Sunday, October 23, 2011

Readathon Wrap-up

 I completed my first readathon!! I didn't make to the end, though. I conked out at the end of Hour 21 as soon as I had finished Anya's Ghost. Still, I think I did pretty well for my first time. I put in about 14 hours (I started the readathon a little late), and I met my goal of three books.

I won a mini-challenge (The Friendship mini-challenge in Hour 15 hosted by Li @ A World of Paper Hearts). She's giving away a surprise(!) book where friendship is a central theme. Can't wait to receive it!
I was also one of the random readers picked to win one of the prizes from Dewey's prize list in Hour 23. I was already in bed by the time that announcement came up so it was a nice surprise this morning. I chose Crusade by Nancy Holder. Sounds like a good one!

End of Event Survey
1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
--I would say Hour 19 was the worst for me. I still had over 100 pages to go for The Sea of Monsters, and I had expected to finish the book three and a half hours earlier. I was worried I would fall asleep before even finishing book 2!
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
--Charlotte's Web and Anya's Ghost were great books that I sped through.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Readathon for next year?
--I think it would be helpful to use the Mr. Linky more often during the Readathon to see who is participating when. Maybe have it every 4-6 hours or so. That would make it easier for Readers to bounce over to different blogs and check out what's going on and it would make it much easier for Cheeleaders as well.
4. What do you think worked really well in this year's Readathon?
--I can't compare this one to past readathons because this was my first time participating, but I thought it was run really well. The hosts did a wonderful job.
5. How many books did you read?
6. What were the names of the books you read?
--Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan, and Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
7. Which book did you enjoy the most?
--It's too hard to choose between Charlotte's Web and Anya's Ghost. I'm calling it a tie.
8. Which did you enjoy the least?
--I guess The Sea of Monsters. I enjoyed it, but it took way longer to get through than I was expecting.
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year's Cheerleaders?
--I wasn't a Cheerleader.
10. How likely are you to participate in the Readathon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
--I will definitely be participating again. I will very likely be a Reader and I'm thinking I would like to give Cheerleading a shot too.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 2011 Readathon

**Instead of making a new post for each update, I'll just be adding my updates to this post throughout the day**

I'm so excited to be participating in the readathon for the first time! I wanted to keep this readathon as fun for me as possible, so the first step in that was to not force myself to get up earlier than I wanted to. I don't function too well in the A.M., and I also had to work on a couple of things for class that I procrastinated on, which is why this post is going up kind of late. I'll try to make up for my late entrance by sticking it out until the wee hours of the morning tomorrow and see how close I can make it to the end of the readathon.

I went grocery shopping yesterday in preparation for the readathon, so here's the list of snacks I bought (I wish I could show a picture but my phone is so outdated that I can't transfer photos to my computer anymore--I expect to get a new phone for Christmas, though):

Chef Boyardee Spaghetti (for lunch)
White Cheddar Rice Cakes
Caramel Apples w/ Nuts
Veggie Plate
Vanilla Coke
Hint Flavored Water
Lipton Black Tea
Celestial Seasoning's Madagascar Vanilla Red Tea

Hour 7 (technically Hour 1 for me)
Pages Read: 51
Book Started: Charlotte's Web

I think I'm going to focus on finishing Charlotte's Web before I do any mini-challenges or anything, but I'll see.

Hours 8 & 9
Pages Read: 103

I took a little break and had a late lunch, or "lupper" as my family calls it. I should finish Charlotte's Web in the next hour.

Hours 10-12
Pages Read: 84
Book Finished: Charlotte's Web
Book Started: The Sea of Monsters

I got distracted during hour 10 and most of hour 11 as I was visiting other blogs (FYI--Princess Bookie is having a bunch of giveaways all day today). I also ate one of my caramel apples, and if you didn't know this already, let me tell you that it is impossible to eat a caramel apple and read at the same time.
I did one mini-challenge in hour 11, which was the book trailer mini-challenge hosted by Quirky Girls Read. I chose the trailer for The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland because I thought it was very beautifully done.

