Tuesday Teaser/Teaser Tuesday #23

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Grab your current read, and open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others. Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Since we were nestled in a deep basin and surrounded by hills, neither of us had seen it rise. However, now that it had crested the eastern hill, it was obviously brighter than any other star in the sky."
The Secret of Ka by Christopher Pike


And now, for my Tuesday Teaser...For those of you who are new to my blog, I do my Tuesday Teaser's differently (and yes, I add this disclaimer every time). Each week, I feature a teensy snippet of something I've written, leave it up all day, then remove it around 11 PM. You're welcome to comment on it, love it, hate it, or simply read it at your leisure. This week's teaser is from my current WIP, RACE.

The Tuesday Teaser is down...check back next week for more!

The Last Full Measure Review

Monday, August 30, 2010

As Confederate and Union soldiers take over their town, the local residents can do little more than hunker down in their homes while cannon and gunfire explode around them. But the battles are not only fought between soldiers. At home, fourteen-year-old Tacy and her disabled brother lock horns as David struggles with his desire to go to war. He has strong principles, and it tortures him to allow others to fight while he does nothing.

In the aftermath of this great and terrible battle, in which so many soldiers sacrifice their lives for their beliefs, David gives his last full measure…and leaves Tacy struggling to make sense out of it all

Taken from GoodReads

The Last Full Measure follows the story of Tacy, the youngest child and only daughter of a Union doctor during the Battle of Gettysburg. Though young, Tacy wants to do something important, stand firm to her beliefs, and make something of her life, but the times don't provide just cause for any of this. Through love, loss, and grief, Tacy must come to terms with the reality of life and discover her own true nature in the process.

I've always been a fan of Ann Rinaldi. I remember reading some of my favourite books of hers when I was younger, such as The Last Silk Dress and In My Father's House. True to form, The Last Full Measure follows its young female protagonist through the struggles of war while wrestling her own consciousness's growing pains. That said, I feel like I never really got to know Tacy until the end of the story. With Ann Rinaldi's other books, I felt the characters were much more relatable.

Just as I wanted to like Tacy, I wanted to like David, her crippled older brother. However, he was cruel and crass, and downright bossy. Half the time I found it difficult to be even remotely sympathetic towards his position because I don't think it was clearly shown by him why he was the way he was. I guess my main problem with The Last Full Measure was that it was both too fast and too slow, if you know what I mean. I feel the beginning lagged a bit when giving us the background of the story, but I feel the action itself went by too fast and downplayed the true sadness of the story.

As a positive, The Last Full Measure features the same clean writing which separates Ann Rinaldi from many other historical fiction writers. It's a fairly quick read, with clean dialogue, so I doubt anyone should have trouble with that. All in all, I give The Last Full Measure 3 out of 5 stars, and I recommend it to those who love historical fiction.

I received The Last Full Measure free of charge as an e-book in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.
Release Date: November 15, 2010

In My Mailbox 8/29

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and features the books you've received during the week. While I don't regularly participate in this meme, I figured it was time to start making a habit of it let my lovely followers know what I'm going to read. Ok, so without further ado, this week I received:

Bought: The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum

Bought: Fat Vampire by Adam Rex

What did you receive this week? Leave me a comment or link and I'll be sure to drop on by your site!

The Dead and The Gone Review

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It enthralled and devastated readers with its brutal but hopeful look at an apocalyptic event--an asteroid hitting the moon, setting off a tailspin of horrific climate changes.
Now this harrowing companion novel examines the same events as they unfold in New York City, revealed through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Puerto Rican Alex Morales. When Alex's parents disappear in the aftermath of tidal waves, he must care for his two younger sisters, even as Manhattan becomes a deadly wasteland, and food and aid dwindle.
With haunting themes of family, faith, personal change, and courage, this powerful new novel explores how a young man takes on unimaginable responsibilities.
Taken from GoodReads.

The Dead & The Gone is a companion novel to the first novel, Life as We Knew It. While the latter followed life in the aftermath of the meteor disaster that knocked the moon out of orbit in rural Pennsylvania, The Dead & The Gone examines the effects it has on life in the bustling city of New York. Detailing the story of devout Catholic, Alex Morales, and his two sisters, Bri and Julie, the story shows that life in New York was just as devastated as it was in Pennsylvania. The lack of food, the lack of electricity, and most of all, the lack of civility and human compassion are all things that newly-orphaned Alex Morales and his two sisters must contend with.

