Monday, November 30, 2009

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate


[description from goodreads]

A steamy Southern beauty makes one fatal mistake

Natalie Hargrove would kill to be her high school’s Palmetto Princess. But her boyfriend Mike King doesn’t share her dream and risks losing the honor of Palmetto Prince to Natalie’s nemesis, Justin Balmer. So she convinces Mike to help play a prank on Justin. . . one that goes terribly wrong. They tie him to the front of the church after a party—when they arrive the next morning, Justin is dead.

From blackmail to buried desire, dark secrets to darker deeds, Natalie unravels. She never should’ve messed with fate. Fate is the one thing more twisted than Natalie Hargrove.

Cruel Intentions meets Macbeth in this seductive, riveting tale of conscience and consequence.

Review:

Lauren Kate is also the author of the upcoming Fallen, which has been getting a ton of buzz, and everyone thinks it will be a hit. Because of that, I'm sure The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove will get somewhat lost among all the Fallen talk, even though this book is Lauren's debut, and from what I gather, it's whole lot better than Fallen. (I still haven't read Fallen, but from what I've heard...eh.) The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is by no means spectacular, but I did enjoy really it and would be sad to see it get lost in the shuffle.

Going in to the book, I really didn't know what it was about because the summary I read was definitely not as detailed as the one above. Because I was so uninformed, the twists and events were that much surprising. Many of the more twisted events, such as the one mentioned in the summary came as a surprise, while other things were insanely predictable, such as the result of Natalie running for Palmetto Princess. But the predictable things were minor compared to the unexpected ones- especially the twist at the end. The ending was completely shocking and unlike anything I have read before. The ending did leave many things unresolved, but I was too busy making a ":o" face to be concerned with the loose ends.

Natalie was a very interesting character- I got sick of her never-ending Palmetto Princess talk early on but was fascinated by her actions. She is horribly selfish and her actions are insane, but the way she explains her motivation makes it seem like her awful actions were right, that they were the best things she could have done in her situation. Unfortunately, I was less satisfied with the other characters. Justin was gone before I even knew much about him, Natalie's boyfriend, Mike, seemed to be more of a sidekick, and other characters just came and went as needed. Natalie's dad and old friend in particular seem like they are only plot catalysts instead of characters. They show up, move the plot along, and then they are only mentioned a few more times.

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove does have many undeveloped parts and unresolved ends, but it's still a delightfully twisted and shocking read.

Links: Lauren's website/blog/twitter

Book details: Razorbill/Paperback/$9.99

Sunday, November 29, 2009

In My Mailbox (8)

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. (:

All descriptions from goodreads.

From the library:

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin.

For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex.

Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?

---I lovelovelove Ellen Hopkins, so I can't wait to start this one.

Undercover by Beth Kephart

Like a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac, Elisa ghostwrites love notes for the boys in her school. But when Elisa falls for Theo Moses, things change fast. Theo asks for verses to court the lovely Lila—a girl known for her beauty, her popularity, and a cutting ability to remind Elisa that she has none of these. At home, Elisa's father, the one person she feels understands her, has left on an extended business trip. As the days grow shorter, Elisa worries that the increasingly urgent letters she sends her father won't bring him home. Like the undercover agent she feels she has become, Elisa retreats to a pond in the woods, where her talent for ice-skating gives her the confidence to come out from under cover and take center stage. But when Lila becomes jealous of Theo's friendship with Elisa, her revenge nearly destroys Elisa's ice-skating dreams and her plan to reunite her family.

---The other two Beth Kephart's books I've read (House of Dance, Nothing but Ghosts) are absolutely gorgeous, and I'm sure this one is too.

I also got Stop in the Name of Pants! by Louise Rennison from the library. Love the Georgia Nicolson series. I still need to read book 10, the final one, and if Georgia ends up with Masimo I will kill something.

Won:

Beautiful by Amy Reed

When thirteen-year-old Cassie moves to a suburb of Seattle, she is determined to leave her boring, good-girl existence behind. She chooses some dangerous new friends and is quickly caught up in their fast-paced world of drugs, sex, secrets, and cruelty.

Cassie's new existence both thrills and terrifies her. She embraces the numbness she feels from the drugs, starts sleeping with an older boy, and gets pulled into a twisted friendship triangle that is tinged with violence and abuse. Cassie is trapped in a swift downward spiral, and there's no turning back.

---This book has the stamp of approval from author Courtney Summers (who is *~*~*sparkly and lovely) so I am sure this book is great.


From the lovely awesome person at the bookstore:


The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie’s struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

---I've heard great things about this one already, and it's not even out until next year. It sounds great. Cannot wait to begin!

For review:

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

---I'm too lazy to go hunt for a description of this one, but it's basically about a girl who likes her best friend's boyfriend. But who cares what it's about? It's Elizabeth Scott! Everyone should want to read it just because it's by her. Elizabeth Scott could write about frolicking unicorns and I would still want to read it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

2010 Debut Author Challenge

Next I year I am FOR SURE going to participate in Kristi/The Story Siren's 2010 Debut Author Challenge. Those of you who know of my Tenners love know that I am already ecstatic to read all the debuts coming out next year.

And if you want to know what the 2010 Debut Author Challenge IS, here is an excerpt from Kristi's post:

What is the 2010 Debut Author Challenge?
  • The objective is to read a set number of YA (Young Adult) or MG (Middle Grade) novels from debut authors published this year.* I'm going to challenge everyone to read at least 12 debut novels! I’m hoping to read at least 30! You don’t have to list your choices right away, but if you do feel free to change them throughout the year. I will also be focusing on mostly Young Adult novels.
  • Anyone can join, you don’t need a blog to participate. If you don’t have a blog you can always share your views by posting a review on Amazon.com/BarnesandNoble.com/GoodReads/Shelfari, or any other bookish site.
  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2010- December 31, 2010.
  • You can join at anytime!

You can read the rest of the post here.

