Friday, July 31, 2009

Nobody’s Prize by Esther Friesner

Helen of Sparta returns for yet another adventure. This time she disguises herself as a guy and along with her best friend Milo sets off to join the quest for the Golden Fleece. Aboard the Argo though Helen and Milo quickly run into trouble. Not only do they have to avoid Helen’s brother’s detection, but Helen also has to keep her feelings held back for the adorable guy on board. Then there is the fact that Hercules has fallen in love with Helen’s boy self, Milo’s becoming a tad jealous of Helen’s new crush, and there are many battles to be fought in order to reach the Golden Fleece. As Helen starts to become more of a women it becomes harder and harder to mask her identity. Her journey doesn’t stop with the fleece though as she continues beyond the myth and into a story completely her own.

Well, I have to say I was expecting a lot from this book, but it just did not deliver. The writing made it hard to get into the story and I just could not get into it. Once events picked up though I enjoyed the adventurous nature of the plot and the twist of the classic Golden Fleece myth. I also really enjoyed the continuation of Helen’s journey and the return of some fun characters from the preceding book NOBODY’S PRINCESS. I did find though that at many points there was a lot going on in the book and it all got very confusing.

As for the characters, I felt they were underdeveloped. None of the characters felt real at all, but they did have some personality. Helen was a fun heroine who was always up for an adventure, while Milo was extremely cute and I wish he had been more present in the story.

Overall though it was a likeable book that fully concluded Helen’s story. I loved the author’s originality in her creation of the story and look forward to reading more of her work. 

Monday, July 27, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Anna and Frankie are spending twenty days in beautiful Zanzibar Bay and while they are there they plan on meeting twenty boys. Frankie is convinced that at least one of these boys will end up being the perfect summer fling for Anna, who according to Frankie has never had any sort of romance in her life. Anna lightheartedly goes along with Frankie’s plan, but she’s been holding back a secret from Frankie for the past year. The thing is Anna had a secret romance with Frankie’s brother Matt, who died a year ago, and promised him days before his death that she wouldn’t tell Frankie and leave it up to him.  Will Anna end up finding a summer fling or will she let her grief over Matt’s death keep her single?

Not only is this an amazing summer read, as it has lovely beaches, hot boys, and lots of fun, but it is also emotionally charged and utterly hard to forget. Debut novelist Sarah Ockler has truly created a one of a kind book that I really enjoyed and know many other readers will as well.

First of all I have to commend the author on her writing style. She created very lifelike scenes and the beach town she created was so real that I could almost feel the sand between my toes. Her characterization was also impeccable as she made all characters seem very real, especially Anna. While Anna couldn’t always show her grief, as no one knew about her and Matt’s relationship, the reader knew all about it and truly felt the same feelings as her. Then there was Frankie, o dear Frankie. She truly went through the classic change that occurs in many girls after they experience grief, but the author really made Frankie unique by the fact that she slowly uncovered the “true” Frankie, who was a great character. My only qualm with her was that I really wish we had gotten to hear part of the story from her perspective, as I truly found her extremely interesting.

As for the plot it was really cute, albeit predictable. I enjoyed the different perspective on grief and liked how in a way Anna and Frankie depended on each other to get through Matt’s death. The only thing is I wish there had been a bit more development of the whole relationship between Anna and her summer boy. It was adorable while it lasted and I couldn’t get enough, but it ended abruptly, leaving the reader wanting more. The ending was also perfect for the book. It provided the closer that Anna and Frankie needed, as did the reader.

Overall this was a great book, which I really enjoyed. If the beautiful cover couldn’t lure you into reading this book I hope you will still give it a chance, as it won’t be a book you’ll forget about soon. I absolutely cannot wait for more from Sarah Ockler as she is a truly talented author. 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In My Mailbox (VII)

Thanks to The Story Siren and Alea for the creation and inspiration of this fun meme. I had a slower week this week and also got some repeats (do you sense a contest coming soon??!!), but books are always a good thing, so I am not complaining.

The Navel of the World by PJ Hoover

At the end of summer school, Benjamin was given one task find his missing brothers. Should be easy right? But Benjamin can't locate a trace of them anywhere until he interns at his father's office over spring break. There he finds a mysterious file written in ancient Lemurian with his name on it. Could the answers that Benjamin seeks be in the past?

