Authors and Publishers

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: Halo

Alexandra Adornetto 
★★ ☆☆☆

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher:Feiwel & Friends
 Halo, sadly to say, was painfully flat. First off, it’s a massive book, just under 500 pages, that moves at a slow pace and goes practically nowhere. Adornetto tries hard to sound professional, but comes across like a dictionary that was blended up, swallowed by an alien, and vomited onto the pages. Yes, details are important, but 100 pages about the set up- although very important to a fantasy novel- is a bit over the top, don’t you think?
Then there is Bethany, the main character. Bethany's naivetĂ© about life on Earth is amusing in the beginning but as the story progresses it begins to sounds…false. Everything seems to come easily to the angels: they are preternaturally good looking, they inevitably excel at everything they do, they glow- literally. And yet, Bethany can't figure out how to talk to other teenagers when they use slang or reference pop culture? She finds herself tongue-tied and completely obsessed by the first (literally the first, I'm serious) good looking boy she sees. What?
On top of that, everything about Halo felt very contrived.
As a teen writer myself I get that she’s trying, but has she read her own book? It sucks!
I had high hopes for this book. I liked the concept of the story and the cover art is amazing. If it had been delivered properly, this would have been an amazing book. It felt clique and… just bad, just really bad. I couldn’t finish it. I got half way and just had to put it down. If it takes forever to get to the main idea of the story, then there is no reason to read the book at all.
Sorry to all of you who loved the book and to Alexandra Adornetto. I wish her the best, but I will not be reading the sequel.
Be warned.

Book Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy

Suzanne Collins
★★★★★Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: ---
Publisher: Scholastic Press
It's a bit hard to summarize this entire series, so check it out here:

This series was a hauntingly delicious tale that I could not put down. YA fiction has found a new crown jewel that must be adorned on gold immediately. I know that practically everyone has read these books, or is just waiting for the movie, but I’ve read all these books a while back now and I must say, if I had to choose my favorite series, it would be this. I absorbed every word of Suzanne Collins. The story was thrilling and adventurous.
The only thing bad about it was Katniss. I found that she was just… detached from people, almost undeveloped, but is also something about her that I liked. She was brave yet still human through the horrors she endured. It was not my usual fantasy high and yet it was still brilliant. The second book -Catching Fire- lagged a bit for me, basically a remake of book one, but still kept me reading. Mockingjay was the greatest conclusion to any serise I have ever read. There are no words to express the emotions I went through in the few short hours it took me to read this marvelous book.
Collins is not afraid to shed some blood. Exciting, thrilling, and just plain brilliant, this is a series you do not want to miss!

On Writing...

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware off, no shortcut.

-- Stephen King, On Writing

"Writing is like a disease, you either have it or you don't." -- Anne Groell, Bantam Editor, during a Pennwriters conference.

Blood Red Road by Moira Young

I've yet to aquire this book, but from the reviews I've read, it seems that it has a great plot but the way in which it is told is quite disappointing. What do yout think?

Can someone give me some details about it. I don't if there are spoilers, I'm still gonna read the book...

Movie Review: The Green Lantern

Rated: PG-13
1hr 45min.
Action/adventure/science fiction/fantasy
Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively
Peter Sarsgaard 
The Green Lantern defiantly fell short of everyone’s expectations…including my own. It was what it was. It wasn’t great, but it was that bad. I thought it started off a bit slow. A full half an hour or so went by before Hal (Ryan Reynolds) even encountered anything relating to the Green Lantern Core. That to me was a bit waste of time. Then when he did encounter the dying purple alien he didn’t react like a normal person.
Yes, I know that the Lantern picks people who show no fear blah, blah, blah, but it’s not really fear that I was looking for, just a little freaked out that a ball of green energy picked him up and dropped him off next to a dying purple alien in his spaceship that chose him to be something he has no idea about.
The details are a bit sketchy for me. I felt like the story went slow, then kinda sped up. It was bad writing, no offence to the writers. I love movies with these types of stories, but hate when they are delivered in this way. The actors were great, and Ryan was hot as ever, but not worth the money.
Great graphics and great actors, but not a great movie.

