you want to know more about Doctor Who from an expert, check out this video from Charlieissocoolike. It explains everything and this boy is kind of adorable.
-If you want to check out my stream of consciousness opinions of each episode, follow #mydoctorwho on twitter. I'll be tweeting over there! It mostly consists of me complaining and shrieking WHAT, but I'm still shamelessly promoting.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Book 42 of '10 This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
"Buried in info? Cross-eyed over technology? From the bottom of a pile of paper and discs, books, e-books, and scattered thumb drives comes a cry of hope: Make way for the librarians! They want to help. They're not selling a thing. And librarians know best how to beat a path through the googolplex sources of information available to us, writes Marilyn Johnson, whose previous book, The Dead Beat, breathed merry life into the obituary-writing profession.
This Book Is Overdue! is a romp through the ranks of information professionals and a revelation for readers burned out on the clichÉs and stereotyping of librarians. Blunt and obscenely funny bloggers spill their stories in these pages, as do a tattooed, hard-partying children's librarian; a fresh-scrubbed Catholic couple who teach missionaries to use computers; a blue-haired radical who uses her smartphone to help guide street protestors; a plethora of voluptuous avatars and cybrarians; the quiet, law-abiding librarians gagged by the FBI; and a boxing archivist. These are just a few of the visionaries Johnson captures here, pragmatic idealists who fuse the tools of the digital age with their love for the written word and the enduring values of free speech, open access, and scout-badge-quality assistance to anyone in need.
Those who predicted the death of libraries forgot to consider that in the automated maze of contemporary life, none of us—neither the experts nor the hopelessly baffled—can get along without human help. And not just any help—we need librarians, who won't charge us by the question or roll their eyes, no matter what we ask. Who are they? What do they know? And how quickly can they save us from being buried by the digital age?"
Another non fiction book forces me to REJECT the fiction format.
Here we go!
I'm not sure if this is universally known, but I want to be a YA librarian. I'm on the teen committee for my library and have made so many amazing, inspiring librarians that I can't help but want to be them. Organizing information and supporting your community are two very important things to me. When my mom gave me this book from the library, I am not exaggerating when I say that I did a little dance.
This book is staunchly pro-librarian, which is how it should be. It makes sensible points about how we're going to need librarians for a lot longer. There are several saddening and inspiring stories it's hard not to sympathize with. I found myself rooting for these librarians and even the author on her journey. It was great learning about the cyber universe of librarians. Marilyn devoted an entire chapter to Second Life, which I found fascinating. I didn't know there were so many librarians blogs, and I now try to follow more of them.
My favourite part was reading about librarians advocate for privacy and liberty. It made me see my favourite mentors as heroes too, who have to combat book banning as well as so many other social issues. When I closed the book, I wanted nothing more than to be able to spend all my days at the library 24/7!
Overall: Revealing and well written, with a story to match. Best non fiction book I've read in a while. 5 flowers.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
"Is there such thing as a Western Taoist? Benjamin Hoff says there is, and this Taoist's favorite food is honey. Through brilliant and witty dialogue with the beloved Pooh-bear and his companions, the author of this smash bestseller explains with ease and aplomb that rather than being a distant and mysterious concept, Taoism is as near and practical to us as our morning breakfast bowl. Romp through the enchanting world of Winnie-the-Pooh while soaking up invaluable lessons on simplicity and natural living."
Since this is non fiction, I'm going to skip the traditional review structure. Let us carry on.
I'm writing a book right now, and The Tao of Pooh gave me a one afternoon epiphany over my protagonist. It enlightened me about her thought process and the way she lived, and got me back in a groove of creative thought I hadn't been in for a long time.
This book is cute and it makes some excellent points. I love the comparisons between Winnie the Pooh and Taoism, involving direct quotes and "conversations" between Pooh and the author. It expanded my thoughts on religion. I found myself nodding my head thinking "oh my god yes!" several times while reading. This book went by really fast and I loved every moment of it.
