Friday, August 28, 2009

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

What is love? Is it primal lust, passion? Or something deeper, meant for forever?

Five teens traveling paths different, but also the same, must decide for themselves. Eden, Whitney, Cory, Ginger, Seth: Each is looking for a forever love, but all end up in a place far from it.

Words are power, and Ellen Hopkins is their master in this poetry-story, blending five separate lives together seamlessly. It can be difficult to remember who's who, but even that animosity adds to the message Hopkins is conveying. Each narrator has different dreams, and somewhere in one of them you will find yourself - which only means more heartbreak when they fall into prostitution, because Hopkins pulls out all the stops. There are no blunted blows, no softened corners; she tells it raw and true. Real-life victims don't always find their happy endings, and Hopkins is not known for promising them, but it is worth loving these characters to find out for yourself.

Lock yourself away and cancel all other engagements, because Tricks will suck you in and hold you captive to the last page.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Buffy Vs. Edward

I'm going to veer away from book reviews for a moment here and go into a more opinionated realm (is that possible, considering the nature of reviews?) Recently, I found this video on Youtube. As fan of Buffy and Twilight, I loved it immediately.

Basically, the video summarizes what I realized while watching the Twilight movie: Edward is actually kind of creepy. After a year's obsession with him (I'm Team Jacob these days), I know what I'm talking about when I say it is eye opening to get a different POV.

(sorry the screen's too big, I couldn't get it any smaller)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Immortals by Alyson Noel

After a horrible accident that claims the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom can see people's auras, hear their thoughts, and know someones' entire life story by touching them. Going out of her way to avoid human contact and suppress her abilities, she has been branded a freak at her new high school - but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste. Damen is gorgeous, exotic, and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head - wielding a magic so intense, it's as though he can peer straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. And she has no idea just who he really is - or what he his. The only thing she knows to be true is that she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him.

Does that last line sound familiar? I found Evermore to be unsettling similar to Twilight, at least at first glance. Damen isn't a vampire, but his theme song should be "Hot 'n' Cold," the way he treats Ever. Despite their deeper connection, it felt wrong for her to fall for el jerko so unquestioningly.

Despite the predictability of the supernatural boyfriend, there were enough unique elements to keep my interest. Ever's aura-reading increased the mysteries of Damen, mostly because she couldn't read his. Plus, her conversations with her dead sister made me laugh - becoming a ghost doesn't change sibling rivalry. Overall, I'm pretty neutral on the first book in the series...

...but it just so happens that I bought both books on my last Borders run. And I am truly glad that I did, because otherwise I would have missed out on some serious immortal drama.

Blue Moon picks up a while after Evermore ends. Ever is exploring her new powers as an immortal and cuddling up with Damen, always keeping their relationship relatively chaste. But as Ever grows into her abilites, Damen's powers seem to be waning, along with his memory. Ever must travel to Summerland, the mystical in-between place, to discover the secrets to saving him.

Finally, some original plot! I enjoyed discovering the powers of the immortals, both good and bad, and Roman is just made to distrust. The drama in this installation is much more original: instead of trying to figure out if a mysterious guy likes her or not, Ever has to deal with Damen acting like she's some stalker he's never met before!

My opinion of The Immortals is mixed, but I will definitely pick up the third book when it comes out next year... from the library.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Good Witch of the West

Fifteen-year-old Firiel Dee has always lived a simple country life with her father the Professor and her childhood friend Rune. So she expects going to a royal ball to be fantastical - but it goes farther than that! A special necklace identifies her blood as royal - and that she is a candidate to become the next Star Queen! Firiel is swept away to a world power and deceit, and though she is followed by Rune, he may make her life even more complicated. Can the innocent Firiel survive with so many eyes on her?

The Good Witch began as a novel written by Noriko Ogiwara, and I found that this greatly enhanced the manga. Many manga, however good their concept, tend to have lots of filler chapters that have nothing to do with the main plot. These series are usually published in a monthly mangazine like Shonen Jump or Shojo Beat, so the author gets more money if the series is longer. Good Witch already had a plot. I haven't read the novel, but I suspect that's why there is action and plot advancement on every page.

As far as the story itself, I love it! Finding out you're a princess isn't a new idea, but Firiel is a fiery chic who will do anything to protect Rune... and it's totally fun to watch her realize Rune's true feelings for her. I actually harped at her a couple times for being so blind! (Yes, I talk to the books...fess up, you know you've done it, too ~_^)

Of course, we can't forget what makes manga, manga. Haruhiko Momokawa does a beautiful job with the artwork; it's one of my favorite drawing styles of the manga I've read. The cover art above is just the beginning.

There are currently six volumes of the manga out, and it's been made into an anime, too! The story's not finished, though, so keep an eye out for Vol. 7...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shadowland by Meg Cabot

Suze is a mediator - she can see ghosts, talk to them, punch them if need be - and it's her job to help them move on to wherever they go. Unfortunately, she can't seem to rid herself of hot ghost who's haunting her bedroom.

There are bigger problems than her new roommate, though. A vengeful spirit is wreaking havoc at school, and people will die if Suze can't stop it...

I loved this book. Suze's voice rings loud and clear with details such as her nicknames for her stepbrothers: Sleepy, Dopey, and Doc. And the plot itself feels a lot like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is just fine by me.

Shadowland is the first in the Mediator series. Ninth Key, here I come!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Anna lives for her sister. She was concieved to be a perfect genetic match to Kate, who has acute promyeloctyic leukemia. From moments after her birth, Anna has been giving up parts of herself to keep her sister alive. Now thirteen, Anna wants her body - and her life - for herself.

This book is absolutely amazing. Several of my friends have raved about Jodi Picoult, but it wasn't until the movie came out that I picked up a copy. I quickly discovered:

The raves were just.

