Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Back for another year at St. Vladimir's Academy, Rose and Lissa have some new challenges coming their way. The evil vampires, called Strigoi, have come together and organized themselves against all reason. They are targeting royal vampire families and performing massacres of both Moroi and their Dhampir guardians. What's especially unusual about the attacks is that all of the Moroi that were attacked were protected under wards that were seemingly broken by humans working along side the Strigoi. This changes the playing field immensely because humans aren't affected by sunlight, as the Strigoi are. And rogue vampires aren't the biggest of Rose Hathaway's problems. She has to deal with her romantic life; whether she should follow reason and date her long time best guy friend or go after her unattainable, but extremely sexy mentor. And on top of that, she keeps getting pulled into her best friend Lissa's mind, through their mental bond, at extremely, um, private times. And as the cherry on top, her estranged mother shows up at St. Vlad's after she and Rose have barely spoken to each other in oh, about five years. What's a girl to do? Will Rose be able to make it through yet another trouble-ridden school year with her reputation in tact?

Thank god for these wonderful guilty pleasure books. Sure they may not have all that much substance or challenge me mentally but boy am I able to gobble them up. It's got all of the ingredients a good guilty pleasure needs; romance, fighting, hot guys, mystery, more hot guys, and vampires. What more could someone want? Yes, Richelle Mead has done it again with the second book in the Vampire Academy series. She has incorporated all the thrills of the vampire world into a plot that any teen will enjoy. There is never a dull moment in the book; everything keeps going full speed ahead so that you never know what to expect next. And that's exactly what makes it so good. Just after you think you've figured out what's going to happen next, something new gets thrown in your face and you're knocked off of your feet, scrambling to find out all of the details of the new twist. And the author writes it all so that none of it seems unrealistic. You are led to believe that all of the things in the book could actually happen just because of the flowing writing style and the characters that you can completely relate with. It's so cool to be able to read about a girl, who could quite possibly be your best friend, as she works through obstacle after obstacle with sass, spunk, attitude, and humility. So all in all, I would highly recommend the Vampire Academy series as a completely thrilling, delicious, and suspenseful guilty pleasure that will surpass all of your expectations. :D

Monday, May 26, 2008

How To Build A House by Dana Reinhardt

Things have been pretty bad at home ever since Harper's dad and stepmom got a divorce. Jane was the only mom Harper had ever known and she and her stepsister Tess couldn't have been better friends. But then the divorce happens and all bets are off. To get away from the drama, Harper flies down to Tennessee to help rebuild the home of a family's whose house was destroyed in a huge tornado. With all the government's money going to help Katrina victims, no money has been going to help the other victims in the nation. The first thing Harper notices when she gets off the plane is that it is hot. Hot as hell. Working in that heat is one of only many changes that Harper has to get used to in order to survive the next twelve weeks. But, against all odds, she starts to make friends. Kids from all over the nation have joined to reach one common goal and they find solace, comfort, and happiness with each other. And when Teddy, the boy who Harper's building the house for, starts to take notice of her, it's going to take all of what Harper's got to make this relationship work and forget once and for all, the troubles she's left behind.

This is an example of a beautiful, poignant, and perfectly crafted book. I have absolutely nothing to gripe about and only have praise for How To Build a House. The story deals with real life issues and puts them into perspective for the readers. I was able to feel myself in all of Harper's situations and I totally understood her which is a great thing. I loved that I was able to relate to all of the characters. They each were well written with a huge attention to detail that I loved. I also liked how Harper and Teddy's relationship was believable and realistic. The chemistry they had felt totally true to how teens interact with each other and it makes you root for them throughout the whole story. I also liked how we got to see all the dynamics of a complicated family life and how through all the hardships that Harper's family faced, they were able to pull through. The imagery and descriptions in the book were beautiful, the characters had a ton of depth to them, and the plot was sweet and poignant. What more could you ask for in a book? Pretty much nothing. I would completely recommend How To Build A House. It is a truly bittersweet, touching, and well-written book that will keep you flipping the pages and rooting for the characters throught its entirety. Pick up a copy soon!
How To Build A House will be released tomorrow; Tuesday, May 27.

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

In recent years, teenagers in America have been mysteriously coming back to life after they have died. It’s only happening in the US and it’s only happening to teens. Oakvale High School has an abnormal amount of undead or differently biotic students as it has a reputation as being a good place for those kinds of students. When Phoebe begins to have feelings for the leader of the undead, Tommy, the whole school is rocked and no one will go unaffected. Everyone from Phoebe’s undead best friend Colette, to Adam, Phoebe’s next-door neighbor who has hidden his feelings for her, to Pete Martinsburg, the guy who has a serious case of hatred for the undead, is going to be involved in what is going to go down as one of the most dramatic years in Oakvale High’s history. And not in a good way. Will the students be able to overcome their differences to unite as a student body or will discrimination and misunderstanding be the defining characteristic of the year?

