Because who can afford books in this economy?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent

I won it from the online promotion. Slow week, but oh well. Hopefully I'll get to the library sometime soon...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: 2004
Source: the library
Synopsis from
Macy's summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development.

But Macy's plans don't anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or . . . Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn't fit Macy's life at all so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So . . . happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before her eyes the year before?

Sarah Dessen delivers a page-turning novel that carries readers on a roller coaster of denial, grief, comfort, and love as we watch a broken but resilient girl pick up the pieces of her life and fit them back together. 

I'm just going to start by telling you that this is a reread. Yes, I've read it before. "Then why are you reviewing it?" you may ask. Well, when I read it last it was at least three years ago, so consequently I remembered next to nothing about it. Is it weird that I'm happy about that? Because I am, I'm really really happy that I could read this book again like I was reading it for the first time.

I love Sarah Dessen. She is one of my favorite authors, and now this is one of my favorite books by her, next to This Lullaby. The way she writes is just spectacular. One passage in particular stood out to me:
            We Just sat there for a second, none of us talking. In the middle of the clearing, someone was playing with a flashlight, the beam moving across the tree overhead, showing bits and pieces of branches and leaves, a glimpse her and there, then darkness again. I knew that in the last few minutes everything had changed. I'd tried to hold myself apart, showing only what I wanted, doling out bits and pieces of who I was. But that only works for so long. Eventually, even the smallest fragments can't help but make a whole.

When I read it I just thought that it was beautiful. The imagery especially. I could never write something like that, something so perfect. Which is why her books blow mind mind. They not only have a good story, but good writing to match, something that's hard to find.

Anyway, on to this story in particular. Macy was a good protagonist. At times I wanted to smack some sense in to her, or her mother, but that's just part of the experience. Wes What do I say about Wes? Basically he's everything that you could ever want in a guy. Ever. Smart, nice, caring, an artist, sa-woon worthy. What more is there to ask for? All of the other characters were awesome too, and so three dimensional. All of them had TONS of personality and they weren't just there doing nothing. That's another thing that I like about Sarah Dessen books.

The story line was, of course, great. Macy's dad died about a year and a half before the book starts. She and her mother really haven't gotten over it, just pushed it aside and only focused on work and school. Macy's "perfect" boyfriend Jason is going away to Brain Camp for the summer and Macy takes over his job at the library. Just another boring summer. Until she meets the workers of Wish Catering and Jason breaks up with her because she's getting too attached. Then her summer's not so boring anymore, and she learns a lot about herself along the way.

Basically this book was spectacular. I'm happy that I read it again.

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Overall: 50/50 A+++
Title/Cover: 5/5 The title is perfect, and the cover is nice too.
Hooked: Immediately
Recommend to: Everyone!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Crash Into Me by Albert Borris

Title: Crash Into Me
Author: Albert Borris
Published: July 2009
Source: the library
Synopsis from
Owen, Frank, Audrey, and Jin-Ae have one thing in common: they all want to die. When they meet online after each attempts suicide and fails, the four teens make a deadly pact: they will escape together on a summer road trip to visit the sites of celebrity suicides...and at their final destination, they will all end their lives. As they drive cross-country, bonding over their dark impulses, sharing their deepest secrets and desires, living it up, hooking up, and becoming true friends, each must decide whether life is worth living--or if there's no turning back.

Crash Into Me was an interesting novel. It was about, in a word, suicide. I'd checked it out before and hadn't gotten around to reading it, but I decided to give it another chance. I'm glad that I did. It's definitely not an easy book to read. There are a lot of morbid things in here, and a lot of depressing thoughts, but I thought that everything was well balanced out.

The book is from Owen's point of view, which I wasn't expecting. Based on the synopsis I thought that it would be split between the four main characters. I guess that it's good that Owen was the only narrator, because if it was split between all of them there would probably have been less drama and surprise in parts. Owen was an interesting narrator. He's very introverted and doesn't talk much. Audrey is loud and outspoken, not worried about what other people think. Frank is an alcoholic and doesn't think that he's worthy of anything. Jin-Ae is a lesbian, and she feels like she can't come out.

They all have reasons for wanting to commit suicide, and they've all tried before. They became friends online and set up cross country trip where they look at the graves of famous people who committed suicide as a way to meet each other in person. And as a last stand before they kill themselves. Along the way they learn a lot about themselves and each other. Do they commit suicide? You won't know until you read.

