Monday, August 31, 2009

My First Award!

Adrienne from An Addicted Book Reader has given me my first award! Thanks so much Adrienne. :)

The Lemonade Award is a feel good award that shows great attitude or gratitude. Nominate this award to 10 blogs:

Jenny at Wondrous Reads
Chelsea at The Page Flipper
Juju at Tales of Whimsy
Kim at The Book Butterfly
Lizzy at Cornucopia of Reviews
Katie at Katie's Book Blog
Adele at Persnickety Snark
Steph Su at Steph Su Reads
Sophie at So Many Books, So Little Time
Kristi at The Story Siren

I realize many of these people may have already received this award, but that's okay. This is just a simple way to show that I enjoy their blogs.

Ok, I have just a couple notices I would like to add. First of all, I've hit 20 followers. That seems like a good milestone to me. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who follows me. :) It's nice to know other people are enjoying my blog.

Second, I have a couple additions to IMM (4) that I forgot about. I bought Evermore by Alyson Noel which I'm super excited to read.

I also received a lovely postcard from Becca Fitzpatrick that had the cover of Hush, Hush on one side and a nice thank you on the other for helping her come up with guest blog topics. Thanks Becca! :) Maybe I'll post pictures later if anyone would like to see the postcard.

That's all for now. Thanks for stopping!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In My Mailbox (4)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren.

For Review:

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
(ARC/Released October 2009 in HB/Simon & Schuster)

Nora Grey is responsible and smart and not inclined to be reckless. Her first mistake was falling for Patch. Patch has a past that could be called anything but harmless. The best thing he ever did was fall for Nora.

After getting paired with Patch in biology, all Nora wants to do is stay away from him, but he always seems to be two steps ahead of her. She can feel his eyes on her even when he is nowhere around. She feels him nearby even when she is alone in her bedroom. And when her attraction can be denied no longer, she learns the secret about who Patch is and what led him to her. Despite all the questions she has about his past, in the end, there may be only one question they can ask each other: How far are you willing to fall?

I received this from the First Look program at Barnes and Noble. I've finished it and let me tell you, I'm in love. :) I'll have a review coming soon.

Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe) by Kimberly Pauley
(PB/August 2009/Mirrorstone)

Why It Sucks to Be Me

1. My parents are freaks. Sure, every teenager says that. But I know for a fact that mine are bloodsucking vampire freaks.

2. As if high school wasn't bad enough, now I have to go to vampire classes with a bunch of weirdos who actually want to drink blood.

3. Then there's my complete inability to talk in complete sentences around cute boys. (Especially Nathan. He probably thinks I've got a speech impediment or something.)

4. And I can't tell my best friend Serena about any of this.

5. But the absolute worst thing is that the whole world is about to find out what happened when my parents forced me to decide whether I want to be a vampire! Please don't read this book. It's just embarrassing.

I received this book for review from ReaderViews Kids. I really enjoyed it. You can read my review here.

The Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
(ARC/Released August 2009 in HB/Little, Brown and Company)

An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-

One good...

One evil...

Who will prevail?

Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.

Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust.

They just know they can't trust each other.

I also received this from ReaderViews Kids. I'm reading this currently, and I'm enjoying it so far. It's cool that I received a book with the original cover. I believe that this was originally to be the cover, but they weren't happy with it, so they switched to the twin girl statues. A review will be coming soon for this.

From Paperback Swap:

Nancy Drew Girl Detective Box Set: #1-4 by Carolyn Keen
(PB/2004/Aladdin Paperbacks)

Let me introduce myself. I'm Nancy Drew. Some call me a girl detective. Others call me "that girl who cooked my goose." But everyone calls me sharp -- especially when it comes to crime. And since mystery and I follow each other everywhere, I'm pretty busy. Take a look inside at some of my favorite cases, and you'll see what I mean!

#1 Without a Trace

#2 A Race Against Time

#3 False Notes

#4 High Risk

In case you didn't know, I love all things Nancy Drew. I got this from Paperback Swap. I've actually read all four already, but I love them so much I wanted my own copies to reread. If you haven't checked out Paperback Swap yet, you really should. It's great for book lovers. Basically, you post books you want to get rid of, and then other people can request them from you. Once they've received the book, you get a credit that you can use to "buy" other books.

I think I've had a really great week. I got a good amount of books, plus they're all new ones that I've been wanting to read. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy! :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe) by Kimberly Pauley

Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe) by Kimberly Pauley
Publication Date/Version: August 2009/Paperback
Publisher: Mirrorstone
Pages: 293
Age Group: Young Adult

Why It Sucks to Be Me

1. My parents are freaks. Sure, every teenager says that. But I know for a fact that mine are bloodsucking vampire freaks.

2. As if high school wasn't bad enough, now I have to go to vampire classes with a bunch of weirdos who actually want to drink blood.

