Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike

So, things in my life are changing, and it seems like over the next few months, I'm going to be having quite a bit of free time. . .at least for the months of February and March. And I'd really like to take that free time to get back into book blogging. . .so I'm hoping to take the month of January to ease into it, and I figured I'd start with this lovely little book I read a while ago from Net Galley. Enjoy! And say hi! :-)

Title: the Secret of Ka

Author: Christopher Pike


Who Should Read It?
I've always thought of Christopher Pike as a horror author. If you've never really been into that aspect of him, you could still love this book. It's a beautiful, wonderful mystery style YA book that's got a little something for everyone! As long as you can deal with the occasional discrepancy.

What I Have to Say:
The Secret of Ka reminded me of the 80's, and for those of you wondering, that's a good thing. A great thing, even. I used to love R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike and the Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley High, and this book somehow managed to feel to me like all of those things combined while reading it. It's a lovely, somewhat fluffy, magical mystery, with bored teenagers, love, and magic carpets.

So it was good, a super fun read! Unfortunately, that's all it was. I don't feel like we really got to know Sara and Amesh, the two main characters, all that well. They were lacking in dimension, and I didn't really like what I did learn about them. And I never really understood why they came to like each other. . .they somehow just didn't seem like a good fit to me. Also, I felt like, since the author decided (seemingly at random) that the story was to take place in Turkey, I felt like he could have done a little bit more research on Turkey itself.

The thing is, though, it didn't have to take place in Turkey, as so much of it was in this beautiful, fantasy place of Pike's creation. I almost felt like it would have been better if the entire thing had just been in some fictive place or even some place totally boring and plain, like Montana. I'm not entirely sure why Turkey had to even come into the picture.

All of this aside, I really did enjoying reading. It was a quick, light read with lots of twists and turns and enough action and thinking to keep you turning the pages right up to the very end. Final verdict - I liked it, despite the bad things I have to say about it!

Summary: One minute Sara's bored on vacation in Istanbul. The next, she's unearthed a flying carpet that cleverly drags her to the mysterious Island of the Djinn—or genies. By her side is Amesh, a cute guy she has a crush on but doesn't yet trust. When Amesh learns the secret of invoking djinn, he loses control. He swears he'll call upon only one djinn and make one wish. The plan sounds safe enough. But neither Sara nor Amesh are any match for the monster that that swells before them. It hypnotizes Amesh, compelling him to steal Sara’s flying carpet and leave her stranded on the island.

Discovering the carpet has sparked a new path for Sara, one that will lead her to battle creatures even deadlier than djinn. In this fight, Sara can save mankind, herself, or the boy she cares for. Who will she be forced to sacrifice?

Cover Story: Love love LOVE this cover! It's absolutely GORGEOUS with the dark blue night sky and the stars twinkling in the sky. And then Sara majestically flying on the carpet. Just lovely!

Disclosure: I received this book for free via net galley. This in no way affected my review.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Title:Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Author: Jeff Lindsay


Who Should Read It?
People that still like the TV show despite Dexter's newfound anxiety. A good book, I think, for people that love a good but easy mystery, especially if it involves a little bit of gore. As this book does.

What I Have to Say:
I was a little bit disappointed with this book, and it's hard to say why. I watched the first two seasons of Dexter, and I liked them, but by the end of the second season, I was feeling so bored (and so annoyed with all of the characters) that I didn't keep watching for the third season.

What I had liked so much about Dexter was his calm stoicism, his lack of anxiety and stress, his lack of reaction in the face of possible discovery. And slowly, over the course of the first two seasons of the show, that started to change. Until I felt like Dexter was just one big ball of nerves. And that annoyed me. Enough to stop watching.

The book was even worse, when it came to that change. It was a short, somewhat fluffy, easy read, and as such, the change from calm, stoic Dexter to ball of anxiety Dexter seemed to happen immediately. In the first chapter, he was the Dexter I loved. And then, suddenly, he wasn't anymore.

It's hard to say if this would have annoyed me so much if it hadn't already annoyed me in the TV show, but the fact is - it did, and this made reading it very frustrating for me. Honestly, if it hadn't been so short and easy to read, I probably wouldn't have finished it. And that's saying a lot for me, because I finish EVERY book I start. Seriously.

So that's what I have to say. It wasn't actually a bad book. The story was funny and interesting, and if I hadn't had weird expectations and preconceptions from the TV show, I might have actually liked it.

So, if it seems like it might appeal to you, I definitely wouldn't let me change that for you.

Summary:Meet Dexter Morgan, a polite wolf in sheep's clothing. He's handsome and charming, but something in his past has made him abide by a different set of rules. He's a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: he only kills bad people. And his job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police department puts him in the perfect position to identify his victims. But when a series of brutal murders bearing a striking similarity to his own style start turning up, Dexter is caught between being flattered and being frightened -- of himself or some other fiend.

Cover Story: Well, it's Dexter. I don't know if I've even seen the other cover. Just a typical TV novel cover; nothing special.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Double Review: Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

Title: Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy

Author: Lisa See


Who Should Read It?
Lisa See is a gifted author, it's just a fact, and Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy are no exception. If you've ever been won over by Lisa See in the past, definitely check these books out. If you have any interest in Asian history, these books are for you.

What I Have to Say:

First of all, I went back and forth as to do this as a double review or to review them separately. Dreams of Joy, while being the sequel to Shanghai Girls, is also, fundamentally, a totally different story. Shanghai Girls is the story of sisters. Sisters leading a privileged life, growing up together in China, and then clinging to each other when everything starts to go wrong, in their lives and in China, and they have no one else. Dreams of Joy is the story of a twisted relationship between a "mother" trying to raise her daughter to be a good Chinese girl in America. Shanghai Girls is the story of China, while Dreams of Joy is the story of China in America.

Really, these two books are both so beautifully written and poignantly touching that they deserve their own separate reviews. But after reading Shanghai Girls, I was so enthralled by the story of these two sisters that I immediately picked up Dreams of Joy and just kept reading. I couldn't stop. As such, they're so tangled in my head that they're practically the same book, and I wouldn't even know how to separate them for a review.

So, in order to not give anything from the second away while writing about the first, I will stick to feelings. I cried, I laughed, I was horrified, I was disgusted, I was overwhelmed by beauty, I was annoyed. . .I can't think of any feeling I didn't feel. To summarize - I was moved.

Lisa see has written about the plight of China and of Chinese Americans during (and before) World War II in a vivid, heart-capturing way. Shanghai Girls becomes one of those books that you literally CAN'T put down - the story will be twisting around so much in your head that you'll find you have to pick it back up.

