Friday, December 31, 2010

A Year in Review

I started this blog and faithfully blogging on March 10, 2010. Since then I’ve only missed a handful of days and I’ve reviewed over 150 books and almost 40 movies/television shows and this is my 400th post. As far as this blog is concerned, this year was fantastic and a real journey. I don’t think I’ve read this many books and talked about them (granted to cyberspace) ever; most of my friend’s zone out when I start talking literature.

But really, I would have never thought that I would have over 100 followers, or have been contacted by authors, been sent books, or get a chance to read a novel before it was published. I also, before this year, didn’t know that there were fellow book worms out there who wanted to review and talk about what they were reading let alone that they were blogging on the internet. Hell, I didn’t know that book blogs even existed.

In short, 2010 was amazing and I can’t wait to see what 2011 brings. Hopefully I’ll be at BEA, read some more phenomenal books, and keep blogging.



So to everyone who’s reading this, have a great New Year and be safe tonight. If you’re going to drink in celebration, remember not to drive, but have fun and try to get that midnight kiss wherever you are.

A League of Extraordinary Scholars

The Ivy


Written by: Lauren Kunze with Rina Onur

Released: August 31, 2010 by Greenwillow Books

Summary: Congratulations! You have been admitted to the most prestigious university in the world. Now what are you going to do?

Callie Andrews may not have money or connections or the right clothes, and she may have way too many complications in her love life, what with

Gregory

the guy she loves to hate...

Evan

the guy she'd love to forget...

Clint

the guy she'd love to love...

and Matt

the guy she really should love...
all vying for her attention.

But she has three fantastic roommates (best friends or her worst nightmare?) and a wholesome California-girl reputation (oops) and brains and beauty and big, big dreams.

Will it be enough to help her survive freshman year at Harvard?


I got this book in the mail through Good Golly Miss Holly’s ARC tour and I started to read it almost as soon as it was out of its brown envelope. And while I wasn’t disappointed – far from it – it wasn’t what I was expecting. And, on a huge bonus, it’s a 2010 debut.


Callie was a character who, at times, I really wanted to smack in the face. She’s obviously smart enough to get into Harvard but there were quite a few times where I wondered how she could be so stupid. But, she was realistic and honest (as a written character) to true life so it was hard to hate her. Pity, sometimes, empathize, sure, but not hate.

The love interests in this novel are abundant and I'm finding myself a bit at odds in who I should be rooting for. Evan is out and Matt seems too brooding and clingy but I’m having conflicting thoughts on Gregory and Clint. Clint seems like the obvious choice but I can’t help but think that Callie, to him, is more of a rebound. But Gregory, though an ass of a character, is hiding behind his hard exterior but through the cracks you see a fantastic guy. I think that I’m going to have to read at least one more book before I can make a final decision... though I’m leaning more towards Gregory. Thankfully, the next book is set for a Spring release in 2011.

Freshman year is that span of time in a scholar’s life where they are able to shed their high school self and develop into the adult that they were meant to be. Sure, non-student types do this as well, but with the post-secondary group it’s more shocking and a greater adventure. And sometimes people aren’t going to like the change. If university taught me one thing, it’s that. But with school also comes a balancing act that not all can navigate without falling at some point.

I thought that this addressed that issue amazingly well and though this wasn’t my exact freshman experience, it’s not that far off. Ok, I lie, it’s more like my second and third years of school, but let’s not argue over the details. There were many freshman happenings that I related to though.

I went into this expecting something a bit more supernatural but I think that’s more because I was mixing it up with other books out there in my mind. What I found, instead, was a novel that was breathtakingly simple in its realistic approach to how a school really is – which is a good thing. In the world of YA where paranormal reigns supreme, I loved being able to escape into a slightly older mind-set that had absolutely no vampires, werewolves, fairies, or witches and has fantastic writing and realistic situations. I give it an 8/10 and I can’t wait to read more by this author.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Top 10 Read Authors and Books of 2010

If picking the top ten book series was hard, choosing the top ten authors and books was near impossible. So I pretty much went through my review list for the year and picked out the most memorable. I mean, I read so many amazing books by even more phenomenal authors how can a person fit them all on a list.


But somehow I managed and here they are;


Top Authors Read in 2010

1. Jessica Day George
2. Gail Carriger
3. Kate Brian/Kieran Scott
4. Rachel Vincent
5. James Marsden
6. Meg Cabot
7. Sara Shepard
8. Nina de Gramont
9. Julie Kagawa
10. Chelsea Handler



Top Books Read in 2010

1. After – Amy Efaw
2. Bloody Jack – L.A. Meyer
3. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour – Morgan Matson
4. Hunger – Jackie Morse Kessler
5. Inside Out – Maria V. Snyder
6. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
7. Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver
8. Every Little Thing in the World – Nina de Gramont
9. Graceling – Kristin Cashore
10. Heist Society – Ally Carter



Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

It's Never Goodbye

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour


Written by: Morgan Matson

Released: May 4, 2010 by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Summary: Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew—just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road—diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards—this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.


I was a little worried going into this one. I think that I thought that it would be more along the lines of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist with the alternating chapter viewpoints; of which I am generally not a fan. But I was happy to discover that it was all Amy narrative all the time.

I loved that this was a book about absolutely noting and yet everything at the same time. It took the trivial problems that people experience during their everyday life like love, loss, regret, mistakes, family, and friends and showed just how important they are to a single person when it pertains to their life. This book also showed the other side, the side of the people who love you and help you move past everything that’s blocking your path to a fuller life.

Amy is clearly troubled even from the opening page. Mourning aside for her father’s death, there’s guilt there that you can’t exactly pinpoint the exact reason. Sure, you know that it has to do with her father’s death but with so many variables unknown at first, you can only speculate exactly why. But she’s shut herself completely away from everyone and everything except the school play and become a bit of a hermit. And then enters Roger.

In the beginning, though I knew that love would bloom by the last page, Roger was just as broken as Amy though in a different way. While Amy’s entire world was shattered, Roger was dealing with only a broken heart and a slightly bruised ego. Both were enough to damage the psyche of each and together they are, by the end of the novel, able to patch back together their lives and move on while still keeping the important things in their hearts.

After reading this book, I completely want to go on a road trip and see the North American sights while straying from my designated path. I want to throw the planned itinerary out the window and sleep on a dorm room floor of friend of a friend and eat crumbly burgers on a golf course in Kansas. But while this is a book about a road trip, I think that it’s also about finding your own path in life and branching off the beaten trail in order to find it.

The writing in this book – not to mention the clever layout with the snapshots and postcards with the music playlists and everything else – betrays the thought that it was a debut author. If I hadn’t of known that this was a 2010 debut, I would have been positive that there was more out there by Morgan Matson. As is, I can’t wait to read her next book and this one is a 9/10 for me.





