Wednesday, September 24, 2008

a slew of reviews...

Alright, here's the reviews that I promised you! I'm sure that I'm forgetting some books at the moment. But I can't keep too much straight at the moment. These will just have to make do :) Enjoy!

City of Bones
by Cassandra Clare
The first in the Mortal Instruments series, fifteen year old Clary is a normal teenage girl. She fights with her overprotective mother, hangs out with her best friend Simon, and oh yeah...she's starting to see things that no one else can see. Underneath the human world is a world shrouded by a glamour full of Shadowhunters and Downworlders such as vampires, werewolves, and demons. So where does Clary fit into this new world? When her mother is attacked and kidnapped, Clary learns who her mother really is and what she has been running from Clary's whole life.

This unique fantasy is fast-paced and impossible to put down. Follow Clary as she learns what it means to be a Shadowhunter, scrambles to save her mother, and tries to figure out if normal even applies to her world anymore. The story is action-packed and thrilling with a romantic twist you will not see coming. It will leave you waiting for more.... (Alert! Spoilers below in review for next volume.)

City of Ashes
by Cassandra Clare
In this sequel to City of Bones, readers find Clary struggling to keep her family from crumbling apart. This volume picks up right where the first book left off. With her mother in a coma, her father off plotting to take down the Clave, and her realtionship with her brother on shaky ground, Clary has a lot to deal with. Luckily, she has her boyfriend, Simon by her side to help her stay grounded. But when Jace and Clary learn that their father have given them each special gifts--it is up to them to figure out to use them to their advantage and stop Valentine from raising his demon army. As engaging as the first in the series, City of Ashes continues the momentum and again leaves you eager for what is next.

Living Dead Girl
by Elizabeth Scott
Shocking and chilling, Scott tells the story of a broken and sexually-abused girl named Alice. Like the Alice before her, she once had a family, a childhood, and her own thoughts. Now each day is a struggle to survive. To say the right words. To stay young. But all she longs for is an end. When she turns 15, Alice knows that she is too old for Ray now. Soon it will be her turn to die...after she helps him find the next Alice. Told in quick, short chapters, the narrative reflects the few independent thoughts Alice has left. Though Scott never describes the abuse in detail, the horror and pain is palpable. You desperately want to help save Alice. This is not a story you will soon forget.

Size 12 is Not Fat
by Meg Cabot
Okay, so this is not a teen book. SHOCKING, I know. But I'm trying to balance out what I read, a little teen book here, a grown-up book there (apparently I am a grown-up or supposed to be--yeah right), and a non-fiction title every now and then. But I'm getting off-topic as usual....since our Big Read is coming up in October (The Maltese Falcon), I decided to give a mystery title a whirl.

I picked up this book because of the title and the author (The Princess Diaries are my guilty pleasure). I've been skinny my whole life, but recently well...I've put on a lot of weight because of a heart condition I developed. Oh the joys of getting older! So the thought of a heroine who is the average size of a woman appealed to me. I love strong, confident women who are comfortable in their own skin.

I will admit that was a very predictable plot, but it was still enjoyable. Heather Wells is a former pop star who's lost it all--her career, her money, and even her cheating fiancee. When she gets a job as assistant director at a university's residence hall, she thinks now she can start living a normal life. But when girls start dying in the building, Heather gets suspicious and starts her own investigation. Peppered with pop culture references (grown-up ones at that), I couldn't help but giggle here and there. It was a nice, easy read...especially after the intensity of some of the teen books I've been reading.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns
by John Green

From the author of Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines, this book is one of the best books that I have read all year. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy (which I passed onto another lucky librarian), so look for this title to come out on October 16th. John Green has always written intelligent, funny, and heart-wrenching tales. He knows how to tell a story and create truly believable characters. Even though his books are all vastly different, they always have two things in common--it's a coming of age book (i.e. Catcher in the Rye) and it's always, always about a girl.

Quentin is a senior in high school--just weeks away from graduation. He has always played it safe and followed the rules. He gets good grades, is going to a great college, and like most people is living with the future in mind. But there's one thing in his life that isn't safe, his next door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman. She's wild and unpredictable and lives in the present. She's everything Q's not and he's been content to love her from afar since childhood.

