Saturday, November 29, 2008

Victory is MINE!



I HAVE WON! VICTORY IS MINE! (It sure took long enough.) But I'm still not done with my story. xD Still, I WON! And the certificate this year is gorgeous. -prints it out- MUAHAHA!

Now I just have to finish this story and then plan my next one. But before that, as a reward, I'm going to go eat some ice cream.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Four Dorothys by Paul Ruditis

[description from B&N]

Spawned from Hollywood's A-list glitterati, nearly every student at the exclusive Orion Academy is a singer, dancer, model, or actor -- with the ego to match. So how do you fit so many budding stars into one school musical?

Multi-cast, of course. It's a Wizard of Oz like no other: four Dorothys, two Scarecrows, two Glindas, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Every "star" gets a moment in the spotlight.

Meanwhile, Bryan Stark, narrator extraordinaire, needs to shed some light on a more scandalous plot. Dorothys are mysteriously dropping out of the show, one after the other. If Bryan doesn't figure out why, there may be no one left to click her heels by opening night. . . .

Review:

This is series that had to be created for just for me. I mean, it's called the Drama! (have to have that exclamation point) series. The name of the series is in big yellow extravagant letters on the cover. It's so over the top and dramatic that it has to be just for me, because we all know I loves me some good drama in books. And this book definitely had drama- both acting drama and some regular teenage drama. Which made me happy.

I knew I would enjoy this one, besides for the above reason. I also knew I would like it because the first sentence is "It was a drag queen's worst nightmare." That line was so unexpected that I was laughing for a few minutes before I could continue reading. But once I did continue, I really liked the book and laughed a few more times. Bryan (not Brian) has a very definitive personality and voice even though he usually blends into the background. He gives little tidbits about how his friendships with Sam and Hope developed and things about his dog-obsessed mother that really make him human. A weird human, but a human. His friends weren't as well developed, but they were enough that their actions made plenty of sense.

From the description the book seems like a big mystery books, but it's not at all. I figured it out way early, and so did Bryan. It's really kind of obvious who is behind the Dorothy "attacks," but I still wanted to find out how things were going to work out in the end and how things would wrap up. Things were wrapped up a little too much actually. There are sequels (that I really want to read), but I don't think they have anything to do with the events in this novel, which I guess is why everything was so wrapped up.

8/10

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Happy Turkey Day....

Happy Turkey Day to all you who are celebrating. To celebrate even further, you can watch this video (If you know what movie this is from, you are amazing):



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

I like doing this Waiting on Wednesday thing. Thank you, Jill at Breaking the Spine for creating it. My pick for this week is:



Need by Carrie Jones

description from Amazon:

Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect lipsticks. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal.

Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara.

With suspense, romance, and paranormal themes, this exciting breakout novel has all the elements to keep teens rapidly turning the pages.

[released December 23, 2008. This year! Less time for me to wait.]
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I need this book. (Pun completely intended.) It sounds wonderful. Except for the glitter thing, because glitter reminds me of Edward Cullen, which isn't good. But I'm going to read the book anyway, since it sounds so good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg

[description from B&N]

Molly and Charlie have fallen head over heels in love-even though they've never met Molly is a fashion-conscious city girl in L.A. Charlie is an earthy, mountain-biking dude from Boulder, Colorado. Each of them has big plans with their respective friends for the summer-until they discover that their parents decided to swap houses!

Luckily there's no amount of homesickness that a bit of snooping can't cure. Charlie and Molly begin crawling under beds and poking around in closets to find out a little more about each other-and they like what they find.

Can Charlie and Molly's long-distance romance survive jealousy, misunderstandings-and the thousand miles between them?

MTV's Room Raiders meets You've Got Mail in this sweet, old-fashioned love story for the digital age. . . .

Review:

I never really refer to things as cute, but I must refer to this book as cute. Because it was. Cute. It just was. It wasn't so romantic that it was unbearably cheesy and it was light enough to fly by quickly.

The characters are much deeper than you would think. Even though the book is in third person, both Charlie and Molly's thoughts are conveyed well, and I always felt like I knew what was going through their heads. Actually, I think this book wouldn't work as well if it was written in first person. Third person just sounded good and gave the gist of their feelings well enough that first person perspective wasn't needed. And of course, because of all these feelings, both Molly and Charlie are completely human. They aren't stereotyped either. Molly, although loving fashion with a passion (rhyme not intended.), isn't a snob about it and Charlie, although being a mountain biker, isn't some macho jerk or a crazy environmentalist.

My biggest complaint is that I wanted more after I finished. Which I guess isn't that much of a complaint, but still. I wasn't satisfied. Can't really say why without spoiling it, but I want more! Gar.

Still a great book though. You should read it if you haven't already.

8.5/10




Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight: the movie.

