Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review: Goliath

Title: Goliath
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Published: 2011 by Simon & Schuster
Version: Hardcover
Obtained: Bought

Alek and Deryn are aboard the Leviathan when the ship is ordered to pick up an unusual passenger. This brilliant/maniacal inventor claims to have a weapon called Goliath that can end the war. But whose side is he really on?

While on their top-secret mission, Alek finally discovers Deryn’s deeply kept secret. Two, actually. Not only is Deryn a girl disguised as a guy . . . she has feelings for Alek.

The crown, true love with a commoner, and the destruction of a great city all hang on Alek’s next – and final – move.

First Sentence:
"'Siberia,’ Alek said. The word slipped cold and hard from his tongue, as forbidding as the landscape passing below."


Amazing. I just love this series.

The storyline in this book was a bit more complicated, but it was just as exciting and compelling as the previous two installments. I don’t want to get too much into the plot, because it’s very intricate and hard to summarize, but basically, Alek struggles with deciding who to support and what to do about the war. Deryn continues to try and keep her secret, but wants to tell Alek. Yet they are both doing their part to end the war, everything they can.

When the inevitable moment of Alek learning about Deryn’s true identity came, I was worried it would happen in a oh-you’re-a-girl-well-i-guess-that’s-okay way or in a YOU’RE-A-GIRL?-I-HATE-YOU-DON’T-TALK-TO-ME-AGAIN way. But it wasn’t either. I thought it was incredibly realistic (not that it’s something that happens often in reality).

Throughout this series, the reader becomes very attached to the characters. Especially to Deryn and Alek, as we live in their world, face their issues, and become friends with them. Alek has matured from a snobby annoying prince into a well-rounded young man who is figuring out his life. Deryn has become more smart and confident throughout her journey as a boy. She’s come to figure herself out more. Together they are completely perfect. Best friends, and they like each other.

One thing I have immensely enjoyed about the Leviathan Trilogy is the artwork. Keith Thompson’s drawings are a fantastic addition to the story, and I love that Westerfeld decided to include actual imagery in his series.

It’s always hard to see an incredible book series come to a close. It’s very difficult to accept that Deryn and Alek’s story is over.

But wait!

Scott Westerfeld wrote a little “author-fic” on his blog:
He realized we needed more than the ending he gave us. So if you’ve read Goliath, go read the bonus chapter! It’s great.

I have simply loved this series. Scott Westerfeld is incredible. The Uglies series is amazing, and so is this series. If you haven’t read these yet, you need to. Now. :)

Content Warning: Nothing I can think of.


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Monday, December 26, 2011

In My Mailbox (3)

Hey, I had too many to make a simple post about, so I did another video “In My Mailbox”.

Here is the list of books:

In the Mail:
First Date - Krista McGee

Torrent - Lisa T. Bergren
The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson
Variant - Robison Wells
The Agency: A Spy in the House - Y.S. Lee

December Scholastic Book Fair:
The Waterless Sea - Kate Constable
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Devastation - Gloria Skurzynski
Unwind - Neal Shusterman
Birthmarked - Caragh M. O'Brien
A Crack in the Sky - Mark Peter Hughes
Dark Life - Kat Falls
Ship Breaker - Paolo Bacigalupi
Thirteenth Child - Patricia C. Wrede

Christmas Gifts:
Journey to the River Sea - Eva Ibbotson
Ruined - Paula Morris
Fever Crumb - Philip Reeve
Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys
The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan

- Sorry for continually repeating "I've heard good things about this book" and "I'm really excited about this book". I TRULY am excited about ALL of them....and I couldn't think of any other ways of saying that. :)

Thanks for watching!!
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Review: Pride & Popularity

Title: Pride & Popularity
Author: Jenni James
Published: 2011 by Inkberry Press
Version Read: Paperback
Obtained: Won in Goodreads Giveaway

Chloe Elizabeth Hart despises the conceited antics of the popular crowd, or more importantly, one very annoying self-possessed guy, Taylor Anderson, who seems determined to make her the president of his fan club! As if! Every girl in the whole city of Farmington, New Mexico, is in love with him, but he seems to be only interested in Chloe. This modern high school adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is a battle of wits as Chloe desperately tries to remain the only girl who can avoid the inevitable falling for Taylor.

First Sentence:
"'Taylor Anderson is the hottest guy ever!' Madison said as she leaned in closer to me to catch a better view of him moving across the concrete basketball court in our local park."

Reading this book was like sipping lemonade in hammock on a lovely, not-sweltering, summer day. It was just so refreshingly sweet. Also it’s a modern adaption of Pride & Prejudice,  so it wins.

