Monday, May 31, 2010

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

One day while exploring, Coraline wanders through a secret passage into another house that looks a lot like her own. There she finds another mother and another father who wish to keep her there for themselves. Coraline also meets alternate versions of her eccentric neighbors and a talking cat. Complete with ink drawings, Coraline is a dark fairy tale that may be more suitable for afternoons than bedtime.

I was really surprised that this was a children's book intended for ages 9-12. What a creepy little thing! I'm not quite sure how to review it because it was just "meh" for me. The writing was very simplistic, there wasn't much character development, and I figured out the ending long before it was revealed. I won't say that I didn't like it, but I certainly didn't love it.

I've heard a lot of hype about Neil Gaiman's works, so I hope to be a bit more impressed than I was with Coraline with the next Gaiman book I read.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


I don't normally post spoilers, but because I am having great difficulty with this review, I decided to make it an all-out gush fest and share with you just what I loved about Catching Fire. If you haven't read it yet, please go to the library/your local bookstore/amazon and get a copy NOW! (After reading The Hunger Games first, of course.)

Now that you've been warned, it's time for the gush fest.

Except I don't even know where to begin!

  1. The scene where Katniss thanks the people of District 11 and the entire crowd salutes her brought me to tears. It reminded me of HP6 when the students raise their wands in honor of Dumbledore, and the end of The Return of the King (movie) when the entire kingdom, including the king, bow down to the hobbits. It was such a touching moment that I still think about it all.the.time.
  2. Team Peeta. Team Peeta. Team Peeta. I don't not like Gale, but Peeta's love for Katniss is so honest and innocent that I can't even consider rooting for the other team. Plus he's the boy with the bread. And I love me some bread.
  3. There are plenty of love triangles out there, but Katniss may be the only girl in the middle I don't want to punch. It's hard enough picking between two guys like Peeta and Gale, but when you add in the fact that Katniss is constantly being forced to fight for her life, you can hardly blame her for having uncertainties. We already know whose team I'm on, but giving Gale (or Peeta for that matter) the cold shoulder isn't exactly easy to do.
  4. Dear sweet Cinna. He may not have much to say in the ways of words, but when Katniss appears in his costumes, his voice is heard loud and clear. I felt like I was watching with the rest of Panem when Katniss goes up in flames revealing a feathered bodice in place of her wedding dress. I think I even gasped out loud at that moment.
  5. Finnick. Mags. Beetee. Wiress. Even Johanna. The victors who team up with Katniss and Peeta all bring something special to the table. In the beginning I kept thinking to myself that these were too many people to keep track of, but the story would not have been the same without them.
  6. Best wow-I-never-saw-that-coming ending EVER! I don't even know what to say, so I'm going to include a favorite quote:
    • The bird, the pin, the song, the berries, the watch, the cracker, the dress that burst into flames. I am the mockingjay. The one that survived despite the Capitol's plans. The symbol of the rebellion. 
  7. This doesn't really have anything to do with the book, but when I came home practically screaming from the library, Josh took one look at CF and said, "That must be written by the author of The Hunger Games." My heart swelled with pride that he noticed ;)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

In My Bag (9)

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

For review:

Hidden Voices: The Orphan Musicians of Venice by Pat Lowery Collins
*copy provided by Other Shelf Tours*
A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
*copy provided by Traveling ARC Tours*

From the library:

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Once a Witch by Carolyn McCullough

Intern by Sandeep Jauhar
Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

These are actually from the past few weeks, as I've had computer and personal issues that have kept me on a blogging hiatus. But, I'm back now and ready to spit out reviews. What did you guys get this week?

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Please be aware that this is the second book in a series. In order to give even the briefest synopsis, this review may contain spoilers to the first book. You can read my review of The Lightning Thief here.

Percy Jackson somehow makes it to the end of seventh grade with relative ease. All year he manages to stay out of trouble. No fighting off evil monsters, no visits from satyrs, and virtually no contact from Camp Half Blood. The highlight of Percy's year is defending the homeless kid, Tyson, from his classmates' cruel jokes. Soon enough things return to normal - normal for Percy, that is - when a game of dodgeball becomes fatal. After Annabeth comes to Percy's rescue, he is quickly informed the magical borders of Camp Half Blood have been poisoned and are failing. A quest is granted for Percy and his friends to journey through the Sea of Monsters in search of the elusive Golden Fleece to save Camp Half Blood.

