Monday, July 16, 2012

Vampires and Mermaids and Angels OH MY!

Random thought of the day: What's the deal with mermaids and angels all over the place now in YA fiction? Has anyone else noticed this silent take-over of the supernatural/paranormal/fantasy genre? As a juvenile and YA cataloger in my current position, I have noticed a TON of mermaid/siren and angel themed lit coming through. How do you think it will fare against the ever popular vampire/werewolf/magic themed YA books out there? Is Twilight a thing of the past? And how will this take-over effect YA books-turned-movies? Will we be seeing Robert Pattinson take on the role of merman or fallen angel on-screen?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rediscovering an old friend...

Happy Friday the 13th bloggers!! So... to point out the obvious, I've been crazy MIA (like almost a year MIA). A lot has been going on over on my end (excuses, excuses, I know..). I've gone through a few more jobs (I swear sometimes I feel like my job is getting new jobs, but it's honestly never my intention to jump ship so soon when I'm at a new job), and my next adventure will be working as a High School librarian!! I am so excited not only because of the fun group of people I'm going to get to be around all day, but also because this will finally be my first full time job. With the economy being what is has been (guh!!! what can't be said of our economic condition), I haven't been able to secure a full time job in like 3 years since graduating from Library School. Crazy!! It's about time :)

My boyfriend and I bought a house this past October and we still have little to no furniture. It's great being a first-time homeowner it just takes a lot out of us. Keeping up with 3 acres of lawn with a one speed walking mower is not a walk in the park :P

I'm also GETTING MARRIED in the fall! Planning this wedding, no matter that it's a small wedding, has kept me insanely busy and I'm going a little crazy over it! I'm trying to DIY as much of it as I can, and since we are not planning on having a bridal party, I am left to do everything myself. So that's a little bit of where I am at right now. How are you all doing? Where has life taken you recently? I promise, promise, promise I will try to update more often. I hope those who have followed me in the past have not given up on me!! Until then, Have a great Friday the 13th! This will be our last one for 2012 so go all out!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pottermore Update... Beta Tester Edition (May contain spoilers!)

*** Note to readers: While I tried not to give too much info away, fans who want to go into the Pottermore experience totally fresh may want to avert your eyes to this post! ***

With about a month to go until Harry Potter fans everywhere can play around and explore til their little hearts desire on J.K. Rowlings Pottermore website, I have had the pleasure of testing out the site early. Like many other advanced access fans, I eagerly (and somewhat nervously) awaited the arrival of my email granting me entry into the site. Every time I tried to sign on hoping that maybe I had just missed the email, frantically checking my spam folders and cursing the gods thinking I may not actually get early access, I kept noticing how bogged down the site was. But with one million people being allowed to play around on the site and (as I learned later), the involvement one could spend on Pottermore, it's not that hard to see why this was occurring. When I finally did get into the site, what awaited me was pretty insane.

Let me just say this: a TON of work had to of gone into making Pottermore what it is so far. It's very involved; from the "moments" fans get to interact with, to the games, duels, potions-making contests, house-sorting, wand-choosing, school-shopping, pet-purchasing, information-included segments (I could go on)... It's an understatement to say that Pottermore could easily eat away an entire evening just going through a few chapters. I was a little confused by the premise of the site itself. I had wondered if it was a place to physically read the books but I'd say Pottermore is more of a companion resource for the books. It's meant to be a place fans can go after reading a chapter in any of the HP books and experience the chapter in an interactive way. A simple summary is provided at the bottom of the "moment," and information on characters and places in a given chapter are accessible via a sidebar on the screen. Someone looking for more detailed information as to what happened in a chapter would be better off physically reading their copy of the book.

Users can zoom in and out on a moment to find items hidden within the layers. Collect Chocolate Frog Cards and other items to add to your trunk, earn points for your House (once you've been sorted that is), and find new tidbits of information provided by Rowling about things not included in the HP books. Ever wondered how Mr. and Mrs. Dursley met? Curious as to the back story of Minerva McGonnagall? These questions and more are answered on Pottermore and can be saved to read later on. Users can link Pottermore up with their facebook accounts to find friends who have accounts and share with other friends and family. There are various interfaces that users can switch between while exploring the site.

All in all, Pottermore can be as involved (or not) as you want it to be. Someone wishing to rush through each book can ignore all the extra information in order to get to the good parts. Or, someone can spend a ton of time going through each chapter, reading and exploring everything before moving on. One nice feature that I really like is the "Favorites" option (which I kind of mentioned above), that allows users to add information to to a place where they can access it later on. When I was rushing to get sorted into my house, the last thing on my mind was reading up on Rowling's background info on the Dursley's so I added it to my favorites to devour later.

It will be interesting to see what changes have been made once Pottermore "hits the shelves" for the general public. But even without any, I can honestly say that this is a pretty special "gift" from J.K. Rowling :)

Snape Approves!!

