Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault In Our Stars
Series/Sequel? No
Author: John Green
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Philosophy, Romance
Age Level: YA (12-18)
Page Count: 313
Summary: Hazel has had lung cancer for years. It's only a matter of time before the tumors take her life. Until, on boring Support Group day, a good looking boy named Augustus Waters begins staring at her, and her life changes forever... for a little thing called love.

Review: I've heard a lot about John Green. One of my best friends has been bothering me and bothering me and bothering me to read him, especially this book, which she obsessed about for a couple of days. So, seeing it in my library, I picked it up and checked it out, thinking What the heck? I can finally get her off my back. 

I am SO glad I did.

This book was flat out amazing. That's the whole truth of it. It was flat out AMAZING. I loved loved loved loved it.

Okay, so it's a cancer book. It's sad. SPOILER ALERT: Someone dies END SPOILER

But it's beautiful and philisophical and hilarious and... and... and...

Let me say this: in the summary, I said  "her life changes forever... for a little thing called love." Let me clarify: this is no sappy, swooning love story. Hazel's and Augustus's relationship is nothing like that. It's more like best friends - they are laughing and kidding and just hanging. The conversations they get into can be deep and philosophical and so interesting to read about, even as it's just so HILARIOUS they way they say and view things.

I was four pages into this book and already cracking up. That's how awesomely hilarious it is.

I wish... I really really wish that I could say more about it, but I just... I can't describe it. I just... I can't. I can't tell you just how AMAZING it is. You have to take my word for it and read it. Please. Because I need someone to freak out with!

I'm definitely planning on checking out his other books! 


Little thing: Did you see that little yellow sticker on the cover image up there? It says SIGNED COPY. Yeah. I got a signed copy. Awesome, right? Of course, it's actually the library's book, but... :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium
Series/Sequel? Followed by Pandemonium  
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genres: Dystopian, Romance
Age Level: YA (12-18)
Page Count: 441(Hardcover)
Summary: In the future, everyone becomes cured from every having to experience amor deliria nervosa -
 also know as love - at age eighteen. After you are cured, you are paired. You marry your pair, have children, and go about life in the job assigned to you. Being cured is a wonderful thing, they say. You are free from this horrible, fatal disease, and you will never again have to experience pain.
Lena is seventeen, just months away from her procedure. She's excited to be cured, to finally get rid of the shadow of her diseased mother that committed suicide instead of go through the procedure again.
But then she meets Alex. Wonderful, beautiful, mysterious Alex, who is hiding a past even more dangerous that hers. But when she feels herself begin to contract the disease... does she really want to stop it? Does she really want to get cured?

Review: This book.... I... I... I'm speechless. I really, really am. It was beautiful and heart-wrenching, and I almost cried at the end,which is very rare for me. I didn't, but it was pretty close.

The dystopian-ness of it was fairly normal, done many times before: getting paired, everything decided for you, etc. etc. The thing that made this stand out was the cure... and how the characters reacted to it.

Now, I'm not sure if any of you have read The Giver by Lois Lowry. It is one of my favorite books. Yes, it's not the most recently published (it was written in the twentieth century, gasp!) but in some ways these two books are very similar. In The Giver, no one feels anything. Like, anything. At all. No one. No matter what age. Except for two exceptions, which is the Giver and his apprentice Jonas.

While in Delirium, the other characters feel things, and those under eighteen are still completely normal in the way they feel, I thought it was interesting how Lena - and others tried to rebel against it. I loved Alex and Lena's relationship, how sweet it was how (SLIGHT, NOT MAJOR SPOILER) he read Shakespeare and other love poetry to her. (END SLIGHT SPOILER). As said before, it was beautiful and heart-wrenching, and just awe inspiring.

A problem, though: I didn't like how normally dystopian it was. There were really no unique parts except for the cure, which was the major part of the book, but still. It would be nice if she was a little more creative, instead of just sticking with the same old same old dystopian elements.

