Friday, December 31, 2010

Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
John Green
Pages: 221

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Francois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly stable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

~description taken from book jacket

Well, most people reading this blog will have already read this one. For good reason- it's kind of amazing. I figure I'd review it anyway, if only to get the word out!

Last summer I read An Abundance of Katherines, one of John Green's other books. Looking for Alaska follows the same formula: Nerdy guy with a quirky interest decides he needs something new in his life, goes to a new location and meets an equally quirky girl who changes him. Generally, it annoys me when an author does the (almost) exact plot twice, but in this case I didn't really mind. This is because John Green is simply a really, really funny author. It takes a lot for me to laugh aloud when I'm sitting alone reading, but Green had me doing so several times throughout the course of Looking for Alaska. Also, the amount of obscure information he packs into his books is mind-boggling. He seems like one of those people who must have read every book ever printed. If I ever get the chance I want to hear him speak.

As a whole, Looking for Alaska is a bit of a heavy read, but not depressingly so. I think this is because you're meant to figure out what event separates the 'before' and 'after' of Miles' life, so it lessens the blow somewhat. The large doses of comedic dialogue also help with this. However, if you're looking just for a 'light' read I'd recommend An Abundance of Katherines. Actually, never mind that. Read both of them. John Green is excellent and I want to help spread the love.

4.5/5 Stars

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Breaking the Spine. It's where bloggers can showcase the yet to be released books that they're most excited for!

The Vespertine
Saundra Mitchell
Release Date: 3/7/2011

It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

This sounds like a mix of my two favorite genres- historical fiction and paranormal romances. Definitely one to jot down on your release calendars!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: Forest Born

Forest Born (Books of Bayern #4)
Shannon Hale
Pages: 389

“Growing up in the Forest, Rin always turned to the trees when she needed peace or reassurance, even direction, until the day they seem to reject her. Rin is sure something is wrong with her, something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest, keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all.

When her brother Razo returns to the city after a visit home, Rin accompanies him to the palace in hopes of finding a new sense of herself. But a mysterious threat haunts Bayern, and Rin joins the magical girls she thinks of as the Fire Sisters –Isi, Enna, and Dasha- as they venture into the woods toward the kingdom of Kel... where someone wants them all dead.”

Description taken from book jacket

First off, I want to say that I adore Shannon Hale. She’s a fantastic writer, and follows what I think is the perfect philosophy with YA books- write what you think is a good story, not what’s easily marketable. As a result, she’s produced numerous solid novels that I’d recommend, which includes her previous Books of Bayern. However, all good things must end in order to remain good things and, unfortunately, the Books of Bayern have hit that point.

Forest Born, the fourth in the series, includes enough background information that you could come into the series a stranger and not be terribly confused. Although, it would be easiest to read them in order since the events happen sequentially. This installment follows Rin, who makes a delightfully insecure heroine. She is ‘forest born’, as the title points out, and you (re)discover the world of Bayern along with her as she heads out to work at the castle. There’s intrigue right from the start when Rin suspects a lady in waiting of wanting to kill Prince Tusken and suspicious fires start up at Bayern’s boundary with the neighboring country Kel.

While the characters and humor are great, like in all of Hale’s other books, Forest Born remains plagued by mediocre plot twists. One character pulls a Gandalf, but it isn’t done properly. Instead of having the shocked reaction you’re supposed to, you realize that Hale’s hit the bottom of the idea barrel for the series. As a result, the entire second half of the book has a very forced feel to it. Even though I got attached to Rin and wanted to hear more about her, the plot just wasn’t interesting anymore.

I still love Shannon Hale, but I hope Forest Born is the last in her Bayern series. While it’s a solid read, and much better than the work of other authors, I’m disappointed because it doesn’t measure up to her other books. Hale’s writing itself is absolutely magical- she just needs better storylines to work with.

4/5 Stars

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Title: Entwined
Author: Heather Dixon
Release Date: March 29, 2011

Azalea and her younger sisters dance in the mysterious silver forest every night, escaping from the sadness of the palace and their father’s grief. What they don’t understand—although as time passes they begin to get an inkling of the danger they are in—is that the mysterious and dashing Keeper is tightening his snare with deadly purpose. Luckily, Azalea is brave and steadfast. Luckily, a handsome young army captain also has his eye on Azalea. . . . Lush, romantic, and compelling, this debut novel by Heather Dixon will thrill fans of Shannon Hale, Robin McKinley, and Edith Pattou.

Description taken from Goodreads
I love fairy tales, especially when they're retold in the form of a novel, so this book sounds right up my alley. The Twelve Dancing Princesses also happens to be one of my very favorites. I've already read Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (which happens to be amazing, in case you're looking for a quick recommendation), so I want to see what perspective this author will take on the story.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Breaking the Spine.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review: Never Cry Werewolf

Title: Never Cry Werewolf
Author: Heather Davis
Pages: 224

“Shelby’s summer plans go totally awry when her horrible stepmother sends her off to “brat camp” as punishment for one too many broken curfews. Camp is full of spoiled rich kids, obnoxious counselors wanting Shelby to talk about her feelings, and a totally inhumane “no cell phones” policy.