Snape approves

Monday, August 29, 2011

Megan McCafferty

rating: 5 out of 10 "books"

I loved Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series so when I heard she was finally coming out with a new book I was thrilled. The only problem is that when you love a series so much, it’s always a little hard to get into anything completely different by an author. Bumped is exactly that. While the writing style and voice of the characters in Bumped is the same as that of the series I know and love, the storyline couldn’t be any more different. Harmony and Melody are twin sisters, separated at birth and completely unaware of each other until their sixteenth birthdays. Adopted by different parents, both girls grow up in completely different environments; Melody in a society where becoming a RePro (professional birther) is a smart move, and Harmony in a church settlement where girls are matched with their future husbands by the church council before they may even think about having intimate relations. In a world where a virus has caused men and women over the age of 18 to become infertile, it is up to teenage boys and girls to produce offspring for aspiring parents. While babies have long been sold off by amateurs (teen couples actually IN a relationship), the newest trend is to go pro and sign a contract with an infertile couple through an agent. This couple in turn has the right to find a partner for the teenage boy or girl to reproduce with, oftentimes to try to find matches that represent the infertile man or woman in appearance. This way, the offspring could actually pass as their own. When Harmony ditches the farm to unite with her long lost sister, Melody is hardly ecstatic. Things go even more south when a case of mistaken identity lands Melody’s gorgeous contracted RePro match in the company of Harmony. But as the story looms close to an end, what each sister may have thought they always wanted may not be so. While not exactly a twist ending, things do not turn out the way Bumped has you thinking it will at the start. Each character goes through some major revelations and as different as Melody and Harmony may seem (to the reader as well as each other), by the end of the book they do not seem so different (again to the reader as well as each other). The events in the story end up bringing the sisters closer than they ever could have imagined.

I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this book. While I do love the writing (and the premise of the story is kind of cool), I feel like there are some holes in the plot. If people are unable to have children after a certain age, why don’t they just have them younger when they are still able to? It’s not like it hasn’t been done before. Back in early times sixteen/seventeen wasn’t too early for girls to have children. Even thirteen wasn’t too early. People were married as early as that age. So what’s to stop this futuristic society from simply reverting back to some of those early day practices? At least that way, the mother’s children would be her biological children. And I know that McCafferty was trying to be futuristic with her use of slang in the book, but I found it somewhat annoying. Half the time I didn’t understand what the slang was meant to imply, especially when it was then used in a different context. As much as I love Megan McCafferty, overall I was a bit disappointed with Bumped. Apparently there is supposed to be a sequel to this book. Maybe the next one will be a bit better.

Monday, August 1, 2011

OMG!!! Pottermore Early Entry!!!

As I'm sure many of you know, the mad rush to try to get early access to J.K. Rowling's "Pottermore" has been in full swing since yesterday. I myself attempted to find my own quill and came up empty-handed as daily registration filled up faster than you can say Fizzing Whizbee. But somehow, by sheer luck, I managed to score early access today!!

For those of you who aren't so in the loop, a few lucky fans will have the chance to enter the beta version of the Pottermore webiste before it officially opens in October. By a few, Rowling actually means a tiny million fans. HOWEVER!! If my experiences have shown me anything, getting to the registration page is no easy task, so only allowing 1 million people is actually small compared to the millions of people who are trying to get in at the same time.

To try your luck at the site all you have to do is go to the Pottermore Website HERE and if registration is stil open, answer a question based on one of the Harry Potter books (it's a little more technical than that but when you go to the site you can see what I mean... Just don't do it right before trying your hand at answering one of the questions!!). 7 books means 7 days of questions and 7 chances to get your name on the roster!

Until then, a few websites have been coming out with screen shots of the world of Pottermore; including games, interactive pages, and more. Check those out at the Pottermore Press Page and this website: Tweeting.

Also, if you have no idea what DRARRY is, be sure to check back here as I discuss DRARRY and other Harry Potter related fanfiction!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Long Run: A New York City Firefighter's Triumphant Comeback from Crash Victim to Elite Athlete
Matt Long with Charles Butler

rating: 8.5 out of 10 "books"

The Long Run tells the story of happy-go-lucky New York City firefighter, Matt Long. Surrounded by a large loving family, plenty of friends, a fulfilling job, prosperous businesses, and an addiction to running after years of an unhealthy lifestyle (that’s put him in the best shape of his life!), life couldn’t get much better. And while he’s endured his fair share of pain before; running the New York City Marathon and qualifying for the prestigious Boston Marathon, saving lives during the heartbreaking events of 9/11, and competing in an eleven hour Ironman competition, nothing could compare to the events that unraveled one fateful morning and changed his life forever.

Just after qualifying for the Boston Marathon during the New York City transit strike of 2005, Long was struck down by a bus while trying to bike out to meet up with some friends to train. Given only a five percent chance of survival, Matt survived severe wounds, broken bones, and endured multiple operations. The Long Run chronicles Matt’s long road to recovery and his determination to run again despite slim odds of rehabilitation.

Oftentimes, we don’t realize how much we take for granted until it’s suddenly taken away from us. I know I’m definitely that way. Maybe it’s just because I’m a runner, but this story definitely struck a chord. The way Long describes the events surrounding his accident, from his vivid description of what happened (when emergency crew discovered him they couldn’t tell where his body ended and his bike started because the bike had actually gone straight through his abdomen), to what he was told was going on while he was unconscious in the hospital (family and friends camped out night and day to be there for any sign of good news), to his recovery (major obstacles threatened to hinder his chances of ever running again), I couldn’t help but tearing up over and over again. The story includes not only what happened that fateful day and onward, but also provides many flashbacks to background information that further explains how Matt’s attitudes and views on life came to be. If you’re a big athlete (and even if you’re not), I’d definitely recommend reading this book!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later
Francine Pascal

rating: 3.5 out of 10 "books"

“Sweet Valley is back ... What terrible secret has torn Jessica and Elizabeth apart? Ten years after graduating from Sweet Valley High, the Wakefield twins have had a falling out of epic proportions. After Jessica commits a complete and utter betrayal, Elizabeth flees to New York to escape the pain and pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a journalist. Jessica remains behind in Sweet Valley, dealing with the fallout of her heart-wrenching choices and longing for forgiveness. But Elizabeth can't forget her twin's duplicity. Uncharacteristically, she decides the only way to heal her broken heart is to seek revenge. Always the 'good' twin, Elizabeth is about to turn the tables” – Review