And then, it has no ending. Whatsoever. If I hadn't had Dreams of Joy right on hand, I think I would have been annoyed. But because I did, I was able to smoothly transition into the rest of the story, and I wasn't as disappointed. The story of mother and daughter was just as well-written and beautifully touching as the drama-filled yet loving relationship of two sisters.

I loved these books, and they are totally deserving of the 5 stars I've given them. Only as a pair, though. They need each other. And despite them being so deserving, it was still hard to give them 5 stars, because, as wonderful and as readable as they were, they were still now "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan."

Summary: Shanghai Girls: May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl’s parents arrange for their daughters to marry “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.

But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)--where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months--they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.

A novel about two sisters, two cultures, and the struggle to find a new life in America while bound to the old, Shanghai Girls is a fresh, fascinating adventure from beloved and bestselling author Lisa See.

Dreams of Joy: In her beloved New York Times bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, and, most recently, Shanghai Girls, Lisa See has brilliantly illuminated the potent bonds of mother love, romantic love, and love of country. Now, in her most powerful novel yet, she returns to these timeless themes, continuing the story of sisters Pearl and May from Shanghai Girls, and Pearl’s strong-willed nineteen-year-old daughter, Joy.

Reeling from newly uncovered family secrets, and anger at her mother and aunt for keeping them from her, Joy runs away to Shanghai in early 1957 to find her birth father—the artist Z.G. Li, with whom both May and Pearl were once in love. Dazzled by him, and blinded by idealism and defiance, Joy throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the communist regime.

Devastated by Joy’s flight and terrified for her safety, Pearl is determined to save her daughter, no matter the personal cost. From the crowded city to remote villages, Pearl confronts old demons and almost insurmountable challenges as she follows Joy, hoping for reconciliation. Yet even as Joy’s and Pearl’s separate journeys converge, one of the most tragic episodes in China’s history threatens their very lives.

Acclaimed for her richly drawn characters and vivid storytelling, Lisa See once again renders a family challenged by tragedy and time, yet ultimately united by the resilience of love.

Cover Story: They're perfect. Both of the covers for both of the books are perfect. And that is all.

These books were sent to me for free, but this in no way affected my review.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Review: Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind

Title: Debt of Bones: Sword of Truth Prequel Novel

Author: Terry Goodkind


Who Should Read It? Lovers of Terry Goodkind. I would really recommend that you do what I didn't do and read the other Sword of Truth books FIRST.

What I Have to Say: When I started this book, I didn't know that it was a prequel novel. I for some reason thought that it was the first book in the Sword of Truth Series. As such, I felt kind of lost. I mean, it was the before to things that I was supposed to already know, even though they hadn't already happened. That's just a weird feeling. I really wish I would have known so that I could have read it AFTER reading the books.

That said, I really enjoyed it. Not enough to make me feel the need to go immediately read the other books or anything, but enough. Enough to read through the whole thing without ever feeling that I wanted to stop.

BUT, it just felt, well. . .generic. And that could be because I hadn't read any of the other books to be curious about the back story, but, well,. . .I wasn't curious. I never felt like I got to know any of the other characters, and I kept going back to it getting it mixed up with other epic fantasies. It was short, and there just wasn't enough. . .feeling. Again, this could be because I was supposed to ALREADY know and love the characters.

If I could just get over the lack of caring about the characters, it really was a good, solid piece of epic fantasy. The story was convincing and enthralling. It was solid and well thought out, and despite me not loving it so much, it convinced me that Terry Goodkind is definitely an author worth reading.

Summary:A milestone of storytelling set in the world of The Sword of Truth, Debt of Bones is the story of young Abby's struggle to win the aid of the wizard Zedd Zorander, the most important man alive.

Abby is trapped, not only between both sides of the war, but in a mortal conflict between two powerful men. For Zedd, who commands power most men can only imagine, granting Abby's request would mean forsaking his sacred duty. With the storm of the final battle about to break, both Abby and Zedd are caught in a desperate fight to save the life of a child...but neither can escape the shadow of an ancient betrayal.

With time running out, their only choice may be a debt of bones. The world-for Zedd, for Abby, for everyone-will never again be the same.

Discover why millions of readers the world over have elevated Terry Goodkind to the ranks of legend.

Cover Story: Maybe it's just me, but I tend to find all Terry Goodkind covers relatively boring. This one is no exception.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: The Other Lands by David Anthony Durham

Title: The Other Lands: Book Two of the Acacia Trilogy

Author: David Anthony Durham


Who Should Read It? This book is perfect for lovers of dark epic fantasy! If you loved the first book in this trilogy, you will love this one just as much, if not more. If you haven't read the first book in the trilogy but you love dark epic fantasy with a focus on the fantasy, read the first book and then love this one!

What I Have to Say:
Wow. Just wow.

I know I said it after reading the first book in this triology, but MAN, does David Anthony Durham sure does know how to do epic fantasy. Even though quite a bit of time has passed, The Other Lands seems to start off right where the first book in this trilogy, the War with the Mein, leaves off, and we are once again immediately drawn into the world of Acacia and the Akaran children. Without repeating or summarizing what he has said before, Durhamn subtly brings the reader up to speed on what happened in this first book of the trilogy, while still allowing for the story to progress. Durham seems to be quite good at this kind of thing. There are so many characters in the story that it seems like it might be easy to occasionally lose track. And yet, without ever repeating anything, when a character shows up again, through a word or an action or a thought or even sometimes an article of clothing, Durham reminds the reader who the character is without becoming wordy, redundant, or repetitive.

As in the first book, the world Durham has created is awe-inspiring - it is unique and amazing and creative while at the same time paralleling old cultures we have seen on our Earth throughout time. This time, though, we make our way over to the Other Lands, where an entirely new world and new culture that, honestly, is like no other I have ever read or even heard of.

With Durham's deft hand and engaging writing style, we learn what happens to the quota slaves, we begin to learn the truth behind the "league," and we finally come to really understand the kind of people that the Akaran children have grown up to be (and can I just say - I LOVE Mena and Dariel, but grrrr!!! Corrin!). The Other Lands actually focuses quite a bit more on characters than the War with the Mein, which seemed to focus primarily on world building, and Durham has proven to be just as adept at writing character-driven stories.

Because of this change, to a more character-driven story along with a little bit of magic and a new entirely unique, entirely creative culture, The Other Lands seems a bit more fantasy and a bit less epic than its predecessor. Some people might not love this, but I found it to be absolutely fantastic, and I can only hope the third book in the trilogy (HOW am I going to wait to read it?) will continue in this vein.