Gabbi, you asked for my opinion. So here you go:


Do I even need a description for this one? I don't think so because everyone knows what it's about. And if you don't, WOW can I come live in your town? Because if you don't know your town must be immune to all forms of brainwashing and attacks. I'd feel safe there. Here's the trailer anyway:



I really didn't like this movie. It was pretty meh. But I really think I would've enjoyed it more if 3/4 of the theater didn't scream every two minutes. Because whenever Edward showed up, everyone would scream. Whenever Jacob showed up, everyone screamed. When the lights in the theater were dimmed, everyone screamed. Before the movie started, everyone was screaming. When we were in line outside the theater, everyone was screaming. They screamed at the parts they already saw a million times in the trailer.

Needless to say, I got pretty annoyed and probably would've liked the movie more if I could hear all the lines said. But besides that, I was disappointed with the acting and stuff, even though I could tell the actors were trying really hard. I think what I thought was subpar acting was a result of the script. Because WOW I thought a lot of the lines were cheesy. Some things were taken directly from the book, which didn't work for me. Those lines were already a little cheesy on paper, but out loud they just do not work. ("And so the lion fell in love with the lamb" does not sound good out loud. And also, "What's up homegirl?" (paraphrasing here.) doesn't either. Except that wasn't said by Edward.)

Other complaints:

Rob Pattinson: Work on the accent. Edward is not from Brooklyn. Did anyone else think he sounded like he sound like he was from Brooklyn? Because sometimes I thought he sounded like that.

Peter Facinelli (Carlisle): Next time, please demand that they not put that much make up on you. Because when you walked in the hospital room, it looked like you just died. (Technically he's dead, but he's not supposed to be THAT pale.)

Jackson Rathbone (Jasper): Stop walking like you have a stick up your butt. I know you're supposed to look like you're in pain, but it did not seem that way to me. And your HAIR! EW! FIX IT!

First bio class scene: Overdramatic and way too funny. I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be funny. Maybe it was funny since everyone knew what he was thinking, but the people who never read the books don't know what he's thinking. And I'm under the impression that the movie is not supposed to be made specifically for the fans; it's supposed to be able to be viewed by those who haven't read the books and be understood by those people.

Edward sparkling: Looked like he was sweating.

And what was with all the slow motion?! Things don't move that slow. And there were way too many up-close shots. I swear more than half of the movie was made up of shots of someone's face so close up that it took up the whole screen.

EDIT: Anyone else find it ironic that Bella told Angela she's a strong woman and ask Eric to prom? Because Bella sure isn't a strong woman.

I'll stop with the complaints now, because if I keep going I'll be going on for a while.

But there were good things! A few:

Nikki Reed (Rosalie): I thought she did a good acting job. Maybe it's because she had about 4 lines, but still. I thought she did a really good being mean and annoyed.

Kellan Lutz (Emmett): Now, he was funny and I'm pretty sure he was supposed to be funny.

Cam Gigandet (James): He was given a few lame lines, but he did a good job of being a bad guy and growling.

I think I can sum up my thoughts with one sentence though: Twilight movie, "I cherish with fondness the day (before) I met you", even though you had some high points.

(Who likes obscure indie band lyrics? I do! The above sentence comes from the song My Year in Lists by Los Campesinos!:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Must Love Black by Kelly McClymer

[description from B&N]

NANNY FOR 10-YR-OLD TWINS. MAINE COAST. OWN ROOM & GENEROUS SALARY. MUST LOVE BLACK. "Must love black?" Sounds like a coffee-loving, seclusion-seeking goth girl's dream job. Philippa isn't fazed by the fog-enshrouded mansion on a cliff, the weirdest twins on the planet, or even the rumors about ghosts, "cause when she meets the estate's hot gardener, Philippa's pretty sure she's found her dream boy, too. Too bad Geoff's already taken by a girl whose wardrobe is head-to-toe pink. Still, Philippa can't get Geoff out of her head. What will it take to lure him to the dark side?

Review:

I was kind of disappointed with this one. I was expecting something full of goth and ghosts, but I didn't really get much. What little paranormal stuff present was just thrown in and didn't really add much to the story, considering the fact that it got completely lost at the end. Along with that, I got confused with the plot. In one chapter Philippa would try to get the twins' dad to spend time with them, and in the next she was Geoff-obsessed and trying to figure him out. I couldn't really figure out what this book was supposed to be about or do. But the book had one redeeming quality: the characters were interesting enough to keep me reading. The twins were unique and different, and Philippa was kind-hearted and really tried to be helpful. The were flawed enough to be believable characters (sometimes), but they unfortunately could not make up for the lack of events in the book. I really liked the concept of this one, but the execution just wasn't good enough.

7ish/10

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Waiting on Wednesday (1)

If you haven't heard of Waiting on Wednesday, it's this thing that gives me (and everyone else) an excuse to rant about books I want. Jill at Breaking the Spine started it.
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Yay, my first Waiting on Wednesday. Fun fun fun. My pick this week is...