I'm supposed to list the debut books I want to read next year, but I kind of want to read all of the Tenner books. Plus the non Tenner debut books. Luckily I have already read a few I wanted to (The Naughty List, Guardian of the Dead, The Iron King, The Secret Year, The Body Finder are a few) but here are only a fraction of the others I want to read. I will add books to it until I get too lazy to add any more. And I'm not adding the ones that come out on 12/23 (Scones and Sensibility, Magic Under Glass, etc) So, in no particular order (if I have read them they're bolded instead of italicized):
  1. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  2. Dirty Little Secrets by CJ Omololu
  3. Everlasting by Angie Frazier
  4. The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
  5. Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken
  6. The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
  7. Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
  8. Sea by Heidi R. Kling
  9. The Duff by Kody Keplinger
  10. Other by Karen Kincy
  11. Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt
  12. Anna and the Boy Masterpiece by Stephanie Perkins
  13. The Daykeeper's Grimoire by Christy Raedeke
  14. Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes
  15. Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
  16. Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards
  17. Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount-White
  18. The Snowball Effect by Holly Hoxter
  19. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
  20. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
  21. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
  22. Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
  23. The Mark by Jen Nadol
  24. Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams
  25. Plain Kate by Erin Bow
  26. A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis
  27. Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly
  28. The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff
  29. Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser
  30. All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
  31. A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
Alright I'm too lazy now. And you know, you can just add the rest of the books listed on the Tenner site. We'll see how many of those I will manage to read next year.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving at the Inn by Tim Whitney

[description from goodreads]

Ever since his mother left, life hasn't been easy for Heath Wellington III. Between his father's (Junior's) bouts with alcoholism and literary rejection, and Heath's own wrongful suspension from school, there hasn't been all that much to be thankful for.

But following the tragic death of estranged grandfather Senior, father and son alike stand to inherit a life-changing fortune . . . with one catch.

Heath and Junior must spend the next three months managing Senior's bed and breakfast, located in the same Massachusetts home Junior has spent the last eight years trying to escape.

Upended from his everyday life and relocated to a town where everyone knew and loved the grandfather he can't even remember, Heath finds an inn full of some of the strangest people he's ever met, such as:

* Winsted, the old, wise Jamaican man who used to lead the prayers in Senior s factory;

* Mrs. Farrel, an elderly woman giving away her late husband's fortune letter by letter;

* Mustang Sally, the muscle-bound, tattooed grease monkey who doubles as a children's author;

* And Carter, the silent TV news junkie and secret Harvard graduate.

And, at a nearby school is Savannah, Junior's first love, and her adorable, autistic daughter, Tori.

But most of all, there's Junior himself, vinegar to Heath's oil. As Heath adjusts to his new world, what he needs most is to start anew with his father, to understand that Junior, too, is dealing with loss, and to realize that, even in the most tragic of times, there's a lot in life to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving at the Inn is a beautiful story of family and forgiveness, and a sure holiday classic. Tim Whitney's fantastic, heartwarming debut is one you'll want to read with the whole family for years and years to come.

Review:

Even though Thanksgiving is now over this year for those of us in the US, Thanksgiving at the Inn is still a great read, especially for the holiday season. Although it does touch on some heavy topics- alcoholism, for example- it is still a mostly uplifting, feel-good story.

The characters are definitely the strongest part of the novel; there are many, but because they are all so unique it is easy to keep them all straight. The book is more on the short side, but each of the characters manage to have a well developed back story, making some of their kind of odd actions make a whole lot of sense. Heath, the protagonist, is especially well developed, because many times he makes common mistakes. He is a typical tween boy: he can be slow and stupid sometimes, but he is able to recognize the problems around him and make an effort to fix them.

The plot isn't terribly exciting in terms of action or anything, because the book mainly focuses on the relationship between Junior and his peers, especially his father. The relationships are handled well- they are not happy-happy all the time, but they aren't a complete wreck all the time either. There is a nice balance between happy and messed up, like any real relationship. In the end, the relationship between Heath and his father especially leaves off on a hopeful note, which was quite lovely.

As you might be able to gather from the description, the book focuses on themes that can definitely be preached about. However, the book doesn't get too preachy. It does teach some morals and lessons, but not in a "now we'll forget the plot and teach you a lesson" way.

Thanksgiving at the Inn is a heartwarming story, one that will be enjoyed by those older and a bit younger than the target audience.

Links: the book website

Book details: Bancroft Press/Hardcover/$21.95

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What I am Thankful For

  1. The usual stuff that everyone is always thankful for: family, friends, food, shelter.
  2. That the first thing I think of when I think Thanksgiving is this:
  3. All my lovely book blogging friends who make blogging supa FUN! *~
  4. All the awesome authors who don't get upset when I fangirl them/stalk them/always twitter to them. Hee.
  5. That there a ton of amazing YA books out there right now and that I get to read as many as I can.
  6. All the people who read my blog- I love you all.
  7. ...the internet.
  8. Twitter. How else would I talk to author/bloggers/other cool book people all the time?
  9. That I am to talk to people about books, because I never get to do that IRL.
...among other things. (:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (46)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. (:

Today's pick:


Everlasting by Angie Frazier

description (from author site)

Sailing aboard her father’s trade ship is all seventeen-year-old Camille Rowen has ever wanted. But as a girl of society in 1855 San Francisco, her future is set: marry a man she doesn’t love, or condemn herself and her father to poverty. On her final voyage before the wedding, the stormy arms of the Tasman Sea claim her father, and a terrible family secret is revealed. A secret intertwined with a fabled map, the mother Camille has long believed dead, and an ancient stone that wields a dangerous - and alluring - magic. The only person Camille can depend on is Oscar, a handsome young sailor whom she is undeniably drawn to. Torn between trusting her instincts and keeping her promises to her father, Camille embarks on a perilous quest into the Australian wilderness to find the enchanted stone. As she and Oscar elude murderous bushrangers and unravel Camille’s father’s lies, they come closer to making the ultimate decision of who - and what - matters most.

---

Do I even need to explain why I want this one? I could write like a 500 word paragraph (filled with a ton of exclamation points) on why I want this book.

I lovelovelove historical fiction, and since 1855 is a year that I haven't read much about I definitely want it. Also, secrets? WHO DOESN'T LOVE SECRETS? And who doesn't love maps and rocks and Australia and sailors? THERE IS NOTHING NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THIS BOOK SUMMARY.

NEED!!!

(Also, how cute is that cover? It's so cute.)

Released in *sob* June 2010.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Interrupting regularly scheduled blog posts to say...

....YAAAAAAAY STEPH!!!


Do you remember when I made Steph a cake celebrating her getting an agent?


Well, now Steph has a book deal! CRAZY TOWN! Even though I'm pretty sure her book will only be coming out/first coming out in Australia, I'm definitely going to have to get a copy shipped to me when the book is released so that I can read it and then tell everyone I know that Steph the 15 Year Old already has a book out!

