Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Review: Sweetblood by Pete Hautman

Review: Sweetblood by Pete Hautman

Lucy Szabo is diabetic, and that’s lead her to think up some interesting theories about vampires. Lucy believes that vampire legends were inspired by dying diabetics--the uncontrollable thirst, the deathlike appearance.

When Lucy gets involved with an interesting crowd--including a “real” vampire, a cute boy from school, and a bunch of burnout Goths--she starts to lose control of her life. She’s sneaking out at night, her grades are plummeting rapidly, and she passes out at school because of an insulin reaction. Lucy’s life is falling apart, and only she can pull the pieces together again.

SWEETBLOOD is definitely an interesting novel, and very original. It’s interesting in terms of Lucy’s theories, in terms of how vampire legends started, but also just as a personal story, as the story of Lucy’s life. There are good, intriguing characters throughout the novel, and it’s quite well-written. It’s not one that captivated me from page one, or took my breath away, but it’s good, solid, and very much worth reading.

Rating: 9/10

Review: Dream Journal by Karen Halvorsen Schreck

Review: Dream Journal by Karen Halvorsen Schreck

Livy Moore is sixteen years old, and facing something no sixteen year old should have to face. Her mother is dying. Upon learning this, upon hearing for certain that it is inevitable, Livy shuts herself off from her friends, from her family, and from her own life.

Recording it all in her journal, Livy shares with readers the powerful emotions involved in love, loss, and life. She’s forced out of her hiding place, forced to confront the reality that hiding from life will not make it all go away and will not make it any easier.

DREAM JOURNAL is a painful, honest, and wonderfully written story that should not be missed. Populated by realistic characters and full of the emotions that make Livy’s story real, it’s a sad, hopeful story, and one readers will not soon forget.

Rating: 9/10

Review: Prom Dates From Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Review: Prom Dates From Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Maggie Quinn is counting down to graduation day when her miserable but normal high school experience is invaded by the paranormal. Some seriously freaky stuff is happening to the Avalon High elite, and while Maggie isn’t exactly sorry to see her school’s ruling class have their lives messed up, she knows she can’t let anything serious happen to them.

While any girl could play detective, Maggie’s got something extra on her side. She’s got some special “abilities” that she’s long been ignoring--but she can’t do that any longer. She’s got to use her skills to catch whoever set a demon on the school’s popular crowd-and stop it before it’s too late! Even if it might mean-shudder- going to prom.

This is a fabulous supernatural mystery! I love the characters, especially Maggie, and Rosemary Clement-Moore is a wonderful storyteller. This fast-paced, well-written adventure had me hooked from the start, and kept me that way! I would love to see more of these characters, and more from a great author. It’s tough to come up with a supernatural story (or any story really) that doesn’t seem as if it’s been told before, but PROM DATES FROM HELL achieves that! I can’t wait to see what Rosemary Clement-Moore comes up with next.

Rating: 9.5/10

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Review: City Of Bones: The Mortal Instruments Book One by Cassandra Clare

Clary Fray thinks she’s a fairly ordinary fifteen-year-old girl--until the world as she knows it falls apart, all starting the night she and her best friend, Simon, visit the Pandemonium Club. Sure, in a city the size of New York, a lot of weird things happen; but Clary didn’t expect to witness one of the weirdest.

What she sees that night is a murder, a murder committed by tattoo-covered teenagers no one else can see--a murder with no body left behind. That’s certainly a sign that Clary’s life is about to get a little farther away from normal, and it certainly does so.

Clary’s life is falling to pieces. Her mother goes missing. Clary is attacked by a creature- a demon. She’s seeing things no one else can--including the Shadowhunters, demon hunters whose world is hidden within Clary’s own. She meets three young Shadowhunters - Jace, Alec, and Isabelle - and is quickly sucked into their world, searching for her mother, trying to protect herself, trying to sort out what’s real, what’s true, and what’s not. It is, obviously, a bit much for anyone to handle, but Clary’s got no choice. Along the way, she’s discovering her past, herself, and just who the Shadowhunters really are.

This debut novel from a brilliant, smart new voice in Young Adult literature is a marvelous adventure, full of fantastic twists and turns just when they’re least expected. The complexity of the story, the threads from the past and present intertwined, is reminiscent of the Harry Potter series--and that’s high praise!

The writing of this magical story is excellent, and I was very impressed with the wonderfully lifelike characters and amazing magical world hidden within our own. I was reminded of Holly Black’s mastery of the urban fantasy genre. The captivating story told by the very talented Cassandra Clare in CITY OF BONES is surely the start of a brilliant series--I can’t wait for the next MORTAL INSTRUMENTS book. This fantasy is truly unforgettable.

Rating: 10/10

Review: Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

Review: Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND is a sometimes funny, sometimes painful, and always honest look at seventeen-year-old model student Dominique’s first relationship. When she meets track-star Wes, her life changes. Suddenly, she’s falling head-over-heels in love, and it’s scary. Scary and wonderful and everything else in Dominique’s range of emotions.

