Friday, July 1, 2011

Forbidden by Tabitha Sazuma

Cover Image

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.


First of all, sorry I haven't reviewed any books in awhile. However, this book is the reason I decided to start reviewing again, or at least try to, because this is a book I will not be able to stop thinking about.

Forbidden starts out by taking a very real and heartbreaking look at a family, in particular siblings Lochan and Maya who have been forced to grow up too fast. With an often absent, alcoholic mother, and a father who deserted the family years ago, Lochan and Maya must assume responsibility for their 3 younger siblings: Kit, a 13-year-old who has taken to smoking and hanging out with a nasty crowd of kids, Tiffan, a rambunctious 8-year-old, and 5-year-old Willa.

Lochan and Maya are only 13 months apart, and have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Due to Lochan's overwhelming fear of speaking in public, he is often looked at as a freak and a loner, but at home he is the surrogate father in his dysfunctional family. As Lochan and Maya begin to work harder to keep their family from being split up, as their mother begins to make her full exit from the family, they realize that their love for each other goes deeper than just siblings or friends.

Tabitha Sazuma has a true gift for writing. The way she portrays these five siblings will make you fall in love with them, rooting for them despite everything that is thrown their way. Even as the romance aspect begins to be part of Lochan and Maya's life, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't wish for there to be a happy ending for them.

This story was haunting and beautiful. I honestly don't remember the last time I cried so much after reading a book. I know that I won't be able to stop thinking about these characters and their story for a very, very long time.

Rating: A+
Warning: This book is not suitable for younger readers. It contains intimate details of Lochan and Maya's relationship that might make some readers uncomfortable.

Other Recommended Books: (I haven't read either of these books, I just know that they also involve similar incestual themes and could perhaps be of interest to readers of Forbidden)

  • Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
  • Illyria by Elizabeth Hand

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Mermaid's Mirror- L.K. Madigan



Synopsis:

"Lena has lived her whole life near the beach—walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves—the problem is, she’s spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf.

But her father – a former surfer himself – refuses to allow her to take lessons. After a near drowning in his past, he can’t bear to let Lena take up the risky sport.

Yet something lures Lena to the water … an ancient, powerful magic. One morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman—with a silvery tail.

Nothing will keep Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.

And soon … what she sees in the mermaid’s mirror will change her life …"


Summary: I blogged earlier in the year about L.K. Madigan, who was facing stage IV pancreatic cancer. I entered a contest to win her two books and was one of the winners. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago L.K. Madigan passed away, however her books will live on. I have already reviewed Flash Burnout, her first novel, and very much recommend it. Now onto my review of The Mermaid's Mirror.

I don't usually read books that feature mermaids. I haven't actually come across many, but I feel like they are creatures that are hard to put into stories. L.K. Madigan however, was able to write them and this entire story brilliantly.

One thing I loved about this book, as well as Flash Burnout, is how wonderfully her characters are created. Lena, as well has her family and friends, are all incredibly real. They are unique too. I read a lot of books where the main characters or the secondary characters are sort of interchangeable, but the characters L.K. Madigan wrote are characters with specific quirks and personalities that I know I won't forget.

I thought that the way Lena was connected to the mermaids was well written. I also really enjoyed the great amount of thought that was put into the mermaids and their lives and culture. Although L.K. Madigan had intended to write a sequel before she dies, this book works very well as a standalone book, which I was very happy about.

Finally I would like to send my condolences to the authors family, and note that a college fund has been set up for her son if anyone would like to donate to it. Checks can be made out to the Nathan Wolfeson Trust and sent to:

Becker Capital Management, Inc.
Attn: Sharon Gueck/John Becker
1211 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2185
Portland, OR 97204
Rating: A-


Other Recommended Books:
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wither- Lauren DeStefano

Wither

Synopsis:

"What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left."



Summary: Even though this book isn't due out until March 22, I read it thanks to this wonderful website http://www.simonandschuster.com/specials/pulseit/index.html that lets teens read and review books online for free.

Ever since I watched a few episodes of that TV show Sister Wives I have found the concept of polygamy interesting. There is a large social stigma against it in the United States, however, not all polygamist marriages are like the awful ones you hear about with child brides being forced into marriages with older men.

Anyways, when I heard about this book that was both dystopian and featured a polygamist way of life in order to try and produce more kids in a time when women die at age 20 and men at 25, I definitely wanted to read it.

I really loved this book. I think my favorite part were the characters. Even though I sympathized with Rhine for being stolen away to be a wife, it was hard to hate her husband Linden, who was clearly not the evil mastermind his father was. I loved watching the bond develop between Rhine and her sister wives. Even though the youngest, Cecily, was a little annoying, being forced into the situation they were in made friendships develop that really show sort of what it is like in a polygamist marriage with the wives in as much of a relationship of sorts with each other as they are with their husband. Obviously in a friendship sort of way.

And then there was Gabriel. The sweet, servant boy who Rhine befriends and who is the only one she can share her actual thoughts and feeling with.

I thought that the way Lauren DeStefano had with words made the story and all of the characters seem so real, and made a story, which sort of seems implausible, actually really work.

This is probably the third or so dystopian novel I've read this year that really had a focus not on the characters changing the entire world, but just changing their own lives, and I've found that to be a refreshing change. I honestly can't wait to see what happens from here and to read the next two books once they are released.

Rating: A


Other Recommended Books:
Matched by Ally Condie
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
The Declaration by Gemma Malley

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sapphique- Catherine Fisher



Warning: Sequel to Incarceron, will contain spoilers for said book.

