August 29, 2010

REVIEW! The Iron King.

The Iron King
Julie Kagawa


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.


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.


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!

August 27, 2010

Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday (4).

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!


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.


August 26, 2010

REVIEW! Flipped. & 1 month blog-iversary.

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

Wendelin Van Draanen



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.


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.


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.

August 25, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award & Grammar Bit #3.

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.


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.


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.

August 24, 2010

REVIEW! Sloppy Firsts.

Sloppy Firsts
Megan McCafferty


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.


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.

REVIEW! Deadly Little Secret.

Deadly Little Secret
Laurie Stolarz


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.


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.

August 22, 2010

REVIEW! Catalyst.

Laurie Halse Anderson


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.


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.

REVIEW! The Half-Life of Planets.

The Half-Life of Planets
Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin


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.


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.

August 19, 2010

Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday (3).

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!


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.


Embracing e-books?

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?

August 18, 2010

REVIEW! Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie.

Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie
Maggie Stiefvater


Remember us,

so sing the dead,

lest we remember you …

James Morgan has an almost unearthly gift for music. And it has attracted Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and then feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. James has plenty of reasons to fear the faeries, but as he and Nuala collaborate on an achingly beautiful musical composition, James finds his feelings towards Nuala deepening. But the rest of the fairies are not as harmless. As Halloween – the day of the dead – draws near, James will have to battle the Faerie Queen and the horned king of the dead to save Nuala’s life and his soul.

My rating: 4 stars.


Beautifully crafted magic, brimming with life and discovery. Ballad’s plot is not all too predictable, yet not all too solid. Much is left unexplained; the details I needed can only be found in Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception, which is the first book. Unfortunately for me, I’ve yet to read Lament – which most explains my utter confusion concerning Deirdre “Dee” Monaghan.

What is her deal? and Why is she so important to James? are only two of the many, many questions that fluttered in my mind whenever Dee happened to appear in the story – which wasn’t very often. It got to the point that I wondered why she needed to make appearances at all. I understand her purpose, but it didn’t come through until the end, and at that point, I’d already had enough of her. Dee is interspersed throughout the story in the form of unsent – and dreadfully grammatically incorrect – text messages (all addressed to James). From these text messages, and her pointless/random appearances, I’d gathered that she’s an annoying, unstable, petty girl of a character. Then, almost as if out of nowhere, I’m told by James that she’s actually intellectual and driven.

Let’s just say this didn’t add up to me.

James, on the other hand, is a refreshing change from many other YA male characters – he’s spunky, intelligent, and yet, still a typical boy. Stiefvater characterizes him well, without overdoing it on the snarky dialogue.

And then there’s Nuala. Not only did I find her annoying, but also too changeable. Nuala is meant to be different from other fey, but the changes she goes through so suddenly are predictable and transparent. It felt more like she had to change, just to carry along the plot.

The relationship between Nuala and James was, at first, endearing and light. Later, it escalated into a love that didn’t seem fitting. It felt as though because there was no other important female character, she had to fulfill the role of love interest.

What really enhanced Ballad was the writing itself: fluid, beautiful descriptions and purposeful dialogue. These save the book, as a whole. Less than thrilling characters were not enough to impact my overall liking of the novel, but came dangerously close to doing so.

August 17, 2010

News & Grammar Bit #2.

I’ve been passed along the Versatile Blogger Award again! Many thanks to Jill, from Nymfaux, and Danya at A Tapestry of Words! Be sure to check out their blogs.

You can check out my original Versatile Blogger Award post here.


In other news, Trisha at Trisha’s Book Blog has started a weekly post, titled Link Your Reviews. It’s a new, collective way to see reviews that you might have missed. If you follow a lot of blogs, you know how difficult it is to keep track of each and every posted review passing through your Blog Updates. So Trisha’s weekly Linky allows any blogger to add any of their reviews so fellow bloggers can stop by, scan the list, and find a review for exactly what they’re looking for.

There’s a few reviews already posted, including one of my own, but Link Your Reviews needs more promotion, so stop by!


Lastly, I’ll leave you with a Grammar Bit!

i.e. or e.g.?

i.e. is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase, meaning “that is.”
It follows a statement to indicate that there will be an explanation following.

