Friday, July 31, 2009

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

Title: A Mango-Shaped Space
Author: Wendy Mass
Pages: 240
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Publication Date: October 19, 2005

Everyone thinks I named my cat Mango because of his orange eyes, but that's not the case. I named him Mango because the sounds of his purrs and his wheezes and his meows are all various shades of yellow-orange...

Mia appears to be the most normal kid in her family. Her younger brother keeps a chart of all the hamburgers he's eaten. Her older sister dyes her hair a different color every week. But Mia knows she is far from ordinary. She is keeping something from everyone: sounds, numbers, and letters have color for her. When school trouble finally forces Mia to reveal her secret, she feels like a freak. She embarks on an intense journey of self-discovery, and by the time she realized she has isolated herself from everyone who cares about her, it's almost too late. She has to lose something very special in order to find herself.

Note: I borrowed A Mango-Shaped Space from a friend of mine. She said that it was really good. I wanted to see it for myself. She was right.

A Mango-Shaped Space is about thirteen-year-old Mia, having a rare condition called Synesthesia. This means that she sees letters, numbers, and words in color. This book is original. That's the best word to describe it. Before A Mango-Shaped Space, I've never heard about Synesthesia. This made me more aware of the fact that other kids or teenagers just like us, are having a difficult time because of this condition. After reading this, I became all the more thankful.

Mia was a compelling and admirable character. She was brave and naive but very mature for her age. If I had Synesthesia, I'd probably go crazy! Mia's family was one of the aspects of this book that made it special. They were all eccentric and nutty. I found her brother to be the wierdest of all though. I don't know anyone who makes Hamburgur charts. At one point, I truly felt sorry for Mia. Nobody understood her; not her friends, not her family-nobody. This frustrated me. In the real world, aren't people supposed to be more empathetic and more patient towards someone like Mia?

Mass completely captured a thirteen-year-old's point of view. Even though Mia was mature for her age, her youth still struck out every once in a while. That's what I admire most about Mass and her books. Mass's execution of the book was-in ONE word-flawless. I flew through the entire book. Never once did I get bored. Her writing flowed smoothly and effortlessly. Simple, and innocent.

The Bottom Line: Mass truly delivered on this one. A Mango-Shaped Space is a not-to-be-missed YA novel that would surely capture and move your hearts. A :-)

---Report Card---
Originality: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Plot: 9/10
My reaction/enjoyment: 10/10
Theme: 10/10
Imagery: 9.5/10
Setting: 4/5
Voice: 4.5/5
Style: 5/5
Tone: 5/5
Cover: 8/10
Total Score: 92/100 (A)

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The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer

Title: The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman
Author: Louise Plummer
Pages: 192
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Publication Date: October 11, 2005

I'm Kate Bjorkman.

I don't like romance novels. They're full of three-paragraph kisses describing people's tongues and spittle. But what do you do if you've lived a real romance with a great-looking guy (Richard) and he loves you as much as you love him? I know what I did. I wrote this romance novel about myself, using The Romance Writer's Phrase Book. I also used stuff my English teacher taught me about writing. He said a story must have conflict. No problem there. My life was one big conflict last Christmas. I didn't make anything up. This is the honest truth and I want the truth even in romance. I'm betting you'll want the same.

Note: Okay, I have to be honest. I bought this book just because of the cover. It was so cute! I saw the other cover of this book and it was flat out ugly. I wouldn't have bought it.

The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman goes in my list of top romantic comedies. It's just so funny! This book was different from all of the other books I've read because here, I felt like Kate Bjorkman was actually talking to me and telling me her entire story. It's fresh and contemporary even though it's an old book.

Plummer did an impressive job with Kate's character. She was down-to-earth and unique. She wasn't one of those stereotypes I expected in the beginning. Kate is a perceptive, don't-mess-with-me character and I love her! Another thing that I loved about Unlikely Romance, is how tight-knit Kate's family was. They were an odd, comical family; her dad was a nerd, her mom was eccentric, she was quiet(ish), and I'd compare her older brother to be just like Emmet from Twilight.

One thing that I hated, though, were the 'Revision Notes'. Every few chapters, there would be a section where she talks about extremely random things or to explain more. I was bored by the second paragraph. The novel would have been better if the 'Revision Notes' were cut out from the book. Plummer should have added the vital parts into the actual chapters to make it more fluent.

The mood in the book was mostly light and funny. It helped add to the holiday vibe it already had. Plummer was able to clearly, and delightfully depict the beauty and awe of the Christmas season.

The Bottom Line: The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman is a light-hearted, romantic comedy that's perfect for the holiday season! Plummer did a brilliant job! This book is like a snowflake; one-of-a-kind. A :-)

---Report Card---
Originality: 10/10
Ending: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
My reaction/enjoyment: 9/10
Theme: 8/10
Imagery: 9.5/10
Setting: 4/5
Voice: 4/5
Style: 5/5
Tone: 5/5
Cover: 10/10
Total Score: 90.5/100 (A)

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Weekly Pen #4

The Weekly Pen is going to be a place where I will post original songs, short stories, non-fiction articles, or poems each week. So here is your weekly dose of TWP (The Weekly Pen):

Note: This is a short poem I wrote. The title is a giveaway to the last phrase (haha).

The Bookstore

My eyes light up at the sight of them,
Shiny, glistening illustrations on the cover,
The book, Sitting there,
Waiting to be read,

The beautiful sound,
Of pages rustling,
The beautiful sound,
Of pages being read,
And pages being turned,

The smell of brand new books,
The smell of hot steaming coffee in the air,
The smell of hard-bound leather,
And the smell of musty, old paperbacks,

Shelves and shelves,
Of hundreds of books,
Surrounded by comfy beanbags,

Sitting on a bright, orange beanbag,
And grabbing a book,
I devour words one by one,
Until someone tells me,
“Madame, it is time to close,”

I go to the counter,
And buy my book,
As I walk out,
I am greeted,
By the cold, dark night,

I arrived at my house,
Flashlight in hand,
I open my book,
And read it,
Until the wee hours of the morning,
As the sun seeps through my window,
I read on,
Until the last page,
Until the last word,
Until the last letter,
Is read,

The next day,
I am surrounded by books again,
This time,
I arrive early,
So that I will have time to explore,
The thousands of books that awaits me,
Can you guess where I am?