3. Then there's my complete inability to talk in complete sentences around cute boys. (Especially Nathan. He probably thinks I've got a speech impediment or something.)

4. And I can't tell my best friend Serena about any of this.

5. But the absolute worst thing is that the whole world is about to find out what happened when my parents forced me to decide whether I want to be a vampire! Please don't read this book. It's just embarrassing.

I got this book for review from ReaderView Kids. I was really excited to read a humorous take on the classic vampire tale, and based on the description, I figured I'd get just that.

Debut author Kimberly Pauley has created a great piece of work and I know the rest of the teenage readers will agree! She created a great storyline full of fun, exciting characters. I don't even know where to start with the characters. Maya always had something to say with her quick-witted humor, and her best friend Serena cracked me up. Serena's been going through a Goth phase, but now she's converted back to her regular girly girl. And between George, Nathan, and Aubrey, Maya had quite the time trying to sort through the pieces of her love life.

One of the best parts about this book was the humor. Maya had me laughing, and I loved that Ms. Pauley poked fun at some popular vampire knowledge. At one point, when Maya's Uncle Mortie took her and some friends to see a well-known somebody (I won't give anything away), I was cracking up. Seeing the reactions was just hilarious.

Kimberly Pauley has really succeeded in creating a novel that teenagers will be able to relate to. Although we can't relate to the whole becoming-a-vampire-thing, it was still easy to connect with Maya and sympathize throughout her journey. I was so happy to see that Maya made the right choice in her love life. Now if only we could figure out what happened to Raven...

I'm so excited to have another author's books to look forward to. The only problem is that we have to wait until September 2010 for the sequel, Still Sucks to Be Me.

Overall: Debut author Kimberly Pauley has devised a great book filled with humor, love, and plenty of quirky characters.

My Advice: Definitely go buy a copy of this from your local bookstore. It's a keeper on my shelf for sure.

Cover: I like the cover well enough. The girl looks similar to Maya, and I'm happy that the notebook is portrayed because Maya makes a few journal entries throughout the story.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Switch by Carol Snow

Switch by Carol Snow
Publication Date/Version: September 2008/Hardcover
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 224
Age Group: 12 and up

Claire Martin has some major body issues.

Not much happens in Claire Martin's sleepy little beach town, but that's okay. Let her hang out with her best friend, dream about her favorite lifeguard, and swim on the high school team, and she'll be happy.

Only one small problem: Whenever Claire gets too close to lightning, her spirit shoots into the body of the nearest girl born under the same moon. Usually she's back to her old self in no time - but suddenly she's stuck as someone else: a breathtaking summer visitor who has caught her crush's eye. Will Claire ever figure out how to get back to her old life? And, more importantly, will she want to?

Ok, I've got to admit, I've had this on my shelf for about a year. I was just never that interested, but now I finally read it. What got me reading was the concept. Claire's stuck in another girl's body, but the catch is, she has the attention of her crush now. She can't figure out how to get back, but does it really matter when she might want to stay this way?

I found this book to be so-so. It was fine; it just wasn't an amazing have-to-read-it kind of book. The concept of body switching was cool and easy to understand. When we first met Larissa, the girl Claire switches with, I was super annoyed with her and already rolling my eyes. When Claire switched, however, I began to feel sorry for Larissa and her situation. She has a pretty terrible family life, and now she's in a random girl's body.

At first, it was fun to see what Claire did in Larissa's body, but after awhile Claire just seemed selfish because she didn't want to switch back. I mean, Larissa's body isn't there for her to take advantage of. Overall, I wasn't very impressed with the characters. They were just too bratty and selfish, and I didn't connect with them at all.

One of the few things I was happy with was the ending. It was very touching, and it was nice to see Larissa happy, as well as Claire performing a very unselfish act of kindness.

Overall: It was a so-so book. The concept was interesting, but the entire thing was just blah.

My Advice: I would recommend skipping this book because it didn't have that special something that made the story interesting. I've heard quite a few people say they liked it though, so if you do want to check it out, I'd suggest getting it from the library.

Cover: I really like the cover. I think it portrays the book very well, seeing as how the girls look pretty much like Claire and Larissa are described. The lightning on the shirt and the faded-out blond are nice touches that make sense in relation to the book.

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Publication Date: December 2009

There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Doesn't this sound great? I love paranormal thrillers. Plus, the cover is pretty darn cool. My favorite part is probably the text. Now we just have to wait until December.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Publication Date/Version: March 2002/Paperback
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
Pages: 251
Age Group: 10 and up

During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out.

Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie's world upside down. At her feverish mother's insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease.

Although this book is meant for a younger audience, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and I believe other teens will be able to as well. The writing didn't strike me as aimed toward a younger age group, and the subject matter certainly didn't either. What Mattie goes through is horrific, yet inspiring.