My one problem might be how anti-intellectual this book is. I think losing your thoughts to mediation and succumbing to spontaneity is great, but I also think using your brain does in fact have a place. I was less open to accepting the points in this book because of the clear rage toward intellectuals and that mentality.
Dust Jacket Description: Simple and true. 4 flowers.
Cover: This is an older version. I really like this cover and I love my mom's worn copy! 4 flowers.
Overall: A great book if you want something that will relax you but we let you use your brain. This book helped guide my Muse, and I'm thankful for it! 4 flowers.
"Sookie Stackhouse is a cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana, but she keeps to herself and doesn't date much because of her "disability" to read minds. When she meets Bill, Sookie can't hear a word he's thinking. He's the type of guy she's waited for all of her life, but he has a disability, too--he's a vampire with a bad reputation. When one of Sookie's coworkers is killed, she fears she's next."
Characters: This book TOTALLY surprised me. Even though I got it from a friend I completely trust for book recommendations, I was still skeptical that the writing wasn't going to be purple prose. Lucky for me, Sookie Stackhouse is no Bella. This chick is the very definition of a bad ass. She's sassy, stubborn and not afraid to take care of herself. She's just my kind of heroine. Sookie's brother is clearly going to be comic relief in future books. He's hopelessly pathetic and adorable. As for Bill, I have a feeling I'm going to be on Team Eric, but I was still rooting for Sookie to be with him and do the nasty. Harris created surprisingly good characters. 4 and a half flowers.
Writing: The dialogue is funny, the writing descriptive and while occasionally gag worthy, makes up for it with excellent fluff. 4 flowers.
Plot: I knew who the murderer was just before Harris revealed them, but I still found the journey satisfying. Seeing a very sane relationship arch between Bill and Sookie undid a fraction of the emotional trauma I've endured thanks to Twilight. 4 and a half flowers.
End: Cute, promising and makes me want more. 4 and a half flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: Straight forward but fitting. 4 flowers.
Cover: Cheap and cliche. Despite this, I think want to get the entire collection from used bookstores. 3 flowers.
Overall: Quality paranormal fluff. This is going to be my guilty pleasure for a long time. 4 and a half flowers.
"Fanboy has never had it good, but lately his sophomore year is turning out to be its own special hell. The bullies have made him their favorite target, his best (and only) friend seems headed for the dark side (sports and popularity), and his pregnant mother and the step-fascist are eagerly awaiting the birth of the alien life form known as Fanboy’s new little brother or sister.
Fanboy, though, has a secret: a graphic novel he’s been working on without telling anyone, a graphic novel that he is convinced will lead to publication, fame, and—most important of all—a way out of the crappy little town he lives in and all the people that make it hell for him.
When Fanboy meets Kyra, a.k.a. Goth Girl, he finds an outrageous, cynical girl who shares his love of comics as well as his hatred for jocks and bullies. Fanboy can’t resist someone who actually seems to understand him, and soon he finds himself willing to heed her advice—to ignore or crush anyone who stands in his way."
Characters: Fanboy totally reminded me of the majority of male protagonists I've read in YA fiction. He's insecure, outrageously nerdy and has too many hormones than he knows what to do with. I found his anger at the world very fitting. I get so frustrated when YA protagonists are always above anger. Forgiveness is great, but it's not an immediate process. Goth Girl made me want to run to get the sequel to this book immediately. She was the standard Manic Pixie Dream Girl in a lot of senses, but her darker anger made me more intrigued. All the characters seemed a little contrived, but Lyga's writing made up for it. 4 flowers.
Writing: I love how Lyga's writing poses great questions and cuts the bull simultaneously. 5 flowers.
Plot: There were certain points where I thought the story was going to take me in a different direction than it did. Regardless of my frustration with that, I still want to read the sequel. 4 flowers.
End: Rather anti climatic and intriguing. I NEED MORE. 4 flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: Just as misleading as the beginning of the book. 3 and a half flowers.
Cover: Vague but relevant to the book, and that makes me like it. 4 flowers.