Things start looking up, though, when Shelby meets fellow camper (and son of a rock star) Austin Bridges III. But soon she realizes there’s more to Austin than crush material—his family has a dark secret, and he wants Shelby’s help guarding it. Shelby knows that bad boys get her into trouble…but who is she to turn her back on a guy in need, especially such a good-looking one?”

Description taken from Goodreads

I don’t know where to start with this one. It just wasn't very good. I mean, normally when I dislike a book I can see some reason why it was published, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it. I didn’t like Hush, Hush, despite its tremendous popularity, but I can at least understand why other people enjoy it so much. Not so much with this book.

Lets talk about characters. Mainly, how I wanted to line them up and systematically punch every single one in the face. Shelby, the generic angst-riden teen, is nothing more than a whiney brat with no reason to hate the world as much as she does. Her –OMG- evil stepmother wants her to focus on her schoolwork and not stay out late at night? The abuse! Her father made Shelby move homes? Surely no child in history has had to deal with such trauma! The list goes on. Shelby is so annoying that it actually becomes painful to read about her. Usually when this happens there are side characters that carry my interest throughout the book. Not here. All the other campers are taken directly from bad afterschool specials, including the jerky son of a paparazzi photographer and the legions of stuck up girls who only care about their makeup. If you’re going to use stock characters in your book (which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily- Meg Cabot makes it work) you need to make them interesting.

You would hope that Austin Bridges, the love interest, would rise above this. In a way, his personality less obnoxious then his fellow cast members, but his dialogue is so ludicrous that, once again, it becomes painful to read. You see, Austin Bridges is –OMG- British. Apparently, this means that it is not physically possible for him to utter an entire sentence without at least two separate usages of British slang. Sound annoying? You better bloody believe it is, mate.

The one thing I did like is the writing style Heather Davis employs. Never Cry Werewolf is a breezy, quick read. I don’t think it took me much longer than a couple of hours to go through it, and I’m a slow reader. However, some aspects of the plot were just too ridiculous to swallow. Mainly, Austin confiding his deep-dark-secret in Shelby less than 48 hours after meeting her. Yes, teen romances happen quickly, but come on. It was like the author got bored of writing and wanted to speed things up.

Overall, Never Cry Werewolf was a disappointment. Although it’s far from the worst book I’ve ever read, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone and will avoid this author in the future. If you’re looking for a werewolf romance try Shiver.

1.5/5 Stars

Monday, September 6, 2010

A quick update

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't posted anything recently. The last couple of weeks have been a bit hectic for me since I was wrapping up my summer job and internship. Trying to relearn several hundred kanji hasn't helped things either. BUT. I am now back at school now and classes start tomorrow, so I'll be on a more defined schedule and able to update regularly again.

I also noticed that in my absence a couple of people actually gave me blog awards! That's super nice of you guys, and I'm really sorry that I haven't thanked you sooner. I'll be doing a *proper* thank you post soon, and spreading the awards around then.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Title: Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Pages: 384

“Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica’s Senior Year “get-a-life-plan".

Enter a bizarre new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu who claims that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth and he’s her long-lost fiancĂ©. He’s arrogant, officious, embarrassingly overprotective, and well, incredibly hot.

Armed with a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health and Emotions, Jessica tries to imagine the transition from an average American teenager to a glam European vampire princess. But just when things tart to heat up with Lucius, a devious cheerleader sets her sights on him.

Soon Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war- and save Lucius’s soul from eternal damnation. All of which leaves her to wonder: Wouldn’t life be easier if she could just fall for a nice mortal boy?”

~description taken from jacket cover

For those of you skimming, I'll say it now: Go out and buy this book. I made the mistake of getting it from the library, and now I have to wait a few weeks to have my own copy. Do yourself a favor and get your own.

Jessica, also called Antanasia, is one of the most appealing narrators I’ve ever encountered. She’s smart, honest, and most importantly, you really feel for her. When something goes right for Jessica, you cheer, and when something goes wrong you cry with her. I was entirely enthralled with the storyline, only putting it down when outside circumstances necessitated it. Even the ‘normal’ moments that weren’t especially climactic seemed it, simply because I was so interested in what happened to Jessica. This raw, emotional tie is incredibly difficult to pull off, and is what, in my opinion, truly makes a book great.

However, Jessica isn’t the only reason I love this book. I also attribute it to Lucius (or Luscious, as I like to call him... terrible pun). Lucius is nowhere near a perfect hero, but he is perfect for Jessica. He makes plenty of rude remarks about the American farmland Jessica’s grown up in, but she refuses to take any smack and hands it right back to him. Even from their first encounter in Jessica’s barn, you can literally feel the chemistry popping in the air when she stabs him in the foot with a pitchfork.

