Monday, February 28, 2011

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler




"We should probably go outside, you know, and"-she glanced around the room-"check on the trees, or something."
"The trees."
"Yes. Like make sure they aren't on fire or anything."
Calliope's mom moves around. As in, driving from place to place, and only staying a month or two. As a result, when Cal, as she likes to be called, and her mom find themselves in Asheville, North Carolina, Cal doesn't expect to stay long.... even though her mom has a job at the Renaissance Faire.
Eliot's dad runs a Christian fat camp. As in, people come and pray and loose weight. He misses the times when The Dad, his Mom, and he used to joke around and be happy. Now it seems like The Dad has completely turned over to God... and money.
When Eliot and Calliope meet, both of which are longing for someone... or something... there's no telling what will happen, what with Calliope's mother's infactuation with a self-centered jouster, Eliot's dad's fat camp, a dad Calliope hasn't spoken to since forever, and a romance that just might be budding between Eliot (with one "L"), and Calliope.
But thanks to Cal's mom... will it last?
"I think I know your secret," Abel says from behind me.
"It's called culinary skill," I tell him. "I think I might be a natural."
"I didn't mean your cooking secret, smarty-pants."
"What then?" I ask, pushing my hair out of my eyes with the back of my wrist. "My secret for bouncy hair? Creative witticisms? Fashion?" At this I perform a model turn complete with a spatula twirl.
I know the synopsis I managed to type up for this book is really REALLY lame. And I know that I had a dream, in which one of my aunts picked this book up off my bedroom floor, looked at me, and then said, "this book has a REALLY BAD ending. You won't like it." But just ignore all that.
Because this book, just like Dream Factory, is amazing.
It is cute. It is funny. It is sweet, touching, amusing, suspenseful, and full of (thanks to Cal), sarcasm.
I'd give it five stars, and definitely recommend everyone to ignore my dream aunt's warning about the ending. (because, and spoiler alert... this book ends perfectly.)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"A Kiss in Time" by Alex Flinn

"Talia fell under a spell...Jack broke the curse.
I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic...
I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind.
I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger's soft kiss.
I couldn't help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn't know this would happen.
Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!
Now I'm stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels...The good news: My parents will freak!
Think you have dating issues? Try locking lips with a snoozing stunner who turns out to be 316 years old. Can a kiss transcend all—even time" -the goodreads summary


This book caught my eye in the library because the cover was cool (I don't judge books by their covers, but they can definitely draw my attention!), so I read the description, and picked it up because modern re-tellings of Fairy tales are fun, and because Sleeping Beauty was my favorite princess story when I was younger (no idea why), and then I saw it was by Alex Flinn- who I keep hearing awesome stuff about because of "Beastly". (That was an insight into my thought process :P ) Anyway, this book was really good. I liked it because it wasn't just Sleeping Beauty played out in the modern world, or a re-telling of it in an old world- by Euphrasia disappearing and Jack finding Talia and her therefore being 316 (appearing 16), as the story unfolds, it's like a combination of the two! I liked the way it was written, and I also liked the insight brought into the story of both Talia and Jack by the chapters switching perspectives. This was a fluffy cute re-telling of a fairy tale, and I did like the way it was written, so, soon, I look forward to picking up "Beastly", (a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast) by Alex Flinn as well.

For another review of a re-told fairy tale, check out Angela's awesome recent review of "The Poison Apples" which is a re-told Snow White story.

For more information about books by Alex Flinn, check out her website.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Interview: Emily Howse, Author of "Zitface"

Hello Everyone! I'm back with the latest (and probably last for a while) interruption in the normal routine of book reviews! A few days ago author of "Zitface" (which I just reviewed here) contacted me, and offered to do an interview with me for the blog. Thank you so much to Mrs. Emily Howse!
Here's the interview: (Bold Italics are Questions, plain text is her answers).

What inspired you to write Zitface? Did you have a problem with acne growing up that made you want to write Zitface to help tweens and teens deal with it?
I was inspired to write ZITFACE, based on my personal experience. I didn’t have acne when I was a teenager—but I broke out big-time after college. I had ‘adult acne’ off-and-on throughout my twenties…and I STILL get occasional zits (and use Proactiv). I saw various dermatologists, and used just about every antibiotic (including Accutane). When I had a breakout, I felt self-conscious going on dates and being around people. It’s hard to be confident when you feel ugly. That’s why I’m sympathetic toward teens who suffer from acne—they have to face people at school every day.  
Who was your favorite character to write about- or just your favorite character in general- from Zitface?
Good question. I relate most to Olivia (I had a talent agent and went on auditions when I was 13, too) and I think she’s very likeable, but I probably had the most fun writing about Wendy. She can be self-absorbed and annoying, yet interesting…maybe even misunderstood. Wendy’s overly honest in some ways, yet tries to hide her deeper, insecure feelings. I wanted to explore this, so I’m writing a sequel now with Wendy as the main character.   
Zitface is your debut novel. Are you very excited for it to come out in April?
It’s been a long coming…so yes! Writing a book is all about delayed gratification. I wrote the first draft several years ago, and it took much time to rework the story, find a literary agent, and sell the manuscript (in 2009). Then I had to rewrite parts of the story again! But I enjoyed the editing process, and received excellent guidance from Robin, my editor at Marshall Cavendish. I had no idea how many steps were involved in completing and publishing a book…but I’d do it all (and certainly hope to) again.
Speaking of Zitface being your debut novel, what made you want to write a book for young people? Have you always wanted to publish a book?
Ever since reading Judy Blume books as a kid, I wanted to be a writer. When I was ten, I cranked out short stories on my blue typewriter (okay, now I sound really old) for my friends. During my twenties, I had several fiction stories featured in (the now-defunct) ’TEEN magazine. Along the way, I became interested in working with teens, so I went to grad school and then worked as a school counselor. Writing was on the backburner for many years. It took me a long time to focus on writing a book, but I’ve had much fun along the way.
Do you have any advice for young authors who dream to eventually want to get their works published?
Mainly, to write regularly. Sounds simple, but it’s true. Life gets busy and it’s easy to procrastinate and do a million things besides write (I should know). Carve out daily quiet writing time, even if it’s just 30 minutes. Consider it a gift to yourself. Maintain your writing habit, and you’ll have something to show for it. If writing a book sounds daunting, try penning a poem, article, or short story—then research publications to submit them to. Seeing my stories in ’TEEN gave me needed confidence to write a book. Know that it’ll take a long time, and that’s okay. Just get started!

