Thursday, April 30, 2009

Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz

Schuyler Van Alen is starting to get more comfortable with her newfound vampire powers, but she still has many unanswered questions. A trip to Italy in search of her grandfather only serves to make things more confusing. What secrets are the leaders of The Committee hiding? Meanwhile, back in New York, preparations are feverishly underway for the famous Four Hundred Ball. In true Blue Blood fashion, the ball is totally fab, complete with masks-and hidden behind this masquerade is a revelation that will change the course of a young vampire's destiny.

The thrilling sequel in Melissa de la Cruz's vampire mythology has all the glamour, attitude, and vampire lore that made the first book a hit. (taken from

Before starting this review, I looked back at my review of Blue Bloods to see what I said. I wanted to compare the two books, see if the author improved any. Earlier, I stated that I thought the plot was rushed and could have used more editing. And unfortunately, I still think the same thing about Masquerade. Honestly, the writing isn't that good. It's awkward, and just forced. But the good thing about this series are the twists and turns the plot takes. Every few pages, there's a new clue in the mystery of the Silver Bloods, which are the vampires that are killing the supposedly immortal Blue Bloods. The amount of things that happen in each book is incredible. The only reason I want to continue the series and read Revelations is just so I can find out what happens. I'm not invested in the characters in the least bit, and personally I find the protagonist Schuyler kind of boring. But the book ended on a cliff-hanger, and I am dying to know how everything turns out. So even though the writing needs a lot of revision, I am looking forward to the next book. If Melissa de la Cruz could improve her writing, then she would have the unbeatable combination of good writing and good plotting.

7 out of 10.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti

Jade DeLuna seems like a normal girl on the outside: she spends time with her friends, has a full load of AP classes, likes learning about animals. But what most people don't know is that she gets panic attacks, moments of pure terror that cause her to lose her breath and feel like the world is spinning out of the control. Now that she sees a therapist and takes medicine to help with the attacks, Jade has been feeling much better, but she still relies on the elephants at the zoo to keep her calm. While watching the elephants through the zoo's webcam, Jade sees a boy with a red jacket, carrying a baby. She makes it her plan to find out who he is, but what will happen when she finds out abou the secret he's hiding?

Now that I've read three books by Deb Caletti, I'm starting to really like her as an author. All of the books have fantastic writing, and all the stories are so original that I am not bored while reading them. The Nature of Jade is no exception. The story drags in some places, but besides that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Jade. She actually felt like a real person. I thought it was interesting that she got panic attacks, which is something that I've never seen in protagonist. It was also coincidental that as soon as I finished this book we started a unit on anxiety in my psychology class that covered panic attacks. So it was neat to see how these two things connected and I could use my knowledge about Jade to help me in class. I always like reading a book where I learn something new. And the reader gets to learn about more than just panic attacks. Jade is obssessed (healthily) with elephants, so there was a lot of cool information about elephants placed strategically in the book. In addition to info about elephants, every chapter began with an excerpt about animal behavior, and how it can be similar to human behavior. I thought those were really fun to read and gave the book something extra.

I really liked the love interest, Sebastian (the boy in the red jacket), but felt that he could have been better defined as a character. Sometimes he was a bit bland, but I still liked him. Other characters I liked included Jade's little brother Oliver and Jade's therapist Abe. Both were such sweet and funny characters. Overall, an informative novel about a wide array of topics, that had lovable characters and flawless writing.

9 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita

It's the summer and Sam can't stand being around her best friend and her new boyfriend; hearing them call each other "honey" and "baby" is completely nauseating. To escape, Sam takes a job as a counselor-in-training at Whispering Pines camp in the New York Catskills. She's never been to camp before, but she's sure that she'll fit in just fine. And she does. All the girls like her and she's caught the eyes of two cute guys: Hunter and Cole. But there's still the camp director's daughter Ashley, who's made it her life mission to terrorize Sam. Even having to constantly watch her back for Ashley's tricks, Sam still feels at home at Whispering Pines. She's become fast friends with three of the girls in her cabin - and they call themselves the Sleepaway Girls.

