Saturday, January 31, 2009

Books + Sale = Love

So the Borders Express in this mall really close to my house is closing! The mall is undergoing massive renovations, and they want to put "higher end" stores in the mall (I guess bookstores don't count?). A Barnes & Noble is going to be put in, but not for another two years! I'm actually pretty upset, because this bookstore was about five minutes from my house. But there was one good thing about the Borders closing: a huge sale to get rid of all the books.

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Bogus to Bubbly by Scott Westerfeld
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Envy: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen

A lot of the YA section was picked over, but I think I got a pretty good selection. Everything was 40% off, so the grand total for all these books was $23.52, which is a very good price, especially since Envy is hardcover.

How Not To Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler

Maggie Dempsey (formally known as Sugar Magnolia Dempsey) has always been at the mercy of her New Age, hippie parents. They love to travel and never spend more than a few months in any one city, making Maggie change schools and start anew all the time. Usually she likes the adventure, but this time she's leaving best friends and a boyfriend in Portland when her family decides to move to Texas. Feeling lonely and hurt that her boyfriend broke up with her, Maggie decides that since they will probably pick up and move again soon, she shouldn't make any new friends. What starts out as a quest to remain friend-less soon turns into a quest for unpopularity. Acting strange and wearing funky outfits, Maggie is sure that she'll just be a loser for a few months, but to her surprise, she actually starts to become popular.

This book was hilarious! Maggie's thoughts and commentary are so funny, plus the outfits she wears are very crazy. For example, she wore a gray mechanics jumpsuit to school, complete with dirt and oil stains. I thought it was very bold of Maggie to try to be unpopular, since some of the things she does are extremely embarrassing. But Maggie stuck to her guns and continued to do silly things. And to her surprise and unhappiness, she actually becomes popular! Maggie gets invited to do an interview for the school newspaper, since she's a new student and all, and proceeds to shake up the social system at her high school. She's says some very true things, about how everyone should think for themselves and not follow the popular crowd in what to wear, say, do, etc. Very wise words, I must say. But this sentiment rings true with just about every student in Maggie's school and they start to copy and admire her. She even gets nominated for Homecoming Court! I thought Maggie was such an interesting person, one that everyone would want to be friends with. Her parents, odd as they were, were so sweet and cute. I could tell they loved their daughter very much, even if the feeling wasn't exactly mutual at times. How Not To Be Popular was a light-hearted and humorous book about being yourself and how you can find friends in the unlikeliest of places.

8 out of 10.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Far From You by Lisa Schroeder

Alice has been hurting since her mother died of cancer a few years back. Her father is now remarried and has a new baby daughter, making her feel more alone than ever. To cope, Alice writes music, plays guitar for her church with her best friend, and spends time with her boyfriend, Blaze. She's tried to distance herself from her new family, but her attempts are futile when they drive to California to visit her stepmother's parents. On the way home, Alice, her baby sister, and stepmother, Victoria get lost in a snowstorm. Food and water are running out, and seems like there's no way for the three to survive. As the hours turn to days, Alice seems to think there is someone looking out for her after all.

I actually liked this book a lot. I'm not really a fan of poetry, so I was a little skeptic to read Far From You since it's written in verse. But the poetic flow of the novel worked. I could never write like this so I was amazed at Lisa Schroeder's ability to create vivid images out of so few words. I would have like to see a little more detail to the plot and the characters, but it was still beautifully written. This is a very fast read, since each page only has a few lines. I read it in less than a day, it's 300+ pages feeling like 100. And like I said before, I felt the part where Alice and her family are stuck in the car could have been elaborated on, to feel like they were out in the cold for four days instead of a few hours (which is what it felt like since I read it so fast). Even though it took a crisis, I'm glad Alice finally accepted her stepmother and new baby sister. It was good to see her grow and change, because it doesn't seem like much fun to feel unwanted in your own home. And this book is perfect for the current weather conditions outside because it's snowing and I even had off from school today because of the weather. Makes me glad I'm in my warm house.

8 out of 10.

Waiting on Wednesday- 5

Once again, we have our weekly post where we readers can drool over upcoming books. It was started by the wonderful Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen
It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

Some other people have read/are currently reading this book and I am insanely jealous. I love Sarah Dessen and the synopsis and cover make this book look really good! I'm reading This Lullaby right now so I'm in the Sarah Dessen-mood haha.