Hour 13

Mid-Event Survey
1.What are you reading right now?
--The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
2.How many books have you read so far?
--Just one
3.What book are you most looking forward to in the second half of the readathon?
--Anya's Ghost, and I hope I can read at least part of The Body Finder too.
4.Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
--None. I just holed up in my room all day. :)
5.Have you had many interruptions?
--Surprisingly, no. All of my suitemates left a few hours ago, so I've had the place to myself for a while.
6.What surprises you most about the readathon, so far?
--I can't say that I've had any surprises so far. I've been trying not to spend too much time online because it tends to eat up the whole hour and I get no reading done. I guess you could say that's a surprise. You can stay awake for the entire readathon and get no reading done if you get too caught up in what's happening online!
7.Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the readathon next year?
--Hmmm . . . not that I can think of. I think the readathon is run really well.
8.What would you do differently as a Reader if you were to do this again next year?
--I might get up early and try doing the readathon from Hour 1 that time, see how much of a different that makes in my experience of it. 
9.Are you getting tired yet?
--No, but that's because I didn't get up until noon. :)
10.Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders?
--Well, this is my first year participating, so I don't think I have the experience yet to give tips, but I will share some tips that other experienced readathoners gave me--have lots of snacks, pick short and easy books to read, don't feel you have to finish the book you started but go on to another book if the one you are currently reading isn't holding your interest, take a break (or two or three or however many you need) so you don't feel overwhelmed, and most important of all, keep it fun!!

Hours 14-17
Pages Read: 110
Mini-Challenges: Feed Me, Seymour hosted by Fancy Terrible, Friendship hosted by A World of Paper Hearts, and Song-Identity hosted by Taiwandering

Rereading mini-challenge hosted by The Bluestocking Society
Top Favorite rereads of all-time:
1. Ella Enchanted (favorite middle-grade book-I can devour this one in a couple of hours and it never gets old)
2. I Am Charlotte Simmons (a college-aged protagonist I can really connect with, except for her shallowness)
3. So Many Books, So Little Time (my stand-by to help get me out of those awful reading slumps)
4. An Alchemy of Mind (combining neuroscience, travel, and nature--three of my favorite things :)
5. The Great Gatsby (The imagery in this book is beautiful--I love getting lost in it)
6. The Twilight Saga (I've read this series a dozen times and I'm still not tired of it)

Hours 18-20
Pages Read: 210
Book Finished: The Sea of Monsters
Book Started: Anya's Ghost

Hour 21
Pages Read: 121
Book Finished: Anya's Ghost

Well, it's nearing 5am here and I am exhausted. I think I'm going to call it a day and end my readathon time here. I finished three books, which was my goal! Yay! Now, I need to get some sleep because I have a five page paper to write that's due on Monday.

It's been fun! I look forward to joining in on the next readathon. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Re-Readathon (Nov. 18-20)

Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner is hosting a Re-readathon from November 18-20 when participants will spend the weekend rereading books they loved. I was really excited to hear about this because, if you read my last Why I Love Wednesday post, you'll know that I have been dying to reread Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers trilogy, and this re-readathon is a perfect excuse to do it! This readathon is a casual, go-at-your-own-pace kind of a deal. If you're interested in participating, click on the first link and sign up there using the Mr. Linky at the bottom of that post.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Top Ten Books I Bought Because of Their Covers or Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find upcoming topics at their Top Ten Tuesday page.

Top Five Books I Bought Because of Their Covers:


Top Five Books I Bought Because of Their Titles:

No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook and Pay the Rent You Blew It Cauze Bill Bailey Ain't Never Coming Home Again: A Symphonic Novel by Edgardo Vega Yunque (I saw this book at my favorite used bookstore and I couldn't resist buying it. I've never seen a book with a title this long. I still haven't read the book yet, even though I bought it years ago when I was still in high school.)

The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore (I read this right away when I got it in the mail, and it did not disappoint. It's freakin' HILARIOUS!)

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (The cover is pretty awesome too. I'm honestly not sure if I bought it more for the title or for the cover. It might be a tie.)

The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico by Sarah McCoy (Technically, I didn't actually buy this book but won it in the first-reads giveaways on Goodreads, but I'd say that 70% of the reason I entered to win was because of the title. It turned out to be one of my favorite Goodreads wins, though that may have had something to do with the fact that the author also sent a box of Puerto Rican goodies along with the book :D )

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson (Alright, I didn't buy this book either-I checked it out from the library-but how could you not be curious enough to pick up this book after reading the title?)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Readathon Pile!!



Soooo excited for my first readathon!! It's just a week away now!