Although the story was unrealistic, the topic was a little ridiculous, and the characters were not well developed, I still found myself drawn into this book. Yes, I do have quite a few issues with the main aspects of the book, but I kind of think that the whole plot was absurd and strange enough to be interesting. And although I know that something like kids coming back to life would never happen, it made for a very good and compelling story. I really couldn’t stop reading and yet as I was devouring the book, I was cringing at the rough character development and the unexplored background stories of the main people. I wish that I could’ve gotten to know the main characters better than I did. Throughout the book I felt as if I wasn’t really connecting with the story. I didn’t know the characters enough to sympathize with them or feel what they were going through which I think was the biggest downfall of the book for me. I just wish that the author could’ve slowed down and explore the details a little more. There were also some points in the book where I was extremely confused because the characters were talking about situations or events, which were not told about in the book. It felt as if we were just kind of dumped into this story that had already been going on for a while and which we missed the beginning of. But strangely, despite all of that, I really liked Generation Dead a lot. Maybe even enough to overlook all of its shortcomings and just appreciate it for the good book that I think it is underneath it all. The plot is interesting, not predictable, and unique. It’s definitely not a topic about which I’ve read before. And I think it’s good that there are authors out there willing to branch out into new stories or situations that haven’t been written about before. And so overall, although I did find a mountain of things wrong with this book, I’m going to have to recommend it as a really engrossing read that I think anyone will enjoy, just because of the neat plot, and the writing style of the author. And I’m really hoping for a sequel, and soon, because this book left off with a huge cliffhanger. And while I’m waiting anxiously to see what happens next, I’m simultaneously hitting myself on the head saying; you shouldn’t like this book! It’s got so many things wrong with it! But, yet, I think you should read Generation Dead because it is truly a very interesting book by a new author whom I have high hopes for!

How To Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle

Vicks and Jesse have the kind of friendship that others would kill for. That is, until Jesse finds out her mom has cancer. She doesn’t know how to tell Vicks and that forces a huge, uncomfortable aspect into their relationship. And when Jesse decides to plan a road trip as some quality bonding time for her and Vicks, the new girl, Mel, who’s working at the Waffle House with them, inexplicably joins in. A road trip with three girls who are all completely different doesn’t seem like such a good thing does it? While they’re on the road there are fights, laughs, break-ups, cry fests, mangoes, alligators (both dead and alive), and ducks. And what does that all add up to? A completely hilarious tale of how three girls who thought they would never be able to make it work, get to know each other on a new level that bonds them in ways none of them ever expected.

I loved this book so much. What’s interesting is that I read this right after Becoming Chloe and they both include road trips. The difference is that one trip is about going place and finding things and the other one is not so much about going places, but about the bonds that you make on the road. Truthfully, I think you need some of both so I’m glad that this book had that. While Vicks, Jesse, and Mel didn’t see such hugely impressive things as Jordy and Chloe did, I think they had the same amount of fun, because they learned about themselves and enjoyed it as they were doing it. And really, who wouldn’t want to see the world’s smallest police station, or the coral palace, or even the stuffed alligator Old Joe? I think that would be pretty sweet. The thing I liked about this book the most was that it was written in alternating points of view and that it was by three different authors. That way, each writer was able to fully get into their role and create some pretty amazing and memorable characters. I also liked that we got to see all the sides of everyone. No one was exempt from acting dumb or immature, but still, each person had her moment of shining glory also. The other thing I liked about How To Be Bad was that it was completely and utterly hilarious. It had its serious and touching moments but I think I never read more than five pages without laughing out loud. And so even though this book was about fleshing out relationships, it was also about having fun doing that. And yes, I would highly recommend How To Be Bad as one of the best, most funny, and deeply touching book you will read all summer. And if you want to find out which “bad” girl you are, go here. And my results are:
Jesse! A good girl through and through, you have strong ideals and convictions, and sometimes get frustrated when others don’t understand them. But, you’re also the one with the ideas (road trip, anyone?!), and your friends love you for that. You might not take life’s little setbacks lightly, but you know how to get things done—and still manage to have a little fun along the way. That’s right: Underneath it all, you love a good laugh just as much as the next girl!

Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Jordan is living on the streets of New York when Chloe finds him. He’s been basically kicked out of his family because of who he is and left to fend for himself. After being hurt, Chloe’s the one who nurses him back to health, forming a bond that really can never be broken. When Jordy finds out that Chloe’s fighting her own demons, he sets out to show her how beautiful the world is even throughout all of the badness that seems most prominent. They meet many people, see a ton of great sights, and learn more about themselves and the world than they had ever imagined. But what will they decide. Is the world more beautiful than it is ugly or is it the other way around? The one thing no one can doubt is that their lives will never be the same.

