Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Summary: Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

Review: Marissa and Charlotte have been telling me to read this book for ages, but I never got around to it. It just didn't seem like my kind of book. But this month, my school chose it for the book club, so I figured I'd finally give it a shot, and I'm so glad I did!

Honestly, this book is amazing. While it is technically a romance novel, it didn't seem like one. The characters were interesting and flawed (in a good way), and the plot was riveting. I was mentally screaming at the two main characters the entire time, dying for one of them to finally make a move. Stephanie Perkins's writing is so fantastic, I was in awe.

This book is somewhat of a fantasy romance, but I think Anna's experiences are relevant/relatable to teens today. The characters and the story broke my heart and then put it back together again and tore it out of my chest again and again in a vicious cycle, but when I finished it I was smiling like an idiot. It's not a challenging book in that it makes you think or makes you cry (too much), but it's just so darn cute, and you can't help but love the characters.

The past few books I've read I've managed to find flaws in, and I was beginning to worry that I wasn't enjoying books as much as I used to. However, this novel restored my faith. It is literally flawless, and if you haven't read it yet, you're missing out! It doesn't matter if you're a sci-fi or nonfiction fan--go out and buy/borrow this book, and I can guarantee you'll find yourself sucked into the story in no time.

(When you finish this book, there's a companion to it titled Lola and the Boy Next Door, which I plan on reading soon. You can find Char's review of it here!)

(Also, I'm currently reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, which is about 1500 pages long, so if I don't post anything else for a while, I wish you all Happy Holidays! :D)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

SummaryGuy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

I know I've become somewhat ancient on here, but I finally decided to post a review on here again! - Marissa.

Review: Wow. I am speechless. This book has left me thinking about so many things in new ways. How often do you come across a book that literally changes your way of looking at life? A better question would be, how often do you read a book that changes your way of looking at life and makes you want to do better? This is one of those books. Just yesterday I was talking to my mom about this book and how similar the society is to to ours. I mean, how often can you find a book that is just so good that it sparks conversations so easily? This is a book that really makes you think. 

Now, through my experience, there has only been one other book that has had this effect on me. And that book is The Book Thief. Ever since the day I finished that book, I've held it on a pedestal. Any time i read another book, I would try to see if it would surpass it, but nothing ever did. After finishing this book, I can safely say that this comes in a close tie with The Book Thief. 

Needless to say, this book was wonderful. I can't use my words to express any more of my feelings towards this book. I recommend this book to everyone. I know that this is one of those books that will stick with me for a long time, maybe even forever. But let me warn you before you do start reading this book, keep this question lingering in your head "Are we moving in the same direction as them?".

**A little side note**(Also I might as well add this in because of my great English teacher this year. This is the second book we have read this year and during class he would really leave us thinking differently and every class when we discussed this book really left a big impact on me. For the first time in a long time, I am happy to say I have an English teacher who can finally bring books to life in great ways.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Summary: The tragic story of the complex bond between two migrant laborers in Central California. They are George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is a very large, simple-minded man, calming him and helping to rein in his immense physical strength.

Kim again! Two reviews in one week? I'm on a roll! :)

Review: This was another one of those required readings for my English class. Despite the fact that my English teacher, while trying to teach us about foreshadowing, spoiled the ending for my class before we even opened the book, I still enjoyed it a lot.

As it is with many of the classics, there is a lot of symbolism in this book, and it also says a lot about society back in the 1930's. When you read this book, you can really see how much society has progressed (and is still progressing) since then. Lennie, one of the two main characters who seems to have a mental disability, is ignored or looked down on by many of the other men. The African American stable buck is an outcast, forced to live in the barn instead of sleeping in the warm ranch beds. There is only one female character, the boss's son's wife, and we never even learn her name. It sort of shocked me when I really thought about it, and it made me wonder what people a hundred years from now will think about today's society.

