Wednesday, July 18, 2007
As much as I might be a bit tempted to see how it ends, I would rather wait until Saturday to find out after reading the whole thing, and I am very disappointed that some people have tried to ruin that. I talked to a friend who accidentally read part of what is supposedly book seven when browsing through a friend's wall on facebook.
I don't want to know yet unless the whole book shows up on my doorstep (which, it won't, because I didn't preorder one, but reserved one for the midnight party at the local bookstore). My internet activity is going to be pretty limited for the next few days to make sure I don't accidentally read something I don't want to, and I talked to one friend who is refusing to go online at all until she's read the whole thing!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
The movies, however, are another story. I have seen all of them within the first week. It was not, however, until the fourth one that I learned to really like them.
They are nothing like the books. Of course, they have to cut a lot of stuff out to fit these books into 150-minute movies, but I often disagree with their editing decisions, not in the least because I have friends who have not read the books, only seen the movies, and there are parts that they don't understand because of it. One friend who I saw the fifth movie with didn't understand about banning Weasley products because it was not fully explained what the Weasley twins had been doing.
However, once you stop comparing them to the books (but keep in mind what you already know about the story as it will fill in the gaps nicely), the movies are really quite good. The action and special effects are exciting. The casting was done fairly well, and the actors do their parts nicely (I was especially pleased with Luna Lovegood in the fifth movie!).
Strictly as movies, they're pretty good (if maybe a bit confusing). Compared to the books, however....Not quite so much. What do you think?
Monday, July 16, 2007
Two interviews with author Zoe Trope: Here and Here. I haven't read her book, as I just got interested in it from the interviews, which I really enjoyed! I'll definitely post a review when I do get a copy and read it. (Read them in order as the first interview tells more about who she is and about her book).
Here's an interesting article about how people don't see children's writers as being on the same level as those who write for adults.
Galley Gallery has pictures of authors with their books!
And this one isn't exactly book-related but it is kind of cool. On , you can use the google-powered search and they pick random searchers to win prizes, from a $5 Amazon gift certificate to a new car! I was kind of skeptical but I know people who have actually won things. And if you win that Amazon gift certificate you can buy a book, so it is book-related!
Harry Potter: Yes, I know he's the protagonist. I'm supposed to love him. He's the hero, after all. However, I've always found him to be kind of annoying. He's stupid and whiny. Especially in book five (although they didn't show that as much in the movie). I love JK Rowling, but I hate Harry Potter.
Fred & George Weasley: These two are pretty much interchangeable. They are not real characters; just comic relief. They say funny things, but are not developed as actual people. I love them anyway, I just wish we knew them better!
Lee Jordan: Here's another one I wish we saw more of. I've always enjoyed what little bit of him is in the books (his quidditch commentaries are hilarious!), but he's barely there. More Lee Jordan would be nice!
Luna Lovegood: She's good for a bit of comic relief, too, but she's also a real character, or more real than Fred and George, at least. I quite enjoy her eccentricity!
Sirius Black: I was a bit teary when he died. He's always been one of the more interesting characters, that's for sure. Actually, that whole generation seems more interesting than the current one (Lily, James, Sirius, etc.). I'd like to see a prequel about them, but I don't think that's going to happen. Anyway, Sirius has always been a favorite of mine. He is much more interesting than many of the main characters, and I don't really think whiny Harry deserves him as a godfather.
Dumbledore: I know it's a bit blasphemous these days, but I'm not a big Dumbledore fan. Sure, he was a great wizard and all, but not the greatest guy ever. Especially in the more recent books, he kind of bothered me. I can't put my finger on why. But I wasn't too upset when he died (I don't think that's a spoiler anymore with book seven so close).
That's it for now. Anyone care to share their own thoughts about the characters?
In fifth grade, my teacher had shelves and shelves of books. That year I discovered quite a few favorites. Stargirl was a big one. The Giver. However, the best of all? Tamora Pierce. The Song of the Lioness quartet.
I loved those books! I read them so many times that year. It was those books that made me the book lover I am today. Sure, BSC got me reading. I enjoyed some other books--the Little House books, for one. I read Harry Potter in third grade, and I loved it (but it didn't become an obsession until book four!). But when I think about why I have shelves and shelves of books, why I have books I read until their covers fall off (and then I buy new copies!), why I LOVE books so much, I think about Tamora Pierce. It's also why I love fantasy so much! I am always looking for fantasy that's as good as Tamora Pierce's.
