Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier

Paula, though a young girl of seventeen, is a scholar. She is very intelligent and loves to learn. So when her father needs someone to accompany him to Istanbul for his trading business, she is the perfect person. Being her father's secretary may be unorthodox, especially in the Muslim culture of Istanbul, but when Paula discovers that her father is trying to bid for a valuable religious artifact, she becomes even more excited. What she doesn't know is that The Other Kingdom, a magical realm that Paula and her sisters used to visit, has a quest for her, involving the artifact called Cybele's Gift. Paula must face riddles and puzzles, pirates and sea chases, true love and betrayal in order to complete the challenge set before her.

Cybele's Secret was an interesting read for me. It's actually the companion novel to Wildwood Dancing, which I haven't read. At first, I didn't like it. In the beginning it was slow-going, because the writing was thick and flowery, which made it a chore to read. But as I continued and the plot presented itself, I started to get into the novel. I really liked the protagonist Paula, because she didn't let the barriers of her time stop her from pursuing her one true love: learning. The book could have been a lot shorter, but the ending tied up all the loose ends nicely. It even had a bit of romance, which made the book a lot better. All in all, an okay read.

6 out of 10.
Release Date: September 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blog Update

Hello Everyone!

Wow, it's been awhile since I posted a review! I do have a good reason: I had my wisdom teeth removed on Monday. Not a pleasant experience, let me tell you. So I haven't really felt like reading, plus the book I'm reading (Cybele's Secret) is long and kinda drags. Anyway, I'm almost finished it, so a review will most likely be posted tomorrow. I don't think I'll have time for it tonight. I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still alive, haha. I'm very excited because I got 3 books from my library that are on my To Read list and I'm getting an ARC of Death by Latte, which I can't wait to read. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

Dominique Baylor knows a lot about human anatomy. Not from experience, mind you, but she wants to be a doctor and has perused Gray's Anatomy many times. There's just no one at school that she really likes. Until she meets Wes, a track-star from her best friend's public school. They become friends quickly and soon Dom realizes that she might be in love....Anatomy of a Boyfriend teaches us that first love can be scary, fun, and all together heartbreaking, making it one of life's most important journeys.
I loved this book! It was a cute love story, but it was real. It wasn't a fluffy romantic book, but a book that actually showed the flaws and woes of love. Dominique was a great character: she was smart and funny and naive like most girls her age. And the best part was that she grew and developed as the story progessed. The book contained some inappropiate material, but it made the story better because it was an honest portrayal of teenage relationships. My only qualm is that the book should be longer, so the reader has more to enjoy! All in all, if you're looking for a romantic, yet truthful, story with a very real protagonist, then Anatomy of a Boyfriend is for you. And if this review doesn't make you want to read the book, then the cover definitely should!

8 out of 10.

A big thank you to Daria Snadowsky for getting me a copy of the book.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

Jeff isn't crazy. At least that's what he keeps telling himself. But when he wakes up on New Year's Day in the hospital psychiatric ward with bandages around his wrists, it'll be hard to convince anyone else. Now forced to spend 45 days in the hospital, Jeff resorts to jokes and sarcasm to make it through the day. But as time goes on, he begins to see the other patients for who they really are and learns a lot about himself in the process.

So this book is about suicide, not the most joyous subject. But the back cover of the book called it "compelling, witty and refreshingly real," which I hoped meant it would be thought-provoking. So I was a little disappointed when I didn't really learn anything from the book. Jeff cracks a lot of jokes and some of them were really funny. But it's a little hypocritical to make fun of "crazy" people when you're in the psych ward too. It was nice that he could find humor in the situation, but the jokes and sarcasm started getting ridiculous. I sorta liked the book through the middle, as much as you can like this type of book. About three-fourths through the novel there is some inappropiate content and I'm not that conservative or anything, but really it was too much. It was pretty graphic, and anyone under 14 might not be ready for this book. When you finally discover Jeff's reason for committing suicide, it's thrown in there last minute, but it has a twist which redeemed the book slightly.

3 out of 10.

Release Date: October 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Larry and the Meaning of Life by Janet Tashjian

Josh Swenson (aka Larry) has just lost his girlfriend and the presidential campaign in one fell swoop. Looking for some direction in life, he decides to study with Gus Muldarian, a spiritual guru. What starts out as a way for Larry to find purpose in his meaningless life, soon becomes his most important adventure yet.

