Saturday, December 18, 2010

"The Lost Hero" (the Heroes of Olympus, Book 1) by Rick Riordan

(Cat actually wrote this review a month or two ago and forgot to post it)
"The Heroes of Olympus" is a new series of books about Camp Half-Blood, like in the Percy Jackson series (which, by the way you should read first) and the greek demi-gods and that whole situation. This time, the story does NOT surround Percy, Annabeth, and Grover. (Although I'm not gonna lie, you're going to get to them :P they're a part of it too, it's just not entirely about them!) Instead, the lead characters are Jason, Piper and Leo.

As the book begins, Jason literally wakes up (with no recollection of anything, let alone how he got there) next to a 'very pretty girl' Piper, who he comes to find out is supposed to be his girlfriend. His best friend, Leo, is also there. Apparently, him and his friends have all participated in criminal activities and are now stuck in a school for juvenile delinquents. They all have different backgrounds, personalities, and reasons, but they all ended up in the same place. Of course, you automatically know they must be half-bloods/demi-gods, because this just doesn't happen to normal people, especially when they're on a 'field trip' and are attacked by greek monsters and...

To find out what else happens, pick up "The Lost Hero". I thought it was a great book! I think I almost like it better then the original Percy Jackson series. It's a bit different, especially in style. The book is quite a bit longer then most of the Percy Jackson books, and also, the story also switches perspectives every two chapters between Jason, Piper, and Leo, which I thought worked really well for this book. It was exciting and interesting, and walked perfectly in the middle for me of being too much like the Percy Jackson series and feeling like you're reading the same thing, and it being too different. :) You should read it!

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Witch & Wizard" by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Witch & Wizard is a story surrounding a brother and sister by the name of Whit and Wisty. The story starts -after the prologue- as Whit and Wisty are woken in the middle of the night, with troops of the "New Order" (N.O.) surrounding their house, trying to capture them. As far as Whit and Wisty know, they are normal teenagers, but according to the N.O. -which is also the new popular political party-, they are dangerous criminals. What are they talking about? Well according to the N.O. which likes everyone to be normal, and align to a certain look and idea, Whit and Wisty aren't normal, they're Witch & Wizard.
What happens next? Well you'll have to read it to find out.

The next question would be did I like it? Yes, and no. I thought it was a brilliant concept, kind of like that of mixing situations that remind of "Maximum Ride" (also by James Patterson), "Harry Potter", "The Hunger Games", and ongoing themes of a nazi-Germany situation and probably that of the Salem Witch Trials. I think the story was great, itself. However, I did not think the execution was nearly as great as the idea. I had several problems including, James Patterson's use of short, (as in 2-3 pages) 'chapters'. I usually enjoy this a lot, for "Daniel X" and "Maximum Ride" as examples, it was great and really carried the story on. This story, I think would have done better with longer chapters, such as 5-6 pages at least. I think the short chapters really just made it kind of choppy and confusing, although I realize that was probably just me. That's the other thing, I found probably the first half of the book just plain confusing... There were a few other, say, 'quirks' but all in all I did enjoy this book. I give it 4/5 stars!

Also, weirdly enough, I believe the sequel to "Witch & Wizard" comes out today. "The Gift"

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit -J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit is a whimsical fantasy tale about the soon-to-be adventures of a hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins. He’s lead a quiet life so far, and likes to stay in his home, his lovely hobbit hole. He likes to keep it that way. All that changes when the great wizard Gandalf comes to visit him, wishing to involve him in an ‘adventure’. Just when he thinks he can get away from such things, thirteen dwarves show up at his doorstep. Did I mention he doesn’t particularly enjoy unwanted visitors, sharing food, or being busy?

To find out what happens in this classic tale,  a prequel  to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, read it!

I give this book three and one half stars! It was a fun book, didn’t take too much thought. It’s kind of hard to get through for some people or kind of slow because of the old English and all that, but it’s a classic and that’s what you get, you should really kind of expect it, but I really do recommend this book.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Write Naked by Peter Gould

She has to think for a minute, whether to tell me or not. Then she does. "You're in it."
"In what?"
"In my tracking journal. You're an entry."
Oh, great. She was stalking me.
Victor is a pretty regular sixteen year old, just trying to live "under the radar." He doesn't even really consider writing, until one day, biking past this old man's house, he sees an old ROYAL typewriter for sale. He gets it, free of charge, and takes it to his uncle's house in the woods. And that's where the story really starts.
"You have to be naked to write." He wonders what the phrase means. Whether it's symbolic- if you have to take away all distractions, everything that ties you to the world- or whether you have to literally be naked to write.
On his day of trying it, Rose Anna comes into the picture.
Rose Anna is free spirited homeschool girl, who's constantly outside. She sees things other people don't, and she has a passion for saving the planet.
The two start a little writing agreement- they write together, without being together. They write on separate sides of the table, and read- ONLY read, no comments- the work of the other person, when they complete a page. Victor with his typewriter, Rose Anna with her vintage fountain pen and her magical witch ink from her grandma.
Through the book, they fall in love, and find signs of all kinds.
Yes I'm here by myself. Yes Dash is guarding the fort. Yes, I'm dot dot dot
There's something about this machine, I can't keep away from it. Help stop it's calling me to its evil den in the woods.
Little girl come in, I'm over here in the bed, no need to knock, come in, take off your red cap. And your shawl. And your little shoes. And and and and-- Grandma, what Big Typing Keys you have!
This was an EXTREMELY odd book. Let me say that right from the beginning. Let me also say, right away, that it contains nudity, and a LOT of wiccan magic, and all that.
Now we can continue:
This book has a homeschooler in it. When I picked up the book and saw that, two things went through my mind. "Cool!" and "I wonder which stereotype they use to portray her!" Because there are two stereotypes. The frumpy, conservative, ultra religious one, and the (quote my mother here), Rainbow Wiccan Space Elf one.
This one is the Rainbow Wiccan Space Elf one.
Because of that, I'm still not sure how I think about her. Rose Anna. Because, on one hand, she's awesome! She's really smart, she's outdoorsy, she wants to save the planet, etc., etc., etc. But I didn't like her, too. Note: I am Catholic, so that might have changed my answer.
But besides the religion in it, it was a pretty good book. I'd recommend it ONLY to people over thirteen, however, because of the nudity and teen-adult themes present in it. I'd give it three stars.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop

It was the way it moved under the blankets, the way it shifted around. It seemed to have, I don't know, joints or something. I mean, furniture can have joints, like a lawn chair or whatever, but that was no frickin' lawn chair."
Mixer, Tommy, Bones, and Micheal (yes, it's spelled incorrectly. Blame his parents) are close friends. They're also not the type of people you mess with. Bones has been held back a year, and routinely beats up people for no apparent reason. Micheal's dad permanently damaged his, Micheal,'s face. Mixer gets in trouble for talking back to teachers. Tommy is... well, Tommy's nicer than the others, but still tough. Tommy, Mixer, and Micheal all have to go to another year of school. That's how they know Bones.
Everyone's scared of them.
Except for their English teacher. Their very weird English teacher. Who calls people like them "gentlemen" or the girls "ladies"?
And when Tommy mysteriously disappears one day after making trouble in math class (Darn that lisp of his), it looks suspiciously to Micheal, Bones, and Mixer, that their teacher knocked him off.
After all, what else could be in the bag?
As he goes along, Micheal learns what makes a friend, and what tears friends apart. He learns secrets about things he used to take for granted. He learns things aren't always as they seem.
First of all, was there a sale on commas? Second, that's a long way to go to say that the dude was broke and decided to duck his landlady. After an hour of that I needed a break and maybe an aspirin.
I got this book because, well, it has an interesting premise. An English teacher knocking off a student? A thing about friends? Mysterious circumstances? AWESOME! So I read it. And it was pretty good. Um... the ending is bizarre though. Just warning you. And there's swearing, violence, drinking, and smoking. So it's not the best role model book, either. But besides that, I really liked it. I'd give it about... three and a half stars.

