Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lennie Walker has forever been the sidekick to her older sister Bailey’s racehorse-self. One day though, fate allows for a nasty twist in Lennie’s seemingly complacent life when Bailey dies. Lennie then falls into a world filled with grief. She feels like no one can understand her and cannot fathom how to go on with her life without her sister there to guide her. 
She then finds one person who she can find solace in – her sisters boyfriend Toby. The thing is her relationship with Toby quickly develops into something more, things she’s not used to. Then there is Joe Fontaine. The new boy in town from Paris, who has a musical gift and the good looks to have all the girls swooning, including Lennie.

As time reels forward, Lennie realizes that its time to step up and be the racehorse and to take control of her life. She has so much to learn about herself and how to feel, after everything seems to have been taken away, all while seeing that grief can never leave, but can be healed with love. 

This book is beautiful in every sense of the word. It all starts before the first page is even turned, with the magnificent cover that gives you just a glimpse into the heart of this stunning novel.  From the very first paragraph you can feel the magnificence of the writing that is present throughout the entirety of the novel and are thrust into the grief that Lennie Walker feels. The beauty of the book does not end there, but continues throughout the story as you see Lennie discover her true being and see her heart stiched back together through the power of love in all forms, her clarinet and the people in her life. The characters also radiate this beauty, allowing the reader to see and share their innermost feelings. And the ending does not disappoint, as it provided one of the most realistic and wonderful endings I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  

So - a little elaboration to back up my gushing of the book, starting with the characters. Lennie, well sometimes I wanted to shake some sense into the girl, wanting her to realize that she could live without Bailey, no matter how hard it may seem. At other times I wanted her to know how proud I was of her for accepting love into her heart and learning to stand up for herself. Then there is Joe Fontaine – who I’m pretty sure could have any girl drooling just at the thought of what Paris beholds! This boy is absolutely the best literary crush to have. He’s caring and isn’t afraid to show his love, all while being a stupendous (or, using a favorite word of the characters in the novel: unfreakingbelievable!) musician. Honestly, the characters are what made the book. Their incredible ability to show their true beings allowed the reader to feel all their emotions, allowing for many tears and smiles along the journey.

Overall, this book was spellbinding. It grabbed me from the beginning and threw me into a world where there was no escaping the grief that so many people in this world feel. It made me wonder how incredible difficult it would be to loose my sister – who means the world to me, much like Bailey did to Lennie - and how I would react. This thinking lead to more thinking, which then made me realize that no mater what situations you have encountered thus far in your life, there is some way to relate to this book, making it easy for any person to tear through this book. This was an absolutely stunning debut, that made me laugh, sob and think more than any other book I’ve read, making it a novel I will not soon forget. I very much look forward to reading more of Jandy Nelson’s romantic, sad, sexy, and magical stories.

Now what are you waiting for! Go grab a copy from anywhere you can and experience the magic for yourself. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

In two different Chicago suburbs, that really aren’t that far from each other, there resides two very different boys with the same name – Will Grayson. Although they are not that far apart they have never met, until a twist of fate brings them together.

One Will Grayson seems to always be in the shadow, both literally and figuratively, of his massive gay best friend Tiny Cooper – an offensive lineman and musical theater enthusiast. When he loses his circle of friends, after standing up for Tiny, he rarely knows what to do with himself and starts spending more time with Tiny and his friend Jane – whom he finds himself oddly attracted to, although he cannot act on his feelings due to the “rules” he has set for himself on how to get through life without to much attention.

The other Will Grayson is also in a social funk – although his is a bit more permanent. The only friend he has at school is a girl named Maura, although he doesn’t really even like her all that much and just likes to talk with her about his depression. He does though have a strong friend in Isaac, a boy he met online that he might just be in love with.

When things don’t go according to plan though, both boys seem to breakdown and have a heartfelt revolution towards their interactions and feelings for others, all while aiding in the production of the best high school musical of all times.

When you put two powerhouse authors together you expect a boom, a big one at that. Now putting John Green and David Levithan together, that’s more like expecting an earthquake. As for the reality occurred, there was definitely a boom, and some tremor of that quake, but it wasn’t as earth shattering as I had expected.

First off, I’ll talk about John Greene’s Will Grayson – the one with Tiny Cooper as the best friend. To me, he was the best. He was snarky and funny, and emotional at the right times. Most of all he was believable and I just came to really enjoy his part of the story. John Green was also the fabulous inventor of Tiny Cooper – who I think is one of the best characters to have ever been created. He was funny and sincere and truly the “life of the party.”

As for David Levithan’s Will Grayson, he was definitely a darker character. I feel he whined a lot and pitied himself a little too much. Now with that being said, I did feel bad for him – I mean the kid had to go through some situations that no one should ever have to experience and learned to sympathizes for him. I did enjoy his budding relationship with his mom; it really clued the reader into his personality, as well as him popping out of his social outcast hole.

In regards to the writing – it was great, absolutely all of it. While the characters had two distinct voices, unique to their respective author, you couldn’t tell that it was written by two different people. Everything meshed and just felt right.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It took me a while to get into the story, but it soon enough got rolling. It also made me appreciate the importance of maintaining friendships and to sometimes let loose, as you could be missing out on a lot if you don’t. I would love to read another book co-written by these two fabulous authors, as I know it will be a lot of fun.  