The Lost Sister by Megan Kelley Hall 

Sisters are born, not chosen. . .
Maddie Crane is grappling with the disappearance of Cordelia LeClaire, and trying to escape the grasp of The Sisters of Misery--an insidious clique of the school's most powerful girls, whose pranks have set off a chain of horrific events, and who have Maddie in their sights-

Beware the sister betrayed. . .
Now in a prestigious boarding school far away from her mysterious hometown of Hawthorne, Massachusetts, Maddie feels free from danger. But when an unmarked envelope arrives at her dorm containing a single ominous tarot card, Maddie realizes with terror that some secrets won't stay buried. Knowing she must return to Hawthorne--a town still scarred by the evil of the Salem witch trials--Maddie prepares to face the fears of her past. . .and the wrath of the sister she wronged.

Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin

Sophie Blue started wearing a black skirt and Midnight Noir lipstick on her last birthday. It was also the day her father disappeared. Or spontaneously combusted. Which is sort of bad timing, since a Popsicle truck with tinted windows has started circling the house.

Kenny Fade is a basketball god. His sneakers cost more than his Jeep. He's the guy all the ladies (and their mommas) want. Bad.

Sophie Blue and Kenny Fade don't have a thing in common. Aside from being reasonably sure they're losing their minds.

Acclaimed author Sean Beaudoin's wildly innovative novel combines uproarious humor with enough plot twists to fill a tube sock. Part thriller, part darkly comic philosophical discussion, and accompanied by a comic book interstitial, Fade to Blue is a whip-smart romp that keeps readers guessing until the last paragraph.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scat by Carl Hiaasen

Nick and Marta are two of the lucky eighth grade students in Mrs. Starch’s (who just happens to be the most feared teacher in the history of the world!) biology class. Every day they sit in and pass notes back and forth to each other discussing their fear of being called on.

 The day after their field trip to the Black Vine Swamp though something mysterious happens. Mrs. Starch doesn’t come back, and she is never absent, and people start to wonder. While there might be a scrawled note and a message on her answering machine that states that she has had to deal with a family emergency, people, especially Nick and Marta, aren’t buying it. They are all convinced that Smoke, the kid in Mrs. Starch’s class that she dislikes the most, has something to do with her disappearance.

In a whirl wind adventure filled with arson, endangered animals, the Iraq war, the Florida wet lands, a money hungry wannabe oil rigger, and panther poop, Nick and Marta set out to find their missing biology teacher.

Carl Hiaasen definitely has a knack for adventure. Every story he creates always some crazy plot that makes you think as well as laugh! In this case Hiaasen poses the problem of destroying the environment for monetary gain and how it affects the ecosystem in a hilarious manner. He also throws in some other great themes to think about: not judging people by their history/the way they look, believing in yourself and never giving up, learning to live with what you’ve got, and working as a team. These themes are so important for younger readers (and sometimes older!) readers to learn and Hiaasen did such a great job incorporating them into the book without blatantly stating them.  While this book has more of a middle grade audience, it is great for all ages of readers, although there is a tad bit of language. Overall I think the book was masterfully written and was a worthwhile and entertaining read. 

Sunday, July 19, 2009

In My Mailbox (VI)

I know I have not done this is forever, but honestly I forgot! Anyways I am back on track and bringing you the latest books that have entered my mailbox! Thanks to The Story Siren and Alea for the creation/inspiration of the In My Mailbox meme.

Ruined: A Ghost Story by Paula Morris
Rebecca couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to spend the year while her dad is traveling. She's staying in a creepy old house with her aunt. And at the snooty prep school, the filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda. Then one night, in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to talk to Rebecca, and to show her the nooks and crannies of the city. There's just one catch: Lisette is a ghost.   A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.   As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend - and as she slowly learns to trust Anton Grey-she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Positively by Courtney Sheinmel

Emerson Price cannot remember a time when life was ordinary. She was four-years-old when she and her mom were diagnosed as HIV-positive – infected with the virus that causes AIDS, and eight when her parents divorced. Now she is thirteen and her mother is dead. Emmy moves in with her father and stepmother, but she feels completely alone. Even though everyone has always accepted her, no one – not her father, or stepmother, or even her best friend – understands what it’s like to have to take medicine every single day, to be so afraid of getting sick, and to miss her mom more than she ever thought she would.
When Emmy’s dad and stepmother send her to Camp Positive, a camp for HIV-positive girls, Emmy is certain she is going to hate it. But soon she realizes that she is not so alone after all – and that sometimes letting other people in can make all the difference in the world.

How to Steal a Car by Pete Hautman

Some girls act out by drinking or doing drugs. Some girls act out by sleeping with guys. Some girls act out by starving themselves or cutting themselves. Some girls act out by being a bitch to other girls.

