Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Pirate Captain's Daughter by Eve Bunting

Catherine's mother has just died - and her father is a pirate.  Dealing with grief, Catherine must convince her father to allow her to go on his next cruise with him.  He is the only hope she has left; she doesn't want to be left with her Aunt.  She has wanted adventure all her life, and this is finally the chance.  And then there's the question of the man who was prowling around their house the night before her mother died.  He'd gotten in, looking for something, and Catherine barely managed to scare him away.  If she stays, something like that could happen again.  So when her father accepts, Catherine is thrilled.  But pirate life is not what Catherine - now Charlie - bargained for.  And the danger of her request may cost her the lives of those she loves.

My thoughts -
If this book hadn't been so short, I would have put it down half way through.  Or maybe, if it had been longer, it would have been better, with more meat and substance and intrigue.  But the fact of the matter is: it was short, underdeveloped, and even stupid.
I know Eve Bunting was trying to create a pirate world that was based off reality more than romanticism, but I'm sorry, it just didn't work.  There was nothing working in her favor here.  The events were real, perhaps, but not beneficial to the story.  Things must happen for a reason, or else all falls apart.  Writing a realistic story does not mean having characters die for no reason.  (Well, if there was a reason, I must have missed it...)
With that said, here is a little explanation for why I finished this book (it's not much, I can assure you; how did I manage?!):
1.  I liked the writing.
2.  It had potential.  By potential, I mean I was able to, in my mind, picture things the way I wanted them to be or to go.  Other than that... Yah.  That's pretty much it.

Character notes -
There was very little character development.  Charlotte was a sweet girl who meant well and learned a lesson, but she fell flat.  William was the best character, but he was so underdeveloped it was sad...I wanted to get to know him more.  The rest of the characters felt forced and unnatural.  Like, maybe Bunting was trying to create interesting and unusual characters.  Maybe trying too hard.  Because basically, it lacked.  Someone's distinct, strong, and disgusting smell should not be his only distinguishable character trait.

Story notes -
I was so looking forward to a story about pirates that's actually good.  (The other one I read was Steel by Carrie Vaughn.  Come on, people!  Step it up a notch!)  Unfortunately, I discovered not too far into this story that that was too much to ask.  I felt like there was seriously no adventure.  Danger, maybe a bit.  Lots of talking and explaining.  Quite a bit of useless details and hurried explanations packed into tiny sentences.  Within seventy pages or so, she was already on the ship.  At seventy-five pages or around there, William figured out she was a girl.  Wait, there are only 125 pages left - how's she going to tie up everything and finish it off well, when not much as actually happened?!
Truth is, she didn't.  She didn't let the suspense build and explode in the end.  Instead, she'd let you think about some mystery for twenty pages or less and then explain away the suspense.

Disappointing, much?

Summing it up -
Flat.  Boring.  Fast.  Too fast.  Too short.  Too uninteresting.  I wish it had been more, but unfortunately it wasn't.

For the parents -  Recommended to ages 11+.  But it was stupid because at the end it was implied that Catherine and William have sex on the beach where they're marooned, after they've practically starved for two weeks.  It was weird to say the least - they hadn't even developed a relationship!  Ugh!

So, basically I'm looking for a good, solid, realistic and still romantic pirate story.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Rip Tide by Kat Falls (Dark Life #2)

Read my review for the first book!

This review is devoid of spoilers for the first book except one quick spoiler in the summary!

Ty doesn't want Gemma to leave.  She lived at his house, with his family, for three months, but more than one accident in the water convinced her she needed to leave.  But now, after the Seaguard kicked her out of the Trade Station, Gemma wants to find her brother and live with him and the gang.  Ty is quite uncomfortable with this.
But when Ma and Pa are kidnapped by a town of Surfs, everything changes.  If Ty and Gemma can find out where the Township Sachem is, they can find Ma and Pa.  And the place to go for such information?  Rip Tide, the stack city where safety is never secure.  It will be a miracle if they get out of there alive, never mind what might come after...

My thoughts -
I love Kat Falls.  I love the way she writes.  I love how she creates her stories and shapes her characters and makes me shiver with anticipation or giggle with delight.  So, basically, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It was everything I was hoping for and more.  I pre-ordered it and started it the day after it arrived, I was so stoked.

Was there anything I didn't like?  Well, yes, only one thing.  The world building.  This was an issue (the only issue) in Dark Life.  This futuristic world is crazy cool and original, but I feel like Kat Falls' descriptions of buildings, Townships, stack cities, and certain underwater places lack depth, making it hard for the reader to picture everything clearly, especially with so much going on at all times.  However, this world is fairly easy to work with in your own mind, and I found myself adapting as I used my imagination to fill in the blanks.