I also found the characters to be quite interesting. I was most intrigued by Lennie, George's friend who struggles with a mental disability. Maybe it's just because I love psychology, but I thought his character was so interesting. He causes trouble at the ranch, killing animals and getting into fights, when he only means well and does not know his own strength. Curley's wife, the one female character mentioned above, was another one of my favorites. She is neglected by her husband at home so she wanders around the ranch and tries to talk to the other men, who ignore her. At first glance, she seems a little whore-ish, but once we learn her backstory and begin to analyze her character a bit, you realize she is just a young woman who wants a friend.

Besides important messages and engaging characters, there are also a couple intriguing plot twists in this story that made me let out a gasp or made my heart stop for a second. This book is a little hard to get "in to," but after a few chapters the plot begins to pick up the pace. Even if classics aren't your thing, I suggest you give Of Mice and Men a chance. I can guarantee you'll be disappointed. I loved this book (although I'm dreading the inevitable essay I'll have to write on it).

Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Forever... by Judy Blume

 Summary: Katherine and Michael meet at a New Year's Eve party. They're attracted to each other, they grow to love each other. And once they've decided their love is forever, they make love.

It's the beginning of an intense and exclusive relationship, with a future all planned. Until Katherine's parents insist that she and Michael put their love to the test with a summer apart...

Hey everyone! Kim here. I apologize for not posting lately; school has left me with very little reading time, and with finals coming up I doubt it'll change. This week, however, I managed to squeeze in this little romance novel by Judy Blume titled Forever.... Here's my opinion on it.

Review: I'm not one for romance novels; I'd much rather curl up on a couch with a good mystery or action book. But this one sounded interesting,  so I figured I would give it a shot. I remember reading a few of Judy Blume's Fudge books in second or third grade, but I've never read her young adult books, and I was very disappointed. The only good thing about this book is the story. I'm not a fan of the writing at all; I swear to god, I've never seem so many ellipses in my life. Each time the character spoke, it seemed like they took a three second pause between every phrase. Here's an excerpt to show you what I mean:
"It's about the summer..." I waited for some reaction from him. "You see...my parents...they arranged..." I sat up. "Oh God...I don't know how to tell you this..."
He opened his eyes and sat up too. "Just say it, Kath. Whatever it is...just say it."
"I've got to go to New Hampshire for seven weeks...my father got me this job at Jamie's camp...they needed an assistant tennis counselor...I said no...I told them to forget it...but they said I have no choice...they're making me go, Michael...but I figure you could drive up at least once, maybe twice, because I'm sure I'll get some time off...and..." I looked over at him. "I know what you're thinking," I said. "that I'm eighteen...that I should be more independent...I should have asserted myself...but, I don't know..." I stopped for a minute. "Say something, will you..."
That's what happened every single time a character spoke. It was nearly unbearable.

On top of the writing, the characters were horribly underdeveloped, as were the sub-plots. Blume covers many sensitive topics in this book, from sex to suicide to sexual orientation to pregnancy, but they were handled very poorly. There was little to no development in subplots that had a lot of potential, and the characters are one-dimensional and unrelatable. I didn't like Katherine that much; she seemed like the stereotypical jealous girlfriend. Pretty early in the story, Katherine tells the reader that her decision for college basically depended on where Michael decides to go, and just...ugh. There are very few things I hate more than clingy girls who let their boyfriends decide their future, especially when there are great opportunities out there for them.

As you read in the summary, this book is about two teenagers, Katherine and Michael, who fall in love and decide to start having sex. Katherine asks Michael to take it slow at first because she wants to wait until she's sure she is ready. However, after a chapter or two, Michael subtly pressures her into it. The sex scenes are pretty graphic (and just plain weird) for a YA book; I was shocked and a little uncomfortable at times. As I kept reading, it began to seem like their relationship was more about sex than love. 

If you're undecided as to whether you want to read this book or not, I'd say don't waste your time. There are more cons than pros to this novel.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Sorry for the lack of reviews, and posts in general. We've all been very busy with high school.