Look for Zitface in April! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Ship Breaker" by Paolo Bacigalupi

"Set initially in a future shanty town in America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being dissembled for parts by a rag tag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father, to his hand to mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present day third world. When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she'll lead him to a better life. This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead." -the goodreads summary

"Ship Breaker" was totally awesome. I've been meaning to read this for a while now, first when I stumbled across the summary a while ago, and then I found out it won the Printz award, which is rather prestigious and immensely impressive, they're usually awesome books (the Printz award winners and nominees), I mean, they win for a reason. "Ship Breaker" on first glance, looks like another book about pirates or something like that, and when you read the description, it seems like another story involving poverty and hard life for the lead character, set in an odd place. There's a lot more to this book than that though. I thought the characters were pretty deep and considered the setting really well developed. As the story unfolded I liked how we learned and figured out a bit more as to the story of how the world ended up that way- although I wish I'd known more. Nailer and Nita were awesome. I thought it was really interesting/terrible how the ship breakers were spending their lives. I also thought the book conveyed emotional things rather well. Also, there should really be a sequel! Both because I want to read more and the ending - while satisfying - was a bit of cliffhanger. 

I'm assuming this book would be considered kind of post-apocalyptic, because something big must have happened to the world, including the storms Nailer talked about. I liked that. It was kind of a Hunger Games type of scenario where some big stuff went down and then kind of how the world worked after those things. I give this book 4 stars! 


If you want to learn more about Ship Breaker go to Paolo Bacigalupi's website here.
Notes: Thanks, Little Brown, for the review copy. 
THIS REVIEW IS IN NO WAY BIASED.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Crystal Bones" by C. Aubrey Hall (The Faelin Chronicles, #1)

April 2011
"Diello and Cynthe have always believed their parents' rules are too cautious. The twins expect things to be different on their thirteenth birthday. Their mysterious Fae mother has promised them that today they'll be given magical gifts, and they're planning to sneak off to the village fair. But nothing goes right. The magic isn't what they hoped. Their human father won't let them out of their chores. They're forbidden to attend the fair and sent on an errand instead. Then the day turns deadly as Diello and Cynthe are plunged into a lethal game of cat and mouse with old enemies of their parents. Suddenly, there are secrets upon secrets to unwind. Who is friend and who is foe? And what have their parents been hiding?
   This is the exciting first novel in The Faelin Chronicles trilogy." -the back of the ARC

This book was great! I loved the way it was written. I thought the whole thing flowed really well and was written just kind of... mystically and mysteriously, to fit the story perfectly. I liked the characters, especially Diello (I'm sure you're supposed to like him best though). I thoroughly enjoyed the odd twists and turns the story took as it unfolded, and the whole thing really wasn't what you'd expect it to be by reading the first few chapters or the back of the book. I think this book could easily be the next middle-grade/YA/anyone fantasy story, (ex: "Magyk", "Eragon", "Harry Potter", "Spiderwick" fans will love this one). I can't wait for the sequel! The downside of getting to read it this early is I suppose I'll have to wait even longer haha! I'm really glad I got the opportunity to read this though. I liked the setting, and Diello and Cynthe's world. I'm guessing it's supposed to take place in a more medieval time, and different country. The Faelin thing is really cool to :) I give this one 4 and 1/2 stars. Really excellent. Random: I also liked the cover :) Can't wait to read the next one and anything else by C. Aubrey Hall! Look for "Crystal Bones" in April!

Thank you Marshall Cavendish publishing for giving me the opportunity to review this and sending me a copy of it. 
Reader's Note: UNBIASED REVIEW. Always :) 

Monday, February 21, 2011

"I Am Number Four" the movie

A while back, you probably recall that I reviewed the book "I Am Number Four" by Pittacus Lore (James Frey&Jobie Hughs). On Saturday night, I went to go see the highly anticipated movie based on the book. I thought I'd write a short article kind of thing about the movie, especially because in my book review I said that I thought the book would be an awesome movie maybe an even better movie then the book itself. That being said; did the movie live up to my expectations? Was it better than the book? (Note: I'll try and spoil as little as possible throughout this post.)