Ok, I really enjoyed Life as We Knew It. I thought it was an original idea and truly showed Miranda's emotions through her diary-form book. However, The Dead & The Gone missed that essential element. The book is sans diary form, and therefore, I felt like I was being told what was happening in New York, rather than being shown. That, essentially, was my one major problem with The Dead & The Gone. I wanted to feel for Alex Morales and his struggle, but he was often so stoic and so reserved that I never got to know him. He was duty-bound to protect his sisters, but I never actually felt the love he had for them until the very end. Moreover, I think his sisters, Bri and Julie, stole the book from the MC, and Alex almost felt secondary to them.

All in all, The Dead & The Gone is a well-written book. It shows, with harrowing detail, the aftermath of such a catastrophic event, but it fails to show the human element that made me love the first book so much. I will definitely be reading the third installment in the series, This World We Live In, but I've heard a lot of people say you can skip the second book and go straight to the third. I almost feel as though I should have listened. I give The Dead & The Gone a 3 out of 5, and I recommend it as a borrow-only.

Draw the Dark Review

Friday, August 27, 2010

There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don't talk about. The murder way back in '45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he's drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother.
The problem is Christian doesn't just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they'd rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it's no surprise that Christian isn't exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter's last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten the day the Nazi's came to town.
Based on a little-known fact of the United States' involvement in World War II, Draw the Dark is a dark fantasy about reclaiming the forgotten past and the redeeming power of love.
Taken from GoodReads.

Since his parents mysteriously disappeared, Christian Cage has been living with his uncle in the sleepy town of Winter, Wisconsin. He's an outsider, an outcast, and he's labeled the weird kid because his only means for self-expression and comfort is his art. He's begun having vivid dreams though, and he finds that in these dreams, he's a boy named David, and he can slip in and out of time - learning his town has a lot of secrets, and many of them involve the Nazi occupation of Germany. As he slips deeper and deeper into the dark past of Winter, Christian begins to wonder if he might just be able to rescue his parents in "the sideways place" in his dreams.

Draw the Dark is one of those books that I've never heard of before, but just happened to surprise me with an original plot, sound characters, and a riveting story. Written by Ilsa J. Bick, Draw the Dark is a cross between YA Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and it wholeheartedly embraces a creepy, be-afraid-of-the-dark vibe. Written in haunting prose that allows you to get inside the main character, Christian's head, you are sent on a terrifying and intense journey towards the truth with him.

Draw the Dark also turned out to be quite the history lesson. I never knew that the United States housed prisoners of war during WWII (something my text books left out - thank you, public school education.) Furthermore, Draw the Dark gets down to the psychology of the story, rather than just painting a picture of angst and horror. You will be in the midst of the story. My one problem I had with the story was that I was expecting more of a physical journey to "the sideways place," but that sort of failed to happen.

Either way, I was really very pleased with the original story and writing in Draw the Dark. I give it a 4 out of 5, I highly recommend it to fans of YA Fantasy and Sci-Fi, as well as those who love a good mystery and thriller.

I received Draw the Dark free of charge as an e-book in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.
Release Date: October 28, 2010

Mockingjay Review (Spoiler-free!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

**If you have not started the series, this post does contain spoilers for the previous two books, so please feel free to pass on by!**

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she’s made it out of the bloody arena alive, she’s still not safe.
The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest?
Katniss. And what’s worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either.
Not Katniss’s family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.
Taken from GoodReads.

In The Hunger Games, we watched as Katniss Everdeen was thrust into a life of terror, violence, and discord when she took Prim's place in the annual Hunger Games. We watched her form an alliance, then an uneasy friendship with Peeta Mellark. Catching Fire showed us what happens when the Capitol of Panem sees the ripple of hope fluttering through the Districts, and we're forced to watch the unthinkable happen - the Tributes are thrust into the Games, or the Quarter Quell, this time. Without knowing she was doing so, Katniss sparked hope in the suffering Districts, giving them something to live and fight toward, so when we watch her pulled from the arena of the Quarter Quell, we felt hope.

Mockingjay is the third and final book in this trilogy, showing us what happens when one girl ignites the fire of hope, pride, and rebellion. Katniss never wanted a life in the spotlight. She never wanted to be a symbol, but without knowing it, she has become one. Plucked from the arena and finally aware that the ever-elusive District 13's survival is not a myth, Katniss is thrust headlong into a war that she helped spark. With her friends and family. and despite the missing Peeta, Katniss must decide whether or not she can and will remain the symbol of the new revolution. Can Katniss be the Mockingjay?

Mockingjay is not a light book. The third in this series of Dystopian novels, it's much darker than before. Suzanne Collins has created a world in Panem that forces us to look at the very base of human survival and where we find our humanity. Mockingjay strips its characters down to the core and makes it very clear that nobody acts or reacts the same in a war. Violence changes people, and Mockingjay shows that in every struggle there are sacrifices that must be made. Revealing the innermost workings of the characters is a true strength in this book, and you get to know what makes the characters tick. It's dark, and it's haunting, but it's perfect.