What initially intrigued me about Fever 1793 was the subject matter. I absolutely love books where the main character has to struggle to survive. Some of my favorites include Exodus and Life As We Knew It. This plot did not disappoint. There were a few twists, many of them sad, but they kept the story moving. Mattie's struggle is terrifying, but there's also a lot of hope to be found in what she achieves.

All of the characters were likable, especially Mattie and Eliza. I could easily picture each character and their quirks. The whole situation was portrayed very well; all of the situations were very believable. I even found myself laughing at one part, although it really wasn't funny, just because it reminded me of the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I was very happy with Mattie's growth and progression throughout the story. By the end, after suffering through many hardships, she becomes a strong, independent young lady who could be seen as a role model. The ending of Fever 1793 left me satisfied and content.

Overall: Although designed for younger audiences, Fever 1793 is an inspiring, hopeful tale for any teen.

My Advice: Borrow this from your local library. It's not a keeper on my shelf, but it's definitely worth reading.

Teaser Tuesday (2)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading in which one grabs their current read, opens to a random page, and gives two "teaser" sentences from that page.

"Grandma Wolfington spends the rest of the session talking about the proper not-against-the-rules way to obtain blood, which kind of grosses me out. The easiest way seems to be to stop by a vampire 'watering hole' that's essentially a blood bar."

Page 74, Sucks to be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (Maybe) by Kimberely Pauley

Enjoy :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Publication Date/Version: September 1994/Paperback
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Pages: 180
Age Group: Young Adult

Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community.

When Jonas turns twelve he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it's time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

I've always been told that this book is great and that I really needed to read it. I never did because I always thought it might be kind of boring. But I was wrong.

I really enjoyed The Giver. It was a heavy subject matter, but I was okay with that. It was nice to read a more serious book for a change. I'm glad that Lois Lowry believed the young adult audience could handle a book like this, especially back in 1994 when YA wasn't as popular. The concept was strange and new, but that's what made it so interesting. I haven't read anything similar to it. After reading The Giver, it seems to me that many modern day young adult novels have taken inspiration from this book and its inventive ideas.

The length of The Giver was perfect. I sometimes find that short books are often, well, too short. This, however, was great. It explained everything and I wasn't left with any major questions. Luckily, I was also happy with the ending. I think I've finished my terrible-ending-marathon. :) Based on the end, I look forward to reading the companion novels, which I'm sure will have interesting takes on different communities.

The characters had a lot of depth and were well written. I enjoyed both The Giver and Jonas a lot. It was easy to like The Giver and easy to sympathize for Jonas.

Overall: The Giver has a great concept propelling it forward and it's one of those books that really makes you think.

My Advice: Pick up a copy at your local bookstore, because this is a classic that you'll want on your bookshelf when you need a serious, insightful read.

Thanks for stopping by everyone. I'm going to be picking up the post content this week as I've said before, now that I have more time. In the near future you can expect reviews for The Black Sheep, Fever 1793, Switch, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

In My Mailbox (3)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren.

The Black Sheep by Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout
(PB/June 2008/Hyperion)

Fed up with her parents and all their ridiculous rules (they keep a binder full of them), fifteen-year-old Kendra Bishop writes away to The Black Sheep, a reality TV show that offers the chance to swap families with another teen. But when the camera crew shows up at her Manhattan apartment, Kendra starts to have second thoughts.

Too late. Kendra is whisked away to Monterey, California, to live with the Mulligan family in a household that couldn't be more different from her own. Of course, when Kendra falls for Mitch, the Mulligans' seventeen-year-old son, it only complicates things further, especially since Mitch despises the reality TV show and everything it stands for. But given the chance, Kendra might just be able to juggle first love, her new stardom, and a pushy TV producer who will stop at nothing for higher ratings.

I got this from Paperback Swap. I've been wanting to read it for a while now. I've already started reading it, and I'm almost done. I really like it so far.

Forest Born by Shannon Hale
(HB/September 2009/Bloomsbury)

Growing up in the Forest, Rin always turned to the trees when she needed peace or reassurance, even direction, until the day they seemed to reject her. Rin is sure something is wrong with her, something that is keeping her from feeling at home in the Forest, keeping her from trusting herself with anyone at all.

When her brother Razo returns to the city after a visit home, Rin accompanies him to the palace in hopes of finding a new sense of herself. But a mysterious threat haunts Bayern, and Rin joins the magical girls she thinks of as the Fire Sisters - Isi, Enna, and Dasha - as they venture into the woods toward the kingdom of Kel...where someone wants them all dead.

In this fourth tale in the Books of Bayern series, Newberry Honor-winning author Shannon Hale once again proves herself an irresistible storyteller, bringing readers back to a world rich with friendships, unexpected plot twists, and a little dose of magic.

This book sounds really good and the cover is very pretty. I received this from BookDivas for review. When I'm done reading it, I'm supposed to participate in a discussion with the author. Exciting! I'm a little worried though, because I haven't read the first three in the series. Has anyone else read it? Please tell me if you have, and if I need to read the three other books in order to understand the fourth book.