...Amanda Ashby's Zombie Queen of Newbury High.

description from Amazon:

Quiet, unpopular, non-cheerleading Mia is blissfully happy. She is dating super hot football god Rob, and he actually likes her and asked her to prom! Enter Samantha—cheerleading goddess and miss popularity— who starts making a move for Rob. With prom in a few days, Mia needs to act fast. So she turns to her best friend, Candice, and decides to do a love spell on Rob. Unfortunately, she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class, making herself their leader! At first she is flattered that everyone is treating her like a queen. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up, because in a few days, Mia will be the first course in their new diet. She’s sure she and Chase can figure something out, but she suggests that no one wear white to prom, because things could get very messy.


Why do I want this one? Well...
  1. It sounds ridiculous. (In a good way.) I mean, she's a zombie queen after doing a love spell? And will soon be eaten? That's just a little weird (or maybe a lot weird), but I like the sound of it.
  2. I like the cover. It's spiffy.
  3. It has zombies! ZOMBIES! Zombies are never bad. Never. Zombies make everything better. Yay zombies.
But it's not out until March! Gah. That's not soon enough.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An interview with...

....Diana Rodriguez Wallach! Diana is the author of the wonderful Amor and Summer Secrets, Amigas and School Scandals, and the upcoming Adios to All the Drama. (Those are all in a series, by the way.) To see my review of Amor and Summer Secrets, you can click here. And now, the interview:

1) According to your website, you went from reporter to novelist. Has your experience as a reporter helped you with novel writing at all?

I think my journalism training has greatly affected my writing style. The young adult genre is known for “cutting out the fluff,” so to speak. We’re trying to maintain the attention of teenagers, so you won’t find a lot of unnecessary, long-winded prose. In a way, this is similar to journalistic writing.

Also, having worked as a reporter at daily online magazines, I learned how to write a lot of copy very quickly. And getting paid to write all day, every day, can only help you. I think those experiences had a serious impact on the speed and ease in which I write today. Additionally, I’m incredibly diligent about deadlines. If anything, I turn my edits in early.

2) Did you do any research about Puerto Rico before you started writing Amor and Summer Secrets? About Quinceaneras? How much?

Yes, I’ve been to Puerto Rico twice. The first time was after I graduated college, and before I wrote Amor and Summer Secrets. I met my family on the island for the first time during this trip, and I got to see Utuado—the town where my dad grew up, and also where Mariana spends the summer. I used that experience later to create the background for my novel. However, after Amor sold to Kensington, I traveled back to Puerto Rico again just to make sure all of my descriptions and locations were still accurate. But as far as research goes, traveling to tropical islands is not much of a hardship. Most writers will take research like that any day.

As for Quinceaneras, they’re similar to weddings in that each one is different. It’s up to families and individuals as to which traditions to follow. So most of my research on Quinceaneras came from the Internet and word-of-mouth. I’ve only attended one in my life, and I didn’t have one myself, so it was fun getting to live vicariously through Lilly while researching and writing that experience.

3) Describe your road to publication:

Well, I seriously lucked out in the agent department. Don’t hate me, but I only queried for two weeks. My agent responded to my e-query within ten minutes, and she offered me representation within 24 hours of receiving my full manuscript. She’s fantastic. But on the flip side, that first novel didn’t sell. So I suffered through my fair share of rejections during the editorial submission process. I don’t think any author escapes unscathed.

But when you do finally get THE CALL, it’s amazing. For me, I was at Mardis Gras.

My husband, Jordan, and I had spent the morning catching beads from parade floats in New Orleans. We stopped into our hotel room for a few minutes to dump our bounty when my cell phone rang. It was my agent.

I was wearing a sequined mask with feathers and my favorite strings of gold, purple and green beads that I had caught during the trip. (On my website, there’s a photo of me on the phone with my agent during the exact moment I got the news:http://www.dianarodriguezwallach.com/amor_and_summer_secrets_story.html)

Let me just say that there is no better place on Earth to be when you get good news than Mardi Gras. There was an actual parade going on outside of my hotel room. I hung up the phone and spent the rest of the day dancing in the French Quarter with hundreds of costumed strangers and drinking hurricanes at Pat O’Briens. It was amazing.

4) What's the best thing about writing YA?

I had a difficult time, socially, during middle and high school. As such, I vividly remember the emotions of that time, and I love that I can now channel those memories into my writing. I also really loved young adult novels when I was teen. I was a huge fan of Christopher Pike. So, it’s fitting that I would write for a genre that I felt such a huge connection with, and I hope one day teens will feel that connection with my work.

5) What can we expect book-wise from you after the third book in the Amor and Summer Secrets series (is that even the proper name for the series? xD) is released?

There’s no official title for the series. I tend to call it the Amor and Summer Secrets series merely because it’s the first book, and it’s the cover I’ve been staring at the longest. ;)

I’m currently working on a new young adult project. It’s a complete departure from my current series—lots of spies, suspense, fight scenes and, of course, a love triangle. I’ve also done a ton of research for this novel, from traveling to Europe to reading text books on the Cold War. I hope to have it ready for the publishing world soon! I’ll keep you posted.

6) What's been the worst writing advice you've gotten?