I know this is a weak review, but I don't want to reveal anything for those who have not yet read Mockingjay. I was prepared for it to be dark and painful, but this is definitely the darkest of the three books. Whereas a lot of the violence was "off-screen" in the first two books, Mockingjay does not hesitate to describe the brutality both felt and seen. It's heartbreaking, heartwrenching and yet, at times, just a tad humourous with glimmers of hope. I feel the ending was completely fitting, and while I wish the story could go on forever, Mockingjay ended at the perfect moment. The single qualm I have with this book is that it took me a few pages to truly understand what was happening. Either way, this book is a clear 5 out of 5, and I recommend it to all followers of the series, YA fans, and those who love Dystopian novels.

P.S. Because it's not a spoiler...still Team Peeta ;)

P.P.S. Please be aware that many people have yet to read Mockingjay, and we don't to ruin it for everyone. Please keep the comments free of spoilers. I will control comment moderation just in case!

P.P.P.S. Highlight below for my favourite quote!
"'Well, don't expect us to be too impressed. We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear' I decide to go ahead and like Boggs."

Waiting on Wednesday 8/25

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday is weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine and specifically spotlights upcoming novels we can't wait to read. As always, there are some amazing upcoming books, but this week I am particularly excited for...

Title: Jane
Author: April Lindner
Release Date: October 11, 2010

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, an iconic rock star on the brink of a huge comeback.

Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer, and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance. But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is tested by a torturous secret from his past.

Taken from GoodReads.

This book is a re-imagining of the classic story, Jane Eyre, set in modern times for a new generation of young readers. While I often hesitate to read re-imagined classics because I love the originals so much, I think this sounds fun. I love the simplicity of the cover, and I'm interested to see how Jane spins this story for a fresh take and a modern time.

Tuesday Teaser/Teaser Tuesday #22

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other Tuesday Teaser participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Adam and Eve stare down from a big picture behind the girls. A small sign explains, 'Christian tradition suggests that the Devil took the shape of a snake who tempted the first humans.'"
Crash Into Me by Albert Borris


And now, for my Tuesday Teaser...For those of you who are new to my blog, I do my Tuesday Teaser's differently (and yes, I add this disclaimer every time). Each week, I feature a teensy snippet of something I've written, leave it up all day, then remove it around 11 PM. You're welcome to comment on it, love it, hate it, or simply read it at your leisure. This week's teaser is from my finished MS, Fire & Snow.

The Tuesday Teaser is down! Check back next week for more :)

Monday Movie Review - The Switch

Monday, August 23, 2010

An unmarried 40-year-old woman turns to a turkey baster in order to become pregnant. Seven years later, she reunites with her best friend, who has been living with a secret: he replaced her preferred sperm sample with his own.
Taken from imdb.

Ok, really? Another movie about artificial insemination? Good Lord. First we've got Baby Mama, then we've got The Back-Up Plan, and now we've got this "gem," The Switch. The flick primarily follows Kassie Larson (Jennifer Aniston), her best friend, Wally (Jason Bateman), and the donor, if you will, Roland (Patrick Wilson) in the wake of her decision to have a child as a single woman at the age of 40.

Let me sum this movie up for you in two sentences. Ready? You've got the super independent woman enjoying a half-fulfilled life with her loyal, albeit neurotic best friend, and a hot, athletic, all around great guy who is more than willing to help the woman have a child. Years later, the independent woman has a little boy who may or may not be the neurotic best friend's son due to a party mishap, and the athletic baby-daddy wants to be the real daddy. There you go. That's the whole movie. To be honest, I didn't ruin it for you because pretty much the whole film is in the trailer.

The Switch is, I guess, is a romantic comedy. It's definitely funny at times, but I have to get this off my chest...methinks Rachel Jennifer Aniston has been typecast. She seems to play the same character every time, and it's a bit stale at this point. The little boy, Sebastian, played by Thomas Robinson, showed up all his co-stars and was the one highlight of the film. He has a knack for delivering deadpan humour that really got the audience going.

Other than that, I have to be honest, The Switch is just a bit boring. It's almost like it never really got going. You can predict the ending about five minutes in, which kind of ruins it. I give this film a 2.5 out of 5, and I recommend it as a DVD rental. It's not horrible, it's just really, really not original at all. Below is the trailer for The Switch.

Have you seen The Switch? What did you think?

I Am Number Four Review

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.

Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.

But they know.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.

I am Number Four.

I am next.
Taken from GoodReads.