Overall: Well written, but the characters were average. I definitely liked Hero Type better. 4 flowers.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Read This Week:
Everything Is Going To Be Great by Rachel Shukert
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Heist Society by Ally Carter
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
To Read This Week:
Getting the Pretty Back by Molly Ringwald
What are you reading?
Saturday, September 11, 2010
""It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."
So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy.
What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead.
Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read."
Since I've already read Pride and Prejudice and I only have a few thoughts on this rendition, we're going to ditch the regular format. Onward!
I am very fond of Austen, as you can tell from my Emma review. I think she's brilliant. Pride and Prejudice gives me the warm and fuzzies. When I heard about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I thought it was going to be a fun zombie adventure. And I suppose it was. It just wasn't as much fun as I had hoped.
It's really just semi rewritten Austen. Lots of paragraphs are word for word Austen with a few more zombie mentions, while a rare few are entirely different. The writing ended up being clunky. There wasn't even enough zombie action to really entice me. Only a few people who weren't originally were zombiefied. Some of the fight scenes weren't explained in great detail. This saddened me immensely. However, it was nice to have an excuse to reread Pride and Prejudice and still call it a new book on my read list, and the refusal of Darcy's proposal was a lot awesomer when Lizzy was beating him up. The illustrations are excellent too.
Overall, it's just a cheap publishing ploy. But if you love Austen and want to reread her with a paranormal twist, go for this one! 2 flowers.
Friday, September 10, 2010
"Liza never knew that falling in love could be so wonderful . . . and so confusing.
"'Liza,' Mom said, looking into my eyes, 'I want you to tell me the truth, not because I want to pry, but because I have to know. This could get very unpleasant . . . Now--have you and Annie--done any more than the usual experimenting . . . '
'No, Mom,' I said, trying to look back at her calmly. I'm not proud of it, I make no excuses--I lied to her.'"
Characters: I love Liza and Annie. I love their relationship. I might go far as to say this is the best example of an actual teen relationship I've ever read. Liza is an unsure girl with the dream of being an architect. Annie is wild and carefree. The progression of their relationship is natural. Some of my favourite scenes consisted of the two meeting at the museum Liza regularly visits. They're sweet and loving. Their friendship soon evolves into dating, which brings a lot of heavy complications. Liza's English teacher made me want to be best friends with her. As for the antagonist, she may be rather two dimensional at points, but sometimes as a reader I need a book where I can hate a villain without another thought. 4 and a half flowers.
Writing: I loved the writing style. It showed the relationship between Liza and Annie so well. One of the things that really stuck out for me was how the sex was explained. Liza and Annie fumbled through everything, they learned and they laughed over it. That scene even tops Forever by Judy Blume as my favourite realistic depiction of sex. Fluid and poignant and gorgeous. 4 and a half flowers.
Plot: The majority of the plot did date this book, including the main conflict at the beginning and the very obvious cliches, but everything still remained emotionally organic. I find Judy Blume more dated, anyways, and who doesn't love her? 3 and a half flowers.
End: I teared up. This love story is by far one of my favourites. 5 flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: I took the original dust jacket description because the one for this newly released cover reveals nothing about the book. It's a classic 80s style description. Not very helpful. 3 flowers.
Cover: This illustrates this relationship so well that I'm thinking of buying it. 5 flowers.
Overall: This is reread worthy. If you like LGBTQ YA fiction and are looking for some more lesbian focused reads, go for this classic. It's worth it. 5 flowers.
"Deep inside the great Oak lies a dying faery realm, bursting with secrets instead of magic. Long ago the faeries mysteriously lost their magic. Robbed of their powers, they have become selfish and dull-witted. Now their numbers are dwindling and their very survival is at stake.
Only one young faery—Knife—is determined to find out where her people's magic has gone and try to get it back. Unlike her sisters, Knife is fierce and independent. She's not afraid of anything—not the vicious crows, the strict Faery Queen, or the fascinating humans living nearby. But when Knife disobeys the Faery Queen and befriends a human named Paul, her quest becomes more dangerous than she realizes. Can Knife trust Paul to help, or has she brought the faeries even closer to the brink of destruction?"
