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