Monday, June 29, 2009

The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, Book 1) by James Patterson

Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride, better known as Max, knows what it's like to soar above the world. She and all the members of the "flock"--Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel--are just like ordinary kids--only they have wings and can fly. It may seem like a dream come true to some, but their lives can morph into a living nightmare at any when Angel, the youngest member of the flock, is kidnapped and taken back to the "School" where she and the others were experimented on by a crew of wack jobs. Her friends brave a journey to blazing hot Death Valley, CA, to save Angel, but soon enough, they find themselves in yet another nightmare--this one involving fighting off the half-human, half-wolf "Erasers" in New York City. Whether in the treetops of Central Park or in the bowels of the Manhattan subway system, Max and her adopted family take the ride of their lives. Along the way Max discovers from her old friend and father-figure Jeb--now her betrayed and greatest enemy--that her purpose is save the world--but can she?
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment is a novel that you will not soon forget. I'm addicted. These are the kinds of books you stay up until two o'clock in the morning to finish. Just a warning- once you begin reading this series you will most likely find it very, very hard to stop.

The main character, Max, and the other members of her "flock" are part bird. Meaning, they have avian DNA grafted into them and they can fly! If that doesn't spark your interest, I don't know what will.

Max was a strong and likable character. Though she is only fourteen, readers of any age will be able to relate to her.

This novel was never boring, there was always some action going on. The insane amounts of suspense and never-ending excitement makes this book very difficult to put down.

There aren't many YA fiction books out there dealing with genetic engineering so this was a truly unique reading experience for me. For more information on this subject, check out this site.

The short but action-packed chapters (around 3 pages each) make for great stopping points. I don't know about you, but I hate when chapters seem to go on and on forever. Patterson's writing style will also appeal to reluctant readers.

I can't wait to begin reading the second installment in the series, School's Out - Forever. I'm eager to find out what happens next in the crazy life of Maximum Ride. I'll have a review up for that soon!

5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Slightly Boring History of My Blog

This blog came into existence on a snowy day back in December when I was bored out of my mind. After resorting to perusing some back issues of Oprah magazine, I came across an article written by Oprah herself entitled "What I Know For Sure." After reading it, I asked myself that same question. What in the world did I know for sure? I was only sixteen, after all. I didn't know that much. The one thing that came to mind was that I, without a doubt, loved books.

That article talked about achieving success through service. It said that once you find your calling you should utilize it in a way that benefited not only yourself but others as well. Well, I consider reading to be something constant in my life that I excel at. It has been a source of relaxation, distraction, and even a self-confidence booster. While reading itself may not fall under that category of my "calling," I wanted to do something that would make my hobby useful to other people, to make it count.

"How the heck am I supposed to go about this?" was my next thought. I was inspired to do something, but I didn't know what that something was. My creative juices dried up and I pretty much ran into a brick wall as far as ideas went. So, like any tech savvy person, I hit up Google.

I'm sure you're all familiar with Random Buzzers, Random House's teen site. I had already been a member for a few months but I wasn't very active in it. That day, with some coaxing from Google, I logged in and looked around. I clicked randomly on other user's names and found that there was a place on the side for links. Seeing that more than a few of these people had links titled "My Blog," the wheels in my brain started turning. (The Book Reader, for example.)

What is a blog? How can I make one? Would I even be good at it? I had so many questions and apprehensions. Then, the answer to that last one answered everything. Did it matter? I didn't expect anyone to read it or actually care about its' content. Plus, it was the INTERNET. Chances are, I didn't personally know any of the people that would accidentally stumble upon it anyway. So, really, I could just create a blog and do whatever the heck I wanted with it! There were so many options and possibilities, so much freedom. I could post about books all day long if I wanted and no one would get annoyed or bored with me. I was just excited to have an outlet.

Let's skip ahead through all the technical account making stuff and directly to my first post. It seems like a lifetime ago that I clicked the "Publish Post" button for the first time ever. Now it's been over six months and I've had over one hundred posts. I've done interviews, reviews, contests, and lots more bookish posts.

I want to thank Oprah for the inspirational article, all the bloggers on Random Buzzers that opened my eyes to the YA blogging community, the readers of my blog, and the authors that write the awesome books that keep my tbr pile forever taller than me. You've made this blog a success.

I want to apologize for not updating as often as I have in the past as of late. I attended a Summer Honors Institute all last week and didn't have much time leftover for blogging! I promise I'll make it up, though! Hmm...maybe a contest in the near future?