Durham is a great story teller telling a great story. The characters are all well-developed with strong voices, but Durham's voice also shines through, clear and strong. It is a beautiful and beautifully written book that will leave you absolutely DYING to finish the trilogy!

Summary:Queen Corinn Akaran of the known world has a primary goal that is to topple the Lothan Aklun and so she sends her brother Daniel, disguised as a slave, on an exploratory expedition to the Other Lands. Daniel soon discovers a mainland that is a more lush, exotic, and expansive than the Known World.

Cover Story: I asbolutely ADORE the cover of the version I read, which I think is the British cover. THe odd looking bird, the ship sailing towards huge rocks in rough water - absolutely beautiful! The American cover (which you see in the Amazon tag) is also lovely, but it just seems to pale in comparison to the British one, in my opinion. If you get a great feeling from either of these covers, though, you're going to love this book!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by Transworld Books. This in no way affected my review.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review: White Cat by Holly Black

Title: White Cat

Author: Holly Black


Who Should Read It? Everyone who has ever enjoyed a YA book. For serious! Especially those who enjoy male protagonists but find good ones hard to come by.

What I Have to Say:
I seriously ADORED this book. Unexpectedly adored this book. I'd read several reviews of it, and everyone said it was good, but after how I felt about "the Spiderwick Chronicles" (liked but certainly didn't love), I never felt over inspired to read it. Then a friend gave me a copy, and I was looking for something a little different, so I gave it a try.
And I am SO glad I did.
Cassel grows up a non-curse worker in a family of curse workers, and this has caused some resentment and some problems for him throughout his life. When he wakes up one morning to find that he has sleep-walked to the school roof after a dream in which a White Cat steals his tongue, his entire world changes.
Holly Black does an AMAZING job of subtly creating a world that is similar to ours but also completely different. The world she has created is fascinating. Curse workers work with their hands, so everyone wears gloves. The idea of being touched by bare hands actually repels some people. She slowly develops it throughout the book in such a way that you're dying for more, to know more, without ever realizing why.
Cassel's attempt at coming to terms with his past and allowing himself to live in the present, dealing with his manipulative brothers and his jailed mother.
White Cat was filled with twists and turns that will keep you wanting more until the very end. As the plot develops and Cassel learns more about his somewhat mysterious past, you'll find yourself rooting for him despite some of the horrible things he's done.
The only unfortunate thing about this book is that it doesn't keep you guessing. Some of the bigger plot points were extremely obvious very early on in the book. Luckily, this didn't really take away from anything. And I would recommend against reading the summary beforehand. It gives way too much away.
Definitely worth the read!

Summary:Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.

Cover Story: I guess it's alright. It's got the right feel, even if I don't love the real person on the cover making it seem like a movie cover for the book. It's better than the original brown cover, though.


Friday, August 26, 2011

(Not really a) Review: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

I just finished Sisterhood Everlasting, the last of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares.

And I'm still crying. It was one of the most poignantly beautiful stories I've read in ages. My heart is in a million pieces right now, but they are all beautifully broken.

It's this weird feeling that I don't know how to describe - a mixture of betrayal at the author's choice, a sadness so profound I don't know how I will ever come out of it, hope, and the feeling that the world, despite how screwy it is, has an endless amount of beauty and love to offer if you just stop for a minute to look for it.

My heart has been in a very weird place, lately, and I think that reading from this weird place caused this book to have an even more profound impact on me than if I had read it from a normal place. It's like my heart had been flattened out and was being slowly drained and sucked into a black hole, and this book turned the black hole into helium which proceeded to fill up my heart until it burst into a million pieces. A million heart-wrenchingly sad yet hopefully beautiful pieces.

This isn't a review, as it never could be. But I am left utterly bewildered and utterly enchanted, and I would almost recommend that, if you haven't read all of the Traveling Pants books, you go out and do so now. Because for this book to fall into its proper place, you need to have first read the other four (just watching the movie won't do), and you NEED to read this book. Now.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review: the Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

I miss Brizmus Blogs Books. It's time to get back into book blogging, and what better way to start than with this?

Title: the Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Author: Stephenie Meyer


Who Should Read It? Heh, I think this should be pretty obvious. Fans of Twilight, of course!

What I Have to Say:
Maybe as I'm getting older, my book tastes are maturing. . .though given that that seems extremely doubtful, I'm going to have to say that this book just doesn't live up to it's Twilight predecessors. Don't get me wrong, it was a fabulously enjoyable read, but it just didn't elicit that "ohmygod this is an AMAZING story" feeling that the 4 twlight books did. And then the whole - love immediately happens after two people have known each other for, like, 2 seconds. I'm feeling sort of over that lately. I got my fill of that in Twilight. And the Host.
But then, what can you really do in a short 192 pages when you've got SO MUCH going on. I'll grant her that. And the fact is, it really was good. Bree was sort-of awesome. I liked her pretty much immediately (which, let's face it, is more than I can say for Bella, whom I never really started to like), and I was sad when her inevitable end came. Seriously sad. I might have even cried (I can't actually remember, but it does seem cry-worthy).
I could go on about all the positives and negatives of the book, but this is one of those books where, if you're gonna read it you're gonna read it, and if you're not, you're not.
So we'll end here. It was a great read, even if it doesn't have in it all the emotion of Twilight and even if we do see repetitive themes.

Summary:Fans of The Twilight Saga will be enthralled by this riveting story of Bree Tanner, a character first introduced in Eclipse, and the darker side of the newborn vampire world she inhabits.

In another irresistible combination of danger, mystery, and romance, Stephenie Meyer tells the devastating story of Bree and the newborn army as they prepare to close in on Bella Swan and the Cullens, following their encounter to its unforgettable conclusion.

Bree Tanner can barely remember life before she had uncannily powerful senses, superhuman reflexes and unstoppable physical strength. Life before she had a relentless thirst for blood... life before she became a vampire.

All Bree knows is that living with her fellow newborns has few certainties and even fewer rules: watch your back, don't draw attention to yourself and, above all, make it home by sunrise or die. What she doesn't know: her time as an immortal is quickly running out.

Then Bree finds an unexpected friend in Diego, a newborn just as curious as Bree about their mysterious creator, whom they know only as "her". As they come to realize that the newborns are pawns in a game larger than anything they could have imagined, Bree and Diego must choose sides and decide whom to trust. But when everything you know about vampires is based on a lie, how do you find the truth?