Well, what can I say about this book? It's actually the third in a series, and I haven't read the first two, so the references to previous events held no meaning for me. I was definitely able to understand everything, but it would have helped had I read the first two books. I actually liked the book in the beginning: it was well-written and the main character Larry was really interesting. It was also the second book in a row I read that included footnotes (for the other, see An Abundance of Katherines), which made the book funny. But as the book went on some events started getting ridiculous, and I began asking myself if that would really happen in real life. Then by the end, there was a massive twist which blew any shred of reality left in the book out of the water. The plot was so unrealistic that I wondered if I had picked up a fantasy book. I'd recommend reading this book if you read the first two and liked them, but otherwise, stay away from this series.

4 out of 10.

Release Date: September 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer


So this review will not be a traditional review, with a summary and then a short paragraph with my thoughts. No summary is needed, I believe, since so many people have already read the book or at least know what it's about. I'm going to go through the book and just list my opinions on certain key events. This won't be a ten page commentary on everything that happens, but it will be longer than a paragraph. So bear with me, while we journey into Breaking Dawn!

The book begins with Bella thinking that everyone is staring at her new car and the ring on her finger. I love Bella dearly, but sometimes she annoys the crap out of me. There are even times when I wonder what Edward sees in her. But that's for another day. Bella and Edward decide to tell Charlie that they're getting married. His reaction is pretty funny: "What, are you pregnant??!!" But when they tell Renee, I'm disappointed. I thought she would be angry, but instead she's all "Oh Bella even though I complained every day of my life that I got married too young you still can. I know you're ready and all that lecturing was for nothing." I agree with her that Bella has always been mature, but then what was the point of all the complaining?

Anyway, they get married, which was cute because I am definitely Team Edward and I didn't want Jacob lingering in the background, waiting to steal Bella. I thought the wedding was a little rushed, but I guess the book's long enough. Fast-forward to the honeymoon. And Bella gets pregnant?!?! If that isn't a cliff-hanger, I don't know what is.

To keep us in suspense, Stephenie switches to Jacob's point of view. I still think it's funny that Jacob wasn't even going to be a main character and now suddenly all the books are about him. Anyway, werewolf drama, Jacob forms his own pack and Leah is a part of it, along with Seth. Does anyone else want Jacob and Leah to get together? Because I certainly did. Jacob sees Bella almost 9 months pregnant. Now that part was weird. Ok, rant time: I was so so so angry that Bella kept the baby. The baby was killing her and killing Edward at the same time because he knew that it was his fault, and I thought, "How selfish can you be?" Of course Rosalie was protecting Bella which annoyed me. I loved the blonde jokes, though, they were so funny!

Anyway Bella almost dies giving birth and is finally turned into a vampire! And then Jacob imprints on Renesmee (I hate that name by the way), which was really weird. So Bella is a vampire and has this enormous self-control (which I predicted, go me!) and now the Cullen's don't have to worry about training her from drinking human blood. That screams plot device to me. I actually like Bella better as a vampire, I think it suits her well. And now I'm not that mad anymore because Renesmee seems really adorable. Oh and I hate that everyone calls her Nessie, that name is even more ridiculous than Renesmee.

So Alice sees that the Volturi are coming and she and Jasper high-tail it out of there. The whole time everyone's like "Oh, Alice and Jasper deserted us" while I'm thinking that they probably have some trick up their sleeve and will be back to save the day. Which they do. The Cullen's hunt down all their old friends and suddenly like 20 new characters are introduced and every single one of them has a power that I, as the reader, now have to keep track of. I thought that having a power is really, really rare? Because it seems like everyone has one. Anyway the Volturi come and Bella uses her totally awesome mind shield to save everyone. I really wanted a battle, but I love happy endings so I guess you can't have both.

So to re-cap: I feel like one of the few people that actually liked the book. Sure, there were parts I hated and thought were corny, but it seemed to make the book better for me. That's sounds kinda weird. I do understand those who hated it's thoughts and reasons why, but I don't know, I still liked it. But even though I like the series I love to read the commentaries that make fun of it. Sometimes they are so funny. By the way, did anyone figure out what the cover meant? Supposedly it has some kind of symbolism.

Monday, August 18, 2008

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Most guys have a "type." They like girls with blonde hair or who play sports or anything, really. Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. He's even dated nineteen of them. After the last Katherine dumps him--K-19-- he decides to take a road trip with his best friend to perfect his "Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability" in which he hopes to predict the outcome of any relationship. Settling in Tennessee for the summer, Colin learns a lot about relationships and the unpredictability of the future.