Later, I read the Immortals books, the Circle of Magic, the Circle Opens, Protector of the Small, and so on, as new books came out, up until now (The latest? Terrier). I have loved them all, read them all multiple times. I think that Tamora Pierce's writing has improved since those early books (her stories were always great, though!). I still read her new releases faithfully. My favorites in the "Circle" universe are Street Magic and The Will of the Empress. My favorite Tortall books are Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen. So far--I know she'll write so many more great books!
So if you haven't read anything yet by Tamora Pierce, get yourself to a library or bookstore, now!
1) Ann M. Martin, for writing the Babysitter's Club. When I discovered these books in the first grade, after not being much of a reader for the past couple of years (I did know how, I just didn't like it), I started to love it!
2) Francine Pascal! Later in Elementary school, I really loved the Sweet Valley books, and in about sixth grade I read the whole Fearless series. This was a big chunk of my reading back then!
3) Tamora Pierce.
4) Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. She was fourteen when she published her first book. I really love her books, but it's more than that. She showed me that it's possible to actually write, and write well, as a teenager! Before reading her books, I thought writing was something grown-ups did.
5) JK Rowling. I don't think she's the most awesome writer ever. I do love the books, though. And I think Harry is a major reason for this "golden age of YA lit," so I'd love to thank her for that! I am also very impressed with how well thought-out even the most complex parts of the (complex) plot are.
6) Lisa Klein, for Ophelia. I wrote a gushing review, and I absolutely can't get enough of this book. It definitely in my top 5, maybe my all-time favorite.
7) Gail Carson Levine, for writing some of the most awesome heroines ever in kid lit!
8) All of the other authors whose books I adore: Brent Hartinger, Meg Cabot, Bennet Madison, Garret Freymann-Weyr, Stephenie Meyer, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan, Scott Westerfeld, Cecelia Ahern, Pat Murphy, Curtis Sittenfeld, John Green, Sarah Dessen, Clive Barker, Isabel Allende, Maureen Johnson, Mary Hoffman, Gloria Whelan, Justin Somper, Rick Riordan, John Marsden, Sarah Grace McCandless, Eoin Colfer, Lara Zeises, Meg Rosoff, Margaret Petersen Haddix, Pam Munoz Ryan, Jerry Spinelli....
Yeah, so that last one makes it more than eight. They're all great, though!
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Each day in the U.S., people spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.
So, to celebrate the countdown, I'm going to try and do Harry-related posts every day until The End. I'm also rereading the books. I read the first three over the past few days and I'm now reading number four. I've never really liked the first chapter of number four, so I put it off for awhile. I know I could just skip it, but that feels like cheating.
Anyway, here's a fun Harry Potter quiz:
Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!
And then (just because) I took it again and got:
Find out your Harry Potter personality at LiquidGeneration!
And then I took it again with the same answers as the second time and got Harry Potter, which I forgot to copy and paste but it said something like: "You can be a jerk, but, hey, if we were locked in a closet until we were ten, we'd have anger issues, too." Which, frankly, I found hilarious. And so true. I've never really liked Harry. He's sort of whiny and annoying. Yes, I do love JK Rowling and hate Harry Potter.
Tip: If you can't think of any popular fairy tale you want to retell (Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, etc.,), try reading fairy tale books, because there's a lot out there that you've probably never even heard of!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Children's writer Emily Beeson has declared July 16th to be Tell An Author You Care Day! If you tell an author you care in one of these ways and leave a comment on Emily's blog telling what you did, you can even win an Amazon gift card, to buy more great books from great authors! Here's what you can do:
"1. Write a letter or email to a favorite author. I think JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer recieve plenty of fan letters. Think of an author you love that may need a little boost.
2. Write a positive review on Amazon and, if you want to, link to it in your blog.
3. Buy a book by a favorite author and give it to someone who will enjoy it.
4. Profile an author in your blog. I'm not talking just another review. Tell us a little about the author and mention at least one of his/her books that you love."
I'll definitely be participating, and so should you!
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Six years ago, Mickey’s older brother took off, after the horrible accident that turned the whole town against Danny. Now, after her father’s death, Danny is back, and looking to reconnect with his sister. Or at least he’s been told to take care of her. And he is making an effort, just not exactly succeeding.
Mickey’s having trouble forgiving his abandonment of her, understandably. She’s also having trouble reconciling the brother who used to read from THE OUTSIDERS to her with the brother who is hated by almost everyone in town after a night six years ago when everything changed. Mickey was there that night, but she can’t quite remember what happened. She can’t move on.