Character notes -
I think of Ty and Gemma as one of those epic duos like Sam and Frodo, or Harry and Ron...except Ty and Gemma are a guy and a girl and, well...  They're kinda sweet on each other.  And it's kinda adorable.
I love the way both of their characters are developed and how they stay true to their personalities, especially Ty.  He's one lovable young man who is quite mature for his fifteen years.  Gemma is also memorable...I just can't get enough!

The side characters in this book were really awesome as well!  So much deception goes on, whether for good or bad, that you don't actually know who is doing what until the very end.  ("What do you mean?" you are probably asking.  Well...I can't tell you.  You must read the book!)  Captain Revas, Mayor Fife, Ratter, Representative Tupper, and Gabion are just a few.  They are all so complicated, with so many layers, and I was completely surprised when the end came about and I finally knew who was doing what.  I'd tried to guess but Kat Falls' twists and turns were too good for me!

Story notes -
Like I just said, layers.  This story is full of them.  New ones are added and old ones are taken away.  The whole time I was like, "Wow, something else?!"  The pace is quick but still gives enough to time to the reader to enjoy every detail.  The plot is thick.  The writing is beautiful.  Ty's voice and Kat's style work seamlessly together.

I wish the end twist about who was committing the crime would have been drawn out longer, but what's done is done and it was extremely enjoyable nonetheless!  And while all the loose ends about the story were tied, there are still some unanswered questions overall, which make me believe there is going to be a third book!!!

Summing it up -
When I think of this book, in my mind's eye I see pre-storm waves crashing and lightning striking.  What a story!  The originality of it - so like the first one and yet totally different - is enough to get anyone liking it.  And yet, still, it's one of those books I see on everyone's TBR, but so far down the list that it's easily forgotten.  Shame!  What fun, adventure, and danger are all missing out on!  You all should charge to the nearest bookstore and buy both books in hardcover.  And when the third book comes out (there has got to be a third!!), go buy that one, too.  Kat Falls has created something you won't want to miss out on!

Nothing for the parents.  11+

Read my other reviews!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rip Tide (Quotes)

I had to get clear of the town.  Had to surface now.  I pushed my speed.  Didn't even break my stroke to pull off the lampreys, though their bite burned and their heavy soft bodies thumped against my chest.

My eardrums throbbed as I swam against the tide, yet I couldn't make any headway.  A powerful undercurrent was keeping me pinned beneath the town.  I dove deeper to escape its drag, only to find that the undertow was even stronger closer tot he seafloor.  So strong I was nearly swimming in place, unable to reclimb the water column, and I was growing weaker by the second.  Close to blacking out.  Only terror kept me conscious.

-  Chapter 17, Page 184

Review on Monday!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Buys 7/22/11 - 8/26/11

Phew!  So, a month has gone by without a Friday Buys, and I figured it was about time.  The pile has stacked up for so long, higher and higher, that I needed to put the books in their proper places.  So, here is my Friday Buys (sorry the pictures are so dark...):

Cloaked by Alex Flinn
Won this one in a giveaway!  Loved this book!

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George - $8.00
Great book!  Finally got the paperback and I love seeing it on my shelf. :)   (Title leads to review.)

The Iliad by Homer - $3.50
My favorite of the two (Iliad and Odyssey).  I lent out my previous copy and never got it back...decided it was time for a new one!

Rip Tide by Kat Falls - $11.00
LOVED THIS BOOK!  I loved Dark Life and now this one.  Read read read!

Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor - $.50
I know, I know, it's the second book and I haven't even read the first.  Well, it was only two quarters...I couldn't pass it up!

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James - $.50
I'm a huge fan of the Classics but I haven't had much time recently to read them.  I told myself I wasn't going to buy any more, but this one was also two quarters. ;)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling -$1.00
I finally found it in great condition in hardcover!  I said I wanted the dust jacket, but this was a good deal.  If I find one with a dust jacket, I'll replace this one.  But for now, I'm happy. :)  now I just need to find Deathly Hallows and I'll have them all!

The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer - $.50
I now have up to book 3! :)

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan - $.50
In reality this one was free because I traded for it, but the store charged me for tax and handling.  (Title leads to review.)

East by Edith Pattou - $.50
Also at the exchange store.  Super excited to read this one!!