Synopsis:

"Incarceron, the living prison, has lost one of its inmates to the outside world: Finn's escaped, only to find that Outside is not at all what he expected. Used to the technologically advanced, if violently harsh, conditions of the prison, Finn is now forced to obey the rules of Protocol, which require all people to live without technology. To Finn, Outside is just a prison of another kind, especially when Claudia, the daughter of the prison's warden, declares Finn the lost heir to the throne. When another claimant emerges, both Finn's and Claudia's very lives hang on Finn convincing the Court of something that even he doesn't fully believe.

Meanwhile, Finn's oathbrother Keiro, and his friend Attia, are still trapped inside Incarceron. They are searching for a magical glove, which legend says Sapphique used to escape. To find it, they must battle the prison itself, because Incarceron needs the glove too."



Review: Following up only a little while after the first book left off, Sapphique is just as exciting and mystifying as its predecessor.

Just as Incarceron was told, the story switches between the point of view of those inside the prison, and those outside of it. Only this time Finn is outside the prison, playing the role of Prince Giles. As another boy shows up claiming to be the same missing prince, it becomes unclear who is telling the truth, if either of them. Claudia must choose who to back in the battle, even as her own life is put at stake.

As for inside the prison, Attia and Keiro are still trying to escape. A new character, a magician named Rix, who may or may not have Sapphique's glove.

Another interesting character in the story continues to be the prison itself. It reminds me a lot of the house from that Disney TV movie Smart House, where the house comes to life and holds the family hostage.

Anyways, this book is a delightful, intensely exciting read, just as Incarceron was. More mysteries are revealed, including secrets about the very world Claudia lives in.

I would highly recommend this book and the entire duology to lovers of dystopian lit and steampunk.

Rating: A+


Other Recommended Books:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (If you really enjoyed Finn's part of the book)
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
A Great and Terrible Beauty Series by Libba Bray (If you really enjoyed Claudia's part of the book)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Paranormalcy- Kiersten White



Synopsis:

"Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie's always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. 

Normal. 

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal."



Summary: I don't usually read books with vampires or werewolves or the like, but I decided to give this one a shot after hearing such rave reviews.

While this book didn't quite live up to those reviews, it was definitely a fun read. One of the things I liked most about this book was how Evie came across as just a normal girl. She wants normal things. Normal friends, a "normal" life, to go to a normal school, and to have a normal boyfriend.

What she does have is a pink taser named Tasey, a best friend who lives in an aquarium, and a problem with a certain faerie named Reth who just won't leave her alone.

Before I read this book I had heard a lot about the two boys vying for Evie's attention- Reth and Lend, and how both of them were great choices. In fact, here is what author Aprilynne Pike says about them on the back cover of the book. "Paranormalcy seduced me. The two sexy paranormals who view for Evie's affections each had their own victory; one won Evie's heart, and the other won mine."

After reading the book I have a slight problem with that. There is nothing wonderful about both boys. Lend is wonderful. I can be a complete sap at times, and I adored how kind and caring he was and I loved every moment of the book that he was in.

Reth on the other hand is crazy. Certainly he's magnetic and attractive, but he also frightens Evie, shows up when and where he isn't wanted, and causes all sorts of trouble. He's not even sexy in a bad boy sort of way. He's a total creeper, in my opinion.

But hey, that's what's great about books. We can judge them and their characters for ourselves.

This book is the first in a trilogy. The second, Supernaturally, will be released in the fall. So if you like books with paranormal characters or fun, sweet romances, check out this first book.

Rating: B


Other Recommended Reads:
Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
The Hourglass Door Series by Lisa Mangum
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (not paranormal, but a cute, fun romance story)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Incarceron- Catherine Fisher



NOTE: Read as part of Dystopian February

Synopsis:

"Incarceron is a prison unlike any other: It’s inmates live not only in cells, but also in metal forests, dilapidated cities, and unbounded wilderness. The prison has been sealed for centuries, and only one man, legend says, has ever escaped.

Finn, a seventeen-year-old prison, can’t remember his childhood and believes he came from Outside Incarceron. he’s going to escape, even though most inmates don’t believe that Outside even exists. And then Finn finds a crystal key and through it, a girl named Claudia.

Claudia claims to live Outside — her father is the Warden of Incarceron and she’s doomed to an arranged marriage. If she helps Finn escape, she will need his help in return.

But they don’t realize that there is more to Incarceron than meets the eye. Escape will take their greatest courage and cost far more than they know.

BECAUSE INCARCERON IS ALIVE."



Summary: I've been meaning to read this book for quite some time and when I saw that my local library had a copy I was incredibly excited and checked it out, and I'm so glad I did.

Incarceron is told through two points of view- Finn, a prisoner in Incarceron who is convinced he is from the outside and Claudia, a girl destined to be queen who only wants not to have to marry Casper, the queen's son.

Claudia is from the outside, a world that was once, and secretly still is, incredibly technologically advanced, but is trapped in the past. The 1700s, to be exact. Although everyone knows about the advanced technology, and some of it is secretly used (modern bathrooms, washing machines, etc), by the degree of King Endor, progress has been halted. Thus, the world Claudia inhabits is a world where she must dress in petticoats and fine clothing, observe proper manners and act like the well bred girl she was brought up to be.

This however, does not suit Claudia. From the beginning of the book we see that Claudia, along with her tutor Jared Sapiens, one of the Sapient branch of people who were at the forefront of former technological advancements, will not sit back content as her father controls her future. Thus, when she finds a key that allows her to communicate with Finn, from the prison, she is determined to break him out and change her own destiny.

I loved the setting of Claudia's world. I thought it was fascinating how their society was futuristic but trapped in the past.

Likewise, I loved reading about the scenes in Incarceron. The idea of a prison that is essentially alive is so intriguing and I loved all of the characters that joined Finn as he tried to find out his true identity.

This book was wonderful the entire way through and honestly had some of the best plot twists I have ever read in a book. When large secrets began to be revealed about Incarceron, Finn, and Claudia I thought they were brilliant and I absolutely cannot wait to read the sequel Sapphique.