Not Kelleigh. Kelleigh steals cars.

In How to Steal a Car, National Book Award winner Pete Hautman takes teen readers on a thrilling, scary ride through one suburban girl's turbulent life - one car theft at a time.

The Comeback by Marlene Perez 

Sophie Donnelly is one half of the most popular and powerful couple in school, until new girl Angie Vogel shows up and compromises everything. Angie steals Sophie's starring role in the school play, and, worse, her super-popular boyfriend. Sophie has been quickly dispatched to social Siberia, but not for long--she'll do anything it takes to make a triumphant comeback.

Friday, July 17, 2009

If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney

The Fountain family has faced endless grief within the last couple of years and their future seems quite bleak as well. First the children’s mother died, after refusing treatment for her fatal cancer so that she could give life to their baby brother Tris. Then, just two years later their father dies in a terrible accident leaving the four Fountain children alone and parentless with only their self-involved Aunt Cheryl left to care for them.

Within weeks the two Fountain daughters, Madison and Smithy flee, one going to live with her godparents and the other going to a boarding school hundreds of miles away. This leaves Jack to be the strong one, the one to take care of Tris, because Cheryl really only cares about herself and home makeover shows on TV. 

As Tris’ third birthday approaches, Cheryl decides that she is ready for fame and sells the family’s soap-opera story to a reality television producer and Jack knows that his life is about to be thrown upside down once again. The thing is though this event brings the family together again. Along the way they find out some troubling information that makes them think….did the witness of their dad’s death lie?

I believe if you looked up Caroline B. Cooney up in an encyclopedia you find “… author of heart-thudding thrillers.” I could literally not stop reading this book and absolutely gobbled it up. The book as a whole was great, but there were definitely some holes that I wish had been patched up. 

First of all, the plot was very original and was the driving force behind the “heart-thudding” feeling you got while reading the book. I loved how the author took a mystery and turned it into a novel about family, friendship, trust, loss, and love. These themes melded perfectly throughout the book and really made the reader take a step back and evaluate their own life in a different light. I did have a couple issues with the plot though. Some of the events, such as Cheryl gaining custody automatically over the children and there being no original investigation into the father’s death, were completely left out. This left a big gap for me as I felt it could have been a crucial part in the story. The storyline was also a bit predictable, but the suspense created by the little details really helped the reader to not focus on what was coming next. 

As for characters, this is really where the book lacked. All of the characters were one-dimensional; especially the adults, and I wish they were so much more.  The little we did get to learn about the characters though was great. Jack was definitely the hero in the book and by far a favorite, as he sacrificed his social life in order to step up to the plate and care for his younger brother.

Another plus for this book is the author’s writing style. She made the book incredibly realistic and all throughout the story I felt like I was reading an article from the local newspaper instead of a piece of fiction. Also the point of view she wrote the book in was quite interesting. It felt like a mix between third and first person, but all in the present tense, much like in Lisa McMann’s novels. This quirky style took a while to get used to but in the end it definitely added to the book.

Overall this was a good novel that all teen readers will enjoy. It had enough action to satisfy anyone and will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. I loved how the author dealt with the breaking and healing of a family and really showed what love is and its immense powers. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer Winners

Thank you all for entering my contest to win debut author Sarah Ockler's book TWENTY BOY SUMMER! The winner are as follows:

Kathleen Elizabeth



                       Jade Adrienne 

                         Miss Attitude
I have emailed all the winners who provided email addresses, but a few did not so please shoot me an email at andanotherbookread AT gmail DOT com with your address. Please respond within three days with your addresses, or I will have to choose a new winner. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Ever since eighth grade, Lia and Cassie have fed off each other. They are each other’s only source of strength as they vow to compete to be the skinniest friend. Counting every calorie that enters their body, making sure it is never too much and worrying excessively about their outer appearance.

Lia finally wins the competition though when Cassie dies, alone in a hotel room one night. Now Lia faces her war alone, thinking she is still fat at 95 pounds. Trying as hard as she can to avoid returning to a treatment facility, she sews quarters into the pockets of her robe so it appears that she weighs more then she does when her step-mother forces her onto the scale and choosing bruised apples at lunch so she has an excuse not to eat the whole thing. 

With Cassie gone though, Lia not only has to worry about her conscious bothering her every time she eats, but also Cassie’s voice. Lia’s just not sure she can handle it anymore and sometimes even refers to cutting herself to help relieve just a little bit of the pain.  Lia is left with a decision though, does she truly want to join the living, or stay frozen and eventually melt into nothing.