Movie Review: Bad Teacher

Rated: R
1 hr. 31 min
 ★ ★ ★ ★☆

Cameron Diaz Elizabeth Justin Timberlake Scott Delacorte Jason Segel Russell Gettis

I saw bad teacher this weekend. One word: hilarious! It’s not a story that you would think. What I mean by this is that usually in stories with characters such as Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz), who are almost vile, but not in that evil way, just really selfish and vain, you expect them to grow as characters and have redeem qualities. That’s not what really happens in Bad Teacher. However, I felt that it was a great take on the matter.

Elizabeth is looking to get a new rack, thinking that she will land herself a man to take care of her so she has money to spend and not have to work. After being dumped by her rich fiancé, she lands right back at her old job as a teacher, which is where she gets the idea that new boobs are the way to go. We travel with her as she tries to gain the money for the breasts enhancements, her persue for the new sub (Justin Timerlake), and other wacky adventures.

Funny and entertaining, this movie is defiantly worth the watch. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal are drop dead hilarious! Justin Timberlake is kinda weird. And the rest of the cast defiantly brings the story together. A must see!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: Sisters Red

Jackson Pearce
★★★★★Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback:  368 pages
Publisher: Hodder Childrens June 2010
I love Jackson Pearce. Sisters Red follows Rosie and Scarlet March, sisters who fight werewolves. When a new wolf is about to be turned, the sisters find that things are changing and will never be the same.

I really enjoyed this retelling of Red Riding Hood. It was original and creative. The book switches from the perspectives of Rosie and Scarlet, a perk of the story. We can see how different these sisters are, how one event can be different for any person.

There were some parts where I thought the story lagged in anticipation, but Jackson never failed to bring the excitement back. I think it was because I was really looking for just fight after fight, but I still loved this novel.

Different and exciting, Sisters Red is action packed with a spicy romance thrown in. I found myself lost in Jackson’s words.
A must read!

Book Review: Beastly

Alex Flinn
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304
Publisher: Harper Teen 2007

Let me start off by saying that I LOVE Beauty and the Beast! Beastly is a remake of that story, however it is set in modern day New York. Instead of a prince we have Kyle Kingsbury, a spoiled rotten private school hottie who gets turned into a beast by a witch and must find true love to break the curse.
Beastly did a marvelous job or recreating the story. It was a sweet love story that had more to it than the usual YA novels. You can see how Kyle changed throughout the story and truly became a prince. Having had the book for well over 2 years now, I can still go back and fall in love with the story the same way I did the first time. The love is gradual and blooms like a rose.
I really liked the chat room idea in the beginning. It made it more real that all the other tales we grew up with were just as real as this one.
Amazing story. My only complaint was that I wished it was longer so it wouldn't end so fast. A definite must read!

Book Review: Hush Hush

Becca Fitzpatrick
 ★ ★ ★ ★☆
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher:Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing 2009