The Straits by Jeremy Craig

"How much?"
"A grand." He looked at me, his eyes full of skepticism. I pulled out a wad of cash and handed it to him.
"You mind if I count it?"
"Go ahead."
Jim's life was completely changed with the hurricane that went through Florida. In one blow, he lost his sister and his mother. And he could have saved them. He could have helped them.
Several years later, he now lives in a "temporary" trailer park with his aunt. The previously unknown problem with "temporary" is now making itself heard:
they have to get out.
But when Jim loses his job at the construction firm, the only thing besides his aunt's construction of dog toys, it's going to be tricky. He doesn't want to end up being that homeless guy on the street.
So when the offer to join a high stakes gambling ring comes to him, he finds he has no choice to accept.
"So what you're saying is, after we do all this, we're still not going to know for certain how many sparrows there are?"
She thought about it for a second and then smiled. "Basically."
I liked this book a lot. It was an interesting book, with a plot that I haven't seen anywhere else. I've never been a big card player fan, and definitely not a fan of gambling (I'm still not), but this book was definitely interesting. It showed the struggles that Jim has to face to get him and his aunt out of the trailer. oh, and get revenge on his nemesis, AND get the girl, Kathy. Who happens to be his nemesis's friend.
I'd give this book around four stars.
Oh, and warning here: it has swearing. (I know that puts some people off, so I figured I'd warn you.) Swearing and smoking and underage drinking.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dear readers of this blog

(IF we have any)

I, Cat, am completely aware that we have not had that many posts lately. I apologize sincerely for the fact that I have not posted a review in some time. I thank Angela GREATLY *pokes Angela* because she's awesome and has somehow found the time to post at least sometimes!

If you want a reason for this, I completely understand. In my case, and I'm pretty sure everyone else's case too, school has TAKEN OVER MY LIFE. I'm a freshman. I guess. Homeschooling=blurred line when it comes to grade level.  I have a LOT of homework and most of the things I've had time to read lately have been boring and unremarkable- for school purposes only. I really haven't had time to write a review, and most of the reviews I could have written would have been of no interest to you.

SO. Readers: Thanks for sticking around and reading this blog if you have, which I know some people are ending up here because, our page views haven't just stopped or anything. I'm going to try to post a review as soon as I can! (because I personally have not in a long time). Also, when summer comes or over Christmas break or something I'm going to try and increase my posting a lot!

LOVE, Cat, and probably the rest of the AMAZING people behind Books4hearts.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli

The moment felt classic. Recognizable. He could almost walk away from this trap. It had to be a trap. Did Pandora feel like this when she accepted the fateful box?
Don Giovanni has everything made for him. He's rich (at least he thinks he is), he has friends (or at least he thinks he does), people adore him (or, he thinks they do), and he's handsome (and so also does everyone else think.). But when a giant tsunami hits Sicily- and his town- his wealth is washed away just like the town. All of a sudden he's penniless, friendless, and a beggar in strange towns where no one knows who he is.
Until the man approaches him. He offers him a white purse that will contain as much money as Don Giovanni wants.
"But there's a catch."
The man is, in fact the devil. But instead of the classic "I give you this purse, you give me your soul," agreement, the devil offers something more interesting- to him. Don Giovanni can keep the purse, but he has to go three years, three months, and three days without washing, changing his clothes, trimming his beard, or combing his hair. If he can go that long, he'll be free AND he can keep the purse. If he breaks the rules? He forfeits his soul.
At first it's fairly easy. The money can pay for a room in the inn.. he doesn't even have to leave! But when he starts discouraging other customers, he learns it's a tad harder than it seems. And when people start running from him, when he starts reeking so bad he himself can't stand the stench, when he's shunned by everyone and everything except a dog named Cani, he learns just how horrible the wager he made is.
Freedom. Money could buy a slave freedom, but no amount of money could free Don Giovanni.
This was an excellent book. It is a fairy tale re-write (which of course gives it bonus points) of a fairy tale I love. And it takes place in Sicily. Which, according to the descriptions in this book, is lovely. Besides that, it was well written, and the author makes you feel very sympathetic for Don Giovanni. He's a kind person, really. For the first couple chapters, you are sort of "eh... he's a spoiled brat..." but then during the later chapters, you realize that he really changes and becomes, well, human again. I'd give this book five stars.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Ghost Boy: Nighty-night, Robot Girl.
Robot Girl: Nighty-night.
Ghost Boy is a liar, liar liar liar, I thought drowsily as I drifted off to sleep. He does too want a friend. Even if she is a little stiff. That night I dreamed of bridges made of diamonds.
Robot Girl isn't her name. Robot Girl is the name she uses for the radio. Her real name is Beatrice. Ghost Boy isn't his name. Ghost Boy is the name he uses for the radio. His real name is Jonah.
Both are fairly odd.
Stuck together because of the alphabet- "Szabo" and "Tate", at first they don't like each other. Bea thinks he's weird (which he is), and... we don't know what he thinks. He says he doesn't want a friend. But then he tells her- or, "Future Beatrice" tells her- of the Night Lights. A radio station that plays at, and a bit before, midnight.
This is their first connection.
Over time, they develop love. Not romance love, but love of friendship. They are connected by secrets, and the radio, by their need for each other.
I sometimes wonder whether radio geeks have some kind of symbol tattooed on their foreheads, or antennae growing out of their skulls, invisible to everyone except other radio geeks. they seem to find one another with shocking ease.
I really really enjoyed this book. It was funny at all the right bits (right after a truly emotional part), and it was definitely a thought provoking book. The characters were fantastic, and I truly became attached to them. The plot was, as far as I've read, unique, and the different dilemmas, while they definitely seemed surreal, were convincing enough to keep me reading. The ending is very bittersweet, and it made me cry. Overall, I'm going to give this book five stars.
"I think ghostliness is a good quality. I pretend I'm dead all the time."
"What?" He stopped rummaging through his locker to look at me full in the face at last.
"It helps me go to sleep."

The Secret Language of Girls by Frances O'Roark Dowell


Kate sat down on the top of the steps and began drinking her milk shake. Her next-door neighbor Courtney was standing in her front yard. Courtney was six, and she thought everything Kate did was terrific. Kate could dump a bucket of mud over her head and run in circles around her yard, and Courtney would say, I want to do that! Show me how to do that!
Kate and Marylin are best friends. They have lived on the same street for their entire lives. They compromise. They agree on who's good to kiss, and who isn't. They agree about things like who is stuck up and who isn't. And then a new girl moves in, and trouble starts. Or maybe it started long before. Who knows. But soon Marylin and Kate are experiencing drifting... Marylin is "growing up" and Kate still hates romance. They want to get their "language" back- the way they can understand each other with no words. But sometimes that's hard. And sometimes, sometimes change is a good thing. Both girls gain new friends, new interests, new outlooks, and learn to be individual.
Kate was amazed that little kids never seemed to care about what they wore. Once she had seen Courtney walk down the hall at school dressed in ballet slippers, overalls, and a sweater wrapped around her head like a turban. Courtney appeared to have no idea that at that moment she looked like the weirdest person in the world.
I had some issues with this book.
First, while overall, I think it has good messages, it was filled with the popularity stuff that I try to avoid. you know, the "he's a geek so you should hate him" and "She's a cheerleader so she's going to be amazing." I hate that stuff. I think this book was very contrary, because it was pointing at the messages "you should look beyond outward appearances," and yet it was actually shoving the "appearances are everything" at you. I did not like that. Second, I think the book gave a very unfair view of cheerleaders. They are not all uppity snobs. I know some cheerleaders- they're my friends. First, cheerleaders DO get along with geeks/nerds. Second, cheerleaders are NOT always smiling. Third, just because someone's a cheerleader doesn't mean they can't play basketball!!! golly.
So, overall, it wasn't a terrible book, but I didn't really like it. I'd give it about two stars. The two redeeming people in it were Paisley, Kate's new friend, and Petey, Marylin's brother. I liked Petey and Paisley a lot. :D