I can’t remember any really memorable bad advice, but I will say that the worst misconception about the industry is that it’s an instant road to celebrity. My non-writer friends think all authors live in mansions and take world tours. Each time they said, “You’re gonna be the next J.K. Rowling!” I had to delicately explain that was like telling a computer programmer he’s going to be the “next Bill Gates.” You should write because you love it.

7) What's been the best writing advice you've gotten and how did you take that advice?

For my current Work-in-Progress, I initially began writing in the third person. I thought that since I penned the Amor and Summer Secrets series in the first person, this would give me a new challenge. Once I had the first chapter done, I sent it to my agent for her opinions. The first thing she suggested was to change it to the first person. I took her advice and I’m so glad I did. My voice is so much stronger in the first person, and I think it helps a YA novel when you can get inside the character’s head. I’m not saying I won’t ever go back to the third person, but right now I think I’ve found my narrative stride.

8) Because it's A Week Abroad, I have to ask: What "abroad" places have you been, if any? What's been your favorite country to visit and why?

Lots and lots! I love to travel. It’s one of the luxuries I’m happy to spend my money on (more than a house or a car, seriously).

I studied abroad my junior year of college in Madrid, Spain. I absolutely loved it (I’m still friends with the students from my program). We hit up the entire country by the end of the semester: Barcelona, Sevilla, Cadiz (Carnival), San Sebastian, Valencia (Las Fallas Festival), Toledo, Salamanca, you name it.

After that trip, I backpacked through Europe. I went to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Geneva and Nice. Since then, I’ve been to Prague, Italy, Bora Bora, Bali, Greece, and many more.

So far, aside from Spain, I think my favorite trip to Europe was the Greek Islands. I loved all of the history that’s preserved there, along with the food and the people. It’s a perfect blend of interesting sights at a reasonable pace—plus Santorini is so beautiful it almost looks fake.

[Khy: The red countries on the map are all the European countries Diana said she's visited. At least I think I got them all.]

9) Another abroad-related question: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I already have a list of the places I want to go next. Currently at the top is Poland, it’s where my mom’s family is from and I think it’s only fair since I visited where my dad came from. I also would like to go to Thailand, my sister was in the Peace Corps there and I would love to travel with her. I’ve also never been to Hawaii—I realize it’s not “abroad,” but it’s on my list.

10) And anything you want to add:

A bit of advice that no one ever told me: there’s a lot more to this business than just writing novels. Once your book comes out, there’s an entire promotional side that a writer should be prepared to navigate. From writing press releases, to contacting bookstores, to doing interviews (like this one), to joining social networks, to speaking at schools, to producing book trailers—there’s a lot of non-writing-related work. Truthfully, I’m so glad I have a background in communications because I couldn’t imagine approaching this career without it.

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Muchas gracias, Ms. Diana. (=

Friday, November 14, 2008

Westminster Abby by Micol Ostow


[description from B&N]

Abby has always considered herself to be a little vanilla—sweet,plain, but not very exciting. So when she finds herself flying across the ocean to London, trying to forget her problems with her cheating ex-boyfriend and her overprotective parents, she figures her semester abroad is her chance to become one big hot fudge sundae. And she isn't disappointed. London boasts a plethora of funky pubs and shops, drivers on the wrong side of the street, French fries called chips, and a very charming Brit named Ian. As Abby moves closer to the vision of her wild child self, she realizes that sometimes leaving what you know best actually brings you closer to what you best know—yourself. This S.A.S.S. (Students Across the Seven Seas) novel is one of the first two in our new study abroad fiction series. Teen girls will latch onto these books as they're enmeshed in the lives of characters just like themselves, who are experiencing new cultures, new friendships, and new worlds through study abroad!

Review:

Here's a secret (well, it's not much of a secret anymore since I'm telling you all): I have a bizarre fascination with England. I blame it on my extreme love for British bands. Stupid reason, yes, but it is a reason. So needless to say, I was very eager to read this one. I admittedly had kind of high expectations because hey, it's set in England. (Yes, that is a stupid reason as well.) My expectations weren't necessarily met, but I also wasn't really let down.

I really liked how Abby wasn't the typical "I am so boring and have overprotective parents and I will never change because my parents won't let me and I am miserable" girl. She actually tried to change and be a little more out there are confident, which was just...nice. That's really all I can say to describe it. Sure she complained about her parents still, and she made some idiotic moves that made me want to beat her with a stick to knock some sense into her, but she still grew out of her shyness and opened up while still being real. She even found herself a man. That was half of the plot actually. Finding herself a man and having all the romancey stuff going on. The other half was you know, Abby "finding herself" and stuff. But both parts of the plots were amusing, and I liked them.

So yeah, good book. I liked it. Wasn't amazing but wasn't bad.

7.5/10

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Amor and Summer Secrets by Diana Rodriguez Wallach


[description from Diana Rodriguez Wallach's site]

Fifteen-year-old Mariana Ruiz has no desire to step foot outside her affluent Philadelphia suburb. But she may not have a choice.