Just a couple of books this week, but I'm very happy with them. A review for The Black Sheep will be coming soon. And once again, I'm sorry for the lack of posts. Luckily, I'll have plenty of free time this week, so I'll have a chance to catch up. See you around :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker

Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker
Publication Date/Version: September 2007/Paperback
Publisher: Berkley Jam
Pages: 220
Age Group: Young Adult

On the day my life changed, the lady in the giant Chanel shades stared me up and down...

"Gorgeous, I've got fall castings coming up and I think you could be IT. And I mean IT. Are you busy next weekend? I can have you on a flight to New York Friday night. If it's up to me, I'd say you're the next Kate Moss - but, you know, taller and without the PR problems...I hope!" Then she threw her perfectly highlighted hair back and laughed, which gave me a good look at her straight, white veneers.

So that's how I happen to have this business card in the front pocket of my jeans as I start my senior year of high school. The card of Angela Blythe from Tryst Models in New York City, who wants to put me on a plane this weekend and whisk me into her world of high-heeled boots and oversized sunglasses. Me, Violet Greenfield, who's been P-L-A-I-N practically forever.

And you wanna know a secret? I'm going...

I've always heard that this is a great series and I've always wanted to read it, but I've just never picked it up. So finally, I did. And I'm very happy I did.

Violet on the Runway is the first in a three-part series. I enjoyed the storyline, although it was pretty predictable. I figured it would be. This is much more a guilty-pleasure-read then a thought-provoking-read. I mean, who wouldn't want to read about an average girl becoming the IT model?

On Violet as a character, I'm undecided. She's so self conscious that I couldn't stand it sometimes. But then, when she goes to NYC, she starts drinking and staying out late, which annoyed me. I was unhappy to see her fall into the typical model life while she was there. I was hoping she could be strong enough to resist all of that. But in the end, it does get better. She was a good person, and I think that her personality becomes more clear at the end of the book.

I was happy with the end, which seems to be rare these days. It left me wanting more because of the obvious cliffhanger.

One of my problems with this book was that I didn't really connect with any of the characters. I didn't relate to Violet or Julie or anyone. It would have been more enjoyable to me if I could have found myself in one of the characters. Oh, another small problem I had was that Violet never realised who the right guy was for her, even though I saw it from, literally, the first chapter. I think she'll figure it out in later books, however.

Overall: Violet on the Runway was a cute and exciting story that almost all teenage girls will be able to enjoy.

My Advice: Pick up a copy at your local bookstore for a good rainy Saturday read.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

In My Mailbox (2)

IMM is a weekly meme that explores the contents of one's mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Fade by Lisa McMann
(HB/February 2009/Simon Pulse)

Some nightmares never end.

For Janie and Cabel, real life is getting tougher than the dreams. They're just trying to carve out a little (secret) time together, but no such luck.

Disturbing things are happening at Fieldridge High, yet nobody's talking. When Janie taps into a classmate's violent nightmares, the case finally breaks open - but nothing goes as planned. Not even close. Janie's in way over her head, and Cabe's shocking behavior has grave consequences for them both.

Worse yet, Janie learns the truth about herself and her ability - and it's bleak. Seriously, brutally bleak. Not only is her fate as a dream catcher sealed, but what's to come is way darker than she'd feared.

I won this from PulseIt, the Simon and Schuster book review board. I was so excited. Plus, the great thing is, it's signed! Now I just have to read Wake...hehe. Haven't done that yet. :)

3 Willows by Ann Brashares
(HB/January 2009/Delacorte Press)


Polly has an idea she can't stop thinking about, one that involves changing a few things about herself. She's setting her sights on a more glamorous life, but it's going to take all of her focus. At least that way she won't have to watch her friends moving so far ahead.


Jo is spending the summer at her family's beach house, working as a bus girl and bonding with the older, cooler girls she'll see at high school come September. She didn't count on a brief fling with a cute summer boy changing her entire summer. Or on feeling embarrassed by her middle school friends. And she didn't count on her family at all...


Ama is not an outdoorsy girl. She wanted to be at an academic camp, doing research in an air-conditioned library, earning As. Instead, her summer scholarship lands her on a wilderness trip full of flirting teenagers, blisters, impossible hiking trails, and a sad lack of hair products.

It is a new summer.
And a new sisterhood.
Come grow with them.

This sounds cute. I'm looking forward to reading it. I got it from the Random Buzzers program where you can participate in activities to earn points, and then you can spend those points on books. It's an easy way to get free books. I was so surprised when I opened this up and found out that it's signed! I had no idea it would be.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
(PB/December 2003/Delacorte Press)

Gemma Doyle isn't like other girls. Girls with impeccable manners, who speak when spoken to, who remember their station, and who will lie back and think of England when it's required of them.