The writing is this book wasn't spectacularly good or spectacularly bad. It was just average. I thought that there was pretty good imagery, and I felt like I knew Owen pretty well by the end. I liked how there were bits of their previous online conversations thrown in randomly, but I felt like it was too "chat speak." i no that i dont talk lik ths online. But maybe that's just me?

Characters: 9/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 7/10
Ending: 7/10
Overall: 41/50 B-
Cover/Title: 4/5 I don't really get the title, but the cover is true to the book.

Hooked by: I wasn't ever really hooked, just intrigued.
Recommend to: anyone who wants to know a bit more about why teens commit suicide.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting on Wendesday (5)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm waiting on:

Synopsis from
New sparks will fly in the sequel to Simone Elkeles’s breakout book Perfect Chemistry

When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for a year, he doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him at a high school in Colorado. Carlos likes living his life on the edge and wants to carve his own path—just like Alex did. Then he meets Kiara Westford. She doesn’t talk much and is completely intimidated by Carlos’ wild ways. As they get to know one another, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, and refuses to admit that she might be getting to him. But he soon realizes that being himself is exactly what Kiara needs right now.

With new characters to fall in love with and the same hot romance found in Perfect Chemistry, Simone Elkeles has crafted another sure-fire hit for teens.

I LOVED Perfect Chemistry, and this one sounds just as good, if not better! I pre-ordered it, but it doesn't come out until April 27th.... How will I survive???

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti

Title: The Fortunes of Indigo Skye
Author: Deb Caletti
Published: March 2008
Synopsis from
Eighteen-year-old Indigo is looking forward to becoming a full-time waitress after high school graduation, but her life is turned upside down by a large check given to her by a customer who appreciates that she cares enough to scold him about smoking.

This is my first Deb Caletti, and it makes me wonder why on earth I waited so long to pick up one of her books. It was a really enjoyable book, and I can tell that Caletti is a very talented writer. That being said, it fell a little flat for me.

Let's start with Indigo, the main character. She's supposed to be eighteen. The book starts at the end of her senior year. I really didn't see her as eighteen. At times she was older, at times she was younger. She could be extremely observant, cynical, and wiser than her years at times, especially in the beginning, but she could be whiny, dense, and unable to see her own life at others, towards the end. I definitely liked her better in the beginning, when she was just a normal girl with a normal waitress job and a normal boyfriend. That was interesting to me, her life and the people in it.

Then, near the halfway point, she suddenly gets 2.5 million dollars. Which WHOA is a lot of money. I mean, what do you DO with all of that money? Well, the rest of the book is about that: what Indigo does with the money and how she handles it. Except that felt false to me. I had a hard time believing that as soon as Indigo got money she turned into this whiny ten year old. That she would blow it on things like a singing soap dispenser. I don't know, maybe it's because that's definitely not how I would handle it, so I had a hard time believing that anyone would act like that.

The first half of the book I really enjoyed, the second half, not so much. Overall Indigo was a good main character, but at times I just wanted to smack her over the head. It wasn't a bad book by any means, just not as good as it could have been.

Characters: 7/10
Plot: 7/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Overall: 40/50 B-
Cover/Title: 2/5 The title isn't bad...I just doesn't completely fit the story. The cover is nice, but it had NOTHING to do with the story.
Recommend to: fans of Sarah Dessen
Hooked by: the first few pages

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In My Mailbox (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

This week was a good week!

From the library:
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan (Review here)
Madapple by Christina Meldrum (Reading this now, but not really getting into it. Does it get better?)
 Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
Crash Into Me by Albert Borris
The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn
A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian
The Foreshadowing by Marcus Sedgwick
 And ARC of Forest Born by Shannon Hale

What did you get this week?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

One Lovely Blog Award!


I got this lovely award from Christina at Reading Extensively. Thanks Christina!

The rules are:
  • Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
  • Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  • Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
I'd like to pass this award on to:

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: The Demon's Lexicon
Author: Sarah Rees Brennan
Published: June 2009
Source: The Library
Synopsis from
Nick and his brother, Alan, have spent their lives on the run from magic. Their father was murdered, and their mother was driven mad by magicians and the demons who give them power. The magicians are hunting the Ryves family for a charm that Nick's mother stole -- a charm that keeps her alive -- and they want it badly enough to kill again.