Rather than being the magical, unrealistic love story so often told, Dom and Wes’s relationship is real. Amazing, yes, but not without its awkward moments--and Daria Snadowsky tells the whole story, awkward moments and all.

ANATOMY OF A BOYFRIEND is an honest, straightforward look at sex and relationships, and the story is certainly populated by good characters, but sometimes it’s less than compelling. Perhaps this is because that’s all it’s about. It’s a story of first love, not a story in which a character first falls in love. Maybe a little more is needed to make an entirely captivating novel, but this one is still well worth reading.

Rating: 8.5/10

Review: Ironside by Holly Black

Review: Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale by Holly Black

Basically, IRONSIDE is a continuation of the story of Kaye and Roiben. Roiben is crowned ruler of the Unseelie Court, but he doesn’t want Kaye to have to be involved in the dangerous and deceitful faerie world--even though no faerie can tell a lie, or perhaps because of that, faerie wit is as sharp and dangerous as any sword.

When Kaye declares her love or Roiben, in front of the entire court and drunk on faerie wine, he is forced to indulge her request for a quest to prove her love and earn her place in the court as his consort--but, fearing for his beloved, Roiben gives her a quest that seems impossible: Kaye must find a faerie who can lie.

As if that isn’t enough for one girl (er, pixie) to deal with, Kaye also tells her mother, Ellen, the truth about who she is: a changeling. Ellen wants her real daughter back, and Kaye is determined to do that for the woman who raised her.

Kaye is playing the deadly game of the faerie courts--and the odds are against this pixie, even with help from friends like Corny. Can she accomplish all that she’s set out to do?

IRONSIDE is certainly a fantastic book, but it unfortunately suffers from a slight case of “sequel syndrome,” meaning it is not so much a brilliant story within itself, but a continuation of other stories. Despite this, it’s a magical adventure, full of the amazing characters readers know and love, and taking place in the magical world to which fans of Holly Black will be very eager to return--and just as reluctant to leave when this book is over!

Rating: 9/10

Review: Better Than Yesterday by Robyn Schneider

Review: Better Than Yesterday by Robyn Schneider

It’s summer session at the uber-competitive Hilliard Prep, and four freshman-year friends, now seniors, are reunited: Blake, the messed-up prankster; Marissa, the fiction addict; Skylar, the brainy fashionista; and Charley, who’s just trying to live up to his parents’ high expectations and still find time to follow his own dreams.

Everyone has their own problems. Skylar and Charley are competing for valedictorian, and Charley’s parents won’t stand for it if he’s beaten by a girl--a girl he might be in love with. Skylar is having to hide a secret from her past again, now that Blake’s back on campus--a secret involving Blake’s own older brother. Blake has plenty of problems, too, none of them with easy fixes.

When Blake takes off and it’s more obvious than ever that he’s in some serious trouble, Skylar, Marissa, and Charley know what they have to do for their friend, even if it means risking a lot of trouble back at Hilliard and at home. But that’s what friends are for, right?

This awesome story, fun but also serious and intriguing, is not compelling from page one, but it gets that way very quickly. Two great narrators, wonderful characters, complex relationships, and amazing writing make BETTER THAN YESTERDAY a debut novel from an author to watch!

Rating: 9/10

Review: The Possibility Of Firefiles by Dominique Paul

Review: The Possibility Of Fireflies by Dominique Paul

THE POSSIBILITY OF FIREFLIES is a fresh, honest coming-of-age story starring Ellie, a fourteen-year-old girl whose mother is taking “a vacation from parenting,” leaving Ellie to rely on herself and her somewhat less than reliable older sister, Gwen.

That summer, as cliché as it sounds, Ellie really does find herself. She is forced to, really; with no one else to lean on, she has to. She also falls in “love” with Leo, her older neighbor and a musician. Ellie learns that only she has the power to change her world, to get away from her abusive mother.

This is a very good book, well written and full of wonderful characters. Dominique Paul is a talented author, as is obvious from reading THE POSSIBILITY OF FIREFLIES. This is an impressive debut novel from a brilliant new voice in teen literature. Watch out for more from Dominique Paul!

Rating: 10/10

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Review: Rock My World by Liza Conrad

Review: Rock My World: A Novel of Thongs, Spandex, and Love in G Minor by Liza Conrad

I really enjoyed Liza Conrad’s other two teen novels, High School Bites (read my review here) and The Poker Diaries (Check out TheEdgeOfTheForest.com for March to find out just how much!). They are both very different (one about poker and one about vampires) and very fabulous. So, of course, that’s what I expected in ROCK MY WORLD. But that’s not what I got; in fact, my expectations were really surpassed! Ths book is way more than fabulous. This book really did rock my world! Truly, it blew me away. The great writing, the power in this rather short (less than 200 pages) novel. When I read the last page, I didn’t set it down and move, within seconds, on to my next book. I couldn’t even put it in my to-review stack after all of the other books I really need to write about. I couldn’t get it out of my head! I sat and mulled it over for awhile, and then I just had to turn on my computer and start writing.