This is definitely the best book I've read all year and in a very long time.

Rating: A+


Other Recommended Books:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (If you really enjoyed Finn's part of the book)
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
A Great and Terrible Beauty Series by Libba Bray (If you really enjoyed Claudia's part of the book)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Am Number Four- Pittacus Lore



Synopsis: 

"We may be walking past you right now.

We are watching as you read this.

We may be in your city, your town.

We are living anonymously.

We are waiting for the day when

We will find each other.

We will make our last stand together—if

We win,

We are saved, and

You are saved as well.

If we lose, all is lost."



Summary: As a baby Number 4, or John Smith as he's now going by, left his wartorn dying planet of Lorien for Earth along with eight other children and their adult guardians. Pursued to Earth by the Mogadorians who destroyed their first planet, all nine children must remain alive- the fate of the world depends on it.

Bound together by a bond that allows the children to be killed by the Mogadorians only in the order of their numbers, John Smith is next in line to die. Numbers 1, 2 and 3 are dead.

He is number 4.

I've been wanting to read this book for awhile. I had heard only good things about it, and I have been dying to see the movie.

The book didn't quite live up to my expectations. While I enjoyed the actual plot and the action scenes, I felt that the relationship development, at least in regards to John and girlfriend/love interest Sarah, was very much lacking. However, as this is not primarily a romance novel but more of an action one, I think it was something I could sort of, but not completely overlook.

I think this book will adapt well to a movie form, although I think in order to maintain a level of interest throughout the movie I expect a lot of changes from the original book. This book reminded me of a cross between the tv shows Heroes and Smallville, with the main character John gaining some really cool powers throughout the book.

Though this is not a favorite book, I am excited for both the movie and the next book which will be called The Power of Six.

Rating: B

Other Recommended Books:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Gone Series by Michael Grant
Elder's Game by Orson Scott Card
Pendragon Series by D. J. MacHale

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bumped (ARC)- Megan McCafferty



Read as part of Dystopian February.

Synopsis:

"When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents must pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they search for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

From New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty comes a strikingly original look at friendship, love, and sisterhood—in a future that is eerily believable."



Summary:

So if you have been following my blog, you'll know that I posted about a contest for an Advanced Reader's Copy of Bumped by Megan McCafferty, which I can now say I was lucky enough to have won. Thanks so much to Megan McCafferty, HarperCollins Publishers and the host of the wonderful contest over at http://bibliophilebrouhaha.blogspot.com/

I received the book in the mail today and read it all so here are my thoughts.

Now, I read a lot of dystopian novels. Dystopian lit, especially YA Dystopian books are my absolute favorite. Generally however, they involve corrupt governments or large plans of rebellion, and Bumped is not like that at all. Bumped is a book that could almost take place today if a virus struck that made almost everyone over the age of 18 infertile.

In this book a pro-pregnancy culture arises. Teens if they are lucky enough can score a contract to give birth to babies in exchange for a fully paid college tuition, or a car, or a 6 figure bonus. Those who are less lucky become amateurs, getting pregnant and taking bids after the baby is born.

The two narrators of this story, Melody and Harmony begin from very different places. Melody has been raised to be the perfect surrogate, Harmony has been raised in a church community which condemns such acts.

While I wasn't always a huge fan of  how preachy Harmony was, I liked seeing her own secrets and thoughts revealed as the story went on. I also liked seeing Melody's transition from perfect daughter and surrogate to a teen who wants to take control of her own life.

As I am not a fan of shows like 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom, I was perhaps a little less interested in reading about all the pregnancy aspects of this book. However, I did enjoy the character growth and interaction and thinking about my own views on teen pregnancy.

Definitely an interesting read. I'll be excited to read the sequel when it is released.

Bumped will be released on April 26, 2011.

Rating: B+


Other Recommended Reads:
The Declaration Trilogy by Gemma Malley
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Matched by Ally Condie

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Replacement- Brenna Yovanoff



Synopsis:

"Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. 



He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world. 

Mackie would give anything to live among us. He just wants to play bass guitar and find out more about an oddly intriguing girl named Tate.



 But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs."


Summary: I have honestly never read anything like this book. When I first saw the cover I knew I wanted to read it, which is slightly strange as I don't usually like anything remotely creepy. However this book is the exception to that rule.

Mackie Doyle is a character who isn't normal. He isn't human, he's from belowground, a castoff placed into a crib of a murdered baby as a replacement. He was supposed to die, but instead he lives, thanks a great deal to his loving older sister Emma.

I found this cast of characters, especially Mackie, to be charming. Mackie is a little creepy if you didn't know him, but he is a sweet, caring kid who absolutely loves his older sister Emma. He is portrayed to the town as a sort of a rebel. His father is a minister, but because he can't step foot on hallowed ground, Mackie has never been inside the church.

Something I found interesting about the book is the way the town sort of knows that every 7 years a child is sacrificed for prosperity and they just let it happen. It isn't directly talked about and no one, until Tate speaks out, mentions that the children who are buried in their town aren't really the children everyone knew and loved.

While the plot of this story was not very complex, the characters were fun to read about and really grew on me. I thought the plot was incredibly unique and managed to make things that are creepy and ugly become really beautiful, especially with Mackie, who doesn't really belong with the ugly, dead (or perhaps undead) creatures from below the slag heap.

One last general note about the story. For those of you looking for a genuinely creepy story that will give you nightmares, this really isn't it. Some parts of the story are rather creepy but in a very light sort of way. The fact that I could read it without ever becoming freaked out is a good indicator of this as I hate all things frightening.