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart

Ruby Oliver is back from Christmas vacation and well in all honesty, life hasn’t gotten any less confusing for her at Tate Prep. You see, she hasn’t had a boyfriend now in 37 weeks and the future is looking bleak as well, her panic attacks are getting worse, and her friend Nora has told her to stay away from the one boy she likes. Not only does she have to deal with all this drama, but Jackson, her old boyfriend, has all of sudden become very friendly, Nora’s brother Gideon is coming on to her, and rumors are flying around the school about Ruby again.

Ruby is just not sure how she is going to survive her second semester of Junior year. There’s bake sales, smelly feet, pygmey goats, and her constant struggle with her mental health to take into account, but hey she’s survived before so who says she can’t do it again!

I only read the first book in the series, THE BOYFRIEND LIST, but had no problem jumping into another of Ruby’s many escapades. Ruby filled the reader in on any information they may have missed by not reading the other books to make this a great book.

I thought that the whole story was side-splitting hilarious and was so full of crazy adventures that I couldn’t help but wish I could get caught up with it all myself. All the boy drama within the book was so real. It reaked havoc on friendships and drove everyone crazy, just like in real life. What made it even more authentic was the personality of they guys – it was so typical! While the boys had that typical personality, they were not super well developed. Ruby on the other hand was developed and relatable, but not always real.

Anyways, I really liked the book. The writing made the book easy to read and I loved how each chapter started out with a journal entry – it really set the mood. It was fun and light and I can’t wait to hear more about her adventures. This is a great book that I really enjoyed and had me laughing until the very last page. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bad Apple by Laura Ruby

Tola Riley is well, unique to say the least. With her green hair, nose ring, and intense love of art it is no wonder that she is so misunderstood by her high school peers. There is one person though who just gets her, Mr. Mymer, her art teacher. While some people might not understand this relationship, Tola is fine with it, as she is so used to being misunderstood. When her relationship with Mr. Mymer gets blown out of proportion though, Tola finds herself in the middle of a scandal. Even though she tries to tell everyone the truth, no one will believe her and she continues through the year as an even bigger misfit.  On top of this, Tola consistently deals with multiple family problems, friend problems, and of course the day-to-day issues of being a teenager.

I have to say that the author, Laura Ruby, has the teenage personality down to a tee. Tola was very real and I had no problem envisioning her as a real person.  Laura Ruby did a really good job making the reader feel connected to the characters playing on the reader’s heart strings and making them truly connect with Tola. While I felt that Tola was decently developed, none of the other supporting characters were developed at all. Yes there were a few minutes that they almost felt real, but then they seemed to fall right back into the pages.

The author also created a very interesting plot. It took a different perspective on the whole student-teacher affair, which seems to be a theme that has become very popular in YA books. I also really enjoyed how the plot looked at how one event in a family can affect each member differently.  Overall the plot was very realistic and I could easily picture this same situation happening in many high schools.

I liked this book. The writing was decent, but didn’t blow me away and the characters weren’t  as well developed as they could have been, but the reality of the book made up for these weaker points.  The ending was absolutely fabulous, probably the best part of the book and had me in fits of laughter. I look forward to checking out Laura Ruby’s other books and I highly suggest you check this book out when you are looking for some very real teen fiction.  

Friday, July 2, 2010

Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart

Katie’s house is just too big now that her mom has passed away and her genius dad is distant and more focused on the paintings that he restores. She’s also separated herself from many of her friends and has found herself very lonely.

The summer before her senior year of high school she decides that she needs a job. Katie soon finds herself working in the gardens of the local mystery woman, Miss Martine. Along with two handsome and goofy brothers, a chic librarian she becomes enthralled with the mystery behind Miss Martine and is determined to solve it.

There are secrets everywhere Katie turns. Behind locked doors, within old newspaper clippings, with the old man who works in the garden, and within old paintings. Beneath everything though, at the core of this mystery, is a love story. A love story within the mystery and one of Katie’s own. As Katie discovers more and more about Miss Martine, Katie also finds out more and more about herself and comes to turn with many of the ghosts in her life.

I have to start off by saying that Beth Kephart is one of my all-time favorite authors. That being said I always have high expectations when I sit down to read her books and this one was no exception. I loved how the author was able to subtly weave several different tiny stories into the general plot and had me so enchanted that it was impossible for me to close the book.

I loved how unique the plot was. It was a mystery, but was different than anything I had ever experienced. Like any mystery though it had all those heart pounding suspense moments and moments of despair. The characters came in an enhanced the story to no end.  Katie was a great character who was extremely relatable and at time her curiosity created a sense of spontaneity that brought a smile to my face. The relationships that were created were very real and I just could not wait for them to unfold. All the characters were well developed and they were all so different that there was a great sense of diversity within the story.

Now this would not be a true Kephart novel if it did not have superior writing. Every sentence was truly brilliant and I loved the lyrical feel that was presented. All the grief and emotion within the story was so true, yet it was not overdone. She also created such an unexpected and amazing ending that perfectly suited the story that made me love her even more!