"Tomorrow will be better.”
“But what if it’s not?” I asked.
“Then you say it again tomorrow. Because it might be. You never know, right? At some point, tomorrow will be better."
-from the book

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Youth Springs Eternal

Elixir


Written by: Hilary Duff with contribution from Elise Allen

Released: October 12, 2010 by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Summary: As the daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington D.C. politician, Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. And though she dreads the paparazzi who track her every move, she herself is a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world.

But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful young man begin to appear in Clea’s photos—a man she has never seen in her life.

When Clea suddenly encounters this man in person she is stunned—and feels an immediate and powerful connection. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance and discover the centuries-old truth behind their intense bond.

Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fate, together they race against time to unravel their past in order to save their future—and their lives.


I can’t help but wonder just how much of this Hilary Duff actually wrote. I know that everyone has their own speculations and I myself can’t help but question where the need to write YA came from when she already has had her clothing line, perfume, television show, movies, singing career... does there need to be another notch in her proverbial belt?

But I digress, reviewing a book isn’t supposed to be about the author (or potential lack thereof), so from here on out I’m focusing on the novel.

Basically this book is a Twilight love triangle with a Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie, not television series) sense of soul rebirth and something else which I had just thought of and then promptly forgot while trying to remember it. In any case, it wasn’t terribly original, but still it captured my attention long enough to really make me want to read the next book.

Clea (how the hell is that supposed to be pronounced properly?) is a character who I found completely unrealistic and slightly vapid. I find it hard to believe that she didn’t realize that Ben was in love with her way before the events of the book... though that could be attributed to extreme denial. So, that aside, I just didn’t connect with her outside of the first chapter where she was all cynical. Actually, it was Clea’s personality in the first few chapters that made me want to read on and find out what was going on. I mean, she has a complete panic attack within the first page and I really wanted to find out what brought it on. But after you’re introduced to the sub-plot of her missing-considered-dead father and the emotional turmoil that that brought on, she goes downhill really fast and never recovers.

Which brings me to another thing. The first quarter of the book is focused on finding out what happened to Clea’s father but as the book goes on that gets shoved to the wayside and at the end it’s still a completely unanswered question with even more mystery surrounding it. While I realize that it was needed in order to get from point A to point Q, there were so many points missing that had I of not been concentrating I would have wondered if someone had swapped the book in my hands without my knowing.

Clea’s love interests Ben and Sage pose as interesting characters in this love quandary. Very much Jacob and Edward (respectively) I found myself rooting for Ben more than Sage. In fact, I found Sage to be a brooding jerk especially near the end of the novel and Clea a very clinging Bella. But their love triangle had a better point in this than the similar one in Twilight, so I’ll let it slide.

All this being said, I enjoyed reading this novel and the last quarter had my eyes glued to the pages in the hopes that I would find out what happened next. It also contained more knowledge on the past lives of Clea, which I thought were incredibly interesting to read. I wish that there had been more of that in the book than there was. Hell, I wish that the book had just been longer so that it was done and I knew the answers to all the questions. Without a set date other than 2011 for the sequel I have a feeling that it’s going to be a rather long wait.

And so this book ends up being rated a 6/10 for me. It would have been a bit lower but the suspense killed me and aided the book.



On a side note, here’s one of the summaries that’s on Goodreads. It must have been the first and from an incredibly rough draft because aside from the large points it is completely different from what the actual summary is.

Summary: Clea Raymond lives an extraordinary life. The daughter of renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC figure, she has been in the spotlight her entire life. Followed by the paparazzi, she resents the attention that is lavished on her for her looks alone because she has so much more to offer.

Clea Raymond has a unique gift. A proficient photographer, in all her pictures, there is little something extra, and it's not just a result of her talented eye. There is always an extra photo that she didn't take. And, as she discovered at a young age, those photos always lead to a place where some tragedy is about to occur that Clea can prevent.

Two years ago, her father disappeared while on a humanitarian mission and is presumed dead, but that doesn't stop Clea and her mother from continuing to do good throughout the world. On one such trip to Columbia, she meets Race, the guide for the trip. She feels a connection to him but cannot explain why. Was it something in their past or possibly in their past lives? Whatever has brought them together is threatening to tear them apart forever. As the mystery of her father's disappearance unravels, Clea discover that she has powers that are bigger than anything she could have anticipated.

Wish List Wednesday - Number Thirty-Three

I stumbled across this book on a blog while trying to find some free e-books. Sadly, the search was a bust but I did find this book and it made it onto my wish list ASAP.

Choker

Written by: Elizabeth Woods

Released: January 4th 2011 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing


Summary: What if the only friend you could trust turned out to be dangerous? A new thriller from debut author Elizabeth Woods!


The reviews on Goodreads are great, from the few that are there, and it sounds so mysterious and spine tingling. Plus, as an added bonus, it comes out next week!

Plus, isn't that cover gorgeous in its simplicity?

Ugly Duckling Syndrome

The DUFF


Written by: Kody Keplinger

Released: September 7 by Little Brown/Poppy

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.


I’ve read this story before even though I haven’t read this particular book. That being said, it’s more of an observation than a critique or an accusation since this story is one of the quintessential types within literature. Plus, it’s highly steeped with Wuthering Heights and mirrors the love triangle as outlined within the pages. The one thing about this is how Keplinger put an actual name to those girls who are a part of any crowd. For all I know, DUFF is something that has been around for a while in other schools used to classify the “ugly duckling” in a group of friends, but this book was the first that I’ve ever heard of it.

Something else that this book did was really hit on the fact that every girl is a DUFF at some point and where there might be one within a group, chances are that her friends don’t think the same about her. In that way this book was fantastic for self-esteem and self-image for girls everywhere.

I loved Bianca’s character with all her snark and cynicism; I really related to her. And on top of her independent nature and feminism tendencies regarding relationships, I also related to her strong friendships and loyal nature. I know that I would for sure want her as a friend.

While Bianca’s friends were great – true friends – her love interests were what kept me reading. Wesley made me melt whenever I read about him, especially at the end. And his letter made me swoon. The relationship between the two of them was reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet in the way that it was “my only love sprung from my only hate” from the beginning to the end. But no worries, no one dies.

Then there was Toby. It’s not that I didn’t like him, but I agreed with Jessica 100% when she said that he wasn’t right for Bianca. He was polite and a real gentleman, but there wasn’t any fire between them at all.

I finished reading this book within a few hours. Partially because it’s rather short but mostly because it’s a fantastic read. Not only was it empowering, but it was realistic and non-floofy. Oh, and it was a fabulous debut novel! I give it a well deserved 8.5/10.