Hush Hush was awesome, but very predictable. It has your basic YA ingredients: hot-mysterious-bad boy, pretty-yet-naive-heroine, and crazy romance-drama. Very easy to slip into and get lost in. I admit the only reason I kept going was in vain hope it would all pan out into something good through a cool plot twist or stellar character growth. But Nora just made me want to slap her, and it was obvious who the villain was…ugh hem the guy who’s never around when all the major stuff happened.
Patch is the typical "twilight era" YA hero. He's smart-mouthed, mysterious, and dangerous, and despite blatantly lacking qualities, he attracts the heroine like a bees to honey. Yep, Nora just has to wade through all his crap, because something is telling her that beneath all of Patch's jerk wad facade, there's a heart of romantic gold. How else to explain why she pursues him? Patch is one of those types that immediately rubs the heroine - and this reader - raw. He's constantly insulting Nora, and uncooperative in their typical science lab partnership. He leads her on the craziest dance I've ever seen, meanwhile Nora following behind, picking up his crumb trail of crazy as if it was honey. I say honey because even though she is highly suspicious of him, as well as wary and guarded against him, she does eventually go on to love him. How? WHY? Never once do these two have a scene worthy of igniting a romance. They only trade insults, argue and mistrust. Yet, she falls for him. Don’t get me wrong, if he had a personality, I’d fall for him too. It was love at fist argument.
I'm all for the air of forbidden desire and the excitement it can bring to a growing romantic relationship, but this wasn't romance. A hero does not prey on the heroine's fears, enjoying it all the while and then suddenly the two are "in love". Had Patch stopped being such a jerk, and Nora such an nauseating twit, perhaps a more believable romance could've risen from the ashes.
Becca Fitzpatrick creates a story that you want to read, all the while knowing what’s about to happen, then makes you curse yourself for wanting to read the damn book in the first place. It sent me on a roller-costar ride of emotions and once it let me off, I was a bit disappointed on the drop.

Still sexy fallen angels are fun to read about. If you love Twilight-ish books, you'd love this one...

Book Review: Cut

Patricia McCormick
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 151 pages
Publisher:Front Street imprint of Boyds Mills Press 2000
 Fifteen-year-old Callie has a rare problem. She's not anorexic, she's not on drugs, and she's not bulimic. She cuts herself. She finds herself at a "residential treatment facility", Sea Pines- or "Sick Minds", as she calls it- and her hurt shows its face when she refuses to talk.

I really expected this novel to be different. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, I just didn’t love it. I thought it would have been more…profound? I knew when I picked it up, it was not going to be a fantasy/fiction filled with witches and fairies (which I usually like to read) but I really expected more. I enjoyed how Callie's family life and her reasons for "cutting" were slowly explored and explained in a very natural and empathetic way, without being contrite. It presents a hopeful ending that leaves us with the feeling that Callie has emerged from her treatment stronger, wiser, and able to overcome the temptation to cut herself.
However, Cut is not a novel about the issue of cutting. It’s just about an adolescent girl’s stay at a psychiatric ward. With very little effort, this book could be rewritten as a story of a girl with an eating disorder or a substance abuse problem- to me the type of mental-health issue is unimportant to the plot. It was just a reason for her to be there- which is why I say it can easily be rewritten.
Still, it is a well written novel that presents us with an author who has an interesting voice.

Book Review: First Love

Joyce Carol Oates

Reading level: Young Adult
Publisher: Ecco (August 1, 1997)
Paperback: 86 pages

First Love tells the tale of Josie, a young girl who has ran away with her mother to family she has never met before. This tale of twisted nightmares, vividly traces a child’s enchantment with her tormentor. A psychological tale of misinterpreted love and abuse.
I have to, I don’t usually read books like this. I first read this book back in 2008 just around the time Twilight became big. I had read the books and I really need something else- a change from the vampire romances. After browsing around Amazon for a long time, somehow, I ended up on the page for First love. Like I said before, I’m not one for gushy romances, so I really didn’t jump at it and say, “Hey, I have to read this!”. I liked the cover-art which led me to read the summary. I’m a big psychology nerd and usually all psychology related books are more like crime books that are just boring to me. But then I found this amazingly-amazing-awesomely-awesome book. There is just no other way to describe it.
It took me a short time to read it- hello it’s a novella- and I enjoyed every word. It was different and mysterious and strange. I’ve read it several times since then and I still can’t put it down.I love the way JCO presents these characters and the almost sickening, yet captivating ways she illustrates the stark landscape of family secrets, religious fervor, violations of trust, psychological manipulation, and sexual obsession.
I didn’t really like the obscurity of Josie’s POV, but it’s also something I love about the book.
A tale that makes you think. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writer's Un-Blocked: What Inspires You?