First thing: Did the movie live up to my expectations? Yes. I thought it was really good! I didn't think it was better then the book. As all movies end up when adapted from books, it was different from the book. There was a bit of a different order and the book, and sometimes just the same outcomes being achieved in different ways. Also, certain characters were portrayed rather differently- they didn't act like 'themselves'. 

If I'm going to talk about characters and portrayals, I'll obviously start with Number Four, Alex Pettyfer. I thought Number Four was played really well by Alex Pettyfer, and I thought that Number Four acted the same way as he would've in the book. Then I'll go to Henri. The actor was fine for Henri, the problem was that I'm not sure why, but the people who wrote the movie script and such must have chosen to make him quite a bit different. In the movie, Henri was a rather harsh personality. In the book, Henri seemed always really nice to Four (and everyone else) while in the movie he wasn't very nice at any point, almost seeming to be mean to Four most of the time. Sarah was played pretty well by Dianna Agron, although I think they changed her character quite a bit too- she was a bit more complicated or maybe mysterious, rather then the outwardly happy and nice girl she was for most of the book. Number Six was perfect for her role and they didn't change her a bit. Sam was pretty awesome, I think the actor was great, and they didn't change his character a bit either really.

Aspects of the plot were changed, and I felt there were definitely some plot gaps, that would really confuse your movie watching experience if you hadn't read the book, but I did think it was a good movie that went well with the book.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

CONTEST: For Girls (ZITFACE, GOSSIP FROM THE GIRLS ROOM)

 Hi Everyone, Cat again. Another COOL break from regularly scheduled programming.
I just reviewed "Zitface" by Emily Howse and "Gossip from the Girls Room" by Rose Cooper. These are both middle-grade/YA girl lit. titles. "Zitface" comes out in April, and "Gossip from the Girls Room" came out in mid-January! Thank you Random House and Marshall Cavendish for sending me both of these.

These both kind of go with the for girls theme, and I was thinking someone else should enjoy them now- so CONTEST TIME.

Here's the deal. One winner will get both of these books to enjoy, and have a cute, fun, pink, fluffy, reading experience! USA only. I'm really sorry, but shipping everywhere else=ridiculously expensive. You must be at least 12. Now, how to enter?

Comment on this post. Just comment and say you want the books. Get an extra entry by becoming a fan/following and posting about it (Mentioning @Books4Hearts) on Twitter, or posting it on facebook and tagging the Books4Hearts page in your post. Get another extra entry by following the blog if you're not already. So, that's a total of 4 possible chances, and it's a random drawing.

This contest ends in one week on Saturday, February 26th. Entries must be in by 12pm, CST. I would also like to have at least 15 different people entered in this contest before I do the drawing- I think that will be easy, but I'm just saying that in case.

When you comment, just say:
You want the Books
If you posted it and fan/follow us on Twitter or Facebook, post your names from there so I can count your entry.
And last but not least, your preferred method of contact for if you win. Either I can contact you by message of Facebook or Twitter if your settings allow, or if you'd rather be contacted by email, send your email address (I'm sure you don't want it public) to books4heartsblog(at)gmail(dot)com

So. GO! 

"Gossip From the Girls Room" by Rose Cooper

"Gossip from the Girls’ Room fills readers in on all there is to learn about middle school life at Middlebrooke, where Sofia has her very own blog and discusses all the juicy gossip that comes out of the Girls’ room; read along to find out just what happens when class is not in session.
 In Sofia's words . . .
Mia St. Claire is only the most popular girl in all of Middlebrooke Middle School. For three very obvious reasons:
1. She's very rich.
2. She has tons of money.
3. She can buy anything and everything she wants. And she does.
I'm sure people like her for other reasons too, but none of those reasons are obvious enough for me to really know. Or care about, for that matter." -from Goodreads

"Gossip from the Girls Room" is a cute little book. It's the notebook of Sofia Becker, who has a unique voice, and a good way to convey here feelings and opinions- as well as all the gossip at school, in the notebook. It's filled with amusing doodles which really just emphasize the funny bits of the book. The doodles are also cute in that they are unique, with kind of a school girl doodle style with a touch of japanese manga type of flair (ex.. the big eyes in her drawings of people). This book has a nice story where Sofia learns some important lessons about gossip- including the fact that she can hurt people, it's not always true, things aren't always what they seem to be (and neither are people) and she also naturally and importantly learned how it felt to be the talk of the halls, whether because of her mom teaching, or because she was actually the daughter of the mom everyone was talking about because of well something. I don't want to spoil everything. I also liked how author Rose Cooper managed to really inhibit the 5th or 6th graders mind (in my opinion) with Sofia.This book was a bit young for me, but that's a personal thing- and it was a nice book-. I also liked that it reminded me of when I was younger and used to read those American Girl "Amelia's Notebook" books. 4 stars for something I think 10,11,12 year olds will really enjoy.

If you would like to learn more about "Gossip From the Girls Room" go to author Rose Cooper's blog: here.
Thank you Random House for sending me this book to review.
Reader's note: THIS REVIEW IS BIASED IN NO WAY by being sent a review copy. Real Opinions=ForTheWin.

Friday, February 18, 2011

INTERVIEW: Angie Smibert (Author of "Memento Nora")

Hi everyone, it's Cat here, for a break from the regularly scheduled programming (REVIEWS!). Remember how I reviewed the amazing "Memento Nora" just a few days ago? Well, I contacted author Angie Smibert asking if she'd like to do an interview and she was very nice and willing to do an interview, so here it is!!! (As if it's not obvious, the questions in italic are my words, the regular print is her answers!)