Hope your holiday is fun!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Review: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Lonely Hearts Club
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
Pages: 285 (Paperback)
Published: January 1st, 2010
Publisher: Point

I'm a little surprised that I didn't end up liking this book, as most of my GoodReads friends loved it. Well, there's always that one person who ends up feeling the opposite!

The Lonely Hearts Club's protagonist was a 16 yr old by the name of Penny Lane (her parents are major Beatles fans.) After Penny is scorned one time too many, she starts a club that aims to focus on the girl, not the boy. Its main rule is that you can't date, which causes problems for some of the members later on, including Penny.

My main problem was the fact that I didn't like Penny. I couldn't sympathize for her, and the same thing went for her friends. I liked Tracey, but I felt like she was too pushy and out of control (which was never addressed even during the time she got so drunk she couldn't be brought home.) As for Diane, I'm still stuck on the very beginning of her plotline, I feel like she just came into Penny's life again for the sake of the book and I thought she came across as fake. (She seemed flawlessly nice the entire time, and I don't trust flawless.)

Also, there was the issue about how the men were responding to the club. I feel like the problem was always there, but never totally addressed. The PRINCIPAL of all people is trying to suppress the club--there is something actually wrong with that--even though it was used as a throw-away plotline. I was also conflicted over Todd, because I liked his goofiness but he was turned into a villain for the sake of having one. 

I guess the bad stuff weighed more than the good stuff in this case. I wish I had just abandoned it instead of spending eight school days reading it. Oh well.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Hey everyone, Kim here! Sorry for not posting anything for a while, I started high school about a month ago and it's left me with basically no free time. Hopefully I can learn to manage my time better so I can start to read more!

I had to read To Kill a Mockingbird as the summer reading for my English class. Just the fact that I was being forced to read it made me instantly uninterested, but I still had to read it, and it was actually better than I had expected.

This book is told from the point of view of a six year old girl named Scout around the time of the Great Depression. When her father, Atticus (who is a lawyer) is appointed to defend a black man in court, they are immediately hated by almost the entire town. There really isn't much I can say without spoiling parts of the book, but it's a classic and I would recommend it if it sounds interesting to you. And if you're in the same boat as me and have to read it for school, go in with an open mind. :)

PS: I just started The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks yesterday, and I like it so far, so you can expect another review from me (hopefully) sometime soon!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly


Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Pages: 496
Published: October 12th, 2012
Publisher: Ember

My Review:

I've never read a book about the French Revolution before, so I had no idea to expect. I'm glad this was the first one I read, because it had a beautiful story and message. I've read A Northern Light by the same author, so I already loved her writing and had some high expectations. Those expectations were matched.

It took me a while to actually relate to Andi. Sure, I could empathize with her, but it was hard to really get to know her. That changed by the time she was in Paris, and her stubbornness got more endearing than annoying. Something I especially liked was the lack of romance. That sounds weird, but I'm sure you've heard Paris called something along the lines of 'the city of love' before. This book showed the total opposite of that and I love it for that reason. Sometimes you need a book that shows you the bloody truth, and Revolution is that.

My favorite part of the whole book was Alex's diary and Louis-Charles. By having access to this, I saw a completely different side of the whole Marie-Antoinette situation. I never sympathized with her before, I knew only snippets of facts and quotes like 'let them eat cake'. But through Alex's/Jennifer's words, I grew to realize that you can not judge a situation you are not in. There's a quote somewhere in the book that says something along the lines of - you wouldn't beat a dog for being a dog, and you wouldn't beat a king for being a king. (That's not exactly it but I'm too lazy to look it up.) I just wish that there would have been more about Louis-Charles in the second half of the book. He was my favorite part.