With total disregard to the high-glam Sweet 16 her best friend is hosting, Mariana’s father ships her off to a tiny mountain town in Puerto Rico to stay with family she’s never met. The heat is merciless, the food is spicy, and only one of her relatives—her distant cousin Lilly—speaks English. Her consolation prize is Lilly’s homespun Puerto Rican Quinceãnera. Only the riotously festive party exposes Mariana to more than just her culture. She uncovers new friends, her first love, and a family secret that’s been buried on the island for more than 30 years.


Review:

Why the heck did I wait this long to read this book? It's been sitting on one of my TBR shelves for a few weeks, and now I wonder why I didn't pick it up sooner. It was veryveryvery good.

Most abroad books, I've noticed, are set in Europe, but this one was not. Not that I have something against Europe books; I don't. I like them very much. But having this one be in Puerto Rico was different, in a good way. And it didn't hurt that all the scenery and stuff was so vividly described that it was easy to get into the setting.

The title definitely fits the story too. There was definitely mucho amor*, but that wasn't the whole plot. There was Mariana and Lilly fighting and then not fighting, Mariana dealing with herrather annoying brother, Mariana dealing with the lack of English found in Puerto Rico, Mariana dealing with having her friends throw star-studded parties without her, and then there's also the amor. Needless to say Mariana dealt with a lot. And even though there was a whole bunch of conflict that could make things confusing and unrealistic, it wasn't confusing or unrealistic at all. Mariana dealt with everything like an actual human being probably would. She was very well developed and, you know, human. So were the majority of the other people in the story. Not as much, but enough so that I felt their actions weren't just random.

And the "secrets" part of the title definitely fits too. There's a Big Secret revealed at the end that really spices things up.

Sooooo. This was a pretty lame review. I just dunno how to fix it, so just trust me when I say I really liked the book and thought it was really good. And that you should check it out sometime.

8.5/10

*Amor is love, by the way. In case you didn't know. Just saying.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cruel Summer by Alyson Noël


[description from B&N]

“This was supposed to be my best summer yet, the one I’ve been working toward since practically forever. Now I’m being banished from everything I know and love, and it just doesn’t make any sense.”

Having recently discarded her dorky image--and the best friend that went with it--Colby Cavendish is looking forward to a long hot season of parties, beach BBQ’s, and hopefully, more hook-ups with Levi Bonham, the hottest guy in school. But her world comes crashing down when her parents send her away to spend the summer in Greece with her crazy aunt Tally.

Stranded on a boring island with no malls, no cell phone reception, and an aunt who talks to her plants, Colby worries that her new friends have forgotten all about her. But when she meets Yannis, a cute Greek local, everything changes. She experiences something deeper and more intense than a summer fling, and it forces her to see herself, and the life she left behind, in a whole new way.

Review:

Have I ever mentioned that I really like Alyson Noël's stuff? Because I do. I think she's a great author, even though I haven't read even half of her books. I've read, including this one, like 3 and 1/6. (I read a little of another book of her's at my friend's house one day. I don't even remember anything about it either.) But I've really liked what I've read, especially this book.

Not that exciting of a plot; it's just really about Colby trying to figure stuff out. Not to say that it wasn't good. It was. It really was, because Colby was such a deep character, even though she was very superficial in the beginning. She was complaining about being in Greece when it was so pretty out and there was this amazing guy walking around outside. I thought she was crazy. But she was geniunely upset and told so much about why she was upset and all her other feelings that it was really easy to get inside her head and know her. And thankfully, by the end she got over her superficial-ness and realized what was really important in her life. And she realized that Yannis was completely awesome.

If you want a light romance-y story with really deep characters, I highly suggest that you pick this one up.

8.5/10

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson


[description from B&N]

The Girl:
Clio Ford, seventeen, wants to spend the summer smooching her art-store crush, not stuck on a boat in the Mediterranean. At least she'll get a killer tan.

The Mission: Survive her father's crazy antics. Oh, and also find some missing underwater treasure that could unlock the secrets of civilization.

The Crew: Dad's wacky best friend Martin, his bizarre research partner Julia, her voluptuous daughter Elsa . . . and then there's Aidan, Julia's incredibly attractive, incredibly arrogant assistant.

What's going on behind Aidan's intellectual, intensely green eyes, anyway?

As Clio sails into uncharted territory she unveils secrets that have the power to change history. But her most surprising discovery is that there's something deeper and more cryptic than the sea—her own heart.

Review:

I love Maureen Johnson. She's completely hilarious and made of awesome. So it's really no surprise that this book was funny and completely made of awesome.

Like other Maureen Johnson books, it's a little bizarre, but in a good way. I mean, they're looking for buried treasure in the ocean while on a boat in the middle of the Mediterranean. It has to be bizarre. But it's a fun bizarre since amidst the treasure hunting there is drama, tension-filled romance, sarcasm, and jellyfish.

