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Archive for August, 2010

REVIEW! The Iron King.

Aug
30

10 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

The Iron King
Julie Kagawa

FROM THE COVER:

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny – one she could never have imagined…

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

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

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


My rating: 4 stars.

MY THOUGHTS:

Initially, I had high hopes for The Iron King. But the beginning is rushed, information’s unexplained, and the characters show no promise – Meghan is the pettiest character I’ve encountered in a long while, and her best friend, Robbie, has so much potential but is only ever described as a grinning prankster.

Only 35 pages in, and the unbelievable clichés and unrealistic drama appear:

“Then a grin spread across my face and I whooped, leaping into the air. Scott Waldron wanted to see me!”

Really? Whooped and leaped into the air?

And it doesn’t end there. 65 pages into the story and another appears:

“I turned and fled into my room, slamming the door behind me. Flinging myself under my bed-covers, I put the pillow over my head and shook, hoping that when I woke up, things would be normal.”

And another, page 213:

“‘Puck, no.’ I clutched at his sleeve. ‘Don’t fight him. Someone could die.’”

Along with those occasional annoyances, the plot drags. Horrendously. Sticky situations come and go, but I never could determine what purpose they served. It all felt like unnecessary filler – and, unfortunately, not good filler. There’s only so many times I can read a Damsel in Distress-type event…and The Iron King is full of them.

However, more than halfway through the novel, the pace picks up. Interesting characters, like Ash, are introduced, and more of the faery world is explained and described. It had a similar feel to Melissa Marr’s world of fey in Wicked Lovely. This is the saving point for Kagawa’s novel, to me. The descriptions are beautiful and strong, superior to the severely lacking, boring, cliché dialogue. And, surprisingly enough, everything from earlier on in the story is tied together in the end.

The finish is nice, despite being a cliffhanger. The characters shape up, suddenly stronger in their personalities than before, but the romance feels forced and confusing; it blooms as if out of nowhere. Still, it’s sweet to read.

The Iron King is annoying in several ways, but the writing style – save for the dialogue – makes it all worthwhile.

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In other news, I’m back at school, so reviews may be posted slowly. However, I’m going to do my best to keep up!

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Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday (4).

Aug
27

22 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

Book Blogger Hop

I came across the Hop and Follow Friday while I was blog hopping – how appropriate! – and decided to join in on the fun.

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly thing going on over at Crazy-for-Books. Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Parajunkee. If you’re a new blogger, like I am, or have been blogging for a while, stop by the sites and get involved!

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Weekly question: Do you use a rating system for your reviews, and if so, what is it and why?

Yes, I use a rating system based upon 5 stars. You can see a few more details to the right, on the sidebar. I use ratings loosely. I don’t believe that you can judge a book based upon its rating – to me, the review itself is more important.

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REVIEW! Flipped. & 1 month blog-iversary.

Aug
27

6 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

In honor of my blog’s one month anniversary, I decided to review a favorite of mine.

Flipped
Wendelin Van Draanen

FROM THE COVER:

BRYCE:

My mom didn’t understand why it was so
awful that “that cute little girl” had held
my hand. She thought I should be friends
with her. “You like soccer. Why don’t you
go out there and kick the ball around?”

Because I didn’t want to be kicked
around, that’s why. And although I couldn’t
say it like that at the time, I still had
enough sense at age seven and a half to
know that Julianna Baker was dangerous.

JULIANNA:

What did a kiss feel like anyway?
Somehow I knew it wouldn’t be like the
one I got from Mom or Dad at bedtime.
The same species, maybe, but a radically
different beast. Like a wolf and a whippet.
Only science would put them on the same tree.

Looking back, I like to think it was
at least partly scientific curiosity that
made me chase after that kiss, but it was
probably more those blue eyes.


My rating: 5 stars.

MY THOUGHTS:

Wholesome is the best word to describe Van Draanen’s novel. Both Bryce and Julie have such strong personalities that fuel the story and keep it running. Bryce is thoughtful and boyishly confused. Julie is quirky in the loveliest of ways. Together, they’re honest and true to whom they are, as curious young adults.

The writing style of Flipped is crisp and straightforward – nothing fanciful, magical, or extraordinary. It is as pure and fresh as the characters and the plot. The story develops with Bryce and Julie, through both of their viewpoints, and captures the reality of their situation.

It is boy and girl. It is adolescence. It is innocence. It is balance.

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One Lovely Blog Award & Grammar Bit #3.

Aug
25

16 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

Tina, from Book Couture, passed along the One Lovely Blog Award to my blog. So with this, I send her many, many thanks. And also, I hope, more readers. Her blog’s rather new, but it’s fabulous – check it out!

Here’s how it works:

1. Accept the award, then post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know that they have been chosen for this award.

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I’m going to hope there’s no repeats listed here, but carefully scanning each blog to see if you’ve previously won the award makes me a little cross-eyed. Some of them are old finds, some new finds. Either way – repeats or no repeats, new or old – these blogs deserve the award!