Unlike A Northern Light, I am not 100% satisfied with this book. I still have a lot of questions about the ending. I can't go into it for fear of spoiling people who haven't read it yet, so I'll just say that it was too quick an ending for such a long book. It could have taken extra time to explain the questions I still have. About the length, I also thought the book took too long to get where it was going plot-wise.

Besides the ending, I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of history fiction. Even if you haven't read much, or anything, about the French Revolution--I urge you to try this book. I want to go watch Les Mis now! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review: Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Fathomless (Fairytale Retellings, #3)
Fathomless by Jackson Pearce
Pages: 304
Published: September 4th 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown
My Source: ARC

My Review:

Fathomless is a dark retelling of The Little Mermaid (not the Disney version.) It's filled with monsters, love, and many complex ideas. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys reading about darker sides of fairy tales.

This story was definitely different than an average YA novel. Most of everything/everyone in the book could be taken as a metaphor or symbol. One of the main themes was Good versus Evil, and I had a hard time telling who represented what. Part of the fun was trying to figure it out.

My main annoyance was how dramatized the 'love triangle' was. It's in quotes, because I don't even think of it was a love triangle. Two parts of the 'triangle' barely even had any scenes together. If this book was meant to be about romance, then I don't think it did so well. The book didn't need to be about romance, its darkness and writing were already working perfectly. It was just annoying when one character freaks out because the other two are spending time together.

Ah, the characters. I really liked Naida/Lo, although it was tough telling which was which because they had very similar writing-voices. She was my favorite character, because of how different she was from everyone else. She kept a common goal, and that was admirable. Whereas I didn't like reading Celia's POV. I felt like her introverted to extroverted personality changed too quickly before I even got a chance to know her. Also, I did like the additions of her sisters but they could have gotten a better back story. Jude was not a swoon-worthy love interest at all. I don't know how to explain it, but he was just too average for me to root for any romance.

Like the plot twists, the ending came out of nowhere! It was definitely a safe ending, but at the same time it wasn't expected. I wasn't totally satisfied with it, because I still have some questions about the characters, and what will happen, etc. With the dark theme in this book, it was a bit out of character to have such a safe ending. But it didn't ruin my opinion overall.

I recommend this to anyone who is in the mood for a dark fairytale!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Summary: Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act -- suicide.
Vanessa is beautiful and smart, but her secrets keep her answering the call of the blade.
Tony, after suffering a painful childhood, can only find peace through pills.
And Conner, outwardly, has the perfect life. But dig a little deeper and find a boy who is in constant battle with his parents, his life, himself.
In one instant each of these young people decided enough was enough. They grabbed the blade, the bottle, the gun -- and tried to end it all. Now they have a second chance, and just maybe, with each other's help, they can find their way to a better life -- but only if they're strong and can fight the demons that brought them here in the first place.
My Review: I loved this book for a lot of reasons. First, Ellen Hopkins is one of my favorite authors; I've always admired her way of dealing with sensitive topics in her writing. Second, I thought the characters were extremely interesting and well-developed. Each of the three main characters had a heartbreaking backstory as well as a dark secret that made me want to keep reading to discover what it was.
This isn't a very long review, because I honestly don't have a lot to say about this book. The only complaint I have about it is that a lot of the time, when the characters spoke, they sounded very poetic. I thought it was a bit unrealistic, especially in the situations that the characters were in.
Overall, I really liked this book, and am going to read the sequel. I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone -- as I said before and as you can probably tell from the summary, this is a very dark book and may be uncomfortable for some people to read. However, if you are interested in it, you should definitely read it as well as Hopkins' other books. I've read almost all of them, and I've never been disappointed.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Review: Without You by Anthony Rapp

About a year ago, I watched the musical RENT. I'd heard good things about it, and it seemed intriguing from the pictures and gifs I'd seen on Tumblr. I instantly fell in love with it and the message that it shared, and, as I usually do when I find a new obsession, I spent many nights reading up on the Broadway musical and the cast members. 

