Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale

Title: Someone Else's Life
Author: Katie Dale
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Pages: 464
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository (Hardcover) | Bookdepository (Paperback)
Read from Febraury 25-28, 2012
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: When 17-year-old Rosie's mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington's Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother's best friend, "Aunt Sarah," that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn't her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die. Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all.

Well, I'm a sucker for sad stories. This one is it. This book made me cry big time.

Someone Else's Life is sad, dramatic, and tense. Heavy stuff, you might say. I enjoyed it very much, although it's kind of too long for my taste. The writing is enjoyable, the story rich and powerful. 

Rosie Kenning, 17, decides to have her DNA tested to see whether she's inherited Huntington's Disease that took her mother Trudie away from her. This disease is hereditary and the offspring has 50 percent chance of inheriting it. Sarah, Trudie's best friend and midwife, tells Rosie that she doesn't need the test, because she definitely doesn't have the disease. The reason Sarah is so sure is that Sarah swapped Rosie with another baby. She meant well. That night, two mothers gave birth to two babies. One was Trudie, the other a 17-year-old girl who wanted to give her baby up for adoption. Trudie's husband was driving to the hospital to be with her but got into a car accident and was killed that very night. The baby Trudie desperately needed was extremely weak and it looked like it wouldn't survive. The other girl's baby who was named Holly Woods, on the other hand, was healthy, and in no way wanted by the mother. Sarah thought she wouldn't be able to stand watching Trudie suffer anymore that she already did, so she swapped these two babies, believing it was the right thing to do, since Trudie's baby was going to die, and the other wasn't wanted. When Rosie hears this, she is devastated. Then everything begins to make sense -- the way Trudie's hair color was chestnut while hers is dark, etc. It's around then that Andy, Rosie's ex boyfriend, comes around again. Together they try to search for Rosie's biological mother, only to find out that she's working as an actress in America. When Andy says he's going traveling, Rosie sees it as a perfect opportunity to look for her, as America is the first destination. It starts out as a quest to only find her biological mother, but little does Rosie know how many lives she will be affecting, how much pain she'll be causing... It is much more than she bargains for. 

Such a powerful story! WHOA WHOA WHOA! Seriously. I remember crying my eyes out for such a long, long time, and I wasn't even half way through yet. I have to admit I have never heard of Huntington's Disease before I read this book. It was heart-breaking to read how greatly and horribly a disease can affect you and the people around you. I personally find the story very rich and complex. Kind of complicated, too, but that's what makes the story so interesting. There's always something that keeps you from putting the book down. Always some sub-plots and twists and turns that are constantly thrown into the story.

If you plan to read this book, know that you just sign up for an emotional roller coaster ride. A good one, too, I might add. There's sadness, confusion, anger, jealousy, guilt, shock, surprise as well as love and hatred. It was overwhelming for me in a good way. To feel all these emotions within an hour or something. I was feeling sad and sympathetic with Rosie for a moment, and then the perspective switched and I was extremely angry at Rosie, cursing her, hating on her. I was really into the story. It has a way to suck you right in. 

I like how the characters are portrayed. But to talk about them here is like showing you spoilers, because there are many more characters involved in this than you might imagine. So, no, not gonna do that. I only have a few things to mention about the main characters that you already know about: Rosie and Andy. 

Hmm... I don't think there's a gentler way to put this... but I kind of hate Rosie. I don't know... I guess some things are better left alone, especially when it's too late to change anything. But of course, she has to try to find her mother, and when she does, that should be the end of it, accept it and move on. Except that it isn't and she doesn't. She has to make her way into other lives and shatter them with all this I-have-to-tell-them thing. Really? I don't think so, Rosie. You think you're doing them a big favor by showing up and changing everything, but darling, I think they're better off before you came around. Sorry. 

And Andy. Ugh, dear God. He annoys me. This guy keeps leaving her and keeps coming back. He keeps demanding the truth and promising to understand and can't take it and keeps getting mad. If it's just once or twice, it would be fine with me. But it was more than that. If I'm not mistaken, it's around 4 or 5 times. What an ass. If a guy kept leaving you and coming back and saying sorry, would you always forgive him and then everything would be okay like Rosie and Andy here? No for me! Make up your mind, Andy, it's either leave or stay! Ugh! 