Cover Story: Totally loving it! So Twilight, and that hourglass just adds the perfect touch. Perfection! :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Have you entered my Book Blogging to Save Japan contest yet! Do something to help Japan in this time of crisis, let me know what you did (either in a comment or by e-mail - zedster.tbb(at)gmail(DOT)com), and be entered to win! Ending in two weeks, so check it nowish! :-)

Title: Wildthorn

Author: Jane Eagland


Who Should Read It?
A GREAT book for all fans of YA, especially those that like a lot of intrigue and a bit of mystery.

What I Have to Say:
I really really really LOVED this book, and I desperately wanted to feel like I could give it 5 stars or even 4 1/2 stars. Unfortunately, though, there were just some parts that felt over-contrived. If that makes sense. As difficult as it was to get to the point in which things worked out for Lou, things worked out just a little bit too easily for her. Things always ended up being pretty much EXACTLY as you expected them to be.

That said, this book read SO smoothly. I had barely started before I was finished - almost like I got so into it that I never even really felt myself reading.

The story starts off when Lou ends up at the doors of a mental institution, where she is told she is crazy, and she must be schizophrenic, as she doesn't even seem to know her own name. The more she tries to convince the people there that she is not crazy, the crazier she seems. No one believes her, except for one exceptionally sympathetic worker, Eliza.

This book moves flawlessly back and forth between Louisa's time at Wildthorn, the mental institution, and her memories of growing up with her mother, her doctor father, and her terrible brother. This book moves back and forth between past and present so smoothly that, if you don't think about it too much, it's difficult to know whether Lou's memories are memories or figments of her imagination. Is she actually Louisa Cosgrove? Or is she really the crazy Lucy Childs?

I really enjoyed every aspect of this story, except maybe the love story. I don't want to say too much about it, as I'm afraid it will give to much away, but it really just felt out of place to me. I was totally incapable of believing it, even from a fictional point of view.

Anyway, overall, this book is mysterious, well-written, and full of mystery and intrigue! It will keep you easily reading and excited right up until the very end.

Summary:Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor's daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labeled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name. As she unravels the betrayals that led to her incarceration, she realizes there are many kinds of prison. She must be honest with herself - and others - in order to be set free. And love may be the key...

Cover Story: It's kind of fabulous. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like the corsette might be symbolic for all the different ways that Lou found herself trapped throughout her life. Wonderful cover!

Disclosure: This book was received for review from Net Galley. This in no way affected my review.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Review: Karma Bites by Stacey Kramer and Valerie Thomas

As I think has been evidenced by my lack of presence in the blogging world lately, I haven't really been feeling the desire to say anything about books lately. I want to read them and not feel like I HAVE to have something to say. It's weird, as I used to feel like I was just DYING to get something out every time I would finish reading something. Anyhow, I'm going to give this a try here, but it's been a while. Also, have you entered this awesome contest yet? If not, you should. So go do it. Now.

Title: Karma Bites

Author: Stacey Kramer and Valerie Thomas

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It?
This is a book that will really appeal to middle grade readers. It's absolutely brilliant for the age range to which it's aiming, and adults might still enjoy it for nostalgia purposes.

What I Have to Say:
Karma Bites was cute. Really cute. An absolutely adorable read for any middle grade reader, I think. I feel like the problem I have, a lot of times, with middle grade books, is that I am so far away from being that age that I'm just totally incapable of understanding the main character. Which leaves me finding them absolutely annoying and unsupportable. Franny Flanders, while slightly annoying at times, managed to escape the annoying middle grade main character stereotype.

She was funny and ballsy and ridiculous, and even though she often had absolutely nothing going for her, she managed to be just the right amount of OCD neurotic ridiculous (which is something, I must say, I can totally understand). And maybe that's why I almost ended up loving her at the end. She messed up EVERYTHING, but in that way that it's just messed up enough so that everything is okay. And this is something I also do regularly in my daily life. Which made her, despite our age difference, totally relate-to-able.

Franny Flanders aside, the rest of the characters, from the into the occult Granny with the magic box to Alden, the supposed love of Franny's life who once managed to touch her ear for a whole few seconds, to her two best friends who can't talk to each other, were all just the right amount of ridiculous. I loved reading about everything and everyone Franny managed to screw up.

Unfortunately, there were also times when this book lagged. Some things that were funny in the beginning just kept going on and on and on and on and on (and then on and on some more), when I really wished they would just end. The twists never really felt like twists, instead feeling more like inevitabilities. The plot was just too easy at times. And then, while I'm into magic and therefore loved that aspect of the book, I'm also tired of reading about stereotypical cliques, and without those, this book couldn't have existed.

Still, my final conclusion is that it was an overall pleasant and funny read, best read in one sitting.

Summary: Life seems to have it in for Franny Flanders.

Her best friends aren’t speaking, her parents just divorced, and her hippie grandmother has moved in. The only karma Franny’s got is bad karma.

Then Franny gets her hands on a box of magic recipes that could fix all of her problems. It could even change the world! Finally, life is looking up.

But Franny is about to learn that magic and karma aren’t to be played with. When you mess with the universe, it can bite back in unexpected ways.


Cover Story: I really enjoy this cover! I don't know why, but it sort of reminds me of a Goosebumps cover. I used to LOVE those books back when I was, like 10. Definitely got the nostalgia feeling going on!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review for the publisher, which in no way affected what I had to say. :-P

Monday, April 25, 2011

CONTEST prizes: all about Neil Gaiman; SIGNED How to Talk To Girls at Parties Print

Have you entered my Book Blogging to Save Japan contest yet! Do something to help Japan in this time of crisis, let me know what you did (either in a comment or by e-mail - zedster.tbb(at)gmail(DOT)com), and be entered to win!
Below is just one of the many awesome prizes you have the opportunity to win!

This is a print that was done in conjunction with Neil Gaiman's short story,How to Talk to Girls at Parties, which can be read by clicking this link! It's a great story, so I highly recommend reading it! The print will be signed by the artist!
This was donated thanks to Cat from It's beautiful, and I SO wish I could be the one to win it. All you've got to do to win is something to help Japan (it doesn't have to involve money, for you poor people like me). Let me know what you did, and you're entered!
You don't want to pass this up!
The contest will only be going on for a couple more weeks no, so HURRY and ENTER!

Monday, April 18, 2011

CONTEST Books: SIGNED copy of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Have you entered my Book Blogging to Save Japan contest yet! Do something to help Japan in this time of crisis, let me know what you did (either in a comment or by e-mail - zedster.tbb(at)gmail(DOT)com), and be entered to win!
Below is just one of the many awesome books you have the opportunity to win!

A signed copy of Water for Elephants!