If you like dystopian and romance with some action, I would highly recommend this book to you. Despite it's faults, it is still an amazing book.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Review: Jekel Loves Hyde

Title: Jekel Loves Hyde
Series/Sequel? No
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Age Level: YA (13-18)
Page Count: 282
Summary: Jill Jekel's chemist father is dead, and her college money with him, spent on a secret experiment of his. So when Jill's chemist teacher at school offers her and three other classmates the chance to enter a chemistry competition - with a thirty thousand dollar scholarship as first prize - she takes it. Teaming up with Tristan Hyde, they find the original notes from the famous novel, recreating the experiments. But it's not just for the money. It turns out that Jill and Tristan are actually both descendants of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, respectively. And the beast that the original Mr. Hyde was is still present in Tristan today. Now, finding and recreating the original formula could be crucial to saving Tristan's sanity... and his life.

Review: I really wish I had something that would count as a 2.99, because this book was teetering right on the edge of a 3... but couldn't quite make it. 

First off, let me say that in my opinion, this book was better than Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side (my review here). The idea of a new Jekel and Hyde, inside a couple of teenage students, was very new and interesting. I liked how everything wove together, how little was what it seemed, though some of it was a little predictable. 

I liked how the inner beast of the Hydes played into this. How there was a clear separation between the actual person and the beast. At the same time, it made me think - how much of the beast is in us today? Do criminals and terrorists have more of that beast in them, or did they just fall prey to it easier, give into it when we all have kept it at bay. I'm not sure if Ms. Fantaskey wrote this with these thoughts in her mind as well, hoping for us, as the reader, to pick out this underlying theme and think about it ourselves, or if it is merely my own thinking that has conjured up this question. 

I didn't like, in this book, how quickly Tristan and Jill supposedly fell in love. It was only in the first few pages they began to develop feelings for each other, and I thought it very sudden, lust-driven, and unrealistic. They're planning on getting married and all, and they dated for not even a year! I feel as if this is a very typical high-school relationship that won't last long at all. The romance aspect of it had me totally unconvinced. 

That being said, if you enjoy love stories, with just a little bit of darkness in there, I would recommend this to you. It is mainly a love story, and though I think it's a little unrealistic, all you hopeless romantics (more hopeless than me, I mean) will probably enjoy this. Also, if you enjoyed Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, you will most likely enjoy this book. 


Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Review: Sisters Red

Title: Sisters Red
Series/Sequel? Unknown
Author: Jackson Pearce (and yes, Jackson is a Ms., not a Mr.)
Genres: Romance, Fairy tale retellings,  urban paranormal /fantasy
Age Level: YA (12-18)
Page Count: 324
Summary: Scarlett lives for the hunt. Ever since the Fenris - the werewolves - took her eyes and left her scarred, Scarlett had done all she can to exact her revenge, and save "Innocents", those that don't know about the Fenris, from being eaten.
Scarlett has help, though. Her little sister Rosie and best friend Silas have always helped with the hunt, working together seamlessly. But as Rosie helps her sister, she no longer because sure if hunting is the life for her, like it is for Scarlett - if Rosie wants love in her best friend instead of love in the hunt.

Review: The last book I read that's so good, it's had me reading till WAY past my bedtime, on the bus, and even hidden inside my textbook at school,  was Iron Daughter,  the second book of the Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa. And I'm sure many of you know how AMAZING that series is. But this book managed to do that.

This book is told by the alternating POVs of Rosie and Scarlett, with a prologue and an epilogue written in third person. I liked how unique their voices were. 

Scarlett's thoughts were constantly focused on the hunt - cold, calculating and unfeeling at times. She was constantly concerned about saving the people that didn't know about the Fenris. She also felt very protective and responsible for Rosie, her love for her sisters being the only thing that stood equal in importance to the hunt.

Rosie, on the other hand, was more concerned about what I consider the more regular things: love for her sister, cooking and baking, her cat Screwtape, her sister, and later on, her love for her boyfriend.