Along For The Ride will be released on June 16, 2009 (which is my last day of school!).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund

Aurelia, the crown princess of Tyralt, is headstrong and independent. She doesn't like being told what to do, especially in regards to the looming prospect of marriage. But there's a problem: someone is trying to kill the princess. Who or why is unknown, and it's Robert's job to find out. The son of a royal spy and a former classmate of Aurelia, Robert is sent to protect her from the assassination attempts that are becoming more and more frequent. As Robert's and Aurelia's friendship begins to blossom into something more, Robert becomes determined to find the assasin, at whatever the cost.

This book was okay. For some reason, I always feel a little confused reading these types of novels because it's a fictional kingdom set in some time in the past. I'm more of a historical fiction type of girl and this always feels like historical fantasy, which is my own personal name for this genre. Actually I put it under Fairy Tales, but whaterver. Anyway, the book was kinda boring. The writing was good (it usually is) but the plot was lacking something. This was supposed to be a mystery, but it wasn't done right. There weren't enough suspects and clues for this to feel like a real mystery. The romance between Robert and Aurelia was meh; it wasn't developed enough, plus the two didn't have enough interaction for my liking. The book wasn't bad, but just one of those that you forget about in a few days since it doesn't leave much of an impression.

6 out of 10.

Happy Tag

I was tagged by Nadine-Stella at Starry Night for this meme. Thanks!

Rules of the tag:
- Link to the person who tagged you
- List 6 things that make you happy
- Post the rules, tag six others and let them know you did so
- Then tell the person who tagged you your entry is finished!

6 Things That Make Me Happy!

1) Getting a book in the mail.
2) Swim practice getting canceled (like it was today).
3) Breaking my times in swimming.
4) Seeing friends that don't go to my school.
5) Muffins! (I love them haha)
6) Hearing my favorite song on the radio.

I Tag:

TheBookworm of Au Courant
Just Blinded Book Reviews
Allie of Just Listen Book Reviews
Emily of That One Girl Emily
Chelsea of The Page Flipper
Hillary of The Book Reader

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Am Rembrandt's Daughter by Lynn Cullen

Cornelia, the daughter of the esteemed painter Rembrandt van Rijn, feels lost and alone. Her mother dead from the plague and her brother recently married, Cornelia has no one to turn to with the exception of her father Rembrandt, who is teetering on the brink of madness. Once a great painter, his style has become unpopular with the elite of Amsterdam, and now he and Cornelia are living on the edge of poverty. To forget her problems, Cornelia begins a relationship with Carel, the son of a wealthy shipping magnate. But there's also Neel, her father's last remaining student, whose devotion to Rembrandt surprises Cornelia. This is the story of a girl growing up in the shadow of one of the world's most brillaint artists.

Hm, what to say about this book? I have to admit that I was disappointed with it. For some reason, I thought this book was going to be really good, and it wasn't. It wasn't bad, just not excellent. If you've ever read Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, this book is very similar. I wrote a literary criticism on that book last year, which is another story for another day. But anyway, both protagonists live in the home of a famous artist (in Pearl Earring, Griet lives with Vermeer), they live in Amsterdam around the same time period, both have a love interest, etc. Oh and for the love interest/triangle that all the starred reviews mentioned, it's practically non-existent. I understand that Cornelia is fourteen years old, but she had two boys fawning over her and they didn't interact like at all. I didn't understand why the boys actually liked her, so the "romance" was unbelievable. The historial aspects of this book seemed pretty accurate, which is always good to see. There was also a surprise ending that I guessed half-way through the book. I know it sounds like I didn't like this book, but it wasn't that bad. All I'm trying to say is I Am Rembrandt's Daughter could have been a lot better.

7 out of 10.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sorry Guys...

...for not posting a review this weekend. I have been so busy! I have midterms this week and I took the SAT's on Saturday so I've been doing a lot of studying. The (only) good thing about midterms is that we have half-days so when I'm not studying I should have some time to post a review. My goal is to review I Am Rembrandt's Daughter by Lynn Cullen tomorrow and then Aurelia by Anne Osterlund on Tuesday. We'll see how it works out. Check back in the next few days for the reviews! And thanks to everyone who has been commenting on my posts. I really appreciated it!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday- 4

As you know, Waiting on Wednesday was created by Jill at Breaking the Spine to get readers excited for new books.