So, congrats Steph! I'm sure your book is totally awesome and I cannot wait to read it. CONGRATS!*~

Monday, November 23, 2009

When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton

[description from goodreads]

Jimmy lives in Rowlesburg, West Virginia, during the 1940s. He does all the things boys do in the small mountain town: plays a mean game of football, pulls the unforgettable Halloween prank with his friends in “the Platoon,” and promises to head off into the woods on the first day of hunting season— no matter what. He also knows his father belongs to a secret society, and is determined to uncover the mysteries behind it! But it is a midnight encounter with a train that shows Jimmy the man his father really is.

Newcomer Fran Cannon Slayton’s powerful first novel captures the serendipity of boyhood by shining a spotlight on the peak adventures of Jimmy’s life. But at its heart, this is a story about a boy and his father in a time when trains reigned supreme.

Review:

I must say- this book is different than what I'm used to. Although I do read as much historical fiction as I can get my hands on, this book is about something I've not often read about. Besides that, though, this book is different because it reads almost like a bunch of short stories. Almost, because they do all focus on and are narrated by the same person, but each chapter takes place in a new year and completely different things occur. However, I do think this was a benefit- there was definitely an obvious connection in the chapters besides the fact that they focused on the same character, and because each chapter shows a different point in Jimmy's life, it makes him seem more human.

Although it sometimes felt as though I was missing out on Jimmy's personal development because the chapters only covered one day every year, it was easy to see that he had changed each year. I would have liked to see how the changes came about exactly, but I got the feeling that he is just so normal that long, detailed descriptions of his early life would be a bit dull. Therefore, I was more than satisfied with the events he chose to describe: each of them were delightful and exciting, whether they were about his friends or his family. The one day per chapter thing also helped make the book more exciting and fast overall, as something important happened on the days he described, so there was no real boring build up or anything like that.

Because none of the minor characters make many appearances in the novel because they either aren't there on the days Jimmy described or they just aren't talked about, they do not seem as developed as the Jimmy, the narrator. However, that is easily overlooked because Jimmy himself is so refreshingly normal and human. It may not seem like he would be easy to relate to because he lives in the 1940s, but it is easy to relate to him. He describes his feelings about his family so well that it's easy to see what their relationships are like, and many of the things he does are just so normal. He plays football, he gets in trouble, he plays pranks- they are all things that many people do or know about no matter what time they are in. Although it might seem like it would be boring to read about such things, it's not- there are some other secret things going on. ;)

When the Whistle Blows has an almost "classic" feel to it; it has a timeless quality about it. It could have been written at any time after the 1940s instead of in 2009, and it's still easy to relate to. Though I don't think it will appeal to everyone, those who enjoy historical fiction or just a good, "classic" book will probably enjoy it quite a lot.

Links: Fran's website/blog/twitter

Book details: Philomel/Hardcover/$16.99

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture and Tapir Junkie. (:

I have no idea when I got some books, so I will just include everything I've gotten since the last IMM.

All descriptions from indiebound unless otherwise noted.

Bought:

These two are both in series and aren't the first book, so I won't post the summaries.



Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Yes, I am just now getting this one. I AM SLOW.)
Shadowland by Alyson Noel (Love this series, so I can't wait to start this installment! I also got to see Alyson at a signing on Tuesday, and she is super lovely and sweet.)

Beautiful Americans by Lucy Silag

Pretty Little Liars meets My So-Called Life in this story of four American teens in Paris and the scandals that haunt each of them.

There's rich New York girl Alex; Cali-born dancer Olivia; closeted Memphis boy Zack; and fi nally PJ, an elusive beauty from Vermont who's hiding a dark past.

Studying abroad for their junior year of high school, they run wild in the Tuileries, hold clandestine parties in their host families' luxe apartments, take over tiny crowded cafes and generally live the glamorous life.

But in the end they all must face the lies they've told and secrets they've kept when the unthinkable happens.

---I actually have the ARC of this one, but I bought the paperback when I saw that my review is quoted in it. That was a nice surprise. (:

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She's about to find out she's also a cloverhand--one who can see faeries. Deirdre finds herself infatuated with a mysterious boy who enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of thin air. Trouble is, the enigmatic and gorgeous Luke turns out to be a gallowglass--a soulless faerie assassin. An equally hunky--and equally dangerous--dark faerie soldier named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. Sworn enemies, Luke and Aodhan each have a deadly assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen's sovereignty. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is James, her wisecracking but loyal best friend. Deirdre had been wishing her life weren't so dull, but getting trapped in the middle of a centuries-old faerie war isn't exactly what she had in mind . . .

---I have the sequel, Ballad, but haven't read this one so I picked myself up a copy.

In the mail:

Would You by Marthe Jocelyn

WOULD YOU RATHER know what’s going to happen or not know?
A summer night. A Saturday. For Natalie’s amazing older sister, Claire, this summer is fantastic, because she’s zooming off to college in the fall. For Natalie, it’s a fun summer with her friends; nothing special. When Claire is hit by a car, the world changes in a heartbeat. Over the next four days, moment by moment, Natalie, her parents, and their friends wait to learn if Claire will ever recover.

---Got this one from the publisher! Looks good. (:



The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

(from Julie's site)

MEGHAN CHASE HAS A SECRET DESTINY— ONE SHE COULD NEVER HAVE IMAGINED…

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

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

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

----EEEEEE! I am reading this one right now and it is SUPA GOOD so far. Can't wait to finish!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update #3

UGH NANO UGH GRR.

Last week I mentioned how NaNo was a bit easier this year because I knew what to write and how to fix my novel, blah blah blah.

I lied last week.

It is better writing quality overall, but in terms of plot, IT FAILS.

This noveling business is too difficult.

So my nano is supposed to take place over a year or so. I'm 33,000ish words in and only a week has gone by. If this was English class, I would say that I'm still in the exposition.

At 33,000 words I'm pretty sure that is not supposed to happen. I'm pretty sure stuff is supposed to be blowing up and bad things are supposed to happen and there should be twists galore.

But no, I'm still at the awkward school scenes where friends are still being introduced.

I want to skip right to the end, because I know exactly how my NaNo ends, but then I know I will never go back and write the middle.

ARGH.