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New Reviewing System

Hi guys!

I'm going to be changing my rating system a little bit. Instead of just having an A+ or a B- or something, I'm going to add ratings for specific aspects of a book.
Here's how I'm going to do it:

Originality: /10
Ending: /10
Characters: /10
Plot: /10
My reaction/enjoyment: /10
Theme: /10
Imagery: /10
Setting: /5
Voice: /5
Style: /5
Tone: /5
Cover: /10
Total Score: /100

A+ = 95-100
A- = 90-94
A- = 85-89
B+ = 80-84
B = 75-79
B- = 70-74
C+ = 65-69
C = 60-64
C- = 55-59
D+ = 50-54
D = 45-49
D- = 40-44

I'm not going to add an 'F' to the list because no author ever deserves an 'F'.
Do you like it? Do you hate it? Give me some suggestions as to what you think of my new system.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph

Title: Shrinking Violet
Author: Danielle Joseph
Pages: 320
Publisher: MTV
Publication Date: May 5, 2009

Hey, Miami---you're listening to Sweet T on 92.7 WEMD The SLAM! It's after dark now, so don't change that dial...

High school senior Teresa Adams is so painfully shy that she dreads speaking to anyone in the hallways or getting called on in class. But in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks out---doing mock broadcasts for Miami's hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up at The SLAM, Tere surprises herself by blossoming behind the mike into the confident, sexy Sweet T---and to everyone's shock, she's a hit! Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ's awesome taste in music. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest---and a prom date with Sweet T is the grand prize---Sweet T's dream could turn into Tere's worst nightmare.

Shrinking Violet is one of the most original books I've ever read...and it was amazing. A shy girl, dreaming of becoming a DJ is totally fresh and new. It's a fun read, but underneath all of the light-hearted themes is a message to believe in yourself and not be afraid of standing up for yourself.

Tere's character is completely new to me. I've never come accross anything like her. She's always being put down by everyone, and eventually, she learns to break out of her shell and shine. And even though I can't relate to her that much (I'm not shy), I still felt like I knew what she was going through. Joseph's writing depicted how Tere was feeling extremely well. But sometimes, the situations were a little unrealistic for me. I don't know how it feels to be that shy, so I'm not really one to judge.

For me, Shrinking Violet was a little slow in terms of pace. Although I never got bored, I still wanted the climax to happen a little bit earlier. Also, I'm not particularly fond of Stacy. I'm still wondering what Tere did to her. Joseph should have added more conflict and reasoning behind Stacy's character and Tere's.

The Bottome Line: Shrinking Violet is a book that stands out from the rest (ironic right?). It's a very memorable read and completely creative and original. I loved it from start to finish. Watching Tere's character grow was exciting. It's a fun book with a touch of romance. Joseph is certainly an author to watch. A- :-)

---Report Card---
Originality: 10/10
Ending: 8.5/10
Characters: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
My reaction/enjoyment: 9/10
Theme: 10/10
Imagery: 7.5/10
Setting: 3/5
Voice: 4/5
Style: 4/5
Tone: 5/5
Cover: 10/10
Total Score: 89/100 (A-)

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Title: Twenty Boy Summer
Author: Sarah Ockler
Pages: 304
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Publication Date: June 1, 2009

When someone you love dies, people ask you how you're doing, but they don't really want to know. They seek affirmation that you're okay, that you appreciate their concern, that life goes on and so can they. Secretly, they wonder when the statute of limitations on asking expires. (It's three months, by the way. Written or unwritten, that's about all the time it takes for people to forget the one thing that you never will.)

They don't want to know that you'll never again eat birthday cake because you don't want to erase the magical taste of frosting on his lips. That you wake up everyday wondering why you got to live and he didn't. That on the first afternoon of your first real vacation, you sit in front of the ocean, face hot under the giant sun, willing him to give you a sign that he's okay.

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler is UH-MA-ZING! Almost all aspects of it are flawless. Again, there is so much to say about this book so I'm going to break it down for you:

The Cover. Have you seen the cover? It's so vibrant and eye-catching. The red glass stands out above all of the other sea glass. They were extremely significant in Twenty Boy Summer. I loved it. The book has a lot of references to sea glass. It's pure genius and completely original. The only thing I didn't really like was the title. I didn't think that Twenty Boy Summer was an appropriate title, but don't judge a book by it's title!

The writing. Ockler's writing all throughout this book was beautiful and smooth. Not once did I find a flaw in her writing. The words just flowed, seemingly effortless. There's no other way to explain it. Ockler described everything with detail but it was never boring. Her writing was like discovering everything all over again...full of wonder and awe.

The characters. Every single character in that book was well-developed and realistic. Even though I couldn't relate to most of the characters (because I haven't experienced that type of love yet), I loved them all. Anna and Frankie were my favorites. Anna was so intent on not forgetting Matt, and on keeping her secret from Frankie, that she wasn't able to let go yet. The way Ockler was able to depict Anna's emotions was beyond impressive. She was so mature but in those little moments with Frankie, her youth shines through.

In my opinion, the character that Ockler did the best job on, was Frankie. Ockler was able to change Frankie's character and personality so completely. At first, I thought that the sudden change in character was random, but as the ending neared, I was able to gain more insight into her character, her emotions, and how she dealt with them. I was able to understand how it really felt like to loose a sibling. Character-developement is definitely Ockler's strength in this book.