I thought this book was so cute! I've never been to camp, but reading Sleepaway Girls made me want to go really bad! Everyone loved being there for the summer and it just felt like a big happy family (well, sometimes it did). Whispering Pines was its own little world and I felt as if I could go on reading forever about Sam and her friends. I loved reading about all the characters, even the unsavory ones, like Ashley, but even she ended up not being too bad. There were two cute love interests for Sam to choose between, but it's obvious to the reader immediately who's the better catch. That typical plot device is usually annoying, but was less annoying in this book (probably due to the great atmosphere). Even the little campers had a ton of personality and they were funny, too! The writing was good and so was the plot. Sleepaway Girls was a quick and easy read, and perfect to get you ready for summer.

9 out of 10.

Release Date: May 1, 2009


I just got an email today that Simon and Schuster's teen review program, Pulse IT, is caput. Pulse IT was one the better review programs I participate in: they send a book every month, usually one that's pretty good and all you have to do is fill out a survey form. It was easy and hey, I was getting books to read and review. So I'm kind of upset. The email made a point of saying that there would still be free content, meaning book reviews, author interviews, etc. But I don't care about the other stuff, I just want the books (what can I say? I'm broke.) I guess it's no surprise, what with the economy being so bad. Grrr. It needs to get better.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The One by Ed Decter

Chloe Gamble, beauty pageant queen of Spurlock, Texas, will do anything to be famous. That's why she moves to LA with her mom and brother, with only the clothes on her back. She doesn't have any training in acting and doesn't really know the ins and outs of Hollywood. At least, not yet. After Chloe gets kicked out of an audition at NBC, she's sure that her acting days are over. But word spreads about Chloe's stunt, and she becomes infamous almost overnight. You know what they say: there is no such thing as bad publicity.

I was really surprised by this book. The summary on the back cover was really short and vague, so I had no idea what The One was about. But it ended up being really interesting. I liked learning about Hollywood and the fact that the author works in the show business industry as a writer and producer made the story more realistic. Some of the things Chloe did were a little unbelievable, but the author's background lends more credibility to the things that happened. I thought Chloe was a great character: driven and hard-working, slightly manipulative to get what she wanted, but didn't lose herself in Hollywood. The One was an entertaining read and could be very informative for anyone looking to become an actor. The sequel, VIP Lounge, will be released in December and I can't wait to see what happens next.

7 out of 10.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm Still Here!

As you can tell from the title, I'm still alive and well. I was afraid people would think that I have disappeared since I haven't posted anything in awhile. I have not, in fact, been inducted into the CIA, just been very very busy. I probably won't be able to post anything for awhile since this week and last week have been insane. Between band rehearsals for the upcoming concert on Wednesday, SAT prep classes, homework, my new job, the junior class trip I took this weekend, prom this friday, I have no time for reading or reviewing. I finished The One, but probably won't be able to review it until Tuesday since today I have a swim banquet and homework that I never got to since I was in Virginia Friday and Saturday. Anyway, even if I don't have time for my own blog, I still like to check out what everyone else has been doing and you might see the occasional comment here and there. But enough about me! Since I've been absent, what has everyone been reading? I need new book ideas!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Diamonds by Ted Michael

Marni Valentine is part of the Diamonds, a group of the most popular girls at the prestigious Bennington School on Long Island. Along with her friends Clarissa, Lili, and Priya, Marni commands the respect of all her classmates. But when the Diamonds are asked to join the mock trial team, the girls take their power a little too far. Clarissa decides to use mock trials to resolve disputes between classmates, something all the teachers and faculty love. But when the Diamonds start bribing jury members and influencing the decisions of the court with a bias, Marni starts getting a little wary of what's going on. It's not until Marni is caught kissing Clarissa's ex-boyfriend and is promptly excluded from the Diamonds that she decides to take action against the Clarissa's corruptness. She assembles a group of students that have been victimized by the Diamonds to bring justice where it is due.