This was one of the best books of the year and was a spectacular prose that doesn’t easily leave the reader’s mind. I encourage you all to go and grab a copy and read it quickly, but not too quickly so that you don’t have time to savor every perfect word. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Lia and Alice Milthorpe are sixteen-year-old twins whose father has just passed away, leaving them and their brother Henry orphaned. The two girls though couldn’t be more different. Lia is quite a bit more social and kinder, while Alice keeps to herself and is very mysterious. What the two girls don’t realize though, is that they do have something in common. They are both part of an ancient prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other.

Just days after her father’s death Lia finds an odd mark start to appear on her wrist. Keeping her new discovery from everyone, including her beloved James and Alice, she sets off to find the meaning of it. She quickly comes to learn about the prophecy and her role in it. She hopes with her new knowledge she will be able to come to understand the mystery behind her parent’s deaths, the lengths her sister will go to destroy her, and the havoc that the downfall of the prophecy could bring.

Michelle Zink has created a stunning debut novel with PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS that I thoroughly enjoyed. She had great characterization and a spell-binding plot that literally glued the book to my hands!

One highlight of the book for me was the setting. I loved the magic that surrounded Birchwood (the Milthorpe estate) and the town, as it really added to the mystery of the story. At many times I was reminded of Libba Bray’s Gema Doyle series, but this book is definitely its own story.

As for the plot, it was absolutely riveting. With the different worlds and the secrecy of the prophecy, I was completely transported into Lia’s life. The battle between the sisters was interesting and a concept that doesn’t seem to be too prominent in YA fiction. It added a whole new element of secrecy to the book, leaving the reader anxious and hesitant as to what was going to happen next.

I also loved the characterization. It was so easy to see the difference between the two characters and I never felt like they blended together. The writing was also fabulous, drawing me in at all times.

Overall, I thought this was a great debut and a fantastic start to a series. I cannot wait to read more about these sisters and learn more about their fates. Definitely pick this book up if you’re looking for a stupendously haunting novel that won’t disappoint! 

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson

Destiny Faraday has made it her duty to keep a distance from anyone and everyone at school, as the reality is her parents will move her soon enough. She’s been at Hedgebrook Academy now for almost two years and everything has fallen into a routine, careful that it doesn’t include much time to really get to know people.

With one turn of the calendar page though, Destiny’s careful routine is thrown to shambles. First her Aunt Eddie can’t come to visit her and secondly she runs into a very mysterious stranger, a stranger who just happens to leave his car running in the school parking lot. Looking for just a day out Destiny hopes in said car, along with three classmates, and embarks on an unauthorized road trip to a location only Destiny knows the true meaning of. All have hopes to make this day a fair day – a day where the good guys win and everything is just so right.

This book was, hands down, one of the most original stories I have ever read. There were so many twists and turns that it kept me on my toes and wanting more with every period. I loved the unique characters and their complexity along with the breathtaking writing that truly transported me to the car along with the students.

Destiny’s character absolutely blew me away. She was so alive and heartbroken that I couldn’t help but connect with her. I enjoyed seeing her layers peel back as the story continued and loved the mystery of getting to know her. All the other characters were well developed and I desperately wanted them all to be my friends, so that I could participate in their crazy adventures. It was also really neat to see the relationships that the characters formed unravel.

As I mentioned before the writing was spectacular. Everything was so real, the wind, the trees, and the emotion. It was definitely one of the few books that really took over my imagination and transported me into their car. The ending was also superb. It was unexpected and left me wanting so much more, but tied everything that had occurred in the book together.

I highly recommend this book to any reader looking for a very powerful, real and emotional read. It was one of the best books I have read in a long time and will give any reader chills. It really showed the true power of friendship and the magic of chance. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cold Hands, Warm Hearts by Jill Wolfson

Dani has had fifteen years of surgeries, x-rays, docotor’s appointments, and her favorite hospital class jello, all because she was born with her heart on the wrong side of her chest. She is more than ready to live the life of a normal teenager, but it will never happen until she has a new heart, but getting one isn’t easy at all.

Amanda has been a gymnast for almost her whole fourteen years. She’s one of the best with her sleek muscular very healthy body. On the biggest day of her career though, in a very common routine, something goes horribly wrong without any notice.

Dani and Amanda have nothing in common, don’t go to the same school, and have no idea who each other are, but their lives are about to completely collide. On a journey through life and death, friendship and hardship, the reader learns about the pains of life and death.

This book is really one of a kind. It deals with heart transplants. It shows the life of a kid who needs a heart and the life of a family who provides that heart. It was a good read, but lacked a lot.

The plot was interesting as I mentioned before, but very repetitive. It was interesting to see two different sides to the story – the family and the recipient. The characters were okay. There were so many that it was hard to keep up with them all at times. Dani was a lot of fun though. Despite her set backs she was spunky and funny and really cared about life. It was also fun to see her relationship with Milo, a boy in need of a new liver, develop. The ending tied together nicely and was very satisfying.

Overall I liked this book and learned a lot. It really opened my eyes to the reality and difficulty of organ donation. There was a lot of emotion even though the writing was little bland. I think it would be interesting to read other books by Jill Wolfson as she definitely peaked my interest with this book. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Far From You by Lisa Schroeder

Alice finds her escape in writing songs and her love for her boyfriend and then distancing herself from her father and pregnant stepmother. If only her mother hadn’t died, maybe she would be happier, but who knows, she just wishes she was still with her. As time passes Alice becomes more and more distant from her family she becomes more and more unhappy.