I Am Number Four follows the story of John Smith aka Daniel Jones aka Four, a young Garde from the planet Lorien, and his Cepan(Keeper), Henri. Ten years ago, in the wake of his planet's imminent destruction by the Mogadorian race, a race of vicious, greedy, and bloodthirsty aliens, nine young Garde and their Keepers were sent to Earth to blend in, learn their Legacies (powers) and train. One day, the Garde will go back to Lorien, destroy the Mogadorians, and take Lorien back. There's a problem though. The Mogadorians are on Earth, too, and they're killing the Garde in order. Three are dead, and John is next. It's too bad he's finally found a town he likes in Paradise, Ohio, a best friend, Sam, and the girl of his dreams, Sarah. Will he have the strength to move on when he has to?

I Am Number Four is written under the pseudonym, Pittacus Lore which, frankly, I think sounds better than the collaboration between James Frey and Jobie Hughes. I think it's quite clever of them to have written under the name of Lorien's Elder, Pittacus Lore. Anyhoo, the story begins with a bit of a prologue, showing us the death of Three and leading us to the revelation that Four now has to leave his town in Florida and make do in a new town. Though the nine Lorien Garde were scattered and don't know where the others are, look like, or feel, they are charmed so when one Garde dies, a brand appears on their ankles. That's the only clue they have to knowing which will be targeted next by the Mogadorians.

I was a bit turned off by the prologue, to be honest. I thought it was emotionless, frantic, and rushed. And, if I might be petty for a wee moment, there's a typo on the first page of the first chapter. That's neither here, nor there. I Am Number Four is a refreshing take on the tale of aliens living among us. I really enjoyed the fact that John (Four) found a place on Earth that he wanted to belong, and I enjoyed that even though he was supposed to keep a low profile, he didn't let people walk all over him. I also really loved Henri. It's his job to care for John, and you can tell he cares for him a great deal. I do, however, think that John's love interest, Sarah, fell a wee bit flat. I also thought Mark (the bully) was too much of a stereotype at first.

All in all, I really enjoyed I Am Number Four once I got into it. It's action-packed, riveting, and kept me guessing. I give it a definite 4 out of 5, and I really look forward to the second book of this six-book series, The Power of Six, due out in 2011. I recommend YA fans, especially those who enjoy Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and paranormal...oh, and I think it's worth buying. I also recommend reading it fairly soon...they're making a movie. For all you Gleeks out there, Sarah is going to be played by Dianna Agron, better known as Quinn Fabray...just a fun fact.

Favourite Quote: "I am an alien, I have extraordinary powers, with more to come, and I can do things that no human would dream of, but I still look like a fool."

Prism Review

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Prism takes us to a slightly alternate universe in which medicine and health care do not exist, and in which sick people are allowed to die without any care. Set in New Mexico and California, the novel features three teens who fall through a cave at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico while on a field trip.

They are plunged into a frightening parallel universe—seven weeks in the past, in which their "normal" worlds of family and high school remain the same…except for the fact that no medicine exists and when people die in the street they are picked up and disposed of.
Taken from GoodReads.

Prism follows the story of Kaida Hutchenson, Zeke Anderson, and Joy Tallon who suffer through a horrific bus accident and, though their lives are nothing alike, they are thrown into a world parallel their own. It looks just like their own world, and nothing has happened - no accident, no night in a desert cave, but there's something wrong with this new world. It's a week before the class trip, and Kaida wakes in her own bed, but this world is distorted. Medicine is illegal, the punishment for crimes is severe, and they have to find their way back to their own reality before things go from bad to worse.

Prism is a collaboration between NYT Bestselling author, Faye Kellerman and her teen daughter, Aliza Kellerman. As a debut novel for the latter, I'd have to say that Prism is not half bad, but there are a few qualms I have with this book. First, I often found Zeke to be a rather superfluous character. As one of the three MCs, I would expect him to have a bit of a storyline of his own, but he didn't really do all that much, all things considered. I also feel like I never really got to know the characters and their driving force. Kaida could be an extremely interesting and riveting character, but I wanted to know why she reacted the way she did to certain situations.

There was also a pattern of things being a wee bit unbelievable at times. Prism is in an alternate world where medicine is illegal, so you'd expect for other things to be a bit different, as well. In fact, I'd expect society to be a bit more backward, but it really wasn't. I guess I was expecting a bit more of a thriller...perhaps something along the lines of The Butterfly Effect? It didn't really measure up to that though. It's a bit like mystery/thriller-light. That said, there are some things I liked about this book. It's a fairly original twist on a supernatural story, the writing is fluid, and it's not a difficult read. (Besides, who can resist that cover?! I couldn't.)