Anyway, enough with the rant. Those were the only problems I had with this book, along with the length,  which in my opinion is much longer than it really needs to be. Other than these, this book is great. If you like sad and dramatic and heavy stories with powerful emotions, this book is definitely for you!


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

I received the ARC version of this book from NetGalley and Random House to read for review.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Title: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi

Series: Under the Never Sky, #1
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia

Release Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 376
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from February 20 - 23, 2012
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered. This was worse. Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive. A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

First of all, GORGEOUS cover! If you swoon over pretty book covers like me, this one is a must-have. :D And also the title! I love the title for some reasons. It sounds kinda poetic and deep and all that to me. Me likey!

I didn't know what to expect before reading UNDER THE NEVER SKY. I've read some reviews and seen that it's a dystopian book -- something that is very popular at the moment which I have very little to no experience with. Needless to say, the first chapter was totally confusing for me. All those weird names like Ag6 and Pod and Dweller and Savage and Outsider and Smarteye. At that time I was pretty sure I could never understand the world building. But surprisingly, I did understand it! I guess I'm somewhat heavy-headed so it had to take some time for all the details to gather inside my head and sink in and make sense. Once the world building became clear to me, I could see that it was AWESOME. Like, WHOA, AWESOME. And unique. I can't explain it. It's way too complicated for me to break it down. If you want to know how awesome it is, you have to read it!

For another thing, I loved the romance between Aria and Perry, alright. I'm a sucker for cute romance.  SQUEE! Although this one isn't cute from start to finish, it seems very real and believable to me. At first Aria is scared of Perry and thinks he's disgusting because he's an Outsider, a Savage. Perry thinks Aria is a weak, fragile, snobby Dweller who doesn't know how to survive out in the real world. Obviously, this isn't an instant crush. I loved how they slowly fall in love with each other because they need each other's help and all the things they've been through together make them closer.

I also love the sub-plots. They're quite mind-blowing. Things that never crossed my mind happen and I was always stunned, like WOW stunned. Lots of surprises! The story is written in the third person point of view with shifted perspective on both Aria and Perry. And the ending kills me. Seriously, it's a very impressive ending. I don't know. I really love how it's written. Got me squeeing big time!

I think this book is very well crafted and written, indeed! Fantastic read! I can't wait for book two!


This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox (10)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren to let bloggers share books they've got each week. 

This week I only bought two books. Look at their covers! AMAZING, right? 

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows 5 stars: I love it! It's amazing! review!

Reviews on the blog this week:

Happy reading! <3

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review: Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

Title: Getting Over Garrett Delaney
Author: Abby McDonald
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Releaste Date: January 24, 2012
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from February 23 - 25, 2012
My rating: 5 stars: I love it! It's amazing! + Favorite
SummarySeventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly onesided. The object of her obsession - ahem, affection - is her best friend, Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie's feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep-blue eyes). For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett's constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to '80s indie rock - all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder - until he calls to say he's fallen in love. With some other girl! A heartbroken Sadie realizes that she's finally had enough. It's time for total Garrett detox! Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized self-help guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.

You know, once in a while, there comes a book that tells the story of your life, or something that reminds you very much of it. Be it just a part of the whole thing, or everything that happens in the book has actually happened to you. When a book like this comes along, it's hard not to have a feeling of nostalgia as you read, or once you finish reading it. It might break your heart, make you cry, fill you with indescribable sadness, mixed with the joy of having it past you now. No more drowning in those tears he always successfully and easily summoned from you. GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY is a bittersweet reminiscence for that part of my life. 

Don't get me wrong. This is not a sad book. If anything, it's a hilarious one with witty prose. I love the story,  I love the character development, I love the writing, I love the ending. I love this book!