Recently blogged about where I get my inspiration. This is about what inspires me. Now what inspires me is completely different from where I get my inspiration. Having inspiration is great, but I think being truly inspired means that you have elected to do something with that inspiration. You’ve decided to stop sitting around just thinking about your inspiration and have decided to turn it into something tangible, or danceable, or edible, or readable.
I think you have to want to do something with that inspiration- like write it down or film it, or whatever your medium is- instead of just thinking about it, or finding reasons to put if off.

Being inspired is just a matter of figuring out what’s important to you and just running with it. Even if seems silly and unimportant to others, it just matters how much this idea means to you and whether or not it’s important enough to put your whole self into it.
So, the question is: what inspires you?
Brenda Ueland

Writer's Un-Blocked: Getting the Idea

Where do you get your inspiration? You wanna know where I get my ideas for writing? Simple: I steal it. Well, some of it…
Now, hold on. Before you go calling the cop on me, here is what I mean. I steal things to put in my books from everywhere and everyone. Bits of conversations, personality trait… physical features… like having large ears…
That’s not to say I’ve never had an original thought in my life, just that I believe that an author writes from his or her own personal understanding. If J. K. Rowling had never learned about witched and wizards, as in she was completely oblivious to that concept at all, we never would have had the HAPPY POTTER series.
I’ve heard people say that they don’t like to use “real” people for their writing, while I do. “Real” people are the kinds of characters I want. It’s more believable to me when I use certain traits and characteristic from my friends and family because they are the most “real” characters I know. And it’s those “Mary Sue” characters (for those of you who don’t know what a Mary Sue character is, it’s a character who is very common to others) for example Bella Swan, with her helpless, damsel in distress attitude and having Edward, a handsome superhuman, saving her all the time… it’s characters and events like that which keep us reading, because it those common characters and event with their own twists that makes the story real.
Stealing things from around you makes your writing more believable, because who and what is more real than the things and people you know?
Where do you get your inspiration?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

F. Scott Fitzgerald
Reading level: --
Paperback: 52 pages
Publisher:P.F. Collier & Sons co.

I’m not a huge fan of short stories, but I kinda liked this one. It was a cute story of a man who aged backwards. I’ve never seen the movie, but I heard it’s REALLY long. This book took me less than an hour to read. It’s not super detailed, but just gives you a brief glimpse of the story, then moves on to a different part of Benjamin’s life. Fast pace, it goes through the points of the story quickly, but honestly, I wished it had a little more to it.
The cover it really amazing, and truthfully it was the only reason I picked it up to begin with. It’s really cool with all the different kind of circles and what looks like fairy dust.
I didn’t like that Benjamin was so mean to his wife as he got younger and she got older. Or that as he got younger, his son basically disrespected him.
Although a great concept to a story, it just felt unreal. I couldn’t see any of it really happening. It just went through the motions of a fiction story, nothing more to it. Nothing about it made me want to jump into the world and live there- and to when, when that happens, that’s a great story.
Yes, I know it’s an old book- different styles, like different types of art works- I get it, but seriously? Couldn’t it have just a little more spice. Cute story to read while waiting to get your teeth drilled by a dentist maybe, but not something to take on a trip.
I like reading the books before I see the movie, but after reading the book, I really can’t see why I would want to see it. I mean, how much can one person be inspired to make a three-hour long movie out of. Ok, a person can get a lot of inspiration, but still, not the point!
Great for a quick read, but not satisfying as watching Brad Pitt.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review: Looking After Lily

Cindy Bonner
Reading Level:  Young Adult
Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher:Signet; Reprint edition (June 1, 1995)

I can’t say that I loved this novel. Sometimes, sequels are pretty amazing, like the Toy Story movies, better every time. This was not one of those toppers. I did enjoy this novel, just not as much as the first book, Lily. Still, it keeps you reading. For me, it was really just hoping to hear more about Lily or Marion. Honestly, I really didn’t care much about Haywood.
This story follows Haywood, one of Marion’s older brothers. It takes place after Marion gets sentenced to jail, while is pregnant wife, Lily, is under the watch of Haywood, who falls in love with Lily and whom we rarely hear of throughout the book.
I really wished that Cindy Bonner would writer a book about Lily, Marion, and Haywood. That would have been more interesting. Still the cover art is amazing. It tells us part of the story.
Cindy is still an amazing writer and it kept me reading to the last page. The characters are real and believable that it was if they sat next to me telling me their stories.
Still a great read!