Rating: A-


Other Recommended Books:
Cirque du Freak Series by Darren Shan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book Contest- Other Words for Love

Hey everyone, here's a contest you can enter for a signed hardcover copy of Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal that you can check out here! http://shusky20.blogspot.com/2011/02/riya-interview-with-lorraine-zago.html

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Delirium- Lauren Oliver



Note: I read this as part of Dystopian February

Synopsis: 

"Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn't understand that once love--the deliria--blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold.

Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she'll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: she falls in love."



Review: When I first heard of this book, it sounded to me like a cross between Matched by Ally Condie, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and the Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, three of my all time favorite dystopian novels. Obviously that meant I had to have it the day it was released.

When the book begins, Lena is a strict rule follower. She's afraid, terrified even, of what would happen if she listens to forbidden music, breaks curfew, or even of talking to an uncured boy. Her best friend Hana is less concerned with all this, and she's really the one, along with a boy named Alex, who becomes the main love interest in the story, who draws Lena into an unknown rebellious world.

I really loved a lot of things about this story. I thought that Lauren Oliver was great at descriptions. Her choice of adjectives or the way she'd portray a moment in the story really appealed to me. I also loved how every chapter began with a quote from books in Lena's life, about love and the cure and various other things.

My only complaint about the story is that Alex and Lena's romance seemed to go from almost nothing, with Lena still afraid of everything really, to an instantaneous connection after an event in the story. Although that didn't even feel as rushed as I might be making it seem.

I absolutely adored this book and cannot wait for books 2 and 3, Pandemonium and Requiem, which are to be released in February of 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Rating: A

Other Recommended Books:
Matched by Ally Condie
Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
The Giver by Lois Lowry

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Conspiracy of Kings- Megan Whalen Turner




Warning: Spoilers for previous books in series.




Synopsis: 

"Sophos, under the guidance of yet another tutor, practices his swordplay and strategizes escape scenarios should his father's villa come under attack. How would he save his mother? His sisters? Himself? Could he reach the horses in time? Where would he go? But nothing prepares him for the day armed men, silent as thieves, swarm the villa courtyard ready to kill, to capture, to kidnap. Sophos, the heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears without a trace.

In Attolia, Eugenides, the new and unlikely king, has never stopped wondering what happened to Sophos. Nor has the Queen of Eddis. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again.

Across the small peninsula battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Darkening the horizon, the Mede Empire threatens, always, from across the sea. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Sophos, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the magus—and Eddis—sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever."



Summary: I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. When I finished reading The Thief, and heard that there was going to be a book featuring Sophos, I became incredibly excited because he had become one of my favorite characters in the novel.

This book is told primarily in first person, through the point of view of Sophos, the reluctant heir to the throne who would rather read than rule a country. When he is kidnapped and forced into slavery, he quickly realizes that he enjoys for once, not having to be the disappointing son and heir to the throne that he has been for years. He almost doesn't want to try and leave.

This story is told basically in three parts, and the first part is Sophos during his time as a slave. I've read other reviews in which readers are upset that there isn't a lot of Eugenides in the story, but I think that even without his playing a large role, this story is still incredible. When Sophos and Eugenides do meet up again for the first time as Attolis and Sounis, I was temporarily disappointed by the awkward and cold exchanges between the two friends. However, as the book went on and I realized the love and friendship both still felt for each other, I loved the book all the more for it. Throughout most of the book the reader can see that Sophos looked up to Eugenides and admires him, and even though Sophos doesn't realize it at first, Eugenides cares greatly about his friend as well.

This was the first book since The Thief where I also really felt Eugenides' old personality shine through. Even though there were moments where you could really see his personality in the past two books, I greatly enjoyed reading the little bits about Eugenides in this book, especially when he talks about when he first knew that he loved Attolia.

I also really enjoyed the scenes between Eddis and Sophos in the book.

Really this book had it all. Action, excitement, secrets, friendship, and romance. I read that there are supposed to be another 2 books after this one, however Turner is known for writing books incredibly slowly. This book came out 4 years after the last one, which came out 6 years after the one before that. I don't know if I can wait that long, but at least I have something to look forward to in the years to come.

Rating: A


Other Recommended Books:
Alanna Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Trickster's Series by Tamora Pierce
Any other series by Tamora Pierce
Farsala Trilogy by Hilari Bell
Fire and Graceling books by Kristin Cashore
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The King of Attolia- Megan Whalen Turner



Warning: Synopsis and Review will likely contain some spoilers for The Thief and The Queen of Attolia, the first 2 books in the series.

Synopsis: "By scheming and theft, the Thief of Eddis has become King of Attolia. Eugenides wanted the queen, not the crown, but he finds himself trapped in a web of his own making. Attolia's barons seethe with resentment, the Mede emperor is returning to the attack, and the king is surrounded by the subtle and dangerous intrigue of the Attolian court. 

When a naive young guard expresses his contempt for the king in no uncertain terms, he is dragged by Eugenides into the center of the political maelstrom. Like the king, he cannot escape the difficulties he makes for himself. Poor Costis knows he is the victim of the king's caprice, but he discovers a reluctant sympathy for Eugenides as he watches the newly crowned king struggle against his fate."


Summary: 

The King of Attolia picks up after The Queen of Attolia leaves off, with Eugenides stepping into his new role as the King of Attolia and husband of the woman he loves, the same woman who cut his arm off in the previous novel.

This book is told in third person, primarily through the point of view of Costis, a young guard. When the books starts off, Costis, along with all of the other guards, really hate Eugenides. They think that he is just a pawn who the queen doesn't care about at all. However as the book goes on, Costis realizes that there is more to the King than a weak man, and more to the relationship between the King and Queen. 

My only complaint about the book is that I wish I had seen a bit more from Eugenides' point of view. Or of his interactions with the Queen, which, when they did appear, were sweet and well written and some of my favorite passages in the novel. 