Seems a bit extreme? Just wait until you experience Lucius- you’ll understand then (and yes, he isn’t just a character, but an experience). Some of his lines are hilarious but others make you want to punch him in the face. But after you do that you want to snuggle with him all night long. Basically, he’s irresistible. One of the few heroes who you know you’ll still be fantasizing about months after you flip the last page.

The bad with this book? I couldn’t find any hints towards a sequel. There’s a brief epilogue story on the author’s website that I’m saving for when I’ve had a terrible day. Other than that, I’m not sure if there’s any planned continuation. The only consolation is that the author has published another novel, Jekel Loves Hyde, that I'll be picking up as soon as possible.

Grade: 5/5

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Title: Extraordinary
Author: Nancy Werlin
Release Date: September 7, 2010

Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new kid in school, and the two girls become as close as sisters . . . until Mallory's magnetic older brother, Ryland, shows up during their junior year. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe, but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself. Soon she'll discover the shocking truth about Ryland and Mallory: that these two are visitors from the faerie realm who have come to collect on an age-old debt.

Generations ago, the faerie queen promised Pheobe's ancestor five extraordinary sons in exchange for the sacrifice of one ordinary female heir. But in hundreds of years there hasn't been a single ordinary girl in the family, and now the faeries are dying. Could Phoebe be the first ordinary one? Could she save the faeries, or is she special enough to save herself?

I think this one sounds really cool! Plus, the cover design is absolutely gorgeous, which always recommends a book to me. ;D

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Read-a-Thon Update

Technically the read-a-thon started yesterday, but I haven't had time to do an official starting post until now. Here's a pic I took of the books I want to finish this weekend:

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

I had started Dracula before the read-a-thon started, but haven't finished it. So, I won't count that one towards any contests, but I still want to get it under my belt. And btw, did you notice I said the word 'contests'? It's because there's quite a few going on. Check out the picture at the top of those post and enter the read-a-thon yourself. It's not too late!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blog Hop & Follow Friday (3)

It's Friday, which means it's time for my (usually) weekly Blog Hop/Follow Friday post! Both are great ways to find other book blogs out there so I recommend going to visit them and looking around. I'm quite serious- 99% of the blogs I follow I've found through these memes.

Book Blogger Hop

The weekly question for this is:
How many books do you have on your 'to be read' shelf?

Ha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA. adfkljashdfldk. Seriously? I'm going to go with well over a hundred. I can count of one hand the number of times I've visited a bookstore and haven't bought anything IN MY ENTIRE LIFE. I'm also a library addict (it's like my own personal store!) so I usually don't get around to reading the books I've bought for a long time. So... I'm not going to try counting. It would take too long and just depress me. -_-

Review: Everlasting

Title: Everlasting
Author: Angie Frazier
Pages: 329

“Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: Marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty.

On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous –and alluring- magic.

The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who –and what- matters most.”

~description taken from book jacket

Everlasting is an example of one of those books that are perfectly nice and enjoyable, but overall lack that intangible “it factor” that makes it memorable.

Camille, the heroine, is fun to read about, but just doesn’t stand out from the hoards of other YA protagonists. It’s not that she’s annoying or I had any problems with her- she was just generic, making it nearly impossible to empathize with her. The same can be said for Oscar, the man she loves. He’s perfectly nice and attractive, but forgettable. I only finished Everlasting last night, but I’m already having difficulty trying to scrounge up details about his personality. Because I can’t bring myself to care about either of the two, the romantic aspect of the book (which is quite large) falls flat.

Another problem I have regarding characters is Ira- the ‘funny sidekick’ as China Mieville would put it. He is by far my favorite in the novel, but is eerily similar to Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean. I don’t want to throw around the word plagiarism lightly, but there are enough similarities between the two to be concerned about. They’re both criminals, have an affinity for wenches, mention alcohol –specifically rum- multiple times, use the exact same wording and phrases, and overall possess the same general attitude. The only real difference is that Ira isn’t as developed as thoroughly.

Similar to how the romance feels lackluster, the plot is equally unenthralling for the same reason: I couldn’t care about the characters and therefore couldn’t be concerned about what happened to them. This is a bit sad since the events of the novel are actually put together quite well- everything works and remains within the suspense of disbelief. It’s for this reason that I’m annoyed at the unsubtle hints of a sequel near the ending. I think it would be more beneficial for Miss. Frazier to drop the characters, take it as a loss and move onto a different storyline.

Ultimately, there’s not much that’s technically wrong with Everlasting, but there’s not much right about it either. It is a fun, light read and I did finish it to the end. However, I cannot actively recommend it since there are so many other, better books out there. One example is Juliet Marillier’s Cybele’s Secret. It also features a seafaring romance and a search for a magical artifact, but features that ever illusive “it factor”. I’d recommend picking that up instead of Everlasting.