I don’t think this book hit me as hard as I had expected it to, but it was still a pretty amazing book. I was expecting to be blown away, but even though that might not have been the case, I was still reasonably wowed. The story itself is a great one and one that will make you rethink how you look at the world. Looking at the problems of our world verses the beauties of it from the eyes of someone who is seeing it all for the first time is really hard-hitting and it made me think; do I appreciate the beauty that is all around me? And I think that I’d have to answer that I probably don’t. You know, we are all just so busy rushing through our lives at break-neck speed that it’s rare that any of us really have time to stop and smell the flowers. I really would love if I were able to take a break from life and just go find things. Not necessarily even outside my own state. Just to be able to notice and appreciate things that I haven’t before would be enough. So as you can see, it’s the kind of book that really makes you think about things which is definitely a good thing. I also liked how the characters weren’t stereotypical at all. They were people that were battling their own problems in life, and found each other through that. It was nice to see characters out of the ordinary and who helped you expand your thinking. I also loved the whole self-discovery aspect of the book and how, in the end, the question of beauty wasn’t clear-cut. The author left it for you to decide if you thought the world was good and it was nice how a specific viewpoint wasn’t forced on you. So I would definitely recommend Becoming Chloe. Even though it wasn’t as provoking as I though it was going to be, it was still an amazing book.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Little Weekend Trip

Just as a note, I will be traveling over Memorial Day weekend and will not have internet access. So no, I will not have disappeared, I'm just MIA for a few days. Look forward to a review or two on Monday or Tuesday! And have a great long weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

She's So Money by Cherry Cheva

Maya's longing for independence from her parents. Her biggest dream is to get accepted to Stanford and be able to move out to California and leave her old life behind. That plan is put in jeopardy when the health department stops by for a surprise visit while Maya is in charge of her parents' restaurant for the weekend. With a $10,000 dollar fine on her shoulders, Maya knows that she can't tell her parents. She has to figure it out on her own. And that is where the super hot, yet sketchy guy, Camden, steps in with a plan. Do the rich kids of the school's homework, but for a price. What starts out small suddenly escalates into a booming business with more than 30 clients and 7 workers. But there's always the looming threat of being found out or not being able to raise enough money in time. And when things start to heat between Camden and Maya, she knows that her life has changed a lot. Only she doesn't know whether it's for better or worse.

Although I had quite a few issues with this book, I couldn't help but feel myself reeled in. I stayed up reading it really late and even though I wasn't satisfied with all of the aspects of the book, I think it was a very good read. Now about those things that I had issues with...I think that the characters weren't developed enough and that the plot was a little too predictable. Don't get me wrong, I like me some nice, fluffy, and predictable books every now and then, but I definitely think that Cherry Cheva could've have worked to throw a few more twists into it than she did. And I also would've loved to be able to get to know the characters better. I think that that aspect of the book was rushed and not filled in very well. Also, the ending came a little too fast for my preference. It was very sudden and it just kind of ended. All that stuff probably makes this seem like a horrible book, but it really wasn't. One of the things that I liked was the unique plot. It might not have had many surprises, but it was a new and unexplored concept which was neat. I also liked how the side characters got to shine along with the main ones and we got to see the alternate sides of many of the "popular" characters in the book. And overall, I think that Cherry Cheva did a great job writing She's So Money. Even with all of the faults that I found with it, I really couldn't stop reading it. She just has the kind of writing style that leaves you wanting more and I am completely satisfied with this book and I would highly recommend it as a very fun and light read. Perfect for summer! Which, by the way, has arrived without me even noticing. I swear, I woke up last week and I was like; woah-there are only two weeks of school left! When did that happen? And since then I've been in a huge fog because of lack of sleep from studying for finals. I'm amazed that I'm having time to read at all. I probably shouldn't be reading...but oh well. Can't pull a girl away from her obsession, can you? And enough with my rambling already. :D Go read She's So Money!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Susan Beth Pfeffer Interview

I am extremely happy to say that I got the honor of interviewing the marvelous author, Susan Beth Pfeffer. She wrote the books Life As We Knew It and The Dead and The Gone among others, for which, you can read my reviews here and here. You can also check out Susan's blog here. Enjoy the interview!