1. writer, reader, dreamer.
2. would you like some tea?
3. Trisha’s Book Blog.
4. A Tapestry of Words.
5. Bookspeak.
6. Emilie’s Book World.
7. Oh My Books!
8. Pages of my Life.
9. Planet Print.
10. The Paperback Princess.
11. Une Parole.
12. Bibliophilic Monologues.
13. Down the Rabbit Hole.
14. The Book Girl.

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And yes, another Grammar Bit!

Lie or Lay?

Lie is to recline.

EX. I lie on the ground.

Lay is to place or put.
An object must always follow lay because it is a transitive verb (requires both a subject and one or more objects).

EX. I lay my book on the coffee table.

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REVIEW! Sloppy Firsts.

Aug
24

9 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

Sloppy Firsts
Megan McCafferty

FROM THE COVER:

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy – and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?


My rating: 5 stars.

MY THOUGHTS:

Striking, vivid insight. Jessica is something unlike most characters: painstakingly observant and in tune to her surroundings, yet not abnormally so. But what she sees, and what she feels from what she sees, proves to be life-changing in the most thoughtful ways possible.

Case and point: Marcus Flutie.

Marcus is everything you want, even though you shouldn’t. For every near-perfect aspect he possesses, there’s also an imperfection. He is a character of poise or severe instability – there’s no middle. With Jessica, readers will swoon over his charm, no matter how wrong he may prove to be. Marcus is, if anything, an ingenious character.

The story itself is broken down into the months of the year. However, the pace is brisk, much like Jessica’s thoughts. The dialogue is fitting – neither weak nor strong. And Jessica’s family has such great personality and inclusion overall, which is nice when so many families get put on the backburner in other novels. McCafferty manages to incorporate all elements of Jessica’s life in a lovely way: family, friends and love.

EXTRA: The sequels are Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings and Perfect Fifths.

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REVIEW! Deadly Little Secret.

Aug
24

5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

Deadly Little Secret
Laurie Stolarz

FROM THE COVER:

Some secrets shouldn’t be kept….

Until three months ago, everything about sixteen-year-old Camelia’s life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia’s life becomes far from ordinary.

Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend’s accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She’s reluctant to believe the rumors, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. Instead, she’s inexplicably drawn to Ben…and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he wants to help – but can he be trusted? She knows he’s hiding something…but he’s not the only one with a secret.


My rating: 4 stars.

MY THOUGHTS:

Although leery upon reading the somewhat cheesy and predictable cover-flap, I started reading Deadly Little Secret with an open mind; it’s one thing to be cheesy about romance and school and everyday life, but for me, it’s another to be cheesy about mysteries. A cheesy mystery is a lifeless mystery. It dilutes the suspense. Thankfully, Deadly Little Secret is not a cheesy mystery.

There are two narrative voices: Camelia, and someone unknown. The “Unknown” is told through the use of scratchy, handwritten-like diary entries. Camelia’s voice is nothing special – she’s your typical teenage girl. The “Unknown” is simply strange, in an off-putting way. Mixed interchangeably, the two voices do not read cohesively; sometimes it feels as though they’re coming from two different stories. Yet, that is what keeps the suspense constantly lurking around the corner, so to speak.

The good in all of this is Ben. He’s impossible to read, judge, pinpoint. And yet he still remains an attractive character. You don’t love him, but you don’t hate him. It’s more that you just want him to be around.

The inevitable romance that stems in the novel is unlike most. It’s simpler, truer – in that it doesn’t rely on sexual relations. Just touch. I find this innovative and emotional – that one sense conveys so much.

Deadly Little Secret makes for a nice read, as does its sequel, Deadly Little Lies.

EXTRA: The third in the series, Deadly Little Games, will be released on December 28, 2010.

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REVIEW! Catalyst.

Aug
22

1 COMMENT • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

Catalyst
Laurie Halse Anderson

FROM THE COVER:

Meet Kate Malone – straight-A science and math geek, minister’s daughter, ace long-distance runner, new girlfriend (to Mitchell “Early Decision Harvard” Pangborn III), unwilling family caretaker, and emotional avoidance champion. Kate manages her life by organizing it, as logically as the periodic table. She can handle it all – or so she thinks. Then, things happen like a string of chemical reactions: first, the Malones’ neighbors get burned out of their own home and move in. Kate has to share her room with her nemesis, Teri Litch, and Teri’s little brother. The days are ticking by and she’s still waiting to hear from the only college where she’s applied: MIT. Kate feels that her life is spinning out of control – and then, something occurs that truly blows it all apart.


My rating: 4 stars.

MY THOUGHTS:

Catalyst is full of blunt, raw emotion.

The plot is rough-going, and at times, the same goes for the characters. For most of the story, Kate is detached from both her life and the reader – but that’s her purpose. When you think you know her, another layer reveals itself. Teri is readable, although not as strong of a character as Kate.