Characters: I was really fond of Knife. She's daring and fierce-sometimes to the point of being stupid- not to mention kind and curious. She's a very good heroine for a MG book. Paul was certainly more interesting than the average love interest. His anger over his disability is realistic and understandable. Everyone was honest and likable enough to pull me into the plot.The Faery Queen didn't creep me out as much as she angered me, but not all faery queens can be Holly Black's Unseelie court ruler. 4 and a half flowers.
Writing: Elegant in an other world way and excellent at being gripping. 4 and a half flowers.
Plot: Surprising at parts, for good or bad I can't be certain. At certain parts Anderson's story turns seemed false and too easy for her as the writer. No matter, it certainly engrossed me and made me care for the characters. 4 flowers.
End: Strange in comparison to the climax but predictable. I definitely look forward to the companion novel. 3 and a half flowers.
Cover: Absolutely gorgeous. I love how the girl looks on this cover. 5 flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: It gives the main plot without giving too much away. 4 flowers.
Overall: A great middle grade novel that makes me excited to read Anderson's other books. There's room for improvement, and I'm eager to see it. 3 and a half flowers.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
"One of the true classics of American literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has stirred the imagination of young and old alike for over four generations. Originally published in 1900, it was the first truly American fairy tale, as Baum crafted a wonderful out of such familiar items as a cornfield scarecrow, a mechanical woodman, and a humbug wizard who used old-fashioned hokum to express that universal theme, "There's no place like home."
I ought to note that I couldn't find a decent sized picture of the edition cover I read, or the correct dust jacket description. Amazon seems to work for the time being.
Characters: Wizard of Oz really disappointed me. Dorothy was more subservient and dull then she was adorably innocent and positive. As for Dorothy's sidekicks, it was interesting to see other sides to them beyond the simplified versions of their personalities depicted in the movie. The Wizard and the Wicked Witch of the West were equally obnoxious and annoying. A sad difference from the movie. 2 and a half flowers.
Writing: Simplistic and imaginative, which are two things that are perfect for a childrens' book. 4 flowers.
Plot: This was almost like two parts, the first being when they get to the Wizard and he insists that they have to kill off the Witch and the second being when they finally kill her. The situation that Dorothy and her gang was in when she killed the witch was rather anti-climatic and made me very annoyed with Dorothy. 3 flowers.
End: We all know this story, but I certainly liked the end more here than in the movie. 4 flowers.
Overall: Quick, but rather disappointing in comparison to the movie. I'm glad I read it to see the differences though. 3 flowers.
"When Bethany -- self-proclaimed geek girl -- makes the varsity cheerleading squad, she realizes that there's one thing worse than blending in with the lockers: getting noticed. She always felt comfortable as part of the nerd herd, but being a member of the most scrutinized group in her school is weighing her down like a ton of textbooks. Even her Varsity Cheerleading Guide can't answer the really tough questions, like: How do you maintain some semblance of dignity while wearing an insanely short skirt? What do you do when the head cheerleader spills her beer on you at your first in-crowd party? And how do you know if your crush likes you for your mind...or your pom-poms?
One thing's for sure: It's going to take more than brains for this girl genius to cheer her way to the top of the pyramid."
Characters: The characters in this book were pretty average for chick lit. Bethany's love interest was the usual jock with a heart of gold and Bethany herself didn't seem particularly likable in anyway. I liked how Bethany's social group interacted, since I am also a "self proclaimed nerd". Bethany's close guy friend, whose name I forget, felt surprisingly realistic and lovable. Besides him, everyone seemed pretty flat, but the exciting romance between Bethany and her love interest made me let that slide. 3 and a half flowers.
Writing: Fun and light. I couldn't tell that it was written by two people. 4 flowers.
Plot: Surprising, since this cheerleading team doesn't do competing. My favourite part was the romance, but it was nice to see non-competitive cheerleading in a YA book. 4 flowers.