How did you come up with the story for LAWKI and D&G?
I got the idea for Life As We Knew It from the movie Meteor. It's not a particularly good movie, but it was on one afternoon and I watched it. It got me thinking about what it would be like for a kid to live through an end of the world situation. I began thinking about what sort of disaster I wanted and what the characters would be like, and the next thing I knew, I had an idea for a book.
I loved writing LAWKI and tried to convince the publisher (Harcourt) that they wanted a sequel. They didn't, but they were interested in a companion novel. So for the dead & the gone, I took the same situation and wrote about completely different characters. Instead of a girl in a small town in Pennsylvania, I wrote about a boy in New York City.

Was it hard to envision and write about all the death and destruction that occurs in the books?
There were moments when it was hard. There was a character I was very fond of in d&g who I knew was going to die, and it was upsetting when I got to that scene. But mostly it was fun. It's entertaining to be in total control of the world.

Why did you choose to set the stories in Pennsylvania and New York? Do you think the plot would have been different if they were set in a different place in the US?
I set LAWKI in Pennsylvania because I was tired of setting books in New York State (where I live). As it happens, I live about a half an hour from Pennsylvania, so it really wasn't all that different. Then I set d&g in NYC, because that's the city I know best. I think the plots would have been very different had I set the books in different places. What would things be like in the midwest? Or where the volcanoes are exploding? Or down south?

What is the number one thing you would find hardest about living through the situations that you wrote about?
Not knowing how everyone I love is doing. If I couldn't talk or e-mail my friends and family who don't live nearby, I'd go crazy.
For both Miranda in LAWKI and Alex in d&g, there's real pain and loss when people they love and depend on leave and are never heard from again.

What has been the coolest or most rewarding thing about being an author?
I've always loved being an author (I wrote my first book my last semester in college, so it's been my only real job). But the past couple of years, thanks to LAWKI and the internet, it's been so much more fun. I love reading blogs that mention my books, or checking libraries to see if they've gotten copies. I also love the contact I've had with people who e-mail me or who leave comments on my blog ( And I check my Amazon numbers obsessively.

What are some books that you'd recommend for teens?
I don't think I have any books I'd recommend for teens particularly. I'd just recommend teens (and everyone else) read things they find interesting. I read lots of non-fiction, and I'm always drawn to the subject matter.

If you had to go live on a desert island, what 3 things would you take with you?
My cats
A cellphone
A laptop that plays dvds and lots of dvds
But what I'd really want is a plane ticket home.

What is one random fact you'd like people to know about you?
I saw Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Mamas and the Papas, and the Beatles in concerts.
The Mamas and the Papas was the most memorable because there was a riot.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of writing?
I love movies, going to the movies, watching movies at home, reading about movies, collecting movie memorabilia. So pretty much anything to do with movies.

What's next for the series?
Ah, a question I don't know the answer to. I've been playing with ideas for a possible third book, but Harcourt hasn't indicated they're going to want one (they haven't indicated that they aren't- they just haven't indicated). I'd love to write a third book so I can find out what happened to my characters, but as of the moment, there are no official plans.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Just a thank you to you, and to everyone else who's expressed interest in my books. LAWKI has received so much support from people I'll never meet but will always be grateful to. Also, you asked a lot of questions I haven't been asked before!

Thank you so much Susan!

The Dead And The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Being a Puerto Rican in New York before the disaster was hard enough, but now with the moon knocked closer to the Earth by an asteroid, every thing's out of control. It's especially bad since Alex's dad was down in Puerto Rico during the tsunamis and he was almost definitely drowned, and Alex and his sisters haven't heard from their mother since the day the hospital called in all the emergency personnel. Alex knows how to cope though and he thinks he's going to be all right. He just needs to find enough food and keep his two sisters safe. Sadly though, things don't turn out to be that easy. With winter coming early and New York being constantly washed away by the tides, food and shelter are becoming harder and harder to come by and the dead bodies are piling up every day. Will Alex be able to provide for himself and his family long enough for them to find a way out of the city?

I had enormously high expectations coming into this book because I absolutely loved the first book, Life As We Knew It. And for the most part, all my expectations were met. The only itsy bitsy complaint that I have was that this book was a little be harder to get into than LAWKI. Thankfully that didn't last long and I was able to get completely swept away once I got a little farther in. Other than that, D&G was just as good as LAWKI in every way. Susan Beth Pfeffer really knows how to tell a story. She was able to make it so that two books, telling the story of the same situation, were able to be unique and completely different than each other so that nothing felt repetitive or boring. LAWKI was set in the country so things were bound to be different in this book and they were. I never thought that the author would be able to make the stories so separate but she pulled through and I was so happy about that. I got to read two equally amazing books and see one chilling and scary story from two perspectives which was really great. I also liked how, as in LAWKI, the characters had a ton of depth and they were all planned out extremely well. Another thing I liked was that in this book, we got to see things from a religious standpoint. In LAWKI, the religious people kind of get bashed and I was really glad to see that the author could look at both sides of a situation and see it from everyone's shoes. So all in all, I would highly recommend The Dead and The Gone as a chilling, spooky, and extremely addicting read.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Library

