Sunday, June 27, 2010

In My Bag (12)

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:
Keeper by Kathi Appelt
*copy provided by Other Shelf Tours*

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
*copy provided by Traveling ARC Tours*

From the library:
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

I am so freaking excited about this week's bunch! What'd you guys get this week?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Released: October 1, 2009
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 224
Source: Library

Sam's life should be perfect being the pastor's daughter and all. Except her life isn't at all perfect, at least not since her mom was sent to rehab after getting a DUI, her dad is more dedicated to his congregation than his own family, and Sam just can't believe in a God who would let all these things happen. Sam's personal crisis is only magnified when a local girl goes missing. The entire town is turned upside down as they rise together to search for the missing girl.

I love Sara Zarr. Story of a Girl and Sweethearts were both fantastic. So I had high hopes for Once Was Lost, but I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed. I didn't love Sam. She just wasn't the kind of character I could wrap my brain around and become. I almost feel like I need to reread it and try again. I wanted to like it more than I did, but it just didn't hold up for me. I was mad at both of Sam's parents and her youth group leader more often than not, and her relationship with the missing girl's brother Nick wasn't very realistic. Maybe I needed more heat or something. Overall it may have been a little "meh" for me, but I would still recommend it to any Sara Zarr fans. It's gotten some great reviews, so hopefully you all will like it more than I did.

Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim

Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Released: March 31, 2009
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 240
Source: Library

I usually write my own descriptions, but I liked the one on the inside cover so much that I decided to use it instead of my own.

If Nina Khan were to rate herself on the unofficial Pakistani prestige point system - the one she's sure all the aunties and uncles use to determine the most attractive marriage prospects for their children - her scoring might go something like this:
+2 points for getting excellent grades
-3 points for failing to live up to expectations set by genius older sister
+4 points for dutifully obeying her parents and never, ever going to parties, no matter how antisocial that makes her seem to everyone at Deer Hook High
-1 point for harboring secret jealousy of her best friends, who are allowed to date like normal teenagers
+2 points for never drinking an alcoholic beverage
-10 points for obsessing about Asher Richelli, who talks to Nina like she's not a freak at all, even though he knows that she has a disturbing line of hair running down her back

I'm actually going to start this review by telling you a little bit about me. Just trust me and go with it. I read lots of blogs, but I very seldom read through the actual reviews. I hate being spoiled and even though most bloggers give adequate spoiler warnings, I'd rather be completely surprised when I pick up a book. So, you will often hear see me say that I had no idea what a book was about before picking it up. I also never go to the library with a list. I go, pick up any new books I have on hold, and browse the shelves looking for something to catch my eye. This is how I found Skunk Girl. I didn't remember who had read it, what it was about, or if it was even good for that matter. I recognized it, laughed at the inside cover, and placed it in my bag. I was in no real hurry to read it since I had so many other goodies in my pile, but when I finally did, boy was I surprised.

Nina Khan just wants to be a normal teenager, except she's kind of a freak. She's hairy, Muslim, and under lockdown by her very strict, Pakistani parents. Luckily for her though, her American friends love her anyway. Nina is used to the social restrictions her family believes in; however, when cutie Asher Richelli starts paying her attention, she is determined to break away. In the end Nina learns that her family really isn't that bad and that some of the things she wished for are overrated.

I loved Nina's story. She was such a diverse character! I know, I know - it's mostly because she is a person of color with a completely different culture than my own, but I had to say it. Nina's narrative takes us straight into her head and lets us see, and feel, and think the things that she is seeing, and feeling, and thinking. Feeling so close to a character is always a good thing in my book, and her witty humor only added to my love for this debut novel. I hear Karim is working on a new book, and I cannot wait to read it.

I think it is so important for stories like Nina's to be told. Please check out Reading in Color and S. Krishna's Books if you aren't already familiar. Both of these blogs feature books by and/or about people of color, and both hold challenges with tons of suggestions for books like Skunk Girl.