Imagine my surprise when I found out Francine Pascal was writing a Sweet Valley book. It’s like it came out of nowhere, although I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised with all the reboots of everything from television to film to books. Even the Babysitter’s Club author is apparently writing more BSC books. If anything, Pascal’s novel is long overdue. I feel out of touch with this series since it’s been so long since I’ve read a new Sweet Valley book. Much in the same way, I feel like Francine Pascal has gotten a bit out of touch when it comes to young people. While I don’t mean to slam Francine Pascal, especially since her books were my main lifeline during my early childhood, Sweet Valley Confidential just feels too late. I barely remember which character was which, let alone their personalities or actions from the early Sweet Valley books up through the college years. As many readers stated on the website too, there were a ton of inconsistencies within the book and major disparity between characters then and now. It was as if Pascal herself forgot to refresh her memory by revisiting all her previous books prior to writing Confidential. The most laughable parts that I found however had to do with the more intimate moments in the book, more specifically one that happened towards the end of Sweet Valley Confidential. The way Francine Pascal described the situation read like a cheesy romance novel, convincing me even more of how far removed from her audience she must be. While Sweet Valley was never anything remotely intellectual, Sweet Valley Confidential seems to have really missed the mark this time. While it was fun to read a new Sweet Valley book and revisit the Wakefield twins for nostalgia’s sake, I think this book would have been better if it had never been written to begin with.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pottermore Update!!

Alright bloggers... if you stopped by yesterday you might remember me going on about J.K. Rowling's announcement regarding her newest Harry Potter venture. This morning, at about 7am Pottermore was finally revealed. At the Pottermore Website Rowling explained her mysterious new project. As a thank you for fans readership, J.K. Rowling wants to give something unique back to fans. She explains that the website will include the same Harry Potter story, "with a few crucial additions," one of the most important being it's site visitors. Pottermore, a place to "share, participate, and rediscover the Harry Potter stories," is a website built by it's users and offers a "safe unique online reading experience."

Rowling also states that she will be an active participant in the site, and include never before shared information regarding the world of Harry Potter. While the site doesn't go live until October, a few lucky fans can enter early and help "shape the experience."

The first time I watched to video J.K Rowling followed her statement about a lucky few entering early with "just follow the owl." The second time I watched it, (on the Pottermore website and not Rowling's YouTube website) I didnt' catch it. So it might be worth checking out the YouTube site to see if the two video announcements vary slightly.

I'm curious to find out more about Pottermore. While J.K. Rowling did explain the premise of the website, I still find myself confused about what it actually is. Is it just the Harry Potter series plus some animated aspects? How exactly do fans get to shape the experience? I guess we will just have to wait until October to find out!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And In Other Harry Potter Related News....

Less than 20 hours unitl Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling announces "why the owls are gathering". The mysterious YouTube site linked up with the soon to come Pottermore Website has had many speculating what more Rowling has in store for Harry Potter fans. While most people don't think it has anything to do with more HP books, some believe the website may be some kind of encyclopedia-esque resource that brings together everything from the books and movies.

What do you think Pottermore holds in store for fans? Be sure to check back to the links above to find out... only a little longer to wait!!!

Movie Update!!

So you all know how I'm obsessed with books that are being made into movies. I especially like when books I LOVE are being turned into movies!! So when I heard a little while ago that they were going to make The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky into a film I was estatic. While I haven't been able to find out that much information (or a legit movie website) out there yet, I have discoverd (ok so it's all over the web!) that Percy Jackson star Logan Lerman and Harry Potter leading lady Emma Watson are set to play lead characters Charlie and his crush, Sam(antha).

If you follow the link here it provides a little information on the story background, etc. IMDB also lists that Nina Dobrev from the CW Vampire Diaries is set to play a character in the film, as well as other well known actors, Paul Rudd and Mae Whitman.

Alright, show of hands... who else is thrilled by this news?!!! What do you think of the casting choices? While I'm totally on board with Logan Lerman as Charlie, Emma Watson is not exactly who I picture as Sam. And as others around the interweb are wondering, I'm curious to find out who will play Patrick.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Maze Runner
James Dashner

rating: 8.5 out of 10 "books"

Have you ever intentionally not done something because someone recommended you do it? I’m talking about parents ordering you to clean your room or friends saying you should check out a certain movie, etc. Well, my discovery of The Maze Runner by James Dashner fell into this category. My little sister had been bugging me for months on end, telling me that I just had to read this little book called The Maze Runner despite my constant reluctance to read it simply because she was recommending it (I must add that this was exactly how it went with reading all the Harry Potter books, and of course once I picked up the first one I was hooked). Needless to say, my sister was right yet again, and within reading the first few pages of The Maze Runner I was dying to know how the book ended.

Amazon describes the book way better than I can so if you’ve followed me this far, keep reading (!):

“When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.” – book description

The Glade itself sounds pretty amazing: an agricultural type community completely run by the boys. They have plenty of food, a boy who turns out to be an awesome chef to cook it up, and an impressively set up council to run the Glade. Anything else they need is pretty much sent up to them upon request from the Creators. Unfortunately for them however, the Glade is right smack in the middle of a maze and the man-eating creatures that dwell inside it make it utterly impossible to escape. The boys who’ve volunteered to be maze runners have spent two years trying to figure out the exit to the maze, but the fact that its walls change every night has made it extremely difficult to solve. Thomas, despite having had his memory wiped, has the eerie feeling that he’s been in the maze before and may be the Gladers last hope for escape.