City of Glass by Casssandra Clare

I couldn't find a summary of the book, but trust me, this series is awesome! There's two books that come before this one, City of Bones and City of Ashes, and they are both amazing. I am so excited for the March 24 release date and it's over two months away! I'm also happy because I just found out that Cassandra Clare is coming near me for the book tour and I'm planning on going.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Jenna Fox has just awoken from a coma, and she can't remember anything about her life. Her parents tell her she was in a serious car accident, and barely survived. Even as Jenna watches old home videos of herself, something feels off. The way her grandmother seems to hate her for no reason and how her parents won't tell her anything about the accident makes Jenna feel like she's part of some secret, a secret so deep and dark that she can't even know about it. A secret about Jenna's very existence.

I had no idea this was a science fiction novel when I started it. I thought it was one of those novels where the girl wakes up from a coma and has amnesia and can't remember anything. So I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the book takes place several years in the future, since I love reading about future societies. I felt really bad for Jenna, because she seemed so lost throughout the book. It was hard for her to be her own person and at the same time try to be the Jenna that her parents loved and adored so much. I liked how Mary E. Pearson wrote the novel. She started out writing in sparse language, and as Jenna begins to adapt to her new life and become her own person, the writing becomes more detailed and flows better. It was a good way to show Jenna's transition. Now for Jenna's secret. There were hints of it throughout the book, so I started to guess what it was but it was still a surprise. Even though the reader and Jenna finds out about who she is fairly early in the novel, there are still other twists and turns that keep the suspense going. The Adoration of Jenna Fox was very thought-provoking and a good book for fans of science fiction.

8 out of 10.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

In Too Deep by Jennifer Banash

Casey has finally started to fit in with the rich and sophisticated at Meadowlark Academy. Her fashion sense is improving, she's hanging out with Madison, Sophie and Phoebe, and Drew might be her kinda-sorta boyfriend. Even though Casey's retaining her small town roots, she feels like she might be giving up herself to be more like the other girls. And she's not sure if that's necessarily a good thing...

Okay, so this is a continuation of The Elite, but everything is explained so it's not necessary that you read The Elite first. Recommended, but not necessary. As I said before, I like these types of books when I'm looking for that light, fluffy read, but as I was reading In Too Deep, I started to get bored with the plot. There were some surprises and twists, but I found myself skimming the internal monologues that sometimes pop up, without even realizing that I was doing it. See, I'm the kind of person that likes reading dialogue, so when there's long passages of descriptions or explanations, I start to get bored. That's not a bad thing, it's just how I am. Jennifer Banash still did the rotating points of view, which I like in this story because you get to see what goes on with the other characters and what they're thinking about. If the whole book was Casey's point of view, we would never get into Madison's head and see how she justifies her actions (which helps the reader sympathize with her a bit). Even though I didn't enjoy this book as much as The Elite, I'll probably still read Simply Irresistible to see what happens next.

6 out of 10.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday - 3

I haven't been able to do Waiting On Wednesday for awhile since I've been so busy, but swim practice was canceled today and now I have some time! As you know, Waiting on Wednesday was created by Jill over at Breaking The Spine.

Envy: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen

Jealous whispers.
Old rivalries.
New betrayals.
Two months after Elizabeth Holland's dramatic homecoming, Manhattan eagerly awaits her return to the pinnacle of society. When Elizabeth refuses to rejoin her sister Diana's side, however, those watching New York's favorite family begin to suspect that all is not as it seems behind the stately doors of No. 17 Gramercy Park South. Farther uptown, Henry and Penelope Schoonmaker are the city's most celebrated couple. But despite the glittering diamond ring on Penelope's finger, the newlyweds share little more than scorn for each other. And while the newspapers call Penelope's social-climbing best friend, Carolina Broad, an heiress, her fortune—and her fame—are anything but secure, especially now that one of society's darlings is slipping tales to the eager press. In this next thrilling installment of Anna Godbersen's bestselling Luxe series, Manhattan's most envied residents appear to have everything they desire: Wealth. Beauty. Happiness. But sometimes the most practiced smiles hide the most scandalous secrets. . . .

I loved The Luxe and Rumors, so I can't wait to read the next book! It will be released pretty soon, on January 27.