Grade: 3/5

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Read-a-thon This Weekend


This weekend I'll be participating in my first ever read-a-thon! With hyphens and everything! It's being hosted by the Bibliophilic Book Blog, and you can check it out by clicking on the picture


It takes place starting this Friday at 9 AM and ends the following Monday at 9AM. The theme is to read books you already own, so no cheating with library books! This will be especially good for me because I've had a backlog of books going since middle school...

Waiting on Wednesday (1)

In case you haven't heard of it, Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme held by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It's where you get to talk about what upcoming books you're absolutely pumped for and spread the word around to other people. Here's what I want to read:

Title: Nevermore
Author: Kelly Creagh
Release Date: 8/31/2010

Cheerleader Isobel Lanley is horrified when she is paired with Varen Nethers for an English project, which is due—so unfair—on the day of the rival game. Cold and aloof, sardonic and sharp-tongued, Varen makes it clear he’d rather not have anything to do with her either. But when Isobel discovers strange writing in his journal, she can’t help but give this enigmatic boy with the piercing eyes another look.

Soon, Isobel finds herself making excuses to be with Varen. Steadily pulled away from her friends and her possessive boyfriend, Isobel ventures deeper and deeper into the dream world Varen has created through the pages of his notebook, a realm where the terrifying stories of Edgar Allan Poe come to life.

As her world begins to unravel around her, Isobel discovers that dreams, like words, hold more power than she ever imagined, and that the most frightening realities are those of the mind. Now she must find a way to reach Varen before he is consumed by the shadows of his own nightmares.

His life depends on it.

~description taken from goodreads

This book probably wouldn't have caught my eye normally, but I've seen a bunch of other blogs raving about it. From what I can tell it doesn't seem like the average 'herp derp- I'm gonna write aboot high school stereotypes' book. I guess I'll just have to read it to make sure. >: )

Title: Jane
Author: April Lindner
Release Date: 11/11/2010

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, an iconic rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer, and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Part irresistible romance and part darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

~description taken from goodreads

I'm a Jane Eyre lover, so I'm really, REALLY looking forward to this one. Luckily it comes out during Columbus Day weekend so I can pick it up and have time to read it then!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: The Iron King

Title: The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
Pages: 363

“Meghan Chase has a secret destiny- one she could never have imagined...

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school... or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan sense that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth- that she is the daughter of the mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face... and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.”

~description taken from the back of the book

I’m glad I waited for The Iron Daughter to come out before I picked up The Iron King. Not to be overdramatic, but I think I’d die of anticipation otherwise.

The Iron King is Julie Kagawa’s first novel, but it doesn’t read like it. The plot is seamless and runs at an incredibly smooth pace. It doesn’t rush at the climax like other books do (especially debuts), and there are no dragging points, even at the beginning. It’s just written really, really well. My only peeve was that Kagawa isn’t subtle with her foreshadowing. By the tenth time she’s mentioned Meghan’s iPod you already know that it’s going to be important somehow. However, this is really minor and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel at all.

But onto more important things like –cue drumroll- THE ROMANCE. Since The Iron King is published under Harlequin Teen, you know that there’s going to be some steamy action, even if it’s not as scandalous as what’s present in the adult imprint. Now, normally I’m a bit of a hard-ass when it comes to judging romantic interests in YA series. I’m enough of a feminist that I get infuriated when the female characters suddenly lose all semblance of a personality when they enter a relationship but I do enjoy a well thought out ‘bad boy’. The Iron King strikes a perfect balance between the two.

Ash, the winter prince described on the book jacket, is overbearing and pompous. There are certain times when I want to step in and smack him hard, or at least have Meghan do so. Yet, despite these obvious deficiencies he’s still really appealing! The problem is, so is Puck, Meghan’s friend from childhood. Although Meghan seems to have made her choice between the two bachelors, there are two books left so the decision is far from set in stone. Personally, I’m Team Puck. ;D

Overall: Make sure you have a copy of The Iron Daughter ready for when you finish this.Whether you’re reading for the faery war plot, the romance, or the desire to see Meghan develop more of her powers and kick some butt, you’ll want to have the next volume on hand.

Grade: 5/5

Monday, August 9, 2010

Fun Ranting Times

So, I've seen this link floating around several other YA blogs recently. Although I've developed an aversion to the New York Times because of its inability to report from an unbiased standpoint, I eventually decided to click and see what the fuss was about. Basically, it talks about how many adults now choose to read YA books in their free time rather than adult literature.