No, sixteen-year-old Gemma is an island unto herself, sent to the Spence Academy in London after tragedy strikes her family in India. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma finds a chilly reception. But she's not completely alone...she's been followed by a mysterious young man, who warns her to close her mind against the visions.

For it's at Spence that Gemma's power to attract the supernatural unfolds; there she becomes entangled with the school's most powerful girls and discovers her mother's connection to a shadowy group called the Order. It's there that her destiny waits...if only she can believe it.

A Great and Terrible Beauty is a curl-up-under-the-covers kind of book...a vast canvas of rustling skirts and dancing shadows and things that go bump in the night. It's a vividly drawn portrait of the Victorian age, when girls were groomed for lives as rich men's wives...and the story of a girl who saw another way.

I've been wanting to read this for a really long time but I never got around to it. Then a friend of mine said I had to read it, so I ordered it from Paperback Swap. I'm really super excited to start on it. I love books about the Victorian age.

Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker
(PB/September 2007/Berkley Jam)

On the day my life changed,
the lady in the giant Chanel shades
stared me up and down.

"Gorgeous, I've got fall castings coming up and I think you could be IT. And I mean IT. Are you busy next weekend? I can have you on a flight to New York Friday night. If it's up to me, I'd say you're the next Kate Moss - but, you know, taller and without the PR problems...I hope!" Then she threw her perfectly highlighted hair back and laughed, which gave me a good look at her straight, white veneers.

So that's how I happen to have this business card in the front pocket of my jeans as I start my senior year of high school. The card of Angela Blythe from Tryst Models in New York City, who wants to put me on a plane this weekend and whisk me into her world of high-heeled boots and oversized sunglasses. Me, Violet Greenfield, who's been P-L-A-I-N practically forever.

And you wanna know a secret? I'm going...

I've always wanted to read this series for such a long time, and now I'm finally getting started. I've actually already read it and I enjoyed it. I also picked this one up from Paperback Swap. I love that site. :)

So, I got some nice new books this week. I'm very happy. Sorry about the lack of posts lately. I had a busy weekend. I saw Harry Potter, though! I cried when Dumbledore died and everyone lifted their wands to the sky. So sad and touching. This week I'll probably be low on posts because I have a conditioning camp to go to. Sorry guys. But I'll try my best to get plenty of reviews and all that when I have time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
Publication Date/Version: October 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 324
Age Group: 14 and up

It's a fight to the death, on live TV, when a modern-day gladiator's daughter steps into the arena.

Lyn is a neo-gladiator's daughter through and through. Her mother has made a career out of marrying into the high-profile world of televised blood sport, and the rules of the Gladiator Sports Association are second nature to their family: Always lend ineffable confidence to the gladiator. Remind him constantly of his victories. And most importantly: Never leave the stadium when your father is dying. The rules help the family survive, but the rules - and the GSA - can also work against you. When a gifted young fighter kills Lyn's seventh father, he also captures Lyn's dowry bracelet, which means she must marry him. To win her freedom, Lyn will enter the arena to face her father's murderer in mortal combat. And she'll do it even though she may be falling for him. For fans of The Hunger Games and Fight Club, Lise Haines's debut novel is a mesmerizing look at a world addicted to violence - a modern world that's disturbingly easy to imagine.

The concept of this book is what caught my attention right away, gladiators fighting to the death on live TV. It's a fairly new concept that doesn't seem to be extremely well chartered, at least in nothing I've read. Based on the material, I didn't expect to feel anything for Lyn, or for Uber, the man she must marry. I figured, that based on the GSA rules, everyone was pretty much brainwashed into acting and doing what they do. But I was wrong.

Girl in the Arena actually offered a lot of emotion from both Lyn and Uber, and even Tommy, Lyn's seventh father. Lyn and Uber's relationship was a strange one, but it wasn't entirely unbelievable. I actually found myself liking Uber a lot, even though he did kill Tommy. Tommy was also a great character. He wasn't very affectionate, but he showed his love in his own way. The one character I didn't like was Lyn's mother, Allison. She was so wrappep up in the Glad games that sometimes I just wanted to smack her with my book. She never seemed to think about what was really right for her daughter, only what the GSA thought was best.

The storyline itself was entertaining, not in a funny way, but a hold-you-all-the-way-through way. I mean, it's either fight to the death or marry your father's murderer. How can that not be a good plot? Lise Haines is definitely off to a good start and I'm excited to see how she progresses as a writer. I look forward to reading more.

One quick note, which I'm really confused about. The ARC copy I have is 324 pages long, but the back cover says that the hardcover version will be 384 pages. I'm not really sure how they're going to add 60 extra pages. Maybe there will be more storyline? No clue. Just thought I'd let everyone know.

Overall: Girl in the Arena was a good debut young adult novel, offering both romance and lots of action.