EX. I read ten books in a week, i.e., five per day.

It is most commonly misused in following a statement to list examples.

EX. I like animals, i.e., dogs, cats, horses…

e.g. is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase, meaning “for example.”
It follows a statement, used in place of the phrase, “for example.”

EX. An eclectic reader enjoys many genres, e.g., YA, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi.

August 15, 2010

REVIEW! I Heart You, You Haunt Me.

I Heart You, You Haunt Me
Lisa Schroeder


Girl meets boy.
Girl loses boy.
Girl gets boy back …
… sort of.

Ava can’t see or touch him,
unless she’s dreaming.
She can’t hear his voice,
except for the faint whispers in her mind.
Most would think she’s crazy, but she knows he’s here.

The boy Ava thought she’d spend the rest of her life with.
He’s back from the dead,
as proof that love truly knows no bounds.

My rating: 4 stars.


Simply bittersweet. A girl’s story of love, loss, acceptance and freedom.

Schroeder’s novel is told in almost poetic stanzas, keeping the story moving at a brisk pace. But it is this style that evokes emotion for the reader. Side by side, the words would appear bland, ineffective. In stanzas, sentences are deconstructed and words may stand alone, giving each piece of information new meaning, focus, and importance. The smallest gesture – a CD player turning on – suddenly offers hope. A name – Jackson – is destructive.

Although at times a bit repetitive, Schroeder manages to tweak the scenes just right so that readers will want to move forward.

August 14, 2010

REVIEW! The Everafter.

The Everafter
Amy Huntley


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

Her first kiss.

A trip to Disney World.

Her sister’s wedding.

A disastrous sleepover.

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

My rating: 4 stars.


The Everafter is a nice, solid novel; it gives and it takes. It provides a unique outlook on death and what one can do while dead. Usually common objects have meaning for the living, but Huntley transfers that concept to Maddy in her state of limbo, which made for a more interesting read. Because the objects are common, and because Maddy cannot always access the memories they unlock, you can’t help but want to know what special meaning(s) they could possibly hold over her life and death.

Yet, while Maddy is able to connect with her former life, I was unable to fully connect to her – and the other characters – not because she’s unlikeable, but because she’s as transparent as the void she lives in. She and the rest of the characters, including her boyfriend and best friend, seem rather underdeveloped. The story caters more to the plot.

By the end, things fall into place much more quickly than I expected, thereby becoming predictable. But again, it’s a solid story: different, interesting, nice. The good manages to outshine the bad.

August 13, 2010

Grammar Bit #1.

As if my blog’s header wasn’t enough of a clue, I’m a total grammar fanatic that avidly promotes the use of proper grammar. As both a writer and reader, I can’t help but fixate on grammar in all its various forms. Without it, our words and stories are jumbled, chaotic messes in need of both direction and organization.

So call me a stickler, but grammar matters.

Every now and then, I’m going to be posting Grammar Bits – short, helpful and/or interesting grammar tidbits. Although I believe in the importance of grammar, I do not believe in the technique of overloading readers with long lists of grammatical errors and ways to fix them. I will not be doing that here. I’d rather have someone take away with them one thing about grammar – and possibly learn from it – than feel as though they can’t be bothered to scour a never ending list.

Also, because Grammar Bit is a new addition to my blog, feedback is most definitely welcome!


A colon (typically) follows a complete sentence.
Note - I say “typically” because there are, of course, other uses for colons – separation between a novel’s title and subtitle, citing biblical passages, etc.

EX. I have one word for you: zombies.

When used incorrectly, a complete sentence does not precede the colon.

EX. I like a lot of books and they are: Twilight, Harry Potter, etc. etc.

“I like a lot of books and they are” is not a complete sentence, and therefore a colon should not be used directly after.

Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday (2).

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!


Weekly question: How many books do you have on your 'to be read shelf’?

Well, in actuality, there's no shelf. Just Barnes and Noble bags scattered on the floor of my room - it's not the cleanest way to keep track of my books, but it's my own system.

I have about 3 books on my 'to be read' list (I don't like to get backed up on my reading):

Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater.

The Half-life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin.

Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.) by Francine Prose.

Of course, there are plenty of school books I should also be reading, but those aren't worth listing.


August 12, 2010

REVIEW! Project 17.