After a family Christmas trip though, things in Alice’s life change dramatically. On the way home Alice and her step-mother Victoria along with her new baby sister get stuck in the worst snow storm of the century. The three girls are forced to survive through brutal weather, with little food and little warmth. Along their adventure of survival though Alice has to confront many issues she hasn’t faced for years and discovers more about herself then she ever thought possible.

Alice isn’t sure if she will make it out of the storm alive, but she has discovered one thing: it sucks being alone, but she’s not sure if she really is after all.

Lisa Schroeder is definitely a talented author. She caputres my attention right away with her lyrical prose and transports me into her story. What is really special about her is that she tackles really difficult subjects, such as cancer and death, and takes them to a personal level that everyone can relate to, even if they haven’t experienced it before.

The plot itself wasn’t all that exceptional. It was predictable and didn’t really spark my attention. It was emotional and heartfelt though. The characters were really special though. Alice was very well developed and I felt like I really got into her mind and felt the same emotions she was feeling. Alice also made the mother come alive in her own way to. The few images we got of her were fantastic and even though she wasn’t present all that much, she felt so important. The other characters though were more flat, although as the end approached the step-mother became much more real.

Overall I liked this book. The writing was lyrical and the emotion was deep. It was a fast read and it wasn’t as great as her debut, but it was still solid. I look forward to reading more from Mrs. Schroeder! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair by Delia Ephron

Sukie Jamieson is obsessed with her looks and herself. At every opportunity she gets she looks at herself in a spoon, or takes a “selfie” with her cell phone, all to make sure she looks the best. When her mother gives her a gorgeous antique mirror that used to belong to her grandmother, Sukie is ecstatic. She is so ecstatic that she forgets to adhere to her mother’s warning: “the mirror will be your best friend, but also your worst enemy.”

As Sukie’s year progresses she learns that the mirror shows not only who you are up close, but also who you are on the inside. With these revelations she sets off into the best and worst moments of her life, dealing with everything from family problems, to friendship problems, but most of all, who she really is as a person.  

To be honest I was not a fan of this book for the first half. I felt Sukie was really whiny and fake, caring to much about herself and not enough about those around her. Everything was really disconnected and confusing, but as soon as I hit the halfway mark the story got so much better. Sukie started to become aware of her surroundings and really turned into a real person. She even got my sympathy as she dealt with situations that anyone would find tough.

While the second half was definitely the better half, the ending really sealed the deal for me that this was actually a good book. There was tons of emotion and it was great to see things fall into place. The crazy characters became a little less crazy and you really got to see the amount Sukie had grown throughout the story. Throughout the book the writing was choppy, but you quickly got used to it. One thing I definitely have to give kudos to the author for his for her characterization of Sukie’s mom. Her mom was such a mean person that by the end of the book I really had an extreme dislike for her. For me, the fact that the author was able to make me feel this infuriated with a character is really neat as it means she made her real. In the end, this was a good story of friendship, loneliness and finding the true beauty in yourself that is sometimes very hard to find. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Just One Wish by Janette Rallison

Annika Truman is always being reminded of the power of positive thinking. After all her little brother, Jeremy has cancer and her parents are sure that if they all think the best will happen, than it will. The thing is though, Jeremy is starting to give up on the positive thinking when he heads in to his next big surgery and Annika will go as far as Hollywood (without her parents permission) to bring him the hope that he needs.

When Annika convinces Jeremy to make a wish with a magic genie, he wishes for something completely unexpected – for his favorite televesion star to come and visit him in person. With this new curveball, Annika’s plan is momentarily discombobbled, but she is determined as ever to see it through.

With her best friend in tow, Annika sets off to Hollywood to track down said start and will not stop at anything until she at least gets the chance to talk to him. She knows it won’t be easy and she only has a couple days, but nothing will stand in her way.

This was a cute and fluffy read all the way. While it held my attention, I wasn’t all that immersed in the book and easily finished it in a couple of hours. One thing though that really caught my attention was the humor. There were many times where I found myself laughing out loud and the incredible actions of Annika in order to get the attention of the hunky star, Steve and her failed attempts at stalking him!

The plot itself was heartwarming, with Annika’s strong love for her brother and the little bit of romance that evolved was cute albeit predictable. I thought that the Robin Hood theme was something quite original and I enjoyed seeing in a modern light. One thing that really made the book special though was the ending. The author jam-packed all of this emotion within the last pages that was absolutely breath taking and I just wished she had incorporated this more throughout the book, as it would have made the book a lot better. The characters were average, nothing special, but like I said before Annika’s love for her brother was really sweet.

Overall I liked this book and am interested to read more of Ms. Rallison’s work. This book is a great book to curl up with on a rainy day. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Triple Shot Bettys in Love by Jody Gehrman

Geena is starting to completely flip out. Her boyfriend of five months, Ben, wants to get a lot more physical then she’s ready for. Then there is Amber, dear, dear, Amber, who happens to have a crush on Geena’s delectably steamy and hot English teacher, Mr. Sands who also happens to speak to Geena’s soul. Amber knows that she has any chance of stealing the heart of Mr. Sands she is going to need help, a lot of help from Geena that is. Soon Geena finds herself writing MySpace messages to Mr. Sands and making Amber appear as an intellectual, what she doesn’t bet on though is him writing back, but he does. Geena knows that she is doing it for Amber, so it’s not technically cheating on Ben…right?