So this novel has a bit of background to it. A few years ago I was looking through the shelves at my library for a book to read. I came across this one, read the inside flap, and decided not to read it. After I read Looking For Alaska and saw that the same author wrote both of these books, I decided to read An Abundance of Katherines. I have to say, I was a little disappointed. I heard that this book was better than Looking For Alaska, and I would have to disagree completely. Not that this book was bad, it just didn't have that "wow" factor that Alaska did. Almost three-fourths of the way through this book, I started to get bored and I think it's the uncanny similarities between the books: a male protagonist with an unusual hobby (Miles likes famous last words and Colin likes anagramming), a funny best friend, and the untouchable girl. I would recommend reading this book, just be wary, and definitely read Looking For Alaska.

6 out of 10.
*With this review I made my debut over at Genre of the Month. This month's genre is Male Protagonist. Visit to check it out!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

2nds Challenge


Have you recently (or not so recently) read a book by a "new-to-you" author and can't wait to dive into another one of his/her books? If so, please join us in the second 2nds Challenge!

WHO: Anybody
WHAT: Read 4 books by authors that you have only read one other
WHERE: Mister Linky will keep track of monthly books read here on "Thoughts of Joy..."
WHEN: September, October, November and December, 2008
WHY: Because we love to read...why else?

I think this sounds really cool. My list includes

1. Bloom by Elizabeth Scott
2. The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory
3. Animal Farm by George Orwell
4. Death by Latte by Linda Gerber

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Miranda's life seems completely normal: she lives with her mom and brothers, she goes to school and is on the swim team. That is, until an asteroid collides with the moon, pushing it into the Earth's gravitational pull. Now the tides are messed up, causing tsunamis and massive flooding. Gas prices skyrocket to over over ten dollars a gallon, supermarkets run out of food, the world is in complete chaos, and that's not the worst of it. Miranda chronicles her life in journal entries, in which she struggles to survive and hold onto the last thing there is-- hope.

Wow, this story was actually pretty freaky. It was spot-on with all the apocalypse, end-of-the-world movies that are really popular. Even though the book was a journal, it was really well-written, with the right amount of despair and faith that everything will turn out okay. I was so engrossed in the story, that I did not want to put the book down. I needed to find out what happened! It even made me think about my own life; what if there was no school, food, or electricity? It's scary, but theoretically something like this could occur. The characters were well thought out, and I especially liked Miranda. She was a good narrator: hopeful, yet realistic; enduring, yet other times weak. All these traits made her human. She wasn't Superwoman, but she wasn't a coward either. I would recommend this to anyone who likes science fiction, or even just a suspenseful story.

8 out of 10.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Young Adult Book Bloggers

I just became a member of this awesome blog called Young Adult Book Bloggers (a fitting name, don't you think?). A few minutes ago I wrote my first post. Here's an excerpt.

Name: Megan
Alias: simplymegan
Website Name: Simply Books
Website URL:

Hello everyone! I'm excited; this is my first post on this really cool blog. When I saw this site, I immediately wanted to join. I thought it would be great way to see other peoples' blogs, learn the tricks of the trade and find some awesome books to read.

Here's the link if anyone wants to check it out:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blog Update

Hello Everyone!

Thanks so much to everyone who's been visiting my blog and leaving comments! Most of them were good so that made me happy ; o )

As you can see, I've changed the colors and fixed the lay-out of my posts. I think it looks a lot better and neater. Definitely more uniform.

So I've been trying to get my blog out there and I'm going to start emailing authors to see if I can get an interview. Hopefully someone will say yes. *crosses fingers*

I have a lot of books to read and a lot of spare time (for the moment. When school starts I won't be so lucky), so keep checking back for more reviews! The next book will probably be Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.


Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

In the past few months, Ruby's life has been turned upside down. First, her negligent, alcoholic mother abandons her, leaving Ruby to fend for herself in a run-down house. Next, Ruby is turned in to social services by the landlords, and now she is forced to live with her sister Cora and Cora's husband, who she hasn't seen in ten years. Ruby isn't used to the mansion-sized house, expensive private school and new clothes. The only thing worth staying is her friendship with her neighbor Nate, who's keeping some secrets of his own. Throughout this heart-warming story, Ruby learns the true meaning of family and how to unlock herself from the past.

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors and this book didn't disappoint. I thought the plot was unusual and interesting, and all the characters were very sincere. Sometimes I felt like I couldn't relate to Ruby, but that didn't change my opinion of the book. There is a lot of insight on family and what the actual definition of family is, which made the book very heart-warming . It was fun to watch the characters evolve and change, especially Ruby. She learned a lot of important lessons that were hard, but since she was such a strong person, she got through it. Overall it was a cute book and a good read.