FEELS LIKE HOME is a powerful story about home, family, and dealing with the past. It is a well-written novel with strengths in its lifelike characters and good setting, one that is certainly worth reading.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
When Josh was thirteen, something happened to him that changed his life drastically. A woman named Eve wrecked his life. And even though it’s supposed to be a secret, everyone in town knows about it.
Five years later, Josh is still dealing with what happened when Eve is released from jail, blowing the whole thing open again. He’s also wondering about Rachel, the girl who was part of revealing the truth years ago, and who seems to want to be back in his life now, for some unknowable reason. And, of course, he’s got the stresses that any high school senior does on top of all of that.
To finally be at peace with it all would help. To finally understand what happened, the way everyone else seems to think they do. They can’t understand, but they like to think they do. If only Josh really did understand. If only he could figure it out, and straighten out his life. If only it were that easy.
In BOY TOY, Barry Lyga’s wonderful second novel, he shows himself to be a brilliant author (one whose first book I’ll be looking for!). I was a little surprised at the serious subject matter dealt with in this absorbing story—for some reason I had expected something fluffier, I guess—but that made no difference once it had grabbed me (and it did so right away). The characters populating the novel are well-developed, and their relationships with each other were also very well done. This is a book that could easily fall into the pretentious-sounding category of “literature,” but I mean that in a good way here! Well worth reading, BOY TOY is highly recommended to anyone looking for an engaging and well-written book that defies the expectations of people who think all young adult books have something in common with the likes of GOSSIP GIRL.*
Four 1/2 Stars
*I personally think that sort of book does have its place, but it's not what we who love young adult books want to show as a good example to people like what's-his-face who said YA lit was going down the toilet or something. If you know who I"m talking about (I don't remember the name), please tell me!
Amy Haskel, a junior at fictional Ivy League school Eli University, thinks she’s sure to be tapped for Quill & Ink, a not-exactly-secret literary society. She can’t imagine that any more prestigious society would be after her. Especially Rose & Grave, the oldest and most notorious secret society in the country. After all, Rose & Grave doesn’t tap women. And even if they did, it wouldn’t be women like Amy. Right?
Apparently, wrong. That year is the first that Rose & Grave taps women. Including Amy. But where does she fit in? She’s not a legacy, or a leader, or a genius. She’s just...Amy Maureen Haskel, from Shaker Heights, Ohio. Editor of the school’s lit magazine. Good student. But nothing special.
Taking her the advice of her friend (with benefits) Brandon to not overthink something for once, she says yes. And before she knows it, she’s part of the most powerful secret society around. With the society name Bugaboo. But that’s just the start of it.
I wish I’d picked up SECRET SOCIETY GIRL sooner! Once I did, I was hooked. The world Diana Peterfreund creates in this novel is totally different from mine, and maybe a little far-fetched, but still completely real once you start reading. Her characters all step right off the page—even the most minor background characters are three-dimensional. Peterfreund really breathes life into her protagonist, though! Amy’s voice is witty and funny and perfectly suited to the character that the (rather brilliant) author creates.
I’ve been gushing about the characters so much this sounds like a character-driven book with no plot, but that would be the wrong impression. SECRET SOCIETY GIRL is nothing if not a suspenseful page-turner! There’s not a dull moment in this book. I couldn’t put it down! This smart, wickedly funny novel is a new favorite of mine.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel, UNDER THE ROSE. Diana Peterfreund’s promising debut novel can only be the tip of the iceberg where this incredibly talented writer is concerned.Five Stars
Fifteen-year-old Sangeet’s life has pretty much gone down the toilet since her lying, stealing aunt moved in with them. Thanks to Chachi, Sang’s family thinks she’s a bulimic lying thief. On top of that, she’s having boy troubles (not the least of which is, she’s not allowed to date!), and her best friend, Gina, isn’t speaking to her!
Sang’s got to set things straight—and bring Chachi down.
WHAT I MEANT... is an engaging and funny first novel from a talented author. In Sang, Marie Lamba creates a three-dimensional character with her own unique voice that she just can’t make people hear over the lies of her Chachi. The rest of the colorful cast of characters populating this novel are equally well-developed.