End: Sweet, predictable and just what I needed. 4 and a half flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: Actually relevant and intriguing! 4 and a half flowers.
Cover: It's really fun! I have an issue with cut off girl parts in covers, but it is adorable. 4 flowers.
Overall: It what I was expecting, and that was a good thing for my mood. 4 flowers.
The lovely April of Good Books and Wine is hosted a spontaneous review a-thon this evening. I have so many reviews to write, that I've decided to join!
My goal to get five more reviews done. I have two hours, so I'll have to zoom through them! Come join, and I'll pass you cookies on twitter.
"It's a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths--for good and evil--of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?"
So, this being an anthology that I feel obliged to do an overall review for, let's skip the usual review structure this time. Shall we?
Zombies vs. Unicorns was exactly what I expected. It was an enjoyable anthology with some awesome high points and some disappointing low ones, but with no truly badly crafted stories. For instance, Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson was one of the first stories, and became my top favourite zombie story in the book because of its hilarity, beautiful writing and discerning ending. But Bougainvillea by Carrie Ryan-an author whose debut novel I enjoyed immensely-fell short for me. The Care and Feeding of Your Killer Baby Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund made me giddy with happiness at such a well plotted story. Cassandra Clare's story irritated me beyond belief. The individual story caliber kept going like that, the amazing, mediocre, and the obnoxious, all scrambled around through out the entirety of the book. This pacing left me always satisfied by the time I put the book down for the night.
My only true complaint was how abrasive and abrupt I found Justine and Holly's intros. Nothing was as funny or factual as I had been expecting from these two awesome writers. Beyond that, I found Z vs. U a solid YA anthology. One thing that I became pleasantly surprised by was how many gay characters were in the short stories. To add to the awesome, their sexual orientation was never a big deal. This was a nice summer read for me.
Overall: If you want a fun anthology, go for this one. 4 flowers.
Extras: To see a MUCH BETTER review that I pretty much ripped off, check out this review of Z vs. U from one of my favourite people.
Friday, September 3, 2010
""Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray makes a Faustian bargain to sell his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Under the influence of Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, where he is able to indulge his desires while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only Dorian's picture bears the traces of his decadence."
I just want to note that this isn't the edition I read, but I couldn't find the one that I actually read. So this isn't the dust jacket description for this cover. Anyways, onward!
Characters: Dorian Gray is such a fascinating, idiotic and intriguing character that I spent the majority of my time reading this book reading a paragraph and then musing over it for fifteen minutes. Oscar Wilde is an absolute genius in how he depicts Lord Henry, a man who I found myself agreeing, strongly disagreeing, and laughing with in every sentence he uttered. Dorian Gray is a classically impressionable young man who Lord Henry imprints too soon, and thus becomes a broken, materialistic, petty soul whose emotional decline is both thrilling and terrifying. It is not difficult to imagine anyone-including myself-descend into the kind of cruel, menacing superiority when immortality is their reality. It's not Dorian's later, impassive cruelty that is unnerving, but his infatuation with the catalyst that comes in the form of Sybil Vane that is disturbing. Add to that Dorian Gray's former artist friend, Basil Hallward's obvious infatuation with Dorian and I was officially in a cynical state for a long time. These characters left me with my heart broken, head shaking and brain musing. 5 flowers.
Writing: Oscar Wilde is brilliant. This was obvious even from the prologue. The prose is descriptive, fluid and gorgeous. The characterization was to die for. The dialogue made me think so hard I would forget myself for more than an hour. Oscar Wilde is clearly my number one choice to be my Bestest Author Mummified Friend. Yes I intentionally did that so its acronym is BAMF. Don't judge me. 5 flowers.
Plot: You mean Dorian's moral decline? GENIUS. 4 and a half flowers.
End: Oh Dorian, you stupid little idiot. I was left thinking for a long time after I closed the book. 5 flowers.
Cover: This cover is totally misleading. I like the simple no illustrations cover that was on the edition I read. 3 flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: Obvious enough. Not anything special, but it makes the point. 4 flowers.