Both Rosie and Scarlett had deep, sisterly love for one another, saying that it had always seemed to them that they were two people sharing one heart. I loved how their love for one another made such an important point in this book. In many current novels, you normally read about romantic relationships, instead of familial ones. This was a fresh plot point, and I welcomed it greatly. 

I loved, at the same time, Rosie's romantic relationship with Silas. There wasn't really that much making out, but sweeter kisses and hugs, and I found that cute and totally "Awww!" worthy instead of the more sexual relationships that are common to read about today. 

All in all, this was an amazing book. If you haven't read it, I would suggest doing so ASAP!



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Title: Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
Series/Sequel? Followed by Jessica Rules the Dark Side
Author: Beth Fantaskey
Genres: Romance, Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Age Level: YA (12-18)
Page Count: 351  
Summary: The only thing Jessica Packwood wanted was to get through her senior year and win all her mathletes matches. She had no intention of gaining a hot, Romanian stalker/foreign exchange student/betrothed. According to said Romanian, Lucius Vladescu, and Jessica's own adoptive parents, he's a vampire prince, and Jessica, who's actual name is Antanasia Dragomir, is a vampire princess and his betrothed. Becoming undead can seriously screw up your senior year...

Review:  I... really don't have a lot to say about this book. The plot wasn't anything special, rather predictable in places, and it didn't have me overly anxious to read more. The only reason I finished this book so quickly (less than twenty-four hours) was because it was one of those lazy days where I had nothing better to do than read. I thought Jessica was pretty cookie-cutter-female-nerd, and Lucius was kinda of typical mysterious-bad-boy, though in places I thought he was rather inconsiderate, stupid and annoying. It was an okay book, but I wouldn't rush to put it on your TBR stack.



Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review: A Kiss in Time

Title: A Kiss in Time
Series? No
Author: Alex Flinn
Genre: Romance, Modern Fantasy
Age Level: YA (12-18)
Page Count: 371
Summary: In this retelling of Sleeping Beauty, typical high school guy Jack wants nothing more than excitement and freedom from his parents when he takes a trip to Europe for the summer. But even in Europe, all they do is look at boring museums. So when Jack fights his way through thick brambles and finds himself in what looks to be an abandoned theme park - like Colonial Williamsburg, but in Europe - what is he to think? Then he stumbles upon a huge castle, and finds a sleeping princess - and what can he do but kiss her? Soon enough, the princess Talia is awake, and forcing Jack to take her from her country and parents back to the states. Things get messy, though, when it turns out it's not just Talia's parents looking for them - it's an evil witch! Will love be enough to stop her and save Talia?

Review: I've read Alex Flinn's Beastly and I loved it - this was no different! (My love for it, I mean. Not the actual book.) 

 This book was split into three parts: part 1 Talia, part 2 Jack, part 3 Talia and Jack. Meaning, the first part was told in all Talia's point of view, the second part was told from Jack's POV, and the third part did every other chapter - Talia, Jack, Talia, Jack. I actually really liked this format, being able to see both character's perspectives on things - from their initial reactions to each other, to later on, when they began to develop feelings for each other.

Jack seems like the typical teenage guy, and in many ways is (read: concerned about drugs and girls) but he also has some deeper, more likable traits. I love how he had that one fear, the one thing he couldn't face, and you could tell that from just reading his character - before even reading where it was essentially spelled out for you towards the end of the book. Normally, it takes a series - and into the second half of the series - to really understand a character that well. I was really impressed by Ms. Flinn in terms of that. 

I was also impressed how... old-fashioned Talia was when she spoke, and in her thoughts. I'm a writer (as previously mentioned) and there are at least a couple of characters that are very old. When I try making them seem their age, however, I always run into problems. I loved how Alex Flinn managed to make Talia actually seem her age. 

There have been many, many different take-offs of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. However, I feel as if this is one of the better ones. Make this part of your TBR pile - you won't regret it!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren, highlighting all the books book blogger have gotten (from the library, publishing house, book stores, giveaways, etc.).

So, this past week I've raided my local library, with a stack so high, my loving older sister asked "Got enough books there, Ana?"