There are so many other little tidbits that make this book super interesting. For instance, the Gladers have their own slang and predisposed knack (implanted by the Creators?) for one of the jobs around the Glade. Even more weird, is the painful process the boys go through called The Change that results from a Glader being “stung” by one of the Grievers (maze monsters) and administered a “cure,” that in the process gives the boys part of their memories back.

I have had so many patrons come into my library branch trying to find a cool YA book for guys. I can honestly, whole-heartedly say that this book is amazing, especially for boys (but definitely girls too… it’s got a little romance, ladies!) Yes, it has a little of the stereotypically guy-friendly Sci-Fi, a little Fantasy, but it’s also got something that I don’t think many other “guy-type” books have. I can’t put my finger on it, and maybe it’s just the general awesomeness of The Maze Runner, but I think anyone interested in dystopian fiction or the whole Hunger Games craze should check this series out. Even though it is technically YA, I think this book passes as Adult Fiction as well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Day
David Nicholls

rating: 6 out of 10 "books"

I don’t know if I find books that are going to be made into movies or they find me (okay, I often find them), but one of my most recent adventures to half-priced books landed me on One Day by David Nicholls. I’ve heard a lot of buzz behind this book, and I definitely know that a lot of book clubbers out there are reading this one, so I decided to give it a go. This one’s for you, guys!

One Day is the story of Emma and Dexter, newly graduates of University in England and blossoming friends after a one night stand on graduation night. As the title suggests, the story follows the two over a period of twenty years, beginning in 1988, and drops in on each character on the same day each progressing year. Sometimes Dexter and Emma are together, other times they are each doing their own thing. One Day looks at how each person deals with life, love, and the search for oneself. Non-apologetic playboy, Dexter, or Dex, spends a lot of his time partying and messing up his life, while ultra-serious Emma, or Em, contemplates why life has less than exceeded her expectations. Despite the seemingly polar opposite personalities of the two, Em and Dex find security and happiness most when they are together, but different their life paths often result in conflict between the two. One Day is ultimately a love story of how two peoples’ lives can be intertwined over a long period of time, whether knowingly or not, and the decisions and actions that can either bring them together, or tear them apart.

Before I endorse this book I need to throw in a disclaimer for those just beginning the book. While the book does get off to an extremely slow start it does get better. Let me repeat that: IT DOES GET BETTER!!! This was definitely one of those books that I had to put down and walk away from multiple times. Granted, I don’t like to give up on books easily, but I will give up on one if it completely (excuse my word-age), sucks! But let me say this, although One Day and I got off to a rough start, I found myself in tears by the end of the book. If I hadn’t of been reading in a very public place, I probably would have been bawling my eyes out. Call me highly emotional (I probably am), but this book was worth it to me in the end. The English slang does take some getting used to (it’s a little annoying and makes for a dry read in some places), but overall, I’d recommend picking up Nicholls’ One Day.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Sorry I've been so MIA lately bloggers! It seems I've hit another one of my blogging slumps :( Work and illnesses have kept me away from the computer for quite awhile... It also doesnt' help that all my favorite shows are coming to a season end that has me glued to my tv! But never fear, I've got some posts lined up and some pretty fantastic books to voice my opinion on, so stay tuned!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The DUFF: (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)
Kody Keplinger

I hate when I put off reviewing books for awhile and then come back only to have forgotten most of a book or why I did or didn’t like it. Forgive me readers, but I’ve come to a bit of a slump when it comes to reading (and reviewing) books.

Anyways… The DUFF, or designated ugly fat friend, refers to the one female friend of the group who isn’t quite as beautiful or maybe as interesting as the rest. Bianca Piper is THAT girl amongst her two best friends. Bianca knows this subconsciously, and for the most part is ok with it, but it isn’t until class playboy and total d-bag, Wesley, personally calls her a DUFF that Bianca becomes self conscious. As if it wasn’t enough already that her friends are totally gorgeous, but when Wesley tells Bianca that he is only talking to her to get inside her two friends pants, Bianca angrily throws her coke all over Wesley.

While Bianca knows that she shouldn’t let the harsh words of scum like Wesley get to her, she can’t help but dwell on her nickname. Things certainly don’t look up for Bianca either, when she and Wesley are assigned to work on an English paper together, requiring outside school time to complete the homework. As tensions rise at home for Bianca and divorce threatens to destroy her family, the last thing Bianca needs is aggravation from the school man-slut. But without a proper outlet for all of her emotional buildup, Bianca horrifyingly finds herself kissing Wesley – and liking it. A very surprised (and smug) Wesley reciprocates, and the two find themselves using each other. Of course, like any other no strings attached relationship, Bianca soon finds herself (gasp!) crushing hard on Wesley. The question becomes whether Bianca will actually admit to herself that she wants more from Wesley than just fooling around, and whether Wesley could ever be attracted to the DUFF?

Final thoughts? I liked this book. While I found the plotline very unlikely; not the part where a total hottie falls for the less attractive (but by no means ugly) girl, but the interaction between the two main characters…(this is high school after all, is a guy really going to profess his love in a note the way Wesley does?), I really enjoyed the characters, especially Bianca. She reminded me a lot of Jessica Darling in Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings ET. Al. I love a snarky female character who is very sure of herself. While Bianca may not have had the best self-esteem at times, she was very level headed for a high school girl. She realized that it was pretty ridiculous to be in love with someone at the high school age. She saw through what most teenage girls (at her school and otherwise) could not, especially about Wesley. At the beginning of the story, much to the bewilderment of her friends, Bianca had no interest in Wesley. She saw through his attractiveness and saw what a creep he was. It was only until getting to know him and his situation that she discovered the front he put up for everyone.