On the plus side, I am at almost the daily word count for today. *tries to think positive*

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Bookish Things I Hate

I'm in a rant-y mood today, so here are some book-ish things I hate. (You can see the first post I did on this subject here.)

  1. You know when there are stickers on books? And they are kind of gross looking so you really want to take them off so you can see the pretty cover, but when you take the sticker off there is goo all over the spot where the sticker was, and you would use something to get the goo off but you know that if you did it would damage the cover? Yeah, that really is bad.
  2. So, maybe I'm the only one who has noticed this, but there are like no books where the main character, or one of the main characters, plays a sport. There are "soccer" books that often revolve around soccer playing sisters, and the occasional cheerleader or football player book, but that's not that many. Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but I know a ton of people who play sports, especially on a school team, and I can't name a book I've read recently that has a main character who plays a sport and is not a cheerleader. I know some characters do, but the sports aspect of their life doesn't take up that much time, which is completely unrealistic.
  3. How the cheerleaders in books are usually the default mean girls. Maybe I hate this because my school doesn't technically have cheerleaders (we have ~spirit squad~) and I can't ~relate~ or whatever, but still.
  4. Technically this one is my fault, but I keep reading the summaries on the Elevensies (debut 2011 authors) site and then I remember that the books that sound AWESOME aren't out until 2011. And then I get upset that I must wait. I mean, do you honestly expect me to read summaries like this one and then wait two years to read the book?
  5. I hate all the New Moon press lately, and even though it's about a movie I'M INCLUDING IT IN THE LIST. If I see one more post or article about how "good" the movie is or how much money it is making I will shoot something.
  6. When the first few book in a series are paperbacks, but then the next book is a hardcover. I know the publisher wants to make money and whatnot, but don't they know I want my series books to match?
And now I am done. Who else has bookish things they hate?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unclaimed Heart by Kim Wilkins


[description from goodreads]

An illicit love—an oppressive father––a quest for truth.

The rules for a young English woman in 1799 are simple: Do what you’re told; stay out of the way; and don’t, under any circumstances, ask questions.

But Constance Blackchurch is insatiable, headstrong,and complex; and the quest to find her missing mother is too much to resist…

…as is Alexandre Sans-Nom, the pearl diver who steals her heart, uproots all of her social expectations, and can either ruin or save the family she loves.

Review:

Being the huge fan of historical fiction that I am, I was quite excited to read Unclaimed Heart because it was about a period of time that I had not previously read many, if any, books about. While I did enjoy this book, it definitely wasn't the best piece of historical fiction I've ever read,but it's also definitely not the worst.

For once, I enjoyed third person perspective; in this book, it actually helped develop the characters. Because there are many characters it focuses on, the third person makes the constant switch between characters' perspectives much easier. It also allows for more characters to have their thoughts heard; while some characters had very few chapters that did feel almost like they were thrown in just to explain things, other chapters were wonderful at developing the characters Constance and Alexandre's chapters were especially well-done. It was nice to see what they thought of each other, rather than get only one person's biased, romantic opinion of the other.

The romance element to the book was more present than I had anticipated, but once I got used to the change I definitely liked it. Sure, it was super cheesy at times, but it was still sweet and it's always nice to see the "rich" girl and the "poor" guy like each other, no matter how common it may be. I wish the search for the mother was more present, however; often it felt like the book would forget about it and speak about it every so often. What was present in it, though, was quite interesting and exciting, as there were always new twists going on.

Unclaimed Heart is definitely a very good book, but I think that if some things, like the pearl diving aspect, were developed more it could have been taken to a whole new level.

Links: Kim's blog, website

Book details: Razorbill/Paperback/$8.99

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (45)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. :D

Today's pick:
Other by Karen Kincy

[description from author site]

Seventeen-year-old Gwen hides a dangerous secret: she’s Other. Half-pooka, to be exact, thanks to the father she never met. Most Americans don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for Others, especially not the small-town folks of Klikamuks, Washington. As if this isn’t bad enough, Gwen’s on the brink of revealing her true identity to her long-time boyfriend, Zack, but she’s scared he’ll lump her with the likes of bloodthirsty vampires and feral werewolves.

When a pack of werewolves chooses the national forest behind Gwen’s home as their new territory, the tensions in Klikamuks escalate–into murder. It soon becomes clear a serial killer is methodically slaying Others. The police turn a blind eye, leaving Gwen to find the killer before the killer finds her. As she hunts for clues, she uncovers more Others living nearby than she ever expected. Like Tavian, a sexy Japanese fox-spirit who rivals Zack and challenges her to embrace her Otherness. Gwen must struggle with her own conflicted identity, learn who she can trust, and–most importantly–stay alive.

---

I've been waiting to WoW this book, and finally, the cover has been revealed! And it's gorgeous.

This book sounds super original- the only books I've read with pookas in them just have pookas just briefly mentioned. But because this one focuses on a half pooka, it sounds so refreshing and different from all the other paranormal sutff out there right now. CANNOT WAIT TO READ IT AAAAAH.


Released July 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Angels on Sunset Boulevard by Melissa de la Cruz

[description from B&N]

THE ANGELS PRACTICE, OR TAP,
is the kind of cult that doesn't exist. There are no rules and no records, just a MySpace-like website. All you need to know is that it will define who you are and what you will become.

Amidst the glittering L.A. nightlife, TAP parties are the place to see and be seen, especially in the exclusive back room. Taj and her rocker boyfriend, Johnny, are TAP elite, so when Taj meets preppie outsider Nick at a party, she doesn't give him a second thought. But then Johnny goes missing, along with Nick's sister. And suddenly Taj and Nick are teaming up to question TAP's darker side....

Review:

Melissa de la Cruz is definitely more well known for her Blue Bloods series than any of her other books, but, to me, this one definitely sounded a lot more interesting. However, upon completion of Angels on Sunset Boulevard, I thought to myself "I hope Blue Bloods is better than this, or I don't get the popularity much at all." Don't get me wrong- I did like this book, but it definitely isn't a favorite.

Obviously, Angels on Sunset Boulevard has an original concept. Cults in LA, made up mainly of teenagers? I mean, how can that not be interesting and unique? However, what goes on in TAP, the cult, is not really developed or explained until later on. One of the narrators is unaware of its existence, and while it's interesting to see how he is affected by TAP without actually being in it is beneficial to read about because it shows the wide effects TAP has, it's still a bit slow. The other narrator, Taj, doesn't explain much about it until later on when she meets narrator #1, Nick, which was more frustrating than anything else, because she knew but wasn't talking much.