I kindly ignored her sarcasm and stated that no, in fact, there were some others I wanted, but didn't know if I would have the time to read all of them before they were due.

So, on The Stack is:

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer (already R&Red - it was that awesome)

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (already read, waiting to be reviewed)

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn (already read, waiting to be reviewed)

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Delirium also by Lauren Oliver

Sisters Red by Jackson Pierce

Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey (courtesy of the wonderful TBF book group)

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

So, what was in YOUR mailbox this week?

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cinder
Series? The first in the Lunar Chronicles, followed by Scarlet, coming out next year.
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Scifi, Romance, Dystopian
Age Level: YA (12-18) 
Summary: Cinder is the most renowned mechanic in New Beijing. Of course, it helps that she's a cyborg. But when Prince Kai, the Crown Prince of the Eastern Commonwealth, comes to her booth in disguise, needing her to fix a royal android, she knows something is up, even if he just jokingly says it's a matter of "national security".
The Emperor, and many people on Earth, have been struck with leutomosis, a deadly disease. It was brought to Earth by the Lunars, people from what started out as a simple moon colony and have grown to be dangerous, magical, and feared. But Cinder may hold the cure to the disease in her blood - in fact, she may hold more than the cure.

Review: This book is a Cinderella retelling, but not in the way you could imagine. I've heard a lot about this book and wanted to read it, and was so glad when I found it waiting for me at my library.

Cinder is new and fresh, and I loved the way she responded to everything - from the disease to Prince Kai. Even though she may no longer be human, she acts like she is, with the same feelings we have. She also has to deal with prejudice and discrimination, and she tries desperately to keep Prince Kai from finding out - especially since he's shown an interest in her.

Queen Levana and the Lunars are a little frightening and unearthly, and I love them for it. Everything about them had me biting my nails, and leaning forward in my seat. It was pretty awesome.

Prince Kai as a character was pretty awesome as well. He was joking and sarcastic, and not like what you would expect him to be in his position. That being said, he did have a little bit of teenage guy in him - worried about marriage and pretty girls and kissing. But it was for what I believe is a nobler reason - for his country, the Eastern Commonwealth.

This book was written in third person, and while I normally don't like books as much when they're written in third person, this book made third person as personal as first. It was awesome!

The one thing I don't like about this book: I won't do spoilers, but there was this one thing that was supposed to be a total surprise and gasp-worthy, but I totally saw it coming. Maybe I've just read to many books, but it was totally predictable.

Even so, this was an awesome book and an awesome start to the series. I can't wait for next year and the sequel, Scarlet!



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: I Will Save You by Matt de la Pena

Title: I Will Save You
Series? No
Author: Micheal de la Pena
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Hard Topics
Age Level: YA (13-18)
Summary: Kidd has nothing and no one. Having run away from his therapy home, he works at a campsite repairing things. There he meets Olivia, whose his exact opposite - blond haired, blue eyed, and rich. Kidd loves Olivia, and Olivia may feel the same. But how can they be together when Kidd's ex-best friend Devon, who has a death drive and hates the white and the rich, is coming back for Kidd? Because Devon's not leaving until he teaches Kidd some things about life and death and who we are.

Review: Okay, so I had to read this book for a book group at my library. We only have to read fifty pages of a book if we don't like it, and I normally abide by that rule, because I don't really like a lot of books we read. Originally reading the summary for this, I was not too excited. Even reading it, I didn't really get to excited or caught up in it. 

This book is very serious, and isn't for the type of people (mostly girls, I will admit) who like the nice, fluffy, cute stuff. Kidd has to deal with a lot of serious, horrible things in his life. Other characters have problems - major problems, not love-triangle-like problems - but Kidd probably has it the worst. This is one of the type of books that sends shivers up your spine while reading it. Not because it's a creepy mystery or haunted house, but because the things that happen to the characters, the things they have to go through, the way they react and deal with these problems, is so... commonplace... that you can't help thinking What if that happened to me? Because unlike paranormal/dystopian/fantasy books, you know that it could happen to you. It may even be considered normal or predictable if these things happened to you.