Book Review: Lily, a Love Story

Cindy Bonner
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover:350 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill; 1st edition (October 1992)
I LOVED this novel! I cannot tell you how much I love this book. And guess where I found such an amazing book? Stuck in the shelves of books that people never read, covered in dust. DUST!!! I’m not one for gushy romances ( however on the occasion having a romantic interest in a novel is great fun, just as long as it’s not the ENTIRE story) this book is one of those exceptions where I didn’t mind that it was all romance. The cover art is amazing! I mean, come on, just the cutest thing ever! I think a Lifetime Movie in the making with this one...

Ok, so I can give you a summary of this, but I think Publishers Weekly does it better:
Loosely based on historical events and possessing a simple, frontier-legend plot--farmer's daughter and dashing outlaw fall for each other--this sensitive, winning western a la Larry McMurtry might easily attract fans outside its genre. The year is 1883. The town is McDade, Tex. Narrator Lily Delony, 15, can't stop thinking about 18-year-old Marion Beatty, kid brother of three notorious ruffians known as "the Beatty gang." Marion begs Lily, "Don't judge me by them over there"--meaning his robbing, murdering siblings--and she trusts him, risking her reputation to sneak out with him at night. When McDade's citizens organize a posse to rid themselves once and for all of the Beatty gang, Lily is torn between loyalty to her respectable family and love for her gun-totin' Romeo. First novelist Bonner credibly conveys her heroine's sincerity, bravery and naivete as well as rugged Marion's charming-yet-dangerous persona. Even readers who ordinarily shun shoot-'em-up, rough-and-ready novels will sympathize with the lovers and become caught up in this exciting story.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

We get to hear from Lily’s point of view as she struggles with the decision between her family and the love of her life. This is a wonderful love story filled with suspense and romantic scenes that makes the roughest outlaws hold their breath in anticipation. Cindy Bonner descriptive writing created vivid pictures in my head that made it seem I was watching it really happen than reading words off a page. A ture page turner that will not let you sleep!

Book Review: Better Than Running At Night

Hillary Frank
Reading level:Young Adult
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher:Graphia; None edition (August 26, 2002)

I happened across this book while helping my friend find something to read. I had randomly pulled out Better Than Running at Night from between two not-so-amazing-looking books. The cover was creative and fun, and as an artist myself, I thought it was just brilliant!
The story is quite mundane, but in the best way possible! Hillary’s writing style is witty and absolutely wicked, blatant and downright hilarious. It’s an original YA novel that tells the story of Ellie Yelinsky, who is starting her freshman year at the New England College of Art and Design. It does not turn out the way she plans. She falls for the Devil at a costume party (who is actually the cute, Nate Finerman). Her parents put pot in her suitcase, and her art teacher speaks in one tone: earsplitting! Turns out, things aren’t always what they seem.
I couldn’t put down this book. And after I was done, I even went and searched the author and e-mailed her on her genius, which she so amazingly replayed to! I still have it, if you don’t believe me. You really saw Ellie change throughout the novel. She makes an attempt to transform from her Goth look in high school to someone normal, and after a chain of events, she really becomes someone who she’s content with. After the tons of fantasy/fiction novels I’d been reading before I read this book, Better Than Running at Night gave me a sense of reality that was entertaining and thrilling to read! I felt happy when Ellie was, and sad and she was sad. I love the characters and the amazing story! It was a kind of love story that really wasn't love at all. The kind that was never there to begin with and still, even though Ellie never got the guy, she still had a happily ever after!!!