Danger draws even closer when a brother and sister come to the Ryves family for help. The boy wears a demon's mark, a sign of death that almost nothing can erase...and when Alan also gets marked by a demon, Nick is des-perate to save him. The only way to do that is to kill one of the magicians they have been hiding from for so long.

Ensnared in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Nick starts to suspect that his brother is telling him lie after lie about their past. As the magicians' Circle closes in on their family, Nick uncovers the secret that could destroy them all.

Wow, what a book! I'd have to say that it's the best book that I've read lately. Reading from Nick's point of view was very refreshing. It was like being inside the head of the ultimate bad boy, the one that all of the girls swoon over and who you know that you should stay away from. It was nice to not see the story as the swooning girl. Though sometimes I really didn't like Nick at all, but that was okay, in those places you're not supposed to.

All of the characters in this book are extremely complex and real. I don't know how she did it, but I felt like I knew all of the characters. The imagery is really good too. I could see certain scenes, such as the Goblin Market, like I was there. And the plot...

The book starts out relatively straight forward: Nick and Alan are running from magicians with their crazy mother because she has an amulet that they want and if she takes it off she dies. Jamie and Mae come to them for help because weird things have been happening to Jamie. Some things happen and they figure that they have to go hunting for some magicians. By then I figured that the rest of the book was going to be all about the problem presented in the first few chapters. I was way off base. So much more happens. The drama, the mystery surrounding Nick and Alan, the action. It all adds up to an awesome book full of everything that you could ever ask for. I devoured it.

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 8/10
Overall: 46/50 A
Cover/Title: 3/5 I like the title, it shows that the book is the beginning, the explanation. I'm not a big fan of the image. The colors really don't do much for me, and the guy isn't how I picture Nick. I like the font though, and the amulet around is neck is true to the story.
I was hooked: by the fourth chapter
Recommend to: Fans of The Mortal Instruments. There are a lot of similar elements.
Sequel: The Demon's Covenant, coming in May.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Title: Girl in the Arena
Author: Lise Haines
Published: October 2009
Acquired: Bought from
Synopsis from
It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a gladiator’s daughter steps into the arena
Lyn is a neo-gladiator’s daughter, through and through.  Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family.  Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator.  Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but rules—and the GSA—can also turn against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn’s seventh father, he also captures Lyn’s dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him... For fans of The Hunger Games and Fight Club, Lise Haines’ debut novel is a mesmerizing look at a world addicted to violence—a modern world that’s disturbingly easy to imagine. 

This book was a lot different than I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be in the future, not an alternate present time. I was also expecting more fighting from Lyn, but there really wasn't much. The writing style is strange. When a character talks, instead of putting "quotation marks around it", she uses -breaks. for example:
Normal: "I'm reviewing Girl in the Arena," I said. "It's by Lise Haines."
Different: -I'm reviewing Girl in the Arena, I said. -It's by Lise Haines.
That took some getting used to, but once I did there really wasn't a problem.

Despite an explanatory prologue and references throughout the book, I didn't really understand the way the Gladiator organization, Caesar's, worked. It was confusing in places, since I didn't fully understand how the rules and things worked.

Okay, that was the bad, now here's the good. Haines did an excellent job with the characters. Lyn was relateable, and even the secondary characters felt real. The love that Lyn has for her brother was done very well, as was the relationship with her mother. The way the characters acted didn't feel forced or strange, and their emotions felt real. The action in it was clear and straightforward also. I wouldn't say that I loved this book, but it wasn't bad. 
Characters: 9/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 7/10
Overall: 41/50 B-
Cover/Title: 3/5 I think that the title is misleading, and when she is actually in that kind of outfit she doesn't have any hair so....But it will sell. 
I was hooked: In the first chapter.
Recommend to: Hunger Games fans, though this is nowhere close to that perfection. 
Hilarious book trailer here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

 Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm waiting on:


Summary from
Being a kid with wings--constantly on the run--has never been easy, and Max and her flock are getting tenser than ever. First, on a trip to Africa, they meet a mysterious billionaire whose intense scrutiny of the Flock makes her fear the worst. Then, a cryptic message from a young girl arrives, warning them "The sky will fall." And as if an impending apocalypse weren't bad enough, canny birdkid Angel makes a dire prophecy about Max's soul mate: Fang will be the first to die. Max's desperate desire to protect Fang brings the two closer than ever. But can the team weather the storm, or will the turmoil rip them apart for the last time?
I'm a HUGE fan of this series. I can't wait for this one to come out! Although if Fang actually dies I might have to boycott them...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Summary from
Rebecca Bloomwood just hit rock bottom. But she's never looked better....