Title: Water for Elephants

Author: Sara Gruen

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Summary:Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out - orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive 'ship of fools'. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act - in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

I read and ADORED this book long before I started book blogging. If you haven't read it yet, with the upcoming release of the movie, you totally should. All you have to do is do something to help Japan, let me know what you did, and you'll be entered to win!

Monday, April 11, 2011

CONTEST Books: If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous

Have you entered my Book Blogging to Save Japan contest yet! Do something to help Japan in this time of crisis, let me know what you did (either in a comment or by e-mail - zedster.tbb(at)gmail(DOT)com), and be entered to win!
Below is just one of the many awesome books you have the opportunity to win!

Title: If You Follow Me

Author: Malena Watrous

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Summary:Hoping to outpace her grief in the wake of her father's suicide, Marina has come to the small, rural Japanese town of Shika to teach English for a year. But in Japan, as she soon discovers, you can never really throw away your past . . . or anything else, for that matter.

If You Follow Me is at once a fish-out-of-water tale, a dark comedy of manners, and a strange kind of love story. Alive with vibrant and unforgettable characters from an ambitious town matchmaker to a high school student-cum-rap artist wannabe with an addiction to self-tanning lotion it guides readers over cultural bridges even as it celebrates the awkward, unlikely triumph of the human spirit.

This book totally sounds like it's all about me! I can't wait to read it! Be sure to enter for your chance to win!

Monday, March 28, 2011

CONTEST Books: Hopeful Monsters by Hiromi Goto

Have you entered my Book Blogging to Save Japan contest yet! Do something to help Japan in this time of crisis, let me know what you did (either in a comment or by e-mail - zedster.tbb(at)gmail(DOT)com), and be entered to win!
Below is just one of the many awesome books you have the opportunity to win!

Title: Hopeful Monsters

Author: Hiromi Goto

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

Summary:“Hopeful monsters” are genetically abnormal organisms that, nonetheless, adapt and survive in their environments. In these devastating stories, the hopeful monsters in question are those who will not be tethered by familial duty nor bound by the ghosts of their past.

Home becomes fraught, reality a nightmare as Hiromi Goto weaves her characters through tales of domestic crises and cultural dissonance. They are the walking wounded—a mother who is terrified by a newborn daughter who bears a tail; a “stinky girl” who studies the human condition in a shopping mall; a family on holiday wih a visiting grandfather who cannot abide their “foreign” nature. But wills are a force unto themselves, and Goto’s characters are imbued with the light of myth and magic-realism. With humor and keen insight, Goto makes the familiar seem strange, and deciphers those moments when the idyllic skews into the absurd and the sublime.

Doesn't that sound AWESOME?!? I know I can't wait to read it! Be sure to enter for your chance to win!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Blogging for Japan CONTEST!

Do something for Japan, let me know what it is, and WIN A BOOK!

Left is Sendai, Japan before.
Right is Sendai, Japan now.

As many of you know, I've been living in Japan for the past year, and as such, this recent tragedy has really struck close to home for me.

As such, I've decided to host a Book Blogging for Japan CONTEST!!!! Right now, there will be 9 winners! To enter, all you have to do is help Japan. You do something to help Japan and send me an e-mail (zedster.tbb(at)gmail(dot)com) or post a comment letting me know what you did, and you're entered!

You can do something as simple as donate money, or, if you're poor like me, you can be creative.

Some EXAMPLES of things you can do:
-Thursday night I went to a meditation session where we meditated for the survivors.
-A kindergarten teacher is having her class collect marbles for when they're good. For each marble the kids earn, parents are donating a dollar.
-make a paper crane - there is a myth in Japan that for every thousand paper cranes you fold, you get a wish.

What can you win?
#1 - a box of books from me! Old books I've read, whatever fits in the box!
#2 - Hopeful Monsters: Stories by Hiromi Goto - donated by Arsenal Pulp Press!
#3-5 winners will win If You Follow Me: A Novel (P.S.) by Malena Watrous - donated by Harper Collins
#4-2 winners will receive books donated by Egmont UK.
#5-a SIGNED copy of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

If you've never heard of these books, they will be being featured in the blog over the next few days, so keep a look out!

The contest will end at a date to be determined in the future. I look forward to seeing what kinds of things you guys come up with to help.

You don't have to spread the word to be entered, but the more people helping Japan the better, so I'd really appreciate it if you would!

**If you're hosting a contest for Japan, I'd love to link it up, so please let me know! Also, please let me know if you'd like to donate a book to the contest.**

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: The Atomic Weight of Secrets or the Arrival of the Mysterious Men In Black by Eden Unger Bowditch

Title: the Atomic Weight of Secrets or the Arrival of the Mysterious Men In Black

Author: Eden Unger Bowditch


Who Should Read It?
This is a great book for ages 12 or 13 and over. I think it might be a little too slow for those younger than that, but adults interested in YA (especially those that have ever been intrigued by a bit of science) will love it!

What I Have to Say:
i LOVED this book! I'm going to be honest - what attracted me to this book most in the beginning was the title. I liked how it was long and started off with "the Atomic Weight of Secrets." It sounded mathy to me, and I love math!

It starts when 5 exceptionally brilliant children are, seemingly without warning, separated from their brilliant, scientist parents, and brought to live together. When I started reading it, even though I immediately enjoyed it, it was initially hard for me to tell if it was really a book for me. It did start off a little bit slowly, and there was something about the men in black with their odd outfits and even odder hats that didn't sit right with me. It almost felt, well, pointless. And even after finishing the book, I'm still not sure I understand.

By the end, though, that didn't matter, and I actually began to enjoy the author's creativity in describing these elusive "men in black." The character's were all extremely wonderfully developed and enjoyable - you could tell, by the time the author put into giving back story and helping us to know everything there was to know about each of the five children, that she really loved these children. As such, I also grew not only to know them, but to love them.

All five of the children are brilliant scientists, just like their parents, but the fact that they are also children and, thus, childish, makes them incredibly endearing. It's impossible not to find yourself completely drawn in as these children fight and work to understand each other, the men in black, and why their parents would just allow them to be abandoned like that. As they learn to work together to try to "save" their parents, their five separate stories begin to meld together in a beautiful way.

Though the book did feel slow at times, for the most part it was just action-packed and exciting; absolutely perfect for the train on which I was reading it!

I would definitely recommend it to those interested in YA! And I know I'll definitely be reading the second book in the series, if only to find out more about what is up with these men in black and their funny goggles or black bunny ears!

Summary:In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world’s most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had.

But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.

They arrived to take twelve-year-old Jasper Modest and his six-year-old sister, Lucy—he with his remarkable creations and she with her perfect memory—from their London, England home to a place across the ocean they’d never seen before.