Top 10 Series Read in 2010

It was a hard choice to dwindle down the amazing series that I have read this year into only ten choices but after careful consideration I did it. And so, in no particular order at all, they are;




1. Parasol Proctorate– Gail Carriger
2. Privilege – Kate Brian
3. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
4. Pretty Little Liars – Sara Sheppard
5. Percy Jackson– Rick Riordan
6. Tomorrow – James Marsden
7. Iron Fey – Julie Kagawa
8. The Clique – Livi Harrison
9. The Luxe – Anna Godbersen
10. Airhead - Meg Cabot



These are series that I have greatly enjoyed this year though I may not have read all the books. They’re also ones that I’m still working on reading and will finish in 2011. Still, they were interesting and intriguing enough to make the list!

Let me know what you think; do you agree, disagree?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Soul Screamer Release Date

I am way behind on my Rachel Vincent reading – the evidence is mocking me from my bookshelf even as I type this. But even still, when I was at Chapters on Sunday and saw that My Soul to Steal was sitting on the bookshelf; I had to restrain myself from grabbing it right away. Truth is, I’m holding out to see if I can get it from Shoppers like I did with the others and I’m a sucker for my discount and points.

Still, far behind as I am (and desperately wanting a replacement for Rogue which I can’t find in stores anywhere), I can’t wait to get a hold of this book and read it.

Now, just in case you’ve been under a rock for the last while and don’t know what I’m talking about, take a minute to watch the trailer for this new book and read the summary blurb below.







Summary: YOU WANT MY SOUL AND MY BOYFRIEND?

Trying to work things out with Nash—her maybe boyfriend—is hard enough for Kaylee Cavanaugh. She can’t just pretend nothing happened. But “complicated” doesn’t even begin to describe their relationship when his ex-girlfriend transfers to their school, determined to take Nash back.

See, Sabine isn’t just an ordinary girl. She’s a mara, the living personification of a nightmare. She can read people’s fears—and craft them into nightmares while her victims sleep. Feeding from human fear is how she survives.

And Sabine isn’t above scaring Kaylee and the entire school to death to get whatever—and whoever—she wants.

I DON'T THINK SO.


See? Doesn’t it sound fantastic?

True Love

Matched


Written by: Ally Condie

Released: November 30, 2010 by Dutton Juvenile

Summary: Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

I’m not entirely sure why, but the idea of having your perfect match decided for you is something that greatly intrigues me. I guess that with society being as large as it is today, there’s always that worry of not finding yours. But while I like the idea, I couldn’t live in a society like Cassia’s. The world that she lives in is too corrupt under the surface and straining to maintain a hold over something larger than life and its perfect facade.

This book was a little Uglies and a little The Giver with its base ideas but it was all originally put together on the whole.

I wasn’t sure going into it whether or not I would like this book. It intrigued me, to be sure, but with all the hype surrounding it, it was a little daunting to read. However, I didn’t put it off as much as I thought it would; but I think that has a lot to do with wanting to read more 2010 debuts before the end of the year. (As it stands, I think I have 7 left on my shelf...)

Cassia was a character who I thought really came into herself throughout the progress of the novel. She was able to overcome the hold that her society had her though is still having to play the game in order to survive. After all, in dystopian novels like this (At least I would consider it dystopian. It’s certainly not my idea of a utopia), playing the game is how you stay alive and fight to overcome the tyranny that rules. Her love triangle with Ky and Xander was one that’s as old as time and has been played out many times before. I’m not sure what will happen or who she ends up with, but at time point in time I’m hoping that it’s Ky; he deserves happiness.

I thought that this was a great novel to start off a series that follows in the footsteps of the likes of Scott Westerfeld and Suzanne Collins. I can’t wait to read the next novel in this trilogy (or series, I’m not sure which). There were so many events set into motion and so many questions unanswered that I can only imagine that the following books are going to be better than this with more action, romance, and adventure. I’m giving it a solid 7/10.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Soon to be Over

It’s almost the end of December, which means that I have only a few days left to read any more 2010 debuts for The Story Siren’s 2010 Debut Reading Challenge. And I have six books left to read with two (Matched and The DUFF) at this point in time all cued up to post automatically within the next two days.


I’m also almost at 400 posts and I can’t really believe it, especially since I didn’t start blogging until almost mid-March.

With that, I should get back to reading. I’ve just started Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson and so far so good.

Happy holidays everyone!

Beast Within

Nightshade


Written by: Andrea Cremer

Released: October 19, 2010 by Philomel

Summary: Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?


I heard about this way back last spring when people were reading the ARC and blogging about how great it was. In fact, I remember reading on Rachel Vincent’s blog that she was reading/had finished reading it and that she enjoyed it. Right then and there I knew that I desperately wanted to read it as soon as possible. But then once I got it, they hype had sort of set me off and it took me a while to finally get around to picking it up and cracking the spine.

This was a book that I went into with such high expectations that I almost stopped reading it after the first few chapters. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great book, but I just found that it took me almost ¼ of the way through in order to get into the story and the lore. To me it felt as though it too forever for things to be explained. Either that or I was so flustered over the Christmas season that I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the details.

But I digress.

This story was gripping (once I got into it) and after that I didn’t want to put it down. Which, as usual, resulted in my staying up way too late in order to finish reading it.

Calla is such a strong character who is fighting such an inner battle that I couldn’t help but empathize with her and like her. At times I did want to hit her really hard in the face, though, but I think that’s just because I wanted her to ditch Shay and go for Ren 100%. But I also understood her inner conflict between doing what was expected of her and wanting to follow her own heart and forge her own path. I think that’s what made her such a realistic character despite the werewolf business.

Which brings me to both Ren and Shay. I loved Ren and it’s not as if I didn’t like Shay, but I thought him completely volatile and bad for Calla. Still, he made me swoon with his devotion. But Ren... he just made me completely weak in the knees. So, it’s Team Ren for this blogger.

This book started a chain reaction which I can’t wait to read more about in the next novel. I thought that it was a fabulous starter book for an intriguing series of books. There’s mystery and war and love and hate. Basically there’s everything that makes a book good in the right recipe of ingredients – which this book definitely has and I can’t wait to see where it all goes next.

This is a definite 9/10 for me.

ps: Gorgeous cover!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

In My Mailbox (33)

IMM credit as always goes out to Kristi over at the wonderful blog that is The Story Siren. If you haven’t already checked out her blog, you should; it’s a great one.




Well, Christmas is officially over and people are most likely (in North America) lined up already for the Boxing Day sales. Admittedly, I’m more than likely going to partake in them myself by going to Chapters at some point.

But, Christmas brought to me some amazing books, and they are;



A Private Collection – books 1-4 by Kate Brian in her Private series (Private, Invitation Only, Untouchable, Confessions).
I can’t wait to read them after I finish my Privilege books. Or maybe before then... who knows.

Then I borrowed from my cousin;



The Slap by Christos Triolkas
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls



I can’t wait to read all of these books; they all look amazing.