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer

Now you see that he's carrying a hammer. He takes a nail out of his pocket and hammers it into the window frame. He takes another nail out of his pocket and hammers it in above the first nail. More nails. More hammering. You don't get it. Then you do.
He's nailing the window shut. He's nailing you in.
You never know who might be living in your neighborhood. You never know what sort of person is, for example, inviting you to help feed the ducks. Who's teaching you at school. Who's checking out your groceries at the store. You don't know anything about them do you. And that's the exact problem. Beauty (17, and not a REAL beauty), Mim (sixteen and quiet), Stevie (14, how could she change her name?), Fancy (12, talk talk talk), and Autumn (11 and the 'not special' baby) are being watched. They don't know it, no one knows it but the watcher. He's being good. He's not giving in. Until one of the girls walks up and pretty much invites themselves into his life. And just like that, a girl is missing, and in terrible danger.
You've never been locked in anywhere. You walk from the door to the window, from the window to the door. It's like you're a prisoner. No, you are a prisoner. You're in jail, and you haven't even done anything wrong.
This was the first thriller type book I've ever read. Ever. So bear with me, please. I did enjoy it. It was disturbing, a bit scary, and very entertaining. I liked the character switches (they are all written in a different way, and despite what my mom would think, it's not especially confusing.) and it was an interesting book. I'd give it three stars, and recommend it only to people who are 13 and up. (It was in the TEEN section, for tacos sake.)
That chub was not an athlete. Say she slept in the field last night. Say she realized how silly she'd been. Say they'd find her tonight, maybe on Route 11, walking back toward Mallory, tired, but glad to be found. Say all that, and try to believe it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer

I pulled my crumpled schedule out of a pocket and thrust it at her. A little forcefully, probably. I didn't like being mistrusted.
She scrutinized it with a sort of suspicious admiration, like a well-executed forgery. "I'm going to have to talk to Dr. Spicer," she said. "You're not supposed to be here. I don't want the other girls tainted."
"Excuse me?"
Angela Cardenas is a "dangerous girl". So she's sent to Hidden Oak School for Girls. Aka, the school for girls like her. Dangerous ones. Ones who haven't responded to any other therapy, and need somewhere to go.
For most of them, it's Hidden Oak, or jail.
But Angela soon discovers that there's more to be concerned about then the reasons she's there. More goes on behind the walls of the school then she would have thought. Gold threads and purple threads. The good girls, and the nonredeemable girls. The privileged girls who get a good education and are actually helped, and the "evil" ones, who are kept goodness knows where. Out of sight, out of mind.
Except for Angela.
"I understand," my mother said. "And so does Angela. Don't you?"
I stared through the window at the smoldering dormitory, realizing all over again that I had always been entirely alone.
First, let me explain why I picked this book up. First, the title. 'The school'. Not well known fact about me: I love boarding school books, particularly when it has a mystery/spies in it. So that caught my attention. 'Dangerous girls'. What makes them dangerous? Are they training? What? That also caught my eye. So, all in all, catchy title. Then the cover. It's like all the other ones- only blurry. Bleh, not especially eye catching. But the synopsis in the cover. hang on.. here it is. "Step 1. Cause trouble. step two get caught. step three get sent to the school for dangerous girls. Who knows what goes on behind the doors of The School for Dangerous Girls? The school's mission is clear: to take girls who've caused trouble and reform them into model citizens. It's methods? No freedom. No medication. No leniency. No escape. Some girls are meant to get better. And, as Angela is about to learn, some girls are meant to stay forever." It just caught my attention. :D Besides- THE MAIN CHARACTER HAS THE SAME NAME AS ME!!! That was, after all, the winning reason. :) But names aside, it was a good book. I loved Angela, and I loved Riley too (my fave. characters). I loved the plot (though it was bizarre), and it was very well written.
Did I mention that I liked the characters?
Well, I do. Very much. They were all brilliantly written- they seemed like real people. The different diverse personalities, everything. I'd have to give this book... four stars.
It's really rare that you can actually feel your life turning, that all the minuscule gear changes you've made in the last few years finally result in a turn of the big massive cog that's your existence as a whole.
But something changed. I'd gone from a girl sobbing in a Texas parking lot about a guy who'd never been worth it to a girl skiing through a blizzard, her survival at stake, the destiny of an entire institution in the possession of the guy confidently arrowing through the snowdrifts in front of her. I'd been called dangerous before, and I'd never really believed it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay


When Saffron was eight, and had at last learned to read, she hunted slowly through the color chart pinned up on the kitchen wall.

So begins the book Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay. Saffron ‘Saffy’ is the second-oldest child in the Casson family, a hilarious family of painters. They live in a house named The Banana House in England. All of the children in the Casson family are named after colors. There is Cadmium (Caddy), Saffron (Saffy), Indigo, and Permanent Rose (Rose). All of Saffy’s siblings’ names are on the big color chart on the kitchen wall of The Banana House, except for Saffron. This discovery leads Saffy to discover that she was adopted, and that her mother, Eve, is really her aunt. Saffy is the daughter of Eve’s twin sister Linda, who died in a car crash in Italy when Saffy was very small. After finding this out, Saffy is deeply upset and doesn’t feel like a member of the family.

The children’s Grandad brought Saffy back from Italy after her mother’s death. He then returned to Italy, alone, and no one knew why. After he came back, he was never the same. He moved into a nursing home, and he never spoke, except for one word: Saffron. After his death, he leaves something to each of the children in his will. Everyone’s things are either broken or nonexistent, but pinned to the will, they find a note that reads:

For Saffron. Her angel in the garden.

Saffy then goes on a mission of self-discovery to find her mysterious angel, with the help of her family and a new friend she makes.

This is a beautiful story. I found this book on my bookshelf, and I remembered liking it when I had read it before. This time around, I loved it. It is absolutely hilarious, and though the main portion of the story focuses on Saffy, the rest of the family have their bits as well. Caddy starts to take driving lessons, and falls in love with her driving instructor. The dialogue back and forth between them is enough to make you start laughing out loud. Indigo, the third-oldest, tries not-very-effectively to cure himself of his fear of heights so that he can be a Polar Explorer when he grows up. Rose, my personal favorite character, is the youngest, and is portrayed exactly like kids her age. Everything that came out of her mouth made me laugh. The parents, Bill and Eve Casson, are very funny as well.

It is a very funny story, but also genuinely sad and touching at parts. The writing is engrossing; I found myself glued to the book and not able to put it down until I was done. All of the characters feel like real people. I give it five stars, and hope you enjoy it as much as me!