They arrived to take nine-year-old Wallace Banneker, last in a long line of Africa-descended scientists, from his chemistry, his father, and his New York home to a life he’d never imagined.

Twelve-year-old Noah Canto-Sagas, already missing his world-famous and beloved mother, was taken from Toronto, Canada, carrying only his clothes, his violin, and his remarkable mind.

And thirteen-year-old Faye Vigyanveta, the genius daughter of India’s wealthiest and most accomplished scientists, was removed by force from her life of luxury.

From all across the world, they’ve been taken to mysterious Sole Manner Farm, and a beautiful but isolated schoolhouse in Dayton, Ohio, without a word from their parents as to why. Not even the wonderful schoolteacher they find there, Miss Brett, can explain it. She can give them love and care, but she can’t give them answers.

Things only get stranger from there. What is the book with no pages Jasper and Lucy find in their mother’s underwear drawer, and why do the men in black want it so badly?

How is it all the children have been taught the same bizarre poem—and yet no other rhymes or stories their entire lives?

And why haven’t their parents tried to contact them?

Whatever the reasons, to brash, impetuous Faye, the situation is clear: They and their parents have been kidnapped by these terrible men in black, and the only way they’re going to escape and rescue their parents is by completing the invention they didn’t even know they were all working on—an invention that will change the world forever.

But what if the men in black aren’t trying to harm the children? What if they’re trying to protect them?

And if they’re trying to protect them—from what?

An amazing story about the wonders of science and the still greater wonders of friendship, The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Mysterious Men in Black , the first book of the Young Inventors Guild trilogy, is a truly original novel. Young readers will forever treasure Eden Unger Bowditch’s funny, inventive, poignant, and wonderfully fun fiction debut.

Cover Story: I hadn't seen the cover before reading the book (or if I had, I don't remember it), but looking at it after the fact, it would certainly inspire me to read the book. It's intriguing! Unfortunately, I think it's also a little bit more adult than the book itself. Other than that, great cover, which I'm planning on taking a little more time to examine in a minute!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Japan - fleeing and feeling and donating

So, as most of you probably know, I have been living in Japna for the last year. And with all of the things going on in Japan lately, I have received SO many wonderful comments and e-mails from you guys inquiring about my safety. First of all, I just want to say thank you SO much. I really appreciate all of your thoughts and concerns, and I am sure Japan and all of the Japanese people do as well.

Second of all, yes, I am safe. The area I live in was basically unaffected. I felt the quake a little bit (I was actually teaching 2 year olds at the time, and the building we were in shook like we were in a boat for about 4 minutes - the worst we got was some crying two year olds. And me feeling motion sick), but other than that my area was unaffected.

Still, because my family was worrying so much (and let's face it, when it came to radiation, me, too), I have returned to the states. It was a little bit crazy going through everything to get my re-entry permit and a last minute flight and to get myself packed, but now I have safely arrived in Colorado with my sister.

I've been a little bit blah and a little bit depressed about the whole situation, so I've been doing my best to avoid the internet. I'm therefore super sorry about the lack of reviews lately. I know I had promised some reviews for the 15th/16th, and if you are one of those people to whom I promised a review, I am incredibly sorry. They'll be up soon! Now that I'm starting to return to life a little bit.

Now, I know you all want to help Japan (I know I can't watch the news without crying and feeling sick), and what they need more than anything right now is money. There are lots of great ways to donate, and I hope you will. For a list of donation possibilites, go check out this article. If I can manage to get back on my feet anytime soon, I might have some kind of donation giveaway.

In the meantime, please keep Japan (and Libya, of course) in your thoughts (and prayers, if you have those), and I'll try to start posting reviews again soon. I have been on a mega YA kick to try to fluff this disaster out of my mind.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Review: the Shape Changer's Wife by Sharon Shinn

Title: the Shape Changer's Wife

Author: Sharon Shinn


Who Should Read It? Fans of fantasy and fairy tales will, without a doubt, want to give this book a try!

What I Have to Say:
If you're a fan of cute fantasy, the Shape Changer's Wife will, without a doubt, have you hooked from page one. It's well-written and beautifully developed, with a story that will bring tears to your eyes (well, it certainly brought tears to my eyes).

Aubrey, a young magician, finds himself the apprentice of Glyrenden, a hated, shape-changing magician. Living in the house of Glyrenden brings along some awkward, strange characters in the shape-changer's wife, Lillith, the house-keeper who doesn't seem to know how to keep house, Arachne, and the oversized brute of a man, Orion. What ensues is a beautiful story of magic, love, romance, and hope.

My absolute favorite thing about this book is the character development - we don't just learn more about the characters - there becomes more about the characters to learn, as they grow and develop with the help of their surroundings. The effect that Aubrey has on Lillith still has my heart pounding at the beauty.

The Shape-Changer's Wife is a short, sweet story with a fairy-tale feel that will tear at your heart strings and possibly give you hope for the world. And, like a true story-teller, Shinn leaves the end open for interpretation. Love this booK!

Summary: From the national bestselling author of The Samaria Trilogy...this is the novel that launched Sharon Shinn's career and inspired Peter S. Beagle to call her "the most original writer of fantasy since Robin McKinley."

Aubrey was a student of the fine art of wizardry. But the more knowledge he acquired, the more he wanted to learn. He traveled in search of the greatest master of all, the gifted shape-changer Glyrenden. From him, Aubrey expected to discover the secret of long-lost spells and the mysteries of arcane magic.

But there was one discovery he never expected, a mystery he risked every thing to solve. Her name was Lilith...

Cover Story: While I don't love this cover, I do find it extraordinarily intriguing. It piques my curiosity, the way the woman's head is so beautiful yet ordinary. The way she is so hidden.

This book was sent to me as a Secret Santa present by Simcha from SFF Chat! Thanks, Simcha! This was my first Sharon Shinn, and I LOVED it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: The Last Greatest Magician in the World by Jim Steinmeyer

Title: The Last Greatest Magician in the World: Howard Thurston vs. Houdini and the Battle of American Wizards

Author: Jim Steinmeyer


Who Should Read It? This is a great non-fiction for people who are used to reading fiction but thinking of delving into the world of non. There's mystery and magic and excitement, and well - Neil Patrick Harris and Neil Gaiman loved it. What more do I need say?

What I Have to Say:Jim Steinmeyer knows magic, and he knows magicians, and he knows how to write about them. Put those three things together, and what you get in The Last Greatest Magician is one of the most intriguing and exciting biographies I've ever read.