I've always thought of myself as an anomaly in this area- when I was in High School all my friends had already left YA lit behind in middle school, so I thought I was too old for it, even though I was technically still in the target age group. It wasn't until I discovered the book blogging universe that I realized there were other adults out there who choose to read YA not for their jobs, but for pleasure. It makes this quote

According to surveys by the Codex Group, a consultant to the publishing industry, 47 percent of 18- to 24-year-old women and 24 percent of same-aged men say most of the books they buy are classified as young adult. The percentage of female Y.A. fans between the ages of 25 and 44 has nearly doubled in the past four years. Today, nearly one in five 35- to 44-year-olds say they most frequently buy Y.A. books. For themselves.
all the more interesting. Where are these masses of 18-24 year olds reading YA lit? I'm in that group and I don't see my peers checking out that section of Barnes&Noble or any of the other bookstores in my town. When I'm riding the bus or subway I don't see other people perusing The Hunger Games. If the aforementioned numbers are actually accurate why can't I find a physical interest in YA, not just one on the internet?

My theory is that people are just too embarrassed to admit it, which the article touches on as well. Once in my Victorian Lit class we were talking about sensationalist novels and what the modern equivalents would be. Most people agreed that the most derided genres today are romance, sci-fi and YA, since they're all "aimed at people who are just reading for enjoyment rather than any wish to think". If this is the stigma that's attached to YA novels, why -would- adults admit to reading them? It's much more respectable to be seen reading the latest bestselling trade paperback. Save everything else for before you go to bed at night, when nobody's watching.

I'm rambling.

What I -INTENDED- to talk about is why I, personally, choose to read YA over books aimed at me. It's simple: I think they're more enjoyable. I like the characters more, the plots are more imaginitive and there's just more "entertainment value". If I'm reading for myself, that's what I'm going to go for, not some random novel about a depressed janitor going through his mid life crisis.

However, I also study literature and plan on being a librarian. I really love reading the classics and other 'thinking' books. The thing with me is, if it's literature but not a classic, I don't make time for it. There are so many universally acclaimed books still being printed after 200+ years that I don't want to spend my time reading a piece of adult lit that came out two years ago and everyone will have forgotten about in ten. If someone genuinely enjoys adult lit like I loves me my YA that's an entirely different story. But to say that one is more literary than the other? No. They'll pretty much ALL be out of print sooner or later.

To sum up, I have the same general attitude as the esteemed individual Eric Cartman.

"Whateva, whateva, I read what I want!"

Sunday, August 8, 2010

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a meme held by The Story Siren. It's where you list all the books you've received through the mail, or got in general. For me it's just ones that I've bought or have borrowed from the library.

I haven't done this in a few weeks, so I have a lot to list! Also, I found the USB cord for my mommy's camera so I have pictures, too!


Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis (bargain book on amazon!)
The Morganville Vampires Volume 1 & 2 by Rachel Caine
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Glimmerglass by Jenna Black
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

Manga Purchased

B.O.D.Y Volumes 4-6
Honey Hunt Volumes 2-3
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Post Card Book (not reading material, but I still wanted to post it!)

From the Library

Everlasting by Angie Frazier
Siren by Tricia Rayburn
Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
13 to Life by Shannon Delany

A good number of these are either vampire or werewolf books, so you can tell I'm going through Twilight withdrawal. Right now I'm trying to locate a replacement series, so if you have any suggestions please tell me!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Review: Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex

Artemis Fowl: The Atlantis Complex
Eoin Colfer

“Artemis has committed his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy. Can it be true? This goodness taken hold of the world’s greatest teenage criminal mastermind?

Captain Holly Short is unconvinced and discovers that Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a psychosis common in guilt-ridden fairies, not humans, and most likely triggered in Artemis by his dabbling in fairy magic. Symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia, multiple personality disorder and, in extreme cases, embarrassing confessions of love to a certain feisty LEPrecon fairy.

Unfortunately, Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time, A deadly foe from Holly’s past is intent on destroying the actual city if Atlantis, Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind- and the grips of a giant squid- in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants?”

~Description taken from jacket cover

I’ve been reading the Artemis Fowl books since the first one was published a decade ago. Its one of the select few childhood series I’m determined to see through to the end, proving that it isn’t limited to the age 9-12 audience. Given this background, I’ve been waiting anxiously for The Atlantis Complex since I heard it was coming out six months ago. It’s because of this build up of excitement that made me so disappointed in this installment, and makes this review somewhat painful to write.

One of the many reasons I’m completely enamored with Eoin Colfer as a writer is because of his superior sense of pacing and suspense. In previous books, he’s put Artemis and Holly in such desperate situations that, even though you know in the back of your mind they’ll survive, you still can’t put the book down. Half of this is because the passages are so well-written, and the other half is waiting to see how Artemis will figure a way out of the bind. There’s no comparable scenario in The Atlantis Complex. For instance, the book jacket mentions a scene in which a giant squid takes hold of Artemis, promising to be an enthralling bit. In reality, it’s short, poorly executed, and Artemis is rescued by a deus-ex-machina rather than one of his own plans. All I could think was “Colfer’s done this before and he’s done it better.”