The Elite by Jennifer Banash

Casey McCloy has just moved to New York City from Illinois to live with her grandmother, while her mother is doing research in England. She gets to reside in a posh apartment building, attend a prestigious high school, and rub shoulders with Manhattan's elite. Even though she's not as rich or sophisticated as the other girls , she becomes friends with the three most popular girls in school: Madison, Phoebe and Sophie. The girls relunctantly allow Casey into their circle, but a social faux pas might push Casey out. Let's just hope that Casey stays away from Madison's on-and-off boyfriend Drew...

This book was a light read, full of fluff, but I still liked it a lot. It reminded me of Gossip Girl, since they're both easy to read and might be considered guilty pleasures. The characters were fun to read about, even though they fit the usual stereotypes: the perfect and pretty queen bee, the innoncent outsider, the cute and sensitive boy. It also seemed like the whole book revolved around one plot point, with few other things thrown in. The whole time Drew and Madison were trying to decide if they still liked each other, and the book was filled with "I like him, no I don't, should we date, will she be at the party, blah blah blah". Even though it got redundant, I liked reading about these girls, who seemed to define elegance and sophistication. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book, In Too Deep.

6 out of 10.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Weird Coincidence

Right now I'm reading The Elite by Jennifer Banash. The main character, Casey, moves to New York City from a small town called Normal in Illinois. I didn't even know if this town existed -- that is, until today. I was eating breakfast this morning and paging through our county newspaper. There was a section of really small articles highlighting some human interest pieces. One of those teeny articles was titled "Couple Gets Hitched in Taco Bell." Under the title, it said the article came from Normal, Illinois! I thought that was so weird! First, because a couple is getting married in Taco Bell, and second, because I'm reading The Elite right now. I thought that it was so odd that I wanted to share it with someone. Haha. And I have no idea why that little article was in my paper because I live nowhere near Illinois.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti

Ruby has always been the good girl: quiet, smart, loving to her family. That is, until she meets thrill-seeking and handsome Travis Becker. He makes her do things she would never normally do, like break into someone's house and speed dangerously on his motorcycle. Ruby doesn't like who she's becoming, and in an attempt to distract Ruby from Travis, her mother takes her to a book club. The book club, that Ruby dubbed the Casserole Queens, has just discovered that one of their members is the protagonist in the tragic love story they are reading. The group embarks on a road trip to reunite the two lovers, and along the way Ruby might learn a thing or two about love.

This book was so cute. Not exactly the typical romance, because Ruby is trying to get over Travis, while other characters, such as her mother and the book club member, are learning to love again. The whole thing with Travis, though, didn't seem like a big part of the story. Deb Caletti employed the annoying "tell-but-don't-show" tactic regarding Ruby and Travis's relationship. They didn't have enough interaction for me to believe that Ruby loved him. There was a lot of Ruby telling how dangerous he was, and then suddenly she's in love with him, but the reader has only seen him a few times. I feel like the author wanted the reader to be removed from the relationship, so we wouldn't start feeling sympathetic for Travis, but still, he needed more characterization.

Despite this, I loved all the characters in the book club, and how they helped this little old lady reunite with her true love, which was so sweet. I liked how Ruby got to learn about love firsthand, and how Ruby and her mother were similar in their attitudes toward love and relationships, and then got see each other grow and learn about themselves. Even Ruby's dog was funny, making this book a worthy National Book Award Finalist.

8 out of 10.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson

Frances Robinson has a big secret, one that only a few people know: she's adopted. And that's not the worst part: her birth mother smothered Frances's three younger sisters to death and almost succeeded in killing Frances. Now it's eleven years later, and Frances's mother has been released from prison. Her mother wants to see her only daughter, and Frances is torn between the conflicting emotions of fear and curiosity. When she decides to embark on a journey to seek out her past, Frances receives much more than she bargained for.

I heard a lot of good things about this book, and for the most part it lived up to my expectations. The story takes some time to get into, but once you do, it's a roller coaster ride. Frances was a lot different than I thought she would be. At times she seemed like a weak character, but by the end she proved herself to me. Despite my first impressions, she was actually extremely courageous and strong. For all that she went through, Frances was one tough girl. Anyway, the plot was so interesting! I can't imagine having a mother that killed my sisters and almost killed me. I thought R.A. Nelson did a nice job of writing Frances and her feelings on this tragedy. Everything was so real. Omg, and the twist at the end everyone keeps talking about: it's so ingenious. You have to read this book if only to find out what happens at the end, because I guarantee that you will be surprised. Overall I thought this was a very good book that dealt with a depressing subject very nicely.