A must read!!!!!!!

Book Review: The Blue Mirrow

Kathe Koja
★★★★★Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (March 5, 2004)

The Blue Mirror tells the story of Maggy, gifted artist who keeps a sketchbook called "The Blue Mirror" that shares its name with the coffeehouse where she regularly nurses a cappuccino for hours and draws what she sees. Here she meets Cole and his friends Jouly and Marianne. She is captivated by these three teens with blue lips, and begins to spend all her time with them, especially the beautiful Cole. After a series of events and a runaway Jouly, who has tried from the beginning to keep her away from Cole, Maggy finds out the truth about the mystery behind Cole and makes a friend along the way.
I love this book! From the intriguing cover art, to the story itself. It has a type of rhyme to the words that makes the story like a siren call. This isn’t a gushy love story, which in my opinion is just amazing! It’s not shallow either, but throws the reader into a psychological ride of love and mystery. The dark characters, especially Cole, are so amazing I wished I was in Maggy’s place.
I kept trying to guess what the problem was, and only got half the story. Not that it was so bazaar you wouldn’t have gotten it, just that it was so twisting it kept you guessing. This story is wonderfully dark. The characters are magnificently drawn. If you love stories that show not only the darker side of human nature and are just overall dark, but good, you will love this story!

Book Review: Undone

Brooke Taylor

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher:Walker Children’s ( 2008)
I actually stumbled onto this book by mistake. After art class one Wednesday, I walked to the library to wait for my mom to pick me up. I was already reading like 10 books at once at this time, but I went browsing around anyway.
While browsing through a pile of books I found Undone. The copy looked new-ish, as if it was barely opened. Now, I usually don’t like covers with people’s faces on them, but I just LOVED this cover!!! I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but that’s exactly what I did. I read the summary and I knew I just had to read it.
Brooke Taylor brings strong characters to the frontlines. Serena is a sophomore in high school and self-described closet gaming geek. She is saved from social exile when she forms a friendship with Kori, a rebel and the class slut. I won’t being giving anything away when I say this: when Kori dies, Serena puts her own identity aside and “finishes” Kori’s undone list.
What makes this book truly unique and thrilling is the numerous plotlines that intertwine to create an underlying mystery that unfolds to become Serena's self-actualization. Fast pace, it keeps you on your toes until the very end. It gets right to the point and keeps you entertained all the way through. I could not put down this book!
The girls do experiment with drugs, drinking, etc. basically what most teenagers do, but it does not endorse that teens should do it. This might be a complaint for some people, but it made the story that much closer to relating to teenagers.
A must read!

Book Review: How I Live Now...

Meg Rosoff

Reading level: Young adult
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (April 2004)

How I Live Now is a story about love. This is the story of Daisy, a fifteen year old from New York, who moves to live with her distant family in England, around the time of the second World War. It is not giving anything away to say that Daisy begins a love affair with her cousin Edmond, but all their lives are changed as a war breaks out and England becomes an occupied state. At first the kids are self-sufficient and untouched by the horrors, but as the story develops, shades of World War 2 begin to overcome them as they face separation, deprivation, and ultimate loss.
I absolutely loved this novel! Meg Rosoff writes in the UNFORGETTABLE voice of fifteen year old that captivates you beyond the last word. Unlike other novels, it does not try hard to sound like a great novel, it just is. Perfect descriptions, Meg makes you feel as if you can see the world as Daisy does. By including Daisy's view of herself, and her eating problems, it appeals to lots of people who feel the same way about their appearance. It makes an interesting kind of side-story, and I liked seeing her growing out of it very slowly and subtly.

The story is enthralling, and it's such a good idea to have it set in a war. With dystopian novels being thrown left and right, (although not dystopian) this novel gives us a point of view that is different, refreshing, if you will. Daisy speaks in a believable voice that takes you into her soul and makes you feel what she does.

Highly recommended!