However, this plot rehashing is most annoying when he places in a random character death in the first fifty pages and parallels it to Commander Root’s. When Root was killed in The Opal Deception I actually cried, which rarely happens when I read a book. The death in The Atlantis Complex, on the other hand, seemed random and included solely out of convenience or that he didn’t know what to do with the character. I find this so perturbing because Colfer has proven himself to be a better author than to have to rely on such an amateur trick as this.

This isn’t to say that there was nothing redeeming about The Atlantis Complex. Orion, Artemis’ ‘other’ personality, is one of my favorite characters simply because he’s so ridiculous. He incessantly professes his love to Holly, much to Artemis’ chagrin and can’t stop citing romantic poetry. He’s also, in my opinion, the center of one of the best comic moments in the series (it involves the mention of a birthmark, but I won’t say more than that). I’d really like him to show up in the next book, if possible.

There’s a huge amount of unsubtle hints to the next, and reportedly last, book in the series. Mostly, the constant references to Opal Koboi, but also the tense romance between Holly and Artemis. It makes me wish that Colfer had skipped over The Atlantis Complex entirely, and just written one final, excellent book. It would have fit in better with an otherwise stellar series.

Grade: 3/5 Stars

Note: Although this review is harsh, I remain by my opinion that Eoin Colfer is an amazing author. Including The Atlantis Complex I’ve read eleven books by him, and this is the only one I wouldn’t highly recommend.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blog Hop & Follow Friday (2)

Hi everyone! This has been a really slow week for me blogwise because I've been super busy with my internship and paying job. Bleh. But the goodnews is I got in a lot of reading time on my train ride to my internship, so I should have -two- reviews ready very soon. To shake things up a little, one of them will be about a manga series that has a strong hold on my heart. ;D

Book Blogger Hop

What book are you currently reading?

Right now I'm in the middle of Dracula and Lolita. I'm trying to fit in some classics before I go back to school in September. I've also started Siren, which I've heard some good buzz on. However, I'm not far enough in yet to give any kind of opinion.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Review: Princess Ben by Catherine Murdock

“Benevolence is not your typical princess- and Princess Ben is not your typical fairy tale.

With her parents lost to assassins, Princess Ben ends up under the thumb of the conniving Queen Sophia. Starved and miserable, locked in the castle’s highest tower, Ben stumbles upon a mysterious and enchanted room. So begins her secret education in the magical arts: mastering an obstinate flying broomstick, furtively emptying the castle pantries, setting her hair on fire... But Ben’s private adventures are soon overwhelmed by a mortal threat to her kingdom. Can Ben save the country and herself from foul tyranny?”
~Description taken from book jacket

I’d almost given up on the fairy tale genre, despite it being one of my favorites. I’ve gotten sick of authors who write so called ‘feminist’ protagonists, only to have them shed any semblance of individualism as soon as they meet their love interest. This, combined with the fact these princesses often don’t take any real part in the plot (think of My Fair Godmother) has left me jaded.

Then I had the privilege of reading Princess Ben, which is not only close to perfection in its own right, but succeeds in redeeming the entire genre. At first it seems that Princess Ben is going to fall into the same patterns I’m desperate to avoid. Ben’s parents are assassinated, leaving her to take formal lessons with the seemingly two-dimensional Queen Sophia. Ben demonstrates the same aversion to activities such as needlepoint and dancing as most other modern princesses. What sets Ben apart is that she is not simply ‘bad’ at these lessons, but willfully impertinent. Instead of being clumsy, she purposefully steps on her dance teacher’s shoelaces to trip him. Ben refuses to be broken, and chooses to speak her mind even if it means physical punishment. Yet, she doesn’t dwell on any of these hardships, noting that many of the castle workers stand behind her and she still has a comfortable place to sleep at night.

What truly makes Ben delightful in my mind, however, is her complete apathy towards romance. She doesn’t fantasize over ‘true love’ like other girls, and even derides another character at one point for doing so. Even when she meets Prince Florian, Ben is practical and thinks his poor attitude is mort important than his chiseled looks.

In short, Ben is an immature brat, brilliant and simply one of the most enchanting narrators I’ve ever come across. Yet, the excellence does not stop at Ben’s own character. Since the novel is written in the first person, the other characters develop as she does. For instance, at the start of the novel Queen Sophie is the generic wicked stepmother, possessing no real emotion. But this is just how Ben perceives her. By the end, Ben realizes that Sophie, never having children herself, was simply trying to prepare Ben for life as a ruler in the only way she knew how.

The only fault I found in this book was near the end when the author was trying to stress how Ben developed. It is clear from her behavior and acceptance of her duties that Ben has grown a great deal, but some passages literally spell it out for the reader. This was condescending to the reader and entirely unnecessary, and the only reason I’m not giving the book a perfect score.