Layers. On the surface, this is just another chick-lit book. But underneath the layers of flirt, angst, and love, lies the underlying message of what it means to truly let go and what it means to truly be friends. I saw through these layers and double meanings. This book made my heart break and it made me laugh and smile.

The Bottom Line: Twenty Boy Summer is an incredible debut. Reading this has made me more appreciative and thankful for everything in my life, just a little bit more. No words can explain it. You just have to read it yourself. Twenty Boy Summer is a book of friendship, first love, family, and ultimately, letting go. Ockler did an impeccable job. A+ :-)

Don't move, Sarah Ocker. Right now, everything is perfect.

---Report Card---
Originality: 10/10
Characters: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Plot: 10/10
My reaction/enjoyment: 10/10
Theme: 10/10
Imagery: 10/10
Setting: 5/5
Voice: 5/5
Style: 5/5
Tone: 5/5
Cover: 10/10
Total Score: 99/100 (A+)

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Contest over at Steph Su Reads!!!

There's a contest happening over at Steph Su's blog:

She's giving away the ENTIRE Mediator series!!! Go check it out!!!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Contest at Traveling to Teens!!!

Go on to the Traveling to Teens website for a chance to win a signed book of Ballads of Suburbia!!! It ends on August 15th!!!

The site:

Go on!
You know you want to!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Contest Over at Carrie's YA Bookshelf!

Check out the contest over at Carrie's YA Bookshelf at:

It's really cool. You guys have a chance to win two books; The Hatelist by Jennifer Brown and much anticipated Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia!!!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison

Title: Once Dead, Twice Shy (Book 1)
Author: Kim Harrison
Pages: 240
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 26, 2009

My name is Madison Avery, and I'm here to tell you that there's more out there than you can see, hear, or touch. Because I'm there. Seeing it. Touching it. Living it.

Madison's prom was killer--literally. For some reason she's been targeted by a dark reaper--yeah, that kind of reaper--intent on getting rid of her, body and soul. But before the reaper could finish the job, Madison was able to snag his strange, glowing amulet and get away.

Now she's stuck on Earth--dead but not gone. Somehow the amulet gives her the illusion of a body, allowing her to toe the line between life and death. She still doesn't know why the dark reaper is after her, but she's not about to just sit around and let fate take its course.

With a little ingenuity, some light-bending, and the help of a light reaper (one of the good guys! Maybe...), her cute crush, and oh yeah, her guardian angel, Madison's ready to take control of her own destiny once and for all, before it takes control of her.

Well, if she believed in that stuff.

First off...did you see the cover? It's so cool! I love all of the purple in it.

Anyway, back to the review. This book became one of my favorites but it did have its share of problems. I admired Harrison's writing from start to finish. It was consistently exciting and unexpected throughout the whole book. And although her writing was continually original, I was confused after forty pages. I didn't realize that the short story Harrison wrote-Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper-was connected. It was the short story in Prom Nights from Hell and Harrison poorly executed the recap of it. But once I had that cleared up, I devoured the book page by page.

Basically, the whole book revolved around Madison and her dilemma. She needed to get her body back. Madison's character was very lifelike even though she was supposedly a ghost of some sort. I was able to relate to her feelings towards the events that happened to her. I felt sorry for her at times because I felt like she couldn't trust almost anybody. She was drowning in so many lies and so many evils. She did nothing wrong and yet she was being punished.

There were many unexpected things that happened, but they all fit into the plot perfectly. The plot was original and captivating. The characters were what made the plot unique and insightful. They went through what normal teens would...even if their situation isn't exactly normal. I was able to catch a glimpse of how it felt not to be so normal through Madison's eyes. She was mature for her age; I was expecting someone less deep and less perceptive. Harrison did a great job with Madison.

The Bottom Line: I liked it. It's one of my favorites but Harrison didn't do a great job recapping the story. Read Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper first. It's sets the stage for Once Dead, Twice Shy. I loved the characters and I loved the plot. Once Dead, Twice Shy is definitely worth remembering. I can't wait for the next book. A. :-)

---Report Card---
Originality: 9/10
Ending: 10/10
Characters: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
My reaction/enjoyment: 9/10
Theme: 9/10
Imagery: 10/10
Setting: 5/5
Voice: 5/5
Style: 5/5
Tone: 4/5
Cover: 10/10
Total Score: 94/100 (A)

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Reality Check by Peter Abrahams

Title: Reality Check
Author: Peter Abrahams
Pages: 336
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 28, 2009


Passing grades in all his classes. Dating the hottest--and smartest--girl at school. Summer job paying more than minimum wage. Things in Cody's world seem to be going pretty well. Until, that is, his girlfriend, Clea, is sent off to boarding school across the country, and a torn ACL ends his high school football career. But bad things come in threes--or in Cody's case, sixes and twelves--and the worst is yet to come. While limping through town one day, Cody sees a newspaper heading: "Local Girl Missing". Clea, now his ex, had disappeared from her boarding school in Vermont, and the only clue is a letter she sent to Cody the morning of her disappearance. With that as his guide, Cody sets out to find out what happened. Once in Vermont, he unearths the town's secrets--and finds out that football isn't the only thing he's good at.

I picked up Reality Check because of the blurb. I found it to be extremely appealing--especially for those who love mystery and suspense.

From the moment I read the first chapter, I was certain that Abrahams was no stranger to action and suspense. He was able to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book. I finished the book in less than two hours. The way it was written, and the way it was executed, was absorbing and eloquent. I was hooked.