(Hardback and paperback versions, respectively.)

Project 17
Laurie Faria Stolarz


High atop Hathorne Hill, just outside of Boston, sits Danvers State Hospital. Built in 1878 and closed in 1992, this abandoned mental institution is rumored to be the birthplace of the lobotomy. Locals have long believed the place to be haunted. They tell stories about the unmarked graves on the premises, and of cold winds felt throughout its underground tunnels. And then there are the treasures found inside, eerie remnants of its former patients: journals, hair combs, bars of soap, even old medical records – all left behind for trespassers to view.

On the eve of the hospital’s demolition, six teens break in to spend the night and film a movie about their adventures. For Derik, it’s an opportunity to win a filmmaking contest and save himself from a future of flipping burgers at his parents’ diner. For the others, it’s a chance to be on TV, or for a night with no parents. But what starts as a playful dare quickly escalates into a frenzy of nightmarish action. Behind the crumbling walls and down every dark passageway, these high schoolers will unravel the mysteries of those who once lived there and of the spirits who still might.

My rating: 4 stars.


Think Are You Afraid of the Dark? – you know, that show from the good ol’ 90s – crossed with reality. Danvers State actually existed, and Stolarz conducted research for the novel. It’s still a fictional story, but the essence of Danvers has been incorporated.

Project 17 is thrilling, entertaining, and has a nice pace that keeps the suspense building. Essentially, the six characters fulfill some stereotypical role, but in a way that’s neither annoying nor boring; in fact, the stereotypes work well in the situations they’re given.

Each chapter is told by one of the six characters, in random orders. This, I find, is refreshing and keeps the reader more involved – especially because the characters are not all experiencing the same event, so readers don’t have to read about the same thing from multiple viewpoints.

It’s, at times, predictable. Sometimes even cheesy. And yet, Stolarz introduces the right amount of suspense to keep readers interested.

Imagine you’re watching a horror film in your mind. You may know what’s just around the corner, but you curiously prod forth anyway.

August 11, 2010

REVIEW! Peter and the Starcatchers.

Peter and the Starcatchers
Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson


In an evocative and fast-paced adventure on the high seas and on a faraway island, an orphan boy named Peter and his mysterious new friend, Molly, overcome bands of pirates and thieves in their quest to keep a fantastical secret safe and save the world from evil[…]

Aboard the Never Land is a trunk that holds a magical substance that amazes – just a sprinkle, and wounds heal; just a dusting, and people can fly.

Roiling seas and dangerous thunderstorms are the backdrop for battles at sea. Bone-crushing waves eventually land our characters on Prawn Island – where the action really heats up.

My rating: 5 stars.


I’ve always been a fan of J.M. Barrie’s classic, Peter Pan. So although skeptical about the idea of anyone tackling the challenge of creating a prequel, I cracked open Peter and the Starcatchers and was pleasantly surprised and entertained.

The novel is marketed for younger audiences, specifically children in middle school, but that does nothing to detract from the story; even if you're accustomed to reading teen and/or adult novels, don't let this deter you from picking it off the shelf! The writing is simple but fitting. The plot never lags – readers switch between the adventures of Peter, Molly, Black Stache and the other orphan boys. Each character strikes a familiar chord, and every major event will leave you with a satisfying Aha! moment as the pieces come together – from before Peter arrives to the island of Neverland to the start of Barrie’s classic.

Barry and Pearson craftily concoct the story of Peter Pan’s coming-to-be in magically adventurous ways that do Barrie’s original novel justice.

EXTRA: The sequels, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, and Peter and the Sword of Mercy are just as wonderful.

REVIEW! In the Break.

In the Break
Jack Lopez


It's daunting to find out that the whole day's big-wave surfing was a warm-up, a passing of time, a pause for the real thing. And Jamie was in position to ride the real thing. Jamie was committed. I was scared, stuck halfway in, halfway out, in never-never land.

When Juan’s best friend, Jamie, has a violent fight with his stepfather, he decides to leave town until things settle down. Juan, Jamie, and Jamie’s sister, Amber, head south to Mexico. Along the way, they search for the perfect wave, finding romance, tragedy, and their own sense of peace among the waves.

My rating: 3 stars.