In My Bag (11)

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:

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Evernight by Claudia Gray

Shug by Jenny Han


Forgive My Fins bookmarks!

Thanks, Morgan! If you haven't visited Morgan's blog, Smitten With Books, please do as it's one of my favorites :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Please be aware that this is the fourth book in a series. In order to give even the briefest synopsis, this review may contain spoilers to the first three books. You can read my reviews of The Lightning Thief hereThe Sea of Monsters here, and The Titan's Curse here.

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Released: May 6, 2008
Age Group: 9-12
Pages: 368
Source: Library
Series: Book 4 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians

After blowing up the school band room, Percy retreats to Camp Half Blood to join Annabeth and Grover in the fight against Luke and the Titans. Soon after his arrival they learn that Luke has found a passage straight into the camp through Daedalus's Labyrinth. In order to stop Luke from invading camp and resurrecting the Titan lord Kronos, Percy must enter the Labyrinth himself. What ensues is a plethora of challenges, choices, and threats devised to throw Percy and his friends off track.

Labyrinth was definitely my favorite of the Percy Jackson series. Daedalus's Labyrinth is just fascinating to me, and putting a contemporary twist to the maze's road blocks was definitely entertaining. Percy really grew up in this installment, and I enjoyed seeing him deal with normal teenage issues in addition to the whole being-the-son-of-a-god thing. As the fourth book in a series of five, Labyrinth was full of action and leaves the reader anxious for book five.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

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

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Released: May 1, 2007
Age Group: 9-12
Pages: 320
Source: Library
Series: Book 3 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The Titan's Curse picks up soon after The Sea of Monsters left off. During a battle against the manticore, Annabeth and the goddess Artemis are both lost to the enemy. It is up to Percy, Thalia, Grover, and the hunters to find and rescue both. Percy and his friends must find Artemis before the winter solstice when the gods on Mount Olympus will vote on whether or not they go to war against the Titans. Meanwhile, also on Percy's mind is the mysterious monster Artemis was hunting before she was captured - a monster so powerful, the gods wouldn't stand a chance against it. But who could have kidnapped a goddess? Percy is afraid of the answer.

I'm really enjoying this series. I feel like I keep saying the same things - I love Greek mythology, I love the way the gods are portrayed - but Riordan keeps me pleasantly surprised with each new book. I find his stories original, the dialogue funny, and the writing easy (in a good way). Reading about Percy Jackson is sort of like having a conversation with an old friend - not overly stimulating or intense, but very familiar and comfortable. I would recommend this series to anyone in need of something light and funny, those with an interest in Greek mythology, and young boys who think books are yucky ;)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Released: September 2002
Age Group: 9-12
Pages: 176
Source: Library

Abandoned at birth, Hollis Woods was named after the town in which she was found. In her twelve years, she has run away from every foster home she's ever been in - even from the one family she loved. She is then placed with Josie, a retired art teacher, with whom she immediately bonds. Hollis is torn between her regret for leaving the Regans, her worry for Josie's growing forgetfulness, and her wish for a family of her own.

This book was recommended to me by my mom. I don't remember how she came across it since she normally reads nonfiction, but she really liked it and called me the day she read it to tell me all about it. It happened to catch my eye on my next trip to the library, so I picked it up. It's an easy, quick read that only took me a few hours to finish. That said, it was definitely a story that will stay with me for a while. The story is partially told in flashbacks captured in Hollis's paintings. It was a beautiful, emotional story with one of the most satisfying endings I've read in a while.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bloggiesta was a huge success!

I may have joined in on the fun a few days late, but my time with Bloggiesta today was a success! I spent a lot of time revamping my blog, and getting a head start on things to come. My to-do list was pretty ambitious, but I feel like I really made some head way. I'd like to give a special thanks to Natasha at Maw Books for hosting the marathon. I hope everyone was as productive as I was. And if you missed out on Bloggiesta this time, Natasha will be hosting another marathon in January.