Either way, it's an easy read once you get past the unbelievability of it and just enjoy the writing. Prism definitely isn't bad, and it's a good first stab at a debut for Aliza Kellerman. I'd recommend this as a borrow-only, and I give it a 3 out of 5. It's G-rated enough to read to your kids, and it's a fast enough read for a night or two by yourself.

Gone Review

Friday, August 20, 2010

In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. GONE.

Except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not one single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what's happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.

It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your birthday, you disappear just like everyone else...
Taken from GoodReads.

Gone follows semi-average teen, Sam, his best friend Quinn, the perfect smart girl at school, Astrid, and the ever-loyal Edilio. They live in Perdido Beach, California, also known as Fallout Alley. Way back when, there was a nuclear accident in Perdido, and the town remained small for that reason. Sam has a secret though - a secret he can't share with anyone and doesn't quite understand, himself, but when all the adults disappear he knows something has to be done. The kids from the FAYZ(Fallout Valley Youth Zone) have to learn to live on their own, or die. To make matters worse though, the kids from the prestigious and isolated Coates Academy, including the charismatic Caine, start arriving and throw the delicate balance into disarray...but that's not all. Kids are developing powers, and things are about to go from bad to worse.

Wow. Wow wow wow! Remember how I said I don't like books that have a slow start? Authors, take note - Gone is a perfect example how the beginning of an epic story is done! Now, I'll admit that it slowed a wee bit after the first page to give some back story, but it definitely got right into the action. There was a perfect balance of characters - both strong and weak, and I loved how Astrid (the female protagonist) is a strong, intelligent, and independent female. I also liked that Quinn was the one who was a wreck and thought the disappearances had to have been an act of God.

Michael Grant, the author of Gone has created a story that's part Lost, part Fringe, part Supernatural...part X-Men. Does it get any better than that? This is a perfectly-spun tale with plenty of plot turns, twists, and mysteries to keep you going all 558 pages. I know it's long, but trust me when I say it's worth every second.

I give this book a 5 out of 5, and I would recommend it to those who love YA sci-fi and fantasy, as well as anyone else looking for an endlessly entertaining read. The second and third books, Hunger and Lies, respectively, are out now. The fourth book, Plague, will be released on April 5, 2011.

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country Review

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Zan's troubled twin brother, Dael, having suffered greatly during his earlier captivity, receives a ruinous new shock when his wife suddenly dies. Disturbed and traumatized, all of his manic energies explode into acts of hostility and bloodshed. His obsession is the destruction of the wasp men, his first captors, who dwell in the Beautiful Country.

When he, Zan-Gah, and a band of adventurers trek to their bountiful home, they find that all of the wasp people have died in war or of disease. The Beautiful Country is empty for the taking, and Zan s people, the Ba-Coro, decide to migrate and resettle there. But the Noi, Dael s cruelest enemies and former tormentors, make the same migration from their desert home, and the possibility develops of contention and war over this rich and lovely new land.
Taken from GoodReads.

I received Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country, as well as the first book in the series, Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure free of charge from Bonnie of Earthshaker Books in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country follows Zan-Gah and his twin brother Dael as they move to the Beautiful Country (from which they barely escaped before) and discover the depth of their brotherhood. Dael is struggling to adjust to life outside of captivity, and the torture in his mind and body is evident as he pushes Zan farther and farther away. Though there are glimpses of what Dael used to be like, Zan can't help but wonder if the twin he knew and loved is gone forever.

This series is one I've never heard of before, but when I was approached to review it, I gladly accepted the opportunity. The prose is eloquent throughout the book, and Allan Richard Shickman does an excellent job of creating a voice that's both relatable and poignant. Each character is clearly relevant and different - while Zan commands respect with his intelligence, Dael does so with extreme force. Shickman also does an excellent job of making every character (no matter how minor) have a significant purpose throughout the story.

The bottom line - Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country is a beautifully-written book, and one I definitely enjoyed. That said, I truly am not a fan of the covers. For such brilliant writing, I would expect an equal cover, and I don't believe either measured up. I give this book around a 4 out of 5, and I would recommend it to mostly a Middle Grade audience, though some YA fans might like it, as well.

Favourite Quote: "On the fifth day Dael woke in a calmer temper, like a raging river that has gone down in the night."

Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown Review

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tucked inside the fibers and buttons and pockets of the clothing in our closets are the stories of our lives, the lessons we've learned, the people we've loved. Like so many of us, Adena Halpern has used clothes to conform, to seduce, to console, to show off, and to hide. Her ability to relate fashion to her inner life—in a way that goes beyond the clothes—has endeared her to many readers, one of whom called her, "the real-life Carrie Bradshaw."