Two years ago, Sadie was in a local coffee shop reading Pablo Neruda's love poems when Garrett Delaney walked into her life. She immediately felt that he was everything she had been waiting for. Fifty percent prep, twenty percent punk, thirty percent old-school British indie rock, and one hundred percent gorgeous -- that's Garrett for you. Sadie fell madly in love with this new best friend of hers and let her life form its shape around him -- his shape. Having the hairstyle she knew he liked, wearing simple boring clothes so he wouldn't judge her, reading Russian literature and watching movies and listening to music that he loved so. She practically forgot who she'd actually been before he came around. She cherished their friendship, but always wished for something more, for that one day when he would finally fall in love with her.

Now those two years have passed, Sadie is comfortable with the life that she's built around Garrett. When he goes to a writing camp for six week, Sadie is left alone, separated from Garrett for the first time in two years, and has to find a job. One day while she's working in the coffee shop, Garrett calls and tells her he's in love with a girl in the camp, and asks her for advice. That's when Sadie realizes she has to start GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY for good. With on-and-off determination, 12-step plan from her mother's self-help book, and a lot of support from friends, Sadie sets off to figure out who she is without Garrett, discover her personal likes and dislikes without the influence of Garrett, and finally getting over this painful unrequited crush she has on her best friend. 

This book makes me want to go curl up in bed and cry and cry and cry right now. It inevitably reminds me of those years when the life of my younger and more stupid, love-blind self revolved around this jerk of a guy who enjoyed keeping me in misery so much that he refused to let me get over him even a little bit. This was just heart-wrenching for me to see Sadie go through almost everything that I myself have been put through. The unclear boundaries, the long phone calls that seemed to never end, the asking for advice about love and some other girls that wasn't me. The pain, the tears, the several attempts to get over him. The pathetic years of my life I spent pining away, wishing he would finally see me. All to no avail.

I love Sadie. She's very relatable. I believe every girl has been in her position, being head over heels for their best friend. The descriptions of her emotions are so real, so touching. I could feel myself feeling the same things she's feeling. And sometimes just reading her feelings, all those things came rushing back to me. I think she represents us girls who have been there. I love how her character develops and how she slowly tries new things and starts feeling comfortable with her life without Garrett. 

Abby McDonald's writing in this book is incredibly enjoyable. I love the way the 12 steps are inserted right between chapters. That makes it easier for me to keep up with Sadie's progress and what she's going to do. This book is also very cleverly written and well-plotted. There are many beautiful sentences that had me gaping at, and those that made me laugh and smile. I couldn't put this book down. It's very addictive and fun to read! 

In addtion, I'm glad the book ends the way it does. I loved the ending. So powerful and symbolic. 

Recommended! GETTING OVER GARRETT DELANEY is a wonderful read! 


This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley and Candlewick Press for review.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Final Transcend Time Novel Title Hunt!

Welcome to the Transcend Time Saga Title Hunt! The title hunt is the reveal of the title for the final novel in the Transcend Time Saga. Each of the bloggers participating in the hunt have been given a letter. Hop around to the blogs participating to hunt for the letters. (And remember that two of the letters are used twice, so the title is eight letters long.)  

Once you've unscrambled the title, go to Michelle Madow's blog and use the title name to enter the giveaway for a voucher for an advanced e-copy of the final Transcend Time novel! (She is giving away a voucher because the novel is planned to be released at the end of the year, and she hasn't finished writing it yet! This voucher will ensure that you will receive an advance e-copy once they are available).

The letter you get from this blog is: S

I hope the final Transcend Time book will end in a really touching way! Something that will give you a lasting feeling and stay with you no matter how many years fly by. :-) I love books like these.

And oh, I want to let you know that the e-version of Remembrance is on sale for $0.99 until Michelle Madow's USA tour ends in April. Make sure you get this book before then if you want to read this love story. :-)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: Jennifer Lawrence: Star of the Hunger Games by Katherine Krohn

Title: Jennifer Lawrence: Star of the Hunger Games
Author: Katherine Krohn
Genre: Biography
Release Date: January 1, 2012
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Pages: 48
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read on February 22, 2012
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: On March 17, 2011, social media channels buzzed with excitement. Fans of The Hunger Games had hotly debated which actors would bring their beloved characters to life in the upcoming movie. The movie's director, Gary Ross, had finally selected the lead character, Katniss. His pick: Jennifer Lawrence. Jennifer started acting professionally in 2004 at age fourteen. But she quickly proved her major talent. For the 2008 movie The Burning Plain, she earned a best new young actress award at the Venice Film Festival. And for her performance in the 2010 movie Winter's Bone, Jennifer received nominations for both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. The Hunger Games's author, Suzanne Collins, celebrated the selection of Katniss. "I never thought we'd find somebody this amazing for the role," she said. And Jennifer—who is a huge fan of the books—was thrilled to play such a complex character. Did she pull it off? Fans will be the judge!