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel; it was a lot better than I expected it to be. From the summary on the back, it seems like another Gossip Girl or The Elite, but in fact it was a lot different. It was less about rich, popular girls, and more about a corrupt court system at a private school. The set-up was actually pretty interesting. Bennington has a mock trial team, like a lot of schools do, and the Diamonds decide to use it as a forum to resolve disputes between classmates. So people who have gotten in fights or cheated on their boyfriends come and the Diamonds decide who's guilty and deliver a punishment. The faculty is so impressed that they allow the Diamonds to give out detentions and suspensions, which is something a regular school would never allow. But Clarissa, the corrupt politician that she is, bribes the jury and bribes students to testify against each other, so she can put her "frenemies" in their place. The faculty and club advisor are oblivious to everything that's going on, so we have four girls who are practically running the school. A plotline not often seen in literature, so Michael has the originality factor on his side. What was also cool was all the references to the Constitution and other legal documents in US history. It seemed like the author really did his research. From my summary, I'm sure you can guess the ending, but there were some twists and turns that were unexpected. I really liked this book and think that anyone with an interest in law or history will especially enjoy this informative, and at times comedic, novel.

8 out of 10.

Release Date: April 14, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters - never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire than can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City - whatever the cost?

Love is a moral sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final installment of the New York Times bestselling trilogy The Mortal Instruments. (taken from inside flap)

Wow! City of Glass was the perfect ending to a perfect trilogy! The book continued right from where City of Ashes left off, and the excitement and action did not stop until the final pages of the epilogue. You rarely find a book that ties up all the loose ends in a series, while also leaving teeny tiny things open so there is still some mystery as to how things turn out. But that is exactly what City of Glass did. I actually predicted part of the ending, and everything turned out how I wanted it to, which is another thing that rarely happens. Cassandra Clare continues to do a lovely job of writing; there were just enough details and descriptions, but not too much, the characters developed even further, Jace's sarcasm was spot on (another reason why I love these books). I really liked reading about the City of Glass, which is the magical home of the Shadowhunters. It's the first time the reader has been there, so it was really cool to visit a place that the characters have been talking about for two books. I would call The Mortal Instruments trilogy books for those who don't like fantasy, because I myself am not a big fan of fantasy, but I loved these books. I thought that City of Glass was perfect in every way, and that's why it gets a perfect score (and the first 10 out of 10 on Simply Books!).

10 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

Anne of Cleves is chosen as Henry VIII's fourth wife, and she is happy to escape her conservative mother and condescending brother and come to England to be queen. But her immediate disgust at the king's elderly appearance causes a rift between the two that cannot be repaired. When the king is through with Anne, he turns to young, beautiful and shallow Katherine Howard, who is in love with not the king, but one of his courtiers. A forbidden romance is recipe for disaster, as Lady Jane Boleyn knows all too well. With the help of her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, Jane attempts to guide Katherine in the right direction, but that direction might end up being the Tower and the scaffold. Told in alternating points of view, The Boleyn Inheritance chronicles the lives of Anne, Katherine and Jane, and ties them together with their shared Boleyn inheritance.

Wow. This book was a million times better than The King's Rose, which is also about Katherine Howard. The Boleyn Inheritance is told through the point of view of three women, but it flows beautifully and is not choppy in the least. The first book I read by Philippa Gregory was The Other Boleyn Girl, which was amazing. I wanted to read more of Gregory's Tudor series, but was afraid that they wouldn't be as good, or I wouldn't like them. Well, I was proved wrong. I don't think The Boleyn Inheritance is as good as The Other Boleyn Girl, only because Anne Boleyn is my favorite person to read about, but is was still a great book. The writing was flawless and the details were written so well that I felt like I was in the story with all the characters. Gregory has really perfected writing about this time period and she is probably my favorite historical fiction author. The characters and plot are so interesting that I could not stop reading. Even though most people already know what happens at the end, it's fascinating to see how it all happens and see the thoughts and feelings of these historical figures that not much is known. If you like Tudor England, or just historical fiction, Philippa Gregory is an author you must check out.