The book started off in an exciting matter, with a horribly confused rock star, but after that it slows down. Because the alternating narrators are from completely different areas, there is much more that needs to be introduced, and it takes a while for them to finally meet. The events mentioned in the summary, Johnny and Nick's sister going missing, also do not appear until later on, making this book another one that could have been much better had the summary not given away so much. However, once all the meetings and such happen, the book becomes much more mysterious and exciting. The first chapter gives clues as to what goes on later, but it does not give everything away, making guessing what will happen both more frustrating and fun. The book also ended in a cliffhanger, which definitely makes me want to read the sequel whenever it finally comes out, even though I wasn't absolutely crazy for this book.

Both Nick and Taj, the ones whose perspectives the book is from, are both interesting narrators as well. Although the book is written in third person, it is still from the point of view of the characters and each section is distinct enough so that it's easy to tell who is thinking. They are also very different- Nick is rich, Taj isn't, Nick isn't a part of TAP, Taj is- which also helps. It's easy to see how their lifestyles make them different, and how Taj in particular is altered by her involvement in TAP. Both are well developed characters, even if the minor characters are not because they are not present enough and their motives are never really clear.

Although Angels on Sunset Boulevard is agonizingly slow, it's still very original and interesting; I will definitely read the sequel if it ever happens to come out. I'd say that if you want to read it, give it a shot, but if it doesn't sound like your thing, it might be best to just skip it.

Links: Melissa's website/twitter

Book details: Simon Pulse/Paperback/$8.99

Monday, November 16, 2009

What's this?

A vlog? On a Monday, no less? Why, yes. Yes it is.




Things talked about/mentioned

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
The Hold Still book trailer: http://tinyurl.com/yhmgwlv
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Comic-Con video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPcwSGwIdp4&feature=channel

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and inspired by Pop Culture Junkie. (:

Because I didn't do an IMM last week, here's two/three weeks worth.

All descriptions from amazon unless otherwise noted.

Bought:

How They Met (And Other Stories) by David Levithan

Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes a confection from David Levithan that is sure to appeal to fans of Boy Meets Boy. Here are 18 stories, all about love, and about all kinds of love. From the aching for the one you pine for, to standing up and speaking up for the one you love, to pure joy and happiness, these love stories run the gamut of that emotion that at some point has turned every one of us inside out and upside down. What is love? With this original story collection David Levithan proves that love is a many splendored thing, a varied, complicated, addictive, wonderful thing.

---I am the biggest David Levithan fangirl, as you may know, so when I saw him this week (!!!!!) and saw that the bookstore had it, I jumped on it. And now I found that it's bargain priced on amazon. OH WELL MINE IS SIGNED AND PRETTIER.

Won:

Undead Much? by Stacey Jay and Captivate by Carrie Jones

No summaries for these ones because they both sequels to different books and I don't want you to be spoiled~. I'M SO EXCITED FOR BOTH OF THESE, ZOMG.

From lovelies:


The Everafter by Amy Huntley

Madison Stanton doesn't know where she is or how she got there. But she does know this—she is dead. And alone, in a vast, dark space. The only company she has in this place are luminescent objects that turn out to be all the things Maddy lost while she was alive. And soon she discovers that with these artifacts, she can reexperience—and sometimes even change—moments from her life.

Her first kiss.

A trip to Disney World.

Her sister's wedding.

A disastrous sleepover.

In reliving these moments, Maddy learns illuminating and sometimes frightening truths about her life—and death.

This is a haunting and ultimately hopeful novel about the beauty of even the most insignificant moments—and the strength of true love even beyond death.

---The amazing/wonderful/fantastic Cindy Pon, author of Silver Phoenix, is letting me read her copy of this because she is amazing/wonderful/fantastic. (: I can't wait to start it! I've heard good things.

Bran Hambric by Kaleb Nation

In a bustling metropolis where magic is outlawed, a six-year-old child is found inside a locked bank vault. A scrap of paper reveals his name: Bran Hambric. The child remembers nothing of his life before the vault. Only magic could have done this. But why would any mage risk breaking the law to place a child in a bank vault?

Eight years later the City of Dunce has forgotten about Bran. Even his foster parents don't seem to know he exists. But there are those who have been watching, biding their time, waiting to strike, people who know where Bran came from and why he was sent away. And they will do anything to get Bran back, dead or alive…

Welcome to a world unlike any other where the adventure of a lifetime is just beginning.

---To be honest, I'm not sure that I will ever read this one. Sarah only sent it to me because she says it's awful and she wants to torture me.

For review:

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Nimira is a foreign music-hall girl forced to dance for mere pennies. When wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing with a piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it is the start of a new and better life. In Parry's world, however, buried secrets are beginning to stir. Unsettling below-stairs rumors swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry's involvement with a league of sorcerers who torture fairies for sport. Then Nimira discovers the spirit of a fairy gentleman named Erris is trapped inside the clockwork automaton, waiting for someone to break his curse. The two fall into a love that seems hopeless, and breaking the curse becomes a race against time, as not just their love, but the fate of the entire magical world may be in peril.

---SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS ONE! Doesn't it sound awesome?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update #2


Another update on my NaNo progress, and why I think that it's way easier than the past two years.

So far, I'm at 21,717 words. Once I hit today's goal I'm right on track, but I'm going to try to get to 27,000 - 30,000 this weekend because I won't be able to write on Tuesday (I think I'm going to see Alyson Noel, whoot).

My novel this year is far better than the one from last year, and I'm pretty sure it's because now I know what works and what doesn't. I've read and reviewed so many books since last November that now I know what to watch out for. I know that I should try to develop my characters and plot and not to write just whatever for words- I can try to make my novel decent enough that I don't embarrass myself too horribly when I go back to read it. My novel is still awful, obviously, but now that I know what I'm supposed to do it's much better than previous ones.

Friday, November 13, 2009

So I have this extra copy of GoldenGirl.

So I didn't have anything to post to today, but then I remembered that I have an extra copy of GoldenGirl by Micol Ostow that I can give away. SO I AM.