Overall: Best classic I've ever read. I plan to read The Importance of Being Earnest as soon as I can, and maybe a biography of Oscar Wilde, or two. 5 flowers.
"When she lands a coveted nonpaying, nonspeaking role in a play going on a European tour, Rachel Shukert—with a brand-new degree in acting from NYU and no money—finally scores her big break. And, after a fluke at customs in Vienna, she gets her golden ticket: an unstamped passport, giving her free rein to “find herself” on a grand tour of Europe. Traveling from Vienna to Zurich to Amsterdam, Rachel bounces through complicated relationships, drunken mishaps, miscommunication, and the reality-adjusting culture shock that every twentysomething faces when sent off to negotiate "the real world"—whatever that may be."
Characters: I don't like Rachel Shukert. This is probably a hopelessly idiotic thing to say about a book you got from a publisher. Yet I don't. I don't like her actions or even some of her opinions. But you know what? I haven't related to a protagonist in such a way for a hell of a long time. Rachel is as hilarious, honest and narcissistic as any average teenager or slightly immature twenty-something. Every other sentence seemed to personally relate to my own personal monologue. I was laughing so hard during the duration of this book that strangers on the train would stare at me. In fact, at one point I literally said to my father "I love this woman" because I had to tell SOMEONE about what I was reading. Yes, I wanted to smack her through out the book. But somehow I wanted to see her happy when I closed the book. I might not like Rachel, but I certainly flailed happily when I realized I found someone who thought the same things I did. As for the other characters she introduced in the book, I found them all hilarious and fascinating. I can't say I genuinely liked anyone in this memoir besides Rachel's two gay Dutch best friends and her preachy, direct mother but I certainly enjoyed every one of them. 5 flowers.
Writing: After the very first chapter I knew I was in for a treat because Shukert can write. Her writing style is hilarious and descriptive with lots of internal monologue. I inhaled every word and loved every minute of it. 5 flowers.
Plot: The description made me think that Rachel would be hopping around from country to country for the majority of the novel. Instead she spent her time in Holland for the meat of the novel, which was fine by me. The actual story mostly consists of her sexual escapades, cultural musings and job opportunities-or more fittingly lack thereof-which one tends to assume you're going to find in travel memoirs. There were also great bits in the book where Rachel would give mini guides on everything relevant to your world traveling needs. 4 and a half flowers.
End: The ending was a bit like the beginning of this book in the respect that it affirmed how beautifully Shukert can write, and how what she writes makes me understand feelings I didn't know I had. 5 flowers.
Cover: I ADORE this cover. It's rather beautiful. When I got it in the mail I bounced with joy. 4 and a half flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: Slightly deceiving for reasons mentioned in the plot section of this review, but still relevant to the beginning of the novel. 3 and a half flowers.
Overall: If you want to read a memoir about traveling, Shukert is your writer. Everything Is Going to Be Great is delicious and hilarious. In my eyes, a guaranteed satisfying read. 4 and a half flowers.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Well, I've been staring at my reading goals and I've been realizing that I really cannot read 150 books. My slacking at the beginning of the year has paid, and I'm going to have to modify my reading goal for the year.
Oh well, I'll still attempt to pick up the pieces!
Instead of trying to read 150 books this year, I'm going to go for 100 books for the 100+ challenge. Instead of trying to read 75 library books, I'm going for 50 and the same for the YA challenge.
Thank goodness for the situation being salvageable! This is much more doable.
Have any of you had to modify your annual reading goals recently?
Whoa boy, it's been such a long time since I've done a meme. This meme is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
NOTE: For those of you who haven't read Hex Hall, there are serious spoilers so don't read this post! Go! Scoot! Better yet, go to your local bookstore or library and pick it up!
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
No cover yet!
"Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.
That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.
Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.
But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?"
Release Date: March 2011
Hex Hall was such a fun read, and when I found out the promising ending, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the sequel. I'll be watching out for this one.