I plan to start with Charlotte's Web and end the read-a-thon with Anya's Ghost (I figured a graphic novel would be the easiest book to read after being up and reading for hours), but that's as far as I have planned. I'm still unsure what book I'd like to read after Charlotte's Web, though I'm leaning towards The Sea of Monsters. I am a slow reader, so I'll be proud of myself if I just get through those three books, but I'll do my best to get through all six.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: Starstruck

Title: Starstruck
Author: Cyn Balog
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 256
Where I Got This Book: Own
Rating: 3 Stars

Goodreads Summary: Gwendolyn "Dough" X doesn't think she has much going for her—she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don't seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman—or "Wish." He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via e-mail, and he's been her long-distance BF ever since.

At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish e-mails that he's moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish—according to his Facebook photos—has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she'll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.

But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she's just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there's more to Wish's good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish's neck marks him as a member of the Luminati—an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough's love meant to be—or are they star-crossed?

My Thoughts: I needed a book that I could read in one day (it was the last day of Fall Break before I had to go back to school), and this book fit the bill being around 250 pages and having a paranormal romance story line, which I can always devour quickly. I enjoyed the different paranormal twist about using the stars to influence how others see you. There isn't another paranormal YA novel that I know of that has this same story line, so I liked that it was unique in a genre that tends to follow one trend for months and beats it to death until you're begging for something new.

With that said, I did have a couple of complaints about this book. For one, I thought Dough was way too obsessed with her weight. Every single thought she had dealt with her insecurities about her body, and that is no exaggeration. You couldn't read a single paragraph without her mentioning her "dimply thighs". Of course I can understand a teenage girl being weight-obsessed, but Dough thought of nothing else except how fat she was and how worthless that made her when compared to her gorgeous boyfriend. She should have had more depth than that.

I also had a problem with how the "mystery" of Wish's sudden transformation from geek to god was discovered (I know that there really isn't a mystery surrounding Wish since his secret is given away in the summary, but still). It felt like such a cop out. A teenage boy named Christian happens to get hired at Dough's family bakery at the exact same time Wish moves back, he happens to be from California where Wish just moved from, and he happens to have also dabbled in the magic of the stars. Christian actually knew what Wish was up to after seeing him just once from a distance. I mean, really? Did it all have to happen so fast? The entire book takes place in just a week's time because everything was figured out so quickly.

All in all, I thought Starstruck was a rather mediocre read that served as decent entertainment for one evening. The characters weren't very memorable and the story felt too rushed, but I'd still call it an okay read. I never had a desire to set it down; it kept me turning the pages. I'm still interested in reading Balog's Sleepless because I've heard great things about it from trusted bloggers. I just hope the characters and the story in that book are more fleshed out than they were in Starstruck.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why I Love Wednesdays: Favorite Series

Reflections of a Bookaholic

Why I Love Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Alexis at Reflections of a Bookaholic. Every Wednesday, she discusses a different literary topic. The topic this week is your favorite book series.

Why I Love . . . The Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

I was tempted to write about Twilight for this post because it is the only series that I have read numerous times, but I've had Darkest Powers on the brain lately. I've been dying to reread it, but I am one of those people who plan out (or try to plan out) which books I'll be reading months ahead of time, and I am booked solid until February (a lot of this has to do with the Fall/Winter challenge I partake in every year in my College Students group on Goodreads--see the Challenges page above). So, I won't be rereading this series until at least next Spring.

I think Chloe is one of the greatest heroines in young adult literature, mainly because she's so real. She's barely five feet tall, has hair problems, stutters when she's nervous, and she has a very realistic reaction when she discovers that she can see ghosts--she freaks. And even though Chloe isn't as kick-ass as Rose Hathaway in Vampire Academy, she's not a damsel-in-distress either. She takes control and ends up being the leader of the group (or at least she switches off being alpha and beta with Derek), partly because she's the most powerful of everyone else, though that also causes a lot of problems for her, such as bringing corpses to life without even trying.

I also love Chloe and Derek's relationship. For one thing, Derek is not the typical heartthrob love interest, but instead he's described as having bad acne and body odor, both being side effects of his gradual change to a werewolf which causes his hormones to get out of control during puberty.  He's also described as being Superman strong, a science/math genius, and a person who puts his family and friends' well-being ahead of his own. I thought he was quite swoon-worthy myself, even if he wasn't male model gorgeous. I love him because of his personality. True, he can be a bit too overprotective and domineering at times, but Chloe holds her own against him. Chloe and Derek have a love/hate relationship for the majority of the trilogy, and I love their bantering. In the third book, the scenes when they both start admitting their feelings for one another make up some of the sweetest moments of the series.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme that was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie and created by Kristi at The Story Siren.