Laurie Halse Anderson truly has a gift. Her writing is impeccable and she takes some of the most difficult subjects to talk about and throws them in your face, leaving them near impossible to ignore. Within the pages of Lia’s life the reader gets a gut-wrenching and honest look into the life of an anorexic teenager, seeing both the physical and emotional implications of the disease.

The writing throughout the book had a lyrical feel to it which made it near impossible to put down, one sentence always luring you to the next. Laurie Halse Anderson also did a great job expressing emotion through the pages of the book. Sometime I feel that authors try to hard to make the reader’s feel what the characters are feeling, but in WINTERGILRS it was absolutely effortless.

No matter how brutal the subject matter was, I thought this book was amazing. Yes, it’s hard to read and it makes you cry, but it’s so important for people of all ages to realize the full effects of anorexia. The message that the book portrays, that it is okay to go for help and what could happen if you don’t reach out your hand, rings so clearly that I think this would be a better read for those suffering from anorexia then a self-help book.

The honesty, brutality, and love that was felt throughout the story really came together to create one heck of a novel. Recommended for all readers, it may be a hard novel to start, but you surely won’t be disappointed when it is over. I absolutely cannot wait to see what Mrs. Anderson has in store for us next!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, or Bertie as she prefers, lives in the Theatre Illuminate, although not an actress, surrounded by all the characters ever created in every play. Here she finds her home, although she has no parents, where her best friends being four fairies – Moth, Mustardseed, Peaseblossom, and Cobweb – and a rowdy pirate, Nate. Then of course there is Ariel, who is just so full of himself, but Bertie seems to just melt every time she sees him. The thing with all these characters, as with all of the characters within the Theatre, is that the Book, which holds the scripts of the plays the characters belong to, binds them to the Theatre.

There has recently been a turn of events though and Bertie is about to lose the family that she has created within the Theatre. Now it is up to here to devise a plan so that the Theatre Manager cannot turn her out on the streets. With the help of her trusty friends she sets off on a quest to save her spot at her beloved Theatre.

This was one heck of a debut novel to say the least. Lisa Mantchev created a beautiful setting in a unique Theatre that I came to love. What makes this book even more enjoyable is it throws you into the theater world in a way that even if you are not familiar with the drama world (and trust me I know nothing) you feel like you have been in this world forever after the first few chapters.

The plot that the author created was both original and thrilling. The adventure that the characters partook in was really fun and highly enjoyable. I really enjoyed Bertie having to try and save herself from being kicked out from the theater and the ideas she created along the way. It added a ton of humor to the book and really made the book that much more interesting. One thing that kind of held the story back from being absolutely wonderful is the first few chapters or so were quite confusing. There was just so much going on and a whole host of characters that was just a little too much to keep up with while trying to get acquainted with the story itself.

The story also the story got confusing again around the end of the book, it seemed that the author was trying to squeeze all this information in, in just a few short chapters. Also a lot of early characters were brought back and it was hard to remember exactly who they were. Despite the bit of predictability, the ending was really good and left off on a great cliff hanger that sets the stage for yet another great adventure in the next act of Bertie’s life.

While the plot of the story was quite wonderful, I thought that the characters really made the book. The fairies provided an ever-constant source of entertainment and are always hilarious. Then of course there was Bertie. I definitely loved everything about her. Whether it was her rebelliousness or her sense of humor, I found her to be a very strong heroine. Nate was also a very fun and heroic character and you could tell that Ariel was fishy from the start. The only thing that I felt was lacking was the relationship between Nate and Bertie. At one point it would be going strong and then there would be no mention of it for another fifty pages or so. Lisa Mantchev definitely has a knack for characterization.

Another aspect of the book that I thought was very strong was the writing. The author made the reader feel like as if they were sitting in those plush theater seats watching a show play out on stage. She kept the whole story lively with just enough description to fully understand what was going on, but not enough so that the reader gets bogged down with repetitive information. Overall there was just a magical quality to the author’s writing that just sucked me in from early on in the story and never let me go.

In the end this book was great and I really liked it. I absolutely can’t wait to get more of Bertie’s world and more of Lisa Mantchev’s imagination and writing. Also on a complete side note, if the description is not enough to draw you into the story then the cover definitely will be as it is absolutely stunning!

Also for more information on the author visit her blog. If you would like to buy a copy of this fabulous book click here...come on I dare you!


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