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull - $.50
Traded at that same store.  I've heard good things about this book...we shall see...

May Bird and the Ever After by Jodi Lynn Anderson - $.50
Another from the trade store.  I'm interested in this one...  My 14-year-old started it and put it down because she just wasn't interested.  I wonder how I'll like it.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - $8.00
1940's!!!  Isn't it gorgeous???  I just LOVE it.  More pictures below...  I'm so happy it's on my shelf with all my vintage books! :)

What did you all get these last few weeks?  Show your links in the comments so I can see! :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (Lorien Legacies)

John Smith has never lived a normal life.  He's an alien, developing special powers on a planet far from his own - Lorien - and running for his life every time he (accidentally) draws attention to himself.  John Smith isn't even his real name.
He is Number Four, sent to Earth to carry on the Legacies of Lorien with eight others, called the Garde, after his beautiful planet was destroyed by the Mogadorians.  John and his protector, or Cepan, Henri, have moved for what feels like the millionth time, because Number Three has just been murdered by the Mogadorians.  And John is next in line to die.
But what John finds in his new town, Paradise, Ohio - will it be worth risking death for?

My thoughts -
Everything about this book caught me by surprise, swept me off my feet, and I fell in love...  Kind of Prince-Charming-Disney-Style.  Except, this much much more serious stuff than Disney.
And you know, while this book was so freaking amazing and I would like to tell everyone about it and have them go read it asap, I don't really feel like I have to write a "SQUEEEEEE" kind of review.  This book has a startling confidence about it.  Like, "So what?  You don't want to read me?  You don't like alien stories?  Well think again."  I know that me talking from a book's perspective marks my downfall into insanity, but it's so true.  If this book could talk, that's what it would say.

Aliens, beasts, scary guys, other life-sustaining planets, super-powers...  I loooove this kind of stuff.  It gets me excited; it thrills.  It's a crazy outlook, bizarre, strange, but totally fun nonetheless.  If this was an alien book, like, say, Transformers-ish, then I'd say think twice before you read it in case you think alien stuff is stupid.  But what if I told you this book has more to offer than just sci-fi?  What if I told you that this story is way more emotional, has way more personality, and has way better characters than your average alien story? What if I said that everyone should give it a try, regardless of what they think about aliens? I really, really hope you do.

Character notes -
John's voice is unmistakable.  It was defined from page one, a beautiful piece of consistency that pulled me in.  I was drawn to John's character immediately and deeply cared for him within the first few chapters.  His longing to permanently call some place home and build a life, as well as his developing Legacies and discoveries of his past, all help make him a stronger person.  The trials he goes through surprised me with how intense they were.  I never expected one event after the other to happen, and neither did John, of course.  Seeing him respond well to bad situations and use his AWESOME Legacies only added to my elation.

Every other character was equally well-developed, as side characters should be.  Henri and John were the perfect pair, Garde and Cepan, scouting Earth together in search of refuge.  Sam was an awesome best friend.  He made me laugh; for some reason he was such a crack up to picture, so nerdy and adorable.  Sarah was John's perfect other half and their relationship displayed a beautiful, unconditional kind of love that just melted me.  She was so strong; I found myself wishing I was more like her.

Story notes -
If the author(s) ever decided to write random stories about John's life before Paradise, Ohio, I'd read them.  I'd read all the little details.  His life (and character) would never get boring.  I would follow all the steps of his life until he died.  That's how interesting I Am Number Four was!  From the first pages I wanted to know everything I could about John, Lorien, Henri, and the Mogadorians.  I wanted adventure, intense scenes, emotion, sweetness, and a meaningful, unforgettable climax.  I got all that, and more.  I loved every moment, every single twist in the story.  It was so...different.  From anything I've read.  It flowed, built; the climax was nearly one hundred pages long.  One thing strung to another in a heap of vivid scenes and beautiful prose.  The story held me emotionally, and with the last pages I could feel my eyes prick with tears at the bittersweet ending!

Summing it up -
Mighty.  That's how I think of John, of his story.  I was continually shocked by a book much better than I expected, by consistency, a strong voice, lovable characters, a flipping awesome story line, and very beautiful writing.  (At first, I didn't know if I'd like the writing with all the short sentences, but once again, John's voice was too amazing not to like.  The writing now stands out to me as great.)  I also loved the dialogue.  It inspired me in my own writing and gave me a fresh perspective on my story.  Whether I like the second book (The Power of Six) or not, I'm buying the first, because as a quick inspiration it will always be a first choice. And while I'll miss John's perspective, I'm looking forward to seeing how two male authors deal with a girl's voice fora change...and I can't wait to see how the story continues! (And ends...?  Will this be the end??)