The characters are so flawed and so perfect. Clio is impulsive but determined, Aidan is arrogant and annoying but smart and oh so lovable, Clio's dad is a really kind of stupid but tries his best to be a good dad even though that doesn't really work, and Elsa is a tad vain and angry but she's still nice and very teenagery. That last one made no sense, but whatever. My point is that they are all so human and awesome.

I definitely recommend this one. It has boats, fun, Italy, a little bit of history thrown in, and an unfortunate encounter with some jellyfish. What more could you want?

8.5/10

Monday, November 10, 2008

Getting the Boot by Peggy Guthart Strauss

[description from B&N]

Studying abroad isn't at all like Kelly thought it would be.Instead of shopping for fine Italian leather and living in an apartment with a view of the Colosseum, she is stuck in a stuffy dorm room with three other girls, and is sharing one shower with the entire floor! This is not the bella Roma that she'd dreamed of. But there is one part of Italy that Kelly doesn't mind—Joe, a really cute guy who's in the study abroad program too. Joe's into staying up late and partying hard, two things that Kelly used to love doing. Bad habits are hard to break, and she soon finds herself on thin ice with the program coordinators. If Kelly's not careful, she might just get the boot…

Review:

Is it a requirement for all books set in other countries to be really light and fun? Because it sure seems that way to me. This book definitely was really light and an easy read, but that didn't take away from how good it was. Because it was pretty good; not great, but still not bad.

Italy has always been somewhere I want to go- I think my unnatural love for pasta and bread has something to do with that- so I was excited to read this and really get to kind of experience some Italian culture. Um, that really didn't happen until half way through when Kelly finally realized what a sleazy pothead Joe was- I really can not figure out what in the world she saw in that guy. I think she just liked him because he was there. But once she got down to business and ditched him, more descriptions of Italy and the art there were described. Yay for that.

Character-wise, I was pretty annoyed with Kelly until she dumped Joe. She was really an oblivious idiot during the time she was with him. She treated everyone badly even though she didn't mean to, but once she dumped the pothead she finally was being nice. Thank goodness for that. I liked the minor characters- except Joe and Rod. They felt really real but maybe a little cliche at some points- like the crazy environmentalist roommate.

But despite my small qualms, I enjoyed the book. I will definitely be looking for more S.A.S.S. books in the future. Actually, I have another review of one for later in the week, so look for that.

7.5/10

Sunday, November 9, 2008

We Are Rockstars.

I wasn't tagged, but I'm doing this anyway since it looks fun. And so:

1. Put Your iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS.
4. Put the artist after a dash following the song name.
5. Put any comments in brackets.
6. Tag some lucky people to spread the disease.

How would you describe yourself?
I Used to Have a Heart- Say Anything.

[That's happy.]

How do you feel today?
Catch Your Wave- The Click Five.

What is your life's purpose?
An Insult to the Dead- Say Anything

[I've a lot of Say Anything songs.]

What is your motto?
Travel in Time- Kate Havnevik

What do you think about very often?
Geek in the Pink- Jason Mraz

What is your life story?
Gentlemen- Teddy Geiger

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Thinking Underage- Teddy Geiger

[I have a lot of Teddy Geiger too.]

What will you dance to at your wedding?
Total Revenge- Say Anything

What will they play at your funeral?
Ooh La- The Kooks

[Err.]

What is your hobby/interest?
Fidelity- Regina Spektor

If you could do anything right now, what would it be?
Ultraviolet- McFly

What do you want most of all?
About Falling- Say Anything

[There's Say Anything again.]

What is your greatest fear?
Bubblewrap- McFly

[Haha.]

What is your darkest secret?
Lady- Regina Spektor

What is your favorite thing in the world?
Spidersong- Say Anything

[There they are again.]

If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?
Hometown Glory- Adele

[My town does need some glory, now I think about it.]

What is your theme song?
Leave it Alone- Operator Please

The next time you hear this song (aside from now, that is), you must dance.
Serpetine- Kate Havnevik

[How am I supposed to dance to this song?]

What will you post this as?
We Are Rockstars- Does It Offend You, Yeah?

Another theme week.

As the title says, I've another theme week going on this week, because themes are fun for weirdos like me: A Week Abroad. In case you're slow and don't get it, I shall explain: I will review a bunch of books set in countries beside the U.S in modern times. I'd have loads more to review if they were in the past, but I'm just going to review modern ones. Because I can. Most are set in Europe, but one is not. It's actually set in a U.S. territory, but it counts as abroad. Because I said so.

Fun, yes?

Recommendation Sundaaaaaaaay

I can't really think of anything to do for today's Recommendation Sunday, so I'm starting a I don't know how many parts series where I recommend things most people seem to have already read. But whoever hasn't read them is getting them recommended by me. And I'm only writing a few sentences about each and why they're good. So yeah. It'll make more sense once you read the post.

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr [description from B&N]:

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.

Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.

Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.

But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

---

This book has faeries, action, and some delightful drama. There's a bitchy mother, seemingly mean king, interetsing Aislinnn, and some ooh-la-la secrets. And there is Seth.