I have never seen a film with Jennifer Lawrence as the main character before. In fact, I had heard of her only a few times until the casts of the Hunger Games were revealed. Initially I didn't believe she would be a great Katniss Everdeen, but after seeing some trailers of the film, I was completely convinced. She has that subtlety and sadness in her while playing Katniss, and also shows strength and determination. Now I'm looking forward to seeing her play this role on screen. I'm expecting great things from her! 

This book talks about Jennifer Lawrence's life in a nice chronological order, allowing readers to go along as years went by. Since her childhood, Jennifer Lawrence knew she wanted to be an actress, and she was determined to be a successful one. It mainly focuses on how she pursued her acting career, the roles she's played, the films she has starred in (ex. Winter's Bone, X-Men: First Class, etc.), all building up to the point where she landed the role -- the biggest and most challenging one ever in her career -- of Katniss Everdeen in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games trilogy originally written by Suzanne Collins. 

Readers will find this book easy to read and go along with. There are pictures supporting the content of the book such as pictures of Jennifer Lawrence in various awards celebrations, stills of her in her previous films, etc. This biography is brief, not too detailed, with pictures every few pages, and a list of important dates for her at the end.

Jennifer Lawrence is really an inspiration. She's determined, and when she sets her mind on something, she'll work hard, and she'll get it, as told in this little biography. Now we can sit back and wait until The Hunger Games film hits cinemas in this upcoming March 23, 2012, and see for ourselves Jennifer Lawrence's role of Katniss Everdeen.


This review is also posted on Goodreads.
I received a digital copy from NetGalley and the publisher for review.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: The Crazy Things Girls Do For Love by Dyan Sheldon

Title: The Crazy Things Girls Do For Love
Author: Dyan Sheldon
Genre: Teen, Young Adult Contemporary
Release Date: December 13, 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from February 14 - 20, 2012
My rating: 3 stars: I like it
Summary: Sicilee and Maya have been rivals since elementary school. Now in high school, they dislike each other more than ever. Sicilee is the center of the most popular group at Clifton Springs, and Maya is the heart of the hip, trendy set. And neither of them is likely to notice Waneeda, who prefers to eat candy and work as little as possible. None of these girls has a thing in common until Cody Lightfoot, the most drop-dead gorgeous boy imaginable, joins the student body, causing every girl's head to turn. But all Cody seems to care about is the Environmental Club, which has the distinction of being the most unpopular club in the history of the school. Nerdy club or not, none of the three girls can let the other be the first to get a date with Cody. But how far are they prepared to go? Will Waneeda actually join a club? Will Sicilee start reading labels rather than wearing them? Will Maya take up riding her bike to school and eating tofu? With her trademark quick-fire wit, Dyan Sheldon shows just what girls will do for love and what earth-changing realizations they might have along the way, despite themselves.

The Crazy Things Girls Do For Love by Dyan Sheldon is a light, easy read, which is also sharp, funny, and witty! It shouldn't take you more than two days to finish it, because as I said, it is very light. (But unfortunately I've been so overwhelmed by uni work, so it took me 6 days.) If you're looking for something hilarious and enjoyable and easy to read, this book is for you!

The story starts as Cody Lightfoot, a drop-dead gorgeous, super good-looking guy sets his foot on Clifton Springs high school, making probably all the female heads turn. Cody then joins the Environmental Club, which was previously viewed as a loser club, and rescues it from being shut down by the school, by effortlessly recruiting many members, most of them, if not all, are girls captivated by his charms. Sicilee Kewe, the most popular girl in the most popular clique in the school, wants to win Cody's heart. And so do the arty Maya and the loner Waneeda. These girls are willing to go to great lengths, not to mention crazy, in order to do so.