You know, in my review of The Lightning Thief, I don't think I gave Rick Riordan enough credit. No, it's not the most engrossing book I've ever read. No, it's not the greatest piece of children's literature ever written. No, it's most definitely not Harry Potter. However, Percy Jackson is a light, very enjoyable series, and I genuinely cared about Percy and his friends and what happened to them. I loved Percy's point of view and the way it sometimes felt like he was talking directly to the reader at times. I also loved the constant bickering between Percy and Annabeth, very seventh grade. Overall, I really liked The Sea of Monsters and am eager to get started on Book 3, The Titan's Curse.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In My Bag (8)

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

For review:

The Owl Keeper by Christine Brodien-Jones
*copy provided by Other Shelf Tours*

From the library:

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson


 The Body Finder swag including a bookmark and poster signed by Kimberly Derting herself!
(I'll post a picture as soon as I get my hands on my camera.)

Thanks to Violet at The Eager Readers for hosting such a great contest!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

I have a confession to make.

I hate writing reviews.

I love reading, I love blogging, and I love sharing my thoughts and opinions. But when it comes to actually sitting down and writing a review, I freaking hate it! It's so hard to 1. be original and 2. give a great book a worthy review.

Such has been my problem with Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers. This book just came out in January, and I was super excited to have gotten my hands on it so quickly. My library takes for.ever! to get new titles, and I'd be really poor if I went out and bought every new book I wanted. So, a HUGE thanks to Other Shelf Tours for providing me with a copy :)

I was first introduced to Summers about a month ago when I read her debut novel Cracked Up to Be. I LOVED this book and was blown away by Summers' writing. I was practically itching to get my hands on Some Girls Are, and I was not disappointed.

Regina Afton was a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, the most popular group of girls at Hallowell High. Her life was only about waiting on Anna Morrison, the leader of the group, and making her classmates' lives hell - just for the fun of it. All of that changes when she's stabbed in the back and awful rumors about her and Anna's boyfriend begin to spread.

Now "frozen out," Regina's ex-friends are determined to get revenge. Her only company is a boy named Michael who's been outcast because of Regina's own bullying. What follows is a horrifying chain of events Anna and her friends create to get back at Regina for something she didn't do.

Wow. That's all I've been able to say since finishing this a few weeks ago. I've been writing, erasing, and rewriting this review ever since - trying to get it just right. I'm still at a loss to describe how Summers' writing makes you feel. It's like watching a suspenseful movie - you're on the edge of your seat and you can't even eat your popcorn because you're afraid you'll miss something. What happens in this book is truly awful but, again, so so relevant. (In case anyone forgot, you can read the stories of Phoebe Prince, Carl Walker-Hoover, or Jaheem Herrera to see how bullying can affect today's youth.) Even though this book made my skin crawl, I could not put it down and read it in just a few sittings. It was an emotional read, and I found myself hating Regina one minute and really pulling for her the next. Summers' ability to pull you in and not let go has put her on my favorite author list. I cannot wait to see what Courtney has in store for book three.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Paper Towns by John Green

Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman were childhood friends who once found a dead body in the park. Fast forward to senior year of high school, and they're practically strangers. Margo, who leads the popular it-crowd, hasn't so much as looked at Quentin in years. But when she shows up at his window late one night, Margo takes Quentin on an adventure he'll never forget. Quentin gets home just in time to get ready for school, where he thinks things will finally be different between him and Margo. What he finds, however, is that Margo has disappeared and that she left clues specifically for him to find. What follows is a wild goose chase with friends Ben, Radar, and Lacey during their final weeks of high school.

If you don't already know how I feel about John Green, you obviously haven't read my reviews of Looking for Alaska or An Abundance of Katherines. There really isn't anything I can say that hasn't already been said. He is ah-mazing, and you must go out and get his books right now if you haven't already. Go! Now! And while you're at it, check out John's website and YouTube page!

Ok, back to Paper Towns. There's no denying the similarities between Green's narrarators - Miles, Colin, Quentin - they're all dorky guys in love with seemingly unattainable girls who get through it all with the help of their always hilarious, mostly supportive friends. But as far as I'm concerned, John Green can write a hundred books with the same cast of characters and it will never get old. Some things just work, and I think this does.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

In My Bag (7)

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

From the library:

 Coraline - Neil Gaiman; The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan

The Titan's Curse and The Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan

If I Stay - Gayle Forman; Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

Once Was Lost - Sara Zarr; Pictures of Hollis Woods - Patricia Reilly Giff

I didn't actually get anything in the mail this week, but I did enjoy my regular trips to my local libraries. What did you guys get this week?
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