I didn't like how this book was set up. Kidd kind of jumps around in his storytelling, and the beginning of the book is really the end of the story. It was hard to read, because it normally took for me to get halfway through the particular story he was telling at that time for me to understand what was happening. And I found that really annoying. 

This is one of those type of books that if you read it, you have to read it all, the entire thing. And once you finish it, you think That was a complete waste of my time. It's not until a couple of hours or even days later that you realize it was actually a really insightful, interesting book. And it wasn't such a waste of your time after all.



Monday, March 12, 2012

Book Review: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Title: The False Prince
Sequel? The first book in The Ascendance Trilogy, sequel yet-to-be-titled
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Genres: (kind of) historical fiction*
Age Level: YA (12-18) (Though this is leaning more towards 12-14)
Page Count: 342
Summary: Sage is a fourteen year old orphan and thief. He has nothing, no one. He lives on a week-by-week basis, trying to survive. Then nobleman Conner comes for him. He pays the woman in charge of the orphanage, and takes Sage away with him, along with three other boys - all fourteen, all nobodies. But it's not to work as servants, as Sage expects.
All members of the royal family are dead. The king, queen, and crown prince Darius had been poisoned, though the general public doesn't know it yet. However, Prince Jaron, the second prince, was supposedly killed by pirates four years ago, though a body was never found. Conner's plan is to decide over the course of two weeks which boy can act for the rest of his life. Which orphan can become a prince.

Review: I liked this book more than I thought I would, truth be told. I got this from one of those Scholastic book fairs at my school for $6, and in the past I haven't really liked the books I've gotten at them. But this one was really good. 

I think the thing that first caught me was Sage's character. He is very sarcastic, very sharp-witted and clever-tongued, and I love that type of character. He was never afraid to say what he wanted, even when it landed him in a dungeon or near death. His character was very complex as well. He had a hard life, but also had many different talents and an interesting back story. I loved his strength, his resolve to do what he believed was right, and nothing could break him. I also liked that, upon accidentally killing a man, he freaked out. I hate it when characters (especially guys) kill something and keep moving on as if it's nothing. Hello, you just KILLED someone! Sage has humanity, and that was another thing I liked about him.

I also liked that it was told from his perspective. I feel as if books with male main characters, especially when told from their perspective, are a whole lot fresher than female protagonists. (I used an ELA vocab word. My teacher would be proud :D) I've only read one other book from a male's perspective (that I can think of off the top of my head, at least), so maybe that's not the best generalization, but I still think that it's true. Maybe it's because I'm a girl, but I feel as if reading from guys' perspectives are always better.

The thing that I found weird about this book was that, even though it was told from Sage's perspective, there were chapters when it would switch into third person. That caused for a little bit of confusion, but in general, it was surprisingly easy to follow what was happening. 

I have to tell you another thing I loved about this book: POLITICAL INTRIGUE!!!! That is my FAVORITE thing to read about. Next to hot guys, sword fights, and love triangles. The more layers of lies and deceit a book has, the more I love it, because it's fun for me as the reader to uncover those layers and try to figure out exactly what's happening. Nothing was really as it seemed, and I loved it. 

This is the first in a trilogy, and I'm excitedly waiting for the next one! Unfortunately, The False Prince was just published this year, so I guess I'll have to wait. Sigh....

*What I meant in the Genre slot by (kind of) historical fiction is this: it's old fashioned, but in the way... I guess the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) was, but without the magic. They don't have modern technology, but it's in... a different world I guess, with different countries and landmarks and such. There is no Britain or France or Spain or Russia. So it's old-fashioned, I guess, but it's not historical fiction. If that's confusing you, leave a comment, and I'll try to explain more.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book Review: Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

Title: Blue Bloods
Sequel? The first in the Blue Bloods series, followed by Masquerade.  
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Genres: Romance, paranormal/fantasy
Age Level: YA (13-18)
Page Count: 302
Summary: Schuyler Van Alen has never fit in at Duchesne, her prestigious New York City private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes to the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates. But when she turns fifteen, Schuyler's life changes dramatically. The death of a popular schoolmate haunts her in unexpected ways. And strangest of all, Jack Force, the most popular boy in school, is showing an interest in her.
Once an outcast, Schuyler is thrust into Manhattan's most exclusive social circle. Its members are the powerful, the wealthy, and - as Schuyler soon discovers - the unhuman. They are Blue Bloods, an ancient group of vampires, and for centuries they've been invincible. Now something is preying on this elite group. and Schuyler wants to find out the truth. But is she the most vulnerable of them all?