Note: I did not write this book review. This review was written by my friend Nina. Thank you! You are the first guest reviewer. Congratulations and thank you again!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell

Although the skirt hung in a stiff tube around my legs, maybe with my new white silk blouse it didn't look half-bad-
"You look like a giant tube of toothpaste."
Maybe not.
You know those people who have everything planned out? The six year olds who already know exactly who they are going to marry? And the thirteen year olds who are already taking AP classes*? Well, Vassar Spore (named after a woman's college) is one of those. Only to the extreme. She has her entire life planned out, including writing a book, going to Vassar college, marrying for love, having three children by the age of about 35, and the entirety of her life. The Spore family is known for their planning. Everything is planned out. They have schedules of their schedules. Vassar is well on her way to her goal.
Until the box arrives.
The box is from Vassar's grandmother, Gertrude (Gerd). And it totally messes up her plans. Grandmother Gerd blackmails Vassar's parents into forcing Vassar to backpack across Southeast Asia. While Vassar is on her trip, she meets a, to quote the jacket cover, "Malaysian cowboy-slash-bodyguard her own age", she learns secrets about her family, and more then that, she learns to turn her life backwards... and Carpe Diem, seize the moment.
What made people climb mountains? Those lunatics who climbed Machu Picchu, Kilimanjaro, Everest- what drove them to waste all that time and energy to simply get to the top of a land mass?
The title caught my attention. I mean, it's a famous (latin) phrase. The cover also caught my attention. It's interesting. I love the style... the swirly bits in the leaves and her hair, and the natural brown and green. I read the synopsis, loved the idea, read the book, and loved the book. I'd give it 5 stars... This book had a good ending! No stars needed to be removed for a crappy ending.

*I have nothing against these sorts of people. If you have something against these people, I would recommend not saying anything, as I and a lot of my friends are them. :D

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Angels on Sunset Boulevard by Melissa De La Cruz

"Hi, Taj. Glad to see you and Johnny are back."
Back?
It all started with a website. TAP is a social site for people- you go and meet friends. You create wishlists and people buy you the things on them. You get free stuff. You get to go to awesome parties. And at these parties the ones who are truly "tapped" get to go through the ritual. They get to drink the drug and have everything disappear. At least for a while. TAP is for people like Taj- people who aren't necessarily happy at life. At least, Taj wasn't, until she met Johnny. Then she met Nick. Then things started getting complicated. Kids start disappearing... at the TAP parties. And in the midst of everything, Johnny Silver, the going to be awesome superstar, disappears. And Taj wants out. But does Taj know more then she reveals? Is the character hiding... even from the reader?
Taj made a face. "What if he doesn't like Kapusta?" she asked, her nose wrinkling at the thought of eating the pungent cabbage and sauerkraut slaw. She'd only mentioned it to Nick as a joke.
"How can he not like
Kaputsa?"
This book strongly reminded me of the Spy Girl books... of which I haven't done reviews (I don't think.). It is a very interesting book, with likeable characters. I didn't like the ending, though. I realize it's the first in a series (*grinds teeth togther* agh! They should say so on the cover so poor innocent people like myself don't go read it, then realize that they have to get the next stupid book!), but the ending was entirely a let down, really. I liked Taj, and I don't get why she... does the things she does at the end. That aside, it was a well written book with an interesting premise. I'd give it three stars.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix


He had never disobeyed the order to hide. Even as a toddler, barely able to walk in the backyard's tall grass, he had somehow understood the fear in his mother's voice.
Luke is a third child who lives in a country where third children aren't allowed. No one is supposed to have more then two kids, but there are always some who break the rule. They create shadow children, thirds who have to hide their entire life to avoid the population police. It's not a happy life for Luke- when the forest next to his farm gets cut down, he has to avoid going outside altogether. Then avoid the kitchen. He feels useless, he can't go outside and help farm. he can't do anything inside, either, to avoid anyone coming and looking in windows. He's trapped. Until he meets Jen. Jen's another shadow child, one who communicates to hundreds over the internet. And she has a plan. A crazy plan.
Would he dare? Of course he wouldn't but still, still- The first time he looked out the vents and saw maple leaves shot through with shades of red and yellow, he panicked.
The first thing that went through my mind when I picked up the book was "ooh... cool cover. Cool title." Thing that went through my mind when I read the synopsis: "That. Sounds.... interesting." So I brought it home from the library, and read it. It was a quick read (though that was probably helped by the fact that a) I'm a quick reader and b) this version was in large print), but decent. Warning, however, it was sad. Quite a bittersweet ending... it had hope for the future, but it was also incredibly filled with despair. I'm not quite sure what I think about the end, so I took off a star just to be safe. I'd give this book three stars (though it might be four if I could make up my mind about the ending.).

Dirty Laundry by Daniel Ehrenhaft

I'm sort of a corny TV and movie addict in general. I am a dork.
Self professed "dork" (not really) Carli is an actress. She's been assigned a role as a "Sheila Smith" in a new TV show, about girls who live in a boarding school. But Carli doesn't know what boarding school is like. Why would she? She's never gone to one, never wished to go to one. Which is why she is assigned to Winchester School of the Arts. Winchester is the "laundromat" for students- it's where all the other schools send their dirty laundry. The kids who were expelled. The delinquents. Everyone there is there for a reason. Most of them have stories. Like Fun (who is REALLY Fellini Udall Newport, but hates his name, for good reason). Fun was expelled from Winchester. His father wants him to graduate high school, though. His father is the director of the show that Carli has been cast in. And Carli "Sheila" needs someone to show her the ropes of the school, to make sure that she actually figures out how to be Sheila. And everything is just hunky dory until Carli gets there, and finds out that a girl, one of the only "normal" people there, Darcy, has disappeared. In one of her shame spirals, Carli decides to find Darcy. The mystery pulls together people who Carli never thought she'd meet, much less be friends with, and brings a whole new understanding to all of their lives.
Which brings me back to the series: My character is not a dork. Her name is Sheila Smith, by far the worst of the bunch: the shcemer who won't let anyone stand in her way, the queen bee, the foul seductress... place every standard Mean Girl stereotype here then triple it. (Yikes!) But the problem is...
I am a dork.

This is another one of those fluffy girly spy mysteries. Like "I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You" and "My Fair Godmother" (although that isn't a spy book, the characters seem pretty similar) and, (although I haven't done a review on them) the "Spy Goddess" books. I liked this book, though. It was interesting, I liked the characters, and the mystery was intriguing. The ending is completely bizarre, but somehow the author seems to make it work. very odd. but anyway, I'd give this book four stars.
"You think this is humorous?"
The color drained from my face. "No, I...I don't know. Headmaster Stanton sounds like a Muppet." It was the first thing that popped into my head. "Or someone who's just breathed in, like, a big balloon of helium. Doesn't he?"
For some reason this struck Fun as funny. He started laughing. He laughed so hard that Stanton stopped talking. He laughed so hard that every single kid in the dining hall turned to look at us, standing in the entranceway- the last four students to arrive on the tragic opening day of the new Winchester school year.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder (My Life on the Dork Side) by Julie Halpern


"You know," I say, "with Chloe Romano as your homecoming date, you could be homecoming king." Barrett lets out a scream of terror.
Jessie isn't exactly a nerd. Well, she is a little. She's a self professed "mathelete", she aces virtually every test she takes, and she loves the first day of school. She is also in one of the "cool" clubs, because of her brother, Barrett, the punk-rock band member and best brother she could wish for. She has a bazillion skirts, a crush on her brother's friend, Van, and two friends who she is suspecting are actually pretty crappy.
When her friends go punk, and one goes after Van, Jess's life seems to be falling apart. Barrett is leaving for college in a year, her friends have abandoned her, Van seems to be less wonderful then she had thought, and now she has been invited to, horrors of horrors, join the Dungeons and Dragons club. But things aren't really always how they seem, and becoming a "nerd" may just be the best thing that's ever happened to Jess.
"Um, hey, how's it going?" Real smooth-like. "Good. Just listening to Bob Dylan and studying for precalc. I pretend that the music helps me study, but I think it just gets songs stuck in my head and helps distract me from how stressed out I actually should be."
I am, if you don't already know, a total nerd, and a dungeons and dragons player/lover. So, when I saw this book, I was like... "cool cover. cool name. wonder what it's about." and then I read what it was, and I had to read it. It was fantabulous. I loved it. It was quite accurate when it came to being a DnD player, "I order an ale," Eddie interrupts again. "If you insist on interrupting the DM, you may soon find yourself struck blind by purple lightning.", I loved the characters, especially Jessie, but I also loved her "friend" Char, and her brother. I'd have to say her brother was my favorite character. This was a very hilarious book (like Julie's other book, Get Well Soon,) and it is hard trying to figure out what quotes to use from this book. I'd have to say that I'd give this book five stars. (extra points for being a nerdy book.) I would definitely say though, that you should be careful when reading this book. The author uses quite a few swear words, and other inappropriate (to some ages) language.
This is a particularly brutal week for quizzes and tests. (Why do teachers do that? Is it some teacherly conspiracy to put students over the edge? Are they sitting in the teachers' lounge evilly laughing about it right now?)