I like the plot that trying to impress a crush ends up in something far greater than they expect. They finally learn to really care about the environment, and not just pretending to like they did in the earlier parts of the story. I especially enjoy their snide remarks aimed at each other. Really humorous and witty. Although these girls annoy me sometimes, I understand that the book is being realistic, as I used to be young and crazy and annoying like that too.

If there's anything I don't like, it is this: I feel like Cody's character is a little bit forced. At first he seems like a nice guy who really cares about the world and everything, going around convincing superior people that environment really matters. But then suddenly it turns out he isn't actually what he seems to be. I feel like this part is forced. Like the author wanted to make Cody bad because then she could add some depth to the story, so Cody wouldn't be perfect, so Cody wouldn't have to choose which girl to be with, because they would already see the real him and feel disappointed and realize he wasn't worth it.

What is outstanding about this book is the fact that it is a fiction concerning environmental issues. Most of the time, a lot of people find it boring to talk about the environment and what we're doing to destroy it. However, this book was so cleverly written that these stuff don't feel too much and boring at all. It's nice to have books out there that raise awareness for young readers!

Also, this fun, easy read a happy ending! That makes me happy! 


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

I received the digital version from NetGalley and the publisher for review.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In My Mailbox (9)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren to let bloggers share books they've got each week.

I haven't made an IMM post in 3 weeks due to midterm exams. So this post will cover four weeks, dating from January 22 to February 18, 2012. I haven't bought many books at all during those busy weeks. :-D

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (This is my third copy! I now own three editions of this gem! Oh, how much I love it. <3 I've read it, see my 5-star review here.)
The Life of Glass by Jillian Canter
Ben Hur: A Tale Of The Christ by Lew Wallace

Non-fictions on writing: 

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt (Thank you Ben. :-))
This is something I've never seen before. It really does look like a scrapbook! It's beautiful.

During these 4 weeks I also have:
1) co-hosted the Incarnate Theater Treasure Hunt as a clue blog
2) co-hosted the Project Tell Taylor
3) reviewed three books
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 5 stars: I love it! It's amazing!
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick 4 stars: I really like it
Airhead by Meg Cabot 3 stars: I like it

That's about it. I've been so extremely busy, and will continue to be until the end of final exams, which is around the first week of April. *sighs*

Happy reading, everyone! 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: Airhead by Meg Cabot

Title: Airhead
Author: Meg Cabot
Series: Airhead, #1
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Release Date May 13, 2008
Publisher: Point
Pages: 337
Format: Hardcover
Links: Website | Goodreads | Amazon (hardcover) | Amazon (paperback) | Bookdepository (paperback) | Bookdepository (hardcover)
Read from February 7 - 13, 2012
My rating: 3 stars: I like it
Summary: She's a brainiac trapped in the body of an airhead . . . Teenagers Emerson Watts and Nikki Howard have nothing in common. Em's a tomboy-braniac who couldn't care less about her looks. Nikki's a stunning supermodel: the world's most famous airhead. But a freak accident causes the girls' lives to collide in the most extraordinary way - and suddenly Em knows more about Nikki's life than the paparazzi ever has. 

I used to be a huge fan of Meg Cabot when I was in secondary school and high school. She could do no wrong in my eyes. Back in those days I would re-read The Princess Diaries series over and over and over and fantasize about meeting my own Michael Moscovitz, whom Meg Cabot successfully made me believe is the perfect guy -- my dream guy (he still is!). Those were the days... But then I grew out of teen books, and so Meg Cabot fell into my history.

I've been meaning to read Airhead since it first came out in 2008, but high school (as well as my disgusting Twilight obsession) was taking up all my spare time. And now I'm thinking that if I'd read Airhead when I was still in high school, I would've loved this book. As I told you, Meg could do no wrong in my eyes. But now that I've grown out of Meg Cabot and read and seen a lot and learned to love and hate a lot of books, I can judge this book without being biased. I didn't love it. I didn't even really like it. I found it okay and enjoyable, and then that's it.