For the parents -
Brief language.  D**k repeated a lot.  S**t and d**n as well.  Sometimes the cussing is funny because one of the characters mixes up cuss words all the time.  John/Sarah kiss; two passionate kisses, no details.  They lie in bed together, but nothing happens except one time they kiss (again, no details).  Short references to drinking/making out at a party.  14+

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Am Number Four (Quotes)

Images flicker, each one bringing its own sorrow or its own smile.  Sometimes both.  At the very worst an impenetrable and sightless black and at best a happiness so bright that it hurts the eyes to see, coming and going on some unseen projector perpetually turned by an invisible hand.  One, then another.  The hollow click of the shutter.  Now stop.  Freeze this frame.  Pluck it down and hold it close and be damned by what you see.  Henri always said: the price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings.

- Chapter 34, page 426

This quote really hit me as real and sad and absolutely perfect.  Review coming soon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson (book 3)

Max and the gang - Fang, Iggy, the Gasman, Nudge, and Angel - have barely escaped the flying Erasers with their lives. Now Fang has a blog, getting help from kids around the world, and the younger of the Flock want to disappear and settle down.  And Fang agrees.  But when things go really wrong – Flyboys, the newest Erasers, are after them, and Fang decides to split, taking two of the Flock with him – hard life for the Flock might just get harder, what with Itex controlling the world and all.  And while Jeb claims Max alone can save the world, she might need a little help from her family.

My thoughts -
Yeeeee!!!  Fast fast fast fast!!  That’s how I feel every time I read these books, and this one is no exception.  So much actions, all the time, and yet there are still so many personal aspects that draw in the readers and connect them to the characters.  Saving the World was still not as good as the first book, but it was definitely better than the second.  Thoroughly enjoyable!

Character notes -
Like I just said, I'm totally attached to the characters.  In fact, this is the #1 reason I am still reading and enjoying this series.  The way the Flock has to fight and work together and survive is inspiring, despite how unrealistic it all is.

Once again, Fang is my favorite.  He makes me smile....and yes, giggle.  I love his version of "changing Max's mind".  ;)  The other characters, as always, were amazing.  And Ari was much better this time around.

Story notes -
I really like this story, but honestly, it's not the main draw for me.  It's fun, fast, and enjoyable, but I'm not as emotionally attached to it or as fascinated by it as, say, Incarceron, or Entwined.  However, I still love the story and am looking forward to reading more, even if the world and story-line aren't my favorites.  Plus, this book had some WAY cool twists that raised questions and have me looking for answers!

Summing it up -
A lovely adventure.  I look forward to what the fourth book, The Final Warning, has in store!  I've heard - the Arctic? :)

For the parents -
Fang and Max throw each other "the bird".  They kiss once.  Fang and the Gasman describe pretty girls on the beach for blind Iggy, but not inappropriately.  Ages 12+

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck (Tiger Saga #2)

To read my review for the first book in this Saga, click on the link below.  There is one small spoiler to the first book in the summary; no spoilers for this book or the previous book in the actual review.

Tiger's Curse  (my review)

Kelsey Hayes has just gotten through with the adventure of a lifetime.  She has broken 1/4th of a curse, given two tiger men back a quarter of their lives, and has fallen madly in love with one of them.  He claimed he loved her back, but he's so beautiful...he could have any woman he wants.  Back in Oregon, Kelsey is trying to forget about her Indian princes and why the heck did she leave them?...when Ren ends up moving in next door and properly asking her to date him.  It is then that she realizes they truly love each other.  Their time is cut short, however, when Ren is captured by Lokesh's men.  Kelsey and Kishan, Ren's brother, are left to break the next part of the curse and save Ren.  But with Kishan harboring dark haunts and hurts, and Kelsey missing Ren, it may be harder to get through then they thought.  And nothing will ever prepare them for what lies after...

My thoughts -
November better get its butt over here, and fast, because I need more of the Tiger Saga!  (Insert interesting fact:  Book 3, Tiger's Voyage, is released November 1st, 2011, which happens to be my 18th birthday!  Happy dance!)
I seriously love this series.  I loved the first book, and Tiger's Quest just added  to that love.  Golly, I was so sad it was over!  I need to know what happens, and FAST!  It's like...a medical emergency or something.  Just kidding...sort of. ;)
And while I absolutely loved this book with a passion, this is not a perfect book.  I really like Houck's writing, especially now that it has become Kelsey's voice so absolutely, but it's just not a favorite.  Sometimes I feel like the sentences are a bit short/choppy, or that scenes go a little too fast.  There was also one part of the book toward the middle (see story notes for more) that I found quite boring...