I really liked how loyal Costis became to the King by the end of the novel, and how Eugenides really has grown from the boy he was in the first book. I think this book rivaled The Thief for my favorite book in the series so far. I really liked the last 1/3 or so of The Queen of Attolia, but I felt the beginning dragged a little. This book however, I felt was much more interesting the entire way through. Now I can't wait to read about Sophos in A Conspiracy of Kings

Rating: A

Other Recommended Books:
Alanna Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Tricksters Series by Tamora Pierce
Any other series by Tamora Pierce
Farsala Trilogy by Hilari Bell
Graceling and Fire books by Kristin Cashore
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

The Queen of Attolia- Megan Whalen Turner



Warning: Synopsis and Review will probably contain some minor spoilers for The Thief


Synopsis: 

"Revenge

When Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, stole Hamiathes's Gift, the Queen of Attolia lost more than a mythical relic. She lost face. Everyone knew that Eudenides had outwitted and escaped her. To restore her reputation and reassert her power, the Queen of Attolia will go to any length and accept any help that is offered...she will risk her country to execute the perfect revenge.

...but

Eugenides can steal anything. And he taunts the Queen of Attolia, moving through her strongholds seemingly at will. So Attolia waits, secure in the knowledge that the Thief will slip, that he will haunt her palace one too many times.

...at what price?

When Eugenides finds his small mountain country at war with Attolia, he must steal a man, he must steal a queen, he must steal peace. But his greatest triumph--and his greatest loss--comes in capturing something that the Queen of Attolia thought she had sacrificed long ago..."



Summary: Having just finished The Thief, I immediately moved onto The Queen of Attolia, hoping to be wowed just as I was with the first book. And I was. Only a little bit less.

This book focuses on Eugenides and Eddis after he returns to his homeland. After a scarring incident involving the Queen of Attolia, Eugenides feels as though he has lost his purpose, and much of the novel is spent with him regaining his confidence and skills.

What I love about this book, and about The Thief, is Turner's way of surprising the reader near the end, but not in a way that's completely crazy or unbelievable, just in a "how didn't I see that before?" sort of way. She also is great about showing you a character and making you believe that they don't know a certain bit of information, or don't have involvement in some plan or another, and then completely surprising you with that character's actions later.

The thing I probably disliked the most about this book as compared to The Thief, was the switch from first person to third person. While it allowed the reader to see more of the story other than just Eugenides' point of view, I really had enjoyed his first person perspective in the first novel, and wish that the rest of the series had continued with it.

That being said, I still adored this book, especially the end of it, and am anxious to finish The King of Attolia, the next book in the series.

Rating: A-


Other Recommended Books:
Alanna Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Trickster's Series by Tamora Pierce
Any other series by Tamora Pierce
Farsala Trilogy by Hilari Bell
Graceling and Fire books by Kristin Cashore
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Contest- Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Another contest to tell you all about. This book looks intriguing and this is for an ARC copy of the book so head over to the author's page quickly (the contest ends tomorrow February 2) and enter! http://bibliophilebrouhaha.blogspot.com/2011/01/getting-bumped-with-megan-mccafferty.html

The Thief- Megan Whalen Turner



Synopsis:

"The most powerful advisor to the King of Sounis is the magus. He's not a wizard, he's a scholar, an aging solider, not a thief. When he needs something stolen, he pulls a young thief from the King's prison to do the job for him.

Gen is a thief and proud of it. When his bragging lands him behind bars he has one chance to win his freedom-- journey to a neighboring kingdom with the magus, find a legendary stone called Hamiathes's Gift and steal it.

The magus has plans for his King and his country. Gen has plans of his own."



Summary: A few months ago I won a copy of this book from Heather Zundel from a contest she held on her blog http://thesecretadventuresofwritergirl.blogspot.com/ after she helped host the YA Fantasy Showdown. Eugenides, the main character in this book, came out the ultimate winner in the showdown and I decided that I needed to read his story. And I'm certainly glad I did!

Eugenides is a skilled thief whose only chance (for now) of escaping the king's prison is to help steal an ancient artifact of sorts. Gen, along with the king's magus, his two apprentices Ambiades and Sophos, and Pol, a soldier, set out on a journey to find and steal the ancient artifact. Although much of the book is simply the group's journey, it is incredibly interesting. I loved Eugenides. I seem to have a particular fondness for thieves in novels, so I suppose he fit in wonderfully with this. I also loved the group dynamic, especially seeing how Eugenides grew from being simply a tool to the magus, to being respected by him and in turn holding respect for his traveling companions.

I was especially fond of Sophos too, who I just found out, stars in his own book in A Conspiracy of Kings, which I cannot wait to read.

This book is a wonderful adventure with many secrets that aren't revealed until the end, and I would highly recommend it. It reminded me a great deal of Tamora Pierce's Alanna quartet and her Trickster's series, as well as the Farsala trilogy by Hilari Bell, both series that I absolutely adore and really suggest everyone reads.

Rating: A


Other Recommended Books:
Alanna Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Trickster's Series by Tamora Pierce
Any other series by Tamora Pierce
Farsala Trilogy by Hilari Bell
Graceling and Fire books by Kristin Cashore
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Flash Burnout- L.K. Madigan



Synopsis: 

"Click.
 Telephoto lens. Zoom. In a shutter release millisecond, Blake's world turns upside down. The nameless woman with the snake tattoo is not just another assignment. "That's my mom!" gasps Marissa. 

Click. 
Saturated self-portrait: Blake, nice guy, class clown, always trying to get a laugh, not sure where to focus. 

Click. 
Contrast. Shannon, Blake's GF. total. Babe. Marissa, just a friend and fellow photographer. Shannon loves him; Marissa needs him. How is he supposed to frame them both in one shot?

 Click. 
Chiaroscuro. Lightdark. Marissa again, overexposed. Crash and burn. Talk about negative space. 