----

Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber [description from B&N]:

Aphra Behn Connolly has the type of life most teenage girls envy. She lives on a remote tropical island and spends most of her time eavesdropping on the rich and famous. The problem is that her family's resort allows few opportunities for her to make friends-much less to meet cute boys. So when a smoldering Seth Mulo arrives with his parents, she's immediately drawn to him. Sure, he's a little bit guarded, and sure his parents are rather cold, and okay he won't say a word about his past, but their chemistry is undeniable. Then a famous rock star's girlfriend turns up dead on the beach-strangled by her own bikini top-and alarm bells sound. Is it too great a coincidence that Seth's family turned up just one day before a murder? As the plot thickens, Aphra finds that danger lurks behind even the most unexpected of faces. . . .

----

Fun. Light. Detectivey. Action. Romance. Suspense. Unique. Awesome.

---

A Great and Terrible Beauty
by Libba Bray [description from B&N]

It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

---

It's by Libba Bray. Libba Bray is amazing, therefore book is amazing. Is magical and actiony and original and has delightfully developed characters. Has secrets and Kartik. Yay. READ IT!

---

Sorry that was so zombie-like. It's NaNo. I have no time to form coherent sentences.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sometime I cannot explain my love...

...for some book covers. Some are just so pretty, but I cannot explain why they are so pretty or why I love them so much. Examples:

Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr:Now tell me you don't think that's a gorgeous cover. It's so simple, yet so pretty. Pretty pretty butterfly.

What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson:

I really have no idea why I like this one so much. Maybe it's because I'm wondering why the heck he's jumping in a lake.

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston:


This one is gives kind of an underwater feel to it.

Raven by Allison van Diepen:

Is it the tattoo? The weird title font? I don't know.

The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor:

This one has an underwater feel to it too. Plus, it's blue and blue is my favorite color, so.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Evermore by Alyson Noël

[description from B&N]

Since a horrible accident claimed the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever can see auras, hear people’s thoughts, and know a person’s life story by touch. Going out of her way to shield herself from human contact to suppress her abilities has branded her as a freak at her new high school—but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste…

Ever sees Damen and feels an instant recognition. He is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy, and he holds many secrets. Damen is able to make things appear and disappear, he always seems to know what she’s thinking—and he’s the only one who can silence the noise and the random energy in her head. She doesn’t know who he really is—or what he is. Damen equal parts light and darkness, and he belongs to an enchanted new world where no one ever dies.

Review:

Before you read the review: Open a tab of Amazon or Barnes and Noble's site or Borders's site or whatever site you order your books from. Log in to your account, search for this book, and when it's page thing comes up, click the "pre-order" button. Because this is one you'll definitely want to read as soon as it comes out.

This book is not high in action, but it is high in mystery. There are parts that were really exciting and had some action, but they were few. Thankfully, all the mystery makes up for it. The questions "What's with Damen?" and "What's with Haven?" (Ever's wannabe-goth friend) and "What's with Drina?" (Some loony girl who I can't describe better because I'd spoil the book) and "What's with Riley?" (Ever's funny little sister) drive the plot forward extremely well. I found myself unwilling to put the book down, even though I had to at some points, because I wanted to know what was going to happen with everyone and see how all the little subplots would be woven together.

Also, Alyson Noel knows how to write her characters. Ever was so real and her emotions were so believable that it was a little creepy. It's like Alyson Noël is actually a grieving, lovestruck teenager. She got Ever completely perfect. An by perfect, I mean delightfully flawed and deep. Also, I'm kind of smitten with Damen even though he got on my nerves a lot. He's fascinating to read about because of his past. Love him.

Alright, since I know nobody went and preordered this before reading the review, you better go do it now. You're really going to want this one. I swear. It's a great start to the series, especially considering that the ending isn't a big cliffhanger but still leaves you wanting more. (Well, actually me since I've read it. You just sounds better. But once you read it you'll want the sequel. Trust me.)

8.7ish/10

Evermore will be released in February.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Center of the Universe (Yep, That Would be Me) by Anita Liberty


[description from B&N]

I CAN'T FIX THE WORLD.

I CAN ONLY SIT BACK AND CRITICIZE IT.

Welcome to the story of my life. Well, at least the story of my junior and senior years of high school. It's a profound, touching, and hilarious (if I do say so myself) tale told through cunning poems, revelatory diary entries, perspicacious (look it up) word definitions, shrewd bits of advice, and off-the-cuff (but brilliant) insights.

You'll probably relate to a lot of it. Especially the parts about hating my parents, never feeling cool enough, failing my first attempt at the SATs, having an incredibly romantic (but one-sided) relationship with the coolest guy in school, and getting hexed by my ex-best friend who became a Wiccan.

And if you can't relate? Well, step to the back of that humongous line. You'll probably be right behind my family. If you're lucky, my mom'll bring snacks.

How can I be who I am and who my family wants me to be when the person I am wouldn't be caught dead with the person my family wants me to be?