Grade: 4.5/5

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blog Hop & Follow Friday (1)

Hi everyone! Today's Friday and there are two memes that I'll be participating in! Once is called 'Follow Friday' which is hosted over at Parajunkee's View. It's basically one big compilation of different book blogs, and I've found a few great ones through it. You can click on the picture below to check it out!

There's also another meme that I'll be starting to participate in, called Blog Hop! It's hosted by Crazy for Books, and is quite similar. You can click on the picture to find a huge list of book blogs, but there's also a different question to answer every week!

Book Blogger Hop


I'm already really excited for City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare! I *OMG LOVED* the Immortal Instruments and can't wait to read more about Clary and Jace. I'm also looking forward to Clockwork Angel, which is supposed to take place in the same universe, but it won't be the same.

As for books that have already been released, I want to get a copy of Charlotte Bronte's Shirley. Once I finish it I'll have read every major work she's written and therefore posess English Major Bragging Rights!

Can't wait to hear what other people are looking forward to! : )

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chance to Win Clockwork Angel

So if you're like me and love the Immortal Instruments, you're desperately waiting for Clockwork Angel to be released. Well, good news! Brent and Emily over at 'The Naughty Book Kitties" is giving away an ARC of it! The contest is only open until this Friday, so you should enter right away by clicking the link here.

Good luck everyone!

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

“Aerin Renning is a scarred fugitive, Dane Madousin a rebellious son of privilege. On the surface, they have nothing in common. But the two most competitive freshmen at Academy 7 share an undiscovered bond. Both harbor a dangerous secret that threatens their own destruction. And while their safety depends on their staying apart, the two are inexplicably drawn to each other. Even as unknown forces conspire to separate them, their competition turns to friendship, and their friendship to romance. Now not only their lives—but their hearts—are at stake. To survive, the two must unite all their knowledge, skills, and gifts to uncover a secret bigger than either could have imagined. A secret as big as the entire universe...”

~Description taken from Goodreads

I’m going to start off by saying that I’m prejudiced against sci-fi novels. I don’t really know why, considering I’ve never had a bad experience with one. I guess I just don’t like the “idea” of them. In any case, if I had known Academy 7 was sci-fi I would have never picked it up. I’m glad I didn’t, because it really was a pleasure reading it.

Academy 7 is split between the perspectives of Aerin and Dane, two incredibly intelligent students who come from two very different backgrounds. Aerin is an escapee slave from the planet Vizhan and must hide her past in order to keep her place at the academy. As a reader I immediately bonded with her and couldn’t wait for the passages with her narrative to come up.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I felt the same connection with Dane. Although the two characters are represented equally in word count, the emotional impact behind them is not at all the same. You find out early on that Dane has suffered abuse from his father, but the author never allows you to truly empathize with him. It’s like there’s a wall between the reader and Dane that just doesn’t exist for Aerin. Given how easy it is to care for Aerin, I think it might just be that the author is inexperienced in fleshing out male characters.

The novel itself is fast moving -I plowed through it in a couple of hours- and the plot itself is built well. The information how Aerein and Dane are connected through their parents is revealed at an appropriate rate, although I was never truly anxious to read more. Academy 7 is a quick, pleasant read and I’d recommend it to someone who’s looking for some light summer reading.
Grade: 3/5

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In My Mailbox (1)

So I found another meme to do while I'm finishing up my next book review! : ) This one is called 'in my mailbox' and is hosted by The Story Siren. I think it's a fun idea to list books as I get them (either from the library or the bookstore) so I'll be doing it from now on.

From the Library:

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Hush by Donna Jo Napoli
Princess Ben by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Maddigan's Fantasia by Margaret Mahy

Friday, July 9, 2010

Follow Friday

I found this great meme over at Parajunkee's view! Basically, every Friday you can go to her blog to find links to a bunch of different book blogs. This is the first week I'm doing it so I'm pretty excited! You can find my name on number 79, if you're curious. : )

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville

“What is Un Lun Dun? It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle. Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.

When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong.”

~Description taken from GoodReads

Un Lun Dun is essentially split into two parts; the first hundred pages which follow the a girl named Zanna, and the next three hundred which center around her friend, Deeba. In Zanna’s narrative the two girls travel to UnLondon for the first time, experiencing a fantastic new world unlike anything they’d ever seen.

If this sounds like the start of one gigantic clichĂ©, that’s because it is. The thing is, though, China Mieville realizes this and turns his work into one part fantasy another part satire. He makes fun of enormously overdone plot devices such as prophecies and the ‘one person who must destroy the super evil antagonist’. The talking book of prophesies in UnLondon claims that Zanna is the ‘shwazzy’ or ‘chosen one’, but she loses her memory before the book is even half way done. This leaves Deeba, which the book originally deemed ‘the funny sidekick’ to take over and save UnLondon from the Smog.