This was the to-do list I made for myself this morning:
- Write reviews for The Forest of Hands and Teeth, My Parents Are Sex Maniacs, Pictures of Hollis Woods, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, Skunk Girl, Once Was Lost, That Summer, Shiver,The Last Olympian, Twenty Boy Summer, A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend, If I Stay (Just looking at this list makes my head hurt. I'm so behind, eep!)
Create templates for future posts including reviews, IMM, etc.
Revamp my review list/archive.
- Add an About Me page.
- Add ARC Tour buttons.
New layout?

All the reviews I'm still behind on at least have drafts with pictures, link, etc. already included. My review list/archive is still in editing, but it should be up very soon. I do have a new layout! Like it? I'll be adding a header as soon as I win the fight against my Mac :)

There are things I didn't get around to and even more things that I didn't even include on today's list, but look for more changes in the near future :)

My Parents Are Sex Maniacs by Robyn Harding

My Parents Are Sex Maniacs by Robyn Harding
Publisher: Annick Press
Released: February 1, 2009
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 224
Source: Library

Louise Harrison is like most sixteen-year-old girls, self-conscious of herself. Lucky for her, Louise's best friend is Sienna Marshall which keeps her high on the social ladder despite her lack of fashion sense and big-boned figure. Junior year doesn't seem like it's going to turn out so bad when Louise's younger brother catches their dad and Sienna's mom in a very compromising er... position. Louise's world is turned upside down when her family falls apart and everyone places the blame on her dad, including Sienna.

This book was cute, I guess. It was definitely more of a light, fluffy read than anything else. The story was interesting enough, Louise's internal dialogue was funny, and Harding's version of high school was realistic. My favorite character was actually Louise's younger brother, Troy. His angry outbursts kept me laughing when the rest of the characters seemed a little bland.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Released: March 10, 2009
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
Source: Library

Seven generations after the Return, Mary lives in a village surrounded by the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Beyond the fences are the Unconsecrated, virally infected undead who feed on human flesh. Mary's world is ruled by a religious order called the Sisterhood. The Sisterhood controls all aspects of life to protect the village's existence. While most are content with life in the village, Mary dreams of the ocean and stories her mother told her of life before the Return. Mary soon loses her family and is forced to join the Sisterhood where she learns that there are secrets being kept from the village - secrets that shock her.

I really really liked this book. Think The Village meets I Am Legend. This was another book I picked up without really knowing what it was about. I kept seeing it (and its sequel) popping up on other book blogs, but I hadn't really read the reviews. Needless to say, while I was pretty skeptical after the first few pages, I was pleasantly surprised after a couple of chapters. Who knew I liked zombies?! Who would've thought dystopian would be my new favorite genre?! (I'm still pretty excited about this book in case you couldn't tell.) I thought the story was original, the writing was fantastic, and overall it was a very captivating read. My one *almost* complaint was the ending. Had I not known this was the first of a series, I would have been pretty peeved, but now I'm just anxious for the sequel. The Dead Tossed Waves just came out in March and is actually in my library pile - score!

Let the Bloggiesta begin!

I'm a little late to the party, but I am devoting most of today to Bloggiesta!

What is Bloggiesta, you ask? It is a blogging marathon hosted by Natasha over at Maw Books. From June 11-13, book bloggers are catching up on reviews, updating archives, writing back-up posts, adding or editing review policies, and overall making their blogs bigger and better.

I really meant to come home yesterday evening and begin, but I was distracted by three weeks worth of So You Think You Can Dance on the DVR.

Here's a list of what I'd like to accomplish today. I'll admit it's a pretty intimidating list, but these things have just got to get done!

- Write reviews for The Forest of Hands and Teeth, My Parents Are Sex Maniacs, Pictures of Hollis Woods, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, Skunk Girl, Once Was Lost, That Summer, Shiver, The Last Olympian, Twenty Boy Summer, A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend, If I Stay (Just looking at this list makes my head hurt. I'm so behind, eep!)
- Create templates for future posts including reviews, IMM, etc.
- Revamp my review list/archive.
- Add an About Me page.
- Add ARC Tour buttons.
- New layout?
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