Let me know what you got in your mailbox this week!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Holiday Contest Winner

There were, including the bonus entries, 52 people who entered into winning a copy of Delirium! I’m pretty sure that you could knock me over with a feather right now; I never expected so many people to enter. Thank you everyone!


So, it’s due to this contest that I’m up early on Christmas morning... Ok, my mum set off the fire alarm at 8:30, which is the real reason, but the first sounded better. And since my mum was up as well setting the oven on fire, I had her choose a number at random in order to discover who the winner would be.

And the winner is number...

29 – which according to my list is allisonrocks from Allison’s Book Reviews and YA for Dummies.

Congratulations Allison!



I want to thank everyone who entered and wish you all a happy holiday season.

Merry Christmas to All


To all of my fabulous readers and your families,


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May your days be full of love and warmth this season.

 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Three Down

I Am Number Four


Written by: Pittacus Lore

Released: July 18, 2010 by HarperCollins

Summary: In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now.

The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.

I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.

I AM NUMBER FOUR.

I AM NEXT.




This book was a little Roswell, a little K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs series from the ‘90s, plus something else that I can’t place a finger on. Still, I was mesmerized once I got into the story and I absolutely cannot wait to read the second book in the series.

Number Four (John Smith) was a good character although I never pictured him as 15. Maybe the movie buzz has ruined his mental picture, but whatever. He didn’t act like a fifteen-year-old either, so I automatically thought of him as at least 17. The character that I loved was Sam. He was so sweet and I just wanted to shrink him to pocket size and carry him around with me at all times. Also, I completely want a Bernie Kosar of my own – he would be the ultimate pet – and I can’t wait to find out more about Number Six and the other aliens.

To be honest, as much as I liked reading this book, I’m not sure why I did since it wasn’t the best book that I’ve read this year. But I suppose that just goes to show just how great the writing itself was since it masked the pitfall of first book syndrome. I guess that’s just it; this book was meant to really build up to the rest in the series.

There was action, romance, superhero powers, and an alien race. I can’t put it into words why I liked it, but I just did and I honestly can’t wait to read more about these characters and the battle for earth. I give it an 8/10.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Transgenic in High School

Virals


Written by: Kathy Reichs

Released: September 29, 2010 by Razorbill

Summary: Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the Bones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage "sci-philes" who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer's scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends they're a pack. They are Virals.



Even though I have two Kathy Reichs books from her Temperance Brennan series, I’ve never read anything by this author before now. Of course, this is going to make me rush out and grab some of her books from the library to read ASAP. The writing style made me unaware that I was reading a YA book until something like homework or high school was mentioned, and I rather like that in my YA reads. And it was nice that it was tied into the adult series as well – acting sort of like a spin-off.

Tory was a character who I found to be wise and aged beyond her years. She was very mature and learned which made for an interesting read with science information. I kept forgetting as I read that she was only fourteen and the youngest of her friends.

I loved that idea of a close-knit community living on an island together off the shore of a large city. I thought that it would have been so cool had I of grew-up in a place like that with friends like Tory has. I guess it was just nice that you knew all your neighbours. But how the houses were on this island was neat. It sounded like it was an absolutely beautiful setting.

The mystery of this book was great and it threw me completely off guard. Never going into reading this book did I expect it to be anything other than sci-fi reading with all key plots relating to how the characters become Virals. But it was almost as if the sci-fi was the backseat story to the main mystery that had Tory and her friends acting like Nancy Drew. I thought that it was a great mixture of the two genres within the pages of one book.

This book gripped me from the very first chapter and kept me enthralled with the story until the very end. Speaking of which, the ending has a loop like I would never have guessed and I almost had to re-read the last few chapters to make sure that things had really turned out like they did.

This was a cute read (meaning that in the very best way possible) that was gripping and fun for the entire 464 pages. At no point did I stop and wonder when things were going to end, which is always a great thing in my book. I am left wondering, though, if there will be any following books with these characters. But as much as I would love to read that, I can’t think of how it would work into a different story. But that’s not my job, now is it?

On a side note; isn't that cover gorgeous? There's so much going on with it but it all works so well together.

Anyways, this is a 9/10 book for me and I really cannot wait to read more by this author.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What the Almighty Demands

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters


Written by: Natalie Standiford

Released: September 1, 2010 by Scholastic Press

Summary: The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grandmother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die . . . and has cut the entire family out of her will. Since she is the source of almost all their income, this means they will soon be penniless.

Someone in the family has offended her deeply. If that person comes forward with a confession of her (or his) crime, submitted in writing to her lawyer by New Year's Day, she will reinstate the family in her will. Or at least consider it.

And so the confessions begin...


When I first started to read this book I had my doubts that I would enjoy it. But since I received it through Good Golly Miss Holly’s ARC tour and I had to send it along to the next stop, I knew that I had to at least give it a try and finish it even if I wasn’t completely into it. After all, there are only so many woe-is-me-the-poor-little-rich-girl stories that a person can read without being completely sick of them.

This book is separated into five parts. The first and the last serve as an opening to the entire situation and then the grand finale. The middle three are taken from each perspective of the Sullivan girls; Norrie, Jane and Sassy in order of age. It was Norrie’s part that made me think that I wouldn’t really care for this. Really, I just couldn’t relate to her in any way. But then I read Jane’s part and I don’t know if it was because she was a blogger or her beliefs on Catholic school, but I just connected with her completely. Sassy’s part was just a nice read that made me both laugh and cry a little.

I liked the idea of this book, but when I read the reason for the confessions I gave a little sigh and shook my head at the absurdness of Almighty (the grandmother) and immediately knew that I would like her character. But, no matter how it came to be, having the three letters partnered with the following narrative served as a great way to see into each story, each confession. It was interesting to see the prelude to the next confession hidden in the previous and to see the information grow as each sister had her turn telling her story.

The characters in this novel were a little one-dimensional, though I think that that added to what the story was trying to portray since when the stories were combined they made a rather three-dimensional read. Too, each sister portrayed one archetypal role within the realm of characters: Norrie was the tired older sister wanting to make her own decisions for her own life, Jane was the rebel who wanted to shock and awe, and poor Sassy was the youngest girl whose family life made her own thoughts a little confused.

In the end I enjoyed this book, though maybe not as much as I first anticipated. Still, it was a great way to spend an evening winding down from work. Overall, I’m giving it a 6/10 and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a nice read for some winter night.