Friday, June 25, 2010

The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby

All of the court looks different to me now, somehow both clearer and more confusing than it appeared when this year began. Henry is besieged by those who undoubtedly would do him ill if it would benefit them to do so. During dinner I see him conferring with Edward Seymour, and the sight of it nearly knocks the wind out of me. I scan the faces before us and imagine in each of them a unique self-interest, a unique abuse or destruction of our king in the name of God or family or the true church- whatever that church may be. And I know, now, that I am no way different from any of them.
This is the story of Catherine. Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of king Henry of England, Father of the infamous Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. This is her story. Catherine is just a common girl. A beautiful, young girl who happens to be a Howard. Who happens to be a pawn in the most dangerous game. She's not who she says she is- she's acting. It's all just an act. Just a part Catherine has to play, or risk her life. If she isn't who she is supposed to be- if she isn't Catherine the virgin. Catherine the rose without thorns. Catherine the queen, she is "Catherine the dead". When Catherine (For the good of the country) commits treason against her husband, things start happening that are out of her control, but for the first time she can be her. She doesn't have to act anything.
There is so little that I understand about this life- I wonder if I am the only one who feels so lost. We are all merely wandering down a road, in single file. We are not sure where this path will lead us. We do not know when we are walking headfirst into darkness. We are not sure when, or if, the sun will shine again.
I thought this book was very well written. I don't usually enjoy romances- this was a romance, and I liked it. I don't usually like books written in the present tense- this one was written in present tense and it didn't irritate me. I enjoyed Catherine. I could sympathize with her, and just the fact that she has so many faults makes her human. She was a good main character. I would give this book four and a half stars, but leave that it has a huge amount of romance.
This was a different Catherine who received these letters, who responded to that kiss- since then I have been transformed by the king's eyes, by the royal jewels around my neck and a cloth-of-gold gown... but who is the real Catherine: the shadow or the light? The smoke or the flame?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Interview with Rachael Herron.

I also want to say thank you for your words of encouragement about chapter 7. I got through it (finally) but it certainly was true advice. :)
I'm glad it helped!

What are some of the advantages of working on a computer at home (or homeish)? Are there some thing that you can do that you couldn't do if you were working at a traditional job?

I love being able to work near my family, with all my animals around me (I have three dogs and four cats). I love being able to get up and walk to my computer and start working, all without fully waking up. I can wear whatever I want! Pajamas all day!


How do you manage your time- how do you decide when you're going to work,

and how long do you usually work for?

I kind of work all the time. I have another job, and I write for 2 hours before my 12 hour shifts, and on my days off I write almost all day. I can sometimes write for 10 hours at a time, but I rarely write at night.


Do you hold any other jobs? Is it hard to manage to work two jobs at once? Even though one is at home?

It IS really hard to manage two jobs -- I answer 911 fire/medical for a large Bay Area county, and I work long hours at that job. And then when I'm home, I write so much that people complain I never see them anymore. But maybe someday I'll be able to support myself with just the writing money, which is why I'm doing so much of it now.

Do you use any special software or hardware? If so, what are they?

I love Scrivener -- it's a program in which to write novels or screenplays on the Mac. I also love Mac Freedom. It's a tool that keeps you off the internet for whatever time you set. I like to kick myself off the internet for 45 minutes, and then come up for email/Twitter breaks for 15 minutes. I get a lot done this way.


Do you enjoy working at home/on a computer? Why or why not?

I love it. I wish I could do it all the time. My home is my favorite place in the world, and I feel like I never have enough time there.


Are there any tips you'd give someone who wanted to work from home?

Find something that you love to do. If you love it, and if you're passionate about it, the method of making a living at it will come to you, I'm convinced.


Is there any advice you could give people (specifically young people- teens and kids) who want to become authors?

Read, write, read, write. But I think reading is the most important thing. You should read everything you can, everything you love, and keep pouring it in your brain. Write often, but don't worry about if it's good or not -- you can always edit later. Just keep writing. And when you're stumped, reach for the book again.


How did you get the idea for your book?

I was participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I needed an idea, fast. I love romance, and I love knitting, so I decided to combine both in a novel about a knitter and sheep rancher. I'd advise every person interested in writing to give NaNo a try. It's liberating to write that fast.


What genres are your favorite to read? To write?

I love best to read and write romance -- there's nothing more fun and magical than two people falling in love -- but I also love reading and writing memoir/creative nonfiction as well.


Did you base any of your characters off of real people?

No, I don't, but each character displays a different side of myself. If there's a terrible, awful character, it says more about the sides of me that I don't like than it does about anyone else.


Did you ever “talk” with your characters?

I've interviewed them on paper before -- asking them questions, and then writing the answer as if they're writing it. It's fun and you can learn a lot that way.


Does it ever get boring working at home/on a computer?

Never. And if it does, I can just write something else.


Do you ever get distracted when working at home/on a computer?

That's the hardest part. I love Twitter, and I love reading my friends' blogs, so I have to be really diligent when writing that I keep my nose down and JUST WRITE. When I'm done with my 2000 words for the day, then I can mess around getting distracted by the internet, or cleaning the house, or TV.



Again, thank you!
I hope this helped! Let me know if you have any other questions, or if I need to clarify anything. And you -- keep on writing! How exciting!
best,
Rachael


______

Rachael's book is called How to Knit a Love Song, and you can find it here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Love, Football, and Other Contact Sports by Alden R. Carter


Kicker. Can be identified by his clean uniform, small size, nervous tics, and a perplexed frown that seems to be asking, "What am I doing here?" Kicks the ball as far as he can (a kickoff) to start the game. He will then jog down the field, hoping to avoid any further involvement in the play, an exceedingly intelligent thing to do leading the casual observer to wonder what mental aberration caused him to engage in a contact sport with large people in the first place.
This book is a series of a couple of stories dealing with mostly love and football at Argyle Highschool. The mostly main character is Ken Bauer, and Randy "the Doughnut" Schmidtke, but involving everyone from "Elvis"- a "latino beauty", Rollin Acres (Ken's best friend) and his girlfriend Sandy Dunes (who everyone jokes should start a golf course together and call it Rollin acres-Sandy Dunes), Ken's cousin Rebecca, and a dozen other characters. An unpopular girl gets help from an unexpected source. A football player discovers that he loves little kids. A feminist girl gets a jersey on her desk, and an old lady is reunited with her lover.
"Ah, my friend," he said, "karma's character is of necessity mysterious or it would not be karma. It is like cement in the hands of the Builder, who of simple bricks makes many wondrous forms." "What is that supposed to mean?" "I am not sure. I just made it up. It is worth thinking about, though."
I originally picked this book up thinking it was by the author of "I'd tell you I love you but then I'd have to kill you"... but it's not. I read it anyway- a little bit wary. After all, it's not normally the type of book I read. I read fantasy and fluff and mystery. Not goofy highschool stories which aren't really one continuous string of story line. I really did like it, though. I thought the first two things in the book- "A Girl's Guide to Football Players" and "A Football Player's Guide to Love" were equally hilarious. :) I'd give this book about 4.5 stars and recommend you to read it. Because they have seperate stories, and they are all short, and not at all dangerous, I think, I got a feeling of "this is the end" every time I finished a story. So, it gained points for that. :)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors

Lady Capulet grimaced. "Young ladies are incapable of taking care of themselves. Young ladies must be directed. There is only one thing to be done. Since your mother is dead, I shall take her place. While you are here I shall act as your new mother." She placed an ice-cold hand on my shoulder.
Oh, no thank you. Because you scare the crap out of me. You really do.
You know those girls who dream of becoming famous? Of being on stage and being actresses? Yeah... Mimi Wallingford doesn't. She's been acting in Shakespeare plays since she was old enough to be on stage, and she hasn't stopped. She's seventeen now. Seventeen and never gone to a regular school. Seventeen and never gone on a date. Seventeen and didn't have a best friend. Seventeen and hadn't had her first kiss. Wait. She had. With Troy- a jerk who plays Romeo in the Wallinford production of "Romeo and Juliet". In which Mimi plays- you guessed it- Juliet. When she storms out of the the theater and breaks a charm, she and Troy are transported back to the time of the Capulets and Montagues. While she's there she meets Juliet and becomes her friend. But what about the ending? If Mimi changes it- if Romeo and Juliet don't die- if it never happens- will Troy and Mimi ever get home?
She cried for a bit and I kept hold of her hands. Shakespeare may have created this predicament but I was the one who could change it. I wasn't going to let this girl kill herself. Even if it meant that I had to stay in this dream for a very long time. I was determined not to wake up until Juliet got her happy ending. One of us deserved a happy ending. "I do not wish to get married," she pleaded, squeezing my fingers.
The title of this book was what first caught my attention. I don't know about you, but when I hear the name "Juliet" I immediately think of "Romeo and Juliet". And "Saving Juliet" definitely sounds interesting. It makes the book sound like what it is- someone saving Juliet and Romeo from their sad ending. I really liked this book. It had likable characters (You go Juliet with gravity defying hair!) and a good plot line. I also liked the ending- it wasn't as good as some of the ones that I've read, but it definitely gave me at least a little of that "this book is DONE" feeling. Four and a half stars out of five.
While the microwave hummed I pulled off my hat and started muttering to myself, a perfectly normal thing to do when there's no one else to talk to. Solitary muttering allows you to say all those things you don't have the courage to say to all those people who are driving you nuts. I told Clarissa she had no right to judge me. I told Troy he was a jerk for making me think that I actually "liked" him. I told my mother to stop controlling my life. I told my father I would never forgive him for dying so young and leaving us with that cruddy theater. And I told William Shakespeare that Romeo and Juliet totally sucks because everybody just dies and none of the characters get what they want. What kind of ending is that, anyway?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Epic by Conor Kostick


"Do you ever dream of dueling Central Allocations and winning?"

"Always."


Naming a book Epic might seem a bit ambitious... at least, that's what I thought before I started reading it. Because honestly, Epic really is epic.

Epic is placed in the future so I think all the stuff about civilization falling apart and people moving to a new planet goes without saying.
Because of the collapse, on New Earth, all violence is outlawed. Every problem people have is resolved in a video game named (wait for ittttt...!) Epic. People create characters and try their best to be successful in Epic. If you're successful in Epic, you'll be successful in the real world.

New Earth is governed by a committee of the best Epic players on New Earth. Over time, the committee has become tyrannical and hated for not doing anything to help the people of New Earth.

The main character is named Erik. He was always very unsuccessful in Epic until one day he made a new Character named Cindella.
People always made characters that looked like themselves and they made them as strong, rich, etc. as they could at the start of the same.
However, when Erik made Cindella, he made her as beautiful as possible.
And thus starts an adventure of playing Epic in a way that no one else ever dared to.
The next thing he knows, Erik is in the position to destroy the committee and all of their heartless ways.
Will he succeed?
I can't tell you- you'll just have to see for yourself. ;-)

5/5

-SEP

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


I was going to write a review on the sequel to The Hunger Games. However, I don't want to put any spoilers into it so I'm not going to write a review of Catching Fire. But just for the record, Catching Fire is just as good as The Hunger Games.

5/5 to both.

I can't wait for the final book (Mockingjay) to come out! D-:

-SEP

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review #1: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins



"Destroying things is much easier than making them."

In the years to come, war will break out across North America and everything you currently know will be destroyed. Out of the ruins emerges a new nation called Panem. There's thirteen districts and each year, the districts are required to send one boy and one girl to participate in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a competition to the death between the tributes from each district. The tributes are put into an arena and have to learn to survive in the wild and keep from being killed by a fellow tribute. Only one tribute can come out alive. The Hunger Games is televised all across Panem and the winner will be given riches and fame.

"You don't forget the face of the person who was your last hope."

The main character of The Hunger Games is Katniss Everdeen. Originally, her little sister Prim was supposed to participate but Katniss took her place.
This story is very intense and really plays with your emotions... it even has romance in it.

"Remember, we're madly in love, so it's all right to kiss me anytime you feel like it."

This story is filled with politics and parallels with things that have happened in history.
It's also one of those stories that you say you're only going to read the first chapter and end up reading and reading and reading.

"Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when it's morning again, they'll wash away
Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you."

Most definitely 5/5.

-SEP

Friday, May 28, 2010

15

Greetings, Freaks!


For quite some time now I've been begging Angela to get a Facebook account. She's finally relented- with one condition. I have to write fifteen good reviews on here before she'll sign up... now what qualifies as a good review, I don't know... I guess that's up to Angela since she's supreme and all knowing. So watch out Blogger! SEP has fifteen, hopefully good, reviews on the way!


-SEP

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ranger's Apprentice book one: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan


"A littel over an hour?" Will said. He saw Halt's eyebrows draw together in a frown and remembered that the Ranger also disliked being answered with a question. "Are you asking me, or telling me?" Halt said. Will shook his head, annoyed at himself. "A little over an hour," he replied more confidently and, this time, the Ranger nodded agreement.
Will is one of the orphans who live in the keep of the Baron. Unlike the others, however, he doesn't know who his father is, who his mother is, or even what they did. All he knows is that he's different from the others. Will is the shortest of all the orphans, he's fast, quick, can climb anything, and knows how to be out of sight without hiding. He also dreams of being a knight- nearly impossible for a boy shorter than the rest.
When Choosing day finally comes, the battlemaster won't accept him. None of the craftmasters will. Will thinks he's destined to go out to work as a field hand- until the Ranger, Halt, shows the Baron a piece of paper. Will doesn't know whats on it. He doesn't know anything- until he tries to steal the paper. Becoming a Ranger's apprentice isn't what Will wants, but if it stops him from working in a field, he's good. Through a series of (many) events, Will has to help stop the evil lord Morgarath... and he's not even a real Ranger yet.
"Very well, Salt Peter, I want you to take a message to Baron Arald."
"Baron Arald?" the farmer asked nervously. Halt frowned again. "See what you've done?" he said to Will. "You've got him answering questions with questions now!"
This book was, I thought, going to be stupid. I picked it up from the library because of a reccomendation. Not because I would ordinarily pick it up. It just seemed to be one of those stupid popular books that everyone is crazy about now, and in a couple of years no one will remember it. I read it, though, and I have to say "don't judge a book by it's cover." This book was well written, funny, had amazing characters, exciting, and it described EVERYTHING. :) I ♥ this book. I would give it five stars, and recommend people to read it.
It was an unearthly sound that twisted the stomach into knots of fear and turned the blood cold. Involuntarily, the Baron and Sir Rodney reined in as they heard it. Their horses plunged wildly against the reins. It came from straight ahead of them and rose and fell, until the night air quaked in the horror of it. "Good God in heaven!" The Baron exclaimed. "What is that?" His face was ashen as the hellish song soared through the night toward them, to be answered immediately by another, identical howl. But Will had heard the terrible noise before. He felt the blood leave his face now as he realized his fears were being proven correct. "It's the Kalkara," he said. "They're hunting."