But Fashionista, she's not. Adena is: every teenage girl who had to have what all the other girls had, whether it looked good on her or not; the college coed who swooned for the boy in the leather jacket; the heartbroken girl who chose a rebound dress over a rebound man; the best friend who borrows clothes and never gives them back; the woman who is 45 minutes late to work because she has nothing to wear. She is a lover of clothes and shopping whose passionate memories are always tied not only to the clothes that she wore, but what everyone else was wearing, too. This is the affectionate and funny story of Adena's life, an unconventional love story that readers will want to share. Clotheshorse or otherwise, this book is for anyone who keeps an old piece of clothing in the back of their closet, wishing that one day those clothes would get up and start talking about the wonderful times you once shared together.Taken from GoodReads.

Do you ever wonder what the life of a posh magazine writer is like? Do you wish that you had the money/class/courage to pull off outfits much like Carrie Bradshaw? Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown - Notes From a Single Girl's Closet is a fanciful twist on real life, depicting the story of Adena Halpern, who wrote for Marie Claire. Written as a memoir, but artfully blended with the unique angle that every single one of her memories is tied to a specific outfit, Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown is part fashion, part comedy, and just a tad heartwarming to keep you on your toes.

I'm not opposed to memoirs. Not in the slightest. In fact, I like them a good bit. Sometimes the most fascinating stories are the ones involving the mundane tasks of everyday life, but a person's unique perspective makes all the difference. When I stumbled across Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown, I knew I had to read it. It's a fun story, chronicling Adena Halpern's journey from everyday teen, to a college girl, to a successful (and might I add fashionable) woman in her own right. There are great twists of humour, touches of sadness because, let's face it, everyone has their lows in life, and an engaging story about finding oneself and one's passions.

The writing, however, was not as fluid as I had hoped. At times, I felt the wit was a bit forced, and while I enjoyed the overall story, it definitely lagged at points. I think the book could probably have been condensed for easier reading, to be honest. All in all though, I give Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown a 3.5 out of 5 , and I would recommend it to those who are fans of chick lit and memoirs.


As a quick closing note - you'll notice that this lovely lil' site is undergoing massive changes at the moment, though the layout is finally done (thank you God!) There is a new button for those who continuously bear with my changes, a favicon (see where the blogger logo used to be), and there are a few more changes to come. Stay tuned!

Siren Review

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Seventeen-year-old Vanessa Sands is afraid of everything—the dark, heights, the ocean—but her fearless older sister, Justine, has always been there to coach her through every challenge. That is, until Justine goes cliff-diving one night near the family’s vacation house in Maine, and her lifeless body washes up on shore the next day.

Though her parents hope that they’ll be able to find closure back in Boston, Vanessa can’t help feeling that her sister’s death wasn’t an accident. After discovering that Justine was keeping a lot of secrets, Vanessa returns to Winter Harbor, hoping that Justine’s boyfriend might know more. But Caleb has been missing since Justine’s death.

Soon, it’s not just Vanessa who’s afraid. All of Winter Harbor is abuzz with anxiety when another body washes ashore, and panic sets in when the small town becomes host to a string of fatal, water-related accidents in which all the victims are found, horrifically, grinning from ear to ear.

Vanessa turns to Caleb’s brother, Simon, for help, and begins to find herself drawn to him. As the pair try to understand the sudden rash of creepy drownings, Vanessa uncovers a secret that threatens her new romance—and will change her life forever.
Taken from GoodReads.

First of all, for those who don't know: I'm forgoing my normal Tuesday Teaser/Teaser Tuesday , as well as my Waiting on Wednesday because I owe about 20394809238409823409892 reviews. So, needless to say, you'll simply have to (please!) bear with me while I spill my heart out about the books I've read. Enough of that.

Siren is the story about a teenage girl, Vanessa Sands, living life in the wake of losing her sister to a tragic and untimely death. Justine was always the bright, vivacious, and fearless sister. Vanessa (Ness) was cautious, curious, and above all, she was smart! (It's so rare to see a smart teen female protagonist, eh?!) Along with Simon, the protective, geeky, and saccharin-sweet love interest, Ness uncovers Winter Harbor's deadly secrets and seeks to discover what really happened to Justine.

Siren by Tricia Rayburn is such a refreshing spin on supernatural mystery and romance. In a mess of novels where the MC is a wishy-washy teen moaning about their unusual life, Siren gives us Vanessa, who draws strength from her adventures while seeking the truth. Despite her fears and reservations, Vanessa uses her intelligence to draw conclusions and figure out what's happening to the people in Winter Harbor, Maine.

I wasn't sure I would like this book because I didn't know if it would be possible for Tricia Rayburn to spin a whole tale on the mythical Siren...but she did! Siren was intriguing, romantic, and even a bit chilling at times. Despite the slow start (and I mean it...it's slllooooowwwww), Siren redeems itself with an original story and cast of characters.