I really liked that Keplinger mentioned everyone feeling like the DUFF in some shape or form. No one is completely happy with their looks. It was refreshing to read about Bianca’s two friends confessing to having doubts about their appearances as well, beautiful or not. I look forward to reading more by Kody Keplinger. I wish I could write as well as she does, especially being as young as she is!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's day bloggers! May the luck of the Irish be with you all!!!

check back soon for more book reviews to come!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have
A Novel by Allen Zadorff

rating: 8.5 out of 10 "books"

High School is hard enough without being a size 48 waist. For Andrew Zansky, High School is just one more place where he can be reminded that he doesn’t, and will never, fit in. As the second fattest kid in school, an average day for Andy means trying to squeeze into his pants, praying that he’ll fit into his desk at school, and hiding from a beating by the school bully. However, as much as being overweight sucks, Andy has grown to mostly accept it; it’s in his genes after all. His friendship with class clown Eytan and involvement in the model UN club at school almost makes up for the over-protectiveness of his caterer mother, absentee father, and over abundance of flab.

Of course all this changes once he meets geek chic April. Knowing he has zero chance with her, Andy can’t help but try to dream up a plan to make April his. So when a routine bully pummeling leads to a chance encounter with O. Douglass, captain of the football team and teen dream guy, Andy is presented with the opportunity to drastically change his fat nerd status: by joining the football team. All of a sudden Andy is embraced by the popular elite of his school. No longer a “nobody,” Andy finds himself hanging out and attending the popular crowd’s parties and other extracurricular activities. April, who’s joined the cheerleading squad, is now part of his everyday life. And best of all, as a football player, Andrew’s “fatness” has become an asset and not a detriment, helping him protect quarterback O. Douglass on the field.

The big question Allen Zadorff’s (notice any closeness between the names Allen Zadorff and Andrew Zansky? Could this novel be semi-autobiographical?) novel asks is “how far would you go to fit it?” Because while Andy is enjoying all the perks that come with his new life, it has meant giving up some of his old; like his previous friends and activities… even risking his life on the field because of his extreme asthma, all so he can maybe have a chance with April. But Andrew is finding out the hard way that fitting in and being popular may not really be all that it is cracked up to be.

I really enjoyed this novel. I feel like there’s not enough YA books out there that a lot of guys can relate to, and “Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have” is a book that anyone; guy, girl, fat, thin, young, and old can relate to. The story told from Andrew’s point of view is written so humorously, that while you feel bad for Andy’s situation, you can’t help but laugh at little at some of his comments. The best part of this novel though, I thought, came at the end when Andy (through the course of events) realized that being popular really was not all that great, and that some of the popular kids who he thought were his friends really were not so wonderful. I think this story is a great lesson in loving who you are and not trying to change yourself for the approval of others. So to all the jocks, the princesses, the loners, the basket cases, and the geeks (breakfast club reference anyone?!), go out and read this book!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ally Condie

rating: 7.5 out of 10 "books"

Dystopian fiction seems to be all the rage these days and while I feel like I need to switch gears over here and start reading (and reviewing) other types of fiction, I can’t seem to tear myself away. I’m one of those readers who will read things based on “buzz.” The more a magazine, journal, whathaveyou talks about a particular book of interest, the more I want to read it (see my upcoming review of the controversial “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.”) So when I kept seeing Matched by Ally Condie pop up everywhere, I knew I had to take a peek.

In the perfect world of the Society, Cassia is one of the many perfect citizens; she follows the rules, doesn’t question anything or anyone, and like everyone else: believes she is happy. And why shouldn’t she be? The Society provides for everyone. There is no war, no hunger, no suffering or disease. Cassia knows exactly when she will die because Society plans it out for every citizen to be at 80 years old. Everything is so perfectly planned that the Society even figures out who a citizen’s perfect match is, based on the collection and analysis of tons of data. So when Cassia is matched with her best friend Xander, it’s a wonderful surprise for both parties. Most matches don’t even know each other, let alone live close enough to one another, so it comes as a very strange occurrence for the whole town.

The problem arises when Cassia goes to look over Xander’s bio data one day, even though she already knows everything about him. Along with Xander’s photo in her match material, a flash of someone else appears – someone Cassia also knows. This in turn sets off a chain of events that completely turns what Cassia thought she knew about life in the Society upside down. On top of questioning her match with Xander, Cassia now worries about the perfect planning set in motion by the Society. As she begins to discover some ugly truths about her “perfect” world, Cassia starts down a path she can never come back from.

This story and I got off to a slow start, but I can’t deny that it got pretty page turn-y at the end. I can definitely see how people have complained that this is yet another piece of Twilight-esque teen dribble, with a thoughtless, selfish female character torn between two gorgeous teenage boys. I can definitely agree that a lot of what Cassia does in the story is very stupid; obsessing over a guy simply because he accidentally appeared on her screen and is mysterious, and so on. But when you think about it, isn’t this much like what today’s teenage girls do anyways? Obsess over the tiniest of details about the opposite sex? So honestly, I can see why the author made this such a huge deal for Cassia. But I also read some pretty redeeming story points that made up for the cheesiness; the fact that each citizen carries 3 separate tablets for different situations, the idea of “artifacts” that the townspeople have from waaaay back when (like 2011) which most have no idea what these artifacts are or what they do, and the concept of the matching ceremonies themselves. I’m definitely the type of reader who doesn’t need some sort of big intellectual point at the end of my story. I’m not exactly the biggest fluff reader either. But hey, sometimes fluff is not a bad thing.