Here's the book description (from amazon)

Paige, Spencer, and Madison have it all: the looks, the connections, the money, the boys. As the daughters of three of the most prestigious families on Philadelphia's Main Line (read: old money, and lots of it) and the ruling juniors at Bradford Prep, nothing can stand in their way....except, perhaps, their own dark secrets. When an old frenemy from Paige's hidden past shows up at Bradford and plays nice--too nice--Paige is desperate to smother the threat. How far will she go to silence the truth?

---

I really enjoyed this book, and you can read my review here. You can also read reviews from Pop Culture Junkie, Shalonda's Blog, Ten Cent Notes, if you need a second or third or fourth opinion.

Rules and such:
  • To enter: Leave a comment on this post telling me....I dunno. Tell me something nice or funny or just anything that would make me happy.
  • +1 entry: blog about the contest somewhere. Leave a link to where you posted about it!
  • +1 entry: follow my blog.
  • Open to US and Canada only- sorry!
  • Ends: November 27! So enterenterenter.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales, Volume One: Sanctuary



[description from goodreads]

Discover Melissa Marr's mesmerizing world of Faerie . . .

The desert is far away from the schemes of the Faerie Courts—and that's how Rika likes it. Once a mortal and now a faery, Rika seeks isolation and revels in her ability to appear invisible to humans. Then, she meets him. Artistic and kind, Jayce is the last person Rika wants to hide from.

But change is coming, challenging Rika's freedom and her new romance, as her past pursues her, even into the heart of the desert. . . .

Review:

I love Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely novel series, so obviously I was excited to read a brand new companion to the series in this manga. However, if you're only going to read one Melissa Marr series, stick with the novels because the manga, while entertaing, is underwhelming.

Sanctuary is just like Ink Exchange: it's supposed to be only companion novel to Wicked Lovely and Fragile Eternity but really needs to be read after along with the novels so that you know what on earth is going on. So if you haven't at least read Wicked Lovely, don't even try to pick this one up because many things will make no sense.

It's easy to tell that this is the first in a series, because nothing really happens. It's all set-up. There are exciting fight scenes, sure, and an interesting main character, sure, but most of the time the book focuses on the romance between Rika and Jayce. Their relationship doesn't make much sense and pretty much comes out of nowhere; they meet and they have an ~instant connection~ and immediately really, really like each other, which really I am just sick of in general. And really, the plot is so slow in the beginning that by the time their romance really started I was kind of over reading. I wasn't really interested until the end because of the cliffhanger; up until then, there was nothing too exciting.

The art was nice, and it was nice to put a face to the characters, but I'm not exactly an art expert, so.

The first installment in the Desert Tales series is bland until the end, which made me want to read the sequel. However, I might just sit on the bookstore floor and read the next one, because this one cost $9.99 and only took about an hour to get through.

Links: Melissa's blog/twitter

Book details: HarperCollins/Paperback/$9.99

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (44)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. :D

Today's pick:

Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards

description (from author's blog)

Three Rivers Rising includes a forbidden cross-class romance between a guest and a hired boy at the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, site of the dam that burst in 1889, flooding the valley below. The main characters are in the city of Johnstown when the wave hits and piles debris at the Old Stone Bridge, damming up the water once again. The city of Johnstown is under water and the debris at the bridge is on fire. Each thinks the other is dead. Will they find each other? Survive? Endure being disowned by their families?

---

Do I even need to explain why I want this one? It's written in verse (I actually love books written in verse, unlike many people. I LOVE Ellen Hopkins and Lisa Schroeder books, for example) and it's historical fiction. I didn't even need specific details after I knew that much. But, I read the description anyway and OH MY I NEED THIS BOOK LIKE WOAH. I've never heard of the Johnstown flood, so I am quite interested in this book. And the romance sounds fantastic! And ahh! WANT.

Released April 13, 2010

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Green Books Campaign: The Horned Viper by Gill Harvey

First, an intro to what this review is for specifically:

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

The book I am reviewing, The Horned Viper, is printed on FSC-certified paper. Festive!

And now, a very short review, because honestly I don't have much to say about this book.

[description from the Bloomsbury site]

Step back in time with Egyptian Chronicles, and get ready to solve countless mysteries, uncover age-old secrets and enjoy one thrilling adventure after another

Each book is a well researched and atmospheric evocation of Egyptian life encased in an exciting adventure story. The boy and girl characters, Hopi and Isis, feature in each book and readers will be intrigued to follow their struggles for existence and adventure in Egypt circa 1150 BC.

In this story, The Horned Viper, Isis and Hopi find themselves on the banks of the River Nile, pitting their wits against dangerous servants.

Review:

I'm not sure that this book is one that should be reviewed in my normal "how was the plot, how were the characters?" way. This book is probably to help educate about ancient Egypt without being in-your-face about it. Not that there is anything wrong with that, because the book was informative without going overboard, and also had plenty of action going on. I'm quite sure the book is aimed at, like, eight year olds and I wouldn't have noticed the flat characters at age 8. In fact, I probably would have ate this book up when I was 8 since I was such a history nerd. I enjoyed it now, but when I was 8 I would have been so into the action in the book. I would have been excited the whole way through and been dying for the ending. But because I read at age 15 rather than age 8, I knew what was going to happen and was bothered by more little things, but I did still enjoy the book.

Not sure about its US availability since it is a UK published book, but recommended for the young history nerds out there. x)


*image made by Susan Newman

Monday, November 9, 2009

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines


[description from amazon]

It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a gladiator’s daughter steps into the arena

Lyn is a neo-gladiator’s daughter, through and through. Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family. Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator. Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules—and the GSA—can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn’s seventh father, he also captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him... For fans of The Hunger Games and Fight Club, Lise Haines’ debut novel is a mesmerizing look at a world addicted to violence—a modern world that’s disturbingly easy to imagine.

Review:

Although I've seen Girl in the Arena being called another The Hunger Games, it definitely is no The Hunger Games. The comparisons are ridiculous- the TV aspect of the gladiator fighting in Girl in the Arena doesn't even play a huge role until later on, when the paparazzi start showing up- and really, there is not much fighting in this book. I was kind of surprised when I got something completely different than what I was given based on earlier summaries I read, but once I got over the surprise I did enjoy Girl in the Arena a lot.