Reality Check is not a book for those who like a happy and energetic read. Reality Check is a dark book; full of dilemma and mystery. Abrahams did a great job in character development--Cody especially. He was a compelling and relatable character. His problems were realistic. Abrahams wasn't afraid to show how the other (less-than-middle class) half of the world, lives. Additionally, a lot of the decisions that were made by the characters, and situations that they found themselves in, were controversial. Abrahams took a risk in doing this, and he obviously succeeded.

In the book, I felt like nobody was to be trusted. Abrahams did a great job in making sure that my assumptions were wrong. I had a few suspicions here and there, but they ended up to be way off the real thing. This is one of the few books that was able to keep me on my toes...seriously.

Although Reality Check did have a lot of strong traits, it still had its weak points.

For instance, I was roughly around page two-hundred when I realized that the characters were kind of stalling. The mystery wasn't close to being solved and I was worried because there were only about a hundred pages left in the book. In the last sixty or so pages, I felt as though Abrahams rushed through solving the mystery. I felt as if all of those pages built up to a weak climax. I wasn't satisfied at all.

The ending of Reality Check was flaccid. It kept me hanging but there wasn't enough that happened AFTER the mystery was solved. My thirst for an amazing ending was not appeased. But that's just me.

The Bottom Line: Reality Check is worth reading and worth remembering. I really admired the strongly-developed characters and the originality of the plot. It made up for the not-so-great ending. Overall, I liked it. I'll remember this one. Reality Check earned a B+. :-)

---Report Card---
Originality: 9.5/10
Ending: 6/10
Characters: 9/10
Plot: 8/10
My reaction/enjoyment: 7.5/10
Theme: 9/10
Imagery: 10/10
Setting: 3/5
Voice: 4/5
Style: 4/5
Tone: 5/5
Cover: 9/10
Total Score: 84/100 (B+)


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jessica Verday's Contest: The Hollow ARC!

Head over to:

for a chance to win Jessica Verday's new book The Hollow. It's an ARC. Mega cool!


Weekly Pen #3

The Weekly Pen is going to be a place where I will post original songs, short stories, non-fiction articles, or poems each week. So here is your weekly dose of TWP (The Weekly Pen):

Note: This is a short article I wrote.

When a person hears the phrase ‘global warming’, melting icecaps and warmer winters come to mind. Most people are unaware of the impact of global warming on human health. There are food shortages, extreme weather changes, and tremendous heat. As humans become more industrialized, the more our earth is affected-for the worse.

Global warming has become a more controversial subject over the years. It’s becoming a big deal for us because there are dreadful changes happening all over the world. Some people think global warming will cause us the end of the world and some don’t. Many scientists predict that global warming will kill the Earth’s population in thirty or so years. Many scientists disagree. If we, the people of the Earth, want our precious lives to be saved, we have to do something about this growing problem on our planet.

The main concern of people around the world is pollution. Factories, cars, airplanes, etc. all contribute to that problem. If we find alternates or if we try to prevent using these, we would be helping a lot because less carbon dioxide would enter the atmosphere (greenhouse effect). Scientists all around the world are trying to figure out an alternate for fuel but if they do, the economy for some countries would surely drop. This is the main complication why it can also be bad for us to have an alternate.

Population increase is another problem relating to global warming. As our population increases, and more ignorant and unaware people are born into the world, more fuel, and gases are used. This causes more carbon dioxide to enter the atmosphere. Also, trees, that produce oxygen, are being cut down, to make space for cities, and for paper. Everyone can do their little duty to the world by not overcharging any electronics, using a fan instead of an air-con, and turning off the water while brushing. These small things, if done everyday, can make a huge difference to our gradually decreasing world. Another way to help is that people can use public transport, such as buses, trains, and carpools, instead of wasting a lot of petrol on private transport. If everyone is aware of these facts, then maybe the world will be a much safer and better place to live in.

In effect, global warming is overtaking our planet and we must do everything we can to stop it or at least delay it. We must fight and win the war against the dangerous forces that are taking over our world. Every little thing helps.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Story Siren's Contest!

Story Siren at:

has an awesome book contest. Lots of books are up for grabs! Come check it out on her website!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Gilda Joyce: The Ghost Sonata by Jennifer Allison

Title: Gilda Joyce: The Ghost Sonata (Book 3)
Author: Jennifer Allison
Pages: 352
Publisher: Puffin; Reprint edition
Publication Date: October 30, 2008

Gilda Joyce. International woman of mystery.

Gilda Joyce's best friend, Wendy Choy, is chosen to participate in a piano competition in Oxford, England, so of course super-sleuth Gilda finds a way to go too. Once there, the grueling practice schedule takes a backseat to strange and spooky occurrences. There are foreboding tarot cards that keep appearing to the participants and ominous numbers etched in frosty windowpanes. But even more chilling are Wendy's ghost nightmares of a young boy--and the haunting melody she can't shake out of her mind. Could there be a sinister connection to the piano competition? Gilda has a genuine haunting on her hands, and solving this one will take every ounce of psychic intuition she's got--especially when there are cute English boys to distract her.

I never get tired of hearing or reading the name Gilda Joyce. Whenever I hear or read that name, a sassy and witty improviser comes to mind. She's direct and straightforward...these are just a few things I love about her. She is hilarious and different from all of the other characters I've read about. Gilda Joyce is a conspicuous character not just because she's wacky, but also because of how she handles herself in the situations she's in.

When I picked up the third installment of the Gilda Joyce series. I was expecting thrilling and captivating adventures that were also unique. I wasn't disappointed. Allison's writing all throughout the entire series has been substantial and consistent. In Gilda Joyce: The Sonata Ghost, she proved that even further and added more unpredictable twists and turns. Sure, some things were a little random here and there but isn't it supposed to be? Just like Gilda?

After I read this book, I have done everything you should expect from a comedy thriller; I laughed out loud and I got scared. Only good books like this can get a reaction from me.