Oh, on another note readers -- I've also heard that they're thinking of turning "Matched" into a movie :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Infinite Days
Rebecca Maizel

rating: 8.5 out of 10 "books"

If I had to quickly summarize the past decade in TV, movies, and literature it’d probably go something like this: girl falls in love with sparkly vampire but is torn between her feelings for her werewolf friend. Or how about this one: girl falls in love with vampire in southern town where vampires are well known of and even catered to with a drink called Tru Blood. Annnnd wash, rinse, repeat. There are so many vampire books out there it’s overwhelming. Well, get ready for one more. But before you close this page in disgust over this reviewers post, let me tell you that this story is a little bit different. Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel tells a story unlike so much of the dribble out there. Instead of Maizel’s vampire character wishing she was human like every other vampire in recent storytelling Lenah Beaudonte, super evil vampire, actually wakes up one day completely human.

Okay. It’s a little more complicated than that. Throw in an ex-vampire soul mate, a ritual, and a little magic and you start to get the picture. Longing for a human life again, Lenah would give anything to change who she is. She’s grown tired of and almost crazy from her destructive vampire life. No longer proud of all the lives she’s taken to make her the most powerful female vampire, Lenah needs a way out. That’s where Rhode, her first vampire love (and the one who made her), fits in. He claims to have found a way to transform Lenah back to her human form. The only problem is the powerful coven of vampires Lenah has created to protect her and who will stop at nothing to find her. Coming up with a plan to hibernate for one hundred years and fool the coven, Lenah sees no danger down the line. And when she wakes up those one hundred years later, the last thing she needs to worry about is her coven coming to track her down because Lenah needs to be able to spend all her energy trying to fit into this new world of humans.

Having a little trouble at first, Lenah eventually begins to fit into human society. She’s made friends, is excelling at school, and even has a love interest in ultra-jock Justin. Of course, like any story, drama ensues. Lenah’s coven discovers her missing body from her crypt and after finding a charred clue (that Rhode failed to burn) as to her whereabouts, start to make their way toward the Wickham Boarding School where Lenah resides. Will Lenah lose her human life again before it’s really started? Can she protect those she loves from the vicious vampires she herself created?

I really liked this book. Sure, it’s not exactly an intellectual read by any means, but if you’re looking for something fun and different involving vampires, I’d definitely recommend you check out this book!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Surface Tension: A Novel in Four Summers
Brent Runyon

rating: 3.5 out of 10 "books"

Surface Tension by Brent Runyon tells the story of teenager, Luke, through the course of four summers. Beginning when Luke is thirteen, readers get to experience the progression of feelings, attitudes, experiences, and views that Luke has as he matures summer after summer. Although the story focuses solely on his family’s summer trips up to the lake, Luke’s first person narrative provides us with enough background information as to what happened during the times in between summers to provide readers with a general idea of how Luke’s life has changed. From his wonder at nature and focus on becoming the best rock skipper at age thirteen, to his anxiety over his summer away from his girlfriend at age sixteen, Surface Tension provides an interesting perspective into how fast a person can change in so little time.

If you’re looking for a quick read, I’d recommend this book. Although the idea of chronicling four summers of a teenage boy’s life sounds like a good idea, my biggest complaint is that I felt like the story wasn’t very well developed. I felt the book could have been a lot better if it had gone more in depth with the character and the story, adding more chapters or something. A word of warning too: some of the material in this story may not be suitable for children, so although places the reading age at grades 8 to 11, I’d definitely recommend Surface Tension to the higher teen reading audience.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Julia Karr

rating: 8.5 out of 10 "books"

“Some girls can’t wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay. Then, with one brutal strike, Nina’s normal is shattered; and she discovers that nothing that she once believed about her life is true. But there’s one boy who can help—and he just may hold the key to her past. But with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure… for Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet.” – Back cover, XVI

As the back cover of Julia Karr’s XVI states, Nina is not thrilled with the idea of turning sixteen. In this futuristic dystopian novel where the Governing Council and the Media controls everything and citizens are bombarded with noise from advertisements and the like 24/7, sixteen is a very important age for females. Sixteen for a girl indicates adulthood, and the legal age for girls to have intimate relations with men. Schools show videos that instruct girls on how to make men happy and “verts,” (advertisements) tell girls, “how popular they’ll be if they dress and act so boys will want to have sex with them” – page 277. However, as exciting as that sounds for girls like Nina’s friend, Sandy, who’s been studying up on XVI Ways learning about what guys like in a “sex-teen” (as sixteen year olds are referred to), Nina knows turning sixteen is more dangerous than liberating. Because at sixteen, girls are required to get a large XVI tattooed on their wrists, and most guys see that as fair game to do whatever with girls and in many cases, without their consent.

Nina and Sandy are considered lower tiered girls. In this version of the future, money is referred to as “credits,” and those with it are considered a tier 10 or higher. The government provides for everyone even those who have no money as long as they agree to government experiments. Nina and Sandy are at a tier 2, and for girls like them there are not many options. Nina can either hope to earn status as a Creative with her artwork, marry an upper tier guy, or enroll in the mandatory FeLS (Female Liaison) program that all lower tiered girls are required to sign up for. Sandy can’t wait to enroll in and hopefully be chosen for FeLS, and escape her lower status, but Nina has reservations as to what the program is actually about. Whereas Sandy’s mom encourages her daughter’s sixteen ways, Nina’s mom instructs her daughter on the dangers of life at sixteen. With Nina’s dad deceased, Ginnie is the only parent Nina has left.