My Advice: Either buy a copy or borrow it from the library. I plan on doing so, just to figure out why there's going to be an extra 60 pages.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Immortal by Gillian Shields

Immortal by Gillian Shields
Release Date/Version: May 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 360
Age Group: 12 and up

As the elite Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies' newest student, Evie Johnson is lonelier than she could have dreamed. Evie's only lifeline is Sebastian, a dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. But as Evie's feelings for Sebastian grow, she suspects he has a secret. And there's something sinister about Wyldcliffe and its strict, unfriendly teachers. Then there's a ghostly girl so eerily like Evie she could be a sister. In an extraordinary battle between past and present, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian and her own incredible fate.

Immortal will dazzle readers with suspense, mysticism, and the power of friendship and first love.

And dazzle it did. I absolutely fell in love with this book. Like it says, it offers suspense, mysticism, romance, and a whole lot of mystery.

First, the downfalls. Evie and Sebastian had a very Bella and Edward-esque romance. She's hopelessly in love, but he feels he needs to leave to protect her. You get the idea. I'm not a huge fan of these types of romances because I don't like seeing the girl turn into a spineless, self-pitying person. Evie, however, becomes a stronger character throughout the book, and learns to rely less on Sebastian, which I was happy about.

Another thing is that the twists and turns were pretty darn predictable. There were only a couple I didn't guess, but they weren't majorly important. That being said, the twists were very exciting, just easy to see coming because of all of the hints beforehand.

A few people have said they didn't enjoy this book because it went in so many directions, but that was actually the reason I enjoyed it. There was always something going on, whether it was romance or history or mysticism. The book grabbed my attention from the very beginning and held it all the way through.

I also enjoyed many of the characters. Evie was a pretty good character, but I especially enjoyed Sarah and Helen, and I look forward to hearing more about them in later books. I disliked the bad characters so much that it's easy to see that Ms. Shields is great at creating a character's persona.

The first book in this paranormal-romance series has created a great start. The story is set up perfectly for the next, but there was still a complete storyline in Immortal. There were very few unanswered questions at the end of the book. This is the first ending I've been happy with in a very long time. I look forward to reading more by Gillian Shields.

Overall: Immortal was a great book filled with many elements and quirky characters to keep the reader enticed.

My Advice: I would recommend buying this one for yourself. Be warned, there have been many mixed reviews, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus, you'll want your own copy so you can stare at the beautiful cover all day long.

Cindy's Huge Contest

Cindy is having a huuuuge contest here. Make sure to check it out. You can win about 16 books. And they're all incredible ones like Hush Hush, Along for the Ride, Shiver, Troy High....etc. Crazy!

Also, if you mention that I referred you there, we'll both get an extra entry. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Release Date/Version: April 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 308
Age Group: Young Adult

In Mary's world, there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.

The Guardians will protect and serve.

The Unconsecrated will never relent.

And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village. The fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But slowly, Mary's truths are failing her. She's learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power. And, when the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness.

Now she must choose between her village and her future, between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded by so much death?

There's been a lot of hype about this book, so I felt like I needed to read it. I was initially interested in the plot's mysterious qualities and the apocalyptic side of the story. I was in the mood for a book about a girl's struggle to survive in a harsh world. There were elements of this, but not exactly what I was hoping for.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth was about Mary's struggle to unearth the secrets of the Sisterhood and the Unconsecrated, which took up about half of the book. The next half was Mary's struggle to find a safe place after the breach by the Unconsecrated. Both parts left me wondering and full of unanswered questions. The lack of answers would be one of the downfalls for me. At the end of the book, there were still many major questions that were unanswered and I was upset that we didn't get to find out more about the Sisterhood and the Guardians.

Another thing that upset me were the characters. I connected with very few of them, especially Mary. I found Mary to be rather annoying. She was never happy with what she had and she couldn't appreciate her situation. She was always longing for more, and it caused a lot of stress to those around her. I also found myself unsympathetic to the other characters, although I would have liked to hear more about what happened to them in the end. I don't know what it is, but I've been unhappy with the endings of the last few books I've read.

The positive qualities to me were the sense of mystery and Mary's exploration to find out more about the Sisterhood. I wish there had been more of this, instead of Mary's romantic life and her constant struggle for more. I found the Sisterhood to be extremely interesting and I wanted to know as much as possible about them.

This book had many things about it that I didn't like, but it had some redeeming qualities. I suspect that it is just my personal tastes that caused me to dislike this book, because I know many who really enjoyed it. The Forest of Hands and Teeth could have offered a lot, but it just didn't do it for me.

Overall: It was a fairly good book, but nothing extraordinary.

My Advice: Borrow this from a friend or the library. This book isn't for everyone, and you don't want to be wasting $18 if you don't end up liking it.