Becky Bloomwood has a fabulous flat in London's trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season's must-haves. The only trouble is that she can't actually afford it -- not any of it.

I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. When I saw the movie I thought it was cute, but I was sure that the book would be much better. Not so. I think that it's because I got so annoyed with Rebecca. I can't understand how she just kept spending and spending and spending when she knew that she was in debt.

I also don't understand how she managed to get a guy as successful as Luke Brandon when she's so much of an airhead. And the way she handles things like her bank calling (telling them that she has some type of disease) or writing letters (throwing them away) drove me crazy. "Just deal with it already!" was what I wanted to scream everytime she did something like that.

There were some good things of course. Even if she was a bit misguided in some of her actions, Rebecca's heart was always in the right place. And some of the situations she gets into are hilarious. I enjoyed the end of the book the most, when she realizes that she can't keep living like she is and she has to do something about it.

It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't for me. I'm sure that a lot of people would really like it, but I just couldn't get really into it.

Characters: 6/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 7/10
Ending: 9/10
Overall: 38/50 C
Cover: 5/5 It's a cute cover, and it fits the story well.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren!

This week I got...
Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble
I won this from Sara at The Hiding Spot!

Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson 

What did you get this week?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I think you should check out...

She's giving away 10 March releases to 1 winner! If you win you get 10 BRAND NEW books, including If I Fall, The Sky is Everywhere, Brightly Woven, The Body Finder, and more! Is that awesome or what? So go enter!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Willow by Julia Hoban

Summary from
Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow’s parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy—one sensitive, soulful boy—discovers Willow’s secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the “safe” world Willow has created for herself upside down.
Told in an extraordinary fresh voice, Willow is an unforgettable novel about one girl’s struggle to cope with tragedy, and one boy’s refusal to give up on her.

Willow is that book that you can't put down, but you don't know why. It's not full of action and suspense, there's not great mystery to solve, but something compels you to keep reading. And reading. And reading. I think that something that kept me reading was the honesty of the story. The way Julia Hoban took such a hard subject, cutting, and told it so honestly and unflinchingly was amazing. Not to mention grief and sadness Willow faces after her parent's death. That someone could write these things so well amazes me.

I'll admit, I've never understood why people are compelled to physically harm themselves. It just seems so...illogical to me. But by reading this novel I have a bit more of an understanding and can empathize with those people a bit more. Willow is smart, she's grown up the daughter of two professors, but when they're killed in a car accident where she was driving, the only way she can handle her grief is to cut herself. Take her emotional pain and turn it in physical pain. 

Then she meets Guy, who finds out her secret. She convinces him to tell her brother, who she's living with now, but he doesn't go away. Now that he knows he feels that it's his responsibility to look after Willow. It's this way that they get to know and trust each other, slowly falling in love. I really liked Guy. I definitely have a new imaginary crush. Who wouldn't like a guy who reads? He's also just so sweet. He's always there for Willow, no matter what. I love them together.

This book was amazing. I think that everyone needs to read it. You won't be disappointed.

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Ending: 10/10
Overall: 50/50 A+++
Cover: 5/5 I love this cover, especially the back. I think that it is perfect.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week's Waiting on Wednesday is:

Summary from 
 Zoey’s life in her Florida beach resort town is happy and organized. She’s the captain of her high school swim team, and she works for her dad at his popular water park. Then her dad has an affair with one of his employees, and her mother has a breakdown. But Zoey begins a committed relationship with a hot lifeguard, which makes her feel stable, even if things aren’t perfect at home. Everything is still under control.

Until she has a car accident that she can’t remember. She should have been with her boyfriend that night, but he doesn’t seem to know anything about the accident—and he doesn’t seem to care. The person who does care, and knows more than he’s telling, is Doug, Zoey’s darkly handsome arch-enemy who saved her from the wreckage. As Zoey begins to piece together what happened that night, she finds her sense of control over her life was only an illusion. And she inches closer to discovering the darkest secret of all: why Doug has fallen in love with her.