The concept is obviously very original, and it pretty much made the entire book. I always felt that there was so much more to the gladiator sport and its effects than I was told, but was mostly satisfied by the descriptions I was given. It was definitely a fascinating world, and it's easy to see how such a violent sport would occur in the society. Although the world itself was fascinating, I was less impressed with the actual plot of the book. It took quite a while for the things mentioned in the summary- Lyn's father dying, the fighter getting the bracelet- to actually occur, and once they did, everything seemed to slow down rather than speed up. Lyn had a few potential romantic interests but nothing really happened with them no matter how much it seemed like something would develop between her and one of her potential boys. And there was always the mention of a fight that had to happen later on in the novel, but the one big fight that did occur was awfully anticlimactic when it finally happened.

I enjoyed how Lyn was conflicted about not only what to do about her father's death and the fighter getting her bracelet, but also Glad culture in general. It's easy to see why she would be so conflicted, but I also liked how the book wasn't full of her musings on the subject. Often, she took charge and did what she felt was best, despite her mom's wishes, which was oh so refreshing and nice. It was often easy to form opinions on the other characters, even though they were minor and Lyn had negative views on most of them. Their personalities were still able to shine through.

Many of my other problems with Girl in the Arena are minor- the writing was choppy and hard to get used to (there are no quotation marks, for example*), I was never shown why the Gladiator Sports Association was so bad (I was told plenty of times that they are badbadbad, but never shown), and the ending was a bit too abrupt for my liking.

There's no questioning that Girl in the Arena is a unique and interesting book, but there is a lack of action to keep one completely interested. If the summaries I read promised less action, I may have enjoyed it a bit more.

*things are written like:

---[words], she said
---[words], he said

Links: Lise's website/blog/twitter

Book details: Bloomsbury/Hardcover/$16.99

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Taking a break from talking books today...


....so that I can talk about TV. Specifically, the show Friday Night Lights.

If you follow my buddy Adele's blog, Persnickety Snark (if you don't follow it you definitely should because Adele and her blog are amazing), you know that she had a whole week dedicated to posts about the show Friday Night Lights in attempt to get more people watch it.

I had heard Adele and my clone Jordyn (of the awesome blog Ten Cent Notes) talk about Friday Night Lights a million times on the Twitter and other places, but I never wanted to watch it because it's basically about a football team. OR SO I THOUGHT. But more on that in a minute.

But yeah, football? Gross. Football is one of the only sports I do not understand. I can play basketball, soccer, volleyball, but football? No. I don't get all the yard line nonsense, or why the game stops every four seconds, or what a field goal is. My knowledge of football pretty much only comes from episode four of Glee, where the football players do the Single Ladies dance and Kurt is being more fierce than usual.

Football is just boring. I can't even get excited for it at school, because I think my school football has won enough games for me to count on one hand.

But, Adele and Jordyn are smart. They couldn't be wrong about this show, COULD THEY? So I picked up season one of Friday Night Lights so I could begin watching and hopefully become a crazed fan like Adele and Jordyn.


I watched episode one- the pilot which pretty much takes place all on the football field or in the locker room. It's like football palooza in that episode. And really, I didn't like it that much. I liked it, but I didn't REALLY like it and definitely didn't love it. But! I kept watching, because Adele and Jordyn promised it would get better. And oh my gosh, it did.

Episode 2 had the same reaction as episode 1, but at episode 3 I started liking the show more. And as I watched the next 4, I became obsessed.

Every time I watch a new episode I desperately want to go to Dillon, Texas to go fix things. I'm so into this show, it's not even funny. I want to go wash Riggins's hair. I want to give Matt a "AAAAW" hug. I want to slap Lyla because she is so annoying. I want to beat Smash over the head for making such bad choices.

Mostly, I want to be a Dillon Panther.

Technically, I haven't finished season one. But I am sure that the rest of it as much as I adore the first episodes. I might hate football, but Friday Night Lights is about so much more than football that football barely even seems like a huge plotline.

What's the moral of this blog post? WATCH FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. You will be happy you did.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NaNoWriMo Update #1

I thought I'd do something like Sarah from Sarah's Random Musings and update you all on my NaNoWriMo progress. Except I am too lazy to update in vlog form.

So far, I have actually been doing good on NaNo. If you don't count today's goal, I am right on track. I'm currently at 10,566 words and hope to get 5,000 more this weekend if I can. But I do have a paper to write, so I'm not sure how well that will work out.

I was nearly falling behind this week because of the massive amounts of homework they gave, but I wrote my daily 1,667 words at night and lost sleep, but still made it. YES!

So far, I've noticed my novel this year is by far better than last year's and the year before that. It's probably because now that I've read so many books and noticed what I don't like about them, I know what I need to include to make mine better. Whoooo.

Anyone else doing NaNo- how are you doing so far?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Questions with Richelle Mead!


If you don't know who Richelle Mead is, you must live in a hole or a cave or somewhere far away from civilization. Richelle is the author the of the omg-so-amazing Vampire Academy series, consisting of Vampire Academy, Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, Blood Promise, and the upcoming Spirit Bound. If you don't know what the series is about, they're basically about a dhampir named Rose whose best friend, Lissa, is a royal Moroi (aka vampire). The series is about the problems they face with dealing with Strigoi (the bad vampires) and a bunch of other fun stuff that's all tied in to Romanian mythology. (For a better description, click here.)

Vampire Academy is definitely my favorite vampire series, and one of my favorites series in general, and I cannot wait for the next book to come out. (Seriously, I'm dying over here. NEED SPIRIT BOUND! Being such a fan, I was super ecstatic when I got to ask Richelle a few questions as part of a blog tour. So without further ado, here is what I asked Richelle:

If you were a moroi, what do you think you would specialize in?

Probably air. That way, I wouldn’t have to use fans when it was hot during the summer.

What has surprised you most about being such a popular author?

The enthusiasm of the fans and the attachments they form to my characters. I’m continually amazed by the response I get from my readers, and I feel very honored that they love the books so much.


What do you enjoy most about paranormal books? Do you think you'll continue writing them after all your current series are finished?

I like that you get to mix the real world with a fantasy world. So, you really get the best of both. You’ve got the references and history we all know about—yet at the same time, you get to create whole new creatures and sets of rules. It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve been a fan of mythology and the supernatural my whole life. I’d love to write something different someday, but since I’m contracted out for so long, I can’t even think about what any new series would be!

---

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Richelle, and thanks to CJ for asking me to participate in the blog tour!