Airhead is a story about Em Watts, who accompanies her sister Frida to the opening of a new mall, and has an accident there. Basically, a giant TV falls on her and kills her on the spot right in front of her best friend and crush Christopher and her sister. Nikki Howard, a supermodel who happens to be near the scene, faints and hits her head so hard that it kills her brain. Em wakes up in the hospital about a month later (if I'm not mistaken) in the body of Nikki Howard. A brain transplant happened. Em's brain survives while Nikki's body is still functioning. And Nikki is too precious to lose. Businesses will die if she dies. So that's why. And now Em has to live Nikki's life.

I find this brain transplant idea pretty cool. I think the story has a potential to turn out great, but sadly it didn't. Meg Cabot killed it with Em obsessing over trying to impress Christopher with her Nikki body, wondering how much impact her death has on him, and dealing with Nikki's boys drama. And when the book ends, nothing happens. Hmm, I don't like this.

I realized that this book is a part of a series, but I think that a book should be able to have a good story while standing alone too. This book simply doesn't.

Another thing I didn't like about this book is the writing. I loved Meg Cabot's style in The Princess Diaries, and I still see it in Airhead, but unfortunately it doesn't work in this. She could pull it off with Mia because Mia is always obsessive and panicked and funny, so the style of writing suits her character extremely well, whereas with Em it's just annoying. I don't see why Em has to constantly remind the readers that she's in Nikki Howard's body, she's in Nikki Howard's bedroom, she's looking at Nikki Howard's dog, and she can't believe how huge Nikki Howard's walk-in closet is, blah blah blah. I mean, come on, I get it. The excessive repetition of this name is very off-putting.

I also didn't feel connected to any of the characters at all. I don't particularly like anyone.

Sounds negative, eh? Why 3 stars then, you might ask. Well, I did enjoy parts of it, though it's quite difficult to recall what those are. It's a love/hate thing. Usually when this happens, it's just either 1 star or 3. With The Time Traveler's Wife, I ended up giving it just 1, although it did have a potential to be great, just like Airhead.

What's more, there are a lot of unanswered questions that I suppose will be answered in the second or the last book. However, I'm not sure if I want to continue with this series. The first book didn't impress me.


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Title: Wonderstruck
Author: Brian Selznick
Genre: Children, Picture Books
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 640
Format: Hardcover
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read from February 10 and 15, 2012
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing. Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories--Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures--weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder.

Whew! Selznick did it again!

I didn't know what to expect when I started it, for which I'm glad. For that reason, the book continued to be mysterious and interesting for me all the way until the big secret is revealed and the story unfolds. Thrilling, it really was! 

Wonderstruck is two stories in one. They're set fifty years apart. One about a girl, one about a boy. Unlike The Invention of Hugo Cabret, whose illustrations and text support each other and tell one single story about Hugo, Wonderstruck's illustrations tell the story of Rose's, while the words the story of Ben's, separately at first, until they come together wonderfully at one point in the book. 

These two stories are by all means exceptional. I really like them. More details and things in the past are revealed as the stories go on. And again, like with Hugo, those things can take your breath away. I can't help but notice that Selznick really has a thing for creating sad, parent-less, looking-for-something children as main characters. Not that we can really complain about it, can we? He really knows how to deal with them and make the stories work! 

If there's one thing I enjoy more than the writing, it's the illustrations. Guys, THEY ARE GORGEOUS. No kidding. He's successfully won the "my favorite illustrator" place in my heart with Hugo, and now he's reminding me that he's still got it. BRAVO! Every line enriches the feeling the pictures give. I can't quite put my fingers on it. The sadness in Rose's eyes show. The emptiness she feels. The anger in her father's face. The hope in Ben's eyes. The fierceness in the wolves. Wonderful. Delightful. Magnificent. AMAZING. 

However, despite all the positive comments, I have to be honest with you and say that I didn't love it as much as The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I mean, I like that the stories switch back and forth and always left me breathless, eager for more. The illustrations are breathtaking, as always, with painstaking details. But I don't really feel the characters most of the time, and they don't stay with me. And I also feel like there are some unnecessary elements in the story that could have been left out without causing any damage. I don't love it, I just really like it. Therefore 4 stars. Or maybe 4.5. Or 4.75. But not 5, sorry.