I love the library. I really do. It's nice to be able to get books for free so you can read them and judge them and purchase them later if you like them enough. I would be nowhere without the library. I definitely wouldn't have enough money to satisfy my reading obsession if it wasn't there. There is one downside though, and that is that it is just so hard to choose books! I went there today and I ended up taking out five more books than I had on hold which is bad. It means that I will be that much more rushed to get them all read and returned before the due date. Everytime I browse the shelves, I see a bajillion books that catch my eye and it's so hard to limit myself! How can I stand to take just a few? But then I have to hit myself on the head and say; can you really read that many books in a two week period? And the answer would be...well, no. But nonetheless, I still end up taking out many books more than I could possibly read. Ugh. I guess I'll just have to read faster. But that too is also getting harder as the pressure of the school year ending draws upon us. So as I'm taking more and more books out of the library, there is less and less time to actually read them. It's quite sad. Wish me luck as I try to gobble a pile of books up to beat the due date and the heavy fines. Eek!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Looking For Alaska by John Green

Miles has a strange obsession with last words, and so after reading Francois Reblais' last words ("I go to seek a Great Perhaps"), Miles sets off to find his own Great Perhaps, which for him is found at the Culver Creek Boarding School. Having to room with someone who smokes and drinks the same amount that he studies is a big change for Miles, as is having the beautiful and eccentric Alaska Young living down the hallway. Throughout his time at Culver Creek, Miles makes friends. Sure they might be strange but they're friends none the less. They play pranks, the likes of which the school has never seen before and throughout it all, he also starts to fall for Alaska which can only lead to difficulty as she is dealing with her own set of problems. Can Miles find his way through the "labyrinth of suffering" and discover his own Great Perhaps?

This book has dealt with some controversy on the subject matter in it. There is sex, drugs, alcohol, swearing, and smoking, and yet that really isn't the essence of the story. The real heart of the book lies in the coming of age of a young and insecure guy. It also focuses on Alaska and all the heartache, mystery, and "screwiness" that come with her. I think that Looking For Alaska was a positively marvelous book that wove a story of tragedy and love with frank and realistic writing. I've read John Green's other book, An Abundance of Katherines and I liked it a lot, but I also think that this book was much better. I think it had more depth and meaning in it that really helped you to relate to the characters and what they were going through. I loved the humor, the plot, the pranks, and all of the hidden meanings, and I think that this book is a must-read for any one. I must caution though, that it is only for mature readers. And I think that that is really all I can say about Looking For Alaska. It was compelling and creative and had a pretty much perfect ending. Just go read it now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

When her boyfriend Jackson dies, Ava is torn apart. They loved each other so much and she knew that their connection was something that could never be matched. And so when he dies, and she knows that she had a part in it, Ava doesn't know what to do with herself. But when Jackson comes back to haunt Ava, all the tables are turned. Having a boyfriend that's a ghost has more difficulties than she ever imagined; and is it really the right thing to be attached to someone that no one else can see and who's keeping you from starting your life again? What Ava doesn't know is that Jackson is there to help her come to terms with what happened. He doesn't want her dwelling on the past, he wants her moving on and enjoying her life. But will he be able to convince Ava of that when they are not even able to communicate?

Having never read a novel that was written in verse before, I didn't know what to expect from this book. I, of course, had heard great things about it but I'm not really a person who likes things that are out of the ordinary. Surprisingly though, I did like this book. A lot. I was drawn in from the first page and I think that the verse form really helped to bring more expression and feeling to the book than the book would have otherwise had. The thing about verse though is that it's hard to get details in and I felt that the story was a little lacking in that department. I think it would have been nice to have been able to see more depth in the story. I'm fine with the length that it was though because it was a nice quick book that got wrapped up nicely and had a beautiful ending. It was pretty every thing I could expect. Oh, and the one thing that bugged me about the cover was that the guy's arm has this thick rope-like vein. And yes, I know that that sounds weird, but it just kind of stuck out at me and annoyed me to no end. :D I get bugged by the little things like that. It's kind of strange. Other than that, the book was really amazing and I will definitely be looking out for more verse novels now that I've dipped my toes into that genre. I liked it a lot and am ready to try more books like that. So I would recommend I Heart You, You Haunt Me wholeheartedly. It's a very nice, sweet book that will not fail to draw you in.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pretty Face by Mary Hogan

Hayley hates living in California; the beaches, the bikinis, and all the pressure to fit in really dig in at her and she resents it. It's especially hard when you're a fat girl and you're having all of this scorn thrown in your face. That's why Hayley jumps at the chance to spend a summer in the Italian countryside; away from her harping mom, annoying little brother, and all the stupid drama of American life. While Hayley's there, she realizes that it's okay not to fit the form. It's all about being yourself and loving the skin your in and what better place to discover and enjoy all this than in beautiful, scenic, Italy? Add a cute boy who adores Hayley for who she really is and Hayley knows that this will definitely be a summer to remember.