I’m all for unhappy endings every now and then, but In the Break is one big unhappy ending. There’s substance and realistic characters, but at every opportunity presented for them to shine, the story takes a turn that reverts them back into lifeless states.

The writing itself shows promise, and at times is beautiful in its own depressing way. But it’s not quite enough to save the story as a whole. It’s a chain reaction: the plot drags, causing the characters to drag, causing the reader to drag.

August 10, 2010

REVIEW! Secret Society Girl: An Ivy League Novel.

(Hardback & paperback versions, respectively.)

Secret Society Girl: An Ivy League Novel
Diana Peterfreund


Elite Eli University junior Amy Haskel never expected to be tapped into Rose & Grave, the country’s most powerful—and notorious—secret society. She isn’t rich, politically connected, or…well, male.

So when Amy receives the distinctive black-lined invitation with the Rose & Grave seal, she’s blown away. Could they really mean her?

Whisked off into an initiation rite that’s a blend of Harry Potter and Alfred Hitchcock, Amy awakens the next day to a new reality and a whole new set of “friends”—from the gorgeous son of a conservative governor to an Afrocentric lesbian activist whose society name is Thorndike. And that’s when Amy starts to discover the truth about getting what you wish for. Because Rose & Grave is quickly taking her away from her familiar world of classes and keggers, fueling a feud, and undermining a very promising friendship with benefits. And that’s before Amy finds out that her first duty as a member of Rose & Grave is to take on a conspiracy of money and power that could, quite possibly, ruin her whole life.

My rating: 5 stars.


Snarky intellect. Charming, diverse characters. And an entertaining plot that progresses smoothly.

Secret Society Girl might appear to be a typical school soap opera, but in actuality it’s a cleverly disguised journey of finding oneself … with the help of a society most people only dream of joining, and an unsolved mystery. I’ve never before read such a successfully integrated mystery in a school setting; it kept the story unique and never permitted a dull moment.

The characters are just as original and lively as the plot. Amy’s sharp and loves her pop culture references, but she goes above and beyond the average Mary Sue, making her likeable and relatable. The society crew that she meets along the way has plenty diversity to spare – it’s incredibly difficult to grow bored of any of them, and just when you think that you might, they surprise you; all of them have such distinctive voices that bring them alive.

Peterfreund’s novel adds depth to a normally shallow subject, and does so with both class and spunk.

EXTRA: The sequels, Under the Rose, Rites of Spring (Break), and Tap & Gown are also worth checking out.

REVIEW! Radiant Shadows.

Radiant Shadows
Melissa Marr


Hunger for nourishment.
Hunger for touch.
Hunger to belong.

Half-human and half-faerie, Ani is driven by her hungers.

Those same appetites also attract powerful enemies and uncertain allies, including Devlin. He was created as an assassin and is brother to the faeries’ coolly logical High Queen and to her chaotic twin, the embodiment of War. Devlin wants to keep Ani safe from his sisters, knowing that if he fails, he will be the instrument of Ani’s death.

Ani isn’t one to be guarded while others fight battles for her, though. She has the courage to protect herself and the ability to alter Devlin’s plans – and his life. The two are drawn together, each with reason to fear the other and to fear for one another. But as they grow closer, a larger threat imperils the whole of Faerie. Will saving the faery realm mean losing each other?

My rating: 3 stars.


I truly believed Radiant Shadows – the 4th book in the Wicked Lovely series – would shine like the first. And again I was left feeling disappointed. Wicked Lovely introduces the wonderful world of Faery to its readers, but with each sequel the world dissipates, and Radiant Shadows was no exception.

I had high hopes because the book revolves around Ani, who’s a Hound. In the previous installments, the Hounds get little recognition, and I was curious to learn more about them and how they work. And while Marr does provide some insight in the beginning, by the end of the book it gets left behind in the wake of drama and romance between Ani and Devlin.

Don’t get me wrong – Ani and Devlin are both very interesting characters and have backgrounds unlike any of the others. That is, until their relationship progresses. As they grow closer, the story loses its personality; although a story about Ani and Devlin, I couldn’t help but feel as though their relationship with each other was too reminiscent of the relationships in the prior books. It began to feel as though I’d already experienced reading this before, and because of that, I yearned to see the other characters make appearances. When they didn’t (save for a very select few), it only made me care less about Ani and Devlin.