8 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How To Build A House by Dana Reinhardt

Harper's family has been torn apart. Her father and step-mother have just gotten a divorce, which in turn seperates Harper from her step-sister and best friend Tess. That's probably why she decides to fly to Tennessee for the summer, as part of a teen volunteer group to build a house for a family who lost theirs in a tornado. Building a house is hard work, but also very rewarding. Living in a run-down motel, she gets to know the other volunteers and meets Teddy, the son of the family whose house is being rebuilt. The two hit it off quickly, a friendship that blossoms into a summer romance. It's hard for her to trust Teddy, but when she does, she learns important life lessons along the way, including the importance of a home.

I loved this book. Harper felt so real, she could be an actual person. I liked the fact that she got along with her step-family; in most books or movies, it's the opposite. The secondary characters completed the story. When Harper had to say good-bye to them, I felt like I was saying good-bye, too. The book is not a thriller, but definitely had an element of suspense. Harper tells the story of her parent's divorce in increments, leaving the reader to keep flipping pages in order to discover what happened. And who doesn't love a summer romance, complete with the charitable act of building a house for a family in need? This book has everything and more, and it even provides a bit of wisdom: Harper learns to look to the past and the future, while at the same time to Be Here Now.

8 out of 10

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing by Michael Harvey

So the title is pretty self-explanatory, is it not? A book all about college writing. This is one of my required summer reading books for AP English. When I first started reading the book, at the introduction, it was death. It was deadly dull and I thought to myself, "How will I get through this?" But as I got past the intro and read more, it got better. A lot of it is common sense, but it's good to reinforce some of the grammar rules. It's the perfect book for tips on sounding clearer, knowing when to use certain punctuation, citing sources, and much more. Now I wouldn't recommend this as a "fun" read, but I would say that if you want to become a better writer, you should definitely read this book.

Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata

Marilyn, Shelby, Lakey, and Maddie are the closest sisters you will ever meet. The fact that they are half-sisters and each has a different father only makes that bond stronger. They all adore their beautiful, men-collecting mother, and even though their life is far from traditional, they wouldn't have it any other way. And suddenly, they must. A tragic accident forces each girl to live with her respective father, all in different parts of the country. Though apart, these strong-willed sisters will do anything to bring their family back together.

Outside Beauty is a beautiful story. I have never seen such loving and devoted sisters as these four girls, and the age difference between them makes the bond even more special. Their home life may be unconventional, but it was interesting, to say the least. The plot was good and the characters were so real that I felt like I was there with them. The author also offers a good lesson in morality: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And despite the title, the characters show the reader that inside beauty is what really counts.

8 out of 10.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Everything is Fine. by Ann Dee Ellis

Despite the title, Mazzy's life is not fine. Though she continually repeats that that everything is fine to her father, her neighbors and even herself, she's suffering. Mazzy's mother is severely depressed and her father has abandoned his family for his career. She looks to her caring neighbors and painting for some kind of solace. As readers turn the pages they will discover what tore the family apart and learn how it can be put back together.

This book was very sad. Mazzy is only eleven or twelve years old and has to care for her mother who can barely get out of bed. Somehow she is strong enough to pull through which is nice to see in such a young protagonist. Even with a great main character, the book seemed poorly written, without much of a plot. The book jumped around between topics making the story a little choppy. It's a short book, but don't mistake the length for a light-hearted story; it's anything but.

5 out of 10.

Release Date: March 2009

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Diary of a Chav by Grace Dent

Shiraz Bailey Wood hates being called a "chav." Don't know what a chav is? Most Americans don't. A chav is an British insult for a working-class person who is obsessed with American hip-hop fashions, such as hoop earrings and hoodie sweatshirts. Shiraz's school is full of these people, earning her school the nickname "Superchav Academy." But Shiraz isn't like them. In this book written like a diary, we get a good look at the working-class life of a Briton, with Shiraz's hilarious commentary.

Diary of a Chav was a very cute book. It's one of those books that you can read in between summer reading because it's light and funny and a very easy read. I really enjoyed reading about the main character Shiraz and all of her antics. My only qualm with this book is that it was written in Great Britain and Shiraz uses a lot of British slang, so I didn't understand everything that was going on. Otherwise the book was very good.

7 out of 10.

Release Date: October 2008