Awww! This book was just too cute. I think I expected it to be a little more deep and meaningful than it was, but I think the light and fluffy style of the book was a nice change. I began out thinking that this book was going to be like The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things which I've reviewed on this blog and which really was a nice, deeper book addressing the same issue of obesity, but this book was more of a coming of age story. It tells how Hayley finds her place as a woman with curves. And I liked that we got to see that side of it and that Hayley learned that although it's not great to be super large, it's okay to be round and enjoy food. None of us are required to fit the stereotype thinness that's pushed on us by the media, but rather we should do what we think is best for our bodies and our lives. And I think that that message, along with the very cute plot line really helped this book tell its story. I liked it a lot. And with that being said, I do have a few complaints. I think that I would've have liked the story to have been a little bit longer and more detailed. I feel as if it all moved a little too fast and we didn't get to meet the characters and learn about them enough. Also, I didn't think that Enzo (the boy Hayley falls in love with) and Hayley's relationship was believable enough. It was all a bit brief and it just didn't have that special spark that makes you think; wow, that really is love. Also, I don't think that the cover fit the book at all. The whole book is set in scenic Italy and you can't guess that from the cover which kind of bugs me. Other than that though, Pretty Face was a nice, fluffy, and highly enjoyable read that has enough sustenance to pull readers in and keep them hooked for the entirety of the story. I really liked this book and I would definitely recommend it as a feel-good summer beach read.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

When the soul called Wanderer gets inserted into a new human host on the planet Earth, she doesn't think anything out of the ordinary will happen. The way it usually goes with planets that the souls have over come is that they insert souls into the entire population of planet, making it a peaceful and regulated place to live. But on Earth, the newest acquired planet, that isn't the case. The hosts are now aware of what is happening and they are mentally fighting back which is something that Wanderer wasn't expecting when she was inserted into Melanie, her new human host. But now, Wanderer, besides having all of Melanie's old memories and emotions to deal with, now has Melanie kicking at her inside her own head. And things are bound to get difficult when Wanderer and Melanie run into a hidden group of wild humans, among which are living the two people that Melanie had loved most in the world. Will Wanderer and Melanie be able to survive the conflicts, not only of feelings and minds but of species also?

Yay! I was so relieved once I got into this book because I really didn't want to be let down by Stephenie Meyer. She had created such a great series with Twilight and I wanted this book to be just as good. And thankfully it was; it really surpassed all of my expectations. The book starts out fast and only gets faster as it takes you speeding through this science fiction whirlwind of an adventure. It had all the elements that a good book needed; skillfully crafted characters, a new and exciting plot concept, and concise and perfect writing that really sweeps you away. I think it was such a cool idea to have this be a sci-fi kind of book. I haven't read a lot of that genre and so I didn't really know what to expect, but now I'm thinking that I'll have to read more of it because I think the whole concept of souls and hosts and planets was incredibly neat. It took the story to a whole new level and you could tell that each aspect of Stephenie's world was carefully planned and thought out so that everything was wrapped up cleanly. And the characters were perfect. Stephenie knows how to create a character that seems believable and real. I definitely began to feel as if I knew the characters in the book and I especially loved reading about all their interactions with each other and the dynamics of their relationships. And the cool thing was, just when you thought you had the plot and the characters figured out, another twist got thrown in that would leave you wanting more and sitting on the edge of your seat to find out what happened next. I could not put this book down, which was excatly what I wanted and expected from The Host. Stephenie Meyer has created yet another thrilling and captivating world that will delight readers just as much as Twilight. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. Go read it now.

And you can read about my experience with The Host tour and book signing by scrolling down the page or clicking here.

Siobhan Vivian Interview

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Siobhan Vivian, the amazing author of A Little Friendly Advice. She was so sweet and fun to talk with and she even sent me super cute buttons that go along with the book! You can find my review of A Little Friendly Advice here. and you can find Siobhan's site here. Enjoy the interview!

(Aren't they adorable?)
What was your road to publication like?
It was pretty much a fairytale. I had been going to grad school at night to study Creative Writing. David Levithan was my thesis advisor, and I worked with him on A LITTLE FRIENDLY ADVICE during my last semester in school. Once I graduated, he let me know that he would be interested in publishing the book. It all happened very fast.