9 out of 10.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

Since she was young, Quinn has constantly heard about how awful men are. Her mother, aunt, and grandmother have all been in bad relationships, and feel the need to warn Quinn about the men she should stay away from. This, unfortunately, also includes her dad, who has just recently come back into her and her sister's lives. But when Quinn discovers that all of her father's "prized possessions" are actually things he's stolen from the women he's been with, she decides to right her father's wrongs. Quinn calls up the half-sister she barely knows, and they set out to return the items that their father has stolen. On this roadtrip, Quinn learns the truth about her father, mends the hearts of some of his exes, and might even mend hers along the way.

I absolutely loved this book. The whole idea for it was just amazing. I loved the fact that Quinn and her sisters were riding around and delivering the objects to their rightful owners. A lot the women that their father had dated or married were really nice people, and the objects were some of their prized possessions. The fact that they drove all around the state of Washington and even into Canada was so cool. I wish I could do something like that. I also liked how Quinn and her sister Sprout hardly knew their half-sister Frances Lee, and yet they got in a car with her to complete this quest. The three girls became so close, and it was nice to see everyone grow into a family.

Every so often, there would be a story or little passage from Quinn's family, or from the women that her father dated, and it was talking about love and giving advice on love. Some of the things Deb Caletti wrote were so true, and they were things that everyone knows, but they don't know they know it until someone has the ability to articulate it into words. Here's an example of Caletti's insightfulness: "She said a marriage is like a well-built porch. If one of the posts leans too much, the porch collapses. So each must be strong enough to stand on it's own. I've thought about this over the years, and I've seen many a porch collapse. To know that you can stand alone, to know that he can too - it seems very good advice." Now, how true is that? And the whole book was full of little truths about love and relationships.

Overall, the book was quirky, smart and heartfelt. Quinn was a great protagonist and she developed into a very interesting character throughout the book. She really grew up and learned a lot about relationships and love. It was so sweet to see everyone become a family over their four-day journey. And there were some really funny moments thrown in there, too, making this book a worthy read.

9 out of 10.

Release Date: April 7, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Blogger Profile: Mrs. Magoo

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mrs. Magoo of Mrs. Magoo Reads.

Name/Alias: Sophie, alias Mrs. Magoo
Blog Name: Mrs. Magoo Reads
Blog URL:

Can you tell us about yourself and your blog? I'd love to! I review YA books (although I have a Mini Magoo feature, for kids books, and Mama Magoo, for adult books). Every Saturday I have Saturday's Scribe: an interview or guest blog with an author. I also have Movie Monday, where every Monday I make a video out of one of my reviews and also give away a copy of the book I reviewed.

Why did you start a book blog? At first, I just thought it would be cool to have a blog! I decided to blog about something I love, books.

What special features does your blog have? Movie Monday is my main special feature. As far as I know, not many other blogs have review videos. Also having weekly contests to go with it is fun!

How often do you write reviews? This really depends. Sometimes I'll go two weeks without reviewing a book and sometimes I'll review a book a day for a week. It just depends on how much homework I have and if I'm in the mood to be reviewing.

What do you like best about blogging? Now that my stats are increasing, I love the idea that people actually read and value my opinions. But hey, the free books are great, too. =)

Do you have any tips for aspiring book bloggers? Make your blog unique. Now that there are hundreds of blogs out there, you want there to be a reason that people will go to your blog and not some other person's.

Thanks for answering my questions, Sophie! If you want to read Sophie's interview of me, click here. I'm also giving away a copy of You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay at Mrs. Magoo Reads, so head over there to win it!