Wish List Wednesday - Number Thirty-Two

It took me a while to choose a book for my wishlist this week, and I almost gave up, until I had the brilliant idea to start featuring more 2011 debuts. Oh yes, it’s a genius plan. Anyways, to start I referred back to my first ideal read list for the debuts and chose this one;




The Liar Society

Written by: Lisa and Laura Roecker

Released: March 1, 2011 by Sourcebooks Fire

Summary: Then there are two different summaries on Goodreads, so here are both;

Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. But when she gets an e-mail from Grace, she’s not so sure.
To: KateLowry@pemberlybrown.edu
Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
From: GraceLee@pemberlybrown.edu
Subject: (no subject)

Kate,
I'm here…
sort of.
Find Cameron.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.
Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace’s death was more than just a tragic accident. But secrets haunt the halls of her elite private school. Secrets people will do anything to protect. Even if it means getting rid of the girl trying to solve a murder...

~

Kate Lowry didn’t think dead best friends could send e-mails. But when she gets an e-mail from Grace, who died mysteriously a year before, she’s not so sure. When the emails continue, Kate is forced to confront her school’s resident druggie, a sketchy administrator, and even her own demons.

As Kate moves closer and closer to the truth, she teams up with a couple of knights-in-(not so)shining armor–the dangerously attractive, bad boy, Liam and her love-struck neighbor, Seth. The three uncover an ancient secret lurking in the halls of their elite private school with the power to destroy them all.

But the truth doesn’t always set you free. Sometimes it’s only the beginning.


The first sounds much more mysterious and really hooks a reader. The second offers a bit more information about what’s in store. I can’t choose which I like better.

The cover art shown here is from one of the editions on Goodreads but I’m not sure whether or not it’s the final cover. Personally, I’m not really a fan just because it conveys more of a pop-romance-princess-nerd YA thing than a unsolved murder mystery. It’s nice and all, but just not what I would have pictured for a novel like this. I guess time will tell how the actual cover will look.

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Denial Isn't a River

I'm taking a book from my regularly scheduled Vintage Tuesdays because I just finished reading this book and I needed to share it ASAP.


After


Written by: Amy Efaw

Released: August 11, 2009 by Viking Juvenile

Summary: An infant left in the trash to die. A teenage mother who never knew she was pregnant...

Before that morning, these were the words most often used to describe straight-A student and star soccer player Devon Davenport: responsible, hardworking, mature.

But all that changes when the police find Devon home sick from school as they investigate the case of an abandoned baby. Soon the connection is made — Devon has just given birth; the baby in the trash is hers.

After that morning, there’s only one way to define Devon: attempted murderer.

And yet gifted author Amy Efaw does the impossible — she turns Devon into an empathetic character, a girl who was in such deep denial that she refused to believe she was pregnant. Through airtight writing and fast-paced, gripping storytelling, Ms. Efaw takes the reader on Devon’s unforgettable journey toward clarity, acceptance, and redemption.


I’ve always known that the mind was a powerful thing. I mean, if I truly over-think something I can scare the crap out of myself to the point where my heart is racing and I start to sweat even though there’s nothing there or nothing wrong. The imagination also stems from the mind and as a child how many of us had imaginary friends who we would swear were real, or what about the games that we would play with no physical props. I think that if a person truly sets their mind to something, they can start to believe that it’s real and either see or not see whatever they want. This book just affirmed everything about that that I believe and made me think about it in a whole new light.

Imagine psyching yourself enough into thinking that you weren’t pregnant and that that huge stomach was a result from over-eating and not enough sit-ups. Imagine forgetting it all after everything goes down and you almost kill yourself from not assessing the situation properly. I sure can’t.

Even before I started to read this book I was intrigued by the subject matter. The “Dumpster Baby” is one of those urban legends that you’re sure is completely real (which it is) and always happens to a friend of a friend of a friend. But also, it’s one of the rare topics that novels never touch on. So my interest was piqued and I knew that I had to get my hands on a copy to read.

Devon as a character was one who, from the very beginning, I empathized with. She evoked such heart-wrenching emotions from me as I read that I was genuinely crying as I finished reading. Not once did I ever dub her a monster for what she did, though had I of just been reading a newspaper article about something like this I don’t know how I would have reacted. But Devon came across even from the very first page as a girl who was so completely lost within herself that she didn’t know what was happening around her.

On TLC they have that ‘I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant’ show where women are well into their third trimester near their due date before they are told or they give birth while cooking dinner at home – all the while never even realizing that they were about to pop. With cases like that, it’s a general lack of both symptoms and realization that keeps the mothers from knowing about their baby which is a little hard to swallow but understandable. My aunt worked with a lady who only found out a week before her due date. But I digress. Those are instances where denial wasn’t a factor and while you heard about them you question women and shake your head at the absurdity. But with Devon you know that she knew on some level that she was pregnant but wasn’t able to address the fact due to incredible denial. This makes you feel so sorry for her and as the story unfolds and she reflects back on the months leading up to the delivery, you experience the emotions that she feels as she discovers how she inadvertently kept the information from both herself and those around her.

The writing of this book is such unlike anything else that you would have read for a while (at least it was for me). It approaches the subject with such raw honesty and emotion that you can’t help but react. It’s able to capture this phenomenon in such a way that you’re left thinking about it for days, or longer, after you’ve read the last page and closed the book.

I am so happy that I purchased a copy of this book for myself because it not only gave me the ability to read it, but also the opportunity to share it in the future with everyone I know. Honestly, this is going to be one of those books that I’m going to recommend to anyone and everyone who wants to read something that’s real and not supernatural or romantic. Heck, I’m going to even recommend it to the people who only want to read that sort of stuff. This is one of those life-altering, perception-shifting books that are rare to find. I give it a very high and well deserved 10/10.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

In My Mailbox (32)

As always, I can take absolutely no credit for IMM since that’s the brainchild of Kristi at The Story Siren. You should go and check out her blog if you haven’t already.




Well, it was another week and another week of complete and utter failure as far as my self-prescribed boon ban goes. But, it could have been a lot worse than it was, so that’s a bonus. Besides, I had a coupon and a gift coupon thing for Chapters so I had to get it used up.

So, this week I got;



After by Amy Efaw
I’ve wanted to read this one ever since I first discovered it but I waited until it came out in paperback so that it wasn’t so expensive. I’m reading it right now and it’s fabulous so far.



The Shadow in the North and The Tin Princess by Philip Pullman
Yes, I was an idiot and bought books 2 and 4. I thought that I had grabbed book 3, but I found out hours later that I had grabbed the wrong one. This just means that I’ll have to get the third soon. Maybe for Christmas.



Hungry for You by Lynsay Sands
This series is a complete guilty pleasure. I can’t wait to read more about the Argeneau family.