What inspired you to write "Memento Nora"? Were their any specific ideas from the real world that gave you the idea for the TCF, etc...?
The idea for the story came from current research in the area of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  In PTSD, the patient has gone through a traumatic event (or events)—such as a car accident or combat—that haunts them. They experience a variety of symptoms, such as anxiety, flashbacks, night terrors, and depression.  Researchers are exploring drugs that can “unstick” the memories and help the patient get on with his or her life.  These drugs wouldn't erase memories but just decrease their intensity.

I just took it a step further. I had this image in my mind of a Starbucks-like place on every corner that dispensed pills that could erase select memories. And you could earn reward points with every visit. 

Did you study Latin, or did something else inspire you to use "Memento" as a major plot word and"Memento Mori"?

I did take Latin in high school (and I love all things ancient Rome).  In classical times, the phrase "Memento Mori" was thought to have been used  to remind a victorious general that he was still just a man. (Kind of like telling someone he's gonna die just like the rest of us mortals.)  Later Memento Mori came to refer to a kind of art that reminds you of your mortality. (The phrase translates as "remember, you must die.")  The English word, memento, comes directly from the Latin. And a memento is a keepsake or reminder of past events.  So I was playing around with the many meanings of the word. 

Do you have a favorite character to write about, or just a general favorite character from "Memento Nora"?

Although they were all fun to write, my favorite character from Memento Nora is probably Winter Nomura. She's smart, manic, and artistic. She definitely sees the world a little differently. 

Would you believe someone if they told you a whole story that you forgot because of a pill, like if you'd done everything Nora had done?

 Maybe not. I can't say anymore because I might giveaway something about book 2. ;)
Do you like to read any other books that involve a Dystopian Society?
Yes, I do. I've read most of the classics: 1984, Brave New World, Handmaid's Tale, etc. My favorite YA/MG ones are Lois Lowry's The Giver, Hunger Games, Feed by MT Anderson, and The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

BTW, I blog about dystopian and science fiction at the League of Extraordinary Writers (leaguewriters.blogspot.com), a group blog for debut YA dystopian writers.  Our members include Beth Revis, Julia Karr, Elana Johnson, and Jeff Hirsch. Beth's and Julia's books came out in January--and they are both excellent!
Do you have any advice for young writers, who might want to publish their own book some day?
Be persistent. If you don't keep writing and keep sending it out into the world, you'll won't get published. And while you're writing and sending out, you're work will be getting better and better.
 ____________________________

Thanks so much to Angie Smibert for doing the interview for the blog! I encourage all of you to pick her book up when it comes out in April- it was awesome! Hope you guys enjoyed it! -Cat

"Zitface" by Emily Howse

"Thirteen-year-old Olivia Hughes has always considered herself a lucky girl. She knows what she wants to do with her life - be an actress. And she's already on her way. She just landed a national ad campaign that should get her noticed.
    But then her luck runs out. A little pimple turns into a full-blown case of acne, with serious side effects for her career, her relationships, and her self-esteem. Now all she wants to do is hide, but she can't. She goes from being the girl at school who everyone wants to be... to Zitface, a girl who is teased, dumped, and even fired.
    What do you do when you've lost control of everything in your life? Olivia has to find out the hard way. And maybe, what she finds isn't so bad, after all." -the back of the ARC

This was good, just because it was a middle-grade girly kind of book that could teach younger girls a lesson, the lesson that can't be taught enough- that looks aren't everything, no matter how much it can seem like they are. You are not what everyone see's on the purpose. I also liked it, because it dealt with a difficult problem for many pre-teens and teenagers: Acne. It's an unfortunate thing; that can happen to everyone (and in varying severity) usually does. I liked that it was written so you could really understand Olivia and her emotions, and you could feel sympathetic with her. There are lots of books out there similar to this, but this one's still good! I give it 3 and 1/2 stars! A solid rating. I'd recommend this to 12 year olds because I think they (if they haven't already) might end up facing this soon, therefore it might be good for them to see how Olivia eventually deals with it. :) Check it out in April!

If you'd like to find out more about "Zitface" go to the goodreads page for it here.

Thank you Marshall Cavendish publishing for sending me an ARC of this book and giving me the opportunity to review it.
To Readers: Receiving Review Copies does not cause me to bias my reviews in any way. These are my REAL OPINIONS.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Cryer's Cross" by Lisa McMann

"The small town of Cryer's Cross is rocked by tragedy when an unassuming freshman disappears without a trace. Kendall Fletcher wasn't that friendly with the missing girl, but the angst wreaks havoc on her OCD-addled brain.

When a second student goes missing-someone close to Kendall's heart- the community is in an uproar. Caught in a downward spiral of fear and anxiety, Kendall's not sure she can hold it together. When she she starts hearing voices of the missing, calling out to her and pleading for help, she fears she's losing her grip on reality. But when she finds messages scratched in a desk at school-messages that could only be from the missing student who used to sit there-Kendall decides that crazy or not, she'd never forgive herself if she didn't act on her suspicions.