Maybe next time. It might even end up on my favorite shelf. But not now.

Wonderstruck is on my wishlist. :-)


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Genre: Historical
Release Date: March 14, 2006
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books
Pages: 550
Format: Paperback 
Literary awards: National Jewish Book Award, Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children's Literature (2007), Prijs van de Kinder- en Jeugdjury Vlaanderen (2009), Printz Honor (2007), Exclusive Books Boeke Prize (2007), Exclusive Books Boeke Prize (2007), Zilveren Zoen (2008), Teen Read Award Nominee for Best All-Time-Fave (2010), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (2009), ALA's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2007), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2010)
Read from Janaury 21 - February 7, 2012
My rating: 5 stars: I love it! It's amazing! + Favorite

Summary: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still. By her brother's graveside, Liesel's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down.

One word: wow. This book is beyond amazing. It's one of those books that leave you speechless right after finishing, and will continue to stay with you even as time flies by. All I could say at that moment was I'm finished. Wow. *wipes tears* Wow. Just wow. *blows nose* For real. It touched my heart and left an imprint on my soul. A new favorite for me. 

The Book Thief in Thai translation
I was reading this book two weeks before my midterm exams. So after two days of reading it, I had to put it on hold to study. I was able to continue reading after the exams were over. So you could say that I'd been reading this book for 6 days, not 17.

I've known The Book Thief since its publication in 2006. I feel stupid for not having been able read it sooner. I remember when I visited the national book fair 6 years ago, The Book Thief had just been published and was later translated into Thai and on sale for the first time there. I bought a copy. It came with its own nice paper bag that looked just like the cover, with gold print and all. I read the first chapter and then that was it. I wasn't much of a reader back then, nor was I any good at English. I'd promised myself that one day I would read the English original and understand it, and that happened just now, six years after the promise. I'm so glad I got to finish it and appreciate its beauty in its original text. I'm going to pick up the Thai translation one day and read to see if the translation lives up to the original at all.

“Like most misery, it started with apparent happiness.” The Book Thief tells a very complicated yet simple story. I don't quite know how to tell you this. This amazingly well-written book is narrated by Death himself during the World War II. And a beautiful narration it is, too. The book revolves around a young German girl named Liesel Meminger, whom Death calls The Book Thief. Liesel stole her first book, The Grave Digger's Handbook, when her brother was being buried in the snow, while they were traveling to Munich to live with their foster parents. She couldn't even read back then, but she stole it because she knew it would remind her of her brother and the train ride with their mother. Her foster parents are Hans and Rosa Huberman. Hans is a very fatherly person. He loves Liesel. He teaches her to read, plays her the accordion, and reads with her when she wakes up in the middle of the night screaming, after dreaming of the train and her brother again and again. Rosa, on the other hand, is a rude woman. She swears all the time. She also loves Liesel, but she doesn't show it. Liesel is getting used to the life on Himmel Street, and she makes some friends. Her best friend is Rudy Steiner, the boy next door, whose favorite thing to say to her is, "How about a kiss, Saumensch?", which gets rejected every time. Liesel is getting used to the life on Himmel Street until one day a Jew shows up before their house. Max Vandenburg, son of a friend of Hans' who once saved his life in the war, is kept hidden by the Hubermans in their basement. The Hubermans love him and care for him, still they can't shake the fear that the Nazi might find out there's a Jew in their basement. 

There's not a thing I don't like about the story, but right now let's talk about the narration. It's very unique and interesting (at least to me), because I have never read a book entirely narrated by intangibles before (Just in Case by Meg Rosoff is narrated partly by Fate and partly by third person point of view). Moreover, Death in this story isn't just death. Death has a cynical personality, and is haunted by humans. He's weary of his work, and he tries to understand humans. I've never looked at death that way before, but more like something sinister that loves taking away someone we love, so this really opened up my eyes. As someone who dreads and hates death, I think it's nice to see things through Death's eyes. It kind of made me think that maybe Death doesn't want to take anything away from us, but he has to. Just like the sun can't help but rise and shine every day. However, I might add that it didn't exactly make me feel any less negatively about death. It's just very interesting. So very interesting. I also loved that Death is impatient. He doesn't like mysteries: he will tell you the ending before you get there. The interesting thing is that it doesn't spoil the story at all. If anything, it enriches it, and keeps you on the edge of your seat. You know what, but not how, and you're dying to know the how. I guess it's not about the destination, it's all about the ride.