Did you draw any of the moments in ALFA from your own teen years?
Yes, absolutely. ALFA is actually based on a little tiff that was going on with friends of mine during high school, where one friend went to questionable lengths to try and keep another girl from getting repeatedly heartbroken by a shady guy.

Which of your characters do you feel you relate to the most?
I think there’s a little of me in all the characters, but I guess I’d have to say Katherine. I have a tendency to act really tough, but it’s all to cover up my crazy insecurity issues.

Do you think you've found your niche in writing for YA or would you ever try writing in another genre?
I can’t really see myself writing anything else but YA. Those are just the kinds of stories and characters I am always drawn to.

What's your favorite thing about writing?
I love the feeling that comes from getting something right—be it a word, a snippet of dialog, a description. That feeling is totally euphoric.

Do you have any other passions besides writing?
I am obsessed with music, particularly bands from Sweden right now. Sweden has the most rocking bands with the cutest boys. I swear, I am going to move to Sweden one day and be a very happy girl.
I am also really into embroidery. I have this huge binder full of pretty colored string, and I love making little presents for my friends. Last Christmas, I embroidered a copy of David’s first book, BOY MEETS BOY, and had it framed. It was pretty bad ass.

What are some books that you'd recommend for teens?
My favorite book of all time is BLANKETS by Craig Thompson. It’s a graphic novel, it’s HUGE, but it is seriously so awesome. Other favorites of mine are GINGERBREAD by Rachel Cohn, PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky and I loved all the RABBIT novels by John Updike. I devoured those in college.

If you could spend one day with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Hmm…great question! I think I’d like to hang out with Shepard Fairey. He’s the artist who makes those OBEY ANDRE THE GIANT stencils that are everywhere. I’d love to spend a day running around and tagging up the city with him. Here’s a link to his site…such a cool guy.

What was one of your funniest experiences as a teen?
Easy. My family was on vacation and had purchased some waterskiing lessons for my little sister. I already knew how to water ski and I was also completely in love with one of the boys who gave the lessons. So, this boy invites me to ride in the boat with him and as I went running down the dock, I tripped over a rope and slid like 10 feet on this really gross, dingy plastic green grass carpet. I ended up scraping both my knees and my chin and was bleeding all over myself. He tried really hard not to laugh at me, but his friends weren’t so kind.
Now that I think about it…that wasn’t so much funny as it was completely mortifying…but there you go!

What's up next for you?
Yay! I’m so glad you asked. I’m just finishing up my next book called SAME DIFFERENCE, It’s about a girl named Emily who struggles with having two different identities --- depending on whether she’s at home with her popular, suburban best friend she grew up with, or hanging out in a city with a super cool, wild new girl she befriends in a summer art class.

Anything else you want to add?
Yes. You look totally pretty today.

Why thank you! :P

And be sure to pick up a copy of A Little Friendly Advice! It really is a great book by a super cool author.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Host Tour

So today was the day that Stephenie Meyer's newest book The Host was released and to kick off her tour, her first stop was at the Mall Of America in the Twin Cities, Minnesota-where I live. You can imagine how excited I was that she was coming. Also, all the other places that she's going are ticketed except for this one and so I was expecting quite a huge crowd.

(The lines)

And of course, I was right to expect that. They officially started lining people up at 8 AM, which means that a ton of people were ahead of us even after I had gone there straight from school and got there about two hours early. By the time we got there, the roped off line sections were almost full, but thankfully we got a spot in front of the stage. There were a bunch of people that came after us and had to be lined up down the halls of stores. It was really full.

(All the people!)

And finally Stephenie came out at around six to a crowd of screaming fans. She spoke for about fifteen minutes, answering some of the questions people who got there early had submitted. She talked about everything from her inspiration for the story, to the Twilight movie, to her family. She had to keep it brief though so she could actually sign all our books before the mall closed!


And here's my funny story: I went to the signing with my cousin who has a small baby and so after we had waited in line for about a half an hour into the signing, a guy who was doing management for the event pulled us out of line and let us budge everyone! So I got to get my book signed pretty quickly and my baby cousin got to come up with me. So I thought that was a pretty cool thing. At least we didn't have to wait in line super long!

(Stephenie signing books)

So, overall, the whole book signing event was very fun and I think the excitement of the atmosphere was one of the things that made it the most memorable. It's a once in a life time experience to be able to see such a high-profile author! There were people there with homemade shirts for Twilight and the Host and most surprisingly there was even a guy or two. :) I am now reading The Host and I hope to get a review up soon!