I also want to say to any new/potential bloggers reading this- don't hesitate to write about your passions. Blogging is great fun and beneficial to something bigger than yourself in my opinion.

Now would also be a good time to announce that once I hit 100 followers (only 8 more!) there will be an awesome contest for followers only. Commenting on this before the contest post goes up might earn you some extra entries...

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading Blog Tour

Today I have a guest post from Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance, the authors of The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading!

LYLAB (Luv Ya Like A Book)

Charity: From kindergarten through sixth grade, I attended an alternative K-12 school run by the local college. Funding for the school was cut, and subsequently it closed. That meant: Public school, which my friends and I were convinced was one step away from prison.

I started junior high alone. I wasn’t really close to the few others from my old school who also ended up there. Because I went to the alternative school, the other kids informed me, on the first day in homeroom, that I was retarded.

Is it any surprise I lived for Fridays? When the first quarter grades came out, those homeroom kids demanded to see my grades. I had no problem with that, not with As and Bs on my report card.

“You must be a brain,” one kid said, dismissing me.

And I was still just as alone.

Eventually, I made friends, and by the end of eighth grade, had a wonderful group I hung out with. But what got me through the really tough days was a “friend” I’ve never met: Ellen Conford.

Ellen Conford has written a ton of books. (No, really, I think if you put all of them on a scale, they would weigh a ton.) But my favorites were: Dear Lovey Hart, I Am Desperate, We Interrupt This Semester For an Important Bulletin (the sequel to Lovey Hart), Seven Days to a Brand-New Me, and Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations.

During junior high, I read those four books over and over again. Part of me considered the girls in those books my friends, and some days, my only friends. As homage to Ellen Conford, when I revised The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading, I added in an excerpt from the varsity cheerleading guide at the start of each chapter--in much the same way that Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations has excerpts from the handbook.

Darcy: My history wasn’t as traumatic as Charity’s but there were times in my life when books were my best friends too. My family moved a lot (and no, my parents weren’t gypsies). We rarely went far away, usually just to a bigger house, a better neighborhood, a nicer nearby town. But, to a kid without wheels, even a few blocks (and an invisible school district boundary line) might as well be the other side of the world.

Lucky for me, I was pretty good at making new friends…but these things had to be done delicately. It didn’t take me too many failures to figure out I couldn’t just barge my way into a group. Easing closer and closer, until it seemed like I had always been one of them was a better method. But biding my time meant spending a LOT of that time all alone. I didn’t mind too much though – I had books to keep me company.

During my years of being The New Girl, most of the books I loved best were stories about kids just like me – characters struggling to find their place in the world. Their triumphs and happy endings gave me hope. You can’t ask for a better friend than that, can you?

Both: So, in today’s young adult novels. Do you have any book friends? Charity would definitely like to hang out with all of Maureen Johnson’s heroines. Darcy would love a road trip with the gang from John Green’s Paper Towns – but she is not peeing in a bottle – that’s grody. The senior version from Deb Caletti’s Honey, Baby, Sweetheart is probably more her speed. Plus, those old folks were hilarious!

What characters would you like to hang with?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Book Trailer: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

I've never been disappointed by anything that Sarah Dessen has written. All of her books are a pleasure to read and I'm sure that her newest one is no exception.

It was just released this week but I haven't been able to run out and get my copy yet. In the same boat as me? Watch this book trailer to tide you over!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones

Mimi Shapiro had a disturbing freshman year at NYU, thanks to a foolish affair with a professor who still haunts her caller ID. So when her artist father, Marc, offers the use of his remote Canadian cottage, she’s glad to hop in her Mini Cooper and drive up north. The house is fairy-tale quaint, and the key is hidden right where her dad said it would be, so she’s shocked to fi nd someone already living there — Jay, a young musician, who is equally startled to meet Mimi and immediately accuses her of leaving strange and threatening tokens inside: a dead bird, a snakeskin, a cricket sound track embedded in his latest composition. But Mimi has just arrived, so who is responsible? And more alarmingly, what does the intruder want? Part gripping thriller, part family drama, this fast-paced novel plays out in alternating viewpoints, in a pastoral setting that is evocative and eerie — a mysterious character in its own right.
When I first started reading this book, it felt silly and random. Certain plot points were just unrealistic and turned me off to reading it. It took me over a week to get through it - an eternity for me.

However, somewhere between the halfway point and the three-quarter mark the pace did start to pick up speed. A few interesting plot twists kept me reading. My main concern was that halfway through the book is too far. Many readers would've abandoned ship by that time.