RENT is an amazing musical about living life to the fullest and without regret. Unfortunately, the musical's writer, Jonathan Larson, unexpectedly died the night before the show premiered off-Broadway.

Without You is the memoir of one of the show's original members, Anthony Rapp. In this book, he tells about his childhood, how he landed his role in RENT, the death of his mother and Jonathan Larson, and more. His writing is fantastic, and you can really tell he put his heart and soul into writing this memoir.

This book taught me a lot about life. It also has some really great and memorable lessons and quotes. One of my favorite quotes from this book, one that definitely stuck with me after I finished reading, is "the only way out is through." The leader of a support group, Friends In Deed, says this to Anthony one day when he is upset about his mother's impending death. For some reason, this quote kept running through my head as I read the rest of the book.

All in all, I loved this book for a lot of reasons. However, if you haven't seen RENT, you should probably do that first before reading this - it's an amazing movie/play, and I promise you will not regret it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blog Tour: Pledged by Gwynneth White (Excerpt Time!)

Pledged (Soul Wars Saga, #1)
Pledged by Gwynneth White
Pages: 503
Published: June 13, 2012
Publisher: Swallow Press

Read the summary on GoodReads!

This blog tour has been going on for almost a month now, and this is my first time doing a post for it. I'm going to share with you an excerpt from this novel, and I hope this makes you want to you pick it up ASAP!

Meet Seth and Erin . . . 

Despite the heat, Seth felt icy. Dread could do that to him. Or so he had recently discovered. Deep breathing usually calmed him, so he sucked in a lungful of desert air and told himself to relax. It didn’t help. By the time he’d walked from the aircraft to the immigration hall he’d ripped off a jagged piece of thumbnail, already bitten raw. He handed his US passport to the Botswanan border official, and, after a frown, and a stamp, he joined the crowd at the baggage carousel. Botswana in southern Africa was the last place on earth he’d ever have picked for a holiday destination. But he wasn’t here on holiday. Not even close.
His backpack was slow in coming. Tired from his long-haul flight from New York, he leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. Almost as if to mock him, the hated vision that had brought him to Botswana burst into his mind. In an instant he was back in ancient times, watching a man he knew only as Gideon. As usual, Gideon was huddled on a windswept hill with his band of hopeless soldiers, waiting to be slaughtered by a huge army gathered in the valley below.
Seth snapped his eyes open to stop the battle from waging in his mind. It wasn’t that he was particularly squeamish; he’d watched enough movies to iron clad his stomach against gory visuals. But no movie had ever left him icy with dread the way Gideon’s battle did. And the reason for that was simple. The moment the visions had started, he had known that the war, fought so long ago in a place he’d never heard of, was far from over. And, as reluctant as he was, he too was being enlisted to fight in a cause he didn’t understand or want.
He forced himself to focus on the present: Erin, who waited for him in the arrivals hall; his brother Kyle, whom he’d come to Botswana to visit; Kyle’s expedition to find the Lost City of the Kalahari . . .
He ripped off another piece of fingernail. Thinking about the search for the Lost City was almost as bad as the war-vision. I hope Kyle never finds the damned place. He slapped his hand on his thigh. Enough! Grabbing his backpack off the carousel, he set his face into a smile and strode into the arrivals hall.
The first hurdle was finding Erin. She was due to arrive an hour earlier on a flight from Cape Town in South Africa, one of Botswana’s neighbours. He’d never met her, although they had spoken over the phone once. Then she’d described herself as “a short, seventeen-year-old (a year younger than him) with a mass of ginger hair.” She’d sounded nice. Meeting her was the one ray of brightness in this otherwise dark picture.
He stopped to scan the crowd. A petite girl with shoulder length, reddish-blonde curls, dressed in skinny jeans and a purple blouse, immediately caught his eye. It had to be Erin. Nice legs. What’s it with girls that they always under-sell themselves? He studied her face with his artist’s eye. Vermeer would’ve killed to paint her. Suddenly wishing he didn’t look so grimy after his three plane-changes, he walked over to join her. “Hi, I’m Seth. You’ve got to be Erin. My brother’s just married your sister Izzy.”
“And after only knowing each other for about a week.”
Her dimpled grin was infectious, making him crack his trademark crooked smile. “Madness.”
“Mysterious.” Erin cocked her head to one side, seemingly appraising him. He knew he had been accurate when he’d told her he was tall and dark-haired. But what he had failed to mention was what girls had often said they liked about him: his strong, angular face, softened by expressive brown eyes. He watched her eyes rove over his grey Muse: Resistance t-shirt, taking in his broad shoulders and chest. From there they darted down his black camo-pants to his boots. Amused by her blatant assessment, he cocked his head to one side, watching her. Suddenly Erin giggled – was she embarrassed? – and picked up her bag.
“We’ve yet another plane to catch. My fourth in the last twenty-four hours,” Seth said, hoping to explain away his rumpled appearance. “To a place called Maun.”
“So we do. Let the adventure begin.” 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blog Tour: Brunswick by Ann Haines