The Bottom Line: This book is a great, funny read. You will embark on a one-of-a-kind adventure where you will find thrills and laughs all the way. Gilda Joyce: The Sonata Ghost is truly, an unforgettable read. A :-)


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Squad: Killer Spirit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: The Squad: Killer Spirit (Book 2)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Pages: 336
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Publication Date: February 12, 2008

Saying Toby Klein is an unlikely cheerleader is like saying Paris Hilton might be into guys---understatement of the year. But the varsity squad at Bayport High gives new meaning to the phrase All-American, and Toby's double life as a varsity cheerleader and a government operative means balancing protocol, pep rallies, computer hacking, and handsprings.

Now something's about to go down in Bayport, and the Big Guys Upstairs need to know what. The Squad is on the case, but it looks like this mission could put the 'L' in lethal. And if the spy business doesn't kill Toby, it's starting to look like Brooke, the team's captain, might. The nominations are in for homecoming court, rumor has it that Toby is the unlikely front-runner for queen.

Terrorist threat? Bloody mission gone wrong? Demented squad captain? Bring it on.

Three words: I LOVE TOBY. She is my idol. I admire her strong-willed, sarcastic-snapping, down-to-earth self. The second book in The Squad, for me, is better than the first. I loved all the action and how Barnes made it totally unpredictable. And this is coming from a spy junkie that can usually anticipate what happens next. It was just so capricious and witty at the same time. I loved it. It's cheerleading and espionage put together.

Killer Spirit never got boring. Barnes did a fantastic job keeping it exciting and fast-paced for the entire book. Even when The Squad wasn't on a mission, there was usually some interesting conflict between Toby and Jack, or Toby and a Squad member. I always looked forward to the constant bickering of Jack and Toby.

Although I loved the writing and some of the characters in this book, it still has it's weaker points. For instance, I don't think that this would be a memorable read. It isn't a book I'd remember two months from now. I didn't find it as unique or as significant as the other books I've read. I found some of the characters unoriginal and frustrating. Lots of them were common stereotypes that one would expect from a YA book.

The Bottom Line: Loved the action. Hated the stereotypes. It's Charlie's Angels meet Bring it On. A good action and mystery thriller but not enough to be distinctly significant. B+ :-)


The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Catherine Hapka

Title: The Twelve Dates of Christmas
Author: Catherine Hapka
Pages: 272
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: October 7, 2008

Lexi's feeling a little holidazed this winter. . . . .

Lexi's been going out with Cameron for way too long. Sure he's a nice guy, but there's a spark missing between them. So she comes up with the perfect plan: get him to fall for another girl so she'll be free-and guilt-free, too.

But when Lexi sees Cameron looking awfully cozy with Jaylene, her heart melts, especially when her budding psychologist best friend tells her that once a new couple has gone out a dozen times, their relationship is pretty much set. Cameron's twelfth date with Jaylene-the Christmas Ball-is coming up. Can Lexi find a way to rekindle her relationship with Cameron in a (saint) nick of time?

The Twelve Dates of Christmas was a big improvement from Love on Cue (Hapka's other book). If I had to choose two words to describe this book, it would be scintillating and entertaining. Hapka did a great job here. The plot was unique and original, as was the title (I loved the title). It was clever and obviously well-written.

The characters were what made this book stand out from the rest of the Romantic Comedies. They were just so different, and yet, Hapka was able to make them fit perfectly with the plot. My favorite character was Allie, Lexi's best friend. She was wacky and eccentric. It was a nice change of scenery if you catch my drift. She made the book more engaging and eventful.

The events that happened throughout the book were hilarious. Allie's 'twelve dates' theory was one of the funniest. And when Lexi tried to stop those twelve dates, she always found herself in a compromising-but nonetheless funny-position.

The Bottom Line: This book is memorable in every way. The Twelve Dates of Christmas is a funny and entertaining read. I would recommend to read this light-hearted book just before the holidays. For this one, Hapka is worthy of an A- :-)


Monday, July 13, 2009

The Appeal by John Grisham

Title: The Appeal
Author: John Grisham
Pages: 496
Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition
Publication Date: November 18, 2008

Politics has always been a dirty game. Now justice is, too.

In a crowded courtroom in Mississippi, a jury returns a shocking verdict against a chemical company accused of dumping toxic waste into a small town's water supply, causing the worst "cancer cluster" in history. The company appeals to the Mississippi Supreme Court, whose nine justices will one day either approve the verdict or reverse it.

Who are the nine? How will they vote? Can one be replaced before the case is ultimately decided?

The chemical company is owned by a Wall Street predator named Carl Trudeau, and Mr. Trudeau is convinced the Court is not friendly enough. With judicial elections looming, he decides to try to purchase himself a seat on the Court. The cost is a few million dollars, a drop in the bucket for a billionaire like Mr. Trudeau. Through an intricate web of conspiracy and deceit, his political operatives recruit a young, unsuspecting candidate. They finance him, manipulate him, market him, and mold him into a potential Supreme Court justice. Their Supreme Court justice.

This is my first ever adult fiction review. Even though I'm pretty young to be considering my future profession, I always acknowledged law to be one of the possibilities. This is what first compelled me to read John Grisham.

There are so many things I want to say about this book. I'm just going to break it down so it won't be too chaotic.

Grisham's writing. I would probably rate Grisham's writing a B-. The beginning was exciting, but after about 300 pages, my interest in the book started to waver. Grisham's writing wasn't consistent enough to absorb me further into the book. But I finished it, regardless. One thing I liked about Grisham's writing, was the fact that he was able to incorporate both of the views of the opposing companies smoothly.

The characters:

Carl Trudeau. Even though he's the supposed antagonist, I couldn't help but admire his confidence and his determination. He already had more then enough, but he still ached for more. He was insatiable when it came to wealth.