Click."

Summary: I recently heard about L.K. Madigan when I read that she has stage IV pancreatic cancer. I posted a contest to a book giveaway featuring this book and another one of hers a few days ago, but when I saw this book at the library, I knew I had to read it.

After reading this book, I have to say that it was refreshing reading a book featuring a male main character, but more than that, as I've read plenty of books with male protagonists, one who really seemed like a real guy. I mean, I wouldn't exactly know how a guy thinks, but I think if I did, I would find that it resembled Blake. 

This story revolves around Blake and two relationships he has. One is with his funny, cool girlfriend. The other is with a girl who's just a friend- Marissa. After accidentally shooting a photo of her meth-addicted, missing mother, Blake begins to find out more and more about Marissa's troubled family, and really becomes one of the only people Marissa has to rely on. Obviously this causes some issues for Blake as he tries to deal with having a girlfriend and a girl friend

I liked that this wasn't just a story about Blake slowly falling for Marissa. Blake truly does love his girlfriend Shannon, but he also cares a lot for Marissa, and wants to do his best to help her get through what she's going through. 

I liked the other main characters as well. They were all real and funny and enjoyable to read about, especially Blake's older brother Garrett, and his parents. This is a great story with many funny parts, and many parts you could sympathize with Blake about, and many serious moments as well. 

I can't wait to check out L.K. Madigan's other book, The Mermaid's Mirror.

Rating: A

Other Recommended Books: 
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ship Breaker- Paolo Bacigalupi



Synopsis: "Even at night, the wrecks glowed with work. The torch lights flickered, bobbing and moving. Sledge noise rang across the water. Comforting sounds of work and activity, the air tanged with the coal reek of smelters and the salt fresh breeze coming off the water. It was beautiful.
In America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota — and hopefully live to see another day.
But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it’s worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life…"

Review: 
Real, powerful and completely original. From the moment I started reading this amazing dystopian book, I was struck by just how much the future Bacigalupi has created struck home with me. Especially in light of the Gulf Coast oil spill, and with the move towards green energy, the idea of a future in which fossil fuels have been used up and raging storms have caused massive amounts of flooding across the country, I found that the world Nailer occupies is a frightening, but very real view of where our country, and our world could be headed.
A few times in the novel Nailer refers to the "Accelerated Age", presumably the age we occupy now in which the rate at which technology grows is incredible. However, as can be seen from this book, all things have consequences. New Orleans is shown as a destroyed, completely flooded city, left to rust and rot. The characters in this novel are very real and in some cases, very awful. Nailer's father is abusive and kept me frightened almost the entire novel.
What I liked about this dystopian book is how Nailer isn't trying to change the entire world. He just wanted to save his friend, while at the same time allowing the reader to glimpse this frightening world. I've heard that there might be a sequel or two, and I certainly think, and hope their will be after the ending, which leaves many things about the world unexplored.
I highly recommend this book.

Rating: A

Other Recommended Books: 
Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Worldshaker by Richard Harland
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Monday, January 24, 2011

Worldshaker- Richard Harland



Synopsis:

"Col Porpentine understands how society works: the elite families enjoy a comfortable life on the Upper Decks on the great juggernaut Worldshaker, while the Filthies toil Below. And Col himself is being groomed by his grandfather, the supreme commander of Worldshaker, to be his successor. He has never questioned his place in the world, nor his illustrious future.

When Col mets Riff, a Filthy girl on the run, his world is turned on its head. All his life he has been taught that Filthies are like animals, without the ability to understand language or think for themselves. He has always known that all they are good for is serving in the Below, keeping Worldshaker running. But Riff is nothing like he ever expected. She is clever and quick, and despite the danger, Col is drawn to her. Can all the Filthies be like her? If Riff is telling the truth, then everything Col has always believed is a lie. And Col may be the only person with the power to do something about it — even if it means risking his whole future.

Richard Harland’s sweeping steampunk saga of romance, privilege, and social conscience will take readers on the ride of a lifetime to an enormous moving city that is at once strange and familiar."



Review: As soon as I saw this book I expected to love it. Dystopian, steampunk, romance... three of my favorite things. Unfortunately the book didn't completely live up to my expectations.

From the beginning I felt like the characters weren't completely realized. Many were underdeveloped and felt like stock characters. The relationship between Col and Riff didn't develop as much as I wanted it to either. I felt as though the author wanted Col to feel something for Riff, but never showed how it got to that point. In addition the plot of the story was rather predictable, although I can usually predict much of many books I read, this one seemed something that would be more enjoyable if I were a bit younger.

All that being said, I couldn't not finish the book. Usually if I don't like a book so much I have no trouble leaving it unfinished, but I couldn't with this one because I liked it enough that I wanted to know what happens. While I felt that there was much of this book that could have been further developed I did enjoy reading it. Apparently there is going to be a sequel called Liberator, although I don't know when it is to be released. I will probably end up reading it, although I will get it from a library this time. The first book wasn't good enough that I would want to pay for the second one as well.

Rating: B-


Other Recommended Books:
Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi 
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Contest

I stumbled across another contest today, unfortunately this one came attached with some sad news. There is an author, L.K. Madigan, whose books I've been planning to check out for awhile, who has been diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. She wrote a very touching entry about this at her blog here http://lkmadigan.livejournal.com/185246.html

To celebrate her life and the books she's written and to help share them with the world, there is a contest to give away 40 sets of her books. That can be found here http://community.livejournal.com/debut2009/1059044.html

So check this out and share it with your friends.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Contest- Neil Gaiman Pack and Living Dead Girl By Elizabeth Scott

Another Contest- http://bethebooks.blogspot.com/p/contests-giveaways.html

You could win a pack of Neil Gaiman books or Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott so check out this great contest as well!