When Jonathan wakes up beside a lake bruised and bleeding, he has no idea how he got there or where “there” really is. He must try to remember how he ended up in this place and why. 
When he meets Grace and a group of people that seem to want to help him, he is thrown in to a world that he doesn’t know. Haunted by visions and voices in his head, Jonathan soon realises that this world isn’t as safe as he’d hoped. 
Taken from his life and asked to save a land he knows nothing about, from a menacing hooded figure, Jonathan must learn quickly to survive. As he struggles to stay alive long enough to get home he is faced with a deadly choice, Join It or Die. And when it becomes clear that so many would do anything to kill him he must stay close to those who would kill for him. 
To stay alive and get home he must face the one thing he never wanted to, the figure in black. And when the hood comes down Jonathan is faced with a revelation that could break him and destroy everything he has fought for.
My Review:
Brunswick followed a regular teen, Jonathan, on his journey into a magical world of the same name. It was a charming tale, for anyone who is a fan of fantasy, heroes, and especially imagination.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Every character was likeable, and Jonathan was the epitome of a wholesome hero. One of my favorite things was meeting all the creatures that lived in Brunswick. I'm not going to spoil them for you, but they were creatures/animals I can guarantee you haven't seen in any other fiction! 

Imagination was a big role in this book. The whole story ran on it. The plot twists were totally unexpected, and so clever. The morals that came out at the end were also heartwarming, and the epilogue sealed my love of this book. 

The cover kind of makes it look like a horror novel, but it's totally the opposite! I recommend this to anyone who is up for a bit of fantasy fun. (:

About The Author:

Ann Haines is a debut writer from the South East of England. She is a married mother of two, a horror movie buff, Tweeter, Blogger and a self-confessed geek............... and GLEEK (much to her sons annoyance).

She has been writing from an early age and even took to illustrations as she went through her teenage years. Although she still sketches as a hobby she now prefers to focus on her writing. At nineteen she became a mother and had to put her writing on hold for a more lucrative job to support her and her son, as it was just the two of them. She never gave up the idea of becoming a writer though and when her son was four he gave her the idea for what is now her first book 'Brunswick'.

After two and half years of writing her book and researching the self-publishing industry, Ann's book 'Brunswick' was published on Amazon. She became part of the Indie Publishing community that she loves and is widely involved in. Over the years she has had many ideas for her work and so we can expect to see much more of this new Indie Author.

Author's Links:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Joint Review: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1)
The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
Pages: 438
Publisher: Little, Brown
Published: July 17th, 2012
The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about.

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.
Kim's Review:

A few days ago, I read The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer. Now, I absolutely love Chris, so obviously I was excited to read his book - I even stayed up until midnight on the day of its release so I can start reading it on my Nook. After reading the first couple of chapters, I was sucked into the story of Alex and Conner Bailey and found it difficult to stop reading.