WHAT I MEANT... is an easy, fun read that I almost managed to read in one sitting (if only life didn’t get in the way of reading!). It’s not going to be on my list of all-time favorite books, but it is certainly worth reading and well-written, with its relatable protagonist (who, by the way is half Indian and half Italian—but this is not an “issue” book about being biracial, it’s just a good book about a regular fifteen year old girl who happens to have that background) making this novel quite enjoyable.
This is why I urge you all to help Marie Lamba! Because of low preorders from chain bookstores, the initial print run of this book has been cut, and there will be no paperback and no sequel! I for one really want to know what happens to Sang, and will be very disappointed without a sequel. So go! Bother the people at your local Borders, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, whatever. Get all your friends to do the same! Even if you don’t buy the book (which you should, but maybe can’t afford to), get them to order copies (say you want it, and they’ll order it, but they can’t make you buy it).
I’ve decided to try the more traditional 5-star rating system for awhile rather than rating books out of ten. I kept going back and thinking, why did I rate that so low/high? Oh, because I have no set guidelines! So, here’s exactly how it’s going to work:
Five Stars: New favorite book! Rush out to buy this one right away! It’s fabulous!
Four Stars: Great book! Put it on your list!
Three Stars: Pretty good, or at least fun. Don’t rush out for it, but don't hesitate to read it if you come across a copy!
Two Stars: Meh. Maybe sort of entertaining. If you have nothing else to do. I guess.
One Star: Stay away. If for some reason you absolutely must read this book (like, it was written my your cousin's friend's sister and you feel obligated to read it, or something), check it out from the library.
No Stars: My eyes are bleeding!
And when I post my reading list, I’ll just put the number of stars next to the title.
I do believe that Jenna Bush's intentions in writing this young adult novel were good. She volunteered with UNICEF and wanted to write a novel based on a girl she met while volunteering, to share important messages about HIV/AIDS with children and young adults.
The story itself is heartfelt. Ana is a girl who has lived all her life with HIV, and it has been a hard life. She was only a small child when her parents died. She was abused by relatives. She was taught that people would treat her badly if she told them about her illness. Her story is not uncommon.
I admire Jenna Bush for being able to actually finish a 200+ page novel. However, this is not something that should have actually been published.
While the author's intentions and message were good and heartfelt, the writing itself was too simple for a book aimed at eight year olds, much less one targeting high school students. As I read, I kept thinking, "show, not tell!" Isn't that pretty basic for novelists? Haven't we all heard that? If Jenna Bush has heard it, it's not advice she cared to follow.
Her characters are flat. The dialogue is wooden. The novel actually contains sentences such as these:
"Ana understood now that the truth was always better than secrets or lies."*
"Ana started to develop more serious feelings for Guillermo."*
The first sentence seems like it belongs in a book for small children with heavy-handed morals. Either Jenna Bush really thinks in such small words and simple sentences, or she is really talking down to her intended audience of ages 14 and up (as it says on the back of the book). The second is a perfect example of "show, not tell." Neither one is particularly unique in its badness, and neither one belongs in a published novel for which the author is rumored to have gotten a six-figure advance. That HarperCollins would publish this trainwreck of a first novel seriously lowers my opinion of the company. Don't waste your time on this one.
The photography was nice, though. And there will be color pictures in the finished book. I enjoyed that part. If you just flip through and look at the pictures, it's a very nice book!
*Note: These quotes are from an uncorrected ARC and may differ from the final book.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Teens Read Too always has lots of great contests.
YABC has two great giveaways going on this month for copies of Strays and Earrings of Ixtumea. Plus, you can always win free books by participating in discussions on the forum!
Check out The Shady Glade's July contest to win an ARC of Kim Ablon Whitney's The Perfect Distance.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
I've decided to participate in the Saturday Review of Books Reading Challenge! My six books that I've decided to read:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Boy Heaven by Laura Kasischke
Inexcusable by Chris Lynch
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L Holm
Dancing Queen by Erin Downing
Keep a look out for reviews. And check out the challenge!
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Fast-forward ten years. Mystery Day is still, well, a mystery. Now, though, it's celebrated with action figures and parties. The age of superhumans is pretty much over. Or so everyone thinks, until thirteen-year-old Danny Cooper saves his friend's sister from being hit by a bus....From much too far away, in a matter of seconds.
His friends are, to say the least, suspicious. And when Colin Wagner, Danny's good friend, starts exhibiting his own signs of weird powers, things really get exciting.