It’s beginning to feel as though every character is pre-paired with another, which is in turn becoming both predictable and unbelievable. Same goes for the plot. Radiant Shadows started off quickly, then just as quickly tapered off and dragged until the very end. Instead of a lot of information about Faery being released in each installment, only snippets are getting through, thereby forcing readers to wait for the answers to their questions.

As a stand-alone novel, Radiant Shadows isn’t much of a disappointment, except for its slow pace and predictability. However, as part of a series it leaves much to be desired, especially since its predecessors offer much more hope.

August 9, 2010

REVIEW! Already Dead.

Already Dead
Charlie Huston


Those stories you hear? The ones about things that only come out at night? Things that feed on blood, feed on us? Got news for you: they’re true. Only it’s not like the movies or an old man Stoker’s storybook. It’s worse. Especially if you happen to be one of them. Just ask Joe Pitt.

There’s a shambler on the loose. Some fool who got himself infected with a flesh-eating bacteria is lurching around, trying to munch on folks’ brains. Joe hates shamblers, but he’s still the one who has to deal with them. That’s just the kind of life he has. Except afterlife might be better word.

From the Battery to the Bronx, and from river to river, Manhattan is crawling with Vampyres. Joe is one of them, and he’s not happy about it. Yeah, he gets to be stronger and faster than you, and he’s tough as nails to kill. But spending his nights trying to score a pint of blood to feed the Vyrus that’s eating at him isn’t his idea of a good time. And Joe doesn’t make it any easier on himself. Going his own way, refusing to ally with the Clans that run the undead underside of Manhattan – it ain’t easy. It’s worse once he gets mixed up with the Coalition – the city’s most powerful Clan – and finds himself searching for a poor little rich girl who’s gone missing in Alphabet City.

Now the Coalition and the girl’s high-society parents are breathing down his neck, anarchist Vampyres are pushing him around, and a crazy Vampyre cult is stalking him. No time to complain, though. Got to find that girl and kill that shambler before the whip comes down … and before the sun comes up.

My rating: 4 stars.


Initially, I was hesitant to read this book. It was suggested to me, and after doing some quick research, I found that Already Dead is located in the Mystery section. Although I have nothing against mysteries, I thought that the mystery aspect of the story would overshadow the vampire aspect. Thankfully, this was/is not the case.

Huston’s writing style is unlike any I’ve come across. Curt. Firm. Strong. He gives detail where detail is needed. The plot is always moving, never stalling. Action and tension never cease. And the characters are great – so different from one another that once one is introduced, you crave to know more, whether they’re likeable or not.

It’s vampires – or rather, Vampyres – in a way you’ve never seen; this is what gives Huston the upper hand. You’ll continuously want to know where his story is taking you.

Already Dead is the first book in a five book series.

EXTRA: No Dominion, Half the Blood of Brooklyn, Every Last Drop, and My Dead Body are the following books in the series, in order.

August 8, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award.

Many, many thanks to Down The Rabbit Hole for passing along the Versatile Blogger Award to my blog!

This award comes with some strings attached:

1. Thank the person who gave you the reward and link back to them in your post.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Pass the award to 15 recently discovered blogs.
4. Contact the bloggers to let them know about the reward.


Seven things about me:

1. I absolutely love to watch cooking shows – especially on Food Network. All the time. Any time. I’m not much of a cook, but I try. I prefer to be a taste-tester.

2. I love to travel. Some day I hope to study abroad in London. I’d also love to visit Italy, Paris and Greece.

3. I hate the heat. If there’s one season I favor, it’s Winter. I’ll take freezing cold and snow over humidity and heat any day.

4. Coffee. I can’t get enough of it! I can’t imagine ever giving it up.

5. Videogames. Enough said.

6. I dislike parting from my books, so I buy every one I read.

7. I dislike re-reading books.


I’ll be passing this award to the following blogs listed. Unfortunately, I haven’t discovered enough new blogs that have yet to be given this award, and hopefully none of these are repeats! Either way, they're great blogs that you should check out.

1. Bibliophilic Monologues.
2. Bookworm Boulevard.
3. Chapters.
4. Girl In Between.
5. No Rest for the Wicked.
6. Read Sam, Read!
7. The Book Girl.