Something's not right in Cryer's Cross-and Kendall's about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried." -The back of the ARC

This book was so creepy and suspenseful. Very intense stuff here. It was really good though. I especially liked Kendall, and I thought it was really interesting getting this kind of story from the perspective of a character who suffers from OCD. The book is also written in present tense, which I don't always enjoy, but I think it really worked for this book. I also find that sometimes when things are written in present tense, especially character's thoughts, I find it to seem kind of confusing. At times, I thought that about this book, but I thought it worked, because it seemed to further indicate the state of Kendall's mind, especially dealing with the disappearances. I also really liked the setting, the small town, all that. This was a really awesome scary book. If you're into scary books, with intensity and major suspense, with a brilliant conclusion; then "Cryer's Cross" is for you! I give it four and half stars!

If you would like to find out more about "Cryer's Cross", then go to the website on Simon&Schuster, and Lisa McMann's website.

Thank you to Simon Pulse, Simon & Schuster publishing for the ARC/review copy, and giving me the chance to review this book. 
Note to readers: Review copies provided by the publisher/author do not influence my reviews whatsoever, these are my REAL OPINIONS! 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Poison Apples by Lily Archer


Revenge- A Comprehensive Plan (calligraphy by Mlle. Paruchuri)
The Enemies:
R. Klausenhook, actress/evil stepmother
Shanti Shruti, yoga instructor/evil stepmother
Candy Lamb, pregnant housewife/waitress/evil stepmother
The Heroines:
Alice Bingley-Beckerman, student/wronged stepdaughter
Reena Paruchuri, student/wronged stepdaughter
Molly Miller, student/wronged stepdaughter/lexicography expert
The Goal:
1. Destroy what is dearest to the enemy.
2. Get away with it.

What could these three girls have in common? Alice Bingley-Beckerman is "...[T]he quiet girl in the funky clothes. Everyone likes me. Kind of." Reena is one of the "it" girls... always has been, thinks she always will be. Molly Miller is a nerdy... nerd, who grew up in a tiny town where no one but her seems to appreciate learning.
How are they connected?
1. They all go to Putnam Mount McKinsey- a posh boarding school for "brats".
2. They all have an evil stepmother.

When the three girls meet, they have no clue that they are all in the same boat of suckfest-ness. But when they each eventually learn about each other's step mothers- R. (short for Rachel), Shanti (she's not even Indian!), and Candy (who just wants a live in maid, after all)- they know they have a common goal.
Revenge.
Together they form The Poison Apples, an organization for those who have evil stepmothers... By those who have evil stepmothers... In the goal of using The Poison Apple... on their stepmothers.
Same marble white mansion, same green lawn, same puny dying palm tree next the driveway that Pradeep had always refused to let us chop down. (He had a tendency to get attached to random nonhuman objects and attribute them with human traits. "That tree is a good tree!" he would scream at us. "It knows right from wrong!")
This was a pretty darn good book. It was hilarious, it was interesting, it was a fluff book... and yet, it had a meaning. Meanings are pretty hard to find in YA books as far as I can tell, and surprisingly, most meanings pop up in fluff books like these. Weird.
But anyway, this is a grand book, and a quick read. I'd give it five stars.

"Memento Nora" by Angie Smibert

Release Date: April 1st, 2011
"On an otherwise glossy day, a blast goes off and a body thuds to the ground at Nora's feet. There are terrorist attacks in the city all the time, but Nora can't forget. So Nora goes with her mother to the TFC-a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. There, she can describe her horrible memory and take the pill that will erase it. But at TFC, a chance encounter with a mysterious guy changes Nora's life. She doesn't take that pill. And when Nora learns the memory her mother has chosen to forget, she realizes that someone needs to REMEMBER.

With newfound friends Micah and Winter, Nora makes a comic book of their memories called Memento. Memento is an instant hit, but it sets off a dangerous chain of events. Will Nora, Micah, and Winter be forced to take the Big Pill that will erase their memories forever?" -the back of "Memento Nora" 

Readers: You've probably all figured out that I immensely enjoy the new Dystopia stuff that has been coming out. Everyone else seems to like it too -I think it's probably the new vampire. That being said, this is another great one!! I think anyone that liked "Matched" or "The Hunger Games" will adore this. "Memento Nora" is a fast-paced, thrilling novel by debut author Angie Smibert. The book is only 184 (ARC) pages long, which at first kind of surprised/worried me, because I was worried that a story in a book that short simply couldn't be that well developed. I WAS SO WRONG. The characters were pretty well-developed to me, and so was the setting and the story itself. The comic strip was brilliant. Not taking the pill. A rebellion. Using Memento, latin for "remember", and the whole Memento Mori, remember you'll die... AHHH. This book was exciting. The storyline and characters were memorable. I also really liked the original language kind of like that of "Uglies", like the word "glossy".  FOUR AND A HALF STARS!!!

This book was even a bit SCARY. In the way that, alright, the Hunger Games and the capitol seem so far away. Living in Cassia's world (Matched) (by the way, the red pill!!!!), seems lightyears away. The TFC, and the situations that follow, that seems pretty realistic. In a sad, scary, kind of way.

I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SEQUEL. This is one I really recommend you go out an get when it is released APRIL 1ST! If you want to find out more about "Memento Nora" go to Angie Smibert's website (where you can read the 1st chapter) and the official website for "Memento Nora".