Ron Fisk. If I was Ron Fisk, I'd feel trapped. I felt like he didn't have a choice once he was agreed to the deal. He couldn't make his own decisions and he was suffocating with all of the things that he constantly had to deal with.

The Paytons. With them, I was repetedly on edge. One moment, their lifestyle was lavish and luxurious. The next, they're on the brink of bankrupcy, risking everything they have. They kept the book livelier and more appealing.

My reaction. I found it okay. I wasn't all that thrilled about looking for more John Grisham. As a first-time, adult-fiction reader, I'm not yet sure about my opinion and critique. But for now, it's a B.


Post-it #3

Hey guys! I love quotes so much that I just wanted to try out this meme I 'borrowed' from Iryna in 'The Garden of Books' blog. On her blog, it's called 'In Between These Pages'. But I'm just going to rename it 'Post-its' because I write all of the interesting quotes I find, on a post-it. Happy Reading!!!!!

"Just Ella or Cinderella?: It depends on whether you want the Charming fairy tale ending or the ending to the girl who works hard for everything she’s ever gotten. I prefer Just Ella,"

-Word For Teens Blog

"You're a black prince pansy...They're pretty amazing. Like you.
They've got these purple-black flowers, and the center is straight-up golden, Emme. Like a sun inside those black petals. They're dramatic. I don't care what flowers they're next to-calla lilies, roses. Your eyes go right to that dark, sensual beauty,"


"It would be easy to say that the pants changed everything that summer. But looking back now I feel like our lives changed because they had to, and that the real magic of the pants was in bearing witness to all of this and in somehow holding us together when it felt like nothing would ever be the same again,"



The Weekly Pen #2

The Weekly Pen is going to be a place where I will post original songs, short stories, or poems each week. So here is your weekly dose of TWP (The Weekly Pen):

Note: This is a short poem I wrote. It isn't that good.


Memories fade,
As fast,
In a blink of an eye,
Maybe slower?

New memories are gained,
As time elapses,
The past, the present,
And the future

New memories gained,
And old memories lost,
Pictures cannot replace memories,
As with replicas shan’t shine as bright as the truth,

And Goodbyes,
Bad or good,
Will always hurt,
No matter how hard we try to forget,
They will always bring tears,

Cannot replace,
Having been there,
And words can never change those feelings,

Memories fade,
As fast,
In a blink of an eye,
Maybe slower?


Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Title: Just Ella
Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Pages: 240
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 27, 2007

Being a princess isn't all that. . .

You've heard the fairytale: a glass slipper, Prince Charming, happily ever after. . .

Welcome to reality: royal genealogy lessons, needle-point, acting like "a proper lady", and---worst of all---a prince who is not the least bit interesting, and certainly not charming.

As soon-to-be princess Ella deals with her newfound status, she comes to realize she is not "your majesty" material. But breaking off a royal engagement is not easy feat, especially when you're crushing on another boy in the palace. . .For Ella to escape, it will take intelligence, determination, and spunk---and no ladylike behavior allowed.

Okay, I have to be honest. . .the only thing great in this book was the plot. . .it stops there. Don't get me wrong, I hate writing bad reviews. That's why my lowest rating is going to be a 'D'. No author deserves an 'F'.

Haddix's writing was the most boring I've read. It was dull and unexciting. I was snoring by the time I got to page 3. . . literally. I've looked at what others thought about this book and surprisingly, Just Ella elicited almost-perfect reviews. Maybe it's just me then.

Haddix just couldn't accomplish charismatic writing. Instead, the book ended up colorless and passive. To get to the point, I was bored out of my mind. Even though this book was practically lifeless, I persisted in reading it so that I could have this review done (plus, I hate it when I don't finish a book).

Ella was practically the only thing in Just Ella that was great. She was so full of life. I loved her from start to finish (and Jed also). They made the plot more lively and less boring. Is it possible to hate the writing but love the characters and the plot?

The Bottom Line: I didn't get why people liked this book so much. For me, I was extremely disappointed with the book, aside from the characters and the plot. I guess it was just too 'middle-aged' for me. But who knows? You might like it. Me? Not so much. D


Love on Cue by Catherine Hapka

Title: Love on Cue
Author: Catherine Hapka
Pages: 288
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 10, 2009

When you have to sing your heart out, it's best to know how. . .

Maggie Tannery is a true theater girl and a total shoo-in for the lead in this year's school production of Romeo and Juliet. She's seriously psyched because it looks like her crush, Daniel, might be playing her Romeo both on-and offstage-if all goes as planned.

But when her school decides to perform a musical instead, Maggie catches a major case of stage fright-because she can't sing! With her leading role in jeopardy, as well as her chance of winning her leading man, Maggie turns to the musically talented Nico to giver her voice lessons. But their voices aren't the only things that seem to be harmonizing. As Maggie tries to break a leg-and not her heart-she wonders who the music man of her dreams really is. . .

Another hilarious read from the Simon Pulse RoCom series!

Love on Cue is great for those who like light comedy and easy romance but personally, I don't think it's all that great. To me, Maggie seemed WAY too desperate to be Derek's girlfriend. And the way she gets all tongue-tied around Derek got old. It happens way to commonly in books. I mean seriously!? In Love on Cue, she can't even form a coherent sentence. In real life, I don't think that would happen or if it does, then it wouldn't be common. I couldn't help but grow annoyed and irritated with Maggie.

Derek. He was VERY unrealistic. He was TOO perfect. In the book, he was portrayed as someone who could do no wrong. He was adept and proficient in EVERYTHING. I was just really unimpressed with his character.

It was random. I think that Hapka just threw in random scenarios so that Maggie would always find herself in an awkward position. They just didn't fit in with the book. There wasn't any connection at all.