While it's about 500 pages long, The Land of Stories is ultimately a children's book, so it is a little predictable and not as complex as some YA books. However, there were a few times that I was caught completely off-guard by a plot twist. The plot is really original, and I love Chris's style of writing. Although the main characters, Conner and Alex, are a few years younger than me, I still felt like I could relate to both of them.

Almost every chapter ended in a cliffhanger and kept me begging for more. Like I said before, it's a children's book, but I think that anyone can enjoy it whether they're eight or eighteen or maybe even eighty! Even if you may not like these kinds of books, I really recommend that you give it a chance. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Charlotte's Review:

The Land of Stories was a delightful tale for anyone who ever enjoyed any fairy tale whatsoever. Even when our favorite tales ended, they were still continuing in this world. For example, Cinderella is pregnant and the Evil Queen is in Snow White's dungeon. Alex and Conner were realistic children who had to track down some impossible items, and reading about their journey was really fun.

First off, this book is gorgeous. I loved the map-insert that was before the title page. I pulled it out all the time, and scanned it while reading. Honestly, it was distracting! The illustrations at the beginning of every chapter reminded me of Harry Potter. So, if you need a book to put on display, this one is for you!

Even though it was a Middle Grade novel, there were some raunchy innuendos every once in a while. (Most often there were a part of Conner's dialogue.) I doubt younger children would realize them though. I found some of them funny too, and I could really see Chris' humor coming out and that personalized the novel. The plot twists were somewhat predictable, and there were very cheesy romance moments.

The beginning starts off with some sad memories, but the children developed over the course and at the end were happy. This change was clear, and I got teary at the end because it was so easy to be swayed by their happiness. I can not wait until the next book!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Review: Beach Blondes by Katherine Applegate

Beach Blondes: June Dreams, July's Promise, August Magic (Summer)
Beach Blondes by Katherine Applegate
Pages: 720
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: May 6th, 2008 

My Review:

This book borders on three stars. Beach Blondes is a compound of three books originally written in 1995. It was a fun, cheesy and somewhat dumb summer read. Perfect for hot days when all you're doing is drinking iced tea on the porch.

Beach Blondes follows Summer Smith, (and pretty much every character gets a bit of their POV at least once) a simple girl from Minnesota who has come down to Florida to stay with her aunt and cousin for the summer. On the plane ride a woman reads her future with tarot cards, and Summer is told she'll meet three guys. The dangerous guy, the mysterious guy, and the right guy. Ensues is a wild summer she will never forget.

I definitely felt like a loser at some points, when I realized how little activity I was doing compared to these girls. That's not a good feeling for the reader, so I did take that into account. You should want to be friends with the characters, in a summer/romance novel like this. You shouldn't feel less than them. This feeling didn't really bother me though, because I wasn't a fan of any of the characters! They were all annoying, to put it blatantly. Summer (the main protagonist) was okay at first, but in the third book she seemed to have developed into a worse version of herself. Her logic was screwy and the way she acted around guys (*cough* Sean & Seth) was pathetic and unadmirable. On a side note and somewhat unrelated one, when your boyfriend calls you pathetic, you do not agree! (MARQUEZ, I'M LOOKING AT YOU.)

As for the cheesiness, (e.g. Lianne's revenge plot) it didn't really affect the book overall. It was cute at some points, like Seth and Summer's romance. The aspects that really saved the book for me were the climaxes and resolutions. Whenever I started to get annoyed or disgruntled, something would happen and save me from abandoning the 700+ pages. Because it was three books originally, the little surprising points were spaced out perfectly. Katherine Applegate is very good at writing plot twists you never saw coming, but gave you 'OH!' moments afterward. They saved the book for me.