Review: I've heard a lot about the Blue Bloods series, and all though it wasn't as amazing as I've heard, it wasn't all that bad, either.

 It had vampires written in a way I have never thought of before, and I was impressed with this idea. I don't want to put in to many spoilers, but it had them cast in a different light than I've read before, and I found that very interesting.

However, the characters left something to be desired. I've always thought that characters make the book; if they aren't lifelike and believable, I find it very hard to get into the story. The characters didn't seem like people, but like words on a page. And that bothered me.

Nevertheless, I know a lot of others liked it, and it is quite likely you will as well. Even though it wasn't perfect, I am planning on checking out the next book from my library.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: Starstruck

Sequel? No
Author: Cyn Balog
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age Level: Young Adult
Pages: 244
Summary: Gwendolyn Reilly has nothing going for her. Her boyfriend/best friend Wish moved away years ago, she was stuck working at her family's bakery over the summer, her younger sister Evie seems to have inherited all the good genes, and "Dough" weighs about fifty thousand pounds. She's sure that junior year will be just as horrible as her entire school experience since junior high - everyone ignoring her, or only talking to her to tell a fat joke that she's the butt of. Joy.
But then Wish sends her an email, saying that he's moving back from L.A. Great, right? Except, Dough has put on seventy pounds since they saw each other last - and judging by his Facebook photos, he's become a Greek god. Sure that she'll become single the moment he lays eyes on her, she avoids him as long as possible. But when they finally do meet, something strange happens: Wish looks at her as if she's just as gorgeous.
But Wish seems... changed. He wears black all the time, loves the sun and becomes nervous when it rains. Christian, a new employee at the bakery, claims that Wish is Luminati, part of an ancient astrology cult that can influence their lives using the stars.
Is Christian right? Is Wish still Wish? Or is he starstruck?

Review: All right, I think Cyn Balog is one of my new favorite authors.  I read Sleepless by her and loved it, and this book is just as awesome.

It has a gorgeous guy, a new magic I've never heard of before (which is like saying there's a Santa whose never had a beard), and a down-to-earth, somewhat-sarcastic heroine, who goes through many of the same problems we experience everyday. Underlying it is a life lesson we've heard time and time again, though for the most part, it's not really getting to us: it's what's on the inside, not the outside that counts.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

In My Mailbox (1)

Okay, I've read a lot about the In My Mailbox meme and thought I should do it on here too. I'm not sure if I'm doing it right, but here goes:

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren. Any YA book blogger is allowed to join in, so for more info, click on the link!

This week, I've got a TON of books - mainly from my library, but a couple I bought as well. Here's my list:

Blue is for Nightmares by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz

The Candidates by Inara Scott

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Starstruck by Cyn Balog

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees

Now I only need to decide which to read first!! Any recommendations, comments, questions, or concerns?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Book Review: Entwined

Title: Entwined
Sequel? No
Author: Heather DixonGenres: Romance, fantasy, historical fiction
Age Level: YA (13-18)
Summary: "Azalea, could you show us the Soul's Curtsy?"
Azalea smiled, inhaled, and touched her right foot in front of her. She traced a circle behind her, then slowly sank to the left knee. With strained balance, she folded herself up as she disappeared in a poof of skirts. Her legs twisted like pretzels beneath her. She bowed her head, nearly kissing the floor, and extended her right arm above her, her left tucked beneath her back. - Entwined, page 114 (paraphrased)