Waiting On Wednesday (1)

Dreamdark: Silksinger by Laini Taylor
Publication Date: September 2009

Whisper Silksinger is no warrior - she's a weaver of flying carpets. But when devils attack her isolated island home, she must flee alone with nothing but a copper tea kettle and the ember that smolders inside it. The ember - her secret and her burden - is none other than the Azazel, one of the seven Djinn who made the world, and it falls to Whisper to keep him safe.

Pursued by devils, she joins a dragonfly caravan and meets Hirik, a mysterious faerie mercenary with an ancient sword and a secret of his own.

All the while, Magpie Windwitch, the Djinn King's champion, is on their trail, intent on finding Whisper before the devils do. It's a desperate quest, because if the Azazel should die, the Tapestry of Creation shall fail, and all life with it.

Discover an exotic world of secrets and spice, fortune-tellers, hobgoblins, mercenaries, and devils. Whisper and Hirik are intriguing new characters whose unexpected magic will play an important role in the battles to come, as new foes rise and the devil armies of the Dawn Days are unleashed once more.

If you've read my review of Dreamdark: Blackbringer, which you can find here, you'll know that I'm absolutely in love with this brand new series. I'm so excited for the next installment in Magpie Windwitch's adventures. They've been great so far, and I'm sure they will continue to be just as good, if not better.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
Release Date/Version: May 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 213
Age Group: Young Adult

Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has twenty brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. That is, without questioning them much - if you don't count her secret visits to the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels to read forbidden books, or her meetings with Joshua, the boy she hopes to choose for herself instead of having a man chosen for her.

But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle - who already has six wives - Kyra must make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever.

The Chosen One didn't meet my expectations. That being said, the book wasn't terrible. It just wasn't great. Kyra's tough journey held me all throughout the book, but I was equally turned away by some of the other characters and the pace of the book. I felt for Kyra and her need to run, as well as her wish to stay with her family. I absolutely despised some of the other characters, like her uncle and the Prophet, for obvious reasons. What they did to everyone was so cruel and unnecessary that it made the book hard to read. There were, however, some genuine, caring characters in this book that I really enjoyed.

One of my problems with this book was the pace. The climax took too long to reach, and once you got there, there was only about 15 pages left in the book. Basically, the exciting part wasn't long enough and all of the events leading up to it took too long. I felt that story never reached a complete end. You never found out what happened to the other characters and I was really looking forward to the other characters' endings. The ending seemed too rushed, like the author had to meet a deadline. The Chosen One was just depressing. One of the characters I really enjoyed wasn't seen again after about 2/3 of the way through. I was especially mad about what happen to them. It made it seem as if all hope was gone for Kyra.

Now don't get me wrong, there were things wrong with this book, but there were also good things. I enjoyed Kyra, Joshua, Patrick, and Kyra's father. I thought I would especially dislike her father because he had three wives, but he really is a good person. The Chosen One offered romance and action, and although it could be a little slow, the main premise kept me reading.

Overall: Kyra's journey is a tough one to read about, but it was a though provoking story with some great characters.

My advice: Borrow this book from the library or a friend. For me, it's not worth spending the money on a new hardcover book.

Teaser Tuesday (1)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading in which one grabs their current read, opens to a random page, and gives two "teaser" sentences from that page.

"A slightly overweight blond woman snatched something up from the table and slipped it in her pocket.
'How dare you come in here without permission!' snapped the tall, gray-haired woman who had hidden the book away."

Page 78, Immortal by Gillian Shields


Monday, August 10, 2009

Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor

Dreamdark: Blackbringer by Laini Taylor
Release Date/Version: May 2009/Paperback
Publisher: Firebird
Pages: 437
Age Group: Young Adult

Magpie Windwitch, granddaughter of the West Wind, is not like other faeries. While most of her kind live in tranquil seclusion deep in their forests, escaped devils are creeping back into the world after millennia of imprisonment, and Magpie is all that stands in their way. With her faithful clan of crows, she travels the world hunting down bloodthirsty snags, just as her hero, Bellatrix, did 25,000 years ago.

This hunt will take her back to the great forest of Dreamdark, a place of legends and Djinn, cunning imps and tattooed warriors, where she must unravel the mystery of the greatest enemy her folk have ever known. Will the determination of one small faerie be enough to defeat the impenetrable darkness that threatens to unmake the world?

This book was absolutely amazing. The premise itself was so enthralling and captivating that I couldn't put the book down for a minute. I mean, this little tiny faerie is a devil hunter and she has to save her people from a devil that exudes hunger and darkness. How cool is that? I've never heard of anything similar to this, so I found it very intriguing. The pace of the book is great. There's always a new tidbit of information that makes you want to keep on reading. The twists and turns were never ending; I never guessed correctly about what would happen. Dreamdark: Blackbringer was packed full of continuous action and there was even a hint of romance. There were literally two plots twisted into one: Magpie's discovery of herself and the secrets surrounding her, and the quest to defeat the terrible devil. It was expertly done in this first novel of Dreamdark.