TTYL by Lauren Myracle


mad maddie: helloooooooo, angela.
SnowAngel: hellooooooooo, madigan.
mad maddie: lovely morning, isn't it? the birds r singing, the sun is shining, the bald man from across the street has shut off his cursed lawn mower...
Who ever decided to say that highschool friendships never last? Tough Madigan (mad maddie), angelic Zoe (zoegirl) and Angela (SnowAngel) are convinced that they will ALWAYS be the three best friends, through the good times and bad. Nothing is going to tear them apart. Not even Jana, the "queen bee" or when Angela breaks all over the place because some jerky boy has gone and broke her heart. Again. Or when Maddie does something stupid. Nothing. But when Angela "falls in love" with a jerky boy, who takes her heart and smashes it into a million pieces; Maddie makes a horrible, HORRIBLE choice that hurts not only herself, but her friends also, and sends their school into a feeding frenzy, and Zoe falls head-over-heels for a teacher who may or may not be a "weirdo stalkerhead"; this resolve is put to the test. When Maddie is mad at both calm Zoe, and flirty Angela, when Zoe just can't say no, and when Angela can't do anything, what are they to do?
SnowAngel: hey, zoe girl
zoegirl: hey, angela
SnowAngel: any luck with maddie today?
zoegirl: no, u?
SnowAngel: she shot me a death look when i tried to talk to her in geometry. does that count?
zoegirl: maddie does give a good death look, i'll give her that.
SnowAngel: so, not to be self-absorbed or anything, but does this mean our cumberland island trip is off? thanksgiving's only 2 and a half weeks away.
zoegirl: i've been wondering about that 2. maddie was so psyched about it.
Just so you know, this book has swearing. Okay? Also- this book is written ENTIRELY in IMs. :) it was quite fun to read, and it did seperate you away from the story a bit (which is sometimes good) but if you don't like books that are written in an alternative form (my sister Veelacat hates books written like diaries) then you probably won't like this. This book was most definitely a "pink fluff" (quoted from my mother) book, but it was entertaining nontheless. It isn't a very long read (I read it in one night) but interesting, and the characters are loveable. I'd give it three and a half stars.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

This is the American Title fight, so people are watching this one all over the globe. When a gladiator wins the American Title, this is his job: to look large, to be the largest man on Earth really. His name appears in novels, it's shaved into hair art.
In the age Lyn lives in, the biggest sport, the biggest entertainment, is gladiators. The sport came back as a way to (hopefully) stop war. It didn't really work, and now she lives in a world where life is all about blood, money, and a lot of publicity. Her mother has married seven gladiators- the seventh being the current, Tommy. The thing is, a glad wife is only allowed to marry seven times. If Tommy dies in a fight, she's done. When Tommy does die, and the enemy accidentally becomes Lyn's fiance, she says she'd rather die than marry him. And she means it literally.
He grows larger and larger. He becomes the sign. He becomes a giant where endorsments are concerned. He helps the population buy poorly assembled vehicles with tires that will blow out, and small overwrapped meals, and trillions of bottles of diluted water.
This book was very interesting. Very, very interesting. It is written in present-tense, which I think helps bring it to life. I cannot, however, say that it is one of the best books I've read. I really didn't like the ending- it was happy, sure, but it... it was just a let down, really. As most of you know, I take points off for a lame/bad/incomplete ending. So I'd say that, overall, this book really only gains a 2 3/4 amount of stars. Maybe a 3.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler


She nods. "Luke, how was it today?" "Same. You?" "Mostly the same. A radical feminist fifth-grader wanted to know if I wasn't reinforcing negative female stereotypes with my dependence on Prince Charming." I laugh and sit beside her, kicking off my flip-flops. "How'd you explain that one?" "I think I said something along the lines of 'get away from me.' It seemed to satisfy her curiosity."
The characters at Disney World are on strike. As a result, the "happiest place on earth" has no characters. No one is playing Cinderella, Chip, Dale, Snow White, Jasmine, or anyone else. It may seem alright- after all, you still have everything else, right? Wrong. Without the characters, the show just can't go on. There aren't any shows. There are no character breakfasts. No one to sign autographs. What is Disney World with not princesses? No heros? No Damsels in distress, or villains? So they start hiring anyone they can. With the people, comes Luke S. (all you geeks out there- bet you can't guess his middle name), and Ella. Through a scavenger hunt, and the rest of their short time there as temporary replacement characters, Luke and Ella have to figure out whether they can make their own happy endings, out of the unmagical lives they have.
It was weird ending the date, if you could even call it that. It was more like three friends going out to eat and shopping, and taking along their very beautiful and very angry pit bull.
This book caught my attention because of it's cover. It's hot pink, with a catch title. I brought it home because of what it's synopsis was. How many romance novels take place in Disney world? Pretty few. Although this book is obviously a romance novel, that's not all it is. It also has lessons on how to make something out of what you have, how to turn your life around, being yourself, being true to what you believe in, and all that. I'd give it about 4 and a half stars.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sovay by Celia Rees

'I have another matter,' he said eventually. 'Do you know this man?' pushed over the slip of paper that Leon had given him. 'Yes.' Fernand studied it. 'He's a journalist. Used to work for Marat's scandal sheet. Specializes in lies and slander. if he can't find anything, he makes it up. or forges it.'
Sovay is not the normal lady of 1794. She is engaged to a boy, of course, but when she finds out that he hasn't been faithful, she has quite a different way of getting back then most of her peers. She dresses as a highwayman, and waylays the unfortunate boy's coach. "Stand and Deliver," she says. That is when Sovay's real adventures start. When a chain of events leads to her father and brother disappearing, her friends in trouble, her own life at stake, and the future of England, France and Ireland resting on her shoulders, Sovay must fight back, to finish off the person who would have England taken over by anyone- a reign of terror that would never end.
Sovay was shown to a cavernous chamber which must once have been a grand bedroom, but all the original furnishings had been removed, apart from a great armoire that was probably to heavy to shift, although the doors had been taken, for some inexplicable reason.
This book was interesting. I really liked the beginning, but the middle was a bit long, and it could have belonged to a completely different book, in my opinion. Sovay was a likeable character, and so were most of the other characters in here. What I didn't like was that, first, I wasn't sure who Sovay had fallen in love with. There are about 5 different love interests, and it is utterly confusing. Also, the ending. I do. not. like. Celia rees' endings. Not. at. all. This one is incomplete. It makes me wonder what the heck she was thinking. True, it causes thought, but my thoughts are mostly "did Gabriel ever get free?" and "What happened to Virgil?" She wraps up Sovay's thread in an (in my opinion) rather unrealistic way, and she doesn't even start with the others. While this book was an okay read, and I do not regret picking it up (and I would not stop anyone from reading it, of course), I would have to give this book a rating of 2 stars. (I take points off for lousy endings.)
She stationed herself at the crossroads, adjusted the black eye-mask and green kerchief and loosened her weapons. The horses slowed as they toiled up the long hill, but as soon as they reached the summit, the driver cracked his whip, ready to make a speedy descent. Sovay rode out and the horses shied but showed now sign of stopping. 'Stand and deliver!' she shouted.