Character notes -
Ok, really?  First Colleen Houck makes me fall for Ren, and I'm perfectly happy loving him and not actually liking Kishan at all.  And then - WHAM!  I'm hit by the full awesomeness of Kishan's character - and suddenly I could marry them both.  Part of me still prefers the first brother; another part, the second.  They're both wonderfully crated, deep into the story, with so much heritage and personality.  It's killing me not to know what's going to happen to them/between them/with Kelsey.  (Oh gosh, the part with the baby...the dream...I just want to know!)  (That was the scene that made me fall completely for Kishan...)
Kelsey is so simple...and yet she's smart, brave, funny, and totally genuine.  Very likable, very relatable, very real.  I love her faithfulness to Ren, even when she could totally ditch him for his also smoking hot brother.  But she's not thinking about that; she's thinking about Ren and who he is as a person and his safety and how much she loves him and can't wait to see him again.  He is what keeps her going, alive.  It just makes my heart melt and butterflies do flips in my stomach. :D

Story notes -
Ahem.  If I could run around my house making absurd, loud noises to get out my intense emotions upon finishing this book, I would do it in a heartbeat.  But as that would most likely brand me as a person in need of immediate mental help, I will restrain myself.
But seriously - emotions.  running.  WILD!  This story was crazy.  Crazy good.
I really liked the beginning as it developed Ren and Kelsey's relationship more.  They had such a bumpy start, so it was a nice change to see them in a normal environment.  After that, the story got intense after Ren's capture (insert saddest face ever) right up until Kelsey, Mr. Kadam, and Kishan start traveling.  Then, for about fifty pages, the story took a slow, and (to me) boring dip, all about traveling and strange religions.  I was really worried for about twenty pages if this was going to be as good as Tiger's Curse...  However, my fears were quickly put to rest.  The quest was incredible, even better and more intense than the last.  It had a fast pace, lots of humor, and a touch of sadness.  And TONS of action.  The feel of the story line was different from Curse, and I was amazed at how original everything was.  I seriously have no expectations for Voyage; I just know it'll be good!
And then the end of the Quest...  GAH!  It broke my heart.  I got all melancholy...for a good while.  Then at the bookstore, when I saw the blue and orange colors of this lovely Saga, I melted.  Need. TO. KNOW!
I just love the romance.  In fact, it has become one of my all-time favorite love stories.  The way Ren loves Kelsey is just so real and refreshing.  And Kishan - I just want him to be happy!

Summing it up -
Emotionally gripping!!!  Goodness, can I say it again?  I'm so excited for Tiger's Voyage!  This had me angry, happy, sad, shocked, and hungry for more.

For the parents -
A few kisses; focused on the emotional more than the physical.  The kisses are very passionate, though.  Sometimes Kelsey sits in Ren's lap during a kiss, but not always.  They talk about being "together" together, without details.  They talk about waiting until marriage.  Kelsey and Kishan kiss.  Recommended 15+.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Defend and Betray by Anne Perry (William Monk Mystery 3)

There are no spoilers in this review, for this book or the first two.  This is the third book in a series, however, so if you'd like to start at the beginning, read my review for:

Hester Latterly has just received dreadful news:  her friend Edith Sobell's brother, well-renowned General Carlyon, has just died a very horrible death.  He was pushed over a balcony during a dinner party when no one was around, and then had a halberd driven into his chest.  Not only that, but his wife has confessed to killing him!  Edith believes her sister-in-law may be trying to cover up someone else's crime, maybe her daughter's, but Alexandra is adamant that she killed her own husband.  Hester believes that Oliver Rathbone should be hired to defend her - and Monk to discover more about the case.  With the three of them working to solve the mystery - and Monk slowly but surely discovering his past - a secret, terrible and black, is unleashed on the Carlyon family, a secret more terrible and buried than anything Monk, Oliver, and Hester could have ever guessed.

My thoughts -
I would have killed him, too.
I've never felt that way about a murder mystery before, but it's true.  You would have.  Your mother would have.  Almost anyone would have.
I guess you'll just have to read the book. ;)

Basically, this book made me cry.  If I hadn't been so dehydrated from my stupid sunburn, I would have sobbed.  I never thought a trial could be so moving.