Be sure to check out the My Guilty Pleasures blog for the next stop on the tour. You can also check out Richelle's website, awesome blog, and twitter for more about the Vampire Academy series and Richelle!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Medina Hill by Trilby Kent


[description from amazon]

In the grimy London of 1935, eleven-year-old Dominic Walker has lost his voice. His mother is sick and his father’s unemployed. Rescue comes in the form of his Uncle Roo, who arrives to take him and his young sister, Marlo, to Cornwall. There, in a boarding house populated by eccentric residents, Marlo, who keeps a death grip on her copy of The New Art of Cooking, and Dominic, armed with Incredible Adventures for Boys: Colonel Lawrence and the Revolt in the Desert, find a way of life unlike any they have known. Dominic’s passion for Lawrence of Arabia is tested when he finds himself embroiled in a village uprising against a band of travelers who face expulsion. In defending the vulnerable, Dominic learns what it truly means to have a voice.

Trilby Kent brilliantly handles a far-off time and place to present a story of up-to-the-minute relevance.

Review:

I was quite excited to read this one, as I am a huge fan of historical fiction and am liking middle grade-ish books more and more lately. I was also interested in this one because it's sets in the 1930s but isn't focused on a war, which is probably more refreshing than it should be. War books are interesting, of course, but it's nice to read a non-Victorian/Regency romance book that also isn't related to war.

Though Medina Hill does have a unique plot, I wish it had been developed more. There was so much going on and the book is so short that it never felt like anything was discussed as deeply as it could have been. The subplots involving the gypsy girl, the Medina Hill house tenants, and others, were all interesting, however. Dominic and Sancha's friendship seemed real, and those living at the Medina Hill house all had interesting pasts that I wish I knew more about. Though I do wish the various subplots would have been explored more, and I wish the book wouldn't have jumped around so much, I was happy with the plot for the most part. There was always some action happening, and I was always looking forward to seeing how things would end up.

Dominic is also a very normal narrator- he sounds like the young boy he is, and because he has such a problem talking to people, it's nice to be able to hear his voice so clearly in his narration. It also helps that through the various events happening in the novel, he learns how to speak more, which shows just how much he developed throughout the novel. Many of the minor characters, besides Dominic's sister, Marlo, were much more flat, on the other hand. They were mostly used to move the plot along, which was nice in the sense that they did keep the plot moving, but I wish they had been developed more.

Medina Hill is a book that could have gone much more in depth, but is still a satisfying, refreshing, unique tale that will satisfy younger and older readers alike.

Also, be sure to check to check out the Tundra Books blog for more info about the Medina Hill blog tour! (:

*Thanks to SC for providing the book, and for organizing this whole tour!

Book details: Tundra Books/Hardcover/$19.95

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (43)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. :D

Today's pick:

The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff (no cover yet booo)

description from the tenner site:

Three Long Island friends, whose lives unravel dramatically and suddenly, face false love, vanishing families, and lost life in their sophomore year. Lily, the math goddess, finds herself deep in her own number-raddled mind, with nowhere else to seek comfort; Noah, the pot dealer, sees the mistakes of his elders in everyone around him; and Simon, the former track star, faces a future he can't outrun when the present finally catches up with him.

As each is forced to face a grim reality, will the three friends have what it takes to go it alone?

---

I hate math with a burning passion, and even though the title of this book screams "MATH! THE ANSWER IS ONE!" I still want to read it. Maybe it's the fact that it's about sophomores and I'm a sophomore, and I want to see how someone else writes people I feel like I know well. Or maybe it's just because it sounds really awesome.

YAY REALISTIC FICTION!

Released July 2010!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why did I never post this before?



AMAZING.

(Review of Girl in the Arena coming soon! :])

Monday, November 2, 2009

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff

[description from Amazon]

What’s worse than being fat your freshman year?
Being fat your sophomore year.

Life used to be so simple for Andrew Zansky–hang with the Model UN guys, avoid gym class, and eat and eat and eat. He’s used to not fitting in: into his family, his sports-crazed school, or his size 48 pants.

But not anymore. Andrew just met April, the new girl at school and the instant love of his life! He wants to find a way to win her over, but how? When O. Douglas, the heartthrob quarterback and high-school legend, saves him from getting beaten up by the school bully, Andrew sees his chance to get in with the football squad.

Is it possible to reinvent yourself in the middle of high school? Andrew is willing to try. But he’s going to have to make some changes. Fast.

Can a funny fat kid be friends with a football superstar? Can he win over the Girl of his Dreams? Can he find a way to get his mom and dad back together?

How far should you go to be the person you really want to be?

Andrew is about to find out.

Review:

Reading books about weight is always a bit weird for me; usually, I either love them or just don't care about them. They're usually awesome or just "meh." But Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have definitely fit into the awesome category. Most books about dealing with weight struggles tend to be more on the sad side, with tales of how difficult it is to be skinny or fat but this book is absolutely hilarious. Don't get me wrong, Andrew did have some hard stuff to deal with but he described his problems in a way that made everything seem just so...funny.

While some of the more major events were easy to predict, it was always unclear how Andy would end up where he was going. Andy has so much going on- he has friends to keep, football to play, a girl to chase, and divorced parents to deal with- and there are always new problems showing up. There's always something happening, and he deals with everything in the same way a normal teen would: with a bit of stupidity, but with determination and hope. But unlike many teenagers, Andy is able to tell his various stories in a positively hilarious way. Andy's problems are serious, and he knows it, but somehow he manages to tell jokes all throughout the book. He can find humor in almost anything and he never holds back what he wants to say, even when someone comments on his weight or something equally embarassing and awkward comes up.

Andy is quite a typical, but very unique, teen, much like many of the other characters in the book. O, the quarterback, first seems like a nice guy, but as time goes by more of his true feelings show. Similarly, April, the girl Andy likes, seems nice at first, but as Andy see the mistakes she makes she seems a whole lot less perfect.

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have is a bit predictable, but is deeper than it seems and is filled with a realisitic and hilarious cast of characters.

Links: Allen's website/twitter

Book details: Egmont USA/Hardcover/$16.99

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's November 1!

Which means it's time for NaNoWriMo! (aka National Novel Writing Month, aka when you write a 50,000 word novel in a month)

Is anyone else doing NaNo? I've won the last two years, so hopefully I will win for my third time! I am quite excited to begin my novel, since I think it will be heaps better than my novel from last year, which is so bad that I cannot even bring myself to read it.

Is anyone else doing NaNo? How much progress have you made so far?