Doesn't it sound awesome? I have no doubt that it will live up to Going Too Far. It comes out July 20th! Can't wait!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard


Summary from 
To impress the popular girls on a high school trip to London, klutzy Callie buys real Prada heels. But trying them on, she trips…conks her head…and wakes up in the year 1815!
There Callie meets Emily, who takes her in, mistaking her for a long-lost friend. As she spends time with Emily’s family, Callie warms to them—particularly to Emily’s cousin Alex, a hottie and a duke, if a tad arrogant.
But can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, and win Alex’s heart, before her time in the past is up?
More Cabot than Ibbotson, Prada and Prejudice is a high-concept romantic comedy about finding friendship and love in the past in order to have happiness in the present.

Prada and Prejudice was everything that I expected it to be: a fast, fun romantic comedy. Callie is the typical outcast, a science whiz with no real friends since her best friend moved away and a longing to be in the "in crowd". When she overhears some popular girls talking about going clubbing later she decides that she's going to join them, and buys a pair of real prada pumps to prove her worth. Except she's a clutz, and on the way back to her hotel she trips and knocks herself out.

She wakes up in 1815 where we meet Emily, and nice girl in an unwanted engagement, and Alex, a duke. Callie is mistaken for an American friend of Emily's, Rebecca and is taken into the household. Callie finds incriminating letters addressed to the duke that make her dislike him immensely. She also takes it upon herself to break Emily's engagement, as well as do other meddlesome things that cause much hilarity.

I'd be lying if I said that this book wasn't predictable, but sometimes predictable is good right? Callie is relatable and I enjoyed her as a main character. Emily is so sweet and trusting, I wanted her to be my best friend. Alex is cold and distant, and does and says things that make Callie mad. I had some trouble with how believable some aspects of the story were. Callie shows up in jeans and a t-shirt with her Prada pumps on and all anyone remarks about is that she's wearing mens clothing. She wears her Prada pumps almost continuously throughout the book and no one bats an eyelash. I guess that I was just expecting more questions as to where she came from.

Overall, it was a cute and very fast read that wasn't more than it promised to be. I enjoyed it, but I might stick with the drama's for a while...

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 7/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 8/10
Overall: 39/50 C+
Cover: 5/5 I think that it fits the story well, and I really like the teacup hanging off of the letters.

Marcelo in the Real World by Fancisco X. Stork


Summary from
Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear--part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify--and he's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mailroom in order to experience "the real world." There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm.

He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file -- a picture of a girl with half a face -- that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.

Reminiscent of "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" in the intensity and purity of its voice, this extraordinary novel is a love story, a legal drama, and a celebration of the music each of us hears inside.
I have to admit, I was a little bit unsure going into this book. It's not something that I would normally pick up, but since it got so many great reviews I thought that I would give it a shot. I'm really glad that I did! I was a bit worried about how much I would be able to tolerate Marcelo as the narrator, but I shouldn't have been. Marcelo was great. I loved his character and how he worked things out in his head and didn't understand some things. His development throughout the story is amazing. I loved how he changed right before my eyes.

Jasmine is a great character also, and I liked learning about the law firm from her. Marcelo learns a lot about himself from her also, and that was nice. Wendell is amazingly despicable, but the conversations between him and Marcelo are funny. The first half is great, but when Marcelo finds a picture of a girl with half a face it gets even better. He has to make decisions that could affect a lot of people in both good and bad ways.

This book is great, even if you don't think you'll like it, you will. I would recommend it to anybody.

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Overall: 48/50 A
Cover: 5/5 This cover fits the story really well. I like the little flashes of orange. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

Summary from 
Yelena is a survivor. Kidnapped as a child, held prisoner as a teen, then released to act as a poison taster, she is now a student of magic. But these magic skills place her in imminent danger, and with an execution order on her head, she has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth.
But nothing in Sitia is familiar. As she struggles to understand where she belongs and how to control her powers, a rogue magician emerges and Yelena catches his eye. Suddenly she is embroiled in a situation not of her making. And once again her magical abilities will either save her life or be her downfall.
With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she'd been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can't help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways and her new-found friends and relatives don't think it's for the better.
Despite the turmoil, she's eager to start her magic training especially as she's been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia's throne for a lost prince and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.
If that wasn't bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies.