Thank you very much Marshall Cavendish publishing company for sending me an ARC of "Memento Nora", and giving me the opportunity to read and review this awesome book. 
readers: I can't stress enough that receiving a review copy in NO WAY alters my review or opinion! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"The Eiffel Tower's Daughter" by Bethany Huang

 "The Eiffel Tower's Daughter is a story about love, compassion, family, and life. A girl who has to face it all with no one to help her. She runs away from home the day after her divorced mother unknowingly marries a spy. Swanilde has to deal with rivalry and vengeance on her way to warn her father and ask for help. Swanilde thinks she's on a quest for truth, but her family reveals all of the secrets and lies they have been hiding from her for years. As Swanilde's world crumbles under her, she realizes how precious life is and how short it is. She tries to deal with all of the obstacles in her way to find who she really is-until disaster strikes and she's running again." (From the back of the book.)

This was a good story! Anyone over 10 or 11 could probably enjoy it. It was fast-paced, and emotional. The story was pretty vivid in my mind. It was a nice quick read- there's something to be said for a book that can be even slightly good that's both only 100 pages, and a stand-alone book. I also liked that the story crossed many countries (France, Egypt, Greece). I give this book 4 Stars!

There's also obviously something to be said about the fact, HELLO, the author of this book wrote it when she was 10! When I was 10, I wasn't trying to write an actual novel and get it published. Trust me. I know everyone's been talking about the fact that she's 11, but still! It's just really inspiring and impressive that she wanted to write and publish a book at such a young age, and achieved her goal. If you want to find out more about "The Eiffel Tower's Daughter" go to the facebook for the book here.
Thank you (author) Bethany Huang for giving me a copy of your book to review after we'd been talking. 
Again, note to readers, receiving a review copy from an author/publisher doesn't alter my review, THESE ARE MY REAL OPINIONS. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Kindred" by Tammar Stein

"Miriam is an unassuming college freshman stuck on campus after her spring break plans fall through. She's not a religious girl--when pressed she admits reluctantly to believing in a higher power. Truth be told, she's about as comfortable speaking about her faith as she is about her love life, which is to say, not at all. And then the archangel Raphael pays Miriam a visit, and she finds herself on a desperate mission to save two of her contemporaries. To top it all off, her twin brother, Mo, has also had a visitation, but from the opposite end of the good-evil spectrum, which leaves Miriam to wonder--has she been blessed and her brother cursed or vice versa? And what is the real purpose behind her mission" (Actual Description)

This book sure was interesting. I did like it pretty well. I think it gets, hm... 3.75 stars? I think I'll just get over myself and round that to four stars!! It was good! I can definitely say I've never read a book with a story and plot quite like this one. Miriam's journey and life after her visit from Raphael is a complex, good one. Although, on that note, the book I think is really like Miriam's personal journey in life (after her visit from the angels), and struggle with her faith and relationships, not quite just about visits from the angels and her brother and such. That said, it's also a very religious book, which was interesting, I'd never really read a YA book with a lot of religious focus, so that was kind of new, I didn't mind though. Anyway, this is a good one. I would recommend this if you're into books with a theme of religion, angels, and also if you like a good book where the protagonist overcomes a personal struggle- which I do. Also, this book is probably more for the older end of YA, just because I don't think younger less mature readers would even really get what's going on...

To learn more about "Kindred" go to it's bit on the Random House website here, and Tammar Stein's website here.

Thank you very much Random House/Knopf for the review copy. Also, readers, receiving a review copy does not cause my to alter my review, I am unbiased, these are my real opinions people!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Cloaked in Red" by Vivian Vande Velde

"Cloaked in Red" is a collection of small stories, re-telling -with different elements, characters, and details- the story of "Little Red Riding Hood". The book opens with the author jestingly pointing out all of the problems with the original "Little Red Riding Hood" stories; vague characters and story, a mother that clearly should pay better attention to her daughter who is either to young or to stupid to venture out in the woods on her own, a clearly unobservant girl in a red hood, and more... There are eight different stories in the book and the author's introduction.

I liked this book! It was cool, different characters and elements emphasized humorously, including "Little Red Riding Hood" not always being the main character in the story. I also think that if you got this book, and wanted to just read a story or two at a time in-between books to get a good laugh it's great for that too. It was really funny. My favorites of the stories were probably: "Granny and the Wolf" and "Deems the Wood Gatherer". The author's opening at the beginning was one of my favorite parts as well. I thought the "Red Riding Hood Doll" was rather creepy (but in a good way, isn't creepy good once in a while?). I'm thinking four stars for this collection of humorous versions of the classic fairy-tale!

If you'd like to find out more about "Cloaked in Red" go to Vivian Vande Velde's website here, and the bit on it on the Marshall Cavendish website here.
  
Thank you very much Marshall Cavendish for the review copy! 
Note to readers receiving a review copy  in no way influences my reviews, these are my honest opinions people!!!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"Eleventh Grade Burns" (Vladimir Tod #4) by Heather Brewer

Vladimir is back for another difficult year at Bathory High. Facing Meredith again is going to be difficult, having broken her heart against his will, and watching Henry spend all of his time with his girlfriend. To make matters way worse, the slayer that almost took his life in freshman year is back- as well as his old best friend. Yeah, Joss is back. Vlad doesn't know what to think, as he's confused about his feelings toward Joss- he's torn between having him as a best friend- and the wish to get revenge.