I'll probably read the rest of the series, although I only recommend it to the people who don't mind spending several days reading this book. It took me nearly a week to read Beach Blondes, and I can normally finish a 200-300ish page book in less than two days. If you are willing to take your time, I do think you'll enjoy this book!    

Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mylnowski

Summary: 2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house - parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.
If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.
In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.
Review: This book was better than I expected it to be! Okay to start off, I don't usually go for books like this. I only started to really get in to chick lit/contemporary YA books after reading Anna and The French Kiss. Back to this book though. I loved it!
To sum up this book, April is a girl who is living with her Dad in Westport. Since her Dad got a new and "better" job, they are moving to Cleveland. April is opposed to this and makes it clear to her Dad that she does not want to move. She does not want to leave behind her life here with her boyfriend, Noah and her friends Vi and Marissa. Suddenly, April comes up with a brilliant plan. She decides to move in with her best friend Vi. After lying about a few things, about ten to be exact, her Dad lets her move in with Vi. And then her adventures start to unfold. 

The characters for the most part were good. Each of them were interesting. I don't know why but I really liked Vi and Dean's playful kind of relationship. During the whole book I wished that one day I could do what April was doing. (cough Char and Kim cough). It sounds like so much fun! I would never be able to pull it off as great as they did though. 

I loved the way this book was written as well. I don't know how to describe it but there were some flashbacks but it actually made the book better in a way. Believe it or not, towards the middle and end of this book I was actually surprised. This book has everything you would want in a contemporary young adult book. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

Summary: When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night - dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows her. Margo's always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she's always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they're for Q. Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.

I've been a fan of John Green's books ever since I first picked up Looking for Alaska a year or so ago. I love his writing as well as his vlogs on YouTube, so naturally, I was excited to read Paper Towns.

This book is divided into three parts: The Strings, The Grass, and The Vessel. As you read in the summary above, the first part is about a night where Margo Roth Spiegelman, Quentin's old childhood friend, takes him on a trip in the middle of the night where they perform various pranks, from breaking into houses to get revenge to breaking into Seaworld just for fun. This is the first time Margo and Quentin have "hung out" in years, and Quentin finds that what he thought was just a crush on the mysterious girl could be love.

The next morning, Margo goes missing. This isn't the first time, though; she always took off to go "exploring" and came back a few days later. Whenever she left, she would leave little, hard-to-find hints about where she was going. Now that Quentin felt closer to her after the previous night, he becomes determined to find her. So along with his friends Radar, Ben, and Lacey, he searches her house, the state, and practically the country for her. However, while continuing the search and figuring out clues, they find that Margo could be an entirely different person than who they had thought her to be.

I found the first two parts of this book a bit slow-moving. I also thought the plot was really similar to Looking for Alaska: Both are narrated by a boy who falls in love with a quirky, unique teenage girl. Something tragic happens to the girl. The boy and his friends spend the rest of the book searching for answers.

In the third part, however, it finally picked up and I couldn't stop reading. I was up until about two in the morning last night finishing this book. Despite the doubts I'd had about the book early on, it redeemed itself in the last hundred or so pages. While I don't think Paper Towns is John Green's best, it is definitely worth reading. The only problems I had with this book were that the plot seemed recycled at first and that I thought some of the characters were underdeveloped. 

In the end, however, I would give this book 3.5/5 stars. The writing is fantastic - the metaphors and clues really made me think sometimes - and the ending is very bittersweet. There are also a few lines that made me laugh out loud.

Paper Towns is a story that tells how our perceptions of people can be very different from who they really are. It's an interesting read, although I would definitely recommend checking out some of John Green's other books before judging him as a writer since this isn't his best piece.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

In My Mailbox #10

In My Mailbox is a weekly event hosted by the Story Siren! It's an opportunity to showcase what books you have purchased, borrowed from the library, etc throughout the week.

Here's what I've picked up from my library this week:

2 Norse Mythology books (Thor has spiked my interest. . .)
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

What have you received this week?