To be honest, before reading this book, it had been AGES since I last read a biography. It's not that I'm not interested - reading about the lives of interesting or well-known (or sometimes not well-known) people has always fascinated me, but I've often found biographies to be somewhat dry. I've therefore always preferred fiction books laced with fact. In the Last Greatest Magician in the World, though, Steinmeryer has, for the most part, managed to avoid the dry stigma attached to biographies. There are definitely some parts that are dry (let's face it, when you're telling the life story of someone, that's just going to happen), but the majority of the time I actually forgot that I was reading a biography. It was exciting and intense and filled with good guys and bad guys and crazy plots of madness and revenge.

Steinmeyer takes subject matter that is, even at its core, exciting, and turns it into an utterly readable, magnificent story. I wanted to like Thurston, and it seems obvious to me that the author has a great respect for Thurston, but he approached the material in such an objective way that, even through the author's obvious bias, there were times when I hated him, when I desperately wanted Houdini to one-up him. Even now, after having finished, I can't decide if I liked him or hated him. One thing is clear, though, in the Last Greatest Magician in the World, Steinmeyer pulls you so completely into the world of Thurston that there is no grey - either you love him or you hate him.

Steinmeyer writes with knowledge, grace, and intelligence. As someone who has been interested in magic from a very young age (haven't we all?), I was thrilled to read the story of Thurston and his interactions with his wives and children and, especially, other well-known magicians such as Houdini and Thurston. If you have ever had an interest in magic, this book is definitely for you. Steinmeyer has turned Thurston's story into the story of all magician's, and it will satisfy your curiosity on all counts. Even if you're not a huge fan of biographies, I would recommend giving this book a try. (and plus, Neil Patrick Harris says it's awesome!)

Summary:Here is the seminal biography of the magician's magician, Howard Thurston, a man who surpassed Houdini in the eyes of showmen and fans and set the standard fro how stage magic is performed today.

Everyone knows Houdini-but who was Thurston? In this rich, vivid biography of the "greatest magician in the world," celebrated historian of stage magic Jim Steinmeyer captures the career and controversies of the wonder-worker extraordinaire, Howard Thurston.

The public's fickleness over magicians has left Thurston all but forgotten today. Yet Steinmeyer shows how his story is one of the most remarkable in show business. During his life, from 1869 to 1936, Thurston successfully navigated the most dramatic changes in entertainment-from street performances to sideshows to wagon tours through America's still-wild West to stage magic amid the glitter of grand theaters.

Thurston became one of America's most renowned vaudeville stars, boldly performing an act with just a handful of playing cards, and then had the foresight to leave vaudeville, expanding his show into an extravaganza with more than forty tons of apparatusand costumes. His touring production was an American institution for nearly thirty years, and Thurston earned a brand name equal to Ziegfeld or Ringling Brothers.

Steinmeyer explores the stage and psychological rivalry between Thurston and Houdini during the first decades of the twentieth century- a contest that Thurston won. He won with a bigger show, a more successful reputation, and the title of America's greatest magician. In The Last Greatest Magician in the World, Thurston's magic show is revealed as the one that animates our collective memories.

Cover Story: Super cool - so mystical and magical and intriguing!

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review via Shelf Awareness. This in no way affected my review.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Things I Love As Much as Books (17)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

So, while there are TONS of things that I love as much as books, there are also some things that I hate as much as I love books. And one of those things is cigarettes. I really, literally, can't stand them.
But this hatred, oddly enough, has led to something else that I love as much as books - my smoke detector bling.
I dressed up as a thug for Halloween this year, and, as you'll notice from the picture, I've got the awesomest bling ever around my neck.
It was my Christmas present from my little brother last year - a smoke detector that he bedazzled all up for me with an anti-smoking sign right smack dab in the middle.
One of the even more awesome things about it - if I put batteries in it, it will theoretically also go off if someone smokes around me. I haven't wanted to get close enough to someone smoking to check, though, so it remains theoretical.

Anyhow, awesomest bling ever! L<3VE! Just as much as books, for sure!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: Logic of Demons by H.A. Goodman

Title: Logic of Demons: the Quest for Nadine's Soul

Author: H. A. Goodman


Who Should Read It? If you've ever questioned heaven or hell or good or evil, or really even if you're just looking for a fast-paced, exciting read with some unique twists, this book is for you!

What I Have to Say:
This book was amazingly, surprisingly, and shockingly awesome! I've got to be honest - I wasn't excepting to like it. I find that lately, every time I receive a book for review from an author that's been published by an unknown publishing company, I'm disappointed. It had almost gotten to the point in which I felt like it must be an editor that makes a book good and not an author. Alas, not the case with Logic of Demons.

I was immediately gripped, pulled into the world of Devin Schwartz, horrified that I was unable to do anything to help him as I helplessly watched him make one horrible decision that would change his life forever. He buys the Forumla and finds he can't stop himself from killing the man that raped and murdered his pregnant wife. And then he finds himself working for the Company, assured that he is 100% NOT in Hell (I have to say, I wasn't so sure).

Logic of Demons takes a look at how thinly drawn the lines are between good and evil. As Devin makes his way through the afterlife, trying to understand the world of demons and angels and paladins and salesmen, he continues to make some pretty bad choices, a lot of them based on sheer naivety. It's hard to sit back and watch him when, as a reader, you pick up on things so much more quickly than he does. But, through his fumbling, the reader comes to understand what Goodman is trying to accomplish. In evil, there is always a little good to be found, and in good, there is always evil to be found - it just depends on how you look at things.

Overall, this book is utterly readable and enjoyable, and it's got a message worth reading. I don't really like how Goodman seems to overlook completely the whole idea that things that may seem bad on the surface aren't necessarily so because of intentions, but I didn't really feel the book lacking for not approaching it. I suppose it delves enough into the moral to not need it. There were a couple other parts of the book that also frustrated me (since when does a person not have the opportunity to be defended at his trial, for example?), but seriously, with a good editor, this book could have easily made it's way up to 5 stars on my book list.

If you've ever questioned heaven or hell or good or evil, or really even if you're just looking for a fast-paced, exciting read with some unique twists, this book is for you! I loved it! You'll find yourself hooked and wondering just how Nadine and her soul play into this whole thing right up until the very last chapter. Definitely worth checking out! :-)

Summary:What would you do if the love of your life was murdered by a deranged killer? Would you become a vigilante and seek retribution? And would this revenge affect those you care for in the afterlife? LOGIC OF DEMONS The Quest for Nadine's Soul takes you on a journey inside the psyches of men and women forced to deal with the spiritual consequences of their decisions. Through the lives of a demon, two Angels, and a mysterious teenage girl, a plethora of politically and socially relevant issues ranging from the roots of genocide and sex trafficking to child conscription and religious fundamentalism are addressed in this fantasy thriller. Life as well as the afterlife converge in this novel to explain certain peculiarities of the human condition. Whether you are God fearing individual or an atheist, LOGIC OF DEMONS The Quest for Nadine's Soul addresses moral and theological issues of interest for people of all backgrounds.