(Sideways view of my book)

One Whole And Perfect Day by Judith Clarke

Lily has always been the sensible one in her dysfunctional family. What she finds annoying is that that is all that people expect of her. She always gets stuck with the jobs and never gets to have any fun. And to add to that, her family never gets along. Whether it be because her brother doesn't know how to handle his life or because her grandma is talking to her imaginary friend, Sef, again, things never seem to work out or go as planned. So Lily decides to break out of the mold and do something unexpected. Perhaps, she thinks, she should fall in love. But when her grandfather and her brother write each other off, Lily has to put her plans on hold and put the pieces of her family back together again. But will Lily ever get some time to spend on herself or will she be left doing the dirty work once again?

I kind of have mixed feelings about this book. I'm going to get my complaint out first. I wasn't really able to fully get into the book. I thought it was a great story line and everything but nothing in it ever grabbed me and made me want to keep reading. I think if I had to, I would be able to put the book down and not really care about the ending. It just wasn't the kind of book that made you want to flip pages. Other than that, I don't have very many things against it. The thing I really liked about the book was how in depth the characters were and yet the story still had this laid back, sunny feel to it. It kind of seemed like you were getting to know all the people the family as you were sitting in their backyard drinking lemonade. But I also liked how despite the laid back feel, you still got a really good insight into all the aspects of their lives that you wouldn't normally be privy to. It was also just a sweet and simple plot line that had all these nice, but meaningful aspects to it. I think the best thing about the plot was the way it tackled racism. It was deep and yet you didn't feel as if it was bogging the story down. I also liked the way we got to see all the family ties. And I think my favorite part would have to be the cute little twists at the end in which everything turns out happily and every little thing gets resolved. So although it wasn't the easiest book to get into, I'd still recommend One Whole and Perfect Day because it really is just a great, feel-good kind of story.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Say What? A Meme?

I have been tagged by Ambeen from Ravenous Reader Reviews!

So, here are the rules for this super fantabulous meme:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged you once you've posted your three sentences.

Ooh! Fun! The closest book to me is the one I'm currently reading; One Whole and Perfect Day. I actually haven't gotten to page 123 yet, but here are my sentences, nevertheless:
After the shock he'd experienced-the place where he'd grown up vanished while his back was turned-Stan felt he needed meat. Meat of some kind anyway. "Got any Chiko Rolls?"
Huh? Does anyone know what Chiko Rolls are? I think the book is set in Australia so that might explain why I'm kind of out of it. :D Those are cool sentences though!

And here are the five people I tag:
1. Dominique from The Book Vault
2. Jordyn from Page Numbered
3. Cyndi from The Page Wanderer
4. Chelsie from Read, Read, Read
5. Kelsey from Reading Keeps You Sane

Friday, May 2, 2008

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

The most exciting thing in Miranda's life was the fact that an asteroid was supposed to make contact with the moon and be visible from Earth. No one thought that it was going to be a big deal; it was supposed to just be something that would be neat to see. But due to some miscalculations, the asteroid knocks the moon out of its regular orbit and closer to Earth, causing massive problems. Tides are going berserk washing away cities, islands, and miles of coast line. Then volcanoes start errupting and pretty much everything takes a huge turn for the worse. Gas prices skyrocket and you never know where you're going to find your next meal. Just surviving the winter is Miranda and her family's biggest concern. And one thing's for sure. Life as she knew it will never be the same.

I'm still kind of shell-shocked from reading this. I had heard many good reviews about it and I think that it really lives up to all the hype, but in a creepy way that's bound to send shivers down your spine. I've never read a book that's based on the end of the world before so I was a little nervous going into it. You know, I didn't want it to be hugely morbid or preachy or anything like that. It turns out that it had the perfect balance of every thing that a book needs to keep you hooked. First of all, the plot was amazing. I was completely drawn in which was wierd. I've never thought of myself as a person who would find excitement in reading about civilization's demise, but I did. Sadly. The story was just told in such a way that you couldn't help but be completely and utterly absorbed. And it really puts things in perspective. I mean, what if something that drastic actually happened? This book definitely made me think about that kind of stuff and it really made me appreciate my life as I know it. The second thing that made this an amazing book was that the diary format was the perfect way to tell the story. I, for one, have never been much of a diary book person but I think that that was pretty much the only way to tell the story successfully and it made it that much more personal to read it from the point of view of someone you can relate with. And the last thing that I loved about the book was how in depth it was. You could really tell that the author put a lot of thought into what she was writing about and it wasn't just a random story. There was a lot of perspective and insight that really helped give the story more meaning. So if you're looking for a book that will quite possibly change your outlook on life as well as keep you glued to the pages for a good couple of hours, you'll definitely want to pick up Life As We Knew It. I know that it is going into the stack of my all time favorite books and that's saying something because books don't get put there very often. :)