Vladimir Tod is a pretty good series, although I hadn't even really thought about it since I read "10th Grade Bleeds" quite a while ago, but when I saw this in the library, I figured it was worth checking out. It was pretty good, as good as the rest of the series! If you want to read about vampires without having to go through a "Twilight" type of thing, then the Vladimir Tod series is a good choice for you. As is Cirque Du Freak. I give this one four stars! :)
For my reviews of the first two books in the series, go here, and here. To find out more about the whole Vladimir Tod series, go to the official Vladimir Tod website, and the author's website.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Skate by Michael Harmon


I knelt beside him and my eyes stung. "Sammy, I'm trying here. I hate this as much as you do, but we can't change it. Not like this. We just have to work, see? Just work hard, and it'll be fine."
Ian McDernmott is not cut out for Morrison High. He's not cut out for any of the things in his life- except for one thing. Taking care of his brother, Sammy.
He's a skater, a punk, the son of a drug addicted woman and a man who walked out before Sammy was born. He is a lot of things.
What he is not? He is not a sports player.
Therefore, the coaches at his sports-dependent school are basically out to get him. When one of them goes to far, Ian punches him in the face, and immediately becomes a criminal.
So he grabs his brother, and "skates". Runs. Runs for their safety, runs for their lives. At least the lives that they had then.
They have to trek to the border of Ohio, to find the only relative that they know is still alive, not including their mother.
But is running really the best option?
And if they find this man... will he be what they expected?
Inlaid in the middle of the of the brick-paged courtyard is the pride of the school: the Morrison High Vikings coat of arms. Every freshman is told in no uncertain terms that if a student is seen stepping onto the tiled emblem as they hustle to class, God himself will blast down past a screen of archangels, run a quick fishbook, and drive a pigskin torpedo through their head. FIre and brimstone be damned, it's the hallowed and speeding football that'll get you every time, and needless to say, I step on it every chance I get.
This was an incredibly excellent book. It was interesting, without being the type of exciting that wears you out, just by reading. It had adventure, conflict, and characters that made you want to keep reading.
It was, however, chock full of swear words. The d-word (which is actually in that quote up there... sorry!) was often used, and actually, so was the F-bomb. So... Be warned, when reading this, if you aren't allowed to, or do not wish to, read swear words.
Despite the swearing, and some... content that might dissuade those sensitive people... this was an awesome book, and I give it five stars.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"I am Number Four" by Pittacus Lore (aka James Frey and Jobie Hughs)

"In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now.

The Nine had to separate and go into hiding. The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next. " -from GoodReads because their summary is better then the one I was going to post.



First things first, I liked "I am Number Four". I liked the characters, liked the storyline, and I thought it was exciting and action-packed. That being said, I give it four stars. The only problem that I have is, while I liked the story, it's not one of those  books that you can't stop thinking about after you read them. I know not all books are like that, but a lot are, and I think usually those are my favorites. After I put the book down, I didn't go, "wow, I can't wait for the sequel" or "can't wait to re-read that" I did like it though. I think I figured out my thoughts on it though- I want to see the movie. The way the book was written, and the way it read for me, I think it will make a good movie, that could actually portray the storyline better then the book. This isn't the first book I've read that I've felt that way about, and really, I still liked it. :) 4STARS. ****


If you'd like to find out more about "I am Number Four" you should visit the official website for the movie and the official website for the book (where you can also read an excerpt of the book).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"The House of the Scorpion" by Nancy Farmer

Matt is a clone. He doesn't know this at the beginning of the novel. He thinks he's a normal child like he see's on tv. He's taken care of by Celia, who he knows as a mother (though she says she is not). He does the things a normal child does, except, he's never really played with children. All he knows is Celia, and his solitary activities. When one day, a group of children come by the house, he can't resist to go see them, and from there... everything changes. He discovers a hard life at the big house. He discovers that he's a clone. He finds that no matter what, he's a clone, he's always going to be treated differently, he's always going to be the odd one. Everyone is afraid of him, disgusted by him, or otherwise.

This powerful novel explores many issues, along with the growing up of this boy/clone. The morality of cloning is a theme. The difference between being what everyone expects you'll be- evil, or dumb, or whatever- and changing their views or living better then that is an ongoing thing too. It was very emotional, with exciting adventures, great twists and turns, and a really well-written in a fresh way type of book. This book has won many awards since it came out in 2002.

I recommend this book! It was really excellent. My friend recommended it. I give it four stars! 4****! 
For more info on "The House of the Scorpion" and Nancy Farmer, check out her website, here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Incarceron" by Catherine Fisher

"Imagine a living prison so vast that it contains corridors and forests, cities and seas. Imagine a prisoner with no memory, who is sure he came from Outside, even though the prison has been sealed for centuries and only one man, half real, half legend, has ever escaped.
Imagine a girl in a manor house in a society where time has been forbidden, where everyone is held in a seventeenth century world run by computers, doomed to an arranged marriage that appals her, tangled in an assassination plot she both dreads and desires.
One inside, one outside But both imprisoned.
Imagine a war that has hollowed the moon, seven skullrings that contain souls, a flying ship and a wall at the world's end.
Imagine the unimaginable. Imagine Incarceron."  - Catherine Fisher's website (I was going to make my own summary, but her's was so perfect!)