Ironically, my favorite character was a very minor one, one that made very few appearances: Marc Soto. This guy had children crawling (sometimes literally) out of the woodwork. His assholishness caused so many problems for, well, most everyone he'd ever known. And he didn't seem to care. This was, perhaps, what interested me most.

I also wanted to know more about Mavis, Cramer's mother. I'm very interested in psychology and her mental instabilities just made me want to get to know her better.

I felt like the story came to an abrupt end that left some things unresolved. I wondered whether Cramer's feelings for Mimi were left unresolved or just dissolved.

Overall, I was very disappointed with this novel. I will not be picking it up again. If it sounds appealing to you, I would recommend getting it from the library.

2 out of 5 stars

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This Is What I Want to Tell You by Heather Duffy Stone

Nadio and his twin sister, Noelle, always had a unique bond. And somehow, Keeley Shipley fit perfectly into their world. But when Keeley spends the summer in England, she comes home changed, haunted by a dark memory. As she and Nadio fall in love, they try to hide it from Noelle, who's jealously guarding a secret of her own. Slowly, a life-long friendship begins to crack under the crushing weight of past trauma, guarded secrets, jealousy, obsession . . . and an unexpected love that could destroy them.

I was truly surprised by this book. It was not what I expected at all. It was an intense read that was a lot more complex than I originally thought it would be.

The characters were probably what made this book for me. They were very believable and interesting to read about. Any teenager will be able to find something they can relate to or identify with. I liked that the chapters alternated between Nadio and Noelle's points of view. It gives the reader more perspective. I really liked seeing the other sibling's side of the story. My personal favorite was Nadio.

There are boatloads of issues addressed in this novel. Drugs, sex, alcohol, rape, and secrets in general to name a few. If you want issues, this book's got 'em! All these may seem like a lot, but it all fit seamlessly into the story. It wasn't overly concerned with one thing or the other either. I didn't feel too overwhelmed by anything.

Overall, this was an interesting read. I can't see myself rereading it again, however, but it was entertaining at the time.

3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday (11)

How To Steal A Car by Pete Hautman
Pub. Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.

Some girls act out by drinking or doing drugs. Some girls act out by sleeping with guys. Some girls act out by starving themselves or cutting themselves. Some girls act out by being a bitch to other girls.

Not Kelleigh. Kelleigh steals cars.

In How to Steal a Car, National Book Award winner Pete Hautman takes teen readers on a thrilling, scary ride through one suburban girl's turbulent life - one car theft at a time.


Does this book look crazy, or what? That synopsis makes me want to run out to the bookstore right now and buy this. Too bad I have to wait almost three months until September! I like the cover a lot, too. Ah, so many awesome books, too long to wait!

The Waiting On Wednesday feature was created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Switch by Carol Snow

Claire Martin has some serious body issues.

Not much happens in Claire's sleepy beach town, but that's okay. All she wants is to hang out with her best friend, make the high school swim team, and convince Nate, the guy of her dreams, to stop calling her "Dude." And, oh—she'd really, really like to stay in her own skin.

Ever since Claire hit her teens, electrical storms have been making her switch bodies. Usually she's back to her old self in no time. But when something goes terribly wrong, she finds herself stuck as another girl. And not just any girl, but the icy beauty who has caught Nate's eye.

Suddenly Claire goes from being Miss Average to Miss Gorgeous—the model-thin blonde that every girl wants to look like and every guy wants to date. Will she ever figure out how to get back to her old life? More importantly, will she want to?


I was not very impressed by this novel. I felt like it was missing something important.

The idea of body switching wasn't exactly anything new. I did like Snow's spin on it, though. The way the switching was completely random and Claire didn't have any control over it was interesting because you never knew whose body she might end up in next.

I wanted to know more about, well, everything. If the switching was genetic, then why couldn't Claire's mom do it? How and why did the switching actually occur? Why was Evelyn's ghostly figure still floating around - why didn't she move on? How come Claire was the only one that could see Evelyn? I also felt like I needed more background information about Larissa, her parents, and the Sealys. I understand that as the reader you're supposed to use your imagination to fill in the blanks for things that the author doesn't tell you but I had a lot of questions and I just felt like the story was lacking without the answers. Of course, I'm a person that wants the author to spell everything out for me. If you're a person that would rather think up their own explanations and fill in the blanks themselves then this might be your kind of book.

I didn't think that any of the characters were as well-developed as they could've been. I really just wanted to know more about them. The story itself wasn't bad - I had to keep reading to find out if Claire would ever get back into her own body.