Errors. Has anyone noticed that on the back of the book it says 'Daniel' and not 'Derek'? Call me a perfectionist but I hate mistakes like these. It's one of my pet peeves.

The only thing that really stood out to me in this book was, unexpectedly, Calla. She was the only character that constrained me to finish the book. Calla's issue was that she was a little overweight. But she was able to accept it and, eventually, joke about it.

The Bottom Line: I found Love on Cue to be disappointing but nevertheless funny. Don't stop reading Catherine Hapka though. Her book 'Twelve Dates of Christmas' is BETTER than this. I'll follow up with a review. But for now, C-


Miss Match by Wendy Toliver

Title: Miss Match
Author: Wendy Toliver
Pages: 304
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: February 10, 2009

Want to snag that certain someone? You need Miss Match!

Sasha Finnegan has always had a knack for setting people up, and at sixteen, she's turned her talent into an online business, molding high school crushes into true love. But Sasha finds her toughest match yet when hottie Derek Urban asks her to set him up with Sasha's gorgeous sister, Maddie. It's not that Derek isn't a good catch. In fact, after spending so much time with him, Sasha can't help but think he's perfect-for her, that is.

Can Sasha push her feelings aside for the sake of her business? Or has this miss finally found her match?

Another cute read from the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies! Yay!

This book is FULL ON light entertainment. Miss Match is bright and comical. I thought that Toliver did great on making all of the characters witty and realistic. I loved Sasha's character because she was a character that teenagers would be able to relate to. Surprisingly, I also liked Sasha's sister, Maddie. I thought that she was just going to be the cliché cheerleader type, but she was down-to-earth and had her own problems to deal with.

The friendships and relationships between the characters were typical but they were still compelling and charming.

However, even though Miss Match is entertaining, it still has its weak points. For example, nothing in the book would compel me to remember Miss Match. I didn't find anything in Miss Match that was captivating or distinct enough to be 'unforgettable' or unique. Also, I didn't like the whole 'knight' event with Derek. It was just TOTALLY impractical and non-realistic. I found it absurd and grotesque.

The Bottom Line: An easy, carefree book that isn't anything special, but nonetheless a fun read. C :-)


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Post-it #2

Hey guys! I love quotes so much that I just wanted to try out this meme I 'borrowed' from Iryna in 'The Garden of Books' blog. On her blog, it's called 'In Between These Pages'. But I'm just going to rename it 'Post-its' because I write all of the interesting quotes I find, on a post-it. Happy Reading!!!!!

"I feel thankful for the best gift of all. . .It's the one wrapped around my heart with a big, pink bow---the never-ending gift of friendship,"

"Sometimes, I even found myself missing her. Our lives had only overlapped for a few months, but during that time, I had moved inside her private world, glimpsing parts of her that most people didn't get to see. And for that, I was grateful. Somehow, stepping into her life, I learned more about my own,"

-Lily Miles

"Solving mysteries is what we do...and we're always willing to travel,"
-Gilda Joyce


Note: See me at Technorati Too!

I just joined Technorati and I have to post this in order to claim this blog as mine. Don't mind this post.



I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

Title: I Heart You, You Haunt Me
Author: Lisa Schroeder
Pages: 240
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: January 8, 2008

Girl meets boy.
Girl loses boy.
Girl gets boy back...
...Sort of

Ava can't see or touch him,
unless she's dreaming.
She can't hear his voice,
except for the faint whispers in her mind.
Most would think she's crazy, but she knows he's here.

The boy Ava thought she'd spend the rest of her life with.
He's back from the dead,
as proof that love truly knows no bounds.

OH MY GOD. This is ONE of THE BEST BOOKS I've read. It's a verse novel. It's a compilation of poems that tell Ava's story throughout the entire book. It's in her point of view. And it's amazing. I wish I could do this book the justice it deserves with this review, but, I can't. I'll just do my best.

I'm going to break it down for you:

The Writing. Shroeder's writing was very lyrical and poetic. It was surprisingly mature. She was able to manipulate the words to make them suit how Ava was feeling in each chapter/poem. It never got boring, in fact, I kept reading until midnight. I was able to relate to Ava's feelings and her grief. Throughout the entire book, I felt like I was Ava. I was the girl who was going through so much pain and so much guilt.

The Emotions. I Heart You, You Haunt Me is a book for mature readers who want to read about the purest and probably the most common kind of grief. After I read the book, I couldn't breathe properly-LITERALLY. I felt so many poignant emotions; anguish, angst, pain, just to name a few. My heart felt heavy. I felt the pain that Ava felt. My sisters thought I was crazy. But that's just how Schroeder was able to bring out all these emotions and reactions from me, through her words.

The Ending. The ending was bitter-sweet. It was painful for me to read. The lessons that were learned and the conflicts that were eventually solved, were flawlessly summed up in the ending.

The Bottom Line: This book is NOT light reading. In fact, this could easily make readers cry. Shroeder's writing is innocent and-in words-perfect. I would definitely recommend this to teens who want to read about letting go and the simplest and most innocent type of love. It really is heart-breaking. A+ :-)


Friday, July 10, 2009

Girl of the Moment by Lizabeth Zindel

Title: Girl of the Moment
Author: Lizabeth Zindel
Pages: 288
Publisher: Viking Young Adult
Publication Date: April 5, 2007

Enter the backstabbing world of teen celebrity...

When Lily's internship at the Museum of Modern Art falls through, she thinks her summer is ruined. Then her dad hooks her up with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to intern for Sabrina Snow---sixteen-year-old Hollywood starlet and THE girl of the moment. From the pages of 'Party Weekly' magazine, Sabrina's world looks like a non-stop merry-go-round of glamorous parties, red carpet events, and designer clothes. But Lily soon learns that catering to a rising star is more work than play. Once she develops a rush on Sabrina's boyfriend (that may or may not be reciprocated) and a yearning to help a needy fan, Lily's summer starts to spiral out of control. If she can get things back in order, she will be richly rewarded. But do the costs of working for Sabrina outweigh the benefits?