Cover Story: I like this cover. It's what made me agree to review the book in the first place, to be honest. Something about the guy's square jaw line with the flames behind it was just incredibly intriguing to me.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by the author.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: The Naughty List by Suzanne Young

Title: the Naughty List

Author: Suzanne Young


Who Should Read It? This book is for ALL lovers of YA - Seriously! ALL!

What I Have to Say:
I'm not really in the habit of giving books 5 stars, especially if they are your typical, run-of-the-mill YA novel like the Naughty List is. And probably the Naughty List doesn't actually deserve my 5 star rating, as there's nothing overwhelming deep or wonderful or profound about it - nothing to make it stand out as that shining star of a YA book that should be teaching lots of lessons and winning lots of rewards.

And yet - it was, hands down, the most readable YA novel I have read in a long time. It was sexy and flirty and fun and adorable and light and oh so utterly readable. It's got cheerleaders acting like no other cheerleaders you've ever known (if you're one of those cheerleader haters, the Naughty List, with it's super spies uncovering cheater boys at every turn, you might just have to rethink your cheerleader stance), sweet, wonderfully lovable boys mixed up with all the cheaters, and killer friendships.

This book is fluff, there are no two ways around it, but it's got enough strength of character and character development, along with creative writing style and adorable plot, to make you not feel like you've just wasted two hours filling your head with nothing. It also head on approaches cheating for the horrible, negative thing that it really is, and I've rarely read another book that does that. I love Young's way of attempting to create a new language for her characters - it's so strawberry smoothie! I love how Tessa and Aiden are so whipped cream. I also love that there is more to Tessa than one would ever imagine in the beginning. She seems so strong and put together, but as was inevitably the case, she is actually created from an innumerable number of layers. And I can't wait to get to know her better in the next books in the series.

Anyhow, loved this book! For serious! Read it, and you won't be disappointed!

Summary: As if being a purrfect cheerleader isn't enough responsibility! Tessa Crimson's the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad—turned—spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn't be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!

When Tessa's own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa's sneaky ways end in catastrophe?

The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?

Cover Story: Seriously, I love pink and turquoise together, so I think this cover is absolutely beautyrific! And then the whole girl on top of guy thing - behind a window. I kind of love it, tp be honest.

Disclosure: I won this book!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond

Title: My Sparkling Misfortune

Author: Laura Lond


Who Should Read It?
While this book is written for middle grade readers, I think all lovers of quirky fantasy will find something for themselves in My Sparkling Misfortune. If you've ever read and loved Patricia C. Wrede, this book is definitely for you. If not, well, you should probably give it a try anyway, because it's awesome!

What I Have to Say:
Ohman!!!! Gush, gush, gush, gush, gush! I absolutely ADORED this book! And I mean ADORED! It is the cutest book I have read since, well, since I read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. And that's appropriate because, with a debut like My Sparkling Misfortune, Laura Lond really might just be the next Patricia C. Wrede. If you've read them, think of Princess Cimorene's quirky primness coming from a bad guy who is actually good but would never want to admit it and replace the dragons with sparklings, and you've got My Sparkling Mifortune.
If you've never read those books, well, what are you waiting for? Pick them up, but only after you've read My Sparkling Misfortune. You won't be disappointed!

The story starts off when evil Lord Arkus of Black River Castle, who is forever chased by a horrible otherworldy beast and can only take refuge in white towers (which are a good guy thing) is tricked and deceived by a prince. In order to redeem his evil name, he somehow finds himself being aided by a Sparkling, a magical creature from another world that can only do good and only help the good guys.

What then ensues is snarky hilariousness, magical wondrousness, and nonstop intrigue. I am not the kind of person who can normally read a book in one sitting, but this one I absolutely did. It's short (because it's aimed at middle grade readers) and every single word was necessary and wonderful. More than that, it's also one of those books with a message. Don't judge people - labeling is just confusing, and there is always more to any given person than a label could ever tell.

Don't be deterred that this was written for younger readers. IT IS FABULOUS (and that's coming from a 28 year old). It is perfect for middle grade readers, of course, but I think it can be enjoyed by adults of all ages, and I do hope you'll give this book a chance!

Summary: Lord Arkus of Blackriver Castle readily admits that he is a villain and sees no reason why it should stop him from being the protagonist of this book. After all, Prince Kellemar, an aspiring hero, has defeated him in a rather questionable way. Bent on revenge, Arkus attempts to capture a powerful evil spirit who would make him nearly invincible, but a last-minute mistake leaves him with a sparkling instead a goody-goody spirit that helps heroes, watches over little children, and messes up villains plans. Bound to Lord Arkus for five years of service and sworn to act in his best interests, the sparkling is not easy to get rid of, and of course his understanding of best interests is quite different from what Lord Arkus has in mind.

Cover Story: I had actually never seen the cover of this book before reading it, as I was sent an e-copy. I do, though, think that the cover is adorable. It's not exactly how I imagined any of the characters, but it'll do.

Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by the publisher. This in no way affected my review.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Things I Love As Much as Books (16)

So, I think it's a given that I love to read. Don't we all?
The thing is, though, there are a TON of other things in my life that I love just as much as reading. Sure, most of these things aren't as constant as reading, but they count just as much in my life when I'm loving them.
SO, I decided to start this weekly feature in which I write a short post about something in my life that I am loving just as much as reading!

I have tried very hard on numerous occasions to get into Japanese drama - it seems like, if I could like it, it would be a super great way to practice my Japanese listening skills. And yet, I've never been able to find one I like. Until now.

I find myself OBSESSED with Nodame Cantabile, an adorable drama about two piano students at music school. I just finished the 11 episodes of the series and am DYING to watch the Europe special and then the two movies that follow. Nodame isd sort of flitty and totally reminds me of myself (which is probably not a good thing), and Chiaki is serious and super talented, and, aside from the occasional issue, their relationship is the most adorable thing ever.

My favorite character is an adorable violin student called Mine (Eita in life), who loves rock! He's super doofy and awesome, just like I like em!

Apparently he and the main actress, who plays Nodame, are in another drama, Last Friends, together, and I now MUST watch it.

Yay! Thank you Nodame for being so awesome and being my J-Drama gateway drug! :-)

My Contests

None for now!