I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up at my library after seeing it all over review blogs and such- everyone seemed to be raving about it! The description sounded good, and then I saw an article about Taylor Lautner and Emma Watson starring in the movie, so I had to read it. I loved it! I can't wait to read Sapphique, which I'm going to get ASAP. It was exciting, adventurous, surprising, detailed, emotional, kinda romantic, and read very realistically. Four and a half stars! You should definitely read this if you haven't already!

To find out more about "Incarceron" visit the official website, (the author) Catherine Fisher's website, and the amazon page.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Books to look forward too in 2011 - Cat

Yesterday, on Twitter I posted some titles of book releases coming later this year that I'm looking forward too- whether they're part of a series, or simply because they look interesting. I also know that a lot of book blogs post books they're waiting for to come out every Wednesday, but I like keeping this site to (mainly) reviews- and I'm not sure if I'd have enough books to cover every Wednesday- so I think one post here will be sufficient.

The Book Releases for 2011 (The ones I'm looking forward too)
This list is by no means all inclusive, as the year goes by and as I think about it I'll surely have more :)
(In order of Release Date)


"Between Shades of Gray" by Ruta Sepetys
Release: March 22nd, 2011, Pre-Order on Amazon
Lina's your average 15-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941, until the Soviet officers barge into her home one night and take her dad away. Lina and her family thus embark on a journey to the coldest parts of Siberia to work in under cruel conditions in a work-camp under Stalin's order. She finds hope in art and hopes that the message of her art can reach her father in prison camp- letting him know that she and her family are still alive.
This one looks good! I'm not even completely sure why I'm drawn to it- I like historical YA stuff, but it's not my top genre or anything. It just sounds like a good book!

"Scorpia Rising: An Alex Rider Novel" by Anthony Horowitz 
Release: March  22nd, 2011, Pre-Order on Amazon
Scorpia has been after Alex his whole life, from killing his parents, to trying to make him a traitor. Now they're back- trying to mess with the middle-east."
I've been reading the Alex Rider series, starting with "Stormbreaker" since... a while ago. I think I was probably nine when I started, haha. I really like this series, and look forward to what's going to be the 9th in the series. Honestly, I didn't like "Crocodile Tears" much, however, I really think this series has time to recover (unlike, say, Maximum Ride. Favorite series, turning to fail-whale-ness :( )

"Divergent" by Veronica Roth
Release: May 3rd, 2011, Pre-Order on Amazon
In a dystopian society set in Chicago, people are divided into five factions: Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the self-less), Erudite (the intelligent), and Amity (the peaceful). All sixteen-year-olds are to chose their factions, that they will follow for the rest of their lives, on a certain day. Beatrice makes a decision that surprises everyone. She also harbors a secret, one that might save the one's she loves, or everyone else, while society begins to seemingly unravel- or it could destroy her.
I'm starting to really enjoy Dystopias. It's kind of alarming that it's becoming such a big trend in YA Fiction, but still, I really enjoy Dystopias. (Example: "Matched" by Ally Condie, "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins) This book also looks impressive, the cover's cool, it sounds really exciting. There's also loads of reviews on the internet already for it from people that got their hands on ARCs of it and they all seem to think it's amazing. The author sounds really cool to- this is her first published book and she's only 23. She managed to write this almost 500-page book, in college people!!!

 
"CROSSED" by Ally Condie (sequel to "Matched")
Release: November 1st, 2011, Pre-Order on Amazon
No official summary for me to paraphrase yet, and the cover isn't final, but I can't wait for this book! I really loved "Matched" and can't wait to read more about Cassia and if she finds... well actually, I shouldn't say, because if you haven't read the amazing book that is "Matched" then I don't want to spoil it for you!

Anyway, can't wait for these books to come out, and as soon as I can, I'll read and review them for you guys, our readers! 

The Falconer's Knot by Mary Hoffman


'What a lout!' whispered Sister Veronica. 'You'd think a man who can afford clothes and a horse like that would have better manners.'
It was not the sort of thing that nuns were supposed to say and Chiara was delighted to discover that Sister Veronica had this human side.
When Silvano, a sixteen year old noble, is suspected for a murder he did not commit, his father immediately sends him off to Giardinetto, to find safety in a monastery, until they can prove his innocence. There Silvano finds many things- friendship, love, and adventure- but not safety.

Chiara is under the protection of her brother. Her brother who cannot afford a dowry for her. So he sends her off to Giarinetto- to the home of the Poor Clares, to become a nun.
While she's there, Chiara meets Silvano, who's pretending to be a novice. She immediately sees through his disguise, and finds him to be a kindred spirit.

When people start dying, Silvano knows that he has to find the killer, before he is allowed to go home. But, at a home of the religious, who would kill another?

Then she saw with a shock that this corpse was the drunken man who had laughed at her and Sister Veronica on the road the day before. Chiara felt again how fragile life was, how a vigorous man could be snuffed out in an instant. The thought made her shudder.

The synopsis I provided for this book doesn't do it justice. There are so many interesting story lines, so many different plots and characters, that I think it'd be fairly impossible for me to list them in a timely manner.
On a whole, I enjoyed this book. It was fairly obvious to me who was the killer, and how everything was going to end up, but I enjoyed it anyway. The historical detail was very fascinating, and there was just enough romance to make it appeal in that area, as well. :)
I'd give this book four stars.

As the Minister General performed the committal, he looked around the graveyard and Bonsignore could tell he was thinking it too cramped for the needs of a house that was going to have a murder every week or so.