A Friend at Midnight by Caroline B. Cooney


Dr. Bordon nodded for a while. "Just give it some thought," he said, finally, "and some prayer."
"What do you think I've been doing? Giving it potato chips?"
Lily's parents are divorced. They have been for a while, and it's not the divorce that is troubling Lily. Nor the fact that they have a new stepdad and half brother. Alright, that might be a little bit troubling. And the fact that Lily's sister, Reb, has gone off to college is also a bit disturbing to Lily- but the real thing hits her with her brother. Her eight year old brother, Michael, has gone to live with their father. No biggy, right? Except for the fact that he's abandoning her. Them. All of them. Fifteen year old Lily, though, brushes it off. She doesn't trust her dad, but whatever. What could go wrong? When Lily gets a call in the middle of the night from a public pay phone at an airport several states away, she finds out what exactly can- and has- gone wrong.
"Oh, hi," said Amanda. "I was just about to call. Nathaniel's here, all upset from the screaming and yelling, and he wants to live with me and I said of course, forever, I love you you're perfect, and he said, Then can I have ice cream? The thing about three-year-olds is, Lily, they're honest. It all comes down to ice cream. Who dishes it out and who doesn't. I," said Amanda with satisfaction, "am a disher-out."
I picked up this book because of a) the title. "A Friend at Midnight" just sounds cool, doesn't it? b) The cover. I mean, look at it. Neat-o much? So, I read it, and I was, and I quote "sniffling" (because I wasn't laughing out loud- but it was still hilarious) all the way through. I would not recommend this to anyone who can't deal with at least a little bit of religion, but if you can deal with it, then this book is pretty amazing. (I, myself, as long as the book isn't too overly religious, am fine.) I would give this about 4 1/2 stars. It had an amazing ending, and very happy. It left me satisfied, and I'm willing to give (or take away) star points just because of the ending. Read this, if only to get to the happy end. :)
In Sunday school, Michael's teacher discussed the Star of Christmas. Had it actually been a comet? Maybe the juxtaposition of two planets? Had there been a star at all? Probably the whole thing was a myth, giving simple peasants something sparkly in the midst of their dreary lives. Only a minute ago, Michael had believed in Santa. He did not want to hear that the Christmas star was just another con game. He decided his Sunday school teacher was a loser (there was evidence of this already) and he stopped listening.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Savvy by Ingrid Law


If only my savvy worked in reverse, I thought again- and not for the last time. If only I could draw a smiling sun on the back of my hand, then everyone around me could know exactly how I felt, exactly how happy I was at that perfect moment.
When Beaumonts turn thirteen, they discover their superpower. It's a tradition, and it's no different then discovering that you have a knack for playing piano, or you can juggle like nobodies business, or you can bake a pie that everyone loves, even if they normally hate pastries. Only, for the Beaumonts, it's just a bit more dramatic. Mibs' brother can cause storms, her grandpa can make the earth move, to make a new patch of land, her other brother has electricity, and her mother is virtually perfect. Mibs can't wait till she turns thirteen. Right before her birthday, though, distaster strikes. Mibs' father is hurt badly, and he has to go to the hospital. It is not expected that he'll wake up. Mibs, with the help of two brothers, Fish and Samson, a sixteen "I'm too cool for you" girl, Bobbi, who isn't who she appears, Bobbi's brother Will (who Mibs just might like like), a delivery man for a company who makes pink bibles, Lester, and an "angel" named Lill, Mibs has to go and face the very biggest adventure she could have ever wished to go on, while trying to discover her "savvy".
Ignoring Bobbi and scrambling after Will junior, Fish demanded "What did you do to my sister? What did you do to her?" "Will's got a secret, want to know the secret?" "WASH YOUR HAND, WILL JUNOR!" I screamed again, raising my voice to be heard over the brawl and the sound of breaking lass. As my brother's pressure system grew, the windows closest to Fish began to fracture, spreading splintering cracks outward like spiderwebs zipping and pinging through the glass as Fish's gusts and gales swelled in speed and strength.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed "Waiting for Normal", "Fortunes Folly" "Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister", and "A Crooked Kind of Perfect". I would say that I'd give this book 4 and 1/2 stars.

Libyrinth by Pearl North

He tilted his head to one side and leaned in toward her, peering at her like she was a wounded bird. "You don't know the Song." "Does it go, 'oh Susanna, oh don't you hide from me, I've come from old Ilysies with a ten-pound block of cheese'?"
The Libyrians live in a library so vast that no one knows all the books that are in it. Haly is a clerk to a Libyrian- her job is to run errands, catalog books, and pretty much do whatever is asked of her. Haly, however, is different then most of the other Libyrians. She can literally hear the books. Whenever she's close to one, she can hear it's voice, she can hear it's story. She finds out that her mistress has found the Book of Night, or the book that contains all knowledge. the person, though, that was meant to be helping her mistress, is a traitor, and Haly, her friend Clauda, and her mistress, Selene, have to go to find the book, before the Eradicants, or book burners. When Haly is captured by the Eradicants, however, she finds quite a different world then she or her friends ever imagined. She must find a way to reunite both worlds- that of words, and that of song- before the Libyrinth is destroyed, forever.
A mischievous smile curled the corners of his mouth. "They've obviously got it all wrong. you opened my ears to the truth. And I do believe that the divine runs through you, but if it turns out that the divine is a bunch of tiny red demons, well then I think it serves some people right."
This was one of those books that you literally can't put down. I started it, didn't like the beginning, and closed it up, to put it away, but it kept bugging me. "What is going to happen," I asked myself. "What sort of things does Haly have to go through?" And I continued reading. Although I may not have liked the beginning, I may have thought "who cares about Haly" at first, later I proved myself wrong. This was an amazing book, and I stayed up past midnight, just to finish it. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone, and I'd give it five stars out of five.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Spies are wise. Spies are strong. But, most of all, spies are patient. We waited two weeks. TWO WEEKS! Do you know how long that is in fifteen-year-old-girl time? A lot. A LOT, a lot.
Cammie goes to a school for spies. Sure, they say it's for any job the girls would wish to take, when they graduate, but how many schools teach fourteen languages, how to decode CIA codes, and give extra credit for cracking the codes that protect U.S. spy satellites, and then expect you to go into a job as a banker? Yeah. Not so much. Cammie is a chameleon. No one notices her if she doesn't want them to. Until she meets Josh. Josh is a regular boy, who believes that Cammie is a regular girl; well, except for the fact that she's a "homeschooler" for "religious reasons". When she meets Josh, she decides to act on her instincts, and keep seeing him. With the help of her roommates, Bex, Liz, and Macey, she starts on the hard job.
I instantly imagined what it would be like to get a note like that myself someday. 'Darling, I may have to work late, so I might not be here when you get back. I hope you had a great time in North Korea and disabled lots of nuclear weapons. With all my love, Josh.' (But that's just a draft.)
I don't usually go for fluff books like this. Usually I try to have at least a little bit of substance to the books I read, but with this one, I didn't. I have to admit, this was an awesome book. It was definitely not a book that you can say was a hard read, or even a medium read. I read this book in probably about three hours. If I had to come with one word to describe this book, however, it would be "Hilarious." I would give this book... 4 stars (out of five).