Nina’s life is going ok until major events change everything. With the seemingly impossible prospect of her father being alive, and the threat of her mother’s boyfriend coming after her at every turn, Nina enrolls the help of her friends to discover the truth behind the Governing Council, the Media, and the FeLS program before it’s too late

I thought this was a really great case study if you will, as to what could happen if society really took media portrayals seriously. Karr writes in an interview at the end of the book about how “there is a huge disconnect between the vestiges of our country’s underlying Puritan mind-set regarding sex and the business of selling teen sexuality through media.” It’s already enough that society itself sends girls one message on how to look and act with regards to sexuality; and movies, television, and magazines send girls a completely different message.

I did feel the back cover of this book was somewhat detrimental to the point of XVI. I know that the author did not write it, but whoever included the part that says, “There’s one boy who can help,” kind of missed the point. I saw this book as trying to show Nina as a strong female character, who yeah is dealing with typical teenage hormones but, who doesn’t need a prince charming to save her. To include that line on the back cover kind of drops the book down from “independent woman” theme of the story back to the typical “weak damsel in distress in need of rescuing from a man,” portrayal of women.

The only other major problem that I had with this book was how Karr wrote about sixteen year old girls as if becoming sixteen was like contracting a disease that made girls only want to have sex with every guy in sight. I know that this was the message the girls in this book were getting from the Media, and that was just bleeding through onto the pages when the female characters were thinking or speaking, but it got annoying after awhile. With Sandy basically saying things like “you won’t be able to think about anything else besides sex once you turn sixteen,” I started getting really mad. Especially since this didn’t seem to be the case at all for any of the guys in the story. The author never really included any dialogue that showed how Nina’s guy friends felt about the girls becoming sex-teens, or how they felt about sex at all. It seemed like the guys were the level-headed characters of the story, especially the character of Sal. Nina and Sal would be making out and Nina would be freaking out with thoughts of “oh I’m no better than a sex-teen with my intimate thoughts and wanting to do more with Sal,” while Sal seemed to be all smooth talking and in control, with no resemblance of the typical horny sex-obsessed teenage boy most of us are familiar with.

I really enjoy stories that look at an extreme version of our future if current global practices continue; whether environmentally, socially, politically, etc. If you like dystopian books, or books that portray a very realistic future, I’d recommend (both guys and girls) checking out XVI. In a world where kids can’t wait to grow up, it’s refreshing to read a cautionary story about wanting too much too soon. Although the book mentions sex a lot, XVI is more about the dangers of teenage relations and attitudes towards it, as opposed to an endorsement. Nothing obscene happens, so parents of teenagers rest easy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Megan McCafferty ARC Contest!!!

I don't know how many of you bloggers out there are familiar with the Jessica Darling series (Sloppy Firsts...etc.) by Megan McCafferty, but the very talented author is coming out with a new book, "Bumped" in April. Check out Bibliophile Brouhaha's page for an in-depth interview with Megan and a chance to win an advance copy of Bumped!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

An Object of Beauty: A Novel
Steve Martin

rating: 4.5 out of 10 "books"

Who knew that goofy Steve Martin of SNL fame was such a renaissance man? Not only can he claim comedy and acting to his repertoire, but he can also add musician, playwright, and author of both adult and children’s fiction to that list. When I first heard that Martin was an author I expected, much like other comedians who write books, that his work would be super funny. But I was very surprised to find out that his adult fiction is pretty serious and oftentimes somewhat tragic. For someone to be able to switch gears in such a way that Steve Martin can, it’s no wonder why he’s such a recognized individual.

Martin’s latest book An Object of Beauty, explores the world of the New York art scene as experienced by art reviewer Daniel Franks and his wild card female friend Lacey. The story is told as if written by Daniel himself, mostly chronicling the life of Lacey with little instances where Daniel and Lacey’s lives intersect. Known as first person omniscient, Wikipedia refers to this as “a rare form of first person in which the narrator is a character in the story, but also knows the thoughts and feelings of all the other characters.” Lacey, who can be a very manipulative and selfish character, is young, beautiful, carefree and knows how to use this to her advantage. Starting off at the very bottom of the totem pole, Lacey quickly works her way up in the art world by paying very close attention to the people, and art, she comes in contact with. As with any kind of story that has a tragic aspect to it, this may be what ultimately unravels her.

The author definitely did a good job researching for this story, for as a reader you are constantly bombarded with healthy doses of art history. The one thing I especially liked about this story was the connection between the art itself and Lacey as “beautiful objects.” If you hadn’t already guessed, the title of this book refers to art, but at some point while reading the story, one starts to wonder if art and Lacey are not paralleling one another. There’s even a line early on that really caught my attention. In it, Lacey is really starting to get a handle on the worth of certain art works and what draws people to one particular piece and not another of similar composition. As Lacey starts to factor in various characteristics, Martin writes, “her toe crossed ground from which it is difficult to return: she started converting objects of beauty into objects of value.” That line right there had a lot of weight to it that stayed with me throughout my reading of this novel.