Overall, it took me a while to get into Un Lun Dun. Zanna’s narrative was burdened by too many explanations and descriptions with not enough focus on the plot. There were also far too many characters introduced too quickly and then dropped for long periods, making it hard to figure out who the author was talking about at some points. However, by the second half of the novel the events did pick up and it became a lot easier to follow. I enjoyed Deeba’s ‘takeover’ as protagonist and how Mieville poked fun at the fantasy genre while still paying an excellent tribute to it.


Monday, July 5, 2010


I've been looking around at tons and tons of other book blogs for the past couple of weeks, trying to gather some inspiration. In my search I saw that it's really common for bloggers to give away ARCs that they've collected and sometimes even brand new books. But two of the contests that I've looked up really stand out! I'll be writing about them both here, so read on if you love free books as much as I do.

Paranormal Five Give Away
Hosted by The Undercover Book Lover

If you're lucky enough to win this contest you'll receive FIVE paranormal books! Awesome, right? Especially because some of them don't come out for another two months. Here's the list:

Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
Paranormalcy - Kiersten White
The Eternal Ones - Kirsten Miller
Halo - Alexandra Adornetto
Pegasus - Robin McKinley

But don't think you'll win just books. You'll also get GUM! So click on the link which I'll post again here and go enter!

Autographed Copies of Linger & Shiver
Hosted by Parajunkee's View

I read Shiver earlier this year and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I got it out of my library so my rereading abilities are somewhat limited. This is especially sad because the sequel Linger is coming out in a couple of weeks and I'd like to peruse Shiver again. Woe is me.

BUT WAIT. Parajunkee is offering a contest where you can win new copies of both Shiver and Linger, both of which are autographed by Maggie Stiefvater! If you think this is too good to be true go check out her blog yourself.

Books I've Read in 2010

My goal for this blog is to post at least two reviews a week (though it'd be nice if I could do three). However, I realize that if I -only- post reviews then I'll eventually get bored and give it up. So, after browsing around some other book blogs and getting ideas I've decided to make a plain record of books I've read this year. : )

I don't have a set number of books I'm trying to read because I think it's hard to give each book the same value. But, I have written down the title and author of each book I've read in a notebook since I was in fifth grade. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to write them down after I finish a huge tome like Bleak House! So, I figure why not share it here?

I'll be including books, plays and novellas that I haven't read before on this list. Although I love graphic novels and manga, I consider them to be a different experience that merits a separate category.

2010 so far
1. The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
2. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
4. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
5. Airman by Eoin Colfer
6. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
7. Naomi by Junichiro Tanizaki
8. Shanghai by Yokomitsu Riichi
9. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane
10. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
11. Villette by Charlotte Bronte
12. The Princetta by Anne-Laure Bondoux
13. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
14. Twinkle Twinkle by Kaori Ekuni
15. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
16. Middlemarch by George Elliot
17. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
18. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
19. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
20. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
21. Breath by Donna Jo Napoli
22. Austenland by Shannon Hale
23. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
24. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
25. Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
26. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
27. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto
28. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
29. City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
30. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
31. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

“For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.”

~Description taken from GoodReads

As this is my first review, I figure I have to start on the right track and be honest: The reason I chose to read this book is because of the really, really pretty cover. Shirtless male angel? Yes, please! For the record, I insist that this decision was not based on lack of taste, but because my neglected hormones were rebelling against my attendance of a women’s college.

The cover combined with the description of the love interest Patch made me believe that this would be a quick, fun, romantic novel perfect for the summer months. Unfortunately, this was not entirely the case. Hush, Hush is definitely a quick read, but it isn’t the escapist paranormal romance I was looking for. This is because Patch simply isn’t likable.

Many times in the romance genre the leading male seems abrasive at the start of the novel only to have his true character shine later on. Think of how Mr. Darcy called Elizabeth unattractive and how Edward Cullen spent several months scowling at Bella. However, if you ask any teenage girl which literary hero she’d most like to go on a date with she’s sure to name one of the two. The problem with Patch is, he never really ‘shines’. He’s a manipulative jerk at the start of the novel, shown best in a scene where he taunts Nora in front of their entire biology class, and never stops pushing Nora around. You could argue that Becca Fitzpatrick was trying to make Patch stand out from the crowd of generic male heroes by making him a bit ‘rough around the edges’, but his behavior is so rude and sexist I never lost the urge to beat him across the head, making it impossible to fall for him.

While the romance of the novel was a disappointment, I did enjoy it as a whole. The author clearly has a strong point when it comes to writing suspense- the scenes with the man in the ski mask and when Nora finds out that one of her friends might be a murderer are terrifying, to say the least. And although the pacing was a bit off throughout most of the book (though, I might be biased because this was the section that focuses the most on the romance with Patch), the last hundred pages worked well enough to make me anxious for the sequel Crescendo.

Grade: 2.5/5

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Oh dear.

This page is terribly blank. I'll just fill it in with a picture of kittens until I start for real.