I think that I enjoyed this book even more than I did the first one! I was drawn back into Snyders world completely.  I love Yelena's character. She's so strong and can kick some major ass. She doesn't let anyone bs her either. In this book she is in the land of Sitia, her home land that she can't remember. For the first 2/3rds of the book it's mostly Yelena and new characters, which was a bit confusing at times, but not too bad. I really enjoyed when the old characters were in the book, especially Valek *swoon*.

I really liked the use of magic in this book. It was another threat that had to be watched for and another weapon that could be used at the same time. I like how Yelena's magic was different from everyone else's and how people reacted to her. Magic was effortlessly woven into the story, and didn't seem odd or out of place at all.

I thought that Snyder really improved her descriptive skills in this one. The complaint about not being able to see things clearly in the last one no longer applies. I could picture the jungle and the citadel vividly and that's why this one was better than the last. I could also picture the people better and the action didn't seem as forced. Yeah, I would say that this one was better than the first.

Characters: 9/10
Plot: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 9/10
Overall: 46/50 A
Cover: 5/5 I really like this cover and I think that it portrays the book well. The other covers are nice too, but I think that this one is my favorite.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Secrets of Truth and Beauty by Megan Frazer


Summary from 
And the first runner up is...When Dara Cohen was little, she was a bright, shiny star. She was the cutest seven-year-old who ever sang Ella Fitzgerald, and it was no wonder she was crowned Little Miss Maine.

That was then. Now Dara's seventeen and she's not so little anymore. So not little, that when her classmates find out about her illustrious resume, their jaws drop. That's just one of her many problems. Another is that her control-freak mom won't get off her case about anything. Yet the one that hurts the most is the family secret: Dara has an older sister her parents tried to erase from their lives.

When a disastrously misinterpreted English project lands her in the counselor's office--and her parents pull her out of school to save face--Dara realizes she has a decision to make. She can keep following the rules and being misunderstood, or she can finally reach out to the sister she's never met--a sister who lives on a collective goat farm in Massachusetts. Dara chooses B. What follows is a summer of revelations, some heartbreaking, some joyous; of friendship, romance, a local beauty pageant; and choices. And as autumn approaches, Dara finds she may have to let go of everything she's taken for granted in order to figure out who she really is, and what family really means.

Secrets of Truth and Beauty was a really good book. I felt like I could really relate to Dara, and her parents made me want to scream. I really liked Rachel, her sister. I thought that the awkwardness between Dara and Rachel, sisters who'd never met, was really well done and I liked that everything wasn't hunky dory for them the first time they met. I think that Owen was my favorite character. He's gay, but not stereotypically so. In fact, if it hadn't been specifically stated in the book, I probably would have never guessed. That was a nice change. 

Dara is overweight, a fact that wasn't ignorable but wasn't in your face either. Of course, there were quite a few times when she was insecure, but she wasn't self hating and that was refreshing too. I thought that the relationship between Dara and Owen was perfect. The were friends in the best way, and had the most interesting conversations. On the other hand, I thought that the relationship between Dara and Owen's brother was...odd, but it wasn't central to the story, so it wasn't too off putting.

There were a few things in the book that I thought should have been answered, but weren't. Such as why Belinda stopped talking, and why exactly Dara's mother and father kicked Rachel out. It was hinted at that it was for a different reason than what Rachel told Dara, but we never know. 

Okay, so, I'm going to try a new rating scale this time, so let me know what you think!

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Ending: 10/10
Overall: 45/50 A-

Cover: 2/5 I really don't think that the girl on the front looks overweight, and I'm not a fan of the pink on the bottom half...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell


Summary (from : 
Cora Bradley dreams of escape. Ever since her reckless older brother, Nate, died in a car crash, Cora has felt suffocated by her small town and high school. She seeks solace in drawing beautiful maps, envisioning herself in exotic locales. When Cora begins to fall for Damian, the handsome, brooding boy who was in the car with Nate the night he died, she uncovers her brother's secret artistic life and realizes she had more in common with him than she ever imagined. With stunning lyricism, Sandell weaves a tale of one girl's journey through the redemptive powers of art, friendship, and love.