Livy James is the daughter of a rock star. Her life is not much like that of most teenagers. But is this anything like all of the other fun, fabulous stories about celebrities and those around them? No. I wouldn’t even put it in the same category. This is a powerful, deep story, not just entertaining. Not to say it isn’t plenty fun, too!

Livy, as a child, was surrounded by her father’s rock-star friends and bandmates. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. As her best friend Cammie says often, it’s shocking that Livy didn’t turn out completely screwed up. Instead, she’s a talented young writer who has just landed an awesome assignment--covering the latest Babydolls tour, lead once again by her father, for Rock On magazine. It’s the first since that one infamous night in Paris, when Greg Essex, in love with Livy’s mother Anna, pulled a gun on Livy’s father.

Now, Livy, the Babydolls, Anna, Cammie, the band opening for the Babydolls, and the rest of the people needed to make a world tour happen are wowing crowds from Tokyo to LA, but that’s the least of the drama for Livy. She’s having a tough time following her own personal rule for the opposite sex (no musicians--she doesn’t want to repeat her parents’ mistakes), and the band isn’t nearly as tight as it used to be, thanks to that night in Paris that ended the guys’ friendship and made them just coworkers. Livy wants to find out the real truth about that night, but she’s learning that there may not be one real truth about why things fell apart. She does know, however, it might be up to her to put them back together. Of course, when she can’t even keep her own life together, who is Livy to fix those of other, older (but not necessarily wiser) people?

Liza Conrad is brilliant. She manages to say so much in these 179 pages, about music, family, love, friendship, and life. Breathtaking isn’t a word I use lightly, but I’d certainly use it talking about this novel. I couldn’t put this book down! It’s absorbing, wonderfully written, and populated with amazing characters. As Livy tries to unravel the threads of her own life and those around her, readers will follow her journey closely, and put it down only to seek more from Liza Conrad--if we’re lucky, maybe even more about Livy in the future! I found only one thing that I didn’t love about this book: the very cliché pairing off. The two sets of best friends get together, and it’s obvious from the beginning. Even if, individually, I did like the relationships, the pairing off shouldn’t have been so instantly obvious. Still, though, this is an amazing story on so many levels.

Rating: 9.9/10

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

February 2007 Reading List

February 2007 Reading List

I read 35 books in February--quite a lot, especially considering it's the shortest month! I reread some old favorites, which was nice, but I also discovered some new fabulous books. I know that I'm really behind on reviews, but I'm working on it. Thanks for being patient! I've listed my favorites, but it was a VERY hard choice. I had it narrowed down to about half of them and I kept having to cut more out! There are sooo many awesome books out there. And without further ado...

And my top pick for February is:
City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Runners-up(this time in order from very favorite to still completely fabulous):
Girl At Sea by Maureen Johnson
Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Septimus Heap Book Three: Physik by Angie Sage
Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood
Bloom by Elizabeth Scott

(*note: I limited these awards to books read for the first time, and also did not include the two Postsecret books, as this is more for novels)

Here's my February reading list, with stars for those books getting at least a 9/10 on my rating system (the other books are all great, too--a lot of them are 8.5/10!). There were quite a lot! I've also noted which books are re-reads.

Girl At Sea by Maureen Johnson*
Fringe Girl In Love by Valerie Frankel*
Bloom by Elizabeth Scott*
Saint Iggy by KL Going*
My Not-So-Terrible Time At The Hippie Hotel by Rosemary Graham
My Secret ed. by Frank Warren*
Postsecret ed. by Frank Warren*
Split Screen: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies & Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies by Brent Hartinger*
Going Nowhere Faster by Sean Beaudoin*
Septimus Heap Book Three: Physik by Angie Sage*
Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes*
Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky
The Faerie Path by Frewin Jones
Ironside by Holly Black*
Better than Yesterday by Robyn Schneider*
More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet by Lola Douglas*
Flawless by Sara Shepard
The 310: Boy Trouble by Beth Killian*
City Of Bones by Cassandra Clare*
Forging the Sword by Hilari Bell*
Magic's Child by Justine Larbalestier*
The Thief Queen's Daughter by Elizabeth Haydon*
WorldWeavers: Gift of the Unmage by Alma Alexander
The Possibility of Fireflies by Dominique Paul*
This is PUSH ed. by David Levithan
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer* (reread)
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer* (reread)
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce* (reread)
In The Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce* (reread)
The Woman Who Rides Like A Man by Tamora Pierce* (reread)
Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce* (reread)
The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce* (reread)
Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra*
Why I Let My Hair Grow Out by Maryrose Wood*
Gettin' Lucky by Micol Ostow