THE AWAKENING is packed with fast-paced action that reluctant readers, especially boys, will really enjoy. It's not a particularly brilliant or well-written book, but its strengths are in the action and strong characters. Fans of superhero comic books, too, will certainly enjoy this fresh take on the subject! It's not exactly my kind of book, but I was still sucked into the action enough so that I'll definitely pick up the next book in the series!
Monday, July 02, 2007
Reading this, though, I didn't feel it was a story about Harley searching for her past so much as Harley searching for herself and finding out who she really is. It's not the plot that drives this wonderful novel, but the amazing characters.
Cat Bauer is brilliant in that she doesn't put everyone and every situation into a neat little box. Every time you think you've got it figured out, something is revealed that means you're wrong. I don't mean it's suspenseful; I mean, if you think that a specific character is exactly this stereotype and will do this...you're wrong. But the characters' actions still fit in with the story. It's amazing. It's real. Real life doesn't fit into a box, but so many authors don't translate that into their stories. Cat Bauer does.
The writing style of this novel is excellent. I absolutely loved Harley's voice, and her take on the world. HARLEY, LIKE A PERSON is a powerful story, and I can't wait to get into Harley's mind again in the sequel, HARLEY'S NINTH.
I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by Liane Bonin's novel! It is an amazing book. I'm not quite sure how to say what made this celebrity story so special, except that maybe, despite its subject matter, it is very real.
CELEBRITY SKIN is about Taylor, a young starlet who may have been thrown into the glitz and glamour of Hollywood (and the unbelievable pressure that comes with it) too fast for her own good. Erin, the story's narrator and Taylor's best friend since her days as a middle-school dork, is watching her friend self-destruct, too afraid to say anything...Until it may be too late.
I love both Erin's fresh, honest voice and her unique perspective on Hollywood. Liane Bonin is a talented writer, to be able to make such an overused subject as Hollywood and celebrity life into a brilliant novel. I can't wait for number two!
I wanted to let you know of my current publishing woe. My first YA novel WHAT I MEANT...(Random House, July 24th) is currently in trouble (found out 2 days ago, less than a month pre-publication) because presales from chain bookstores are too low. Based on this, they are cancelling the paperback, and my already-written and accepted sequel and printing less than anticipated of the hardbound. I'm hoping to turn this around by raising awareness of the book and asking everyone to preorder immediately and stock the shelves with WHAT I MEANT...
Big chains and corporations shouldn't make great reads, writers and readers, and of course librarians should. The book is getting nice reviews and is a summer pick soon on cosmogirl.com so it isn't the book's quality that is a problem.
I'm moving this to the top of my stack to read & review, and I hope some of you will consider ordering the book to help her out, if it sounds like your kind of thing.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
My Top Pick:
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
The Runners-Up:(Yes, six again)
Sammy and Juliana In Hollywood
In The Garage
The Straight Road To Kylie
The City, Not Long After
Harley, Like A Person
Here they are! Asterisks mean a rating of 9 or above, and plus signs mean I bought them in England and think they may 0nly be available there. Or maybe they have different titles. Or something like that. At least, I haven't been able to find them here.
Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sanz*
Dating4Demons by Serena Robar
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin*
Amber in the Over World by Jonathan Fesmire
Let The Snog Fest Begin by Louise Rennison*+
The Silenced by James DeVita*
Missing You by Meg Cabot*
The Dead Girls' Dance by Rachel Caine
Boy Toy by Barry Lyga*
Celebrity Skin by Liane Bonin*
Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci*
Feels Like Home by eE Charlton-Trujillo*
Harley, Like A Person by Cat Bauer*
Prom Nights From Hell by Kim Harrison, Meg Cabot, Michelle Jaffe, Stephenie Meyer, and Lauren Myracle
Girl, 15, Flirting For England by Sue Limb+
Tripping To Somewhere by Kristopher Reisz*
Invisible Lives by Anjali Banerjee
In The Garage by Alma Fullerton*
The Wereling: Wounded by Stephen Cole
Cruel Summer by Kylie Adams (reread)
Bling Addiction by Kylie Adams
Beautiful Disaster by Kylie Adams
The Straight Road to Kylie by Nico Medina*
Beginner's Luck by Laura Pedersen*
Surf Ed by Karol Ann Hoeffner
A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson*
The Princess Diaries: In Love by Meg Cabot*+
A Place Called Here by Cecilia Ahern*+
The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy*
As for now, I've been tagged by Alyssa! Sorry this is in bold but it's being stubborn and not letting me change it.
Which HP Kid Are You?
I tag any HP fans reading this!