Dreamdark: Blackbringer is by far one of the best books of 2009 that I've read thus far. The quirky characters and their charming dialect had me laughing, but the action and suspense had me cheering for little Magpie. Laini Taylor has created an excellent new world filled with mystery, romance, action, and a strong heroine that everyone can enjoy.

Overall: This book is absolutely amazing and will capture the attention of young and old, fantasy lovers and fantasy weary. Thus far, if you could read only book in 2009, this would be it.

My Advice: Run, I mean run(!) to your local bookstore, not the library, so that you can have your own copy. You'll want to read this and reread it and reread it and reread it once more in anticipation for Dreamdark: Silksinger, the next book in this amazing series.

In My Mailbox (1)

My first ever In My Mailbox. Pretty cool. IMM was started by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie. Thanks!

Lost Summer by Alex Mcauly (PB/August 2006/Pocket Books & MTV Books)

When Caitlin Ross's mother takes her and her brother to an island in the remote Outer Banks for the summer, Caitlin is furious. She was planning on spending the summer hanging out by the pool, partying, shopping, and singing backup in her boyfriend's band, Box of Flowers. North Carolina isn't anything like California, and Caitlin doesn't fit in. But her troubled mother is too busy popping pills and trying to win back her creepy ex-boyfriend to care.

At first, the only friend Caitlin makes on the desolate island is a local misfit named Danielle. But things start to improve when she meets a bunch of visiting prep school boys and gets swept up in their exciting world. Then, one dark night, she witnesses a murder and begins to suspect that her new friends aren't really her friends at all. With a powerful hurricane approaching, and the island cut off from the outside world, Caitlin has no one to turn to but herself...and whether she'll live to see another summer is the biggest mystery of all.

I got this from Paperback Swap. It sounds really intriguing and I'm excited to read it. Plus, the book is just pretty.

Crank by Ellen Hopkins (PB/October 2004/ Simon Pulse)

Kristina Georgia Snow is the perfect daughter: gifted high school junior, quiet, never any trouble. But on a trip to visit her absentee father, she meets a boy who introduces her to crank. At first she finds it freeing, but soon Kristina’s personality disappears inside the drug. What began as a wild, ecstatic ride turns into a struggle through hell for her mind, her soul, and her life.

I also got this from Paperback Swap. I love that site! :) I haven't read anything by Ellen Hopkins yet, so I figured this was a good place to start. It sounds like a good book, and it always gets good reviews, so I thought I needed to see what all the buzz was about.

Various Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene (HB/Various publication dates/Grosset & Dunlap)

I went to a garage sale this weekend and there were a ton of the old yellow hardback Nancy Drew books for sale. I love Nancy Drew so I couldn't resist. I bought the ones I didn't already have, and I made quite a bit of progress in my collection.

I got:

  • The Secret of the Old Clock (#1)
  • Nancy's Mysterious Letter (#8)
  • The Sign of the Twisted Candles (#9)
  • Password to Larkspur Lane (#10)
  • The Clue of the Broken Locket (#11)
  • The Haunted Bridge (#15)
  • Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk (#17)
  • The Ghost of Blackwood Hall (#25)
  • Mystery of Crocodile Island (#55)
  • The Thirteenth Pearl (#56)

Quite a few! And for only $5. Garage sales are a great place to get books.

So, a pretty good week. I'm very happy with all of it. Off to do more reading!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Going on a little trip

So, this weekend I'm going on a little trip. What great timing, just when I start my blog. *rolls eyes* Too late now. But that means that when I get back, I'll post my first real review! Stay tuned for that. :)

See you on Monday.

-The Book Owl

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I won a signed copy of Fade!

Ok, normally I'm not a bragger, but this is worthy. I won a signed copy of Fade from the PulseIt program over at Simon & Schuster. Isn't that crazy?! The crazier thing is, I haven't read Wake. Terrible, I know. But you can bet that Wake is going up near the top of my TBR pile. :)

How exciting. I'll actually have something in my mailbox.

-The Book Owl

Hi there and welcome!

Hey everyone. Welcome to my brand new blog, The Book Owl. Because I read day and night. Clever, huh? :P

Basically, I'll be posting my reviews of various books. I hope to feature plenty of well known books, as well as some off beat, lesser known ones. I've read so many books over the years that I can't keep them straight, so I'm using this site as a place to keep track of everything.

Few things about myself. My name's McKenzie (aka The Book Owl) and I'm 15 years old, soon to be 16. I love, love, love to read all things YA. That's all I will read. I'm not a huge fan of zombies/vampires/etc. (I know! *gasp*) but don't worry, I'll still read and review them with the whole craze going on. (When I look back on this, the zombie thing probably won't be relevant anymore. haha) My other basic likes are soccer, lacrosse, and writing.

I hope this sites develops into something good. Maybe I can gain a follower or two. Who knows! I'm really going to work on it. :) Hopefully I'll see you around.

-The Book Owl
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