Contest- Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Lots of Contests today everyone. Here's a link for a giveaway of Catherine Fisher's Incarceron Series
http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/2011/01/professor-bingo-presents-award-winning.html

Check it out!

Contest- Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Hey everyone, another contest to tell you about.

Teen author Lauren Oliver is hosting a contest to give away 5 signed copies of her new book Delirium which will be released on February 1st so check it out here!

http://laurenoliverbooks.blogspot.com/2011/01/delirium-has-just-one-question-for-you.html

Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte



Synopsis: "Set amid the wild and stormy Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights, an unpolished and devastating epic of childhood playmates who grow into soul mates, is widely regarded as the most original tale of thwarted desire and heartbreak in the English language."


Summary: This book was told in a format I wasn't really expecting. The reader first meets Heathcliff, a young woman named Catherine who were are told is his dead son's wife, and another boy named Hareton. Soon an old servant/housekeeper begins to tell the tale of Heathcliff from when he was a child, up until the present. Most of the story the reader is kept in intrigue about Catherine (the elder) and Heathcliff and what has happened to them since they were children. I really enjoyed that mystery aspect of things.

As I read this book, I can honestly say this may be the only time I've ever wanted two characters to end up with one another so badly, despite my thinking that both of those characters were horrible, almost evil people. Anyone who reads this book and believes that Heathcliff is one of the best romantic characters in literature (and trust me, I've heard that), clearly doesn't remember all the abusive, cruel treatment he bestows on everyone in his path for love and revenge.

Definitely a dark, twisted sort of book, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

Rating: I'm not going to rate this book because it isn't remotely like the other books I rate and I would feel compelled to compare it to them, which I really can't do. Know that I enjoyed the book however and would recommend it.

Other Recommended Books:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Last Hero- Rick Riordan



Synopsis:

"Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently she’s his girlfriend Piper, his best friend is a kid named Leo, and they’re all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids.” What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea—except that everything seems very wrong.


Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he’s in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn’t recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on?

Leo has a way with tools. His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What’s troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all—including Leo—related to a god."



Summary:

When Rick Riordan finished the first series about demigods and Camp Halfblood, it left off with a prophecy, about the seven children of Gods who would, together, help save the world, both mortal and immortal. The Heroes of Olympus series picks up where that prophecy left off as we are introduced to 3 of the 7 demigods who will play a critical role in the fate of the world.

From the very beginning of the story, Riordan fills every chapter with action and intrigue, especially in regards to Jason, the demigod who can't remember anything about his past. Even more strange is the one thing that makes him so different from the other demigods at Camp Halfblood. He keeps referring to the gods by their Roman names, rather than their Greek names, and he speeks Latin, not Ancient Greek. Chiron, returning from the last series, seems to know more than he's letting on, but he has sworn not to tell a soul.

The book is told from the alternating perspectives of Jason, Leo and Piper, something I greatly enjoyed, as I honestly didn't even have a favorite character- I love all three of them. The book is reminiscent in many ways to the first book in the Percy Jackson series, only I thought it was much better.

By the very end of the book, Riordan finally reveals some of the big mystery surrounding Jason, the disappearance of Percy Jackson, and the real meaning behind the Great Prophecy. Unfortunately now, I have to wait until the fall to get my hands on book 2: The Son of Neptune.

Rating: A


Other recommended books:
The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Mythology by Arthur Cotterell and Rachel Storm

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Contest

So there's this blog, located at this link http://bookalicio.us/2011/01/two-year-blogging-anniversary-giveaway/ who is doing some HUGE giveaways that you should all check out. http://bklc.us/2y 


That is all! Also, once I have finished it, the next book I will be reviewing is The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.


Have a good day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss- Stephanie Perkins



Synopsis:

"Anna was 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. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, √Čtienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt."



Review:

I absolutely loved this book. The characters, especially main characters Anna and St. Clair were wonderful. They were real and each made mistakes and had flaws and that was one of the most wonderful things about them. All the emotions Anna expresses, from falling for a taken guy, to dealing with moving to Paris, to the betrayals she faces from friends and the fights she gets into are all incredibly realistic. I found myself siding with Anna on most occasions, but I could also frequently sympathize with friends she hurts along the way.

Even though the ending may be a bit predictable, everything along the way is too wonderful and funny not to miss. Some of the things I liked best about this book: Anna's love of theater. She wants to grow up to review movies and that interest of hers is featured prominently in this book. As someone who loves reading books and reviewing them, I liked this side of Anna's personality.

I also liked that St. Clair was short and had a fear of heights. Too many teen books feature guys that are absolutely perfect and St. Clair isn't.

I loved how St. Clair and Anna became best friends as the story went on. It was a nice way to progress their relationship and I liked seeing that side of things.

I also loved the other minor characters. They are funny and they really help bring the story to light.

Oh and did I mention the setting? This book definitely makes me want to visit Paris to see all the sights mentioned and eat all of the great food.

Stephanie Perkins has two companion novels coming out this year and next: Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After that I will certainly be buying as soon as they come out.

Rating: A

Other recommended reads:
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Looking for Alibrandi- Melina Marchetta

Looking For Alibrandi By Melina Marchetta

Synopsis: 

"For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it's just been her, her mum, and her grandmother. Now it's her final year at a wealthy Catholic private girls' school where the nuns couldn't be any stricter. But that doesn't seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into Josie's life, including her father!

Caught between the old-world values of her Italian nonna Katia, the no-nonsense wisdom of her mother Cristina, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josie is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family's past - and the year she sets herself free."



Review:

Before I begin, I should start by saying that since reading Jellicoe Road, Melina Marchetta has been my favorite author in the universe. Probably because she's an Australian author and her books don't have the same amount of following here in the US as overseas, I didn't read her debut novel until now.