The first thing I noticed when I picked this up, was the cover. HAVE YOU SEEN IT? It's amazing! The whole collage idea was really cool and eye-catching. I love it.

Girl of the Moment is flat out fun. It's light and funny to read. It seemed a little unrealistic because of Sabrina's demands, but then again, who am I to say so? I loved the way Zindel was able to make Sabrina ruthless and at the same time fun and carefree. Through out the entire book, all Sabrina did was humiliate and torture Lily. Basically, the only reason Lily stayed was because of her applications for college.

I found Taylor (the needy fan) to be really cute. She was probably the character with the most realistic problems. She went through what everyone went through when they were kids. She was teased. Soon, she was able to learn how to overcome those problems and believe in herself. She was an exceptionally brave and inspiring character.

I hated it at first because it was kind of boring. There was a lot of pointless information but, it was well-written pointless information. I just wanted Zindel to get straight to the point. It got exciting after 100 pages when the conflicts started to erupt.

The ending. I didn't find it suitable (but you'll just have to wait and read for yourself) considering that it's a stand-alone. It just didn't satisfy me.

The Bottom Line: Zindel is a great author with great ideas. She just needs to be straightforward and get her point across. C+ :-)


Guest Review: The Clique (Book 1) by Lisi Harrison

From ReggieWrites: Hey guys! This is a guest reviewer for The Clique series. Her blog is called 'Click with The Clique'. It's really cool. Go check it'll be worth it!


Title: The Clique (Book 1)
Author: Lisi Harrison

Meet the Clique.....

Massie Block: With her glossy brunette bob and laser-whitened smile, Massie is the uncontested ruler of The Clique and the rest of the social scene on Octavian Country Day School, an exclusive private girls' school in Westchester Country, New York. Massie knows you'd give anything to be just like her

Dylan Marvil: Massie's second in command who divides her time between sucking up to Massie and sucking down Atkins Diet shakes.

Alicia Rivera: As sneaky as she is beatiful, Alicia floats easily under adult radar because she seem so "sweet." Would love to take Massie's throne one day. Just might.

Kristen Gregory: She's smart, hardworking, and will insult you to tears faster than you can say "my haircut isn't ugly!"

Enter Claire Lyons, the new girl from Florida in Keds and two-year-old Gap overalls, who is clearly not Clique material. Unfortunately for her, Claire's family is staying in the guesthouse on Massie's family huge estate while they look for a new home. Claire's future looks worse than a bad Prada knockoff. But with a little luck and a lot of scheming, Claire might just come up like Chanel No.19. . . .

The first thing I noticed about the book was that it was very materialistic, almost superficial. The author used many references like Prada, Gucci, etc. Harrison was very detailed with the bags, clothes, gloves, and hats. She was very specific and she mentioned what kind of brand each accessory was.

Harrison's writing was very smooth. She was able to make the drama exciting. Harrison constantly kept me on edge. I read the whole book in three hours. It's just THAT good.

I loved all the characters. They were dynamic and life-like, and at the same time, they were fun. Even though Massie, Dylan, Alicia, and Kristen were mean, I couldn't help but admire their characters. Massie was so evil to Claire, her attitude was very snobbish and posh. Also I like the ways of how The Clique was so mean to Claire. Spilling paint on her brand new white pants, and giving her the wrong direction was very rude of them.

My favorite part of the story is when Claire sneaks to Massie's room and goes on her messenger to chat with Dylan, Alicia, and Kristen. She does a lot of things in Massie's messenger to destroy the friendship of Dylan, Alicia, and Kristen, so Claire can take the place of Massie. On the other side, there was no part that I disliked, I really liked the way the author made the plot of the story.

I think this book is excellent and will be one of my favorite books. This is a HAVE to read book. :D


Death by Latte by Linda Gerber

Title: Death by Latte (Book 2 of Death by...series)
Author: Linda Gerber
Pages: 224
Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: September 18, 2008

It was only a few weeks ago that Aphra Connolly’s life changed completely. She had been living a quiet existence on her father’s secluded island resort, until Seth Mulo turned up and stole her heart---and provided information that led her to find her mom in Seattle. But the reunion isn’t quite what she expected. Aphra’s mom, Natalie, doesn’t seem happy to see Aphra, and Natalie’s partner, Joe, insists that Aphra go home. Even worse, Seth shows up, only to ask her to return the ring he gave her a few weeks ago. At least Natalie’s hunky neighbor is sympathetic. But when Joe is found dead at a nearby coffee shop, Aphra discovers her whole trip to Seattle has been based on a lie. And now someone just might be trying to kill her. . . . .

The Death by... series never fails to impress me. And Gerber's writing style is constantly unique and original.

The book is in Aphra's POV. I was blown away at how Gerber completely perfected a teenager's point of view. I loved Aphra's character. She was both dynamic and realistic at the same time. I could really relate to her and her feelings about being lied to and her feelings towards Seth.

The action and suspense in Death by Latte was, in words, intense and perfect. There were lots of face-to-face encounters and hand-on-hand combat. The only thing that I didn't really like was that, in the entire book, it felt like Aphra was always running. The pace faster than I was used to, but then again, it kept me more aware and alert.

The ending of the book didn't fulfill my thirst for a happy ending (so cliche of me). It was sweet and sour. I hated the depressing good-byes and the cryptic messages that the characters were trying to get across.

I found the plot to be a little confusing. I went over the book twice until I completely understood the entire plot.

The epilogue is a great cliffhanger...I can't wait to see what happens next in Death by Denim.

The Bottom Line: A great read for those who LOVE mystery, suspense, action, and a tinge of romance. B- :-)

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