Character notes -
MONK!  How I love that guy.  I love everything about him, even his pride and anger.  I love him when he's angry, I love him when he's joyful.  I feel for him when he's struggling...  I just want him to remember!!!

Hester was even more amazing this time around; she had to sometimes lead the way through tough situations and I loved how she did it - her bravery is to be commended!
Oliver Rathbone is likable and necessary to the story, but to be honest he's nothing compared to Monk.  I hope he keeps getting better and better with each book!

The side characters are all phenomenal, every last one.  The way Anne Perry describes people - not just your typical "full lips" but instead, "sensual mouth" - blows me away.  The characters are perfectly drawn up with the very first few words.  And again, as in the other two books, the desperation, tension, and humanity between characters is unseen in most literature today.  She's like a modern Dostoevsky...  And if you know me, you know he is one of my all-time favorites.

Story notes -
This story was harsh.  Intense and totally mind-blowing like the others - but more brutal than the first two.  And from what I hear, the most brutal of the whole series.  The mystery unfolded slowly (once again it was like slowly tasting a delicious desert), and with every new step I was shocked.  I had no idea how many small details would be incorporated into the end - and what a huge impact they'd make.  And when I read the last twenty pages, all those details came into play, and I couldn't help but clasp my hand over my mouth and cry.  So heartbreaking, yet so perfect.  Mind-blowing.

Summing it up -
Brutal.  Seriously, shocking and saddening but altogether incredible.  I'm so sold on this series and I can't wait to pick up book #4 (A Sudden, Fearful Death) - now I just need money to go buy it!  ;)

For the parents -
Once again, like the other two books, this book is very much full of older subject matter.  However, this time around it is much more than just an intense murder case...  The details of this case - while sparing us of circumstantial details - are much more perverted than in the other books, and will not be good for young teens and even some older teens who may be more sensitive.  The main part of the mystery involves a very sickening way of life.  If you would like to know the details, highlight the white below - but know that this will give away the main mystery:  the father/two others were/are performing incest/sodomy on two little boys.  Another culprit did it to multiple boys over the years.  Two of the wives let them continue doing it because they didn't want to lost money/social standing.  Some brief strong language.  Recommended 18+.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Sam Kingston has lived her life fully - for herself.  Her parents and sister don't ever see her; she's usually with her best friends Lindsay, Elody, and Ally; getting drunk; or making out with her boyfriend Rob.  Or all three.  She's at the top of her school - popularity-wise  - and she doesn't plan to stop now.  The other girls in her school aren't even allowed to speak to her and her friends without getting thrashed in some way or another.
But when Sam dies, all that changes.  She is given the chance - six chances, in fact - to relive the day she make things right.  And as her life and the consequences of her actions unfold in front of her, Sam must discover and do the right thing, before her life shatters - and with no meaning at all.


My thoughts -
Dear Lauren,
Your books make me bawl.
Sincerely, Sierra
It's ridiculous.  You should have seen me.  Sitting on the ground, head in my hands, bawling.
My thoughts?  Want to hear them?  How about, "How in the heck am I ever going to find the words to write this review?!"
So, as my brain is in a fuzz of "I love this book so flipping much!", I sit here with my notepad, and the book for reference, and I start my review.
If I could write "How did she DO it?!" as my review (over and over again), I would.  But I won't.  I willtry tobe as coherent as possible for the sake of my readers.

1st:  Lauren  Oliver has a style of writing that blows me away with its awesomeness.  Not only does it create perfect images of the characters/story, it's just cold water running over your head on a hot summer day.  Refreshing.  Delightful.  And it's also powerful.  Especially powerful.

2nd:  The images created in my mind during this story were so clear and intense that I couldn't help but turn another page...and another...and another.  I can still see Sam, having a friend zip up her new, too-tight, strappy black dress.  I can still picture the unfortunate scene with her math teacher.  I can smell the nasty Asian food as she stomped in on Alex and Anna.  If you've read the book, are the pictures as sharp in your mind as in mine?

3rd:  I love the smell of this book.  Period.  End of story.

Character notes -
Every single character was so visibly and perfectly etched out that it would be hard for me to forget them, even if I wanted to.  Lindsay, the bold leader, the one harboring a secret.  Sam, the voice of this story, changing and growing with every page.  Ally, the spoiled child.  Elod, the brash one.  Alex, the cheater.  Rob, the idiot.
And Kent - Mr. Wonderful.  What is it about Lauren Oliver's literature boys?  I mean, really.  Alex from Delirium.  Kent from Before I Fall.  Two of my favorite lit-boys.  GAH!  I just love them!!!!
So basically - characters - genius.  Perfect.  Whether disgusting or wonderful or funny or stupid.  Perfect.