I have to say that the ending made no sense to me. *SPOILER* Why would Nate suddenly like her when he just got done saying that he saw her as one of the guys? He claimed to be so in love with Larissa, like, two minutes before. Yes, I know that Claire technically was Larissa at the time but he seemed to be more attracted to her physically than anything else. If anyone's read this book, please explain this to me! *END OF SPOILER*

Ultimately, this is not something that I can see myself reading again in the future. I just wasn't a fan.

2.5 out of 5 stars

Monday, June 8, 2009

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it." "Okay." "Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?" "Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?" According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago. Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

So, by now, I'm sure you've read tons of raving reviews of Twenty Boy Summer. While I did really enjoy it, I don't want to gush over it. So I'm just going to briefly reaffirm everything you already know.

This novel was indeed beautifully written. I actually stayed up until two in the morning just so I could finish it. I was very impressed with the range of emotions it was able to invoke in me. Everything from grief to anger to joy to love was surprisingly well covered. None of these were too intense, though - it was all well-balanced.

Twenty Boy Summer is the ultimate love story (sorry for gushing!) - in every sense. There's the best friend relationship Anna, Frankie, and Matt shared for one. Of course, there is romance between Anna and Matt and Anna and Sam. Then there's familial love, too.

The plot itself was so intriguing that even if the writing had sucked (which it most definitely did not) I'd still probably have wanted to keep reading it. It was so much fun to read - I can certainly see myself rereading this again in the future.

Overall, it was a very impressive debut novel. I recommend it.

What a pretty cover! I love the sea glass heart - it's very fitting to the story.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, June 7, 2009

In My Mailbox (19)

I only got two books in the mail this week, but I've also made a pretty big dent in my tbr pile. I've got quite a few reviews lined up for the coming weeks so keep checking back!

From YA Book Swap (Thanks Tirzah!):

Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman
She's So Money by Cherry Cheva

Credit for creating the In My Mailbox feature goes to The Story Siren. You can find out more about it here.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gallagher Girls Chapter 28 Discussion!

Welcome to the discussion for chapter 28 of I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter! The discussion is open to everyone. There are no right or wrong answers so feel free to tell us what you really think!

1. They lost communication with the other teams. Technical difficulty or possibly failed mission?
2. Mr. Solomon definitely underestimated the girls. Have you ever been in a situation where you were underestimated or you underestimated someone else? How did it make you feel? Did it cost you anything?
3. What Josh did totally surprised me. Did you think he was capable of something like that? Did Cammie underestimate him?
4. What an odd situation to meet her mom! Have you ever met someone under weird circumstances? How did it affect your relationship in the future?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Book Trailer: The Geek Girl's Guide to Cheerleading by Charity Tahmaseb and Darcy Vance

I've made a point this year to check out the Debs books. I've been reading some really good reviews of this one so I'm sure it doesn't disappoint! It was just released May 19th.
I will be participating in the blog tour for it in a few weeks so check back for more info!

Here's the synopsis:
When Bethany -- self-proclaimed geek girl -- makes the varsity cheerleading squad, she realizes that there's one thing worse than blending in with the lockers: getting noticed. She always felt comfortable as part of the nerd herd, but being a member of the most scrutinized group in her school is weighing her down like a ton of textbooks. Even her Varsity Cheerleading Guide can't answer the really tough questions, like: How do you maintain some semblance of dignity while wearing an insanely short skirt? What do you do when the head cheerleader spills her beer on you at your first in-crowd party? And how do you know if your crush likes you for your mind...or your pom-poms? One thing's for sure: It's going to take more than brains for this girl genius to cheer her way to the top of the pyramid.

Dying to read it now? Check out this book trailer!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Elite by Jennifer Banash

From the top, you can see everything . . . except yourself.

When Casey McCloy steps into the elegant Bramford building, she's overwhelmed. Fresh from the Midwest, she's moved to New York's Upper East Side to live with her grandmother and attend the prestigious Meadowlark Academy. Here all that matters is who you know. The girl to know is Madison Macallister: popular, pretty, platinumblond. She's not just Casey's new classmate and neighbor; she's an icon. So Casey aims to get in with Madison and her gorgeous gal-pals from the start. As the reigning queen of coolness, Madison is capable of destroying reputations with one welltimed whisper. Better to be on her good side.

But after a city-haute makeover from her new frenemy Madison, Casey is wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and meeting the right people-including Drew, the boy-about-town who Madison thinks belongs to her and her alone.