So this is what I got. Let me know about your IMM!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

All Hail the Vampire Queen

Infinite Days


Written by: Rebecca Maizel

Released: August 3, 2010 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Summary: Lenah Beaudonte is, in many ways, your average teen: the new girl at Wickham Boarding School, she struggles to fit in enough to survive and stand out enough to catch the eye of the golden-boy lacrosse captain. But Lenah also just happens to be a recovering five-hundred-year-old vampire queen. After centuries of terrorizing Europe, Lenah is able to realize the dream all vampires have -- to be human again. After performing a dangerous ritual to restore her humanity, Lenah entered a century-long hibernation, leaving behind the wicked coven she ruled over and the eternal love who has helped grant her deep-seated wish.
Until, that is, Lenah draws her first natural breath in centuries at Wickham and rediscovers a human life that bears little resemblance to the one she had known. As if suddenly becoming a teenager weren’t stressful enough, each passing hour brings Lenah closer to the moment when her abandoned coven will open the crypt where she should be sleeping and find her gone. As her borrowed days slip by, Lenah resolves to live her newfound life as fully as she can. But, to do so, she must answer ominous questions: Can an ex-vampire survive in an alien time and place? What can Lenah do to protect her new friends from the bloodthirsty menace about to descend upon them? And how is she ever going to pass her biology midterm?


Oh my god, only in realizing that this was a 2010 debut book and that I didn’t have it listed with my other debuts made me realize that I hadn’t even written a review to go with it. And I finished reading this book MONTHS ago! I’m talking, beginning of September. So excuse me if this review is a little vague since it has been a while and with several books in-between since I gazed upon these pages.

I enjoyed Lenah as a character. I thought her witty and with a timeless charm that worked both with and against her. I loved how devoted she was, though conflicted since she wanted to life an actual life, but also how she literally laid her own life on the line to save those who she loved.

The characters in general with this book were great, though I wasn’t all that taken with Justin and his motley crew. I wish that there had been more with Lenah’s friend who was the artist and I can’t remember his name nor look it up since I loaned this book out to a friend. No matter, I really loved him and I wish that he had been expanded on more or made into a vampire (he wasn’t, was he? I didn’t forget that part did I?).

Unfortunately, my memory is a little fuzzy on the details of the book, but I know that I want to desperately read the next in the series because I need to know if/when Lenah finds Rhode and if he’s still there for her. Wait, did that just spoil some of the book? Sorry if it did, but I figure that since the sequel is up it can’t do that much harm.

Anyways, I give this book a well-rounded 8/10. I thought that it was rather great and I can’t wait to read more.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Horseman the First

Hunger


Written by: Jackie Morse Kessler

Released: October 18, 2010 by Harcourt Graphia

Summary: “Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?


I really enjoyed reading this book. I thought that the content matter was taken into a fresh light and the way that it was related back to famine was ingenious. I mean, having a girl who is inflicting her own personal famine onto herself only to have her unintentionally inflict it upon others as the apocalyptic horseman famine, is something that really makes you think about life.

Thankfully I’ve never had problems with self-inflicted eating disorders but I was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that made everyone think that I was bulimic since I couldn’t get food into my stomach. From that, I could relate to some of what Claire went through (though on a different level – I didn’t want to be throwing up due to eating).

Claire as a character some someone who you knew was completely and utterly broken. From the small glimpses that you got into her family life, you could tell that her father was emotionally unavailable and drowned his sorrows in alcohol while her mother was just unavailable and never really at home due to overcompensating for something in her life. Poor Claire was just caught in the cross-fire of life.

Another thing was that she found herself in the company of a completely toxic friend Tammy who not only aided in her not-eating but justified and praised it.

The psychological aspects of this book were fantastic and they really brought to life the struggle that people can feel when dealing with an eating disorder. The inner Thin voice in Lisa’s head really added to the internal struggle and it gave a voice to the doubts and skewed perspectives.

One thing that I liked with this book was the ending. I loved how Lisa sought out help and was taking her recovery one step at a time – very realistic – and the sudden battle with War and how the outcome made Lisa realize that she wanted to live was very reflective on the internal battle that rages within people. I also thought that it was very clever how Lisa sees just how not in control her friend Tammy was of her bulimia and how it wasn’t as glamorous and enviable as she first thought. That scene really shows just how brutal it is and the damage that it does to a person’s body; and how they just don’t care as long as they’re thin. It also shows just how little a friend Tammy was to Lisa the entire time.

Another aspect of this book is just how gritty it is with the details. I’ll admit that at times I would read a sentence and then be completely taken aback on what I had just read purely for the fact that I had never read something like that in any book let along a YA one. But this no-holds barred way of writing is what really makes this book something special. I mean, anyone could have written about the horsemen of the apocalypse, but the way that it was related to, and the fashion of which is was, to eating disorders – the complete lack of line to cross – really made it great.

I would suggest this book to anyone who has ever had an eating disorder, who struggles with their self-image, or who just wants to read something that’s not all about the trivial pursuits of high school (paranormal or not). This is a fantastic book for the modern age and it tackles a topic which is usually left in the dark because it’s too hard to write about.

So, I’m giving this book a 10/10 and I can’t wait to read more from this author, especially the books which will follow this one in the series.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Technological Advances

As of a few minutes ago, The Lady Critic’s Library is officially mobile friendly. This means that even when I check on the site from my phone it’s not going to take forever to load the information!


Personally I think that this option is an incredible idea; it makes life so much easier.

Let me know if you’ve joined the mobile craze!

Best Served Cold

Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood


Written by: Eileen Cook

Released: December 26, 2009 by Simon Pulse

Summary: Popularity is the best revenge.

In the final weeks of eighth grade, Lauren Wood made a choice. She betrayed her best friend, Helen, in a manner so publicly humiliating that Helen had to move to a new town just to save face. Ditching Helen was worth it, though, because Lauren started high school as one of the It Girls--and now, at the start of her senior year, she's the cheerleading captain, the quarterback's girlfriend, and the undisputed queen bee. Lauren has everything she's ever wanted, and she has forgotten all about her ex-best friend.

But Helen could never forget Lauren. After three years of obsessing, she's moving back to her old town. She has a new name and a new look, but she hasn't dropped her old grudges. She has a detailed plan to bring down her former BFF by taking away everything that's ever been important to Lauren—starting with her boyfriend.

Watch out, Lauren Wood. Things are about to get bitchy.




I’ve read this before. Ok, not this specific book, but I remember from a several years ago there was a story on fictionpress that was incredibly similar to this one. However, though that was my first assumption, as I read I realized that the two are vastly different. And then I came to the conclusion that this is the classic formula for revenge YA literature. Don’t get me wrong, though, I love it no matter what. Revenge is one of those themes that will never ever get old.

Helen was a great character. I loved her inner monologues and her lists on how to make Lauren pay. Plus, I was totally on her side 100% to wreak havoc on Lauren’s perfect little life. Lauren was a grade A biznatch if you ask me. What sort of person blames their best friend for something that she didn’t do just to become popular and a cheerleader?

This book was part Count of Monte Cristo, part Mean Girls, a dash of Heathers, and all amazing. I was laughing and ranting all while reading it depending on the situation. I completely wanted to trade lives with Helen for a few days, too, and I was completely jealous that there was a small movie theatre that plays old movies like The Thin Man.