Picoult is a master of emotion. MSK is told in alternating POVs between all of the central characters, and each one has a distinctive voice. It helps that each POV is printed in a different font, but I would be able to tell anyway when Anna is speaking, or her mother, brother, or her attorney Campbell (incidentally, I loved Campbell. His ironic joking is timed just right amidst the emotion-laden plot. Plus, Judge pwns.)

Weaved in with the court action and Kate's current medical crises are intricate flashbacks, subplots, and musings. Anything a character rambles about is symbolic (my English teachers would love it). In addition, the relationship between Campbell and Julia is artfully included and there are always more secrets to uncover.

As with other book-turned-movies, My Sister's Keeper has recieved a lot of press attention lately. I look forward to seeing the movie, but you'd be doing yourself a disservice to miss out on such amazing writing.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I'm that nerd who puts book release dates on her calendar instead of date-dates. In case anyone else loves the anticipation of a new release, I've added the "Waiting for..." in the sidebar. However, I have no idea how to make a countdown widget; the ones I have up were already made by gifted book lovers TT-TT

If you know how to make a countdown widget, I'd appreciate it if you left a comment or sent me an email. There is something immensely satisfying in watching the seconds tick down when you know you have at least a month's wait, and I would really love to add that to the awesome books in the queue.


Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber

Aphra Connolly has spent the last four years living on a secluded island resort, a favorite retreat of the rich and famous. The downside? Guests come and go but there are no other teens to hang out with. So when sexy Seth Mulo checks in with his family under mysterious circumstances, Aphra wants to know more.

What she finds is mystery...and danger. Seth is not who he clames to be, strange people are showing up on the island, and to top it off, one of the guests washes up dead on the beach! Apra has no idea what she's in for.

Before you assume this is one of those snooty, glitsy-girl books, here's a heads-up: Aphra works at the resort. She is both levelheaded and kind, and it's exciting to get into her head as the drama unfolds. And it's amusing to see her muddle through her feelings about Seth, especially when she learns some startling truths.


This weekend, I got to meet Linda Gerber!! It was a small gathering, which means she was able to answer all of our questions. Topics ranged from Aphra's love interests (definitely spoilers there) to publishing books to how she writes (on a laptop, by the way. It's much faster than longhand). Apparently, the series was originally about vampires, but it became the fang-free version out on shelves. Unfortunately, I forgot to pull out my camera >.< but she did sign my copy of DBB!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One Lonely Degree by C.K. Kelly Martin

Finn knows she's an outcast. She only has one friend (although sometimes Audrey feels like an extention of her) and nothing close to a boyfriend. Admittedly, after The Party, she doesn't intend to change the latter status.

Everything changes when Jersy, the Beautiful Boy that she knew as a kid, moves back into town. The changes are infinitesimal, but definitely there. Despite haunting memories of The Party, she finds herself liking Jersy and then liking Jersy - a huge taboo since he's dating Audrey. And when Audrey goes away for the summer... Finn's resolve quickly begins to fail.

Adding Finn's emotional trauma to an already uncertain love relationship adds that much more depth to One Lonely Degree. Fans of Laurie Halse Anderson will recognize the source of her pain, but Martin's presentation is unique. And combined with all of that drama, Finn must also deal with her parent's imminent separation, leaving her alone when she needs advice the most.

Cover comments: Totally perfect for the book. That hand on the left leads to a picture of Jersy on the back cover. I love how their fingers are just barely touching - it's a perfect snapshot of their relationship.

My only disappointment was the ending. It felt very...unfinished to me, like there should be several more pages in there. It was probably pretty realistic (not that I would know), but it felt like it was missing something definite. However, it was still totally worth the read.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Need by Carrie Jones

After the death of her stepfather, Zara is exiled to live with her gram in Maine. But soon Zara notices a man stalking her around the same time that people start disappearing from the small town. There are magical forces at work, and Zara's stuck in the middle of it.

Yes, the "move to a small town and find mythical beings" beginning is getting rather cliched (and unless you've been hiding in the basement for the last couple years, you know where it originated from). But I assure you, there are no masochistic vampires in this one.

In fact, I really enjoyed the surprises of our supernatural stars. Pixies as the bad guys? Don't underestimate the power of the fey. My only complaint there is how easily Zara believed in them, but she made up for it when it came to the pixies' natural enemy. And as for their identities... the good guys are startling and the bad guys even more so.

One last comment: Zara's phobia obsession. Each chapter title is a phobia, and Zara lists phobias to calm herself down. It's a funny quirk that gives her character another dimension.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pendragon by D.J. MacHale

Bobby Pendragon never thought he would save the world. In fact, he never thought past winning the county semifinals in basketball or kissing Courtney Chetwynde. So when his Uncle Press drags him into another world, he's understandably upset, shocked, and outraged. But there are bigger issues than basketball or even Courtney. There is a great evil at work on Denduron, the alternate dimension Bobby finds himself in, and he is expected to stop it.

The Merchant of Death is the beginning of a ten book series by D.J. MacHale, with one book per world (known as a territory). Throughout the series, Bobby realizes his destiny as a Traveler...saving the universe. Of course. It sounds corny, but MacHale unfolds the intricacies of Halla in a way that leaves you one step behind, and looking for more. The separate conflicts of the territories are tied together by the scheming of Saint Dane, certified Bad Guy, along with the other Travelers that Bobby meets. Most enjoyable are the distinct cultures with their own people, technology, and problems.

Written in journal format, Pendragon is a gripping read. Bobby's snarky comments can go overboard sometimes, but usually make me chuckle aloud. It's definitely worth the read, and even more so for fans of Harry who need a little magic.