Throughout the course of the book the writing remains simple, but plaintive. The dialogue is slow. Anderson creates the tone through narration instead. But it’s this narration – Kate’s personal voice – that encompasses the story and keeps it alive.

Depressing but hopeful, Catalyst offers emotional insight that other novels lack.

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REVIEW! The Half-Life of Planets.

Aug
22

5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

The Half-Life of Planets
Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

FROM THE COVER:

Liana is a girl with a reputation. She’s also an aspiring planetary scientist. So one summer Liana, the kissing addict, decides to conduct an experiment. She’s going to refrain from locking lips and use her mouth for talking instead. She’s pretty sure it will be easy. That is, until Hank comes along.

Hank is a boy with Asperger’s syndrome. He’s funny – sometimes without intending to be – and more than a little awkward. So he can tell you all about bands called Love and Kiss, but not about loving or kissing. He also may have difficulty closing his mouth long enough to kiss anyone.

It would appear that Hank and Liana are in for an interesting summer—if the planets align.


My rating: 5 stars.

MY THOUGHTS:

A true page turner: Franklin and Halpin create perfect balance between entertainment and insight. Yes, perfect.

Liana is, surprisingly, far from the one dimensional “Smart & Pretty Girl” Mary Sue you might peg her to be. There’s more to her than brains and being a kissing addict; it takes a short while for that to become apparent, but in the end, it makes sense. It fits her just right. She’s the character you want to hate but can’t, because she recognizes her own flaws – she just doesn’t know how to correct them, or if she wants to. And you can’t help but give her credit.

On the other end of the character spectrum, there’s Hank. You can’t help but adore him. He’s comic relief, but also genuinely funny and straightforward – whether he means to be or not. He’s incredibly different in comparison to the male main characters in other novels, but in the best possible way. His personality is transferred from the pages to the reader. Essentially, Hank is more than a character; he may as well be real. True to himself and his quirks, he’s the one to admire.

The writing relies heavily on the dialogue, and less on description, but it works. The dialogue is both sharp and fun. And frankly, while the plot works nicely, Liana and Hank are so likable, real, and overall a great duo, that I feel as though I wouldn’t mind reading about any specific event, so long as they’re both involved.

Bottom line is, The Half-Life of Planets is a great new novel, with vivid, unforgettable characters and a plot that – although predictable – allows them to shine.

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Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday (3).

Aug
20

24 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

Book Blogger Hop

I came across the Hop and Follow Friday while I was blog hopping – how appropriate! – and decided to join in on the fun.

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly thing going on over at Crazy-for-Books. Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Parajunkee. If you’re a new blogger, like I am, or have been blogging for a while, stop by the sites and get involved!

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Weekly question: How many blogs do you follow?

Roughly 50, at the moment. But I’m sure that number will increase as soon as I get a chance to look through the Linky list both at the Hop and Follow Friday. I don’t like to get out of hand with following, because I enjoy perusing and commenting on all of the blogs that I follow; I prefer to be an active follower, rather than merely a follower for the sake of following.

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Embracing e-books?

Aug
19

14 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

I don’t normally type up random posts for this blog, as I prefer to keep it primarily about my book reviews. However, I came across an interesting article that I thought I’d share – don’t worry, it’s book-related.

“Barnes and Noble didn’t evolve enough.”

If you didn’t already know, Barnes and Noble has been steadily losing money and shares – so much so, that it put itself up for sale.

According to the article, Amazon and other online booksellers stole a vast amount of business from Barnes and Noble because of their accessibility, good reputations, and overall cheaper prices. While this makes perfect sense to me, I have one problem:

“My hunch is that B&N never really embraced the Internet or e-books, tied as it was to the old-fashioned world of physical books and stores. As B&N focused on managing decline, a much more nimble Amazon could concentrate exclusively on the new world it was forming. B&N needed to destroy its business model to prevail. Now it is probably too late. There is a lesson for all businesses here.”


Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer a tangible book, with pages I can delicately turn, than an e-reader like the Nook or Kindle. I’m not at all against e-readers, because I do understand their functionality, practicality and appeal, but I am against the promotion of there only being e-readers. I’ve never quite understood why it has to be one or the other: e-readers/e-books or, well, books. Personally, I feel the two can co-exist. I don’t think one needs to outshine the other; each has their pros and cons.

As for Barnes and Noble, its decline wasn’t nearly as rapid as Borders’, so it must have been doing something right. I think when it comes down to it, people are siding with what’s most inexpensive, the best deal. Sure, you’ll drop a good two to three hundred dollars for an e-reader, but after that initial cost, books will be a steal. Regular books, however, will continue providing comfort for the old-fashioned, but at much higher prices.

So what do you think? Should Barnes and Noble be catering to the e-reading future? Can e-books and books co-exist?

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