My suggestion is, if you like anything art related or are a huge art history buff pick up this book. It definitely makes reading it a lot easier. This was not one of those books that I could finish in one sitting just because An Object of Beauty is definitely a lot more technical then some of his other works. But even so, Steve Martin’s descriptively flowing words, not to mention his departure from the funny man we know him as, make it worth checking out.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Charles Benoit

rating: 6.5 out of 10 "books"

“This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go. You’re just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can’t be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place? There had to be signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them?” – Front Flap of YOU

Kyle Chase is the perfect example of so many of the kids you’ve seen or heard about in school systems who have sort of slipped through the cracks somewhere along the line. Between middle school and high school Kyle made some poor choices that landed him at the school for underachievers, Midlands High School, instead of Odyssey High School. He knows the mistakes he’s made, but can’t begin to fathom how to change them: the grades, the deadbeat friends, most of all his relationship with his parents. YOU spends a large portion of the story lost in Kyle’s anxiety over his wanting to change, and being perfectly apathetic to everything. Then there’s the issue of Kyle’s uncontrollable anger in the midst of all his other roller coaster-esque emotions. As Kyle puts it, “Life would be so much easier if they just left you alone, let you do what you wanted. You wouldn’t’ cause them any grief, you’d take care of yourself make your own food and get yourself where you needed to go.” That statement right there reminded me so much of how I thought towards my own parents, adults, authority figures, etc. at one point during my teenage life, so in that regard, I think Benoit did a really great job of connecting with his inner teenager. And why shouldn’t he of, having been a former high school teacher dealing with teens day in and day out?

Getting back to the story, things for Kyle continue in the above manner until he meets the new kid, smooth-talking confident Zack McDade. For all the weirdness that is Zack, Kyle can’t help but notice that Zack seems to have his life together. And maybe that’s why Kyle begins to hang out with Zack, and things start to pick up in Kyle’s life. But maybe that was Kyle’s biggest mistake. YOU is a fast-paced read that ends where it starts, with a shocking conclusion. It was definitely an emotional read for me, that had me switching between anger at Kyle’s attitude and choices, sympathy in his desire to change all that, pissed off at the character of Zack, and horrified at what happens at the end. If you want a story that will take no time to read, and maybe give you a little inside look at that kid you kind of know at school who has no aspirations and seems to purposely screw things up for himself (but you know is a good kid), check out YOU by Charles Benoit.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

100+ Challenge


So j-kaye-book-blog (now Home Girl's Book Blog) hosts a 100+ reading challenge every year and I did it in 2010 reading about 25+ (many were not recorded or written about on my blog sadly... 25 books does not make me look very good!!!), so I've decided to try it again this year as well as taking part in the library challenge. I hope to be able to read (and review) a lot more books this time around. Come on 2011!!!!

Tell Me a Secret
Holly Cupala

rating: 9 out of 10 "books"

“It’s tough, living in the shadow of a dead girl. No one mentions my sister. If they do, it’s mentioning her by omission, relief that I am nothing like her. I am the good sister. Thank God.” – Tell Me a Secret pg. 1

It’s been five years since Miranda Mathison’s bad girl sister, Xanda, died, but the mystery surrounding her death and the secret Xanda took to her grave still haunts Miranda. Now seventeen, the age Xanda was when she died, Miranda, or Rand, is dealing with some issues of her own. Her perfect life: an awesome boyfriend, perfect best friend, and promising future at art school after graduation, are all shaken up when two little pink lines on a pregnancy test threaten to destroy everything Rand has worked so hard for. To top it all off, the shaky relationship she’s had with her mother all her life, especially after the death of her “failure” of a sister, feels like it’s been permanently derailed after the news of her pregnancy leaks.

But the truth is, Rand has always wanted to be like Xanda. Maybe that’s why she surrounds herself with bad girl Delaney, and had isolated herself from her once best friend, Essence. So while all these bad things keep happening to her, Rand can’t help but obsess over the vagueness of Xanda’s death, and the secret truth that her parents might be keeping from her surrounding the way her sister died. The only problem is that it seems everyone has turned against Rand, her best friend and boyfriend included. With no one to talk to, not even her parents, Rand is completely on her own in terms of her pregnancy.

Talk about capturing the essence of high school! True, I’ve been out of high school for quite awhile now, but it felt like I was sucked right back into the drama of it all whilst reading this book. I for one, know how hard high school can be; how mean, manipulative, clique-y, and backstabbing (even your good friends!) can be. Cupala was able to capture all of the emotional angst and hardships that many teens face while pursuing secondary education, even more so, when you’re a soon-to-be teenage mother. I would never wish what happened to Rand in this story on anyone. And if you thought your mother was bad, wait until you get a load of Rand’s mom. In a somewhat related note, I also thought Holly Cupala did a really awesome job of representing (no offense my teenage friends!), the kind of ignorance young people have at that age, whereas, instead of going and finding out the facts for sure yourself, making a judgment call and abandoning your friend(s), boyfriend, or girlfriend based on what someone else told you. There was so many times when I wanted to yell at certain characters in the book because things were so obvious to me as an adult reader, and so easy to fix, but understandably confusing to a teen.

The only downside, that I was able to think of when it came to this story, was Xanda’s “secret.” Either the author was really unclear about what it actually was, or I just assumed one part of the story was the secret, but I was a little let down by Rand’s discovery as it related to Xanda. However, when all is said and done, I thought this was a really great book. It wasn’t just one of those “oh hey, another teenage pregnancy” kind of stories. I’ve read a lot of YA books in my time, and this was one of the few that really did YA right: no crazy/complicated love triangles, too mature for their age characters, or Gossip Girl-esque storylines. Holly Cupala definitely knows her stuff and I’m positive that if I had read this book in high school, I would have related to it even more than I just did a handful of years later. Go out and read this book!