Story notes -
Hellooooo!!! This is one HECK of a story, from the first to the last word.  Everything is so...involved.  Intricate.  From the moment Sam wakes up to live her last day to the last page, everything falls in beautiful harmony.  Although, this is not a story for the faint of heart.  It involves death, suicide, drugs, drinking, sex, fitting in, selfishness,and the meaning of life.  Therefore, things can get a little intense.  I recommend that everyone reads the cautionary notes below...

Sam tries to live her life better, but doesn't know how.  What will it take for her to get it?  How many times must she die and relive that day?  As she goes from unbelieving to bitter to "I can do whatever I want without consequences" to thoughtful to, well...see for yourself - the story becomes like a path unfolding, getting lighter and lighter with each step, leaving the darkness of Sam's past behind.

Summing it up -
Incredible and Devastating and Phenomenally Perfect are all words/phrases that come to mind when I think of this book.  And what did it do for me, that I feel so strongly about it?  It reminded me that life is short; death is often unexpected.  What I do with my time - it matters.  How I act has consequences, usually for others as well as me.  It caused me to look a little closer at the details in life; to study others' lives and ask, "How can I serve?  What can I do for you?"
Lauren Oliver has written a masterpiece here (and, in my opinion, in Delirium as well), with a message for everyone.  I heartily recommend, as I wipe the bittersweet tears from my eyes and live a little stronger.

For the parents -
This book is definitely rated R...  I wouldn't recommend to anyone under 17, as the subject matter is very intense.  (No spoilers in this section.)  Scenes involve smoking pot (a girl sits in an empty bathroom at school every day and smokes pot/eats lunch) and drinking heavily to the point of throwing up/passing out.  The party that happens every night is full of kids making out and getting drunk and even having sex (this is only vaguely referred to).  A ton of language, especially b***h.  No F*** or GD, but everything else.  Sam's friends spew random vulgar words, whether for shock effect or just because that's how they talk.  A lot of the story revolves around the fact that Sam is supposed to lose her virginity with her boyfriend that night.  It never happens (oh, the irony!), but one of the days after she dies she has the sudden urge to "get it over with".  She finds an empty bedroom with Rob and they make out (a few details).  However, he's so drunk that as she's asking if he wants to take off her dress, he actually passes out.  Sexual jokes are made ("No glove, no love"), and a few times the girls make crude sexual gestures.  One of her "second chance days", Sam seduces her math teacher.  They make out and there are some details, although they are there to make you cringe at how disgusting the situation is, not how "sexy" it is, or would have been.  Two teachers are secretly together and make out in an office.  No details on the suicide but it happens every night and is very sad.
So is it worth it, even with all this?  Yes, it is.  Just be sure you can handle all the nitty-gritty, disgusting details of stupid Sam's life, and you'll be blessed by selfless Sam's life.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Before I Fall (Quotes)

"I keep quiet and look out the window.  The light is weak and watery-looking, like the sun has just spilled itself over the horizon and is too lazy to clean itself up.  The shadows are as sharp and pointed as needles.  I watch three black crows take off simultaneously from a telephone wire and wish I could take off too, move up, up, up, and watch the ground drop away from me the way it does when you're on an airplane, folding and compressing itself into an origami figure, until everything is flat and brightly colored - until the whole world is like a drawing of itself."

- Chapter 2, page 89

This is such a perfect quote.  I want to hang it on my wall, read it every day, remind myself of the beauty of such a picture.

Review on Monday.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Six Reasons Why You Should Read "Septimus Heap"

Because the 6th book in this series, Darke, has recently come out, I've been thinking an awfully lot about this series lately. Why I like it. Why it's so freaking adorable. Why it makes me giggle and excited. Why you all should give it a go.

Things like that.

And so here I am, doing a little something to change up the atmosphere, and giving you six reasons - one for each book - why you should read this series.

1.  The amazing characters.  Yep, they're some of the very best.  So perfectly described and developed, they bring life to the book and create friendships and enemies that you'll seriously never forget.  It's been over a year since I read Syren, book 5, and still, to this day, I can remember every single character with the exact emotions that should be associated with them.  It's truly amazing.

2.  The atmosphere.  Dang, these books exude a really original and distinct air that is the same every time.  I wouldn't want it to change; it's perfect as it is, and it makes me giggle with delight because it is so fresh.