With all of this drama going on in Geena’s life it’s no wonder she’s about to have a complete melt down. Will she make it through these tough couple of months or will she completely fall apart? And more importantly, will her and Amber find true love?

This was a great sequel to TRIPLE SHOT BETTYS.  Jody Gehrman’s writing was fun and light and just kept you reading all throughout the story.  The whole subject that is dealt with is quite interesting and serious, but the author handled it with a grace that I found very remarkable and fascinating. She also seemed to have a great handle on the teenage mind and how it works with relationships and such, making very relatable characters. I also wish that Hero was a little more present, but hey it’s okay.

On the note of characters I thought that they were very real and felt like old friends. Amber was a little to whiny and I was disappointed with how Geena handled the relationship with her boyfriend, but other than that the characters were so charming and unique I just couldn’t get enough.

Overall I really liked this story and am hoping there will be more about the Bettys in the future. If you haven’t had a chance to read this super funny and great books I highly suggest you pick up a copy. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Leftovers by Heather Waldorf

In most cases when a father dies, their daughters would be distraught, but in Sarah Greene’s case relief floods over her. With his death it means that there will be no more chances for her father to abuse her and take pictures. Along with the relief though comes a nagging feeling due to a still hidden shoebox in her father’s old restaurant filled with kiddy porn that she is determined to destroy. When her desperation to find the box hits an all-time high she takes her mother’s car and crashes it – landing her in a whole heap of trouble with the law. Her punishment: doing summer-long community service at Camp Dog Gone, where shelter dogs go for a vacation.

While at “camp,” Sarah befriends a big romping dog named Judy – who is just as troubled as Sarah, - another troubled soul, Sullivan, and several other people who help her turn her life around slowly but surely. As she comes to realize what is important in her life, she breaks out of her shell that the past created and starts to heal – looking towards a brighter future.

This book is unlike many that I have read before. It takes a dark subject – sexual abuse – and turns it into a journey of healing. Using a fun background the author explores the hurt that accompanies abuse and how other people (or animals in this case) help to heal. The plot turned out to be really cute and I loved the setting with all the dogs running around.

The characters were also quite interesting. Sarah was so guarded that at times it was hard to see who she really was, but as the end of the book approached it was neat to see her personality really unfold. I also really like Sullivan. He seemed like such a happy go lucky kind of guy until you found out about his secrets – which made him very realistic. Another aspect that really stood out to me was the characterization of the dogs. Each had their own unique personality that made the reader feel as if they were curled up at their own feet.

Leftovers really has it all – humor, reality, family drama and a little bit of romance to satisfy all readers interests. It was a great book that I really enjoyed and urge you all to go and pick up a copy for yourself. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Navel of the World by P.J. Hoover

At the end of summer school last year Benjamin Holt had one outstanding homework assignment – to find his two missing brothers. The thing is, Benjamin has no idea how he is ever going to accomplish this, especially since he won’t be in Lemuria for a long while. What perplexes him even more is the fact that he and his brothers are the three people that keeps the worlds in balance. This news is almost too much for him to bear, especially since he is so young, but it also pushes him farther to find the whereabouts of his brothers.

Over spring break Benjamin gets the opportunity to intern at his father’s law office where he finds a mysterious file with his name on it. The only problem with the file is that he can’t read it as it is in ancient Lemurian, but at least he has some sort of clue. When he finally arrives back in Lumeria he is greeted by his telegen pals, continuing on with their studies, along with learning the art of time travel. With this new power in stow the Emerald Tablet Alliance sets off across the earth in search of the missing brothers.

Goodness these books are good! They are so jam packed with adventure that it is hard not to love them. With the combination of the great plot and characters, along with the flawless writing it was quite difficult to put the book down. The world that was created – Lemuria – was so cool – as in I was it was real. What was even better about Lemuria was it felt real. You could hear the footsteps on the path and bell jingling when the characters walked into a shop.

The characters were also very interesting. Benjamin was so determined to find his brothers that I felt myself cheering for him along his journey – which sounded like a lot of fun! Also the characters just clicked together. It was interesting to see their relationships unfold and again it was very real. The ending was probably the best part of the book. It made my heart race with anticipation, which I never wanted to end. Sadly it did though, leaving lots of room for the next book.

This book is definitely one suitable for anyone looking for adventure and fun. I compared the first book, The Emerald Tablet, to the Percy Jackson series, but after reading this book I dare say that they are better! I cannot wait to read more from PJ Hoover as she is absolutely fantastic, and I urge everyone, young or old, to pick up a copy and see for themselves how cool Lemuria is!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Would Emma Do by Eileen Cook

The golden rule of friendship: “Thou Shalt Not Kiss Thy Best Friend’s Boyfriend.” Well Emma seems to have forgotten this one simple rule and the thing is she’s forgotten it before. It doesn’t take time for her best friend to find out and soon the whole small town knows about it too. Now her best friend is furious with her, her relationship with her best guy friend has gotten kind of weird, and in her ultra religious town she is having a hard time figuring out quite what to do (can anyone say WWJD?) and where she can fit in. With this entire ordeal going on, Emma isn’t sure how she’s going to have a good senior year, especially trying to please everyone and hopefully getting the idea of kissing unmentionable people out of her mind. Not to mention that she’s on the verge of a huge social disaster. Maybe its finally time for her to think more “What Would Emma Do?” then “What does everyone want Emma to do?”