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson (received from Macmillan/MacTeen Books)
Death Sentence by Alexander Gordon Smith (received from Macmillan/MacTeen Books)
Hades by Alexandra Adornetto (received from Macmillan/MacTeen Books)
As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott (won in a giveaway hosted by Anna @ Anna Reads and received from the author)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review: Witches of East End

Title: Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family, #1)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 272
Where I Got This Book: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Rating; 4 Stars

Goodreads Summary: The three Beauchamp women--Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid--live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. Their beautiful, mist-shrouded town seems almost stuck in time, and all three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful existences. But they are harboring a mighty secret--they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, there's Freya, the wild child, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache. 

For centuries, all three women have been forced to suppress their abilities. But then Freya, who is about to get married to the wealthy and mysterious Bran Gardiner, finds that her increasingly complicated romantic life makes it more difficult than ever to hide her secret. Soon Ingrid and Joanna confront similar dilemmas, and the Beauchamp women realize they can no longer conceal their true selves. They unearth their wands from the attic, dust off their broomsticks, and begin casting spells on the townspeople. It all seems like a bit of good-natured, innocent magic, but then mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town. When a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it's time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them.

With a brand-new cast of characters, a fascinating and fresh world to discover, and a few surprise appearances from some of the Blue Blood fan favorites, this is a page-turning, deliciously fun, magical summer read fraught with love affairs, witchcraft, and an unforgettable battle between good and evil.

My Thoughts: This was a fun, fast read. I'm surprised I enjoyed it so much because I didn't particularly like the characters, and that's usually a must for me in order to enjoy the book--or, if the character is supposed to be unlikeable, then I should at least find him/her interesting. 

However, I thought Ingrid was very dull. I don't usually call an independent female character frigid or classify her as a spinter, but there's no getting around that with Ingrid. She turned down every single guy who asked her out (nice, smart guys too), and had been doing so for centuries. I just didn't get it. How could she be so completely closed off to dating? What's her reason for feeling that way? Then there's the mother, Joanna, who I had a hard time getting interested in. 

The only one of the three women I liked was Freya, which was surprising since she was cheating on her fiance with his brother, and as a rule I hate anyone who resorts to cheating. There's no excuse for it. However, Freya was the only one with any spice to her and she really carried the story for me. 

The ending was amazing! I never saw that plot twist coming and I loved it! And then, of course, we're hit with that awful cliffhanger, which I refuse to really give much weight to. I was really hoping that Freya could have her amazing, meant-to-be relationship with her soulmate, but it looks like there's going to be some major complications. I can only hope that it all turns out to be a horrible misunderstanding in the end. I seriously cannot wait for the second book to see how it all plays out.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Sweet Valley Confidential

Title: Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later
Author: Francine Pascal
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 293
Where I Got This Book: Library
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Goodreads Summary: Now with this striking new adult novel from author and creator Francine Pascal, millions of devoted fans can finally return to the idyllic Sweet Valley, home of the phenomenally successful book series and franchise. Iconic and beloved identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are back and all grown up, dealing with the complicated adult world of love, careers, betrayal, and sisterhood.

My Thoughts: Sweet Valley High (and all its spin-offs, from Twins to University) were pretty much all I read in elementary school and going into junior high, so obviously this book was a must-read.

**Warning**: There are spoilers in this review, although I use the term spoiler lightly since I believe that this book is incredibly predictable. After the first chapter, you know exactly where the story will end up.

I finished this book in less than two days and I was left with very mixed feelings about it. I loved reading Elizabeth's chapters and learning about her new life as a journalist in NYC. Elizabeth has always been my favorite twin and it was nice to see her living the life she wanted (at least as far as her career was concerned). As for Jessica, I outright hated her in this book. I always knew she was self-centered and narcissistic but she had always had a charm to her too. In this book, there was no charm. She was just a cold-hearted b**** who slept with her twin's fiance.