Looking for Alibrandi, like all of Marchetta's novels focuses on characters that are incredibly real. There is no deus ex machina endings in her stories. Josie Alibrandi deals with meeting her father for the first time, dealing with the challenges of being an Italian Australian and fitting in nowhere, racial slurs from classmates, and the attraction she feels to two boys, Jacob, the "bad boy" who really just appears that way, and John, her long-time crush whose recent personality changes have Josie a bit confused, not to mention the relationship with her mother and her grandmother that is often strained.

Josie is a character with a bold personality and a lot of spunk and she is very funny when she wants to be. I think that anyone reading this book will quickly become invested in the story and characters. While I think that Marchetta's books have only gotten better over the years (Jellicoe Road is tied with The Giver for my favorite book in the universe), her debut novel is absolutely wonderful as well.

Rating: A


Other recommended books:
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Match Made in High School- Kristin Walker



Synopsis: "When a mandatory marriage education course forces Fiona to “try the knot” with super-jock Todd Harding, she’s convinced life could not possibly get any worse. Until moments later, when her long-time crush is paired with her arch-enemy (otherwise known as Todd’s obscenely hot, slightly sadistic girlfriend). But that’s nothing compared to her best friend’s fate – a year with the very shy, very goofy, very big Johnny Mercer.

A series of hilarious pranks and misunderstandings leave Fiona wondering: is there something her supposed “best friend” hasn’t told her? Could there be more to Johnny Mercer than a deep voice and an awesome music collection? And perhaps most intriguing of all, is it possible that Todd Harding could actually have a heart – and a brain – beneath his pretty-boy exterior?"

Review: When I read the review of this book I had high expectations. I didn't think this would be a revolutionary plot or something of the sort, but I had heard that this book was very funny. And it certainly lived up to that expectation. The pranks and the interactions between Fiona and Todd were genuinely hilarious and didn't seem at all forced.

The rest of the book luckily, lived up to the humor. There was a lot about this book I hadn't expected. the way relationships formed between characters wasn't what I expected when I read the back cover of the book, but in a very good way. And I loved that the story which deals in large part with the fake marriage between Fiona and Todd wasn't just a mechanism to make them fall in love, as would have been the case if this book had been written by almost any other teen author. It was a device to make them fall into friendship and I think that it worked great. The grudging respect and admiration they gain for one another as they go along seemed very real to me, and I absolutely loved reading it.

Very funny novel with lots of great character interactions. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys light-hearted stories about teens in high school.

Rating: A-

Other books I'd recommend:
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
Any other book by Simone Elkeles
Any book by Sarah Dessen
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares- Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Behemoth- Scott Westerfeld



Synopsis:


"The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker Powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan’s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory. Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead."


Review:

This book is the second book in Scott Westerfeld's alternate history WWI steampunk series. Leviathan was the first book and was published in 2009. Goliath, the last of the planned trilogy is going to be released in October of this year.

Behemoth picks up right where Leviathan left off. For those of you who haven't read the first book in the series, I highly recommend it. Both Deryn and Alek, the two main characters, are great. Seriously. Especially Deryn who is completely fearless even as she pretends to be a boy in the British Air Service.

In this alternate history WWI, there are two main powers, the Darwinists who use machines that are really ecosystems of fabricated animals and beasts, and the Clankers, who use steampunk-esque machinery, including walkers, which are like human powered giant robotic, walking machines, in place of tanks or other machines. 

Westerfeld chose to have his books fully illustrated, so there is over 50 wonderfully drawn illustrations in both Leviathan and Behemoth that really add to the story and help the reader to visualize the crazy machines and creatures from Westerfeld's mind.

Behemoth is an action packed story with great characters, a growing friendship between Alek and Deryn who is posing as Dylan, many new characters and new twists to the plot. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys action, adventure, steampunk, history, or reading in general. Definitely a book to check out.

Rating: A

Other recommended books:
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
The Farsala Trilogy by Hilary Bell
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Phillip Pullman
All of Scott Westerfeld's other books

Matched- Ally Condie

Okay, so I'm back and hopefully better than ever. I didn't try and make a New Year's Resolution, but I think keeping this blog updated with book reviews is going to be my goal, so let's see how that goes!



Book Synopsis:

"Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow."



Review:

I should start off by saying that dystopian literature, especially young adult dystopian literature, is my absolute favorite genre of books, and as Matched falls nicely into this category, I may have been a little biased from the start.

The society presented by Ally Condie in this book is one that in many ways is just like our own. Except for a few details. Almost every aspect of life is controlled in order to insure an optimal life. This means that the society chooses when and what you eat, who you will marry (become matched with), and even when you will die. Cassia, the main character, begins the book excited by the future in front of her. She has the perfect best friend, who she ends up matched with, and her life seems to be a happy one. Until her grandfather, some poetry, and a boy named Ky Markham makes her question everything she's known.

The characters in this book were great. I loved both Xander and Ky, the two main male characters, their interactions with Cassia, and almost more importantly, their interactions with each other, few though they were. I loved the concept of a society who has cut back on the "clutter" of life, so that all that remains is one hundred of the most important of everything. The one hundred poems, paintings, stories, songs...

This book was a dystopian with a heavy emphasis on the romance aspect, though it never felt as though the rest of the plot suffered. Rather the love Cassia had for both Xander and Ky only made the story better. There were some chilling moments in the story, such as when the reader finds out what the pills each citizen carries are for.

The ending was great as well. Without giving anything away, the second book, Crossed, which comes out in November I believe, should start off with Cassia in a very different place from where she began Matched, and I think that will keep the second of the planned trilogy from becoming stale or repetitive.

Rating: A


Other books I'd recommend:
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
The Declaration Trilogy by Gemma Malley
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Susanne Collins