Ahh this book had me in fits of laughter. Every little bit of it was great and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. Emma’s character was great and her whole story just clicked for me and as I said before, I found myself liking it a lot. One aspect of the book that I really enjoyed was the letters Emma wrote to God. They were funny and thoughtful and really helped the reader understand Emma in a whole new way. Much of the plot was unexpected and I enjoyed how it was a religious comedy, without being in your face. The characters were well developed, especially Emma. I just could not get enough of her and the situations she got herself in were fantastically funny. I also really enjoyed the author’s style. Her writing was quick and to the point, with enough detail to satisfy the reader, but not too much. Overall I really enjoyed this book and absolutely cannot wait to read more of Eileen Cook!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Just east of the seven kingdoms we all came to love in Graceling, is a land called the Dells. In the Dells, beautiful creatures named monsters inhibit the valleys, mountains, and everywhere in between. While these creatures resemble normal animals, such as cats, dragonflies, fish, etc. they have brilliantly colored and they have the power to manipulate human’s minds’.  

Some of these monsters even come in human form, but now seventeen-year-old Fire is the last one left. Like all monsters she is unfairly gorgeous and attracts all the men, but she also shares the ability to control people’s minds, which can get her in some serious trouble. While many people are drawn towards Fire, many others detest her and frown upon all she does. Thankfully a family takes in her, becoming the only family she really knows.  

When political issues begin to rise and powers from the north and south start to conspire against King Nash, him and his brother Brigan have no choice but to call in the help of Fire. Together they learn to put aside their vast differences and try their hardest to dispel the ideas of King Nash being overthrown. Through it all they encounter war, several conspiracies, and worst of all – a small boy with strange two-colored eyes and an unusual ability that Graceling readers will find eerily familiar.

Wow, just wow! This book was just plain phenomenal and honestly it is quite difficult to put in to words how wonderful I thought this was. The characters were so real and I could literally feel the wind in my face and hear the birds overhead. The plot was also extremely interesting and I loved the connections it made to Graceling – although it is not necessary to have read Graceling before hand.  

I very much enjoyed Fire’s spitfire attitude and independence – as I believe it is essential for a strong female character to posses these traits. Her attitude quickly grew on me and I found myself cheering for her along her journey and tearing up along side her sorrows. I also loved the few connections that it made to Graceling. They were subtle, yet obvious at the same time and just made me smile. They also made me go “so that’s why this happened.”  

With a fast paced, action packed plot, fantastic characters, and seamless writing there is no way you could go wrong picking up Fire. It will take you to the mystical world of the Dells and leave you there even after the last page despite the fact that you'll never want to leave. This has definitely become one of my favorite books and dare I say that it is better than Graceling!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita

Sam is not crazy about spending the summer as a third wheel, with her best friend Mal and her new boyfriend listening to the sounds of “pookie” and “sweetie.” Looking for a way to get out, Sam finds a job as a counselor-in-training at Whispering Pines camp in the New York Catskills. Never having been to camp before she expects a somewhat idyllic experience, but what she gets is something she would never have guessed in a million years. When Sam gets to camp things start to go downhill fast and she’s not sure if the summer will turn out as great as she was expecting it to. First there is Ashley, the resident queen bee of Whispering Pines, and then there is the absolutely hot and flirtatious counselor Hunter, who is not as innocent as he seems, and then there is Cole, who is just too funny and always teasing Sam, but he’s just a friend, or at least that’s what she wants to think. There are some highlights to her days though, such as: her new cabin friends who brighten her day and then the cute campers that she helps out with. How will Sam’s summer camp experience turn out? No one, not even her, knows. This book was a really fun look at summer camp. By the time I was finished with SLEEPAWAY GIRLS I was ready to pack my bags and head off to camp too! It’s a great book for a car ride or the beach or any other fun summery activity. The plot was fun and real and made you feel those mosquito bites, just like Sam. At times though it was a bit repetitive and dragged on. The characters were interesting. I felt that Sam really needed to stand up for herself, as it got boring when she kept getting stepped on and didn’t do anything. Cole was always there to make the reader laugh and Ashley was your perfect, pure evil villain. Overall I liked this book. The ending was a bit predictable, but the setting of the book was impeccable. This is a great book for all aged young adult readers as they will get lost in the fun of summer camp and all the drama that it brings!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