The only thing that I deemed taking things a little too far happens at the end of the novel. I don’t want to ruin it, but let’s just say that it’s not cool (though rather brilliant as far as ultimate revenge goes).

If you’re looking for a book full of nitty gritty revenge plots and some hilarious revenge lists, this is for you. I give it a well deserved 8/10 and I can’t wait to read more from Eileen Cook.

Cover Alert

With the movie set to come out in February and the first book already released, I'm already excited to read the second in the Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore.

The Power of Six is set to be published in June of next year and even as I'm currently reading I Am Number Four, I can't wait to see where this book series is going to go. Plus, my excitement just escalated since I stumbled across the potential cover for the second book.




Isn't it amazing? It keeps with the first but changes it quite nicely. I can't wait! What do you think?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

No Victor Hugo Poem

Claire de Lune


Written by: Christine Johnson

Released: April 23, 2010 by Simon Pulse

Summary: Torn between two destinies?

Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: she's a werewolf.

As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever?


Ok, I’m going to admit it; I read about the first half of this book and then skimmed the rest. I don’t know, but it just couldn’t keep my attention for that long. So I read the beginning, skimmed, and then read the ending so that I could find out what happened.

Personally, I didn’t connect with Claire on any level and her romance with Matthew just didn’t ring true to me. Emily, the best friend, just came off as vapid to me.

One thing that I did enjoy with this book were the brief scientific bits that were included. I thought that it was interesting that people thought that they could cure a “natural” condition. I thought that it was a nice little view into the real scientific world in how they created false results in order to draw out those who were really a werewolf and seeking a “cure”. I wish that that had been more explored with what I read, but since I skimmed the middle maybe there was something more in there about it. Could someone please let me know?

I also wish that the history and philosophy of the entire change and the Goddess were elaborated on more. It seemed to me as though it was briefly and incompletely covered.

Maybe I didn’t give this book enough of a chance and maybe I should try to sit down and read it through, but with my many other amazing books sitting on the TBR pile, I just can’t justify it right now. So, at this very moment in time, I’m giving it a 3/10. Hopefully in time I will be able to re-read it, but for now that’s where I stand.

Wish List Wednesday - Number Thirty-One

With my long-overdue review to come for Infinite Days, I really can't wait to read, the sequel Stolen Nights.



Aside from the gorgeous cover, I can't wait to find out what happens next to Lenah and Rhode. The ending for the last book really left a reader wanting much, much more. I only wish that June 11 would get here sooner.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vintage Tuesdays - Twin Dolls are Deceiving

The Magic Christmas (Sweet Valley Twins Manga Edition 1)


Written by: Francine Pascal

Released: November 1, 1992 by Bantam Juvenile

Summary: When Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield's grandparents give them a pair of matching antique dolls for Christmas, they're a little surprised. Their grandparents should know they're too old to play with dolls! Then the twins learn that the dolls are a family legacy from a past generation of twins. But that's not all that's special about the dolls. Before they know it, Jessica and Elizabeth are thrown into the most magical adventure of their lives. And along the way they learn what being twins—and best friends—really means.


This is one of my all-time favourite SVT books. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a Christmas special or because it’s all full of magic, but it’s one of the books that I’ve read so many times over the years that I can’t count how many.

Looking back on it, it’s rather childish (as most of the SVT books are) and the outcome is completely predictable – though the time first time that I read it, I was completely on the edge of my seat – it’s just too much fun to not love. I mean, come on, a set of “gorgeous blue-green eyed Californian twins” travel to this magical land and find two equally handsome twin boys who are their exact clones but with extra body parts. And, of course, each twin gets stuck with the twin who would match their twin’s personality perfectly. Did you follow that last bit?

This book was the perfect mix of the usual SV treatment and all sorts of fantastical creatures and magic. Take out the twin aspect and you would get this great middle-grade/young adult novel that would both thrill and awe you. Within the pages you are introduced to amazing new beasts and a fantasy land where anything is possible if you only imagine it to be.

Anyways, this is one of those books that gets me in the holiday spirit whenever I read it, which didn’t always happen to be around Christmas. And really, there’s no real reason that it should since Christmas is only mentioned in the first and last few chapters. But still, I guess it’s the magic that accompanies it, like the ‘magic of the holiday season’ and all that.

It’s been years since I last read this book, but I think that I may – if I have enough time – quickly re-read it soon. Aside from it being in conjunction with the fact that it’s less than two weeks until Christmas, it’s been too long since I’ve read a SVT book period. So, in short, I give this a 10/10 not only for the memories, but for the fantasy and fun.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Movie Monday - Holy Christmas, Batman!

Batman Returns


Written by: Daniel Waters (screenplay), Sam Hamm and Daniel Waters (story), Based upon Batman by Bob Kane and Bill Finger

Directed by: Tim Burton

Released: June 19, 1992 by Warner Bros.

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Having defeated the Joker, Batman now faces the Penguin - a warped and deformed individual who is intent on being accepted into Gotham society. Crooked businessman Max Schreck is coerced into helping him become Mayor of Gotham and they both attempt to expose Batman in a different light. Earlier however, Selina Kyle, Max's secretary, is thrown from the top of a building and is transformed into Catwoman - a mysterious figure who has the same personality disorder as Batman. Batman must attempt to clear his name, all the time deciding just what must be done with the Catwoman.


You wouldn’t think it, but this is completely a Christmas movie. Don’t believe me? Go and watch even the first 10 minutes. Go ahead. Granted, Christmas isn’t the main focus of the movie – duh, it’s Batman – but it’s still there. It’s centered on Christmas, so that makes it a holiday movie in my books. Plus, it’s all about good will towards men and creating lines of communication between enemies.

Ok, maybe I’m grasping at straws here, but whatever. Sometimes a person needs a break from the holiday spirit; the music at work has been driving me crazy since mid November when it started in on the Christmas melodies. There’s only so many operatic versions of Winter Wonderland a person can take.

Anyways, this has always been a favourite movie of mine and I finally got around to purchasing it on DVD so that I could replace my VHS copy. That’s right, VHS. But I’ve always loved the Batman movies (recent years not included) and it must have been a while since I last watched this one because I was completely surprised when it started that it took place during the holiday season. So then, of course, I immediately knew that I had to review it for the whole Christmas movie theme that I currently have going on.

You can tell that this movie is the brainchild (set-wise anyways) of Tim Burton. Danny Elfman music aside, there’s this underlying scariness that can be attributed only to Burton since no one else would ever contemplate going in that direction. It’s also just the general style that is so completely out there and bizarre and original that there really can’t be another who you could name. His movies are always genius in that way.