8 out of 10.


Stargirlreads of Books Make Great Lovers interviewed me! Check it out here. This is an ongoing thing where Stargirlreads will interview a new book blogger every Friday. Just email her if you want an interview!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

09 Debut Author Challenge

Since I started my blog mid-year, some challenges I didn't get to participate in or I wouldn't have enough time to finish anyway. I did complete the Seconds Challenge, though, so I was proud of myself : ) But this year I want to participate in more. I've seen a lot of fun challenges being hosted, but since I don't have time to complete them all, I'm only going to pick a few. I haven't decided which ones I want to do yet, but I am going to participate in Kristi's '09 Debut Authors Challenge at The Story Siren.

The rules are fairly simple: try to read a certain amount of books by authors who debut in 2009. I'm going to try to read 15 and hopefully I'll read more. It seems like a lot of fun. Check the sidebar for my progress on this challenge.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Top 8 by Katie Finn

Madison MacDonald is like most teenagers -- addicted to Friendverse, a popular social networking site like MySpace or Facebook. She's spent days putting up pictures, writing about herself, and figuring out which friends to put as her Top 8. So when Madison goes to the Galapagos Islands for spring break, she's gets kind of stir crazy not being able to check her profile. But when she gets back, she sees that her profile has been hacked! Unflattering pictures have been posted, and the hacker has said some pretty mean things about her friends and classmates. But the worst thing of all, the hacker broke up with Madison's very cute boyfriend! Madison must figure out who the hacker is and bring him or her to justice. Her social (and love) life depends on it.

I liked this book a lot. As a fan of Facebook, I could understand why Madison was so upset after her profile was hacked. In Madison's case, everyone has a Friendverse, and everyone looks at each other's profiles, meaning everyone saw the nasty things the hacker wrote. Even though I think the characters put a little too much emphasis on this social networking site, but it was still realistic for today's teens. I also liked how the book was a mystery and Madison had to figure out who the hacker was. At several times I thought I knew who the culprit was, but I ended up being wrong, so that was a surprise. But what was really cool about this book was that it had Madison's Friendverse profile page and some other people's pages. It also showed I.M's and texts sent between Madison and her friends. I thought these things were a nice touch and made the book fun to read and look at.

8 out of 10.

May Contests

This is a new "feature" on Simply Books. I'm going to write (type) out a list of all the contests going on in the blogging community. Just call this your unofficial guide to winning free books : ) If you would like your contest added to my list, please leave a comment.

Steph is giving away 50 copies of The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams!
Ends 06/01/09

Win a copy of Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande Ends 05/16/09

Win a copy of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and a swag bag Ends 5/29/09

Win a copy of How To Buy A Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson Ends 05/31/09

Win an ARC of Pretty Dead by Francesca Lia Block Ends 06/03/09

Win one of Lisa Schroeder's books. Ends 06/03/09

Win a copy of Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. Ends 06/26/09

Harmony Book Reviews is giving away books! Ends 06/31/09

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

In Fairfield, Illinois, right outside of Chicago, the town is divided into two sections: the North Side and the South Side. All the North Siders are rich and preppy, while the South Siders are poor and are in gangs. So when cheerleader Brittany Ellis and gang member Alex Fuentes must be chemistry partners, they're sure they can never get along. But can they? As Brittany begins to shed her perfect facade and Alex loses his tough guy image, the two discover that they are more alike than they once thought and may even start to fall in love.

I loved this book. I borrowed it from my friend, who read it in one day and stayed up until 5 am to finish it. I didn't believe it was that good, but when I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. The characters were so real, that I felt like they could be actual people. Brittany is so relatable, at least to me, because she tries so hard to be perfect. Her mother expects Brittany to be the best, but it's only because Brittany's older sister has cerebral palsy and can't be perfect. And Alex is just as complex. Everyone sees him as a gang member, but in reality he's only in the gang to protect his family. He doesn't want to be in the Latino Blood, but has to choose what's right for himself vs. what's right for his family. And he's selfless enough to choose to stay in the gang for his family. This book reminded me of West Side Story, but it's a lot different. The attraction and, dare I say it, chemistry between Alex and Brittany was perfect. They fit together so well, they just had to be together. And the ending was adorable. I loved every second of this book and I think Perfect Chemistry was perfect.

9 out of 10.