Amy’s best friend Julia is gone. She has been now for seventy-five days and Amy is still not sure how to survive. Everyday she wakes up thinking about how it is her fault that Julia is gone and there is nothing she can do to bring her back. When Amy’s shrink suggests that she keep a diary, she guffaws at the idea, but she soon finds herself writing letters to Julia. She writes about the past and the present and discusses all of her feelings throughout her letters. What she realizes though is that the past wasn’t all that perfect nor was Julia, like Amy thought she was. She also finds that there might be some great opportunities in the present as well and who knows what the future will hold? As Amy writes her letters she also starts a healing process and discovers a lot about herself that she never knew about. She also learns how to make friends again and to become her own person, which just happens to be the most important journey of all. Elizabeth Scott is a phenomenal author. I have loved each book she has written, but for me this one just wasn’t as good. Yes, it was an emotional powerhouse, but well that’s about it to be honest. The characters got on my nerves a bit and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there was just something lacking. The plot really went into the mind of someone dealing with death, grief and finding new friends, which I found interesting. I do have to commend the author though on creating very real characters. The teens didn’t feel to old or young and I could actually picture them being real, which added to the authenticity of the story. As for the characters, I really think they were the downfall. I understand that Amy was griefstricken, but she honestly got really whiny and on my nerves. About halfway through the book I was ready for her to get over her problems and just be thankful she was alive. The parents were also annoying as they were so distant and uninvolved in their daughter’s life that it was hard to believe they couldn’t see the pain she was in. Overall I liked this book. Ms. Scott’s writing was impeccable, even though the magic it usually has wasn’t present. I did appreciate though the very thorough and realistic look at grief that was portrayed. I definitely cannot wait for more from Elizabeth Scott.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker

Quinn Parker is about to have the summer of her life. She’s flying out to Austin, Texas to live with her cousin Penny and has a job working for the label of her favorite indie rock band. The only thing that could make this music filled summer any better would be a boy, the perfect boy in fact. The thing is though, there is no such thing as perfect. Her summer fling becomes a huge question and then there’s the cute cowboy next door who just seems to bring the heat to Quinn’s summer. Then there’s the fact that Penny turns out to be a sorority bimbette who is completely opposite of Quinn. Then there’s her job, which is more like a half-job and leaves Quinn with a bit too much free time. Well it might not turn out as the all time best summer, Quinn definitely is in for an eye-opening summer vacation.

Melissa Walker is one of the best authors for teen girls. She gets them and understands how to pique their interest. Lovestruck Summer was no exception to her awesome books streak and I really, really liked it!

The plot was fun and cute. There were a couple twists and turns that really added to the positive vibe the book cast. I loved the focus on music and the setting was a lot of fun. While it was fluffy, it was one of the best chick-lit books I have read in a long time. It satisfied my romantic heart and completely transported me to the sweltering heat of Austin with every page turn. Melissa Walker definitely knows her way around a romance as she made me lust for a summer as supreme as Quinn’s.

For a fluffy romance book I was pleasantly surprised with the characters. I felt all the characters really came to life, all with their own quirks. Even Penny, your classic sorority girl, was 3-D with her spunky dialogue and of course her cross-dressing dog. Quinn was funny and relatable. I loved how the reader got to see her develop friendships. I often found myself wanting to screat at her from being so blind when it came to guys, but hey it was worth it!

On a side note, there were many tiny refrences to the Violet books which made me giggle, a lot. It was just another element that added to the cuteness factor of this book.

Overall this was such a fun read and I encourage you all to pick it up and give it a go.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Why Young Adults should read YA

So a couple of weeks ago I got approached by one of my school's newspaper editors to write an article about why teens should read young adult - as they felt many at our school shied away from the genre. I thought I would share it with you all and see what your opinions were on the matter!

At some point in time we have all walked into a bookstore and seen the section completely devoted to teens. Most of us though do not think to take a second glance and keep on walking, as they seem to think they are to young for them, or are too much like their everyday lives. The thing is though, there is a plethora of books in this section to choose from that are enjoyed by all age groups and have so much to offer.  Their topics range from high school highs, high-strung adventures, cliquey romances to the many emotional issues that so many teens face. They also act as portals to unknown worlds, just as books have promised to do for years. The characters are so commonplace – they almost feel as if they could be your best friend, or arch nemesis – it is easy to relate to them and find some semblance to your own life.

As someone who is quite familiar with this genre – I have had the pleasure of professionally reviewing over 300 different titles – I feel that I can say that you should all try at least one good YA book. You will see that the authors try extraordinarily hard to make sure that everything from the clothes that the characters wear to their facial expressions, fits in line with our everyday lives. I have also found that YA authors try so hard, that their books come out so much better. It’s like applying to college - you know you will write a better essay for Harvard, Princeton, or Yale, then one of those easy to get into schools. The same thing happens with YA authors – they bust their butts to write a good book for teens, as they know we are a tough bunch to impress, rather than a mediocre book for adults where the audience is much less selective. Because of this fact, YA books end up just being better in regards to writing and storyline.  

Now many people have reservations about reading YA books as they are too focused on teens, or you do not want to read about a life you already know about, but here’s the thing – you get to see a new person’s life in a different light. Also, a lot of the time the only reason why YA books are classified as such is because their main character is a teenager. Take Megan McCafferty’s “Jessica Darling” series, which starts out being about a senior in high school and all her calamities and then proceeds to follow her throughout her college years. Within the books there is gossip, juicy scandals, and oh so much more and all of it has been enjoyed by countless teens and adults alike – and the only reason that you would find it in the teen section is because the main character happens to be 17.  Look at the Twilight series. I think every person, whether young or old, has probably enjoyed these books and they are classified as YA. As you can see, YA books are not young, they do not represent a genre that we have outgrown – they are simply books about teens, meant to be enjoyed by all, but in particular teens themselves. Just think, you have years and years to enjoy the thousands of adult books that are out there, but only a few to cherish those that have to do with you, right now.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

We’ve all heard the Greek myth of Persephone. You know, she’s the reason why the season’s change, but what you probably don’t know is that she has a much more interesting story and she is here to share it.