Wow, this book was outstanding. I could tell from the first page that I was going to be hooked and that I was going to love it. It's all about Cora and her family dealing with the death of her older brother. All summer Cora avoided going places and stayed inside isolated, drawing maps. Maps of places that she wanted to go when she got out of her town. Then school starts and everything changes. She connects with Damian, her brothers best friend, who was in the car with him when it crashed. But he got out alive. Her family hates him, blaming him for the death, but Cora starts to see that he knew a completely different side of her brother, and that maybe she was wrong about him.

I could really relate to Cora, and her growth throughout the novel was brilliant. The way that her brother was a part of the story through flashbacks was great and I felt like he was as much a character in the book as anyone alive. Damian's character was drawn perfectly. He had so many layers. I thought that the romance between Cora and Damian was paced perfectly also. It wasn't a "boom they're in love" or a "I'm going to have them fall in love on the last page" thing, it was perfectly in between. I would normally tell about something that I didn't like, but I don't think that there was anything.

Overall: I loved it! 5 stars!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.
This weeks WoW is:


Summary (from
Emerson Watts is on the run: from school, from work, from her family, from her friends, from herself.
With everyone she loves furious with her for something she can't explain, and nothing but the live Stark Angel fashion show on New Year's Eve to look forward to, Em's reached the end of her rope. . .what's the point of even going on?
But when she discovers the truth about Nikki's secret, she knows there's only one person she can turn to.
Will Christopher be able to put aside his personal feelings and help her expose her employer to the world? Is it even fair to get Christopher involved--since if he agrees, there's every chance that Stark Enterprises will try to have them both killed--this time, permanently?
Maybe it would be better for Em to just keep on running

I really liked the first two books in this trilogy, and I can't wait to see how it ends! Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors (with a hilarious blog) so I know that she won't disappoint! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Summary (from
Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.
Leviathan is one of the most original books that I've read lately. Or ever, actually. I'm so used to reading books that speculate about the future that it was refreshing to read a book that speculated about the past, and added some things to make it a little bit more interesting. This was my first venture into the land of steampunk and I wasn't disappointed in the least. Most of the other elements of the story were normal, but the steampunk edge made it so much more awesome.
In the beginning we are introduced to Alek, whose parents were just assassinated. His father was the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination, as we all know, helped trigger WWI. Then we meet Deryn, who wants to be an airman, but can't because she's a girl and girl's are not allowed, so she disguises herself as a boy. To complicate the matters Austria, where Alek is from, is a Clanker nation that relies on machines while England, where Deryn is from, is a Darwinist nation that relies on scientifically created animals. We follow them separately until their paths collide about half-way through.
I thought that Leviathan was very enjoyable, though not quite worth five stars. The storyline was great and I enjoyed reading from both of the main characters' point of view. I really enjoyed the pictures scattered throughout the book, they really helped me imagine the machines and animals. One thing that brought the book down for me were the long descriptions of the machines. When I read, I don't need to know every single detail of something the first time I read about it, because most likely I'll forget everything that I just read by the next page anyway. The action was also hard for me to picture, and I'm not really sure why that was. Even so, I really enjoyed the book as a whole, and I can't wait for the next one to come out!

Overall: It was a really good read, I just had trouble picturing some things: 4 Stars!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Maximum Ride: The Manga, volumes 1 and 2

#1 Summary (from

Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it's like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the "flock"--Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel--are just like ordinary kids--only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any when Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the "School" where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of wack jobs. Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare--this one involving fighting off the half-human, half-wolf "Erasers" in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives. Along the way Max discovers from her old friend and father-figure Jeb--now her betrayed and greatest enemy--that her purpose is save the world--but can she?

#2 Summary (from 
Having recovered Angel, Max and the flock head to New York City to pursue a lead regarding their true identities. But where the flock goes, erasers are sure to follow! Even more troubling, though, is the voice that's begun whispering in Max's head. Is it really her destiny to save the world?

All that I have to say is: Wow. Narae Lee does a spectacular job taking the books and making them visual. I felt like I was reading Maximum Ride for the first time again. I think that how she imagines the characters is pretty spot on. Except I'm not sure about Fang's super long anime hair, but that's okay. The manga definitely seems like a more condensed version of the books, but everything important was there. The only thing missing was an in depth look at the characters feelings, which would be really hard to do for a graphic novel. They are very light reading, each of these took me less than an hour. I can't wait for the third one to come out!

Overall: I'm very pleased with how these came out, but they're still not as good as the books: 4.5 stars!
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