Review:

I think if I had to describe this book in one word, it would be: funny. This book is frinkin hilarious. It just is. Since I have absolutely no time to find a funny poem in the book right now, you can read an excerpt from the beginning here. The excerpt contains some funny, but as the book goes on it gets even funnier. All the poems, charts, and SAT sentences included are what made it really funny, but besides those the regular prose was funny too.

But the book isn't good just because it's funny. Anita is very teenager-y, despite being so obsessed with sex and boys it was annoying. I could definitely relate to her, ("I can't fix the world, I can only sit back and criticize it"? Um, yeah. That would be me.) just like it says I would in the description. It almost seems like saying that I would relate to in the description would force me to relate to it or influence me in some way, but that was not the case. I really felt like she could be someone I know, with her parent conflict, test stress, and friend problems.

If you wanted something fantastically light and funny and awesome, I'd definitely tell you to check this book out. It's incredibly happy-making.

8.5/10


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wide Awake by David Levithan

WARNING: This review contains heavy fangirling.

[description from B&N]

In the not-too-impossible-to-imagine future, a gay Jewish man has been elected president of the United States. Until the governor of one state decides that some election results in his state are invalid, awarding crucial votes to the other candidate, and his fellow party member. Thus is the inspiration for couple Jimmy and Duncan to lend their support to their candidate by deciding to take part in the rallies and protests. Along the way comes an exploration of their relationship, their politics, and their country, and sometimes, as they learn, it's more about the journey than it is about reaching the destination.

Review:

Can I marry David Levithan? Seriously. The man is just plain amazing. If you have not read anything by him, leave your computer right now and go to your nearest bookish place to buy something by him. His writing, his characters....swoon. I don't think he ever writes anything bad. Because this book, and all his others that I've read, have been completely wonderful.

David Levithan knows how to write characters. He doesn't include much obvious stuff about them, but includes little quirks of theirs' that really make them human. Such as Duncan's obsession with the Boston Tea Party when he was young and Mr. Davis's obsession with reenacting the Iraq war. Well maybe the latter isn't a little quirk, but still. You know what I mean. They were just all so human, so flawed, so delightful. Duncan wasn't always one to stand up for himself or the things he believed in, Keisha and Mira had their own problems that I shall not discuss due to spoileryness, and Jimmy was almost too eager and not understanding but still really understanding. That last one made no sense. Moving on.

Plotplotplot. Plot was good. Plot was original. Very original. I mean, how many books have you read where the president is gay and jewish? It kind of seems like the whole book would be about Kansas's recounting of the votes to get the gay jewish president out of office and Jimmy and Duncan going on a journey to Kansas, but it's really more about changing the world and how it typically work. And about defying The Man. Fight the power!

I know I'm biased since I would love anything David Levithan's written- He could write about a dancing lamp and I would still love it- but even if I wasn't very biased I'd still really like this book. Read it!

8.7ish/10

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Recommendation Sunday


Part three of my Recommendation Sunday Scott Westerfeld posts. Today I get to recommend my favorite Westerfeld kind of series: Peeps and The Last Days.

[description from B&N]

A year ago, Cal Thompson was a college freshman more interested in meeting girls and partying than in attending biology class. Now, after a fateful encounter with a mysterious woman named Morgan, biology has become, literally, Cal's life.

Cal was infected by a parasite that has a truly horrifying effect on its host. Cal himself is a carrier, unchanged by the parasite, but he's infected the girlfriends he's had since Morgan. All three have turned into the ravening ghouls Cal calls Peeps. The rest of us know them as vampires. It's Cal's job to hunt them down before they can create more of their kind. . . .

Bursting with the sharp intelligence and sly humor that are fast becoming his trademark, Scott Westerfeld's novel is an utterly original take on an archetype of horror.

---

As stated above, this is my favorite Westerfeld series even though it really isn't a series. I'm not sure why it's my favorite, but it is. His take on vampires is completely different than any other out there: they've got parasites. And some infected, like Cal, aren't even full vampires. They just carry the parasite that tries to get it's host to infect other people. This type of vampire is interesting more than anything else, since in Peeps every other chapter talks about a parasite. I guess that kind of slows the book down, but I didn't really care. I thought it was interesting, yet slightly gross, but still fool.

Now that I think about it, I think I like this one so much because of it's bizarreness and originality. Also, everything in it makes sense and is smart (I'm telling you, Scott Westerfeld is a genius) and there's a bigger, more interesting problem lying underneath what one would think is the main conflict. That bigger problem plays a bigger part in the fawesome companion book, The Last Days.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy NaNo!

IT'S FINALLY NOVEMBER 1ST!!!!!!!!! WHEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I love November because NaNo is in November. NaNo makes me lose sleep, reading time, and my mind, but I love it anyway. It is oodles of fun.

I have so much more to do during this month than I did last year though, sadly- more school work and prevent this here blog from dying. (Because who has time to write reviews, or read, when it's NaNo?) I've been getting a bunch of reviews written to schedule throughout the month so ze blog will not die. Whee.

Now, I must go write. Let the insanity begin!