I give this book a 4 out of 5 because I like it when books get right down to business. Too much back story gives me a headache and pulls me out of that reading mode. I'd recommend this for mature teens, as there are issues that might not be for the younger lot. All in all, it's quite a good read!

Pretty Little Liars Review

Monday, August 16, 2010

Everyone has something to hide—especially high school juniors Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna.

Spencer covets her sister's boyfriend. Aria's fantasizing about her English teacher. Emily's crushing on the new girl at school. Hanna uses some ugly tricks to stay beautiful.

But they've all kept an even bigger secret since their friend Alison vanished.

How do I know? Because I know everything about the bad girls they were, the naughty girls they are, and all the dirty secrets they've kept. And guess what? I'm telling.Taken from GoodReads.

Ok, let me get this out of the way before I say anything else: I am really not a fan of the show, Pretty Little Liars. I think the acting is atrocious, and I think they've made it into a glorified Gossip Girl for ABC Family. That, in a nutshell, is why I almost never read this book. Now that that's out of the way, I'll get onto the review.

Pretty Little Liars follows the story of four girls, Hanna, Spencer, Aria, and Emily, as they make their way through the junior year of high school in the wake of their best friend, Alison's, disappearance. Alison was the ringleader, and the girls flocked around her, but now that she's gone, secrets that were meant to remain hidden are surfacing again, and a mysterious person that simply calls herself/himself "A" is hell-bent on getting their attention by whatever means necessary. Is it possible that "A" really is Alison, and if so, why is she trying so hard to ruin the other girls' lives?

Frankly, I didn't like high school for many of the reasons I was reminded of while reading Pretty Little Liars. Girls are catty, and high school is cruel, but this book takes it to the next level when Alison, who was once a best friend to Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily, seeks only to pull them down. That said, I liked the pace of Pretty Little Liars. The story is fluid and, while ridiculously easy to read, it's entertaining - far more entertaining than that shitshow on TV by the same name.

I believe there are eight (8) books in this series (correct me if I'm wrong), and I'll definitely be getting my paws on book number two, Flawless. I give the book a 4 out of 5 for sheer entertainment value, and a fun, swift read. I would recommend this to teens and up, and I want to add this disclaimer: If you're not sure you want to read this series because of the show, I highly recommend you try it...it's fun, and I bet you'll want to read the rest of the series, too.

Have you started reading this series? If so, what are your thoughts on this/the show?

This Week...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I've been off gallivanting in Arizona filming a movie these past few days, and I've had the time desire to do some housekeeping on yours truly's (punctuation?) blog. It's late, so forgive my ramblings. Anyhoo, this week, I've decided to do straight reviews of all the books I've recently been reading and for which I've slacked on reviews.

Oh, and to all those who continue to faithfully follow my endless mess of a blog while I, in return, never fail to forget to comment on their lovely posts...I have a simple and heartfelt message for you:

Ok, so, I'm going back to slacking now. Review week starts tomorrow!

Tuesday Teaser/Teaser Tuesday #21

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other Tuesday Teaser participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Then she leaned over to Noel, and said,'I'll totally come to your party tonight.' By the way his pen fell out of his hand and and clattered to the ground, it wasn't hard to guess whether or not Ezra had heard them."
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard


And now, for my Tuesday Teaser...For those of you who don't know, I do my Tuesday Teaser's differently (and yes, I add this disclaimer every time). Each week, I feature a teensy snippet of something I've written, leave it up all day, then remove it around 11 PM. You're welcome to comment on it, love it, hate it, or simply read it at your leisure...if you'd like, of course. This week's teaser is from my finished MS, Fire and Snow.

The Tuesday Teaser is down! Check back next week for more!

Fire Review

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.

Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.
Taken from GoodReads.

Fire is a bit of a prequel/companion book to the all-too-amazing Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Set a mere 30 years before Graceling, Fire features only one crossover character, and proves to be a stand-alone and standout book in its own right.

Fire follows the story of Fire, a lone human-formed monster in a world where those around her are beautiful beasts with strange colours, gorgeous appearances, and a vast mistrust of Fire. Fire wants nothing more than to find herself and her own identity without the hatred and mistrust in the Dells. She happens upon a very handsome very young King Nash, whom she finds she might actually be able to trust. Unfortunately, Fire's gift of mind-reading and manipulation makes her a threat to everyone, and King Nash is fearful that other kingdoms will try to steal her for their own use.