Chloe has been avoiding Taylor Anderson since she moved to town. Their first encounter was slightly embarrassing, causing her to realize that he was a no-good, vain, overly flirtatious, popular boy. As for Taylor, well he feels pressured to maintain his status as most-desirable by constantly having a girlfriend and being the stereotypical popular kid. Taylor flirts with Chloe, assuming he’ll get the same results as with everyone else, but she surprises him by ignoring and basically loathing him. All in all, we have the two main characters from Pride & Prejudice, including Charlotte, Mr. Collins, Jane, Mr. Bingley, Mr. Wickham, Lydia, Georgiana, Miss Bingley, Lady Catherine, etc, who all are represented in the amazing side characters.

Aside from my love-hate relationship with the cover (the picture is too close up for me…), I adored this book. I loved Taylor and Chloe, who so perfectly embodied the famous characters of Darcy and Elizabeth. One of my absolutely favorite things when reading an adaption is trying to figure out who stands for whom, and this book kept me guessing. I LOVED the way Mr. Collins was depicted! PERFECT modern version of him!

You should definitely go read this, as it is entertaining, adorable, and just CUTE. Therefore, go forth and find it. :)

Content Warnings: Kissing, possibly some mild language (I can’t remember).


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Review: Dark Mirror

Dark Mirror
Author: M. J. Putney
Published: 2011 by St. Martin’s Press
Version Read: Paperback
Obtained: Bought

At sixteen, Lady Victoria Mansfield, youngest daughter of the earl and countess of Fairmount, is destined for a charmed life and her choice of mates worthy of her status. Then she makes a terrifying discovery that will ruin her life and disgrace her family forever. Tory’s blood is tainted . . . by magic.

When a shocking accident forces Tory to reveal her despised skill, she is immediately exiled to Lackland Abbey, a reform school for young men and women in her position. Tory’s greatest wish is to be cured so she can return home and perhaps recover some of her shattered life.

Instead, curiosity and the lure of magic lead Tory to rebel students who have pledged their talents to protect England. As she joins them in their secret studies, she discovers her full powers – and is drawn to the handsome, enigmatic young Marquis of Allarde. But Allarde’s reserve and haunting secret keep him away, though she can see equal longing in his eyes.

Then Tory’s pledge sweeps her and her friends into a perilous world of danger, challenge, and a triumph that saves Britain from conquest. Can danger also bring Tory and Allarde together, despite all that stands between them?

First Sentence:
"Lady Victoria Mansfield flew high, high over her family’s estate."

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Let me count the ways!
  1. Tory was an amazing protagonist. She’s smart, strong, and yet still vulnerable. In the beginning she was so brainwashed by her society, that she didn’t even consider the idea that magic could be good.
  2. The main idea of high society considering magic as disgraceful was very creative. I loved the short prologue that revealed why magic was decided to be a lower class thing. In most any book concerning magic, it is usually the coveted thing. If people get grumpy about magic, it’s usually because they’re jealous or something, but here, magic was looked down upon. It was considered a complete curse, even though the kid couldn’t help having the different talents.
  3. The time-traveling aspect. I loved that the mirror wasn’t considered something “cool”, it was scary and frustrating, but sadly needed. Time-travel is always fun, and I loved watching the characters have to get used to the clothing styles, the technology, and everything. :)
  4. Cynthia, Elspeth, Nick, Polly, Miss Wheaton, Mrs. Rainford and all the supporting characters were each unique and fascinating. Cynthia was a bit annoying, but you got used to her. Elspeth has this amazing quiet strength, Nick and Polly are so darn brave, and the two women are so loving towards these kids they love.

There is one little-itty-bitty thing I didn’t completely love: Allarde.
Before you freak out on me, let me explain myself.
I think the synopsis thingy sets up their relationship very differently than it truly is. It’s more of a “oh that guy is hot” thing on her side, and then for him, he’s just distant, aside from showing more interest in her than any other girl (when I say “interest”, I mean talking to her like twice). Then later on he reveals his “secret” to her. I don’t really know what I’m trying to say about this except that I feel the last couple sentences of the synopsis set their relationship up like a star-crossed lovers thing, and it isn’t. I like him, I like her, I like them together. But it isn’t some CRAZY romance. It’s just normal.

All in all, it was rather great, and I hope to get the sequel, Dark Passage, soon.

Content Warnings: Mild language, kissing.


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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Review: Cascade

Title: Cascade
Author: Lisa T. Bergren
Published: 2011 by David C. Cook
Obtained: Library

Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.

But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever.

First Sentence:
"Mom freaked out when she saw us, of course."

Here is my review of the first book:
Waterfall Review

This series just keeps getting better and better.
I have yet to read the last book, Torrent, but if this one is any indication, the third one should be stunningly amazing.

Continuing exactly where the first one left off, Gabi and Lia convince their mother to return to the past with them. Showing up months later, they realize the battles are still far from over, and there is betrayal in the ranks. Also, Gabi and Marcello work out their relationship, which has some issues that should be obvious: they are from completely different time periods.