Thinking back on SVH books, though, I have to admit that Jessica has done some pretty screwed up things in the past. The first thing that comes to mind is when she spiked her sister's drink at a school dance. Elizabeth ended up leaving the party with Jessica's boyfriend (Sam Woodruff? I'm not 100% sure on the name)-not aware she was drunk-and crashed the car, killing Sam instantly. Jessica basically called Elizabeth a murderer and did not fess up to her part in all of it until Elizabeth had already begun defending herself in court for the charge of manslaughter. Yep, pretty screwed up. Alright, enough of memory lane. On with book at hand.

I hated reading about that part when Jessica had the [month long!!] affair with Todd in college. Reading about how it all happened did not justify it for me at all. She didn't even try to stop herself. They kissed once in the car and then sped to Todd's apartment to have sex, while poor Elizabeth was lying oblivious in her room, sick with the flu.

Reading Jessica's parts was not only frustrating for me because of her actions but also because it was just poorly written. There were so many "likes" and "sos" thrown into her narrative, and it was like so totally annoying to read. It also made her sound stupid, as if she really was just some dumb barbie-doll Valley girl.

I have to admit, though, that I started to warm up (a tiny bit) to her character once Elizabeth finally confronted her. The twins had been split apart for the whole book, and the first real scene when they're together doesn't happen until about 200 pages in. Just having the twin dynamic back made me more open to Jessica--I was becoming more like Elizabeth and willing to forgive her for anything. However, despite all that, I thought Elizabeth forgave her twin way too quickly. What Jessica did was incredibly wrong and she had no justification for it (I just wasn't buying that she and Todd were truly in love-they had zero chemistry). Even after everything she did, she still got her happy ending. Ugh.

I was really happy that Elizabeth got together with Bruce Patman in the end, though. I thought they made an interesting couple. It almost made up for the screwed up way that her and Todd's meant-to-be relationship ended.

All in all, I'd recommend that you don't buy this book but check it out from the library instead. I don't think it's worth spending money on, but it's not a waste of time to read either, especially if you're a die-hard SV fan.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Top Ten Book Endings That Left Me With My Mouth Hanging Open

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find upcoming topics at their Top Ten Tuesday page.

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I expect to see this book on a lot of people's lists. A very beloved character dies at the end, and that was highly unanticipated. At least, I never saw that coming. When my parents saw the movie, they were in denial at the end and expected to see a resurrection in the 7th movie. I was just like "Sorry Mom and Dad, but said character is gone for good' (Am I being too cautious by not revealing this spoiler? Are any Harry Potter spoilers a secret anymore?)

2. Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, #3) by Richelle Mead

Noooooo! This can't be! Not Dimitri!! Those were my only thoughts at the end of this book. You just don't expect these things to happen to main characters. It was only the third book in the series (out of six), so I had no idea where this turn of events would lead.

3. Rebecca by Daphe du Maurier

The last sixty pages of Rebecca really sucked me in. I was so keyed up as I tried to guess what would happen to Maxim. I came up with half a dozen scenarios in my head, all of them worse (as in unhappy) endings than what actually happened. I was never so invested in trying to figure out the mystery in a book before. Wow. It was a trip.

4. Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

WORST CLIFFHANGER EVER!!! I am dying for the second book in this series. I refuse to believe that Freya's soul-mate is actually evil. I mean, he's her true love and has been for centuries. It would be way too sad.

5. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

I'm not a huge fan of plays. I like them alright, but every play I've read has been for a class. However, Hamlet I genuinely love and I've reread it a couple of times for pleasure. I think one of the main reasons for that is how mindblowing the ending is. The last scene is just death after death after death. There's no break from the mayhem. The play ends with a bunch of dead bodies littering the floor.

6. The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

I thought this book was pretty slow for the majority of it. I still really enjoyed it, but there wasn't any action in it at all. That is, there wasn't any action until the very end (as in the last ten pages) when the characters are suddenly being hit from all sides and fighting for their lives.
7. Shadowland (The Immortals, #3) by Alyson Noel

Ugh. This book frustated the heck out of me, and the ending was so awful. I can't believe the decision that Ever made regarding Haven. Hasn't she learned not to trust her impulses by now? I found myself disliking Ever more and more as I was getting into the series and that choice she made at the end of book 3 was the last straw for me. I utterly hated her after that and I decided to stop reading the series. I'm sorry to anyone who loves this series, but I just couldn't handle the characters anymore. I was getting way too annoyed with most of them and the ones that didn't frustrate me were still not quite likeable. I just felt neutral towards them. It didn't make any sense to continue a series that I wasn't enjoying.

8. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

I honestly did not see the twist coming. I was so certain about the identity of the blue-blood woman who was having an affair and the reveal at the end truly came as a surprise to me. I feel like I'm the only one who felt this way though. Based on the reviews I've read, no one else seemed to be thrown by the ending.

9. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

This seems to be a love it or hate it type of book. I, personally, loved it. I can't say that the ending really surprised me because I never completely trusted Elspeth, but it did leave me wondering if Elspeth ever actually had good intentions toward Valentina or if she was just purely manipulative.

10. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This book didn't actually leave me "with me mouth hanging open," but I needed a tenth book and this was the best one I could think of. I just reviewed it on this blog and I mentioned that the ending was a nail-biter, which is true. There were very little pages left and Miranda was stranded out in the snow, waiting to die. I had no idea how this story was going to conclude, and as the pages dwindled down I was actually getting nervous that the book would just end with Miranda freezing in the snow.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: Shiver

Title: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 390
Where I Got This Book: Library
Rating: 3 Stars

Goodreads Summary:

the cold. 
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.

the heat.
Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now.

the shiver.
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

My Thoughts: When I first heard of this series, there seemed to be a lot of controversy about whether or not Stiefvater had stolen a few of Meyer's ideas from her series. That and the fact that I'm just not that into werewolves prevented me from giving this book a try. What finally convinced me to read it was discovering that each book in the series was printed using a different colored ink for the text. I thought that this was such a neat idea and it was something I had never come across before, so that made me curious enough to pick it up.  

I thought it was well-written and I loved how the author wrote about the wolves. It was interesting that once a person shifted they truly become a wild wolf, with very little to no connection with their human counterpart. I honestly did not see any connection between Shiver and Twilight. Even the mind-reading thing was written quite differently. My only problem with the book is that I couldn't really feel anything for Sam and Grace, and since they are the two main characters that turned out to be a big problem. I didn't hate them or anything--I was just 'meh' about them and their relationship. Actually, if I'm being really honest, I would have to say that I actually did dislike their relationship at times--there were some cutesy scenes between the two that were just cringe-worthy to me.

I also believe that with the way Shiver ended, it could easily have been a standalone novel. I saw no reason why the author felt the need to expand the story into two more books. However, I will continue reading the series to see what the author has come up with, and so that I can hopefully feel something more for Sam and Grace and see their relationship grow.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review: Life As We Knew It

Title: Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1)
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Pages: 337
Where I Got This Book: Library
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Goodreads Summary: Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.

My Thoughts: When I first started this novel and realized it was written in diary entries, I was a little unsure how much I would actually enjoy it-I don't really like epistolary-type novels.  However, the writing didn't really come across as a teenage girl's diary.  It was very detailed and had full dialogue.  This certainly ruined the effect of reading a diary, but that proved to be a good thing for me.

It started out kind of slow, but once I got halfway through I zoomed through the rest.  The entire concept of the moon being knocked out of orbit and causing numerous natural disasters (tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions) was very realistic to me. However, it did surprise me that no one, according to Miranda, had thought of this possibility when they all first discovered that the meteor would hit.  No scientists/astronomers ever seemed to consider how it could affect the earth.  I think if I was ever told that a meteor would hit the moon, I would be a little more worried than any of the people in this book appeared to be.  Miranda actually thought the whole thing was rather boring--until the meteor actually hit and caused all the disasters of course.

This is a great apocalyptic novel. You can really feel the characters' hunger, how freezing they are in this new world with no sun, and how isolated they feel. They can't risk going out into the world, so the family sticks together and lives out the months of winter in their small house. The small setting actually seems to help bring the story to life more. It becomes very character-driven and each family member was very well-rounded.

I liked how well Miranda's relationship with her Mom was written--all of the tension, heated arguments, and bonding moments mixed in together. It all felt very true to how a teenage girl and her mother would act with one another.  And I disagree with Miranda's belief that her younger brother Jonny has the best chance of surviving.  Miranda seems like the real survivor in her family, and I'm really rooting for her (for all of them). The ending was quite a nail biter and I loved that.

The second book in the trilogy,The Dead and the Gone, sounds amazing.  I'm excited that it takes place in NYC because I've been curious about how things are in other places in the country/world.  I wish the last book went on to focus on a third person in another location so I could get an even bigger picture of what the world was like, but it will be nice to continue Miranda's story, so I won't complain that the author decided to finish out the series by going back to Miranda and her family.