3.  The action.  I love the action in these books!  Every second is filled with adventure, intensity, and even creepy.  There are so many ways that Angie Sage makes the reader charge ahead through the pages in excitement, and the action is definitely one of them.

4. The magic.  Yes, the magic.  Or, magyk.  All the cute little spells - and not-so-cute-but-highly-dangerous spells - make this book original and add quite a bit of humor (and danger) to the story.  As Septimus trains under Marcia Overstrand, the reader is swept away by hilarious mistakes, bossy Marcia using spells to clean her room, and Simon using darke magyk to get his way.

5.  The wit and humor.  Ah, yes, so witty.  The dialogue is filled with jokes and sarcasm, keeping the reader laughing and just having a good time.  The characters always find a way to be hilarious, even in the midst of hard times.  And Angie Sage knows exactly how to draw the reader in with her very simple, yet perfect descriptions that are so full of "wit and humor".

6.  The lessons learned.  Seriously, what would a story be if the characters didn't learn and grow?  These books show the growth of the characters so well; they become more mature with every book.  Actions have consequences, and learning to help someone out of a bad situation, muster up courage in the face of the enemy, and be a good friend are all a part of these books and the characters that fill their pages.

So basically, if you haven't read this series yet, I suggest you give it a try.  You truly won't be sorry - and you'll be hoping for more in the end.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Great Giveaway - five winners, International!

Seriously everyone, you've got to go check this out!!  Great prizes, international, and great ways to get extra entries!  



July Summary

This month was a little faster than June, as far as the amount of reading I got in.  It might slow down again soon because...WE ARE MOVING! :D  Working on the house/carrying boxes will fill the next three weeks, and I cannot wait to get into the house! :D for reading...
I had a REALLY great month.  Most of the books I read were phenomenal.  Like, seriously great.  It started slow, but then quickly picked up with more reading time and WAY awesome books.

Here are my reviews for July:

Read the full review here!

Prepare for my inner fangirl to come out:

There are an infinite number of reasons why I freaking LOVE this book.
Dustfinger.  The writing. Dustfinger.  The story.  The action.  The robbers. Dustfinger.  The writers inside the story.  Dustfinger.  All the characters.  The passion.  Dustfinger.  The love.  The danger.  The incredible amazingness.  Dustfinger.  (Plus about a few hundred more Dustfingers.)...

While this book didn't quite make it as awesome as book #1, The Angel Experiment, it was still extremely gripping, full of great characters, and easy to read due to a TON of action.  What did I not like?  Ari.  And...ahem...the entrance of a double of one of the Flock.  But more on that....

YES!  What an incredible book!  Number 4, by far the best book yet.  I was thoroughly impressed with every word.  I was surprised, excited, saddened, shocked, freaked out, and totally happy.  Seriously, I am one happy reader having finished this book.  Not only was I even more in love with the characters and story, but also with the writing.  Golly goodness I loved the writing so much more this time.  I've always liked it, but it never seemed a strong point in the books for me.  But this time, wow.  Just, wow....

Magical books, a wicked Countess, three lonely orphans, funny characters, a strange wizard, and a hidden land.
What's not to like?Well, those things can be wonderful.  But whether or not they're that depends on how the story is put together.
For me, this one didn't quite cut it.  It was fascinating for a good 100 pages, funny and intense and sweet.  Then it started fluctuating between interesting and boring, until around 220 pages I had had enough.  I didn't care enough about the characters; one had just been seriously injured and I didn't even really care very much. The Countess turned out to be very different from her original creepiness, which actually took away the creepy in her character and, to me, made her like every other evil witch in stories....

My friend Mira wrote an AWESOME guest post For the Classics.  Check it out below!

In most of my readings, it’s generally the end of the book which makes the greatest impression on me and frames my complete opinion of it. Great Expectations proved itself to be an exception. Reading this wonderful novel seemed more like an infinite journey through which one meets hope besides disappointment, love united with hatred, and above all an endeavour to find one’s self and road to the ever-dreamt-of future. It’s the beautiful language of Dickens, the powerful emotions he pours into the heart of this eventful novel, and the sarcasm he presents many of the characters and their attitudes with, which makes Great Expectations a novel I love for its very essence. 

I shared a quote:

Check out my Friday Buys:


I look forward to August!!  I don't know how much reading I can get in because of the whole moving situation, but I promise - I have some fun reviews scheduled for August!! :D  Be sure to check back, but for now...HAPPY READING!

Did you miss anything last month?  Take a look at the June Summary.