But one night changes all that, when she sneaks into Q's room and begs him to join her on her campaign of revenge. Suddenly, Q finds himself in crazy, unpredictable situations and even has the chance to love the girl of his dreams. He assumes after all they went thru that things couldn't possibly be the same. But by the next morning, Margo is gone and left nothing but a trail of clues behind. Clues that are meant especially for Q.

Green follows Q and his friends as he tries to follow the bread crumbs and find the girl he loves. But in the process, he realizes that he didn't ever know the real Margo Roth Spiegelman. The closer he gets to finding her, the more he learns about who she really is. This poignant story is heart-breaking and endearing. Green creates teens who are intelligent, diverse, and self-reflecting. There is no fluff here.

Though his language can be crude and vulgar (think teenage guys), he doesn't wimp out in this book or take the easy way out. He incorporates poetry, music, and books to reveal more about Q and Margo's true identities. This is a smart read (which is bound to appeal to both girls and guys) that will draw you in and stay with you long after you put it down.

Falling behind....

Okay, so I have a stack of books I've read that I need to post reviews for. Then I have a stack of books that I need to read. And that's during my "free time." With the Big Read: One Book, One Irving (October 1 - 30, The Maltese Falcon--shameless plug) coming up, I have NO time to do much of anything. But anyways, just letting you that I am still here. And I will try and post new reviews soon. I've got some great books that I've finished lately! So look for Paper Towns by John Green, City of Bones & City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare, Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot (omg, it's an adult book!), and yeah...I've forgotten the others for the moment.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer :(

I have been putting this off long enough. First it took me forever to read the book, then we didn't get our library copies in for almost a month after the release date (GRRR!), and well...I didn't want what I had to say to affect your view of Breaking Dawn (especially since I was part of the hype!). So hopefully everyone's read it by now. If not -- stop reading now...this review will contain spoilers.

The first part of Breaking Dawn was going great. Edward and Bella got married. Jacob danced with her (awww). They went on their honeymoon. Everything's happy with a fairy tale ending. Then Bella gets pregnant. And things just flat out got weird. I don't know if it's because she had just written the sci fi book, The Host, or what it was. Either way...she went off on this bizarre tangent and I wasn't buying it.

I don't know if it was the bad writing (sorry but it was), the bad editing (sorry again but it was), or the bad plotline (really sorry but it so was). I just could not wrap my head around it or make it make sense. I kept asking myself logical questions about how such a thing could happen or why Meyer wrote it into the storyline. I kept thinking she was trying to get some sort of message across about political and religious things that I'm not about to go into.

In short, I couldn't just read and forget that I was reading a story. During the first three novels, I found myself completely enraptured by the story and the characters. I loved Bella, Edward, and Jacob. I cried with them and forgot that they weren't real. But with Breaking Dawn, I couldn't fall into the story in the same way.

Then we came to part two of the book: Jacob's voice. While I loved hearing Jacob's voice for the first time, it was out of character for the series and let's be honest -- it got boring. I kept having to force myself to continue. In fact, at one point I was ready to take it back to the store (but that would have messed up my nice collection on my bookshelf) and I was determined to see it thru to the end.

I almost wish I hadn't finished or even started....I thought the story started to wind down around 500 pages, only to be picked up again with the threat of the Volturi. Then it was like reading a whole new book. Suddenly it was the Stephenie Meyer from the first three books writing! It was intense and exciting. And the fact that Jacob imprinted on Bella's daughter made everything make so much more sense. But when it came down to the final scene in the clearing, it ended abruptly and with no real climax. It was a huge let down.

I was extremely disappointed. It was like Stephenie Meyer threw this book together in a hurried fashion with little thought to the flow or action or character development. It left on a sweet note and showed us a stronger Bella, but still it wasn't enough for me. I expected more. Sorry if you loved it. That's wonderful and that's what I wanted for myself! I wanted to love it. I wanted it to be everything I expected, but it just wasn't.