Fire is an essential piece of the puzzle for those fighting King Nash for the control of the kingdom, and while King Nash wants to protect her, it's very possible that it's simply for his own means, as well. Fire is a threat to everyone because of her gift, and she finds that she has very few people she can trust. She experiences pain, loss, anguish, heartache, and betrayal - all of which Fire describes and details perfectly.

I was so impressed with Fire. Kristin Cashore created a world, once again, that's straight YA fantasy, yet you can still lose yourself in it. Every scene is important, and every imagine, person, and piece of the puzzle makes Fire impossible to put down. Half the time I just wanted to hug poor Fire because she had such a hard life. Though I waited forever to read this because I was afraid it wouldn't live up to Graceling, I shouldn't have worried. Fire is a vivid, stand-alone book that I should have read months ago.

I give Fire a very strong 4.5 out of 5, simply because I wish there had been more about what caused the people to become Monsters. I think it would have made for even more interesting details. That said, part of me wouldn't change a thing. I recommend this to all those who enjoy YA fantasy, or for those who loved Graceling.

Waiting on Wednesday 8/4

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, and spotlights upcoming novels we just can't wait for! We all know there are a ton of great books coming out this year, but this week, I'm particularly excited for...

Title: Halo
Author: Alexandra Adornetto
Release Date: August 31, 2010

Nothing much happens in the sleepy town of Venus Cove. But everything changes when three angels are sent from heaven to protect the town against the gathering forces of darkness: Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, a teenage girl who is the least experienced of the trio. They work hard to conceal their true identity and, most of all, their wings. But the mission is threatened when the youngest angel, Bethany, is sent to high school and falls in love with the handsome school captain, Xavier Woods. Will she defy the laws of Heaven by loving him?

Things come to a head when the angels realize they are not the only supernatural power in Venus Cove. There′s a new kid in town and he′s charming, seductive and deadly. Worst of all, he′s after Beth.

Taken from GoodReads

Tuesday Teaser/Teaser Tuesday #20

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other Tuesday Teaser participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Fire wrenched and fought against the healer, against Archer's heavy strength. Her scarf slipped off her hair: sunrise, poppy, copper, fuchsia, flame."
Fire by Kristin Cashore


And now, for my Tuesday Teaser...For those of you who don't know, I do my Tuesday Teaser's differently (and yes, I add this disclaimer every time). Each week, I feature a teensy snippet of something I've written, leave it up all day, then remove it around 11 PM. You're welcome to comment on it, love it, hate it, or simply read it at your leisure...if you'd like, of course. This week's teaser is from my finished MS, Fire and Snow.

The Tuesday Teaser is down! Check back next week for more!

Monday Movie Review - Inception vs. Salt

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's been about 9048509384509834 years since I did a Monday Movie Review, so I figured I'd give you guys a two-fer today! So, I've seen two great movies in the past two weekends, and I couldn't decide which to review on here, so I decided I'm just going to review both...mini reviews, of course, because if I review both, you'll be reading forever.

Dom Cobb is a skilled thief, the absolute best in the dangerous art of extraction, stealing valuable secrets from deep within the subconscious during the dream state, when the mind is at its most vulnerable. Cobb's rare ability has made him a coveted player in this treacherous new world of corporate espionage, but it has also made him an international fugitive and cost him everything he has ever loved. Now Cobb is being offered a chance at redemption. One last job could give him his life back but only if he can accomplish the impossible-inception. Instead of the perfect heist, Cobb and his team of specialists have to pull off the reverse: their task is not to steal an idea but to plant one. If they succeed, it could be the perfect crime. But no amount of careful planning or expertise can prepare the team for the dangerous enemy that seems to predict their every move. An enemy that only Cobb could have seen coming.
Taken from IMDB.

Two minutes into Inception, I was completely confused, but because this flick is directed by the all-too-awesome Christopher Nolan, I knew I had to give it a completely fair chance. After a few minutes of sheer perplexity, Inception started to take shape in a world that's both in our dreams and warping reality. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, just to name a few, Inception is a story about just how hard it is to plant an untraceable idea in someone's mind.


As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt's efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains: "Who is Salt?"
Taken from IMDB.

Salt was one of those movies I heard so much hype about, but had absolutely no clue what it was going to be about. That said, I was extremely excited to see Angelina Jolie in an action movie again because, let's be honest, I was quite the fan of Lara Croft Anyhoo, the movie is jam-packed with action, and it definitely keeps you on your toes through the whole thing. Co-starring Liev Schreiber, this movie was definitely fun and intense.

The bottom line? I give Inception a 5 out of 5 because it was so incredible, and the ending just killed me...absolutely killed me and blew my mind. Salt gets a strong 4 out of 5 because, while fun, it's not a completely original idea, but it's definitely entertaining.

Have you seen either movie (or both)? What did you think?


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