Persephone feels like her mother Demeter, is strangling her. She keeps her locked up in the garden with no one her own age and is honestly getting quite frustrated with it. One day when her mother is out being the center of attention at some festival or another, a strange man appears in garden. In Persephone’s eyes he is the most handsome and mysterious man (as well as the only) man she has ever met and he fascinates her even though she doesn’t even know his name.

When he offers her the dream of a lifetime, to leave the garden and come live with him she jumps at the chance, not really caring what her mother thinks. What she finds out later though is he is Hades and lives in the underworld, but now she really can’t do anything about it. In her mind though it doesn’t matter. She’s with a man she loves and is getting to do what she wants for the first time ever. What she doesn’t realize though is that while she is having a good time in the underworld, back up Earth havock is being wrecked. Will Persephone decide to stay in the underworld or will she return to a world of restraints up on Earth?

Gosh, I was really looking forward to this book and it was good yes, but it wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. I enjoyed the fun new twist on an old myth and definitely liked Persephone’s independent personality.

The characters were very basic and flat and I just really couldn’t connect with them. I did however enjoy how Hades was made to be a “cool” guy and how Persephone viewed him with a positive attitude. I also enjoyed how Persephone felt like a real teen – looking for independence and doing what she felt was right without giving regard to others!

I found the plot to be quite repetitive and slow moving, but as I mentioned before enjoyed the new look that Persephone had. I did however enjoy the ending and it really saved the book in my eyes. The writing wasn’t dazzling, but it did keep me reading so I can’t say that it was that bad.

Overall I liked this book and thought it was a decent debut for the author. If you’re a big fan of Greek mythology than I think you should definitely give this book a try as it really is quite entertaining to read about this new twist in her story.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Don’t Judge a Girl by her Cover by Ally Carter

Cammie Morgan, our favorite teen spy, is back in action. Its summer time and Cammie is excited to finish it out with a bang when she goes off to visit her roommate Macey in Boston. When you’re a spy though the word “exciting” is synonymous with “dangerous,” and danger is exactly what Cammie and Macey for that matter, get.

When the girls return to school for the start of junior year, Cammie can’t shake what happened to them in Boston and nowhere feels safe anymore, not even her school. She feels like there are secrets everywhere and old flames are popping up every which way Cammie turns. Cammie and her friends are also quite confused with the answerless questions of who was after Macey and Cammie on that fateful day in Boston.

Soon though Cammie and Becks are asked to accompany Macey (as her personal security guards) on her dad’s campaign trail. Together the three of them keep up with their spy training while trying to uncover the answers to many, many secrets and possibly discovering the shocking truth.

This series is one of a kind and just plain great. Cassie is such an independent person and I love the adventure that takes place. Ally Carter is also such a fabulous author that I get lost in her writing every time I pick up one of her books. DON’T JUDGE A GIRL BY HER COVER is no exception to this said awesomeness.

The characters were a lot of fun. Cammie was determined to succeed in her missions, which I had to admit I was very jealous of and completely wanted to partake in, and very resbonsible. I have to admit though, she was a little boy crazy which made me a little annoyed, but hey a teen girl has to have her priorities! Talking about boys, I loved how admist politcs and spies and such Ally Carter incorporated something as common as boy drama, which really made the reader connect with the story. I also loved Bex. She was such a strong character and she could seriously kick some butt!

Overall I really, really liked this book and thought it was a great addition to the series, it may almost be the best one yet.  The writing was fun, but intense at times and the author really knows how to suck you in. I know that I cannot wait for the fourth Gallagher Girl book.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Picking up just days after THE SUMMONING left off, Chloe is back and ready for her next great adventure.

Chloe always thought she was a normal girl, until a couple of weeks ago that is. Now she has been captured once again by the Edison Group, as she is a teen necromancer, that’s right she can raise the dead and she really doesn’t have much control over it. Chloe is now in the race for her life as she has escaped from the Group for a second time and absolutely cannot get caught. Along with her are her three friends, who all happen to be supernatural’s as well. There’s Tori, a whiny witch, Derek, a sarcastic wereworlf, and Simon a flirtatious sorcerer. These four kids have to find help quickly or die trying. If they don’t, the Edison Group will get them once and for all and they would be turned into lab rats, which is the last thing any of these kids want.

I love this series. It is suspenseful and action packed and I couldn’t wait to finish it from the moment I picked it up, it was just so good. If you haven’t read the first book though, I highly suggest you pick it up, because it provides a lot of necessary information.

The characters in the this book were much more developed than in THE SUMMONING. I felt Like I got to know each of the four main people a little bit better and they were actually a lot of fun and wish they had been a bit more 3-D. All four characters really formed a stronger relationship together and it made the book feel less empty. Tori was especially fun, her tantrums made me laugh a lot!

The plot was riveting and fast paced. It literally flew past for me and I couldn’t believe it was over when I closed the back cover. There was so much adventure and many twits and turns that kept my heart racing. I also enjoyed the author’s writing. She did a great job creating a lot of suspense and she quickly developed the story so there was never a dull moment.

Overall I really liked this installment in the Darkest Power trilogy. I absolutely cannot wait for the third book because the ending left the reader hanging once again.


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