Princess Azalea, the oldest of twelve, loves nothing more than dancing. Her mother taught her and her sisters all sorts of dances when they were young, able to convince their strict father - the King - to have the shoemaker fix their ruined dancing slippers every night.
But then Azalea's mother dies, and she is left with twelve sisters and a father who does not care for them. Their family is under the strict rules of mourning: no suitors, parties, open windows, colors, and most importantly, no dancing. The girls aren't sure how they will survive the next year.
When the King leaves for war, the girls are glad to see him go, saying that he does not care for them and is no longer considered part of their family, for he has removed all traces of Mother from the house, and did not even tell them he was leaving.
But then, a few nights later, Azalea finds a strange mark on the fireplace in the room she shares with all of her sisters. Rubbing her mother's silver handkerchief against it, it opens into a magic pavilion filled with dancers. The sisters are invited by Keeper, the keeper of the pavilion to dance every night. They take him up on his offer, glad to leave behind their grief-stricken, penniless home. But Keeper wants something in return for their dancing... and it could destroy the sisters more than they realize.
That's a Shame (it's over)

Review: Another spin off of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, this novel adds more twists and turns the classic story than you could have imagined. Magic, romance, mystery, and unbreakable promises all combine in this wonderful story. I would recommend it to anyone who likes the above elements, along with old-fashioned parliamentary monarchies. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review: The Future of Us

Title: The Future of Us
Sequel? No
Author: Carolyn Mackler and Jay Asher
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Romance, science fiction (of the time travel persuasion)
Age Level: YA (13-18) 
Summary: "... I got this desktop computer with Windows 95 and a color monitor... Our friend Kellan recently got AOL. She squeals every time someone sends her an instant message." - The Future of Us, pages 2 and 4
It's the year 1996. It's a sight to behold if you have a computer or cellphone. Or, even more unusual, both. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, all the technology we take for granted today hasn't been invented yet. So what happens when eleventh grader Emma Nelson logs onto AOL and discovers Facebook, with pages from her, her friends, her family - but fifteen years in the future. She shares this phenomenon with her ex-best friend and current neighbor Josh, in an attempt to figure out how it is possible. Seeing their futures, and seeing how miserable Emma is, she tries her best to change it, to make little ripples in the present and then refreshing the page to see how her future changes. But is that really what she should be doing? Should two high schoolers intentionally mess with the present to change to future?

Review: Talk about a dynamic duo if I ever saw one. Carolyn Mackler and Jay Asher are both fantastic writers on their own, but this co-authored novel shows just how wonderful they are. It has a deep, philosophical, underlying theme, wrapped in  typical high school drama. It makes you question - if you had the chance to change your future, would you? How much of our own choices affect our futures? How much is left up to destiny and fate? Should we just say que sera sera and leave it be? A powerful book, which I would recommend to everyone, adults and teenagers alike.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Quote of the Month - March

So, I love quotes. Ask my friends, my family, anyone who hangs out with me - I love quotes. And every month, I seem to have a new quote that I just cannot stop thinking of. Sometimes they're funny quotes, but most of the time they're fairly inspirational. Which is why I'm doing something called the Quote of the Month. This will be a monthly post with a quote that I love, which is like my mantra for the month. For March, the quote is

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself..." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

 I'm sure you have probably heard this quote before. It is probably among the top ten greatest American quotes, along with those like "Give me liberty or give me death!" and "Speak softly and carry a big stick." It really is a great quote, because it's TRUE.

Let me explain maybe a little more. He is not saying that we should be afraid of fear. He's not saying that we should be totally and completely fearless either. What he is saying through this quote is that to really get the most out of life, you cannot hesitate because of fear. You cannot say "Well, what if I get rejected?" or "What if I get laughed at?" "What if I get hurt?" All those questions are just going to leave you feeling as if you are less than you really are, and make you more self-conscious than you really should be.

So accept your fear. Accept it, but don't let it hold you back. The next time fear grabs the reins and keeps you from doing something, walk away from it, and do what you want to. Because it will leave you happier and calmer when you do.
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