One of the rare things happened to me with The Book Thief: I loved the characters. Why is this a big deal? It is a big deal because I don't tend to have a lasting strong feeling about characters in standalone books (the only exception being Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), and they don't stay with me. But not with this book. I loved the book lust in Liesel Meminger, just as much as I loved how she struggled to get over the death of her brother. I loved Rudy Steiner's ever-present starvation, his how-about-a-kiss-saumensch, his Jesse Owens event, his blond hair, his dusty bomb-hit lips. The only thing worse than a boy who hates you: a boy that loves you. Just thinking about him makes my eyes water. That boy is so wonderful. I also loved Hans Huberman, his accordion, his teaching Liesel to read, his staying up with her to get her through the night. He's a heavenly person. His calmness, kindness, his love. Rosa Huberman, however rude and tactless and wardrobe-like looking, is also lovable. She takes a Jew into her house without asking a single question or a having a single doubt. She reminds me of my mother, who doesn't talk very nicely, but whose love can be so great it can probably move a mountain. I loved the Jewish fist-fighter Max Vandenburg who always feels guilty about "having to put you all through this." I loved this guy because he dreams of fighting with Hitler, because he has written two books for Liesel, because he never asks for anything, because he makes me cry the most, because he is taken away, because he comes back, because.. because... just because.

You know, when you love a book this much, it's hard to find anything to say at all. You know what you say is not going to do the book justice. 

These characters, these people, this story. They'll stay in my heart for a long, long time. 

I don't know how he did it. Markus Zusak, I mean. 

Speaking of whom. His writing is extraodinary. Delightful. Magical. Reading his beautifully-strung-together words is pure joy. The words blew me away. I don't know how to explain it. They made me laugh, and they also moved me to tears. Heart-wrenching stuff. The power of words, indeed. Amazing what it can do to you, don't you think? 

I have a little advice for those of you reading this review who hasn't yet read this masterpiece of a book: DROP EVERYTHING NOW. READ THIS BOOK. 

Here goes my heart ♥.


This review is also posted on Goodreads.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Project Tell Taylor

Michelle Madow's debut novel Remembrance was inspired by Taylor Swift's "Love Story" music video. She talked all about it in a blog entry a few months ago, discussing how Remembrance was inspired by Taylor Swift's "Love Story" music video. She even wrote a letter to Taylor Swift and sent it to her, along with a signed book! 
It's been a few months now, and she has yet to hear back from Taylor that she received the letter and book. She really wants to tell Taylor about how inspiring she and her music have been to her, but since Taylor Swift is an international superstar, she’s a little hard to reach. This is where YOUR help comes into play! Michelle is giving away the biggest prize pack she's offered yet, and the ways to enter to win are by telling Taylor Swift about Remembrance. 
The Goal: Get Taylor Swift to Tweet about Remembrance!

Now, about Remembrance! (Goodreads page)

Title: Remembrance
Series: Transcend Time Saga, #1
Author: Michelle Madow
Genre: Young Adult
SummaryLizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from Regency Era, England ... but she doesn't know it yet. Then Drew Carmichael transfers into Lizzie's high school at the beginning of the year, and she feels a connection to him, almost like she knows him. She can't stop thinking about him, but whenever she tries talking with him about the mysteries behind her feelings, he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with her. Reaching him is even more difficult because she has a boyfriend, Jeremy, who has started to become full of himself after being elected co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and her flirtatious best friend Chelsea starts dating Drew soon after his arrival. So why can't she get him out of her mind? Even though Lizzie knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, fighting fate isn't going to be easy.

Personally, I love Taylor Swift. And it's awesome to know that there's a book out there that one of her music videos inspired! I really hope this works out. :-)

Here's a video of Michelle Madow announcing the prize pack! 

A closer still look at the full prize pack! 

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