I was somewhat surprised by The Elite. It was well-written and very readable. Banash can throw in brand names and still keep the story's integrity, a talent some authors are hard to come by. While the character's wardrobes were mentioned, the plot wasn't overly focused on what the character's were wearing. It was dramatic without being unrealistic.

The points of view rotated between the five main characters. This allowed the reader to get to know each of them better. I think they were all better developed because you got to see firsthand what they were thinking, how they perceive others, and how others perceived them. I believe this definitely upped the readability and enjoyability of the novel.

I found many things I could relate to which is rare in my past experiences with novels dealing with high class New York.

Overall, it was a fun read that anyone can enjoy. I can't wait to read the sequel, In Too Deep. I'll also be picking up the third book, Simply Irresistible, when it is released.

I want those huge sunglasses on the cover! =P

3.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Five Minutes More Winner

Thanks to everyone that entered my contest for Five Minutes More by Darlene Ryan! A special thanks goes to Darlene Ryan for providing the prize!

The winner is:


Congratulations!! I'll be emailing you shortly and you'll have 2 days to get back to me before I pick a new winner.

Check back for another contest soon!

Waiting On Wednesday (10)

The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler
Pub. Date: September 17, 2009
Publisher: Penguin

A confection of a novel, combining big city sophistication with small town charm. When her mother moves them from the city to a small town to open up a cupcake bakery, Penny’s life isn’t what she expected. Her father has stayed behind, and Mom isn’t talking about what the future holds for their family. And then there’s Charity, the girl who plays mean pranks almost daily. There are also bright spots in Hog’s Hollow—like Tally, an expert in Rock Paper Scissors, and Marcus, the boy who is always running on the beach. But just when it looks as though Penny is settling in, her parents ask her to make a choice that will turn everything upside down again. A sweet novel about love, creativity, and accepting life’s unexpected turns.

The cover is what originally made me take a second look at this book. I mean, those cupcakes look delicious! The synopsis, though, looks really interesting too. This is Heather Hepler's first solo novel, all her previous ones have been collaborations with Brad Barkley. I haven't read anything she's worked on before but I have some high expectations!

The Waiting On Wednesday feature was created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody--be totally alone--then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.

Cracked Up To Be was a really fast read. It just drew me in and I couldn't bear to put it down.

At first, I was enthralled with the story because I wanted to know what happened to Parker to make her throw her amazing life away. She had everything a girl could want but for some unknown reason she didn't want it anymore. She broke up with her boyfriend, stopped getting good grades, renounced her position as cheerleading captain, and started drinking at school and getting into all sorts of trouble. I was most interested in seeing how a person could suddenly just make their personality do a 180 degree turn.

Parker was an interesting character to read about and she had a great voice. Her wit, snark, and attitude made her seem so real.

I really liked Summers' writing style. Every so often she would add in flashbacks that clued you in to past events.

The drama builds up until in the end you finally find out just what happened to mess up Parker's life so much. Not disappointingly, it makes sense and wholly satisfies you.

Overall, Cracked Up To Be was an interesting read that you'll devour in no time. I recommend it!

4 out of 5 stars

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson

Dani was born with her heart on the wrong side of her body. In her fifteen years of life, she’s had more doctor’s appointments, X-rays, and tests, and eaten more green hospital Jell-O than she cares to think about. Fourteen-year-old Amanda is a competitive gymnast, her body a small package of sleek muscles, in perfect health. The two girls don’t know each other, don’t go to the same school, don’t have any friends in common. But their lives are about to collide.

There were parts of this book that were touching and other parts that made me laugh. It was all over the map in regard to emotions.

I liked that Dani wasn't really bitter about all her medical problems. She dealt with things with a fairly positive attitude. This made her a lot more likable to me.

I think reading this novel made me a little humbler. It sort of opens your eyes to how fortunate you are just to have a heart and all the rest of your internal organs that work correctly. I know I definitely take that for granted. I probably would never have even thought about it if not for this book.

The points of view of each chapter were all different and mixed up and I sometimes had difficulty discerning who it was that the story was following. Sometimes it even switched from one paragraph to the next. It was mostly in the 3rd person, though, so eventually it identified a specific person. I found myself thinking "Jeez, can I get some labels please?"

The plot was sometimes a little boring and just plain made me sad. It wasn't something I'll be eager to read again.

Overall, I didn't have many complaints about the actual story itself, just the way in which it was presented. If you like reading about people with medical problems and how they live and deal with their issues, I recommend Cold Hands, Warm Heart.

3 out of 5 stars