If I could pick one aspect of this series that I adore, it would be the “epic” adventures. They start so innocently. “Let’s go watch a soldier get reunited with his family!” Complications arise, they rush off to one place, more complications, leave that place, split up, run away, hide out, get caught, run away, split up, get caught, rescued, fight to escape, run back . . . and what? MORE COMPLICATIONS! Before you realize it, almost the entire book has gone by and the entire adventure was based off of one little expedition. IT’S CRAZY! But completely awesome. This chain reaction style adventure is addicting, you can’t stop reading because from that one moment, everything changes and everything is at stake.

My one issue with this series is the Lia-Luca thread. I love her. I love Luca. I love her and Luca together. I probably love them more than Gabi and Marcello. The author is obviously trying to continue their relationship and make it’s developments of interest to the reader, but it’s difficult with the first-person narrative of Gabi. As a reader, I want to enjoy the moments in Luca and Lia’s relationship, but it’s impossible when we’re just with Gabi. Gabi and Marcello step out on Lia and Luca “to give them some time alone.” WELL DARN. Because I wanted to see what happened there.
I’m thinking that the way to fix this little problem would have been to either have multiple narrators, both girls narrate alternating chapters, or have switched up the narrators each book. But at the same time, I wouldn’t have liked that too much because Gabi does all the interesting stuff.
If I’m remembering correctly, I do believe that Lia and Luca will have their own little book series soon, and that makes me extremely happy. Finish up this Marcello/Gabi thing and move on to the other couple.

All in all, this was a completely fantastic book, even better than the first one. I can’t wait to get the third one from the library.

Content Warnings: Kissing


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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Review: One Night That Changes Everything

Title: One Night That Changes Everything
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Published: 2010 by Simon & Schuster
Obtained: Library

Eliza is in a full-blown panic. Her notebook has been stolen – the one that lists everything she wants but is afraid to go after. And the absolute worst person in the world has it: her ex-boyfriend, Cooper.

Like it’s not bad enough that Cooper was lying to Eliza for their entire relationship – now he and his friends are blackmailing her. They’re giving her just one night to complete the most humiliating tasks on her list or they’ll post her secrets online – including the ones that aren’t just about her.

Eliza’s sure of only one thing: she isn’t going down without a fight. Cooper may have what’s left of her dignity, but she’s not the only one with something to hide . . .

First Sentence:
"I lose everything. Keys, my wallet, money, library books."

I’m actually surprised that I enjoyed this book. I picked it up because I heard a couple good things about it, the front flap description sounded interesting, and it was short.

This book was my Halloween night. Reluctantly, I decided that 17 is too old to trick-or-treat, so my evening consisted of me reading this book in a living room chair and getting up every 2 seconds to give candy to un-costumed teenagers with backpacks. (What do they think this is? Free-candy-hand-out-day? And yeah, my neighborhood might be a little ghetto, but can they not just put a dumb sports jersey on or something? It’s not that difficult to make a little effort and actually be deserving of getting candy. I love questioning the obviously un – costumed ones: “And what are you dressed as?” “Uhh, you know, myself!” “Fine. HAVE some candy.”) There were some cute costumed kids also.
Anywho, I finished this book in that one night.

The tale of Eliza is an inspiring and meaningful tale of reaching deep inside and facing your fears. Eliza has one crazy night, during which she must accomplish brave feats such as karaoke, swimsuit pictures, kissing boys, and the like. *gasp* During her perilous adventures she learns a lot about her friends, her ex-boyfriend, and herself.

That sounded so sarcastic, but I didn’t hate it. I enjoyed it for what it essentially is: a fluffy, contemporary, fast-paced novel with some cheese.

Eliza was pretty annoying. It wasn’t just her character flaws, which she had to rise above, it was her strange personality. She was just … a weird person. I mean, she was relatable on occasion, but usually I was confused by her choices.

I loved that her two friends, Clarice and Marissa, were well-rounded side-characters. We learn about their personal issues, and I was very interested in seeing their outcome would in the story.
It’s almost like there are three main characters and that you just have the first person narrative of one of them. I cared just as much about Marissa and Clarice doing the right things, as I did about Eliza.

As for Cooper, I could totally tell he was nice from the beginning-ish, but Eliza was blinded by her hate. Shame.

This is a great one-night-read, because well, the story is all in one night, so that’s appropriate. Also the fast pace and short size make it easy to read in one night. Don’t go in expecting a mind-blowing plot, but it’s a cute story.

Content Warning: Language, kissing, mention of sex, etc.


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Thursday, December 1, 2011

In My Mailbox (2)

What I Received (all written out for easy reference):

Giveaway Prizes:
Life on Hold – Karen McQuestion
Favorite – Karen McQuestion

Older Library Trip:
Ripple – Mandy  Hubbard
Birthmarked – Caragh M. O’Brien
Boston Jane – Jennifer L. Holm

Monday (11/28/11) Library Trip:
Girl of Fire and Thorns – Rae Carson
Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
Miss Match – Erynn Mangum
Wisdom’s Kiss – Catherine Gilbert Murdock

What did you get this week? :)

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