It is great how, in this movie, they were able to rope in Michael Keaton again for the title role. Granted he’s not my favourite Batman – Mmmmm George Clooney... – but he’s also not my least. I would rate him at second place, for sure. Plus, as an added bonus, he doesn’t do that stupid voice like Christian Bale does.

The villain choice was also great and it started the run of two villains while was later copied in the next two films. But the way that they were both written and acted, Catwoman and the Penguin were characters who you could tell wouldn’t be in business together for very long. Star-crossed lovers aside with Batman and Catwoman, the Penguin is just the type of man that Catwoman would eat alive if the opportunity arose. However, their brief stint together against the Batman has this great love-hate chemistry that’s centered around their hate for the caped crusader.

In all, this is a fantastic movie for all those who are age appropriate and who love the entire superhero genre. Not only is it classic superhero before it started to become popular to have movies about it, it’s a great film period in part to Burton and his visionary genius. I give it a well-earned 9/10.


PS: It's less than TWO WEEKS to Christmas! And Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In My Mailbox (31)

IMM credit goes to Kristi over at The Story Siren. As always, it’s her genius that brings so many blogs together to share the books that we get.




Anyways, I know that I was supposed to be on a book ban... but I’ve never been good at restrictions. I’ll try to do better next week.



But, to be fair, on Monday (or it might have been Tuesday) I received in the mail the ARC of Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford courtesy of Good Golly Miss Holly’s amazing ARC tour. Expect the review to come soon since I read it in two days and sent it away to the next person.

And then there was the little trip into the city that I took with my cousin where I dragged her to Chapters and then fell asleep in the movie theatre. While there (shopping not sleeping), I was finally able to find



Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

The Lying Game by Sara Sheppard



Then I grabbed the latest V.C. Andrews book Daughter of Darkness as a sort of half-gag gift for a friend. Both of us have almost all the older Andrew’s books and we both kind of sneered at this one when it came out – vampires and all. Yet at the same time we admitted that we were curious.



You have no idea how happy I am to get my hands on Hunger. I can’t wait to read them all no matter what.

SO this what I got in my mailbox this week, let me know what you got in yours!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Witchy Witchy Schoolgirls

Hex Hall


Written by: Rachel Hawkins

Released: March 2, 2010 by Hyperion Book CH



Summary: Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.




I should have written this review so long ago it’s not even funny. And I don’t know why it has taken me so long to getting around to writing it, especially since I’ve written several between the time of this book being read and this review being written, but whatever the reason here it is.

This was a debut novel that I greatly enjoyed though it took me a few chapters to get into it. I was fond of the characters and the idea of a supernatural boarding school – though as I write that it makes me all déjà vu and I can’t think of why – and the book showed great promise for the rest of the following books.

I enjoyed Sophie as a character and her transformation was one that I didn’t expect in any way shape or form... until I read the summary for Demonglass and the last few pages of the book way before I should have.

I can’t wait to read more about these characters and to find out what happens next. But I think that I’m going to cut this review short purely because I’m having such trouble writing it. I mean, I finished reading this in October. Way overdue review.

So, for now I’m leaving it with a 7/10 and the anticipation for the next novel.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Three Parasol's Kick Arse

Blameless


Written by: Gail Carriger

Released: September 1, 2010 by Orbit

Summary: Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.


I love this series, I really do. I cannot wait until the fourth book comes out, but that’s not until next summer so I have a while to wait. It’s the characters and the situations that make this series, and this book, what it is and I see it only getting better. I mean, a book where dirigibles rule the skies and supernatural creatures are organized and in the public eye is amazing.

After reviewing the previous two books, I don’t know how much more I can say. This novel followed the perfect recipe that the previous had laid down on paper (literally). The characters interact so well and weave this wonderful story, credit going to Carriger of course; it’s so easy to get lost in it.

Alexia in this book was developed even further and you were able to see more into her familial past. It was interesting to see her take in her historical country – Italy – and read her reactions to their difference in both style and food. Then of course there is Lord Maccon. It was hilarious to read the scenes where he’s drunk, but even inebriated and completely infuriated it shoes how much he loves Alexia.

I can’t wait to see what happens for next, but for now I’m just going to give this a 9/10. I highly recommend this series to anyone who wants something a little different but something that will still be amazing and entertaining.

Future Eye Candy

For all of you who loved the novel Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, here's some good news (depending on how you look at it).

Taylor Lautner has signed on to play Finn, the male lead for the Fox screen adaptation. Claudia has yet to be cast.

According to IMDb, the film has a release date for 2013 and it looks like Lautner is the only one attached at this moment.

I can't help but wonder how good it's going to be... And what the movie poster will look like.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

First Love, True Love

A Walk to Remember


Written by: Nicholas Sparks

Released: October 1, 1999 by Warner Books

Summary: In 1958 Landon Carter is a shallow but well-meaning teenager who spends most of his time hanging out with his friends and trying hard to ignore the impending responsibilities of adulthood. Then Landon gets roped into acting the lead in the Christmas play opposite the most renowned goody two-shoes in town: Jamie Sullivan. Against his best intentions and the taunts of his buddies, Landon finds himself falling for Jamie and learning some central lessons in life.


A friend of mine read this when it was first released – we were in elementary school then – and at the time she told me how amazing it was. I then promptly forgot about it and even once I watched the movie (love it) it was a while before I got around to grabbing a copy for myself. It then took forever for me to read it.

I am glad that I finally got around to reading this book. Granted, I really dislike Nicholas Sparks as a writer because I don’t enjoy his writing style, but I did enjoy this novel though I found it lacking in events. But let me specify; I think that since there is so much more that goes on in the movie (since I did watch it first), and there is the generational difference between the two, I just didn’t relate on the surface level. However, once I got into it and dug deeper, the base of the novel is one which I think most would be able to connect.

Landon as a narrator was an interesting choice, though at times he was rather shallow (just like the summary says) and annoying. I mean, the first time that he takes interest in Jamie is when he notices that she’s grown breasts and gotten a tan. Also, the way that he treats her at times made me incredibly sad to read. She deserved better for most of the book.

Jamie as a character was one who would have been teased mercilessly even now – who carries around a bible all the time? – but she just seemed so genuine and kind that it was hard to side with the other characters and their initial dislike of her. She was a well-crafted character in my mind but was sometimes too nice for her own good. A little anger never hurt anyone and neither did the occasional tantrum. I’m just saying...

The love story that this story encompasses is one that I greatly enjoyed. It was simplistic and yet so moving; it’s reminiscent of the movie Love Story. It had me in tears at the end even though I knew how it was going to end, and it was lovely.

But when it comes down to it, that’s all this book was; lovely. It was a nice read (even though it was Nicholas Sparks, sorry) and would be one that I would recommend... but I liked the movie better. You just can’t compete with Shane West; which is why the movie version of the cover doesn't bother me near as much as it would normally. Still, I’m giving this a 6/10.