August 7, 2010

REVIEW! GRAMMAR EDITION! Eat, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Lynne Truss


A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

“Why?” asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says, at the door. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

So, punctuation really does matter, even if it is only occasionally a matter of life and death.

My rating: 4 stars.


If it wasn’t already apparent, I’m a grammar fanatic – so much, that I enjoy reading books about grammar (and then passing them on to others!). One of my favorites is Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Not sure where to place that pesky apostrophe? Could that sentence use a comma somewhere? Having trouble properly forming quotations, placing semicolons or dashes? No problem. Lynne Truss can guide the way.

Usually when people discover that I’ve read this book, they think I’m too much of a grammar fanatic and that they could never possibly read an entire book about something they’d rather leave Spell Check to fix. But you don’t have to be interested in grammar to read this book. I often suggest it to others simply as a guide; I don’t expect anyone to sit down and read through its entirety in one night. Instead, I suggest that others use it for when they’re struggling with any grammatical problem(s).

What I like about Eats, Shoots & Leaves is that Truss doesn’t merely show you the grammatically correct use of any punctuation mark. She also gives examples as to how they’re used incorrectly, which I believe is important for readers to see so they can learn from their mistakes.

Whether you want to read it for pleasure or use it as a pocket guide for your grammar woes, Eats, Shoots & Leaves will not disappoint.

August 6, 2010

Book Blogger Hop & Follow Friday.

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!


Weekly question: Do you listen to music when you read? If so, what are your favorite reading tunes?

Oddly enough, I cannot listen to music while I read, unlike many others that I know. When I read I prefer to be in a quiet setting. Most any sound will disturb me while I'm reading. Unless, however, I become so engrossed in the novel that everything around me becomes invisible.

I prefer to be a more secluded reader - just me and my book.


REVIEW! The Blue Girl.

The Blue Girl
Charles de Lint


Seventeen-year-old Imogene’s tough, rebellious nature has caused her more harm than good – so when her family moves to Newford, she decides to reinvent herself. She won’t lose her punk/thrift-shop look, but she’ll try to avoid the gangs, work a little harder at school, and maybe even stay out of trouble for a change.

Her first friend at Redding High, Maxine, is her exact opposite. Everyone considers Maxine a straight-A loser, but as Imogene soon learns, it’s really Maxine’s mother whose rules make it impossible for her to speak up for her true self. Oddly, the friendship works. Imogene helps Maxine loosen up, and in turn, Maxine keeps Imogene in line.

But trouble shows up anyway. Imogene catches the eye of Redding’s bullies, as well as the school’s resident teenage ghost. Then she gets on the wrong side of a gang of malicious fairies. When her imaginary childhood friend, Pelly, actually manifests, Imogene realizes that the impossible is all too real. And it’s dangerous. If she wants to survive high school – not to mention stay alive – she has to fall back on the skills she picked up running with a gang. Even with Maxine and some unexpected allies by her side, will she be able to make it?

My rating: 5 stars.


Insightful. Imaginative. Compelling. I cannot possibly list all of the wonderful words to describe this novel. Charles de Lint has written many other short stories and novels – of which I’ve read several – but I feel that none of them have quite reached the same level of amazing to me. Before The Blue Girl, I strayed from Fantasy; I figured Harry Potter was as far as I was going to get with the genre. Yet, when I read the cover-flap, I couldn’t help but want to know more. The flap reads as a whole lot of weird goings-on, but de Lint pulls every concept together beautifully.

The Blue Girl is told through the voices of Imogene, her friend Maxine, and the school ghost, Adrian, alternatively. De Lint throws you into the story, through the use of “Now” and then gives you the answers to your wonderings through the use of “Then” with all of the character’s chapters. I loved that I never became bored with one character’s point of view; de Lint alternates the voices of the chapters differently – there’s no set pattern as to whether Imogene, Maxine or Adrian appear next.

The writing itself is innovative and descriptive in a way that, I think, works well with the Fantasy components – if you’re the type to normally stray from Fantasy, I feel that de Lint’s novel(s) offer a nice transition into the genre. By the time you’re halfway through, you’ve forgotten you disliked Fantasy.
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